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04.22.19

Links 22/4/2019: Linux 5.1 RC6, New Release of Netrunner and End of Scientific Linux

Posted in News Roundup at 11:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • The Great GNU/Linux Division

    I have not abandoned the language of the purists altogether. For instance, I still refer to my distribution of choice as ?Debian GNU/Linux,? because that is what project members prefer. Similarly, if an FSF employee asks that I use their preferred term, I will usually agree if I think the story I?m covering is one in which people should know the difference.

    What has changed is my refusal to be overly-concerned about such matters of language. While language issues were worth discussing 20 years ago, the inability to move beyond them is obsessive and crankish today. If the purists really want to help free software, they would be more useful contributing to the project of their choice than clinging a cause that was lost years ago.

  • Desktop

    • The Linux desktop is not in trouble

      Or maybe not. Maybe we’re just looking at different parts of the elephant. sjvn’s core argument, if I may sum it up, is that fragmentation is holding back the Linux desktop. Linux can’t gain significant traction in the desktop market because there are just so many options. This appeals to computer nerds, but leads to confusion for general users who don’t want to care about whether they’re running GNOME or KDE Plasma or whatever.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • What’s New in Manjaro 18.0 Deepin Desktop Edition

      Manjaro 18.0 Deepin Edition is official Manjaro Linux flavour with Deepin Desktop Environment 15.8 as default desktop environment includes several deepin applications a free open source software.

      Manjaro 18.0 Deepin Edition is powered by the latest Long-Term Support of Linux Kernel 4.19, include pamac version 7.3. in manjaro 18.0, The Manjaro Settings Manager (MSM) now provides an easy-to-use graphical interface for installing and removing the many series of kernels. At the time of this release, eight kernel-series are available directly from manjaro binary repositories, from 3.16 series to the latest 4.19 release.

    • Open Source Security Podcast: Episode 142 – Hypothetical security: what if you find a USB flash drive?

      Josh and Kurt talk about what one could do if you find a USB drive. The context is based on the story where the Secret Service was rumored to have plugged a malicious USB drive into a computer. The purpose of discussion is to explore how to handle a situation like this in the real world. We end the episode with a fantastic comparison of swim safety and security.

    • Episode 64 | This Week in Linux

      On this episode of This Week in Linux, we got a lot of releases week. Ubuntu and all of the Flavours have released 19.04 versions along with an interesting update from the Ubuntu derivative Pop!_OS. The KDE Community announced the availability of a bunch of new versions of various KDE Applications.

    • Linux Gaming News Punch – Episode 9

      Coming in hot (please save me from this heat) is the ninth episode of the Linux Gaming News Punch, your weekly round-up of some interesting bits of news.

      For regular readers, as always this might not be too helpful but for those who don’t visit too often this should help keep you updated.

    • Linux Action News 102

      Ubuntu 19.04 is released we share our take, OpenSSH has an important release, and Mozilla brings Python to the browser.

      Also WebThings is launched and we think it might have a shot.

    • GNU World Order 13×17
    • Talk Python to Me: #208 Packaging, Making the most of PyCon, and more

      Are you going to PyCon (or a similar conference)? Join me and Kenneth Retiz as we discuss how to make the most of PyCon and what makes it special for each of us.

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux v5.1-rc6

      It’s Easter Sunday here, but I don’t let little things like random
      major religious holidays interrupt my kernel development workflow. The
      occasional scuba trip? Sure. But everybody sitting around eating
      traditional foods? No. You have to have priorities. There’s only so
      much memma you can eat even if your wife had to make it from scratch
      because nobody eats that stuff in the US.

      Anyway, rc6 is actually larger than I would have liked, which made me
      go back and look at history, and for some reason that’s not all that
      unusual. We recently had similar rc6 bumps in both 4.18 and 5.0.

      So I’m not going to worry about it. I think it’s just random timing of
      pull requests, and almost certainly at least partly due to the
      networking pull request in here (with just over a third of the changes
      being networking-related, either in drivers or core networking).

    • Linux 5.1-rc6 Kernel Released In Linus Torvalds’ Easter Day Message
    • Linux 5.2 Will Introduce The Fieldbus Subsystem
    • Thunderbolt Is Seeing A Lot Of Improvements For Linux 5.2

      Adding to the excitement of the Linux 5.2 kernel changes are a lot of Thunderbolt improvements expected to be introduced in this next kernel cycle.

      Mika Westerberg of Intel has been working on a lot of Thunderbolt connectivity improvements destined for Linux 5.2 and in recent days has begun staging this work in the thunderbolt-next tree ahead of the Linux 5.2 kernel merge window opening in May.

    • Dropped Linux Kernel Drivers Occasionally See Revival – FDOMAIN Gets Second Chance

      When drivers get dropped from the Linux kernel it’s generally due to hardware being no one cares about anymore that hasn’t been produced in many years and the code often falls into disrepair to the point that the only logical way forward is dropping the driver. That happened last year to the “FDOMAIN” driver but as does happen every so often (albeit rare) thanks to the code being still obtainable through Git and the nature of open-source, interested parties can step up and revive the code.

      The FDOMAIN Linux driver is for Future Domain 16-bit SCSI host adapters found in a variety of PCI boards. The code was removed in March of 2018 as the Future Domain drivers hadn’t seen any bug fixing in years and were relying upon SCSI infrastructure deprecated some fifteen years earlier. The supported PCI SCSI adapters haven’t even been produced in many years albeit can still be found from some after-market shops / eBay like the Adaptec AHA-2920A card that allows up to seven SCSI peripherals over PCI.

    • Graphics Stack

      • GStreamer Editing Services OpenTimelineIO support

        OpenTimelineIO is an Open Source API and interchange format for editorial timeline information, it basically allows some form of interoperability between the different post production Video Editing tools. It is being developed by Pixar and several other studios are contributing to the project allowing it to evolve quickly.

        We, at Igalia, recently landed support for the GStreamer Editing Services (GES) serialization format in OpenTimelineIO, making it possible to convert GES timelines to any format supported by the library. This is extremely useful to integrate GES into existing Post production workflow as it allows projects in any format supported by OpentTimelineIO to be used in the GStreamer Editing Services and vice versa.

      • AMDVLK 2019.Q2.2 Brings More Performance Optimizations, DXVK Corruption Fixes

        AMD this morning released AMDVLK 2019.Q2.2 as the newest tagged update to their open-source Radeon Vulkan Linux graphics driver.

        The AMDVLK 2019.Q2.2 update is notable in that it has performance optimizations for Total War: WARHAMMER II, Talos Principle, and Thrones of Britannia. These were among the games we pointed out earlier this month in our recent RADV vs. AMDVLK driver benchmarking where previously AMDVLK performed much better but less so in that recent comparison. So it looks like the AMDVLK vs. RADV driver performance is back to some healthy competition.

      • MSM DRM Driver Bringing Zap Shader Support To Exit Secure Mode On Adreno 600 Series

        The Freedreno MSM DRM driver changes have been submitted to DRM-Next ahead of Linux 5.2. MSM provides the Direct Rendering Manager support around Qualcomm Adreno hardware and with this next kernel cycle is continuing to see better Adreno 600 series support.

        The primary addition to MSM with Linux 5.2 is zap shader support. A “zap” shader is a way for Adreno hardware to exit its secure mode via a series of specialized commands as accessing the registers directly for exiting the GPU secure mode is generally locked down by the bootloader.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • KDE Saw More System Settings Work While EGLStreams KWin Support Stole The Show

        Most exciting this week in KDE space was seeing KWin pick up support for the NVIDIA EGLStreams implementation for Wayland with this proprietary graphics driver. Beyond the EGLStreams KWin support were also many fixes and other improvements to the desktop landing this Easter week.

        Other KDE work this past week includes various system settings improvements, addressing a common Plasma crash case, an overhaul to the SDDM settings page, and other fixes.

      • Trusty 14.04 LTS end of life, and end of Kubuntu support for Xenial 16.04 LTS

        As the newly released Kubuntu 19.04 makes its way into the world, inevitably other things come to their end.

        Kubuntu 14.04 LTS was released in April 2014, and reaches ‘End of Life’ for support on 25th April 2019. All Kubuntu users should therefore switch to a newer supported release. Upgrades from 14.04 to a newer release are not advised, so please install a fresh copy of 18.04 or newer after running a backup of all your data.

        Kubuntu 16.04 LTS was released on 21st April 2016, and was supported for Kubuntu for a period of year 3 years.* Kubuntu 16.04 LTS support therefore ends 21st April 2019, and users are invited to upgrade to 18.04 LTS, or perform a fresh install of that or newer release.

        The Kubuntu team would thank users of both releases, especially for the amazing additional community support on IRC, forums, mailing lists, and elsewhere.

