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05.06.19

Links 6/5/2019: Linux 5.1, DXVK 1.1.1, Elisa 0.4 Beta

Posted in News Roundup at 2:40 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • Chrome OS 74 Stable version arrives: Here’s what you need to know

      It’s only been a month since Chrome OS 73 landed on the Stable Channel and here we are with Chrome OS 74 now available. Google announced Chrome OS 74 for the Stable Channel this past week and it’s filled with fixes and new features for Chromebooks.

    • Chrome OS Now Brings VPN Support to the Linux Applications

      Google is pushing the Chromebook 75.0.3770.10 update on the Dev channel. The crostini containers will now route connections through a VPN.

    • Chrome OS 74 brings support for AI search, annotations and more

      The Google Chrome OS 74 update is here, with added features targeting both consumer- and enterprise-level users, as well as additional Android and Linux support.

    • The Pinebook Pro, a $199 Linux Laptop, Inches Closer to Launch

      So when can you buy one?

      Well, there’s still no firm release date for the Pinebook Pro — but it should be soon. Pine64 is a company proficient in getting things up, ready and (importantly) shipped.

      Although posts like this one may hype the device it’s important that no-one set their expectations too highly. Do not expect performance of a Dell XPS 13 in a machine priced cheaper than most Chromebooks!

      No word on precisely which version of Ubuntu will be offered for this device or whether it’ll come pre-installed — if anyone from Pinebook is reading this, do ping us with details — but I’d like to imagine it’d ship Ubuntu 18.04.1 (with its newer kernel and graphics stack) and a more modest desktop environment like MATE.

    • Pinebook Pro update: The $199 Linux laptop is almost ready to go

      After unveiling plans to launch a $199 Linux laptop with a Rockchip RK3399 processor earlier this year, the folks at Pine64 have been hard at work designing the hardware and software for the upcoming Pinebook Pro.

      Now the team has posted a YouTube video showing off the latest prototype, and demonstrating that it has improved hardware, and support for 4K video playback (something the company’s original Pinebook couldn’t handle).

      Pine64 still has some kinks to work out — audio isn’t working on the current motherboard, and there are problems with charging, suspend and resume. But it looks like the Pinebook Pro could be ready to ship within months.

    • Dell’s Best Laptops For Developers Are Here

      Desktop Linux is the preferred platform for developers, whether it be scientists rendering the first image of a black hole or Tesla engineering working on self-driving cars.

      But you can’t just walk into any store pick a laptop running Linux and walk home. Your choices are limited to a small set of players who sell Linux supported laptop. Among all these players Dell shines for two reasons, at least in my opinion:

      1) Dell sell fully supported Linux laptops

      2) Dell makes the best of the breed hardware. Yes, there are other companies selling Linux based machines, but those don’t make a MacBook user envy.

  • Server

    • DevSecOps: 7 ways to address cultural challenges

      How many times have development teams working on new product development using agile approaches had a product release doomed by an impending security review? Development teams using agile delivery frameworks such as scrum deliver new features and package a “potentially shippable increment” of the product as often as every week. Teams using continuous delivery and automation practices such as continuous integration may even get to multiple releases of potentially shippable software every day.

    • 5 tips to transition into a Kubernetes job

      Automation solves a lot of problems, but someone still has to do the other – hopefully more innovative – work.

      That’s one reason Kubernetes-related hiring keeps rising this year. The confluence of hybrid and multi-cloud environments, cloud-native development, and containers increases the need for IT pros who can spin these multiple plates.

      So if you’re looking to pivot out of a stale job or rechart your career path, Kubernetes spells opportunity. In the “always be learning” culture of IT – and the common IT career advice to do the same – the container orchestration technology seems a good bet for sustained growth.

    • Google Cloud is the single-largest driver of headcount growth at Google

      The number of people working at Google surged 21 percent in the first quarter compared to the same period last year, and its Google Cloud division was the main factor.

      Google announced Monday as part of its quarterly earnings report that 103,459 people now work for the search giant, which has also been scrambling to build a cloud computing business that can match the likes of Amazon Web Services and Microsoft. “Cloud has continued to be the primary driver of headcount,” said Google CFO Ruth Porat on a conference call with analysts following the release of the results.

    • Google opens Android Automotive OS to Spotify, other media app developers

      Google is opening its Android Automotive operating system up to third-party developers to bring music and other entertainment apps into vehicle infotainment systems, starting with the Polestar 2, an all-electric vehicle developed by Volvo’s standalone electric performance brand.

      Google announced Wednesday that media app developers will be able to create new entertainment experiences for Android Automotive OS and the Polestar 2, starting at Google I/O 2019, the annual developer’s conference that kicks off May 7.

    • Canonical’s Mark Shuttleworth on dueling open-source foundations

      At the Open Infrastructure Summit, which was previously known as the OpenStack Summit, Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth used his keynote to talk about the state of open-source foundations — and what often feels like the increasing competition between them. “I know for a fact that nobody asked to replace dueling vendors with dueling foundations,” he said. “Nobody asked for that.”

      He then put a point on this, saying, “what’s the difference between a vendor that only promotes the ideas that are in its own interest and a foundation that does the same thing. Or worse, a foundation that will only represent projects that it’s paid to represent.”

      Somewhat uncharacteristically, Shuttleworth didn’t say which foundations he was talking about, but since there are really only two foundations that fit the bill here, it’s pretty clear that he was talking about the OpenStack Foundation and the Linux Foundation — and maybe more precisely the Cloud Native Computing Foundation, the home of the incredibly popular Kubernetes project.

    • Red Hat Unveils Open-source Developed New Branding

      Following two years of development, Red Hat has unveiled the next evolution of its red fedora mark. The rebrand was a result of Red Hat’s Open Brand Project – an open initiative to update and simplify its corporate logo and brand system. Since the project’s launch in 2017, members of open source communities, current Red Hat customers, partners, and associates have made their opinions known.

      Red Hat’s Brand team has been collecting this feedback from customers and partners, coordinating work with well-known design consultancy Pentagram, and collectively poring over survey data and iterating on the new design.

    • UK National Health Service Deploys Open Source Hybrid Clouds With Red Hat

      The National Health Service in the UK is set to benefit from open source hybrid cloud technologies being deployed by Red Hat (NYSE: RHT) on behalf of its executive bodies.

      Public Health England (PHE), an executive agency of the UK Department of Health and Social Care, is using Red Hat’s technologies to support modern computing architectures and solutions, including high-performance computing (HPC) and multi-cloud operations.

      PHE’s mission is to protect and improve the nation’s health and wellbeing and reduce health inequalities. It has a national leadership role in developing new models of public health together with national and local government, the National Health Service (NHS), the voluntary and community sector, industry, the scientific and academic community and global public health partners.

      The organisation wanted an open, scalable, enterprise-grade Linux platform to serve as the foundation for its computing footprint today and in the future. It also wanted a scalable private cloud infrastructure to power its HPC clusters used to analyse the ever growing amount of data required to deliver modern public health services.

    • Red Hat Helps Public Health England Use Open Source to Pursue Hybrid Cloud Operations
  • Audiocasts/Shows

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux 5.0.13

      I’m announcing the release of the 5.0.13 kernel.

      All users of the 5.0 kernel series must upgrade.

      The updated 5.0.y git tree can be found at:
      git://git.kernel.org/pub/scm/linux/kernel/git/stable/linux-stable.git linux-5.0.y
      and can be browsed at the normal kernel.org git web browser:

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

    • Linux 4.19.40
    • Linux 5.0.12

      I’m announcing the release of the 5.0.12 kernel.

      All users of the 5.0 kernel series must upgrade.

      The updated 5.0.y git tree can be found at:
      git://git.kernel.org/pub/scm/linux/kernel/git/stable/linux-stable.git linux-5.0.y
      and can be browsed at the normal kernel.org git web browser:

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

    • Linux 4.19.39
    • Linux 4.14.116
    • Linux 4.9.173
    • Linux 5.2 Should Resolve Many AMD Ryzen Laptop Touchscreens/Touchpads Not Working

      Linux 5.2 is certainly going to be a big kernel release… On top of many new features and other changes, AMD Ryzen laptops will be better supported by this kernel update to be released as stable around July.

      A number of AMD Ryzen laptops up to this point haven’t had working touchscreens/touchpads when running on the mainline kernel. That’s been due to a lack of AMD PCIe MP2 I2C controller support, but a new driver is being merged for Linux 5.2 to properly support that controller.

    • Linux 5.2 Will Fix Touch Input on Ryzen Laptops

      Most laptops rely on Intel processors and run Windows 10. But there’s some good news for the relatively few people who use Linux on Ryzen-powered laptops: the Linux 5.2 kernel will reportedly improve the performance of touchscreens and trackpads in devices matching that particular configuration.

      The next major kernel update to Linux will feature proper AMD PCIe MP2 I2C controller support via the i2c-amd-mp2 driver that’s ready to be merged into the Linux 5.2 release. Phoronix said AMD released some of the code on which this driver is based in 2018, which required “a rewrite and going through several rounds of review to get it into shape for merging to mainline.” Now the code has run that gauntlet and should be ready for release.

    • Linux 5.1
      So it's a bit later in the day than I usually do this, just because I
      was waffling about the release. Partly because I got some small pull
      requests today, but mostly just because I wasn't looking forward to
      the timing of this upcoming 5.2 merge window.
      
      But the last-minute pull requests really weren't big enough to justify
      delaying things over, and hopefully the merge window timing won't be
      all that painful either. I just happen to have the college graduation
      of my oldest happen right smack dab in the middle of the upcoming
      merge window, so I might be effectively offline for a few days there.
      If worst comes to worst, I'll extend it to make it all work, but I
      don't think it will be needed.
      
      Anyway, on to 5.1 itself. The past week has been pretty calm, and the
      final patch from rc6 is not all that big. The shortlog is appended,
      but it's small changes all over. Networking, filesystem code, drivers,
      tooling, arch updates. Nothing particularly odd stands out.
      
      Of course, the shortlog below is just for that final calm week. On the
      whole, 5.1 looks very normal with just over 13k commits (plus another
      1k+ if you count merges). Which is pretty much our normal size these
      days. No way to boil that down to a sane shortlog, with work all over.
      
      Go out and test,
      
                      Linus
    • The 5.1 kernel has been released

      Linus has released the 5.1 kernel, right on schedule. Some of the significant changes in the release include BPF spinlocks, more year-2038 preparation, the TEO CPU-frequency governor, The io_uring fast asynchronous I/O mechanism, initial support for pidfds (file descriptors that refer to a process), the SafeSetID security module, and much more.

    • Linux Kernel 5.1 Officially Released, Here’s What’s New

      Linus Torvalds has announced today the release of the Linux 5.1 kernel series, a featureful kernel branch that brings lots of great additions, as well as improvements to existing features.

      After one and a half months in development, the Linux 5.1 kernel series is finally here, and we can tell you all about its new features and enhancements. First and foremost, we’d like to remind everyone out there attempting to grab and install Linux kernel 5.1 that this isn’t a long-term supported branch, so you better stick with your current LTS kernel instead.

      “The past week has been pretty calm, and the final patch from rc6 is not all that big,” said Linus Torvalds in a mailing list announcement. “On the whole, 5.1 looks very normal with just over 13k commits (plus another 1k+ if you count merges). Which is pretty much our normal size these days.

    • Linux 5.1 Should Be Released Today With IO_uring, Faster zRAM, More Icelake

      Linus Torvalds will be celebrating Cinco de Mayo today with the anticipated release of the Linux 5.1 kernel.

      Barring any last minute regrets causing Linus to opt for a 5.1-rc8 test release, Linux 5.1.0 will be out today. Last week Torvalds indicated he was feeling like the release should be ready this weekend as opposed to kicking in an extra RC.

    • Linux 5.1 Has Been Released With Plenty Of New Features

      As was expected, Linus Torvalds just tagged the Linux 5.1 stable kernel.

      After seven release candidates, Linux 5.1 is ready to meet the world and subsequently Linux Git moves on to tracking Linux 5.2 developments beginning with the two week merge window. Linux 5.2 is looking especially interesting but that won’t be out for stable users until July so for now we have Linux 5.1.

      Linux 5.1 is bringing many exciting changes like a new I/O interface, Habana Labs Goya AI processor support, new ACPI support, a lot of new hardware support, and more. See our Linux 5.1 feature overview for a complete overview.

    • Intel Linux Patches Revised For SVA/SVM Virtualization

      Intel’s patches for providing shared virtual address (SVA) support for IOMMU and VT-D in the Linux kernel have been revised.

      The third revision to these Intel SVA/SVM virtualization patches were posted on Friday for review. However, given the timing it unfortunately will be too late to try to see it merged for the upcoming Linux 5.2 kernel.

    • Linux Foundation

      • The Linux Foundation and ETSI to bring open source and standards closer

        The Linux Foundation, the nonprofit organization enabling mass innovation through sustainable open source, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with ETSI, the independent organization providing global standards for ICT services across all sectors of industry, to bring open source and standards closer and foster synergies between them.

        Building on the existing working relationship between the two organizations, the formal collaboration agreement will enable faster information-sharing and deployment of open networking technologies across the industry.

        The formal link between communities of experts will encourage and enable collaborative activities, joint communication, promotion and events, as well as potential common initiatives related to interoperability and conformance testing.

      • MoU enables industry standards and open source collaboration

        The Linux Foundation and ETSI have agreed to bring open source and standards closer and foster synergies between them.

      • ETSI and the Linux Foundation sign collaboration MoU

        It has been quite some time coming, but finally the Linux Foundation and ETSI have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to bring open source and industry standards closer and hopefully create synergies between them. This is actually a big deal and represents the first tangible evidence of an update to the tried and tested development of interoperable technology and processes for telecoms.