  • Distributions

    • The end of Scientific Linux

      Scientific Linux is driven by Fermilab’s scientific mission and focused
      on the changing needs of experimental facilities.

      Fermilab is looking ahead to DUNE[1] and other future international
      collaborations. One part of this is unifying our computing platform with
      collaborating labs and institutions.

      Toward that end, we will deploy CentOS 8 in our scientific computing
      environments rather than develop Scientific Linux 8. We will
      collaborate with CERN and other labs to help make CentOS an even better
      platform for high-energy physics computing.

    • Scientific Linux 6/7 Will Remain Supported But The Distribution Is Ending

      For those wanting a community-supported, free version in effect of Red Hat Enterprise Linux, the two options have been CentOS with its close relation (and employment) by Red Hat or Scientific Linux that has been maintained Fermilab, CERN, and other research labs. Moving forward, however, these labs are going to be adopting CentOS 8 and they will not be developing a new version of Scientific Linux based on the upcoming RHEL8.

      Scientific Linux has now been effectively made end-of-life. Fermilab and other parties involved will continue supporting Scientific Linux 6 and Scientific Linux 7 based on RHEL6 and RHEL7, respectively, but moving forward they themselves are switching over to CentOS.

    • Reviews

      • Review: Alpine Linux 3.9.2

        Alpine Linux is different in some important ways compared to most other distributions. It uses different libraries, it uses a different service manager (than most), it has different command line tools and a custom installer. All of this can, at first, make Alpine feel a bit unfamiliar, a bit alien. But what I found was that, after a little work had been done to get the system up and running (and after a few missteps on my part) I began to greatly appreciate the distribution.

        Alpine is unusually small and requires few resources. Even the larger Extended edition I was running required less than 100MB of RAM and less than a gigabyte of disk space after all my services were enabled. I also appreciated that Alpine ships with some security features, like PIE, and does not enable any services it does not need to run.

        I believe it is fair to say this distribution requires more work to set up. Installing Alpine is not a point-n-click experience, it’s more manual and requires a bit of typing. Not as much as setting up Arch Linux, but still more work than average. Setting up services requires a little more work and, in some cases, reading too since Alpine works a little differently than mainstream Linux projects. I repeatedly found it was a good idea to refer to the project’s wiki to learn which steps were different on Alpine.

        What I came away thinking at the end of my trial, and I probably sound old (or at least old fashioned), is Alpine Linux reminds me of what got me into running Linux in the first place, about 20 years ago. Alpine is fast, light, and transparent. It offered very few surprises and does almost nothing automatically. This results in a little more effort on our parts, but it means that Alpine does not do things unless we ask it to perform an action. It is lean, efficient and does not go around changing things or trying to guess what we want to do. These are characteristics I sometimes miss these days in the Linux ecosystem.

    • New Release of Netrunner

      • Netrunner Rolling 2019.04 Arch-based Linux distribution available for download

        Rolling release operating systems are really cool, because they are constantly being updated. This can ensure that the user is kept up-to-date without effort. Why is that good? Well, vulnerabilities are patched quickly, while the latest and greatest features of popular programs are regularly introduced. Of course, there is a potential downside too — it could introduce bugs that could lead to instability. Ultimately, the user must decide if as rolling release best meets their needs.

        One of the best such operating systems is Netrunner Rolling. I love this Arch/Manjaro-based operating system for several reasons, but mostly for its elegant implementation of the KDE Plasma desktop environment. It is themed beautifully, providing a smooth user interface that is familiar to those switching from Windows. Not to mention, it comes pre-loaded with many excellent packages, making it a great “out of the box” Linux experience for newbies. Just in time for Easter, Netrunner Rolling 2019.04 becomes available for download — the first ISO refresh since August of last year.

      • Netrunner Rolling 2019.04 Released With Updated KDE Desktop Bits

        The Netrunner Rolling Linux distribution that is based on Arch Linux / Manjaro (unlike the non-rolling release using Debian Testing) is out with a new release for this KDE-focused desktop platform.

        Netrunner Rolling 2019.04 is out this weekend and its desktop is powered by KDE Plasma 5.15.3, KDE Frameworks 5.56, KDE Applications 18.12.3, and Qt 5.12.2. While Netrunner is generally known as one of the great KDE Linux distributions, sadly the KDE Applications 19.04 didn’t make it into this update.

      • Netrunner Rolling 2019.04 Delivers A Manjaro Linux-based Polished Desktop

        There are a few distros that boast of a great out-of-the-box KDE desktop experience. Just like KDE Neon, the Netrunner Rolling edition is also known for its visually pleasing and fluid KDE Plasma experience.

        Netrunner developers list the exclusive packages and under the hood patching as reasons to choose Netrunner Rolling over Manjaro Linux. Additionally, Netrunner packages get updated less frequently and they undergo more rigorous testing.

        Overall, it’s your choice and I’d advise you to try different distros to see what suits your needs. Also, keep reading Fossbytes and sharing your views with us.

    • Screenshots/Screencasts

    • Fedora

      • 2 new apps for music tweakers on Fedora Workstation

        Linux operating systems are great for making unique customizations and tweaks to make your computer work better for you. For example, the i3 window manager encourages users to think about the different components and pieces that make up the modern Linux desktop.

        Fedora has two new packages of interest for music tweakers: mpris-scrobbler and playerctl. mpris-scrobbler tracks your music listening history on a music-tracking service like Last.fm and/or ListenBrainz. playerctl is a command-line music player controller.

      • TeleIRC v1.3.1 released with quality-of-life improvements

        On April 20th, 2019, the TeleIRC development team released TeleIRC v1.3.1, the latest version after the final development sprint for the university semester. This release introduces minor improvements in order to accommodate heavier work-balance loads on our volunteer contributors. However, it gave us an opportunity to reduce technical debt. This blog post explains what’s new in TeleIRC v1.3.1 and also offers a retrospective into how this last sprint went.

      • My Impressions of Fedora 30 so far (Beta Review)
    • Debian Family

      • Sam Hartman Is the New Debian Project Leader, Google Cuts Pixel 3 Prices for Project Fi’s Birthday, Linux Kernel v5.1-rc6 Is Out, Kdenlive 19.04 Released and KMyMoney 5.0.4 Now Available

        Congrats to Sam Hartman, new Debian Project Leader! You can read more details about the election here, and read Sam’s DPL 2019 Platform here.

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Download Links of Ubuntu 19.04 and Official Flavors (with Direct Links, Torrents, and Checksums)
          • Linux on Dex comes to Galaxy S9, Galaxy S10 and the Galaxy Tab S5e

            Linux on DeX is aimed to bring the seamless mobility of Samsung’s DeX platform for developers to code on the go. The app enables developers to work on both Android and Ubuntu-based Linux distributions anytime, anywhere. Other Linux distributions may also work, although Samsung isn’t offering official support for those yet. Also, Samsung is partnering with Canonical, the maker of the Ubuntu Linux distribution, to provide Linux on DeX users with a modified version of Ubuntu.

            As of now, Linux on DeX is only compatible with the Galaxy Note 9 and the Galaxy Tab S4. However, with the new update, users of Samsung’s Galaxy S flagships from 2018 as well as 2019 get it too. The recently launched Galaxy Tab S5e also now supports Linux on DeX. The new version, which is currently in beta, also fixes the issue with Ubuntu image download on Google Chrome.

          • Linux on DeX app updated with support for more Galaxy devices

            Although DeX is available on all of Samsung’s flagship devices since the Galaxy S8/S8+, the Linux on DeX app has been limited to the Galaxy Note 9 and Tab S4 so far. The Korean company is changing all that with a new update to the Linux on DeX app that adds support for the Galaxy S9/S9+, Galaxy S10e/S10/S10+/S10 5G, and the Galaxy Tab S5e. The Galaxy Tab S5e’s addition may seem odd considering it’s not a proper flagship device, but it does pack high-end specs capable of powering Linux on DeX and is also the latest tablet with an AMOLED screen in Samsung’s tablet lineup.

            [...]

            Even as Android OEMs, including Samsung, continue to pack PC-level specs into their smartphones, they haven’t really found any compelling use-cases for the resources. Initiatives like Linux on DeX have the potential to fill this gap and transform the modern-day smartphone into a single, all-purpose computing device.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Ubuntu MATE 19.04 Final Release

              Those of you who follow the desktop Linux news will know that upstream MATE Desktop recently released version 1.22.

              Let’s rip that band-aid off and get this over quickly. Ubuntu MATE 19.04 is shipping with MATE Desktop 1.20. Albeit, the latest maintenance release of MATE Desktop 1.20 with some of the bug fixes and new features from MATE Desktop 1.22 included. In fact, the version of MATE Desktop being shipped in 19.04 is derived from the same MATE packages that will feature in the upcoming Debian 10 (Buster) release.