      • ETSI and the Linux Foundation agree to bring open source and standards closer

        They say they plan to “bring open source and standards closer and foster synergies between them”.

        Building on the existing working relationship between the two organisations, the collaboration agreement aims to enable faster information-sharing and deployment of open networking technologies.

        The formal link between communities of experts will encourage and enable collaborative activities, joint communication, promotion and events, as well as potential common initiatives related to interoperability and conformance testing.

      • Open-source innovation group welcomes 43 new members

        Nonprofit organization The Linux Foundation has added 38 Silver members and five Associate members to its ranks, as it continues its drive to support growth, sustainability and innovation of open-source projects.

        [...]

        Its five new associate members, which are comprised of government agencies and not-for-profit organizations, were Energy Foundation, ENTSO-E, Fraunhofer Gesellschaft, Kodi Foundation and world-renowned education and research technology institution Stanford University.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Intel’s Linux Ice Lake Gen11 Drivers Are Feature-Complete

        Intel now officially considers its open-source Linux drivers for Ice Lake’s Gen11 graphics feature-complete, more specifically the OpenGL and Vulkan drivers that are respectively called i915 and ANV. This means Gen11 is now fully supported in both drivers. According to the patch notes, the drivers should be running “more-or-less” at full performance.

        Up to now, when running the OpenGL or Vulkan drivers with Gen11 hardware present, a warning would appear that they did not fully support Gen11 yet, with possible instability and lower performance as a result. Phoronix reports that these warnings have now been removed. Instead, the code now says that they are fully supported, just like earlier generations.

  • Applications

    • Top 15 Best Linux Synthesizers for Digital Audio Production in 2019

      A synthesizer is a computer program that enables artists or music enthusiasts to create digital audio. They are also referred to as softsynths and comprise an integral part of the digital music industry. Synthesizers employ various methods to generate audio sound while at the same time offering a wide array of services essential for professional music production. As a significant player in the computing world, Linux supports some of the best synthesizer programs that can be used by both professionals and hobbyists alike. Finding the right synthesizer, however, can be a daunting task if you do not have any prior knowledge. To help you bag the right synthesizer for your needs, we compiled this guide outlining the 15 best Linux synthesizers available right now.

    • Top list of computer forensics software

      I consider Autopsy, which comes by default on CAINE and Kali Linux, the first tool to get introduced to forensics due it’s graphical and intuitive interface to manage computer forensic tools. Autopsy optimizes the process by using multiple processor cores while running in the background and can tell you in advance if the process will lead to a positive result. Autopsy can also be used as graphical interface for different command line tools, supports extensions for integration with third party tools such as PhotoRec already featured on LinuxHint to improve and add functions.

    • New ‘Linux App Store’ Website Lets You Find Apps, Wherever

      A brand new website makes it easier to find Linux apps, regardless of their packaging format or app store host.

      The broadly named “Linux App Store” is a free, online hub where you can search for applications by name to check whether they’re available on the Snapcraft Store, the Flathub website, or the AppImage directory.

      Why?

      Because searching all three stores separately is a heck of a hassle! Ubuntu, for instance, only shows repo apps and snaps in Ubuntu Software on the desktop, whereas the GNOME Software app on Fedora only shows repo apps and Flathub results.

      This online store cuts through that to show all apps, from any source.

    • Two Super Fast App Launchers For Ubuntu 19.04

      During the transition period, when GNOME Shell and Unity were pretty rough around the edges and slow to respond, 3rd party app launchers were a big deal. Overtime the newer desktop environments improved and became fast, reliable and predictable, reducing the need for a alternate app launchers.

      As a result, many third-party app launchers have either slowed down development or simply seized to exist. Ulauncher seems to be the only one to have bucked the trend so far. Synpase and Kupfer on the other hand, though old and not as actively developed anymore, still pack a punch. Since Kupfer is too old school, we’ll only be discussing Synapse and Ulauncher here.

      [...]

      From an extension that lets you control your Spotify desktop app, to generic unit converters or simply timers, Ulauncher extesions has got you covered.

    • Qmmp Audio Player 1.3.2 Released with Fixes for Wayland

      Qmmp, Qt-based multimedia player, 1.3.2 was released last night with new features and various bug-fixes.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Wine or Emulation

      • DXVK 1.1.1 Released To Address The Recalled DXVK 1.1

        At the start of April was the DXVK 1.1 release that offered many changes but it was eventually recalled over nasty bugs that entered the release. Now is the DXVK 1.1.1 to address that fallout.

      • DXVK 1.1.1 is out with major features, acting as the re-release of 1.1 for Vulkan-based D3D11/10 in Wine

        DXVK has levelled up once again, as release 1.1.1 is out and it’s a major update that also acts as the re-release of DXVK 1.1 which was removed due to issues.

        Major new features with this release should result in your frame timing being more consistent and triple buffering should now work as expected. For games that have a lot of shaders, memory utilization should be reduced as well. Configuration options in the DXVK config file can be limited to a single executable, meaning you can now use one single file and not one per-game.

        Queries were also re-worked, which should see Unreal Engine 4 titles get improved performance although you need at least Wine 4.5/Proton 4.2 and NVIDIA 418.52.05 or AMD/Intel Mesa 19.1-git for your GPU driver. It needs the “VK_EXT_host_query_reset” extension supported, as without it certain games may perform “significantly worse”.

    • Games

      • 5 Best Linux Distributions for Gaming

        After writing about Steam on Linux in my last article, I’m here with another gaming article for fellow Linux gamers out there. In this article we’re going to have a look at 5 best Linux distributions specially crafted for gaming which you can use for ultimate gaming experience on Linux.

        The days are long gone now when gaming on Linux was still a distant dream as gaming on Linux is the real deal now with some amazing developments in recent years. If you search on the web, there are so many gaming distributions out there but Linux distros listed here are highly optimized for gaming as various emulators, gaming software’s and drivers come pre-installed with them. Hence you don’t need to configure Linux to play your favorite games, just install one of these gaming friendly distros and you are ready for fun.

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • KDE Usability & Productivity: Week 69

        It’s time for your weekly dose of KDE’s Usability & Productivity initiative!

        But first, I want to draw everyone’s attention to our Plasma 5.16 wallpaper competition. In addition to getting their wallpaper used as the default background for millions of users of KDE Plasma 5.16, the winner also receives a Slimbook One computer! So what are you waiting for!? Go and submit an awesome wallpaper! Here are the rules.

      • KDE’s KWin Now Correctly Shows Emojis In Titlebars, Wayland Fixes

        KDE developers have been off to a busy start of May with continuing to get Plasma 5.16 ready for debut next month as well as ongoing improvements to the monthly KDE Frameworks 5 and work on KDE Applications 19.08.

        Among the latest notable work includes showing a microphone in the system tray when an application is using the microphone, HiDPI support for the Skanline scanner program,the KWin window manager now correctly shows emojis in window titlebars, a KWin crash fix, and various user interface improvements.

      • Elisa 0.4 Beta Release and More New Features

        It is a goal to have a first class support of Android in Elisa. Currently, the only thing really done is the support for discovering your music on Android.

        Android provides a service a little bit similar to Baloo allowing an application to query all the music files on a device. Elisa is supporting that and a very simple interface allow to see that.

      • How I put order in my bookmarks and found a better way to organise them

        I have gone through several stages of this and so far nothing has stuck as ideal, but I think I am inching towards it.

        To start off, I have to confess that while I love the internet and the web, I loathe having everything in the browser. The browser becoming the OS is what seems to be happening, and I hate that thought. I like to keep things locally, having backups, and control over my documents and data. Although I changed my e-mail provider(s) several times, I still have all my e-mail locally stored from 2003 until today.

        I also do not like reading longer texts on an LCD, so I usually put longer texts into either Wallabag or Mozilla’s Pocket to read them later on my eInk reader (Kobo Aura). BTW, Wallabag and Pocket both have their pros and cons themselves. Pocket is more popular and better integrated into a lot of things (e.g. Firefox, Kobo, etc.), while Wallabag is fully FOSS (even the server) and offers some extra features that are in Pocket either subject to subscription or completely missing.

        Still, an enormous amount of information is (and should be!) on the web, so each of us needs to somehow keep track and make sense of it :)

        So, with that intro out of the way, here is how I tackle(d) this mess.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Kung-fu Master, Blindfolded debugging

        Recently I’ve been working in the EOS update. The change is really big because EOS has some modifications over the upstream code so there are a lot of commits applied after the last stable upstream commit.

        EOS 3.5 was based on gnome 3.26 and we are updating to use the gnome 3.32 so all the downstream changes done since the last release should be rebased on top of the new code and during this process we refactor the code and commits using new tools and remove what’s now in gnome upstream.

        I’ve been working in the Hack computer custom functionality that’s on top of the EOS desktop and basically I’ve been rebasing the code in the shell to do the Flip to Hack, the Clubhouse, a side component and notification override to propse hack quests and the wobbly windows effects.

        I’ve been working mainly with gnome shell and updating javascript code to the new gjs version, but this was a big change and some rare bugs.

      • At Last, GNOME Shell! At Long La…

        Alex, aka BabyWogue, aka that anime guy with an unhinged hatred towards Ubuntu, Canonical, and anything coloured orange, has spotted a “very useful change” in GNOME Shell’s development code, i.e. the work towards GNOME 3.34.

        [...]

        Open the Applications Overview (that’s the official name for the app launcher grid) on the Ubuntu (or other Linux) desktop and you are instantly greeted by an alphabetised gallery of application launchers.

        But look closer and you’ll spot something spurious.

        Despite there being ample room to show them, you’ll notice that many app labels are not complete; they trail off into ellipses at the end.

  • Distributions

    • Reviews

      • [Review] Void Linux, a Linux BSD Hybrid

        Like Solus, Void Linux is written from scratch and does not depend on any other operating system. It is a rolling release. Unlike the majority of Linux distros, Void does not use systemd. Instead, it uses runit. Another thing that separates Void from the rest of Linux distros is the fact that they use LibreSSL instead of OpenSSL. Void also offers support for the musl C library. In fact, when you download a .iso file, you can choose between glibc and musl.

    • New Releases

      • 4MLinux 28.2 released.

        This is a minor (point) release in the 4MLinux STABLE channel, which comes with the Linux kernel 4.19.35. The 4MLinux Server now includes Apache 2.4.39, MariaDB 10.3.14, and PHP 7.2.17 (see this post for more details).

        You can update your 4MLinux by executing the “zk update” command in your terminal (fully automatic process).

    • Screenshots/Screencasts

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandriva Family

      • Review: ROSA Fresh R11

        Some of these issues are related to security and encryption, which doesn’t appear to be a first-class citizen in ROSA. The other issues I encountered were likely to be Plasma-specific. I suspect there may be a setting in Plasma that alters the behaviour of, say, notifications. For new users, though, finding settings in Plasma can be akin to Hansel and Gretel looking for bread crumbs in the woods. For instance, I found an “Event Notification and Actions” menu by searching for “notifications” in the main menu. The window lists “event sources” such as “Archive Mail Agent”, “KDE e-mail client” and “KMail” and for each source you are presented with a “State”, “Title” and (sometimes) a “Description”. I honestly don’t understand most of the settings and gave up trying to tweak how notifications are displayed.

        Conclusions

        From what I have read about ROSA I gather the distro’s aim is to be a user-friendly system for everyday users. If that is indeed what ROSA aims for then it largely achieves that goal. It does have some rough edges though; there is plenty of polish and a lot to like but it never took long for some cracks to appear.

        For me, the main area where ROSA fell short is software management. Rpmdrake is awkward to use and the urpmi package manager is likely to be daunting for most new users. A software centre with some curated applications and/or support for package formats such as Snaps and Flatpaks would be a welcome improvement.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • Leap 15.1, the release that nobody talks about

        KDE applications got a big update to 18.12. Dolphin (file manager) received many improvements, including the ability to hide the Places panel and dock the Terminal panel. The folder view and settings dialog have been updated. Ocular (PDF and document viewer) has a new typewriter annotation feature that enables you to type everywhere on a page. Konsole (terminal application) now has full support for emoji. The Gwenview (image viewer) has seen many improvements, including the crop tool, the reduce red eye tool, improved zooming and better drag and drop functionality. Spectacle (screenshot tool) gained the ability to sequentially number screenshot files and now remembers the lastest save settings. With the rectangular region selection mode, you can select a part of the screen . Ark (unzip tool) now supports the tar.zst archive file standard.

        Krita is updated to 4.1.8 and introduces the new reference images tool that lets you place and edit a reference image to help you with drawing. Another help with drawing is provided by the improved vanishing point assistant. Krita 4.1 features many animation improvements and a better color picker tool.

        LibreOffice 6.1 offers 2 new icon themes ‘Colibre’ and ‘Karasa Jaga’, it loads documents with many images faster, the gradient tool has been improved and new fill gradients are available, you can now add page numbers and page counts in the header and footer sections of Writer, you can insert a Signature line in Writer, you can now sort images anchored to cells in Calc, the merge cells dialog box has become much clearer in Calc, you can now use CSVs as data sources in Calc and a new page menu has been added in Impress.

    • Fedora

      • Fedora 30 Wayland vs. X.Org Graphics Benchmarks On GNOME Shell

        In the run up to the Ubuntu 19.04 release I ran various gaming/graphics benchmarks looking at different desktops and X.Org vs. Wayland sessions. Check that article out if interested in the situation while this posting is just some complementary data I did from Fedora Workstation 30 when looking at the graphics performance under GNOME Shell’s X.Org and Wayland sessions.

        From the Threadripper 2990WX box with Radeon RX Vega 56, I compared the performance of various graphics/gaming tests under (X)Wayland to that of a pure X.Org session.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Chatterbox is a DIY Kids Smart Speaker that Features Open-Source and Private Voice Assistant, Mycroft

    Chatterbox is a build-it-yourself, program-it-yourself smart speaker that teaches kids how to program a voice-based AI system. The company is able to ensure complete privacy because it is using Mycroft, an open-source voice assistant that is not always listening, not collecting any data, and not advertising. In addition, the product is fully compliant with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which is what the Federal Trade Commission uses to regulate governing online services directed at children under 13 years of age. The company announced recently that it would be launching a Kickstarter campaign on April 30th, and will ship to consumers in schools in December 2019, with a suggested retail price of $179. Chatterbox CEO and Kevin Elgan told VentureBeat,

  • LoRa Gets Open Source Software

    Semtech released the first batch of open source code it is developing to ease the job of creating new LoRa networks. The arrival of LoRa Basics marks the start of a developer program fostered by the company behind LoRa chips.

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

    Last week, the team behind the Flow programming language open-sourced the language. Flow is a language for creating complex, multi-platform apps.

    Flow was created in 2010, and is sometimes referred to as Flow9 in order to avoid confusion with Facebook’s ‘flow’ typechecker, which came out after.

    According to the Flow team, Flow is easy to learn and is based on the semantics of other functional languages. Its syntax is similar to C, which many programmers are already familiar with, the team explained.

  • Hosting Company Suspends Account Over Open Source BitTorrent Software

    It’s no surprise that some hosting companies rather not host torrent sites that offer a wide variety of pirated content. In some cases, however, an anti-torrent policy can go further than needed. This is what developer Maurerr found out, when his free hosting account was suspended for uploading a package with of the Open Source BitTorrent software LibTorrent.

    [...]

    Apparently, the “prohibited” activity was related to the word torrent. The hosting service didn’t provide much more detail, and when we asked why the LibTorrent package wasn’t allowed the answer was short but clear.

    “Torrents and torrent related content is strictly prohibited on our service,” a representative informed us.

    Profreehost.com offers a free service and has all the right to ban whatever content they please, of course. Perhaps the company has limited staff or negative experiences with torrent related abuse in the past.

    However, in this case, the filter appears a bit broad, to say the least

  • Greenhouse Gas and Dietary choices Open source Toolkit (GGDOT) Hack Brunel

    We are running a series of hacks to develop tools for estimating the contribution of food to greenhouse gas emissions, as part of the Greenhouse Gas and Dietary choices Open source Toolkit (GGDOT) project funded by N8 Agrifood www.ggdot.org . We have made a database and some python tools for you to play with which shows a breakdown of emissions and nutrition for a set of foods you specify e.g. what you ate yesterday, or your favourite recipe, or the average UK diet. We are also interested in your input in developing outreach activities on this topic, including games for the upcoming stand Take a Bite out of Climate Change at the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition 2019.

  • GrammaTech releases Binary Analysis and Rewriting Interface into Open Source

    GrammaTech is making its Intermediate Representation for Binaries (GTIRB), a data structure representing binaries for analysis and rewriting, available as free and open source software.

    The developer of commercial embedded software assurance tools and advanced cybersecurity solutions, hopes to create a common framework for communication and collaboration between researchers and practitioners in the field of binary analysis, reverse engineering, and binary rewriting.

    Binary analysis enables the review of binary software to detect cyber vulnerabilities and binary rewriting enables the remediation of these vulnerabilities in the binary software. Both depend on a high-quality intermediate representation (IR) of the binary and a high-quality disassembler to lift executables to this IR.

  • Goldilocks and her open source options

    Of course, this swing of the pendulum would not last forever. The simple truth regarding the benefits of open source software was too great to be ignored. There was no hiding that the collaborative nature of open source software often provides flexibility, cost-reductions, and cutting-edge development. But before open source, there was “free software,” promoted by the Free Software Foundation – Free as in “free speech, not free beer.” Founded by Richard Stallman in 1985, the Free Software Foundation defines the four essential freedoms of software that users are free to run, copy, distribute, study, change, and improve the software. While the FSF worked to protect the freedom of software, it was not completely viable in the commercial world. Eventually, in the late 1990s, the first big shoe dropped when Netscape chose to release its source code of their suite of web browsing tools, Netscape Communicator. This was a pivotal point in the open source movement and the foundation of the Open Source Initiative.

  • Creating a winning open-source strategy

    According to a joint study by The New Stack and The Linux Foundation, 53% of companies across industries currently – or, at least, plan to – use open-source software, and larger companies are about twice as likely to use it as their smaller counterparts. For many of these businesses, adopting open source is viewed as a cost-saving measure. The alternatives, after all, are either developing in-house proprietary software or licensing software from a third party. Depending on the capabilities involved, both options can quickly run up an intimidating bill.

  • Yelp open-sources Bento Android framework for modular UI development

    Yelp might maintain one of the most popular crowdsourced business directories in the world with over 33 million unique monthly visitors, but its software developers aren’t just twiddling their thumbs. Case in point? The San Francisco company today detailed Bento, an open source Java and Kotlin toolset for building modularized Android user interfaces.

  • Rafay Systems Open Sources Kubernetes Tools

    At the DockerCon 2019 conference, Rafay Systems promised to make available implementations of several Kubernetes controllers, operators and custom resource descriptors (CRDs) as open source code.

    Rafay Systems CEO Haseeb Budhani says the company developed these tools and utilities as part of a software-as-a-service (SaaS) application that abstracts away the complexity of deploying and managing Kubernetes clusters running on-premises or in any public cloud.

  • Shift-Left Security is About Empowerment, Not Encroachment

    Containers have changed the security conversation in many organizations

    There are many reasons why containers have become popular in recent years. For one, they help developers maintain consistency across platforms and through the software delivery chain. As a result, it’s now the norm to consider whatever is in the container to be the developers’ responsibility, while operators own what is outside of it.

    Kubernetes has challenged that paradigm even further by providing developers with access to its native API, affecting operational parameters.

  • Events

    • Hacker Summer Camp 2019 Preview

      Every year, I try to distill some of the changes, events, and information surrounding the big week of computer security conferences in Las Vegas. This week, including Black Hat, BSides Las Vegas, and DEF CON, is what some refer to as “Hacker Summer Camp” and is likely the largest gathering of computer security professionals and hackers each year.

    • OpenStack: When Less Is More – Boris Renski

      In this clip from TFIR Let’s Talk, Boris Renski, CMO and Co-Founder of Mirantis reflects on this year’s Open Infrastructure Summit (formerly OpenStack Summit). He feels the summit is now more focussed and concentrated.

    • Boris Renski, Mirantis | Open Infrastructure Summit

      Guest: Boris Renski, CMO and Co-Founder of Mirantis

    • South Africa’s top Linux and Open Source conference here in October

      Open Source Week 2019, which includes the PyConZA, LinuxConf, and PostgresConf events, will take place at The Wanderers in Johannesburg from 7-11 October.

      Open Source Week 2019 kicks off with LinuxConf [ZA] 2019 – an Open Source and Linux conference – on 7 October.

      Topics covered at LinuxConf [ZA] will include Linux Kernel and OS, Linux distributions, virtualisation, system administration, open source applications, networking, and development environments.

    • Open source is an innovation philosophy

      As the Open Infrastructure Summit, previously known as the OpenStack Summit, kicks off in Denver delegates were told: “Open source is not a marketing initiative, and it’s not a business model. It’s an innovation philosophy.” Those were the words of Jonathan Bryce, executive director, OpenStack Foundation. They underscored the whole first day of the conference from keynote to media/analyst briefing to conversations with vendors.

    • Looking Ahead To Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8.0 News During Red Hat Summit 2019 Week

      Kicking off Tuesday in Boston is Red Hat Summit 2019 where Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8.0 could be released or at least hearing more about the company’s plans for releasing this next major installment of RHEL.

      It’s already been a half-year since the debut of the public beta for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8.0 and given past timings, indications are that RHEL 8.0 should be released quite soon so we’re certainly looking forward to hearing ideally about its imminent release from this week’s Red Hat Summit 2019.

    • What to expect at Red Hat Summit 2019

      When IBM announced that it was going to acquire open source juggernaut Red Hat for a whopping $34bn last October, several industry analysts weighed in on the merits of the mega deal and who would stand to benefit more from the marriage.

      451 Research’s William Fellows noted that the move puts IBM in a good position to tap on sub-trends in the cloud market, including the growing appetite for hybrid cloud solutions, while Gartner’s Philip Dawson foresees the challenge on the part of IBM in keeping Red Hat separate as it tries to grow its cloud business.

      Amid the differing viewpoints from industry watchers, it was clear that both IBM and Red Hat had to keep educating the market on what their marriage meant to employees, customers and investors.

      At IBM’s Think 2019 event earlier this year, Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst took to the stage and provided hints of what could come.

    • FLISol Panama 2019

      FLISoL is the largest Free Software dissemination event in Latin America and is aimed at all types of audiences: students, academics, businessmen, workers, public officials, enthusiasts and even people who do not have much computer knowledge.

      The FLISoL has been celebrated since 2005 and since 2008 it was adopted on the 4th Saturday of April, every year. The admission is free and its main objective is to promote the use of free software, making known to the general public the philosophy, scope, progress and development.

      The event is organized by local Free Software Communities and is developed simultaneously with events which Free Software is installed free of charge and totally legal, on the attendants’s computers.

    • Milstein Program Hosts Mozilla Foundation Chairwoman Mitchell Baker

      Mitchell Baker, the co-founder of the Mozilla Foundation — who currently serves as its chairwoman — visited Cornell on Wednesday to speak about the importance of the relationship between STEM and the humanities.

      The Mozilla Foundation is an “open-source nonprofit public benefit organization” that values healthy global communities, diversity, tolerance and technology for the greater good and social benefit, according to Prof. Amy Villarejo, director of the Milstein program.

      Open-source software is software whose code is available online for free to allow modification and editing by anyone.

    • RISC-V Foundation Announces Agenda for RISC-V Workshop Zurich

      The two-day Workshop will feature more than 40 presentations from RISC-V Foundation members.

    • OpenStack Foundation Pushes Collaboration With Other Projects, Communities

      Collaboration without boundaries is the focus for the OpenStack Foundation (OSF) at this week’s Open Infrastructure Summit as the foundation makes moves to remain relevant in the developing open world. This focus refers to collaboration both between the foundation’s own projects and with adjacent open infrastructure communities.

      Today at the summit, the foundation confirmed two new pilot projects — Kata Containers and Zuul — as “top-level open infrastructure projects.” The confirmation of other open source projects is a new direction for the foundation, similar to the “graduation” status that the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) gives projects under its umbrella.

    • OpenStack, no longer the rebel, scrambles to stay relevant

      The OpenStack Foundation has made a name for itself with open source virtual machine software that provides the infrastructure layer for clouds. But the group sees the writing on the wall: VMs will eventually be replaced by containers. And both VMs and containers may eventually be replaced by bare metal machines that can run everything, including serverless and other futuristic technologies. Rather than waiting to become obsolete, the OpenStack Foundation is embracing other open source projects and looking to the future.

      At the group’s Open Infrastructure Summit in Denver yesterday, Mark Shuttleworth, the CEO of Canonical, said, “This year marks 10 years since the first code that would become OpenStack was written.” And of the OpenStack community he said, “We are no longer the rebel outsiders.” He said it’s important for open source organizations such as OpenStack to keep adapting. “Nobody asked to replace dueling vendors with dueling open source organizations. What’s the difference between a vendor that only promotes the ideas that are in its best interest and an open source organization that does the same?”

    • Red Hat Extends OpenStack Edge Support

      Red Hat has delivered distributed compute node (DCN) capabilities within its OpenStack Platform in a move to help customers build an open edge computing architecture. The vendor said this will allow for more consistent, centralized management and less operational overhead from the core out to the edge.

      Red Hat’s OpenStack Platform 13 allows for central management of edge deployments using the same tools that manage core OpenStack deployments. It also supports a smaller OpenStack footprint at resource-constrained edge environments. This includes the ability to run in as little as one node at an edge location. And in terms of 5G services, the edge location can better support low-latency services.

      Sandro Mazziotta, director of NFV product management at Red Hat, explained that the timing of this update aligns with what the vendor is seeing from its customers that are looking to push OpenStack support out toward the edge of network deployments. He noted this was becoming especially important for telco operators deploying 5G networks.

    • Redefining OpenStack in the ‘open infrastructure’ era

      Open source communities, by their very nature, are fast-moving and dynamic places where change is often the only constant. And that is certainly true where OpenStack is concerned.

      In the nine or so years since the open source cloud platform made its debut, it has undergone multiple changes, as would be expected of a product that is updated every six months.

      The changes have seen new components added to the platform over time, as well as stability and security improvements made to it, that have all conspired to assure enterprises that it is a safe bet to base their private and public cloud environments on it.

    • With Kata Containers and Zuul, OpenStack graduates its first infrastructure projects

      Over the course of the last year and a half, the OpenStack Foundation made the switch from purely focusing on the core OpenStack project to opening itself up to other infrastructure-related projects as well. The first two of these projects, Kata Containers and the Zuul project gating system, have now exited their pilot phase and have become the first top-level Open Infrastructure Projects at the OpenStack Foundation.

      The Foundation made the announcement at its Open Infrastructure Summit (previously known as the OpenStack Summit) in Denver today after the organization’s board voted to graduate them ahead of this week’s conference. “It’s an awesome milestone for the projects themselves,” OpenStack Foundation executive direction Jonathan Bryce told me. “It’s a validation of the fact that in the last 18 months, they have created sustainable and productive communities.”