            • Ubuntu MATE 19.04 Brings Improved Out of Box Nvidia GPU Experience for Gamers

              Powered by the stable and well-tested MATE 1.20.4 desktop environment with some improvements and new features from the MATE 1.22 release, which needs more testing to be eligible for inclusion in future Ubuntu MATE release, the Ubuntu MATE 19.04 (Disco Dingo) operating system adds major improvements for owners of AMD Radeon and Nvidia graphics cards.

            • Xubuntu 19.04 Drops Support for 32-Bit Systems, Ships with Xfce 4.13.3 Desktop

              Xubuntu 19.04 arrived as part of the Ubuntu 19.04 (Disco Dingo) operating system series bringing some important changes to this lightweight official Ubuntu Linux flavor.

              Xubuntu 19.04 is here as the first release of the lightweight Ubuntu flavor based on the Xfce desktop environment to no longer offer 32-bit ISO images that would allow users to install the Linux-based operating system on computers from 15 or 20 years ago. Xubuntu 19.04 is now only supported on 64-bit systems.

              “In December, the team voted to discontinue 32-bit images for Xubuntu 19.04 and forward. If you want to continue using Xubuntu with 32-bit architectures, Xubuntu 18.04 is supported for 3 years, and the Xubuntu package set can be installed from the Minimal CD,” said the development team in the release notes.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • 8 environment-friendly open software projects you should know

    For the last few years, I’ve been helping Greenpeace build its first fully open source software project, Planet 4. Planet 4 is a global engagement platform where Greenpeace supporters and activists can interact and engage with the organization. The goal is to drive people to action on behalf of our planet. We want to invite participation and use people power to battle global issues like climate change and plastic pollution. Developers, designers, writers, contributors, and others who are looking for an open source way to support environmentalism are more than welcome to get involved!

    Planet 4 is far from the only open source project focused on the environment. For Earth Day, I thought I’d share seven other open source projects that have our planet in mind.

  • 4 open source apps for plant-based diets

    Reducing your consumption of meat, dairy, and processed foods is better for the planet and better for your health. Changing your diet can be difficult, but several open source Android applications can help you switch to a more plant-based diet. Whether you are taking part in Meatless Monday, following Mark Bittman’s Vegan Before 6:00 guidelines, or switching entirely to a whole-food, plant-based diet, these apps can aid you on your journey by helping you figure out what to eat, discover vegan- and vegetarian-friendly restaurants, and easily communicate your dietary preferences to others. All of these apps are open source and available from the F-Droid repository.

  • 9 ways to save the planet

    What can be done to help save the planet? The question can seem depressing at a time when it feels like an individual’s contribution isn’t enough. But, who are we Earth dwellers if not for a collection of individuals? So, I asked our writer community to share ways that open source software or hardware can be used to make a difference. Here’s what I heard back.

  • Events

    • Red Hat Summit 2019 session highlights: Financial Services

      The financial services industry is one that seems to be constantly changing – whether it be regulatory driven or market driven – and how consumers are accessing their banking and financial information is as dynamic as the technology industries that they rely on in their day-to-day life. Red Hat’s enterprise open source technologies can help financial firms and fintechs alike craft modern, innovative solutions designed to drive higher levels of returns and at scale. This year at Red Hat Summit, taking place in Boston May 6-9, we are offering a variety of financial industry focused breakout sessions and labs to help navigate the impact that open source technologies could have on your firm, and help you understand your options when it comes to getting the most from your investments.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

    • Open Source Won’t Save A Subpar Product [Ed: Jono Bacon misses all the essential questions, e.g. pertaining to freedom. This is why we need to get back to "free software" and not "open source" (business terms only)]
  • BSD

    • NomadBSD 1.2 released!

      We are pleased to announce the release of NomadBSD 1.2! We would like to thank all the testers who sent us feedback and bug reports.

    • DragonFlyBSD 5.4.2 Rolls Out With Two Dozen Fixes

      While awaiting DragonFlyBSD 5.6 as the BSD operating system’s next feature release, DragonFlyBSD 5.4.2 has been released as the newest stable point release.

      DragonFlyBSD 5.4.2 provides just over two dozen fixes over the previous 5.4.1 point release from last December. Among the changes to find with DragonFlyBSD 5.4.2 are updating the list of USB 3.0 PCI IDs from FreeBSD, fixing various panics, adding an AC256 sound quirk, adding /dev/part-by-label interface, updating the kernel’s ACPI code from FreeBSD, and a variety of other fixes.

  • Programming/Development

    • Stack Overflow Ranks Most Loved/Dreaded Programming Languages In 2019

      The Developer Survey results for 2019 by Stack Overflow are out now. Like every other year, the Q&A site for coding has conducted a survey for the most loved, dreaded and wanted programming languages this year too.

      Rust has been ranked as the most loved language whereas VBA had to take up the unpleasant position of most dreaded language in 2019. Meanwhile, Python, which continues to see a constant rise in its popularity, has been crowned the most wanted language by developers.

    • PyDev of the Week: Dane Hillard

      This week we welcome Dane Hillard (@easyaspython) as our PyDev of the Week! Dane is the author Practices of the Python Pro, an upcoming book from Manning. He is also a blogger and web developer. Let’s take some time to get to know Dane!

    • Interview: Dan Tofan for this week’s data science webinar
    • PySnooper: Never use print for debugging again
    • Tracking the weather with Python and Prometheus
    • Yet another man to epub converter :)

      Initial search seemed successful, but actually, none of the things I found worked correctly, or at least were not working for me. More precisely, I wanted something to generate a “book” with consistent internal links, so that I can jump from one page to another correctly. See the README for what I tried and gave up on.

      In Debian, there is of course the online manpages service, and there’s also The Linux man-pages project which do this very well. However, the UI and style for these seem to be designed for interactive browsing, whereas a simple output is better for offline browsing.

      So, after a bit of playing around with man -T html, mandoc and man2html, I settled on the later to write my tiny wrapper script. It’s a v0.0.1 release, but nevertheless works, so here it is: https://github.com/iustin/man2ebook.

    • Red Hat to maintain OpenJDK 8 and OpenJDK 11

      Red Hat is taking over maintenance responsibilities for OpenJDK 8 and OpenJDK 11 from Oracle. Red Hat will now oversee bug fixes and security patches for the two older releases, which serve as the basis for two long-term support releases of Java.

      Red Hat’s updates will feed into releases of Java from Oracle, Red Hat, and other providers. Oracle released JDK (Java Development Kit) 8, based on OpenJDK 8, in March 2014 while JDK 11, based on OpenJDK 11, arrived in September 2018. Previously, Red Hat led the OpenJDK 6 and OpenJDK 7 projects. Red Hat is not taking over OpenJDK 9 or OpenJDK 10, which were short-term releases with a six-month support window.

    • Red Hat Takes Over Maintenance of OpenJDK 8 and OpenJDK 11 From Oracle
    • parallel @ Savannah: GNU Parallel 20190422 (‘Invitation’) released [stable]

      GNU Parallel 20190422 (‘Invitation’) [stable] has been released. It is available for download at: http://ftpmirror.gnu.org/parallel/
      No new functionality was introduced so this is a good candidate for a stable release.

    • GStreamer’s Meson and Visual Studio Journey

      Almost 3 years ago, I wrote about how we at Centricular had been working on an experimental port of GStreamer from Autotools to the Meson build system for faster builds on all platforms, and to allow building with Visual Studio on Windows.

      At the time, the response was mixed, and for good reason—Meson was a very new build system, and it needed to work well on all the targets that GStreamer supports, which was all major operating systems. Meson did aim to support all of those, but a lot of work was required to bring platform support up to speed with the requirements of a non-trivial project like GStreamer.

    • OpenJDK 11 Now The Default Java For Ubuntu 18.04 LTS – Plus Some New OpenJDK Benchmarks

      Canonical has shifted the default Java of Ubuntu 18.04 LTS from OpenJDK 10 to OpenJDK 11. Plus here are some fresh OpenJDK 8/11/12 benchmarks on this Ubuntu Long Term Support release.

      Ubuntu 18.04 has shifted from OpenJDK 10 to 11 since OpenJDK 11 is a long-term support release and thus better aligned with Ubuntu 18.04 being an LTS release itself than continuing to use OpenJDK 10 or the latest 12 release. This shouldn’t come as a surprise as February of last year we wrote how Ubuntu 18.04 LTS would likely ship with OpenJDK 10 and then transition to 11 when ready.

    • 10 Best Programming Languages to Learn Hacking

      We covered the Best 20 Hacking and Penetration Tools for Kali Linux and I am happy that our readers were excited at the new tools they came across. However, getting the tools is one thing and knowing how to use them properly is another.

      Hacking involves breaking the protocols of any system on a network and while this can be done by a plethora of applications available for free, being a hacker requires you to understand the languages that the software that you have in focus is written in and they are usually written in a range of common languages.

      Today, we bring you a list of programming languages that you should know if you want to build a career as a hacker.

    • How often do you contribute to open source projects?

      According to the most recent Stack Overflow survey results, more than 36% of respondents never contribute to open source projects. I wonder: Would we get different results in a Developer reader survey?

Leftovers

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Amid Trump’s Attacks, Planned Parenthood Broadens Health Care Focus

      The Trump administration is pushing ahead with its reproductive health agenda. It has rolled out changes to the Title X program, which funds family planning services for low-income people, that are designed to have a chilling effect on organizations that provide abortions or include this option in counseling. It also has nominated federal judges widely believed to support state-level abortion restrictions.

      Against that backdrop, Planned Parenthood, known as a staunch defender of abortion rights, is working to recast its public image. Under its president, Dr. Leana Wen, who took office in November, the nation’s largest reproductive health provider is highlighting the breadth of care it provides — treating depression, screening for cancer and diabetes, and taking on complex health problems like soaring maternal mortality rates.

      This strategy, analysts say, could buttress Planned Parenthood against the efforts by the White House and other abortion opponents. But it’s complicated. Even as the organization leans into its community health work, Wen isn’t abandoning the abortion-related services that have helped form the organization’s identity — and its opposition.

      “We cannot separate out one of our services. That’s not how medicine works,” Wen told Kaiser Health News.

    • Health as a Human Right: No Migrants Need Apply

      The timing of the announcement was curious. The Supreme Court declined to hear the appeal challenging the state of Hawaii’s exclusion of migrants from the Compacts of Free Association nations from its Medicaid program on Monday, Nov. 3, 2014. By that afternoon the administration of Gov. Neil Abercrombie announced its intentions to remove patients who had been enrolled in Medicaid.

      The Hawaii Department of Human Services had a plan ready for rollout. Those 18 and under and pregnant women would continue to receive Medicaid. The aged, blind, and disabled would continue to receive state-funded benefits under a Medicaid-like plan. Those 19 through 64 years of age were moved onto private insurance plans via Affordable Healthcare Act mechanisms.

      Of note, Abercrombie was a lame duck by Nov. 3. He had lost in the Democratic Party primary to David Ige, who went on to defeat Republican James “Duke” Aiona and independent Mufi Hannemann the next day: Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014.

      What was the reason for the alacrity to announce the plan to remove COFA migrants from Medicaid rolls?

  • Security

    • Guess Who Fooled The Nokia9 PureView – A Pack Of Chewing Gum!

      We are all aware that smartphone security options such as fingerprint scanners and facial recognition aren’t 100% secure. This has been proved further with the case of the Nokia 9 PureView, which appears to have been unlocked by a pack of chewing gum.

      As per a couple of tweets, the Nokia 9 PureView is reportedly getting unlocked via unidentified fingerprints of another user and a pack of chewing gum.

    • Linux Distributions Should Enhance how Sudo Asks for Passwords

      One thing to be noticed from the picture above is that the password is hidden. When users write anything at that time, nothing will be displayed on the screen, not even asterisks. They’ll have to trust that there’s something written in the terminal and just write their passwords and hit Enter.

      Historically, this is done for both ease of implementation and security reasons. It makes it difficult for people standing near your shoulder from knowing your password length. If they don’t know your password length, it would be harder for them to guess it. They can, of course, listen to the keystrokes you are hitting and try to guess how many characters did you hit? But that’s more difficult than just looking at the screen and counting the number of asterisks there.

      Also, when they see that your password is too long, they might not even try to use your computer and guess your password. But if your password is less than few characters, it will give them hope.

      Additionally, in terms of implementation, displaying an asterisk instead of the password character requires more code and work to do. In the terminal, when you write normal commands and you see them in the terminal, it’s because the “echo mode” is set to On, meaning that all characters will be displayed on your screen. In sensitive commands, however, such as sudo or passwd, “echo mode” is set to Off, which simply doesn’t take the extra step of printing those characters to the screen. So that’s less work and code to do, and it went on like that since the Unix days to simply hide the password characters

    • Top 10 Best Linux Password Managers In 2019

      If you are a Linux users and struggling to get a proper password manager then this post is for you. In this post, We have listed the best (at least for us) Linux password managers for you.

    • Your Netflix Bandersnatch Choices Can Be Tracked By Hackers

      Netflix took the video streaming industry by storm when it debuted Black Mirror: Bandersnatch last year. The “choose your own adventure” themed movie puts viewers in charge of the story and flow of the movie. The success of Bandersnatch even led to the creation of a second interactive show ‘You vs. Wild’ featuring Bear Grylls.

    • Proactively Identifying Compromised Passwords | Roadmap to Securing Your Infrastructure
    • Security updates for Monday
    • Malware Analysis With Valkyrie
  • Defence/Aggression

    • Trump’s Call to Libyan National Army Leader Increases Risk of ‘Protracted Urban Conflict,’ Experts Say

      A phone call from President Donald Trump to Libyan National Army leader Khalifa Haftar helped to escalate deadly violence in the Libyan capital of Tripoli this weekend, as well as undercutting the United Nations’ hope for a ceasefire in the country.

      A number of airstrikes, allegedly including strikes by armed drones, hit Tripoli in Sunday’s early morning hours, escalating Haftar’s assault on the city as he attempts to oust the U.N.-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) and take control of Libya. The Libyan National Army’s (LNA) attacks on Tripoli have now killed an estimated 227 people, injuring more than 1,000 and leaving at least 16,000 displaced.

    • Social media influencer plotted to take internet domain at gunpoint. It didn’t end well
    • After ISIS, a Divided Iraq, Wounded and Grief-Stricken

      The moment the 54-year-old walks up to the car, it is obvious something is terribly wrong. The way he drags his feet, then stamps them on the ground and marches forward like a toy soldier, head lowered; then the way he looks up at you from beneath dark brows, in both greeting and concern. Taamy Wahab Mohamed al-Yasaari should have returned from the Isis battlefront to a land fit for heroes.

      For the Shia Muslims of southern Iraq, he counts among the heroes. When I ask him when he was wounded, he looks and stares at the wall in a distressed way, dark eyes framed by thick black hair but white beard. “Several times I was wounded,” al-Yasaari says. And you can tell that the bullets and shrapnel have framed a diary in his mind. “On 28 April 2015 at Bayji, on 3 July 2015, again at Bayji, on 5 May 2016 on the Makhoul mountains near Tikrit, then on 3 July 2017 at Khalidiya in Anbar province.” It was the last wound which did for him.

      “I was leading a company of the Ali Akbar brigade into an attack on the enemy, and an Isis sniper shot me in the head. His bullet hit me in the back of the brain.” And here al-Yasaari puts his left hand to the back of his head. “I lost part of my skull and words are very difficult for me now. My memories are very difficult. I regret nothing. I followed the fatwa of our leader [ayatollah Ali al-Sistani]. Look, here are my wounds.”

      And the staring eyes of al-Yasaari look at me as he rolls up his trousers to show scars and great searing cuts across his legs. There is a terrible mark on his calf, as if someone has sawed away at the flesh. He had paid the price of following Sistani’s fatwa – to fight a “defensive war” against Isis after the Islamist capture of Mosul in 2014 – and it is clear that today he thinks of little else.

    • The NYTs Tries to Rehabilitate Bloody Gina Haspel

      There is no more authoritative newspaper in the country, perhaps the world, than the New York Times. But when the Times gets it wrong, it is often a real doozy. In the 1930s, the Times’ man in Moscow, Walter Duranty, completely missed the Kremlin’s forced famine in the Ukraine that led to the death of six to seven million Ukrainians and Russians. Joseph Stalin’s KGB found Duranty to be a “useful idiot” in accepting Moscow’s denial of widespread famine and mass starvation. Incredibly, Duranty won a Pulitzer for his articles from the Soviet Union.

      Throughout the Cold War, the Times’ man at the Pentagon, Drew Middleton, accepted the threat assessments of the U.S. military, and thereby helped several administrations make their case for increased military spending. In the early 1980s, a Times’ stringer, Clair Sterling, repeated the disinformation of the Reagan administration, including the Central Intelligence Agency, and charged the Soviet Union with responsibility for the assassination attempt against the Polish Pope, John Paul II. More recently, Times’ reporters, particularly Judith Miller and Michael Gordon, bought the phony line of the U.S. intelligence community regarding so-called weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, thereby helping the Bush administration make the case for war.