      It’s also a milestone for the OpenStack Foundation itself, though, which is still in the process of reinventing itself in many ways. It can now point at two successful projects that are under its stewardship, which will surely help it as it goes out and tries to attract others who are looking to bring their open-source projects under the aegis of a foundation.

  • Web Browsers

    • Open Source Blockchain Browser, Brave And Its Fork, Dissenter, At Odds: Which Team Will Prevail?

      Brave is a project that could have potentially gained attraction due to the involvement of the Co-Founder of Mozilla, Brenda Eich. In addition, its features have been praiseworthy as well, some of which include speedier browsing, rewards for contributors and the ability prevent the pop-up of ads or to simply get rewarded for watching them. A more recent option was for its users to earn BAT (Basic Attention Tokens) for watching ads.

      Null TX reports that this could be a problem because of the distribution of ads, that is, it is more tailored in specific regions. This has been disputed amongst Brave supporters. While a short-term problem, the news outlet believes that over the long-run (with popularity and success), this sort of thing is surely to disappear.

    • Mozilla

  • SaaS/Back End

    • How OpenStack supports Verizon Media’s publications

      A $4.4bn deal in 2015 saw AOL-owned publications transferred to Verizon Media (at that time called Oath, the group was rebranded in January 2019). Despite the long legacy tail, the company now runs the majority of its publications on open source.

      Speaking at the Open Infrastructure Summit in Denver this week, architecture director James Penick drew a direct line from the days of in-house development at Yahoo to the pivot to open source infrastructure which supports the titles today.

    • How does OpenStack fit in to a newly independent SUSE?

      The OpenStack Foundation chairman of the board Alan Clark talks us through OpenStack, open infrastructure and the future of SUSE.

    • Mirantis Models an Open Source Path for On-Prem App Deployments

      Mirantis unveiled a web-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) application that provides a step-by-step path to deploy applications using open source platforms in on-premise cloud environments.

      The Model Designer for Mirantis Cloud Platform (MCP) is basically a website that includes drop-down menu options to simplify the application deployment process. It’s curated with open source tools to help with that deployment process, but also to provide users with enough flexibility to meet their support needs.

      It begins by having a user describe the level of support they need. Boris Renski, co-founder and chief marketing officer at Mirantis, noted during an interview at this week’s Open Infrastructure Show in Denver that those levels of support are tied to basic configurability levels. Those labels include “I am too young to die” for those seeking the most support, to “Ultraviolence” for those willing to take more operational control.

    • Wayfair charts open source components course to growth

      In a low lit operations room in the upscale Back Bay neighborhood, technical teams watch monitors that show the electronic heartbeat of Wayfair.com’s data flow.

      They watch big data move through a stream of open source components that Wayfair’s developers have built and its data scientist ultimately analyzes, with the objective to continually improve the customer experience at the company’s e-commerce site for home furnishings.

      [...]

      That led to their using open source big data components, such as Hadoop and Spark, and bringing in the first quants — quantitative analysts — to study website activity.

    • Blizzard reduces Overwatch VM footprint by 40% with OpenStack Senlin

      Blizzard Entertainment has turned to OpenStack’s Senlin clustering service to help with autoscaling infrastructure for its massively popular first-person shooter Overwatch, accounting for a 40 percent reduction in its virtual machine (VM) usage as a result.

      Overwatch now accounts for more than $1 billion in revenues for the game studio and is an e-sports phenomenon. Blizzard runs its multiplayer games, like World of Warcraft and Diablo, using virtual gaming servers running on OpenStack on private cloud infrastructure across 11 global data centres.

  • Databases

    • 10 Top Mongodb GUI tools to manage databases graphically

      MongoDB open source database program is available in Community, Enterprise MongoDB Atlas Editions. The community server edition is free to use while for the MongoDB Enterprise Server which is commercial edition one has to buy its subscription. It is available for Windows, Linux, and OS X. The MongoDB Atlas is meant to run on cloud platforms such as AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform.

      The MongoDB is a document-oriented database program fall under the NoSQL database program category and uses JSON-like documents with schemata.

      The default interface of the MongoDB is a (CLI) command line and become difficult for new users to handle the databases like a pro. So, here we come up with some of the best available MongoDB management tools to provide a GUI interface in order to improve productivity. Just like phpmyadmin to provide HTTP web-based GUI interface for MySQL/MariaDB databases. However, all tools comprised here are not HTTP based and only a few of them provide a web interface to MongoDB.

  • CMS

    • What is an Open Source LMS and Should You Opt for One?

      The open source LMS trend, led by industry pioneers such as Moodle, has dominated e-learning in the last few years. However, many organizations still swear by proprietary LMS and its advantages over open source LMS. We assess these two options and look at the factors you should consider before making a decision.

      On the surface, open source Learn Management Systems (LMS) can appear to be an attractive value proposition, especially for small to mid-sized businesses (SMBs). You can get started with zero upfront costs, scale as necessary, customize as required, and easily transfer content without any vendor lock-in. However, open source LMS comes with a few critical disadvantages which are often swept under the rug – hosting is still done on-premise/cloud which means you are spending heavily on storage. Also, open source LMS assumes a level of technical know-how which may be missing in your organization.

    • Open Source SuiteCRM by SalesAgility Takes Aim at Salesforce With New Cloud Hosting Service

      SalesAgility, the authors and maintainers of open source SuiteCRM, are pleased to announce the launch of Suite:OnDemand to provide the freedoms of Open Source CRM as a Software as a Service (SaaS) product.

  • Education

    • Oman Free and Open Source Software Platform to help sharpen skills

      Muscat: The official launch of the Oman Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) Platform, a joint initiative by the Information Technology Authority (ITA) and the College of Engineering at Sultan Qaboos University (SQU), was held at SQU yesterday under the patronage of Her Highness Sayyida Dr. Mona bint Fahd Al Said, SQU Assistant Vice Chancellor for International Cooperation. Oman FOSS Platform is an initiative among a number of FOSS capacity building programmes organised by SQU and ITA.

      [...]

      So far, five requests for FOSS awareness initiatives, 220 requests for training, nine requests for consultation and three requests for technical support have been placed through the Oman Free and Open Source Software Platform. Speaking on the occasion, Eng. Khalil bin Ibrahim Al Ma’awali, Executive-Projects, ITA, said that the capacity-building programme in FOSS aims to develop human and research competencies through hands-on projects related to the needs of different institutions. “The free and open source software portal would serve as a source of knowledge, promote awareness and provide a number of awareness-raising and specialised workshops on free and open source software”, he said.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Funding

  • Public Services/Government

    • The Pentagon’s Drones May Soon Run on Open Source Software [Ed: Victims of drone strikes (or spying to choose 'targets') will be happy to know the drones were "open"]

      Rapid advancements in the commercial drone industry are pushing the Pentagon to rethink how it operates and upgrades its own unmanned aircraft.

      On Tuesday, the Defense Innovation Unit announced a $2 million deal with the Swiss-based startup Auterion to enhance its open source drone software. The PX4 platform, which would standardize the operating system for different drone models, could one day power the Army’s entire fleet of small unmanned aircraft.

      The contract will support the Defense Department’s broader effort to advance the small unmanned systems—think backpack-sized quadcopters—available to troops in the field.

      Today the Defense Department’s drones run largely on custom software that’s created and maintained by a handful of military contractors, but in the commercial sector, open source is king. This more decentralized approach allows the drone industry to quickly build and roll out new tech, while the Pentagon is stuck trudging through the lengthy federal procurement process whenever it wants fresh systems or software.

      But using an open source enterprise platform like PX4, the Pentagon would have constant access to the latest innovations in the commercial market without waiting on vendors to upgrade their proprietary systems.

    • DIU Is Helping the US Army Field More Backpack-Sized Drones

      The U.S. Army is working with the Pentagon’s internal startup accelerator to adapt small commercial drones—think hobbyists’ quadcopters—for the battlefield.

      The Defense Innovation Unit on Monday announced it will begin offering its expertise to the Army’s Short Range Reconnaissance program. Under the initiative, the Army plans to work with commercial drone companies to build small, inexpensive aircraft that troops in the field could use to survey their surroundings.

    • DoD Taps Auterion for Open-Source UAS Control Software

      The Department of Defense’s Defense Innovation Unit has awarded a $2M contract to Swiss firm Auterion for a drone operation software, Nextgov reported Thursday.

      The company’s PX4 open-source platform is designed to establish a common, standardized control system for different kinds of unmanned aircraft systems.

      The software’s open-source design would allow DoD to apply future technologies without the need for system updates.

    • VA Deploys Open-Source App to Streamline Agency Operations

      Employees from the Department of Veterans Affairs developed concepts for platforms that help streamline agency operations through the open-source Light Electronic Action Framework web application, FCW reported Friday. A panel of judges selected pitches from VA health centers in South Carolina, Tennessee and Florida as winners in the business management, employee onboarding and scheduling topic areas as part of this year’s LEAF conference in Virginia.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Data

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Open source Raspberry Pi robotics and automation controller Robo HAT MM1

        The Raspberry Pi Robotics Masters Robo HAT MM1 is an open source robotics controller designed to remove the the initial barriers to starting any robotics project by providing all the hardware you need in one simple, easy-to-use form factor. watch the demonstration video below to learn more about the Robo HAT MM1 created by Robotics Masters specifically for the Raspberry Pi mini PC. Although the Raspberry Pi robotics board is also compatible with Jetson Nano and can even be used standalone.

      • SiFive Expands into Silicon Forest With new Development Office in Beaverton, Oregon
      • FYI: AMD’s server-grade Arm system-on-chip is still kicking around in SoftIron hybrid arrays

        Open-source storage enthusiasts at SoftIron are touting a hybrid storage array that combines a bunch of HDDs and SSDs with Arm64-compatible Seattle system-on-chips from AMD and free Ceph software.

      • 3D Printed Replacement Organs a Step Closer

        A new open-source method for bioprinting represents a breakthrough for the field of regenerative medicine, and its success stems from a special ingredient: food dye.

      • 5 Best Open-Source 3D Scanners in 2019

        3D scanning is a great companion to the additive manufacturing family. It lets you create models of real-life objects and spaces without you needing to know their design specifics beforehand. 3D scanning does the measuring for you so you can ditch the measuring tape. This is super helpful in a wide variety of industries and hobbies, as it’s a non-intrusive way to replicate 3D objects.

        If you’re not familiar with 3D scanners, you can think of them kind of like advanced video cameras. Using a variety of techniques, they capture light in order to generate digital maps of 3D objects.

        Once this map is complete, the appropriate software helps you create a replica design of the object you scanned. Within that software, you can either leave the design exactly as is for a direct clone, or you can adjust design details for any improvements or deviations you might want to make.

      • This DIY smartwatch is open source, so you can build your own (but you probably won’t)

        There’s no shortage of smartwatches on the market, but if you can’t find one with exactly the features you’re looking for, you might want to try building your own from scratch.

        OK, probably not. But that’s what electrical engineer Samson March did. He designed his own watch case, circuit board, and software and printed and assembled most of the parts himself (although he did outsource the creation of the circuit board to a PCB manufacturer).

        The end result is a watch that gets a week of battery life, pairs with an iPhone via Bluetooth, and shows notifications on his wrist.

      • The SmarchWatch: An open-source smartwatch that you can build yourself

        Are you a fan of open source? Do you like making things? If so, then the SmarchWatch, a homebrew smartwatch, could be the ideal project for you. You will need a 3D printer and plenty of patience though.

      • Single or Open Source: What’s Best for Wide-Area Wireless?

        The Embedded Insiders briefly review the results of an IoT developer survey from the Eclipse Foundation, which found that two-thirds of engineers are currently or plan to launch an IoT project in the next 18 months (https://iot.eclipse.org/iot-developer-surveys/). Given the pervasiveness of IoT, does that even mean anything anymore?

        Afterward, the Insiders slide into a discussion of wide-area networks prompted by Alix Paultre’s recent engagements with The Things Network. Do recent announcements in 5G have any impact on the advancement of LoRa-based technologies such as those developed by The Things Network, or is there still ample market opportunity (See: “The Truth About 5G and When it Will Be Here”)? Will Semtech’s LoRa monopoly stifle the industry, or help it grow sustainably?

  • Programming/Development

    • Labs update and April highlights
    • Sebastian Pölsterl: Evaluating Survival Models
    • Weekly Python StackOverflow Report: (clxxvi) stackoverflow python report
    • Pete Zaitcev: YAML
    • Loops in Python explained with examples
    • Guido Van Rossum | Creator Of Python [VIDEO]

      Python is one of the most widely used programming languages. Swapnil Bhartiya, the founder of TFIR, sat down with Guido van Rossum, the creator of Python to talk about the origin of the langue and why he stepped down from the leadership of the very project he created.

    • Guido Van Rossum | Creator Of Python [PODCAST]

      Python is one of the most widely used programming languages. Swapnil Bhartiya, the founder of TFIR, sat down with Guido van Rossum, the creator of Python to talk about the origin of the langue and why he stepped down from the leadership of the very project he created.

    • Automate your Python code tests with tox

      Python is one of the most popular programming languages in use today—and for good reasons: it’s open source, it has a wide range of uses (such as web programming, business applications, games, scientific programming, and much more), and it has a vibrant and dedicated community supporting it. This community is the reason we have such a large, diverse range of software packages available in the Python Package Index (PyPI) to extend and improve Python and solve the inevitable glitches that crop up.

    • Data Analysis in Python using Pandas – 50+ Examples

      Pandas being one of the most popular package in Python is widely used for data manipulation. It is a very powerful and versatile package which makes data cleaning and wrangling much easier and pleasant.

      The Pandas library has a great contribution to the python community and it makes python as one of the top programming language for data science and analytics. It has become first choice of data analysts and scientists for data analysis and manipulation.