      In today’s world, the New York Times is helping the Trump administration’s “war cabinet” make the case for an increased security threat from both Russia and China. The efforts of Moscow and Beijing to be a stakeholder in such problem areas as the proliferation of weapons programs in Iraq and North Korea as well as the systemic domestic problems in both countries is ignored or downplayed. Their respective policies toward Syria and the South China Sea are typically exaggerated.

    • Loose Bullets and Loose Cannons

      The Huffington Post (“Substitute Teacher Fired After Bullets Fall Out Of Pockets In Pre-K Class,” April 15, 2019) reported the story of the substitute pre-kindergarten teacher at an elementary school in Millbury, Massachusetts who had been fired because he dropped loose bullets from his pocket in class. That incident prompted a search of his home that found unsecured guns.

      It seems unfathomable that a person could carry loose bullets around in a school environment (not illegal in Massachusetts) among young children without noticing, but given the benefit of the doubt, perhaps a busy schedule, or other issue, might have resulted in the oversight. It’s impossible to know. By the unnamed teacher’s own admission, he had been shooting at a facility the previous day and the loose bullets were left over from that experience.

      No reporting from media outlets in the greater Boston area added anything of substance to the incident. There was no mention of the history of school shootings in the U.S., the most notable shootings at Columbine High School in Colorado, and extending out in time to places like Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, and Marjory Stoneham High School in Florida. But this was not a school shooting incident, and the teacher brought no guns onto school premises in Millbury.

    • Dreaming in Miami

      After three months of threats and threats to a double stage – the State Department in Washington DC and a theater in Miami – the US Administration finally announced what it intends to do to intensify its economic war against Cuba.

      On the 17th, at the mid-morning in a brief ceremony, just a few minutes, in the capital, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made it known that they will fully implement Title III of the Helms-Burton Act. He did not offer any further explanations, although he said that as of May 2, “Cuban-Americans” will be able to file claims before the US courts against those who use in any way the properties that they claim were theirs or their families’.

      There were no questions and no text was answered to answer the questions that such a decision must have been given among those who remember that for twenty-three years – Clinton, W. Bush, Obama and Trump himself – had adopted a position contrary to what is now being announced.

    • AFRICOM Calls for My “Elimination”

      If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? Or to bring this thought experiment into the modern age — if it happens in the forest, does it stay in the forest? I ask this question because it has a bearing on the article to come. Specifically, what if an article of mine on the U.S. military appears somewhere in our media world and that military refuses to notice? Does it have an impact?

      Before I explain, I need to shout a little: AFRICOM! AFRICOM! AFRICOM!

      Any media monitoring service working for U.S. Africa Command, the umbrella organization for American military activity on the African continent, would obviously notice that outburst and provide a “clip” of this article to the command.

      But just to be safe: AFRICOM! AFRICOM! AFRICOM!

      Now, there is no excuse for this article not to appear in AFRICOM’S clips, which are packaged up and provided to the Africa Command’s media relations office in Stuttgart-Moehringen, Germany, on weekdays as the “AFRICOM Daily News Review.” In fact, including Africa Command or its acronym 11 times in the first 200 words of this piece must be some kind of record, the sort that should certainly earn this article the top spot in tomorrow’s review.

      But no matter how often I mention AFRICOM’s name, I know perfectly well that’s not going to happen. Let me explain.

    • Amid Push for New Oil Sanctions, Pompeo Reportedly Jokes About Secret Coup Plot Against Iran

      With the Trump administration moving ahead Monday with punishing new sanctions against Iran with the goal of completely halting the country’s oil exports, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reportedly joked about a secret White House plot to overthrow the Iranian government during a private meeting with Iranian-American “community leaders.”

      According to Axios, when asked last week whether the Trump administration has considered “the idea of a coup” in Iran, Pompeo responded: “Even if we did, would I be telling you guys about it?”

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • A Fortnight

      This last couple of weeks have seen the build-up to Julian’s arrest, the event itself, and the coordinated campaign of lies and hate that have ensued. Perhaps not coincidentally, it also saw the publication of the breath-taking exercise in state dishonesty that is the Mueller Report. Simultaneously these events brought me into close contact with other good friends, who in different ways are also right now going through very difficult periods indeed, involving state conspiracy and injustice. Despite the heartening interlude of a dash to Rothesay to speak to a full and inspiring hall, I not only found myself working rather too hard on all these matters, I also contracted bronchitis and ended up in bed wheezing and a nasty blue colour. To add to all of which, my family are rightly not exactly chuffed with the abandonment of cherished plans for the Easter holiday and my subsequent disappearance and lack of support to them.

    • Julian Assange as Neuroses

      Julian Assange continues to ripple and roam as a cipher through the political and media scape of the world. Detained in Belmarsh maximum security prison, the sort of stately abode only reserved for the most dangerous of criminals, many with indeterminate sentences, he electrifies and concerns.

      The US political classes continue to simmer with an obsession that has gone feral. Some moderation can be found in the efforts of Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky), who is seeking a bartering solution. “I think he should be given immunity from prosecution in exchange for coming to the United States and testifying.” The question of causing harm or otherwise was less significant than what Assange had to offer in terms of information “probably pertinent to the hacking of the Democratic emails”.

      It is precisely the issue of harm that obsessives on the Hill fantasize about. Their rage is that of Caliban before the mirror, and rather than taking issue with US foreign policy, see Assange as an imitator. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, speaksof WikiLeaks and its “destructive role by directly interfering in democratic elections and referendums around the world, most troubling of which is WikiLeaks’ collaboration with Russia to directly interfere in the United States presidential election in 2016.”

      But Assange’s formalised incarceration has enabled some scrutiny to be cast over the indictment in question. Dell Cameron from Gizmodo is constructively quizzical, suggesting a few holes in the US case against the publisher. “Assange indicated that he had been trying to crack the password by stating that he had ‘no luck so far’.” This raises two questions: Did he even venture to do so? If so, can that very fact be proven?

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Dragonflies Make Epic Migrations, But Climate Change Could Foil Their Itineraries

      It’s that time of year again: Right now, monarch butterflies are taking wing in the mountains of northwestern Mexico and starting to flap their way across the United States.

      The great monarch migration always makes headlines, in part because climate change, along with our pesticides and agricultural monocultures, threatens to erase the natural spectacle, but also because this natural phenomenon is simply amazing. The trip of nearly 5,000 miles is an unlikely one for an insect, but these butterflies don’t have a monopoly on the massive, multigenerational migration game.

      It’s time to give some love to the epic feats of dragonflies.

      According to a study published by the Royal Society last fall, common green darners, which are found from Cuba to Canada, make a long, complex journey that takes three generations and spans a distance of more than 1,500 miles. Scientists are still trying to figure out exactly how they do it, but temperature seems to play a key role in telling the animals when to move. Unfortunately, this means climate change could well wreck the whole event even before we fully understand it. Worse, it would leave much of eastern North America without an important member of its food web.

    • ‘We Are the Ones Making a Difference’: Greta Thunberg Addresses Extinction Rebellion in London

      A day before countries around the world celebrate Earth Day, activist and leader of the School Strike for Climate Greta Thunberg addressed protesters in London who have been occupying a number of major landmarks for almost a week, rallying the demonstrators to continue their fight against the “existential crisis” brought about by climate change.

      “Humanity is now standing at a crossroads,” Thunberg told the protesters gathered at the Marble Arch. “We must now decide which path we want to take. How do we want the future living conditions for all species to be? We have gathered here today and in many other places around London and across the world too, because we have chosen which path we want to take and now we are waiting for the others to follow our example.”

    • Some Ways to Frame “Regeneration”

      Human activities have degraded ecosystems globally to the point that Earth is now in overshoot-and-collapse. We need to restore ecosystem functions in the coming decades in order to safeguard our collective future. This will require us to regenerate the environments on which we depend.

      I have been working with the Regenerative Communities Network to cultivate bioregional-scale projects that do this very thing. One of our challenges is that most people have not been trained in regenerative design practices — including how we frame regeneration itself.

      The purpose of this article is to lay out some of the ways that regeneration can be framed… helping us conceptualize what we are doing and communicate more effectively with our partners in the field. My intention is not so much to be comprehensive as it is to stimulate further discussion. We need to have conversations about the language we use to work together, especially when conflicts arise and it becomes necessary to navigating through diverse points of view.

    • Earth Day 2019: We Don’t Have Time

      Generally speaking, humans have demonstrated over and over a remarkable ability to cooperate in a crisis. The tragic fire at the beloved Notre Dame’s Cathedral was a case in point. Firemen and even members of the public rushed into the inferno, while millions of people around the world paced in front of their TV sets, wanting to jump in an help, anxiously waiting for the fire to be put out, and breathing a collective sigh of relief that there was hope for its survival. Donors rushed in behind first responders, generating a billion euros in financial support to rebuild within 24 hours.

      Humans have also aligned themselves around seemingly perpetual, slow burning crises to advance social and civil rights issues. Togher with governments, people have established a number of functioning democracies, have mostly abolished slavery, and in a remarkable show of global support, the Paris Agreement on Climate Change opened for signature on Earth Day on April 22, 2016. The Climate Agreement was a reminder of what can happen with the planets of science, people’s movements, bureaucracies, and economic interests come into alignment around a crisis.

    • Arctic leaks of laughing gas may add to heat

      US scientists have identified yet another hazard linked to the thawing permafrost: laughing gas. A series of flights over the North Slope of Alaska has detected unexpected levels of emissions of the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide from the rapidly warming soils.

      Nitrous oxide, which chemists know also as laughing gas, is an estimated 300 times more potent as a climate warming agent than the principal greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide. It was present in data recordings at levels at least 12 times higher than all previous estimates.

      And it is long-lived: it survives in the atmosphere for around 120 years, according to a separate new study of the microbiology of nitrous oxide. And if it gets even higher, into the stratosphere, it can be converted by the action of oxygen and sunlight into another oxide of nitrogen, to quietly destroy the ozone layer.

    • Chernobyl’s Deadly Effects Estimates Vary

      April 26 marks the 33rd anniversary of the 1986 radiation disaster at Chernobyl reactor Number 4 in Ukraine, just north of Kiev the capital. It is still nearly impossible to get scientific consensus on the vast extent of the impacts. The explosions and two-week long fire at Chernobyl spewed around the world something between one billion and nine billion curies of radiation — depending on whose estimates you choose to believe. The accident is classified by the UN as the worst environmental catastrophe in human history.

      Chernobyl’s radioactive fallout has been blamed for hundreds of thousands of deaths, but the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) acknowledges only 56 deaths among firefighters who suffered and died agonizing deaths in the disaster’s immediate aftermath. However, the IAEA’s officially chartered mission is “to accelerate and enlarge the contributions of nuclear power worldwide.” Because of its institutional bias, one can dispute nearly everything the IAEA says about radiation risk.

      Also on the low-end of fatality estimates is the World Health Organization which has to have its radiation studies approved by the IAEA! In 2006, the WHO’s “Expert Group concluded that there may be up to 4,000 additional cancer deaths among the three highest exposed groups over their lifetime (240,000 liquidators; 116,000 evacuees, and the 270,000 residents of the Strictly Controlled Zones).” The WHO added to this 4,000 the estimate that “among the five million residents of areas with high levels of radioactive cesium deposition” in Belarus, the Russian Federation and Ukraine” predictions suggest “up to 5,000 additional cancer deaths may occur in this population from radiation exposure…”

      Alternately, Ukraine’s Minister of Health Andrei Serkyuk estimated in 1995 that 125,000 people had already died from the direct effects of Chernobyl’s radiation. Serkyuk said a disproportionate share of casualties were among children, pregnant women and rescue workers or “liquidators.” Liquidators were soldiers ordered to participate in the removal and burial of radioactive topsoil, heavy equipment, trees, and debris, wearing no protective clothing, respirators or radiation monitors.

    • Consuming Stuff: The Polluting World of Fashion

      The interconnected environmental catastrophe is the result of a particular lifestyle; a materialistic way of life relentlessly promoted by mass media and governments throughout the industrialized world and beyond. Consuming stuff, most of which is unnecessary, is the key ingredient; excess is championed, sufficiency scoffed at. Far from addressing need, satisfying desire is the driving impulse; the object of desire changes with every new fad of course, discontent is thereby ensured, unlimited consumerism maintained.

      This pattern of insatiable shopping is evident within the polluting world of fashion perhaps more than any other sector; when we should be buying less, more clothes are produced and sold year on year. Worldwide, almost 100 billion items of clothing are made annually (400% more than twenty years ago), a third of which end up in landfill, increasing at a rate of 7% a year.

      The global fashion industry is a major source of environmental contamination, as well as human exploitation. Every item of clothing that is produced carries with it an environmental cost in terms of energy, water, chemicals and land use. The choice of fabrics – natural or man-made – production methods, transportation, dyeing and printing, customer care, all are areas that cause pollution.

      According to the United Nations Climate Change, “around 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions (GGE’s) are churned out by the fashion industry, due to its long supply chains and energy intensive production.” The industry consumes more energy than aviation and shipping combined. In search of greater profits most manufacturing is now undertaken in China and India, where labor costs are lower, coal-fired power plants predominate, GGEs are highest and, in many cases, employee rights are non-existent. By moving production to developing nations, western companies outsourced, jobs, as well as the pollution and environmental impacts, threatening the health of local people.

    • Woman caught on video tossing a plastic bag full of puppies near a trash bin

      (CNN)Seven puppies were found next to a dumpster in Coachella, California, and authorities say they are looking for the woman caught on camera leaving them.

      The woman is accused of leaving the newborn puppies in a plastic bag near a dumpster behind a NAPA Auto Parts store on Thursday afternoon, according to Riverside County Animal Services.

  • Finance

    • Silicon Valley Came to Kansas Schools. That Started a Rebellion.

      Many families in the Kansas towns, which have grappled with underfunded public schools and deteriorating test scores, initially embraced the change. Under Summit’s program, students spend much of the day on their laptops and go online for lesson plans and quizzes, which they complete at their own pace. Teachers assist students with the work, hold mentoring sessions and lead special projects. The system is free to schools. The laptops are typically bought separately.

      Then, students started coming home with headaches and hand cramps. Some said they felt more anxious. One child began having a recurrence of seizures. Another asked to bring her dad’s hunting earmuffs to class to block out classmates because work was now done largely alone.

      [...]

      Summit chose not to be part of a study after paying the Harvard Center for Education Policy Research to design one in 2016. Tom Kane, the Harvard professor preparing that assessment, said he was wary of speaking out against Summit because many education projects receive funding from Mr. Zuckerberg and Dr. Chan’s philanthropic organization, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.

    • Here’s How TurboTax Just Tricked You Into Paying to File Your Taxes

      Did you know that if you make less than $66,000 a year, you can prepare and file your taxes for free?

      No? That’s no accident. Companies that make tax preparation software, like Intuit, the maker of TurboTax, would rather you didn’t know.

      Intuit and other tax software companies have spent millions lobbying to make sure that the IRS doesn’t offer its own tax preparation and filing service. In exchange, the companies have entered into an agreement with the IRS to offer a “Free File” product to most Americans — but good luck finding it.

    • ‘When Workers Fight, Workers Win’: Union Declares Victory as Stop & Shop Strike Ends With Deal to Raise Wages

      “Today is a powerful victory for the 31,000 hardworking men and women of Stop & Shop who courageously stood up to fight for what all New Englanders want—good jobs, affordable healthcare, a better wage, and to be treated right by the company they made a success,” the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) said in a statement.

      The deal brings to an end the largest private-sector strike in years, which lasted 11 days and spanned three New England states. The walk-out began as a protest against Stop & Shop’s effort to slash benefits and increase employees’ healthcare costs.

      Union members—who are expected to return to work Monday—will soon vote on whether to approve the three-year agreement, which reportedly raises wages, preserves retirement and healthcare benefits, and upholds time-and-a-half pay on Sundays.

    • Grocery Store Workers Take on Billion Dollar Multinational

      At precisely 1:00 Eastern time on the afternoon of April 11th, 31,000 workers at 253 Stop and Shop grocery stores throughout Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts walked off their jobs. The strike came after several months of failed negotiations in which Stop and Shop refused to retract an onerous set of demands for the elimination of premium pay for Sunday work, major cuts to pensions and dramatic increases in the amount workers would have to pay for health care.

      Most of the strikers are members of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) and the rest are members of the Teamsters. Truck drivers both union and non-union have honored the picket lines by refusing to make their deliveries, according to strikers at four picket lines in Bridgeport and Fairfield, Connecticut. The workers at those stores also report that no union members have crossed the picket line. Most stores are open as supervisors and a small number of replacement workers have been stocking shelves and working cash registers but business has taken a big hit.

    • Pete Buttigieg Trivializes the Impact of Trade on US Job Losses

      The loss of relatively high-paying manufacturing jobs devastated whole communities, as many lost their major employer, with nothing to replace it. This devastation is seen even more clearly if we look at what happened to the number of unionized jobs in manufacturing over these years.

      The number of manufacturing workers represented by a union fell by more than 1.1 million from 2000 to 2007, almost 40 percent of the total. These were the better-paying jobs that typically allowed workers to enjoy a comfortable middle-class lifestyle.