    • XSEDE Teams with Cal State for Advanced Computing Training

      The need for more young people in STEM careers in a growing concern for the HPC community. Along these lines, more than 70 undergraduate and graduate students participated in the recent XSEDE/DIRECT-STEM training workshops at Cal State LA. The year-long program enables undergraduate and graduate students to participate in a series of voluntary Saturday workshops.

      [...]

      After researching schools, Akli and Rosie Gomez of the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) made a visit to Cal State LA to talk with leadership about partnering with XSEDE. They learned that the DIRECT-STEM program focused primarily on math concepts in an applied context, and that they had just begun teaching programming in Python, a computer language.

    • Netflix: Python programming language is behind every film you stream

      According to Python developers at Netflix, the language is used through the “full content lifecycle”, from security tools, to its recommendation algorithms, and its proprietary content distribution network (CDN) Open Connect, which ensures that content is streamed from network devices that are as close as possible to end users.

      Ahead of the Python Software Foundation’s PyCon conference next week in Cleveland, the streaming giant has been detailing how it uses the open-source language.

    • 9 Open Source Tools and Resources for the Internet of Things (IoT)

      The Internet of Things (IoT) is winning over the world. The expansion of smart gadgets creates a global network that has the power to change the way we live and do business. The new technology influences almost everything around us, from home appliances and planning to architecture and marketing.

      IoT is defined as a system of interrelated computing devices that are provided with unique identifiers and the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction. According to the report, more than 64 billion IoT devices will be active worldwide by 2025.

      If you are interested in IoT development, you are probably trying to find the best resources currently available online. Our job is to help you with that, so keep reading to see nine open source tools and resources for IoT.

    • Puppet updates its flagship product with increased support for Bolt, an open-source task automator

      Puppet’s latest edition of its flagship infrastructure automation software includes additional support for Bolt, an open-source project that the company believes makes it easier for customers to move into the automation era.

      Puppet Enterprise 2019.1, which will become generally available next week, will also enjoy additional support for YAML, the beloved and bemoaned data serialization language that is closely associated with the Kubernetes container-orchestration project, now that Bolt supports the language. The product is the Portland company’s first major release under new Puppet CEO Yvonne Wassenaar and since the departure of Omri Gazitt, Puppet’s chief product officer, in March.

    • 5 Reasons Why Jenkins Is The Most-Used Open Source Tool By Developers

      Jenkins is an open-source continuous integration tool which is written in Java. By default, Jenkins will be running on port 8080. It is a master-slave topology which distributes the build and testing efforts over slave servers with the results automatically accumulated on the master.

      It is not only a continuous integration server but also has a highly active community that works towards improving codes, write plugins, participates on mailing lists, writes bug reports, etc. It can be installed through native system packages, Docker, or even run standalone by any machine with a Java Runtime Environment (JRE) installed. Jenkins helps an organisation to advance the software development process through automation.

    • HiveMQ goes open source: “We want to give something back to the Java community”

      It has just been announced: The MQTT Message Broker, HiveMQ, will be open sourced under the Apache 2.0 license, to the delight of many Java developers. We talked with Dominik Obermaier, technical director of HiveMQ / dc-square GmbH about this step, the technical aspects of HiveMQ, and the future of the project.

    • Improve gcore and support dumping ELF headers

      Back in 2016, when life was simpler, a Fedora GDB user reported a bug (or a feature request, depending on how you interpret it) saying that GDB’s gcore command did not respect the COREFILTER_ELF_HEADERS flag, which instructs it to dump memory pages containing ELF headers. As you may or may not remember, I have already written about the broader topic of revamping GDB’s internal corefile dump algorithm; it’s an interesting read and I recommend it if you don’t know how Linux (or GDB) decides which mappings to dump to a corefile.

      [...]

      The solution was “simple”: I needed to improve the current heuristics and teach GDB how to determine if a mapping contains an ELF header or not. For that, I chose to follow the Linux kernel’s algorithm, which basically checks the first 4 bytes of the mapping and compares them against \177ELF, which is ELF’s magic number. If the comparison succeeds, then we just assume we’re dealing with a mapping that contains an ELF header and dump it.

      In all fairness, Linux just dumps the first page (4K) of the mapping, in order to save space. It would be possible to make GDB do the same, but I chose the faster way and just dumped the whole mapping, which, in most scenarios, shouldn’t be a big problem.

    • Making your Python decorators even better, with functool.wraps

      The good news: I gave a talk on Friday morning, at PyCon 2019, called “Practical decorators.”

      The better news: It was a huge crowd, and people have responded very warmly to the talk. Thanks to everyone at PyCon who came to talk to me about it!

      However: Several people, at the talk and afterwards, asked me about “functool.wraps“.

      So, please think of this post as an addendum to my talk.

    • ThunderX2 Getting Big MEMMOVE Performance Boost With Glibc 2.30

      or those running Arm servers powered by the Cavium ThunderX2, a big performance optimization is on the way for Glibc 2.30.

      The memmove function for moving a block of memory will be much faster on ThunderX2 hardware with this next Glibc release.

Leftovers

  • Adobe’s $10 Photography Plan Gone from Site: Cheapest is $20/Month

    If you only use the Photography Plan for the software and not the storage, a phasing out of the $10-per-month/20GB plan would effectively be a 100% price hike with no practical benefit for you.

  • Adobe tests doubling the price of its Lightroom and Photoshop plan

    Previously, the Photography plan was the cheapest Creative Cloud subscription option, offering Lightroom CC, Lightroom Classic CC, Photoshop CC, and 20GB of cloud storage. The new plan offers the trio of apps plus 1TB of cloud storage, but double its old price. This makes the new Photography plan just $1 cheaper than the next price plan, a $21 / month plan that gives users access to one Creative Cloud app and 100GB of cloud storage.

  • Science

    • Finnish online AI course draws more than 140,000 students

      A free online course in artificial intelligence (AI) created by the University of Helsinki and technology consultancy Reaktor has drawn 140,000 students from around the world.

      Launched in spring 2018, the Elements of AI is available in English and Finnish. It was originally envisioned with the ambitious goal of training one percent of the Finnish population — 55,000 people — in the fundamentals of AI.

    • Computer History Museum Welcomes New Fellows

      At a ceremony today, the Computer History Museum is welcoming the four recipients of it 2019 Fellow Awards. They are James Gosling, Leslie Lamport, Katherine Johnson and Louis Pouzin.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • New CBO Report on Medicare for All Is a Serious and Positive Contribution

      The Congressional Budget Office issued a report on May 1, 2019 titled “Key Design Components and Considerations for Establishing a Single-Payer Health Care System.” This report reviews a range of considerations as regards the design and implementation of a single- payer system as applied to the United States. The Medicare for All bills currently before both the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate, as introduced by Representative Pramila Jayapal and Senator Bernie Sanders respectively, both advocate the adoption of a single-payer system for the U.S.

      The CBO report (pdf) properly examines both the positive potential as well as matters of concern in establishing a single-payer system in the U.S. As the report states, “A single-payer system would present both opportunities and risks for the health care system.”

    • Why Universal Health Care, Higher Wages, and Free Public Education Are Crucial Issues for Black Women

      I was born to teenage parents who got married young and divorced early. My mother raised me herself, along with my six younger siblings, in Cleveland, and life wasn’t easy even in the best of times. At age 42, she died, and it fell on me, then aged 22 and working minimum wage, to take care of all of us. At the time, I was newly married with a baby son. And I was deeply afraid for our future.

      My mother was born into a solidly middle-class family, but, as all too many Americans understand, everything doesn’t always go as planned—no matter how hard you work. She died on welfare. Without the support of the state, I shudder to think of where we would have ended up. As is true for millions of Americans, the social safety net saved us. It saved my mother when she was raising her children, and it saved us after she was gone. If not for food stamps, Medicaid, and various job programs, I would never have gone on to be the first in my family to go to college, the first black woman to represent my ward on the Cleveland City Council, and, ultimately, a State Senator.

      For millions of families in this country like the one I grew up in, the stakes are literally life or death when it comes to benefiting from universal programs—or lack thereof. About 20,000 people a year die from not being able to afford health insurance. And Hispanic and black Americans are particularly impacted by our fatally costly health-care system: One out of four non-elderly Hispanic Americans and almost one out of 10 non-elderly black Americans are under- or uninsured. Given that medical bills are the number one cause of bankruptcy in this country, of course health-care costs fuel the already shameful wealth disparity between people of color and white Americans. Many families lose their homes and go into debt in order to pay for medical services.

  • Security

    • Why Do Infosec People Wear Masks?

      Others conduct security research and focus on disclosing security vulnerabilities to organizations, something which carries a significant amount of legal risk for the researchers, even when done responsibly. I have seen security researchers attacked, sued, slurred, accused and arrested when they try to tell organizations about their vulnerabilities, too often do organizations lash out and try to shoot the messenger.

      Unfortunately there are also trolls, serial harassers and people who try to make life hard for you if they discovered your true identity. There are toxic people in every industry and infosec has its fair share, people who will call your employers to try and have you fired if you disagree with them publicly, or say something they do not like. There are people who harass women and make life hell for them, this happens more often than anyone wants to admit and is a real problem for women in infosec.

    • CarolinaCon 15: Writing Exploit-Resistant Code With OpenBSD

      This talk explores various OpenBSD programs, exploit mitigation techniques, tools, and development practices to show how you can use them to write code that is safe, robust, and resistant to exploits – even if your code is meant for platforms other than OpenBSD.

    • Hacker Breaks in To Multiple Open-Source Platforms, Demanding Bitcoin Ransom for Return of Data
    • Android Security Bulletin April 2019: What you need to know
    • AI-Powered Malware, Smart Phishing and Open Source Attacks, Oh My! The New Wave of Hacking in 2019 and How to Prevent. [Ed: A salad of buzzwords here and there… and calling crackers “hackers”. The low standards of CPO Magazine...]
    • Eight ways to find and fix open source vulnerabilities [Ed: Gilad Maayan shows that one can speak about improving security and patching FOSS without attacking it like Microsoft-connected FUD firms do]

      Open Source Software (OSS) is a form of computer software designed and licensed to grant multiple parties increased access. This includes the ability to study, change, and distribute the code however they see fit. It is estimated that OSS adoption saves $60 billion dollars for consumers each year. This might explain why about 96% of all commercial applications contain elements of OSS.

    • Open Source Tools Provide Low-cost Development Options for Cyber-criminals [Ed: Open Source will kill your family because some people can utilise it to craft malware. Similarly, cars are weapons because you can run people over with them. Just ignore back doors in proprietary software.]
  • Defence/Aggression

    • 6 Legendary Vietnam-Era Anti-War Movement Protests Everyone Should Know

      May 4, 2019, marks 49 years since the infamous killings at Kent State University. On that day, students were participating in a protest against the United States’ invasion of Cambodia (an offshoot of the Vietnam War effort that spawned years of protests around the country), when National Guard troops opened fire on the protestors, killing four and injuring nine.

    • North Korea Fires Several Short-Range Projectiles Into the Sea

      North Korea fired several unidentified short-range projectiles into the sea off its eastern coast on Saturday, the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff said, a likely sign of Pyongyang’s growing frustration at stalled diplomatic talks with Washington meant to provide coveted sanctions relief in return for nuclear disarmament.

      South Korea’s military has bolstered its surveillance in case there are additional weapons launches, and South Korean and U.S. authorities are analyzing the details.

      If it’s confirmed that the North fired banned ballistic missiles, it would be the first such launch since the North’s November 2017 test of an intercontinental ballistic missile. That year saw a string of increasingly powerful weapons tests from the North and a belligerent response from President Donald Trump that had many in the region fearing war.

      The South initially reported Saturday that a single missile was fired, but later issued a statement that said “several projectiles” had been launched and that they flew up to 200 kilometers (125 miles) before splashing into the sea toward the northeast. Experts say the North may increase these sorts of low-level provocations to apply pressure on the United States to agree to reduce crushing international sanctions.

    • Palo Alto Man Hailed As A Hero For Spray Painting ‘Yemen’ In Blood-Red Letters At Lockheed Martin’s Office

      Bryce Druzin, a Palo Alto resident who has been following America’s involvement in Yemen’s civil war over the past few years, could not take it any longer. Dismayed by President Trump’s vetoing of bipartisan legislation to end U.S. involvement in the Yemen war, Druzin took it upon himself to do something about it.

      According to San Jose Inside, 34-year-old Druzin spray-painted the word “Yemen” in blood-red letters over Lockheed Martin’s office sign, as a means to protest against the defense contractor’s weapon sales to Saudi Arabia. Lockheed Martin has profited massively from the ongoing war that Saudi Arabia wages in Yemen, and was the single-largest beneficiary of the $110 billion Saudi arms deal struck in 2017, according to Defense News.

      Along with the words “Yemen,” Druzin also spray painted “8-9-18,” the date when the Saudi-led coalition dropped a 500-pound, laser-guided Lockheed-Martin bomb on a school bus in Yemen, killing 44 children.

    • Once Again, Mainstream Media Get It Wrong on Venezuela

      Foreign outlets, dutifully supporting Trump administration calls for regime change, reported that a widespread uprising was underway, even though Juan Guaidó’s coup attempt had little support.

    • In Venezuela, Trump Administration Content to Support a Military Coup But Not Nation’s Refugees

      For all its bluster about “standing with the Venezuelan people,” the Trump administration is under fire for refusing to give protected status to asylum-seekers from that nation even as the State Department and White House have worked overtime to support a coup and impose sanctions – both of which have served to further destabilize a country in the midst of a political and economic crisis.