      Buttigieg’s efforts to trivialize this job loss by making the comparison to the jobs lost to automation would be like telling the Nebraska farmers that the recent flooding was no big deal, since the rains that caused the flooding were just a small fraction of the total rainfall in a year. That’s a true statement but entirely irrelevant to the damage caused by the flooding.

      While automation is (wrongly) seen as a sort of natural outcome of the progress of technology, trade is explicitly steered by government policy through trade deals.

      Specifically, the U.S. signed trade deals that opened domestic manufacturing workers to direct competition with low-paid Chinese workers. At the same time, we ensured that doctors and other highly paid professionals were protected from such competition.

    • ‘A Really Exciting Proposal’: Elizabeth Warren’s Education Overhaul Would Wipe Out Student Debt, Provide Free Public College

      Elizabeth Warren wants to cancel part or all student loan debt for 95 percent of Americans and make public college free for everyone—the latest, and perhaps most ambitious, policy proposal for the 2020 Democratic contender.

      Warren announced the policy in a Medium post Monday morning.

      The Massachusetts Democrat told readers that her own past as a waitress who was able to attend public college due to the school’s low cost is now unattainable for most Americans.

      But Warren aims to change that.

      “The first step in addressing this crisis is to deal head-on with the outstanding debt that is weighing down millions of families and should never have been required in the first place,” wrote Warren. “That’s why I’m calling for something truly transformational — the cancellation of up to $50,000 in student loan debt for 42 million Americans.”

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Facebook Signals Softer Stance on Ad Rules for EU Elections

      Clegg identified 19 EU institutions that the platform could exempt from the rules for a month leading up to the European elections, which run from May 23-26, according to the letter to Antonio Tajani.

    • The European Press Corps Cannot Cover the EU

      Seeking to project influence and unity, the European Commission, the bloc’s executive arm, holds a daily news conference open to journalists from across the continent, and, in fact, the world. Yet most media coverage is stubbornly parochial. Reports from European news outlets have a national flavor, catering to local sensibilities. Whether a national leader won, lost, or tied, whether a representative was able to extract a concession to bring back home or capitulated to counterparts, is often more important than how members’ decisions affect the EU as a whole.

    • Comedian Headed for Landslide Victory in Ukraine Election

      A comedian whose only political experience consists of playing a president on TV cruised toward a huge landslide victory in Ukraine’s presidential election Sunday in what was seen as a reaction against the country’s entrenched corruption and low standard of living.

      Results from 25% of polling stations showed sitcom star Volodymyr Zelenskiy receiving three times as many votes as President Petro Poroshenko — 73% to 24% — a crushing rebuke to Poroshenko’s five years in office.

      Even before results started trickling in, Poroshenko accepted defeat based on exit polls, saying: “I am leaving office, but I want to firmly underline that I am not leaving politics.”

      Zelenskiy, for his part, promised wide changes at the top echelons of government and said his No. 1 task would be securing the release of about 170 Ukrainian military members taken prisoner in the east or in Russia.

    • Accuracy at Heart of Census Question Before Supreme Court

      Justice Elena Kagan’s father was 3 years old when the census taker came to the family’s apartment on Ocean Parkway in Brooklyn, New York, on April 10, 1930.

      Robert Kagan was initially wrongly listed as an “alien,” though he was a native-born New Yorker. The entry about his citizenship status appears to have been crossed out on the census form.

      Vast changes in America and technology have dramatically altered the way the census is conducted. But the accuracy of the once-a-decade population count is at the heart of the Supreme Court case over the Trump administration’s effort to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

      The justices are hearing arguments in the case on Tuesday, with a decision due by late June that will allow for printing forms in time for the count in April 2020.

    • Most Devastating of All: Mueller’s Indictment of Trump’s Character

      Democrats in Congress and talking heads on television will be consumed in the coming weeks by whether the evidence in the Mueller report, especially of obstruction of justice, merits impeachment.

    • Why I’m Glad Netanyahu Won

      In other words, Gantz might have been a “fresh face,” but, on the central issue of dealing with Palestinians and the occupied territories, he was no different than the prime minister he was seeking to replace.

    • Mueller Time? Not for Now

      The Mueller report does not exonerate Trump; it simply finds insufficient evidence of criminal conduct involved in Russian collusion.

      Mueller says he failed to find admissible or sufficient evidence proving criminal conduct beyond a reasonable doubt, that is, the standard of evidence involved in “making a traditional prosecutorial judgement”.

      At the same time, while using this standard, he concluded that “a statement that the investigation did not establish particular facts does not mean there was no evidence of those facts”.

      As such, his report still contains evidence that satisfies other criteria which might (in principle) meet the standard for, e.g., impeachment, such as “beyond a reasonable balance of probabilities”. Mueller himself urges Congress to explore this possibility.

    • What the “White Irish Slaves” Meme Tells Us About Identity Politics

      The latest bizarre twist in the “Irish Slaves” saga is that James Woods, the actor best known for his cameo as a Kwik-E-Mart employee in The Simpsons, has shared an historically inaccurate meme, the aim of which is to diminish the suffering of black slavery.

      Now, Woods’ meme is flagrantly wrong in that it states the Irish were “slaves”. Liam Hogan’s research has been important in distinguishing between the indentured servitude suffered by the Irish during the mid-seventeenth century and the chattel slavery suffered by Africans over a greater time span.

      However, strangely, in response to Woods’ post, one can witness the emergence of a counter-myth whereby the Irish did not suffer at all during the transportations which occurred in the wake of Oliver Cromwell’s conquest. Others even seem to suggest that no such thing ever occurred in Ireland.

      This is unsurprising and is the logical outworking of tit-for-tat identity politics, where instead of finding common cause and solidarity in a shared history of colonization, exploitation, and transportation, differences between the experiences of oppressed groups are accentuated.

    • Nothing Wrong With Help From Russians, Trump Lawyer Says

      President Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani insisted there was “nothing wrong” with the president’s 2016 campaign taking information from the Russians, as House Democrats pledged stepped-up investigations into campaign misconduct and possible crimes of obstruction detailed in special counsel Robert Mueller’s report .

      Giuliani called the Trump campaign’s effort to get political help from representatives of the Russian government possibly ill-advised but not illegal.

      “There’s nothing wrong with taking information from Russians,” Giuliani said Sunday, referring to a June 2016 Trump Tower meeting involving Trump’s son Donald Jr., son-in-law Jared Kushner and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and a lawyer linked to Russia. The Trump campaign was seeking harmful information on Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

      The Sunday news shows offered the latest back and forth following the long-anticipated release on Thursday of Mueller’s 448-page redacted report on his two-year investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Mueller found no evidence of a conspiracy between Russia and the Trump campaign and made no decision on obstruction of justice.

    • Nearly three in four voters just made Volodymyr Zelenskiy the next president of Ukraine. So what’s next?

      Since declaring independence in 1991, Ukraine has elected six presidents. This weekend, voters chose their most recent leader: actor Volodymyr Zelenskiy. Once taking office, he will have to figure out how to cooperate with Ukraine’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, where he has neither a majority nor his own faction. His team is reportedly considering the dissolution of the parliament, but this would be very difficult, and disagreements about the Rada could damage Zelenskiy’s early popularity.
      With 99.72 percent of all second-round ballots counted, the actor Volodymyr Zelenskiy has defeated incumbent President Petro Poroshenko with 73.22 percent of the votes — the largest victory margin in Ukraine’s history as an independent nation. In terms of absolute numbers, however, Zelenskiy received just 13.5 million votes — fewer than any of his predecessors, except Poroshenko in 2014 (who got 9.8 million, but won in the first round) and Viktor Yanukovych in 2010 (who received 12.4 million votes). The only region Poroshenko won this weekend was Lviv (in the first round, he’d also won in the Ternopil region). Additionally, it’s important to remember that neither Crimea nor the two separatists “republics” in the Donbas participated in Ukraine’s last two presidential elections. Roughly 6 million people live in these areas.

    • UKRAINE: WHY “OU” LOST BY A LANDSLIDE

      With the landslide victory of Volodymyr Zelensky, who won 73 percent of the vote, the comedian will become the president of Ukraine. Understanding how this occurred becomes easy when people review US government documents published by Wikileaks about the outgoing president.

      Who is “OU”? Our Ukraine. In a classified diplomatic cable from 2006 released by Wikileaks.org, U.S. officials refer to Poroshenko as “Our Ukraine (OU) insider Petro Poroshenko.” “Our Ukraine” has been in the pocket of the US government for 13 years.

      The US government knew he was corrupt. A separate cable also released by Wikileaks makes that clear. The May 2006 cable states “Poroshenko was tainted by credible corruption allegations, but wielded significant influence within OU; Poroshenko’s price had to be paid.” The US government knew he was corrupt, but allowing his corruption was a price the US was willing to pay to have Our Ukraine serving as president.

    • What Happens If Trump Breaks All the Laws?

      Since Donald Trump took the reins of power in January 2017, his ghastly team has been looking for ever more creative ways to make the lives of immigrants and would-be immigrants as miserable as possible. They have sought to use all the powers of the executive branch to limit not just undocumented immigration, but also legal immigration through curtailing the issuing of visas and shuttering overseas visa-processing offices; travel bans targeting people from Muslim-majority countries; ludicrously low caps on the numbers of refugees; and, over the past months, an all-out assault on asylum seekers. The administration has sought to shred Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) protections, which provide undocumented immigrants brought into the country as children some legal protections and the ability to work. It has also shredded Temporary Protected Status (TPS) protections, which give temporary residency rights to immigrants who fled dire conditions in a number of countries in Central America, the Caribbean, Asia and Africa. Meanwhile, the Trump administration has pushed to end the diversity lottery, which allots 50,000 green cards annually to residents of poorer, mainly southern hemisphere countries. And time and again, the administration has referred to immigrants as invaders and purveyors of crime and sickness, using a dehumanizing language reminiscent of other fascist and totalitarian regimes in recent history.

      So far, however, they have, albeit reluctantly, just about abided by court rulings. When the courts ordered the ending of family separation policies and the imprisoning of children in cages, the administration complied. When courts ruled DACA had to be continued, Trump fulminated against the judges on Twitter, but at the end of the day, the administration agreed to renew DACA status for the people under its umbrella. TPS recipients are, as a result of court rulings, also not currently being deported en masse.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Your Mental Health App Might Be Selling Your Data To Google Or Facebook

      With our increasing dependence on smartphones and other electronic gadgets to help us perform our daily chores in a more efficient manner, it makes sense to use them to assist us when dealing with depression and other mental health-related issues. However, a new study has found that such apps can’t be fully trusted — thanks to their shady privacy policies and incomplete disclosers.

      In a study published in the journal JAMA Network Open, the researchers found that out of 36 top apps for treating depression and smoking addiction, 29 were transmitting user data to advertising companies like Google and Facebook. Out of those 29, only 12 disclosed this data sharing agreement in their privacy policy.

    • Judge Tells Research Center To Give Back Facial Recognition Documents The NYPD Forgot To Redact

      The NYPD, that paragon of opacity, screwed up. And now it wants its stuff back.

      The Georgetown Center on Privacy & Technology has been engaged in a public records lawsuit against the NYPD since 2017. It’s seeking records on the department’s use of facial recognition technology. The NYPD has fought hard, but has been forced to hand over almost 3,700 pages of relevant info to date. This after initially telling the Center it had “no responsive documents.”

      Contained in the steady drip of documents handed over to the Center was something the NYPD wasn’t supposed to release in unredacted form. It took almost a month for the department to realize it had screwed up. Rather than let uncensored bygones be bygones, the NYPD took it up with the judge presiding over the case. The NYPD’s legal rep wasn’t too thrilled with the department’s inadvertent transparency.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Justice For Lucca: This Is Your Country On Racist Brutality, Still

      In this season of hope and renewal, see two burly white thugs/cops in Florida set upon a 15-year-old, backpack-wearing black boy – who did nothing but retrieve for safety the cell phone of another kid under assault – then pepper spray him, throw him to the ground, repeatedly punch and slam his head into the pavement, and handcuff the now-blood-spattered boy on charges of – say what?! – resisting arrest and assaulting an officer. The fracas began when Broward County Sheriff’s deputies were called to the scene of a reported fight at a shopping plaza near J.P. Taravella High School in Coral Springs, where kids often hang out at a McDonalds. There, officers Christopher Krickovich and Greg LaCerra found, dropped and handcuffed one kid who they charged with trespassing. On now-viral video, with the first kid on the ground, Krickovich then suddenly grabs the second boy, reportedly named Lucca, sprays him in the face, hurls him to the ground, and begins beating him as LaCerra jumps on Lucca’s back and distraught kids standing around watch, film, and scream, “What are you doing?!? What are you doing?!? He’s bleeding! He’s bleeding!”

    • Another Attempt To Tie Twitter To Terrorist Acts And Another Dismissal With Prejudice

      “A series of lawsuits,” the court calls it. This is the ongoing work of 1-800-LAW-FIRM and Excolo Law — two firms that specialize in bringing losing lawsuits to federal courts. It’s a series of lawsuits and a series of losses. An unbroken string of dismissals at both the district and appellate levels — all in response to the firms’ attempts to hold social media companies responsible for the acts of terrorists.

      Mandy Palmucci — a victim of the terrorist attacks in Paris, France — filed an incredibly long lawsuit (121 pages!) last year with the assistance of these two law firms. She needn’t have bothered. This one joins the pile of rejected complaints passing through the federal court system. (h/t John Roddy)

      The only thing notable about this latest loss is how irritated Judge William H. Orrick seems to be with these lawsuits that keep landing in his court. Handling one of these lawsuits twice appears to have dug deep into Judge Orrick’s reserves of patience.

    • Our Ever-Deadlier Police State

      None of the reforms, increased training, diversity programs, community outreach and gimmicks such as body cameras have blunted America’s deadly police assault, especially against poor people of color. Police forces in the United States—which, according to The Washington Post, have fatally shot 782 people this year [2017]—are unaccountable, militarized monstrosities that spread fear and terror in poor communities. By comparison, police in England and Wales killed 62 people in the 27 years between the start of 1990 and the end of 2016.

      Police officers have become rogue predators in impoverished communities. Under U.S. forfeiture laws, police indiscriminately seize money, real estate, automobiles and other assets. In many cities, traffic, parking and other fines are little more than legalized extortion that funds local government and turns jails into debtor prisons.

      Because of a failed court system, millions of young men and women are railroaded into prison, many for nonviolent offenses. SWAT teams with military weapons burst into homes often under warrants for nonviolent offenses, sometimes shooting those inside. Trigger-happy cops pump multiple rounds into the backs of unarmed men and women and are rarely charged with murder. And for poor Americans, basic constitutional rights, including due process, were effectively abolished decades ago.

      Jonathan Simon’s “Governing Through Crime” and Michelle Alexander’s “The New Jim Crow” point out that what is defined and targeted as criminal activity by the police and the courts is largely determined by racial inequality and class, and most importantly by the potential of targeted groups to cause social and political unrest. Criminal policy, as sociologist Alex S. Vitale writes in his new book, “The End of Policing,” “is structured around the use of punishment to manage the ‘dangerous classes,’ masquerading as a system of justice.”

      The criminal justice system, at the same time, refuses to hold Wall Street banks, corporations and oligarchs accountable for crimes that have caused incalculable damage to the global economy and the ecosystem. None of the bankers who committed massive acts of fraud and were responsible for the financial collapse in 2008 have gone to prison even though their crimes resulted in widespread unemployment, millions of evictions and foreclosures, homelessness, bankruptcies and the looting of the U.S. Treasury to bail out financial speculators at taxpayer expense. We live in a two-tiered legal system, one in which poor people are harassed, arrested and jailed for absurd infractions, such as selling loose cigarettes—which led to Eric Garner being choked to death by a New York City policeman in 2014—while crimes of appalling magnitude that wiped out 40 percent of the world’s wealth are dealt with through tepid administrative controls, symbolic fines and civil enforcement.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Warner Bros. Takes Down TorrentFreak Tweet Over Software Piracy?

        Twitter has informed TorrentFreak that another tweet from us has been removed. Apparently, a link to a news article was somehow making pirated software available. Strange, since the request was sent on behalf of movie studio Warner Bros. Apparently, there’s still room to improve the accuracy of these takedown notices

      • EC to launch a new directive repealing the copyright directive incl. articles 15 and 17

        As you are probably aware, a Copyright Directive was introduced in the European Union that will change our Internet forever.

        Article 11 and Article 13 (now called Article 15 and Article 17) will introduce an #uploadfilter and a #linktax. This is unacceptable to us.

        We ask the new European Commission to introduce a new directive repealing the current copyright directive including the widely criticized articles 15 and 17 (known previously as articles 11 and 13). How this is done is up to you, but we do not give our consent to launch ANY law that introduces the Internet censorship and forces the website owners to proactively monitor their services.

        To anyone who considers signing: between 23 and 26 May 2019 there will be new elections in the EU. This petition is to be delivered to the new EU Commission. Let’s give them a clear message that we want them to create a new directive that will invalidate the current Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market that was adopted by the European Parliament on 26 March and approved by the Council of the European Union on 15 April 2019.

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