    • Despite International Law Which Would Make It Illegal, Pompeo Claims US Attack on Venezuela “Would Be Lawful”

      After U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Sunday morning that President Donald Trump has a “full range of options” when it comes to possible next moves against Venezuela, anti-war critics are wondering what the Democrats in Congress are prepared to do in order to curtail the administration’s ongoing threat of using military force to overthrow the government of President Nicolas Maduro – an effort international legal experts say would be a violation of international law.

      “We have a full range of options that we’re preparing for,” Pompeo said on ABC’s “This Week.”

      Asked if the president believed he had the authority to attack Venezuela without the expressed approval of Congress, Pompeo said, “I don’t want to speak to that,” but added that the President Trump has “his full range of Article 2 authorities”—referring to the section of the Constitution that grants the president specific (yet not unlimited) powers—”and I’m very confident that any action we took in Venezuela would be lawful.”

    • ANOTHER ‘JOLLY LITTLE WAR’?

      Sure. Let’s invade Venezuela. Another jolly little war. It’s full of commies and has a sea of oil. The only thing those Cuban-loving Venezuelans lack are weapons of mass destruction.
      This week, leading US neocons openly threatened that if the CIA’s latest attempts to stage a coup to overthrow Venezuela’s Maduro government failed, Washington might send in the Marines.
      Well, the coup was a big fiasco and the Venezuelan army didn’t overthrow President Maduro. The CIA also failed to overthrow governments in Moscow, Tehran and Damascus. Its only ‘success’ to date has been in overthrowing Ukraine’s pro-Moscow government and putting a bunch of corrupt clowns in its place at a cost near $10 billion.
      The US has not waged a major successful war since World War II – unless you count invading Grenada, Panama and Haiti, or bombing the hell out of Iraq, Syria, Somalia and Libya. That’s a sobering thought given the Pentagon’s recent announcement that it is cutting back on little colonial wars (aka ‘the war on terror’) to get ready for real big wars against Russia and China, or even North Korea.
      Venezuela is in a huge economic mess thanks to the crackpot economic policies of the Chavez and Maduro governments – and US economic sabotage. But my first law of international affairs is: ‘Every nation has the absolute god-given right to mismanage its own affairs and elect its own crooks or idiots.’
      Now, however, the administration’s frenzied neocons want to start a war against Venezuela, a large, developed nation of 32.7 million, at the same time we are threatening war against Iran, interfering all around Africa, and confronting Russia, China and perhaps North Korea. Large parts of the Mideast and Afghanistan lie in ruins thanks to our ‘liberation’ campaigns.
      Invading Venezuela would not be much of a problem for the US military: half the population hates the current government and might welcome the Americans. Venezuela’s military has only limited combat value. Right-wing regimes in neighboring Colombia and Brazil might join the invasion.
      But what then? Recall Iraq. The US punched through the feeble Iraqi Army whose strength had been wildly exaggerated by the media. Once US and British forces settled in to occupation duties, guerilla forces made their life difficult and bloody. Iraqi resistance continues today, sixteen years later. The same would likely happen in Venezuela.
      There is deep anti-American sentiment in Latin America that existed long before Col. Chavez. Recall, for example, the large anti-American riots that greeted Vice President Nixon’s visit to Caracas in 1958.
      ‘Yankees Go Home’ is a rallying cry for much of Latin America. Blundering into Venezuela, another nation about which the Trump administration knows or understands little, would stir up a hornet’s next. Their ham-handed efforts to punish Cuba and whip up the far right Cuban-American vote in Florida would galvanize anti-American anger across Latin America. Beware the ghost of Fidel.
      Talks over Venezuela are underway between Washington and Moscow. Neither country has any major interest in Venezuela. Moscow is stirring the pot there to retaliate for growing US involvement in Russia’s backyard and Syria. Both the US and Russia should get the hell out of Venezuela and mind their own business.

    • At Venezuelan Protest, Opposition’s Frustration Shows

      When a protester handed over a written appeal for the military’s support on Saturday, a Venezuelan policeman burned the document and let the ashes fall to the ground.

      The armed forces “won’t be blackmailed or bought,” said a second officer standing nearby.

      Benito Rodriguez fumed as he watched the events unfold.

      “It’s a humiliation,” said Rodriguez, a demonstrator who had joined a crowd of about 150 protesters gathered near La Casona, a residence historically used by Venezuelan presidents.

      The scene highlights the uphill battle now facing opponents of President Nicolás Maduro who have failed to persuade the country’s security forces to join efforts to oust the leader.

    • American History for Truthdiggers: Civil Rights, a Dream Deferred

      Rosa Parks sat, Martin Luther King Jr. stood up, the Supreme Court overturned school segregation, and the rest, as they say, was history. African-Americans, long-abused and long-thwarted, ultimately won their civil rights in what has become a defining American story. Only that’s what this is—a story, a mythologized and sanitized past that fails to engage with the complexity of the issues at hand.

      According to what American children are taught, the civil rights activists managed a coherent movement; there seldom is mention of the internal battles within the black and white liberal communities. As it is taught, the movement had a discrete chronology, a beginning and an end. It begins with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board or Rosa Parks’ refusal to give up her seat to a white person on a crowded, segregated bus in Montgomery, Ala. It ends, usually, with either the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, or with the King assassination in April 1968. The mythologized movement has a distinctly Southern geography—lost are the riots, poverty and persistent de facto segregation of the urban North.

      In learning the patriotic gospel of American civil rights struggle, students are instructed that there was a “good” black movement, fronted by MLK and dedicated to nonviolence; conversely, there was a “bad” movement, associated with Malcolm X and the Black Panthers, a supposedly violent and, ultimately, counterproductive crew. Gone, again, is the nuance, the movement’s gradations and the genuine emotional and intellectual pull of black-power politics and culture. In the traditional yarn, the civil rights movement went just far enough—winning civic but not economic rights—and was wildly successful. In the process, Americans are led to believe, the United States conquered its demons and saved its soul. The nation is thus vindicated and its sins are forgiven. White liberals can continue to sleep well.

      What if this popular telling conceals as much as it reveals? It’s possible, in fact, that the history of civil rights struggle in the America of the 1950s and ’60s was always far more contested, angry and radical than is commonly remembered. Taken as a whole, in this way, the pageantry is removed and we can see the civil rights movement as a campaign begun with the arrival of the first slave ships and still being fought today, sometimes out in the streets. In this more honest, if discomfiting, tale, the movement peaked in the 1960s but began far earlier and never really ended. It unfolded, albeit differently, in the North and the South and included equally strong traditions of both nonviolence and armed self-defense on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Line. In this version of a complex story there are few purely “good” or “bad” activists; indeed, their histories include many gray areas, and much overlap is visible among the traditions of King, Malcolm X and many influential grassroots characters lost to history. This movement, the real movement, unfolded in the streets and dragged along its leaders, white or black, just as often as it was led by them. President John Kennedy (who did not live to see his proposed Civil Rights Act become law), President Lyndon Johnson and King were joined by radical, frustrated students, the sons and daughters of sharecroppers, and even armed black nationalists. The real story is messy and best explained through a re-evaluation of one Rosa Parks.

      Parks is often misremembered as an old lady who was just too exhausted to give up a bus seat. It’s the perfect origin story for a prettified movement: an elderly woman—utterly sympathetic—battling unrepentant bigots in the Deep South. Parks, like King—who gained national fame organizing a bus boycott that Parks had started—emerges as a “good,” almost grandmotherly activist. In reality, Parks was only 42 years old at the time of the first of her two arrests, was a woman of great purpose and certainly was not soft or anyone’s pushover; she was a lifelong activist and far more “radical” than most Americans know. She began her career in activism protesting the trumped-up conviction of the Scottsboro Boys in the 1930s. She attempted to vote as early as 1943, turned away time and again until she succeeded in registering in 1945. By 1949 she was an NAACP youth leader, then secretary to E.D. Nixon, head of the Montgomery NAACP. Just before the bus incident and subsequent bus boycott, Parks attended a training session for direct-action activists in Tennessee.

      Parks, in 1992, challenged the notion that she was meek and harmless, stating, “People always say that I didn’t give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn’t true. I was not tired physically. … I was not old, although some people have an image of me as being old. I was forty-two. No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in.” Rosa Parks was, so to speak, a baddass—a social justice warrior in her own right. And her courage and commitment spurred a movement that vaulted a 26-year-old Baptist minister, Martin Luther King Jr., to international prominence. Indeed, as one contemporary claimed, “If Mrs. Parks had gotten up and given that cracker her seat, you’d never heard of Reverend King.” That’s probably true. Parks, though, was a woman, and even in the civil rights community women often remained second-class citizens. During the famous bus boycott that she had singlehandedly kicked off, she mostly answered phones and did secretarial work within activist operations. Also forgotten is that she lost her job and suffered economic insecurity due to her brave stand—demonstrating, importantly, that there always was, and is, an economic component to civil rights activism.

      The facts of Parks’ long career poke holes in the legend built around her. Years after the Montgomery bus boycott, she and her husband left the South and moved to urban Detroit. Entering the supposed promised land of the non-Jim Crow North, she found no need to quit fighting for justice. Parks lived out her life (she died in Detroit in 2005 at the age of 92) as an urban activist, protesting segregation, corporate downsizing and South African apartheid. She refused to fully rebuke the black rioters of the mid-to-late 1960s. She admired Malcolm X and claimed he, not MLK, was her hero! She was an early opponent of the Vietnam War and attended black-power conferences in 1968 and 1972. A believer in self-defense, she had kept guns in her home when she lived in Alabama. After King was assassinated in 1968 she attended his planned Poor People’s March to fight for economic justice. By the 1970s she had taken to dressing in African-style clothing, and in the decades before her death she would lobby for reparations to black Americans. Parks lived and died a crusader. She, and the movement of which she was a part, was always far more complex, divided and radical than the picture presented in watered-down accounts.

    • Tipping Point: For 1st Time in US History, Renewables made more Electricity than Coal in April

      Avery Thompson Popular Mechanics reports that in the month of April for the first time in US history, the country produced more electricity with renewables than with coal.

      Part of the solution to this puzzle is economic. In much of the US, Thompson notes, you could actually make more money building and running a wind farm than you could just keeping an existing coal plan open.

    • Renewables Outproduced Coal Power in the U.S. for the First Time Ever

      How did we reach this point? Well, part of the answer is timing. It’s springtime in the U.S, which means hydro power is peaking thanks to all the melting snow. At the same time, many coal plants around the country are shutting down for maintenance and upgrades. Renewables won’t outcompete coal all year round, at least not yet.

    • TransCanada Can Change Its Name, Say Opponents, But Keystone XL Will Never See ‘The Light of Day’

      After the Canada-based pipeline company on Friday announced it was changing its name and once again delaying construction plans for the controversial Keystone XL project, opponents said their determination to stop all dirty fossil fuel pipelines will remain regardless of what the corporation calls itself.

      While under consideration since earlier this year, TransCanada shareholders on Friday officially voted to drop the word “Canada” from the company’s title by renaming it “TC Energy.”

      “The name TC Energy acknowledges our origin as TransCanada PipeLines, while adding the word ‘energy’ speaks to the breadth of our business, which includes pipelines, power generation and energy storage,” CEO Russ Girling told shareholders at a meeting.

    • UN Mission Criticizes Ukraine over Odessa

      In a major breakthrough for Odessans and their supporters, a United Nations human rights monitoring mission in Ukraine has criticized the Ukrainian government for its failure to investigate and prosecute those responsible for the fascist massacre of May 2, 2014, at that city’s House of Trade Unions.

      This doesn’t mean there will be an impartial investigation, but it does help to shine a light on the massacre and the government’s failure to act.

      An Associated Press story on the the U.N. report was carried by news media across the United States and beyond, including in The Washington Post, (Minneapolis) Star-Tribune, the (UK) Telegraph and ABC News. This is a major departure from the near-total media whiteout of the issue in U.S. media.

    • Under Heavy Rocket Fire, Israeli Reprisals Kill 3

      Palestinian militants on Saturday fired over 200 rockets into Israel, drawing dozens of retaliatory airstrikes on targets across the Gaza Strip in a round of intense fighting that broke a monthlong lull between the bitter enemies. Three Palestinians, including a mother and her baby daughter, were killed, while three Israelis, including an 80-year-old woman, were wounded by rocket fire.

      The fighting came as leaders from Hamas, the militant group that rules Gaza, and the smaller armed faction Islamic Jihad, were in Cairo for talks with Egyptian mediators aimed at preventing a fraying cease-fire from collapsing altogether.

      It also comes at a sensitive time for Israel, which is to mark its Memorial Day and Independence Day holiday this week, before hosting the Eurovision song contest in the middle of the month. Heavy fighting could overshadow the Eurovision and potentially deter international travelers from coming in for the festive song contest.

    • “Mission Accomplished” Is Old Enough to Drive. We’re Still in Iraq.

      long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, my friend Dan and I were the lords of all we surveyed … by which I mean we were regulars at an excellent Boston sports bar whose bartenders and staff loved us and took wonderful care of us.

      Strange as it sounds, when you find yourself in an arrangement like that, snuggled in the warm embrace of an establishment that has a line to get in stretching around the building, over the bridge and all the way down to Kenmore Square, and you ain’t never been in that line, not for one second, the sensation of feeling 10 feet tall is not uncommon. Think the kitchen scene in Goodfellas.

      You meet some fascinating people when a bar like that is your living room — the kind of folks you don’t meet anywhere else. Most of them are amazing, unique, altogether badass, and their qualities more than compensate for the clustered fools who are just a fact of life whenever and wherever there is Bud Light for sale on the cheap. The clusters come and go, but the good ones tend to be eternal.

    • At Venezuelan Embassy: U.S. Government Ignoring Vienna Convention, “Facilitating Right-Wing Mob’s Illegal Acts”

      In an apparently unprecedented situation, a group of peace activists, known as the Embassy Protection Collective, have been at the Venezuelan embassy while it is besieged and attacked by backers of the Venezuelan opposition.

      Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, mvh at justiceonline.org, @ThePCJF
      Verheyden-Hilliard, is executive director of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund. She said today that the peace activists at the Venezuelan embassy “remain lawfully present until divested of that right, which has not happened. If they were not lawfully present law enforcement would be able to take lawful steps to have them leave, but instead it is trying to force them to leave by allowing and facilitating a right-wing mob to commit repeated illegal acts — directly in front of law enforcement who repeatedly allow such criminal acts — in an effort to besiege and embargo the embassy. If the State Department or the police had probable cause to assert they are present unlawfully they have the means to address that. In lieu of legal process they are conducting and facilitating an unlawful effort to violate the civil rights of those lawfully present in the building.”

      See video of Verheyden-Hilliard challenging Secret Service officers as they refuse to take action after a supporter of the opposition was apparently found to be attempting to use a drill to try to enter the back of the embassy. (The loud siren in the background is from a bullhorn, one of the tactics used by the opposition supporters to create a chaotic atmosphere.)

    • Nonviolence or Nonexistence

      Here in the U.S., we have a military budget pushing a trillion dollars annually, which is a hell of an investment in nonexistence. But we also have a growing peace consciousness that cannot and must not stop until it changes the world.

      One of the people working tirelessly to make this happen is Mel Duncan, co-founder of Nonviolent Peaceforce. Just over a month ago, he did his best to bring some peace consciousness to a House Appropriations subcommittee, in an effort to get funding for a global lifesaving program that’s in place in some of the most conflict-ravaged regions of the world. It’s called, simply enough, Unarmed Civilian Protection, but there’s nothing simple about what it is or how it works.

      For instance, in South Sudan, according to Duncan’s statement to the subcommittee, “Nonviolent Peaceforce has a team that has grown to 200 protectors since we were invited in 2010. Since the reignition of the war in December 2013, thousands of people have been killed and millions of people have been displaced. Tens of thousands have fled to U.N. complexes where impromptu camps, known as Protection of Civilian areas, have been established. Women living in these POCs have to go to the bush to collect firewood, sometimes walking more than 30 kilometers. Soldiers from both sides often rape them. Rape is used a weapon of war.”

    • Plane Lands in Flames in Moscow; 13 Killed

      An airplane belonging to flagship Russian carrier Aeroflot landed in Moscow covered in flames and with smoke billowing from the rear Sunday. Officials said 13 people, including 2 children, died.

      Harrowing video aired by Russian news channel Rossiya-24 showed passengers leaping from the front of the burning aircraft onto an inflatable slide and staggering across tarmac and grass after the emergency landing at Sheremetyevo Airport.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • ‘Everything Was Done To Make Julian Assange’s Life Miserable’

      Kristinn Hrafnsson, 56, spent three decades working as a journalist for media in Iceland, including the country’s public broadcaster. In his reporting, including his research into the collapse of Iceland’s Kaupthing Bank, he used documents from WikiLeaks. In 2010, he established Sunshine Press Productions in Iceland together with the Australian national Julian Assange. Before replacing Assange as editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks, Hrafnsson served as the platform’s spokesman for six years.

      [...]

      DER SPIEGEL: As the new editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks, do you sometimes worry you could end up in a high-security prison like Assange?

      Hrafnsson: As WikiLeaks has been under attack for 10 years, I am aware of the dangers that come with the job. I have been working full-time for WikiLeaks since midsummer 2010. It is obvious that I am in the cross hairs of the U.S. government, its military and its secret services. We have known since 2014 that not only Julian Assange, but also other people who are connected with the organization are under investigation.

      DER SPIEGEL: How do you know this?

      Hrafnsson: Google took it to court that they were forced by a secret U.S. court to hand over data from me and others on the WikiLeaks team to an investigating U.S. secret court. Google won the right to inform us. So, Sarah Harrison, Joseph Farrell and I were informed in December 2014 that our mails were seized because of a grand jury investigating us in an espionage case.

      DER SPIEGEL: How has Assange changed during his time in the embassy?

      Hrafnsson: I have been quite surprised that he has been withholding and withstanding this situation in a more resilient manner than I would expect from anybody else.

      DER SPIEGEL: How did the diplomatic asylum end which Assange was granted by the Ecuadorian government in August 2012?

      Hrafnsson: The ambassador asked him into the meeting room of the embassy and presented a letter, which he read out loud, saying the diplomatic asylum had been revoked and that he had to leave the embassy immediately. When Julian left the meeting room and wanted to go back to his room, the lobby of the embassy was full of British Policemen who grabbed him.

      [...]

      Hrafnsson: I am not sure if anyone would look really well when he was handcuffed and dragged out by seven policemen — not to mention spending seven years inside one flat. It was disgusting and disgraceful.

      [...]

      Hrafnsson: As both. Back in 2009, I found it extremely interesting to hear his opinions on information freedom coming from his background as a digital activist in Melbourne when the term “hacker” did not yet have a negative connotation but was a label for creative people who wanted to use the internet in a democratic or anarchistic way. Although I came from the totally different background of mainstream media journalism, at the end of the day I found out that we shared the same values.

      DER SPIEGEL: So, you consider yourself to be an activist and journalist as well?

      Hrafnsson: If you are a journalist and you are not fighting for information freedom, for accountability and transparency, then you are not a journalist in my eyes. Besides that, I am absolutely convinced that the struggle for Julian Assange’s freedom of is the biggest struggle for press freedom we have experienced so far in the 21st century.

      [...]

      DER SPIEGEL: Do you think the government in Washington is trying to get Assange to the U.S. in the first place on the pretext of the relatively benign charge of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion, so that it can then come up with additional charges that might lead to a life sentence or even the death penalty?

      Hrafnsson: That’s an absolute certainty. That is the playbook.

      DER SPIEGEL: When American whistleblower Edward Snowden escaped to Moscow, a lot of people in Germany demanded that he be provided with political asylum here. Assange’s arrest has been met with silence. Why?

      Hrafnsson: My impression is different. We are seeing increasing support because people are starting to understand the severity of this situation, and even some journalists are getting how important the case is for the freedom of the press.

      [...]

      DER SPIEGEL: How will WikiLeaks proceed from here, and how are you going to finance the platform?

      Hrafnsson: Through donations. The majority of them are relatively small, 20 euros on average.

    • Assange’s US Extradition Battle: The Fight to Defend the Conscience of America

      It has been over three weeks since Ecuador illegally terminated political asylum of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and the UK police violently arrested him. Assange is now held in solitary confinement in what many have called the UK’s Guantanamo Bay.

      On Thursday, Assange’s fight against US extradition began at a UK court. The US charged him with conspiracy to commit computer intrusion with former US military intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning related to the 2010 release of classified material. His extradition was framed as a case about “hacking”.

      But, let’s make this clear. Assange was charged for doing journalism, publishing information critical for democracy in the public interest, at a scale and speed that was unprecedented. Although the Department of Justice press release on the indictment accuses him of hacking a government computer, the actual indictment accuses him for protecting the anonymity of his source.

      This indictment against Assange signals the criminalization of journalism, specifically punishing critical aspects of journalistic practice, related to a story gathering for a newsworthy story published in the public interest. The criminal investigation into WikiLeaks began in 2010. It was part of Obama’s aggressive war on whistleblowers. Now, the Trump administration carries on this legacy, by expanding a combat zone to include journalists as their target. But this is more than an attack on press freedom.

    • Tesla to employees: if you leak, we’ll catch you, we’ll fire you, and we might sue you
    • Here’s the email Tesla sent employees telling them to stop leaking info

      Tesla’s security team sent a warning to employees this week to stop leaking company information.

      The email, which was shared with CNBC and verified with multiple current employees who requested anonymity, warned that outsiders who “will do anything to see us fail” are “targeting” employees for information via social networks and other methods.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • An Open Letter to Extinction Rebellion

      The emergence of a mass movement like Extinction Rebellion (XR) is an encouraging sign that we have reached a moment of opportunity in which there is both a collective consciousness of the immense danger ahead of us and a collective will to fight it. A critical mass agrees with the open letter launching XR when it states “If we continue on our current path, the future for our species is bleak.”

      At the same time, in order to construct a different future, or even to imagine it, we have to understand what this “path” is, and how we arrived at the world as we know it now. “The Truth” of the ecological crisis is that we did not get here by a sequence of small missteps, but were thrust here by powerful forces that drove the distribution of resources of the entire planet and the structure of our societies. The economic structures that dominate us were brought about by colonial projects whose sole purpose is the pursuit of domination and profit. For centuries, racism, sexism and classism have been necessary for this system to be upheld, and have shaped the conditions we find ourselves in.

      Another truth is that for many, the bleakness is not something of “the future”. For those of us who are indigenous, working class, black, brown, queer, trans or disabled, the experience of structural violence became part of our birthright. Greta Thunberg calls world leaders to act by reminding them that “Our house is on fire”. For many of us, the house has been on fire for a long time: whenever the tide of ecological violence rises, our communities, especially in the Global South are always first hit. We are the first to face poor air quality, hunger, public health crises, drought, floods and displacement.

    • Affirming the Paris Accord Is Good — But Democrats Must Do Much More

      In January, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi stated that climate change is “the existential threat of our time” when announcing the formation of the new House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, which was established to “spearhead Democrats’ work to develop innovative, effective solutions to prevent and reverse the climate crisis.”

      Since then, the House has taken little action until this week: a bill passed Thursday directing President Trump to keep the U.S. in the Paris climate accord. As the first climate bill to pass the House in almost 10 years, it’s a largely symbolic gesture against Trump (especially since it will not pass in the Senate), but it does not elaborate any further climate policy domestically.

      Meanwhile, this week, under pressure from activists, the U.K. became the first country in the world to declare an “environment and climate emergency.” While the motion doesn’t oblige specific action, it recognizes that climate change is a national priority and an issue of public concern. Both bills are steps in the right direction but demonstrate the lack of a robust plan by governments to tackle climate change.

      In theory, it should be easy to galvanize the Democratic Party around the issue of climate change. Already, global warming has demonstrated its overwhelming impacts on both human lives and the U.S.’s bottom line. Extreme weather patterns have decimated both urban and rural areas and displaced thousands. The U.S. endured its three costliest natural disasters in 2018: the Camp Fire in Northern California that obliterated the town of Paradise cost $16.5 billion, while Hurricanes Michael and Florence cost $16 billion and $14 billion, respectively. Recent flooding across Nebraska, Iowa and South Dakota has devastated farmlands and infrastructure, with the total damage cost already rising to $3 billion.

    • A Growing Number of US Flood Survivors Seek Answers

      Susan Liley didn’t set out to become an activist. “A grandma, that’s all I am,” she says. But when her hometown of De Soto, Missouri, flooded four times in three years, Liley felt called to act.

      After the first couple of floods, Liley did what she could do to help her neighbors: She dragged waterlogged furniture from a friend’s home and delivered eggs from her chickens to those without electricity. But the third time around, Liley says, “I got mad.”

      Across the U.S., flood survivors are growing in number and — like Liley — they’re getting mad and fighting back. From city streets to subdivisions and trailer parks, they are comparing notes with neighbors and asking hard questions about the rising tide. They are messaging each other on Facebook, packing meeting halls and lawyering up. And, increasingly, they are seeking not just restitution, but answers. Flood survivors are identifying the root causes of repeated flooding and working toward solutions.

      Most recently, their ranks were swelled by a March “bomb cyclone” in the Upper Midwest, which unleashed catastrophic flooding that was visible from space. According to the 2018 National Climate Assessment, climate change is driving more severe floods in many parts of the country.

    • Landmark UN Report to Show ‘Transformational Change’ Urgently Needed Save Humanity and Natural World From Nightmarish Future

      A new landmark United Nations report on biodiversity set for release on Monday will say that a perilous and miserable future awaits the natural world and human civilization unless we rapidly bring an end to humanity’s destructive “business as usual” approach to the economy, food production, and energy usage.

      Signaling the need for urgent “transformative changes” in order to save humanity and the natural world, the 1,800-page report and a separate executive summary will represent the first time the UN has published such an exhaustive report on the state of Nature.

      As Agence France-Presse, which obtained a draft of the conclusions, reports Saturday that “The bombshell Summary for Policymakers… makes for very grim reading.”

      According to AFP’s review of the draft report and the summary, the documents “paint a picture of widespread destruction wrought by man, some of it irreparable.”

      While the final report is due out May 6, aspects of what the study will say have been disclosed via drafts reported on by the press in recent weeks and public statements by officials and researchers involved in its creation.

      As Common Dreams reported last month, at last one of the overarching findings of the report is that human destruction of natural systems has put the world on a path towards a mass extinction that could wipe out over a million species.

      Robert Watson, chair of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), which authored the report with input from more than 400 scientists worldwide, told AFP ahead of the weekend meeting where the drafts will be adopted that while there are many direct drivers undermining Nature’s systems, the “number of people in the world and their growing ability to consume” are the two biggest indirect drivers of biodiversity loss and the climate crisis.

    • NO, DIESEL IS NOT BETTER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT THAN ELECTRIC

      Rebuttal to the opinion of Christoph Buchal, Hans-Dieter Karl and Hans-Werner Sinn titled “Coal Engines, Wind Engines and Diesel Engines. What does the CO2 balance show?”

      A recent opinion piece by Buchal, Karl and Sinn claims a Tesla Model 3 emits 11% to 28% more CO2 over its lifetime than a Mercedes C 220 diesel. Correcting the errors in their calculation reveals that the electric vehicle (EV) emits 63% less.

      Replacing the flawed NEDC test with real-world values increases diesel emissions with 80 grams of CO2 per km driven (abbreviated ‘gr’) while electric emissions only increase 15 gr.

      Replacing an outdated study on battery production with new studies and taking into account the Tesla Gigafactory runs on renewable energy reduces battery emissions from 85 to 33 gr. Increasing the battery lifespan to 300 thousand kilometres reduces battery emissions to 16 gr.

    • With Renewables so Competitive, Big Plans for Oil and Gas Investments Look Risky

      As the time left to avoid climate catastrophe counts down, the U.S. oil and gas industry is making a massive bet on exporting its products to the rest of the world for the next several decades — a sure recipe for blowing past the 1.5°C (2.7°F) increase in temperatures scientists say would avoid the worst effects of global warming.

      “Pipeline Bubble,” a new report from Global Energy Monitor, a fossil fuel and alternative energy research network, details this planned boom in new oil and gas pipeline infrastructure in North America. These plans not only allow North America to greatly increase oil and gas production, but those brand-new pipelines and related infrastructure are expected to last — and be used — for the next forty years. The report notes that the industry is currently planning $232 billion in new investment in oil and gas pipeline infrastructure.

  • Finance

    • The Uber I.P.O. Is a Moral Stain on Silicon Valley

      In the years since, Uber skirted laws and cut corners to trample over regulators and competitors. It accelerated the start-up industry’s misogynistic and reckless hustle culture. And it pushed a frightening new picture of labor — one in which everyone is a contractor, toiling without protection, our hours and our lives ruled by uncaring algorithms in the cloud.

      Uber — and to a lesser extent, its competitor Lyft — has indeed turned out to be a poster child for Silicon Valley’s messianic vision, but not in a way that should make anyone in this industry proud. Uber’s is likely to be the biggest tech I.P.O. since Facebook’s. It will turn a handful of people into millionaires and billionaires. But the gains for everyone else — for drivers, for the environment, for the world — remain in doubt. There’s a lesson here: If Uber is really the best that Silicon Valley can do, America desperately needs to find a better way to fund groundbreaking new ideas.

      Today’s Uber is more responsible than yesterday’s: Travis Kalanick, Uber’s onetime Night King, was ousted as chief executive in 2017, and Dara Khosrowshahi, its new chief, has led a thorough rehabilitation. Yet Uber’s early insiders paid no real price for their sins. Mr. Kalanick’s stake will be worth nearly $9 billion. Tech giants — including Apple, Google and Jeff Bezos, who all acquired significant stakes in Uber — will make a killing. Saudi Arabian petromonarchs will too.

      Not Uber’s drivers. Recent studies show that Uber drivers make poverty wages — about $10 an hour after their vehicle expenses are deducted from their pay. Drivers’ fortunes might only worsen after the company goes public. Uber lost nearly $2 billion in 2018, and the best long-term hope for Uber’s business is that drivers disappear altogether, replaced by cars that drive themselves. In rushed pursuit of that profitable vision, one of Uber’s self-driving cars killed a pedestrian last year.

    • Jack Dorsey Is Gwyneth Paltrow for Silicon Valley

      Young men are staggering around, hungry for days. They are throwing themselves into ice baths and cryotherapy pods. There are not enough beds at the silent vegan meditation centers to accommodate them. They need more near-infrared bulbs.

      They are the followers of Jack Dorsey, Silicon Valley’s answer to the mega-influencer Gwyneth Paltrow. The lithe, 42-year-old tech founder has become a one-man Goop.

    • Let’s Make a Brexit Deal, UK PM May Tells Corbyn

      ritain’s Conservative government and opposition Labour Party have a duty to strike a compromise Brexit agreement to end months of political deadlock over Britain’s exit from the European Union, Prime Minister Theresa May said Sunday.

      Writing in the Mail on Sunday newspaper, May told Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn: “Let’s do a deal.”

      The prospect of a cross-party compromise has alarmed many Conservatives, however, and even May said it was “not what I wanted, either.”

      “But we have to find a way to break the deadlock — and I believe the results of the local elections give fresh urgency to this,” she wrote.

      The Conservatives are desperate to move forward after losing hundreds of positions in last week’s local authority elections. Labour also suffered losses as voters punished both main parties for the Brexit impasse.

    • Chicago’s Historic Charter School Strike Wave Keeps Winning

      Chicago charter teachers are racking up firsts. In December 2018, Chicago saw the first-ever walkout at a charter network in the United States. And on Thursday, teachers employed by two other private operators launched the nation’s first multi-employer charter school strike.

      “We’ve been bargaining since last summer, and the process has been insulting to educators,” said Carlene Carpenter, a social studies teacher at the Latino Youth High School (LYHS), which is affiliated with the Youth Connection Charter School network. “If charter operators really cared about education, we wouldn’t be here today.”

      The past six months have seen more than 700 charter teachers at 22 different campuses walk off the job over stalled contract negotiations. All of them are represented by the Chicago Teachers Union’s recently formed charter division, which has been bargaining with teachers at 11 different operators using a set of common demands hashed out last spring. Key issues include pay bumps for charter teachers and support staff, who are typically paid less than their counterparts in district-run schools, as well as caps on class sizes, and more counselors and mental health supports for students.

      At the end of the school day Wednesday, charter teachers from across the city held a May Day rally at the Chicago High School for the Arts (ChiArts), a school that operates privately on a contract with the district. That makes it technically distinct from an independently chartered school, putting it in a gray area that the union says school administration has exploited in order to skirt regulations and avoid paying into the teachers’ pension fund.

    • IPOs Bring Tax Jackpot for California; Can Lawmakers Resist Spending It?

      Uber and Airbnb are among at least six California-based companies valued at more than $1 billion expected to go public this year, creating a new class of millionaires and billionaires and a welcome quandary for the state’s budget writers.

      Though it’s tough to gauge the total tax revenue all those profits will produce, it’s not a stretch to estimate California will add $1 billion or more after the initial public offerings, or IPOs, are made.

      “I’ve never experienced anything like this,” said Daniel Morgan, senior portfolio manager for the investment firm Synovus Trust. “It’s definitely going to be a big lottery for everyone. Not only tech owners, but I think the state of California.”

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Stephen Trimble: The natural antidote to Trumpamine

      New ideas get stuck in loops in my brain. I learn about a cool science story and want to overshare at dinner parties. Alas, the same happens with the daily political news.
      My job as a writer in these challenging times is to synthesize, to respond. But I get dragged down by Donald Trump’s rants and tweets, by the scheming and lying described in the Mueller report. All that distress and dismay, day after day, brings me to a state of stupefaction.
      Writer Hampton Sides has discovered the mood-altering brain chemical responsible for my incapacitation. It’s “re-activated each time we turn on the news or consult our iPhones.” He’s named this powerful substance “Trumpamine.”

    • Fighting Intensifies Between Israel, Palestinians; Death Toll Rises on Both Sides

      Gaza militants fired hundreds of rockets into southern Israel on Sunday, killing at least four Israelis and bringing life to a standstill across the region in the bloodiest fighting since a 2014 war. As Israel pounded Gaza with airstrikes, the Palestinian death toll rose to 23, including two pregnant women and two babies.

      The bloodshed marked the first Israeli fatalities from rocket fire since the 2014 war. With Palestinian militants threatening to send rockets deeper into Israel and Israeli reinforcements massing near the Gaza frontier, the fighting showed no signs of slowing down.

      Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spent most of the day huddled with his Security Cabinet. Late Sunday, the Cabinet instructed the army to “continue its attacks and to stand by” for further orders. Israel also claimed to have killed a Hamas commander involved in transferring Iranian funds to the group.

    • Playing 20 Questions To Figure Out The “Deal Of The Century”

      I believe that it was Henry Kissinger who described his approach to running Arab-Israeli negotiations as creating the illusion of momentum to compensate for the lack of momentum. The goal wasn’t the outcome. It was to keep everyone involved in the process.?

      Adhering to this maxim, successive generations of U.S. diplomats have “led” a peace process more for its own sake than for establishing a just and lasting peace. For decades, we had, what the Palestinians would say was “all process, no peace.”?The Trump administration has, it appears, now taken this approach one step further. Instead of wasting time trying to create the fiction of negotiations between an ideologically intransigent Israeli government and a weakened and dysfunctional Palestinian Authority, the Trump team promised to do the work themselves by putting together “the deal of the century.”

      We have been awaiting the unveiling of this “deal” for almost two years and have been told at regular intervals that it would be forthcoming “in a matter of weeks or months.” As I see it, the Kushner-Greenblatt-Friedman team may have found a way to create the reductio ad absurdum of Kissinger’s maxim by creating the illusion of a deal to compensate for the absence of a deal.

      During the past two years, in order to keep the suspense growing as to exactly what the deal might include, there have been leaks from “official” (Arab, Israeli, and American) sources. These have, each in turn, been coyly denied by the Trump team with the cautionary note that their effort remained a work in progress and would only be revealed when it was completed and the time was right. Since most of the leaks have suggested proposals that were wholly unacceptable to the Palestinians, the Trump team have accompanied their denials with the warning that the Palestinians should not reject the “deal” until they see it – promising that it would include proposals that would improve their lives. These notes of caution have often come in the form of tweets from Jason Greenblatt who has, it appears, taken to trolling Palestinian leaders and even low-level operatives with advice and/or rude rebukes.?

    • A Story About Presidential Clowns

      Who’d have thought it would come from Ukraine? That is a country that has been in various stages of turmoil for many years. It is hard to believe it would provide the inspiration for, and answer to, the question that has perplexed many Republicans contemplating the prospect of the 2020 elections, without a plausible candidate to challenge Donald Trump in a primary. The inspiration offered by Ukraine comes in the form of Volodymyr Zelensky.

      As recently as one month ago, few people outside the Ukraine had heard of Mr. Zelensky. He is a 41-year old Ukrainian comedian-actor, and star of the television sitcom, Servant of the People, a show that has aired in Ukraine for the last three years.

      Servant of the People is a story about a modest school teacher who becomes an exemplary president of Ukraine, living a life as president without all the trappings that normally accompany that position. In the plotline, he takes advantage of his position to rid the country of corrupted and deceitful bureaucrats, or, as we like to say in the United States, he “drained the swamp.”

      The success of Servant of the People was such that Mr. Zelensky, having gotten an albeit fictitious taste of what it was like to be president, (but liking the flavor) decided to try for the real thing. On January 1, 2019, he announced that he was running for president, and began campaigning in earnest to achieve his goal. Shortly before the election, in a debate with the incumbent president, Petro Poroshenko, he said: “I’m not a politician. I’m just a simple person who came to break the system.” He was more successful than he might have anticipated. The election took place on April 21, 2019. To the surprise of many, Mr. Zelensky handily defeated the incumbent, Mr. Poroshenko, who had been president since 2014.

    • The Democrats can Crush unpopular Trump in 2020, but only if they Run to the Left

      A new CNN/SSRS poll of about 1,000 people shows that among a random sample of registered voters, Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden each crush Trump by 6 to 7 points, even at this very early point in the campaign. Kamala Harris also wins, but by a smaller margin. This poll shows enormous enthusiasm for Beto O’Rourke, which, however, I suspect is a fluke of some sort.

      It isn’t enough, as our cable news shows too often do, to just look at the horse race among personalities.

      Democrats have to ask about the issues on which they can defeat Trump. Despite being absolutely despised by over 60 percent of the population, he does have some winning issues. But he also has Achilles’ heels.

      On health care, 53% are upset and only 38% are satisfied. That’s an issue on which the Dems have to run, and they have to run on medicare for all, i.e. single payer. It is the only way to fix US health insurance, which is badly broken for most people. For my money, Bernie is the one who is most believable on affordable health care and health care insurance, but I think the issue is there and resonating for anyone who will pick it up and run with it. This was the lesson of the midterm elections.

    • Trump Says It Directly: “Mueller Should Not Testify”

      Amid efforts by the House Judiciary Committee to nail down a “tentative date” for Special Counsel Robert Mueller to testify under oath about his two-year investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and accusations about President Donald Trump’s possible obstruction of justice efforts related to that probe, the president himself weighed in forcefully on Sunday afternoon by saying Mueller should not testify.

      “After spending more than $35,000,000 over a two year period, interviewing 500 people, using 18 Trump Hating Angry Democrats & 49 FBI Agents – all culminating in a more than 400 page Report showing NO COLLUSION – why would the Democrats in Congress now need Robert Mueller to testify,” Trump tweeted.

      He then added: “Are they looking for a redo because they hated seeing the strong NO COLLUSION conclusion? There was no crime, except on the other side (incredibly not covered in the Report), and NO OBSTRUCTION. Bob Mueller should not testify. No redos for the Dems!”

    • Mueller Stoked Trump-Russia Alarmism, Despite Finding No Collusion

      The Mueller report did not find evidence that contacts between Trump campaign advisers and staff and Russians during the 2016 election campaign constitute “collusion” or “conspiracy” with a Russian effort to elect Donald Trump.

      Nevertheless, Mueller’s report is bound to prolong the U.S. political obsession with the Trump-Russia collusion narrative, because it keeps alive the idea that Trump campaign contacts with Russians were a threat to U.S. national security.

      That view will encourage Democrats in Congress and the corporate media figures still committed to the Trump-Russia narrative to push the issue for many months to come. That means that Congress and the media will be diverted from the real domestic threats to democracy that stem both from the Trump administration’s anti-democratic policies and from the dysfunctional U.S. political system.

      The continued focus on the collusion narrative also plays into the hands of the national security state and powerful arms contractors, which have stoked the new Cold War with Russia. For senior officials in the national security state, the threat to American interests in 2016 was not only Russian “meddling” in the election but also Trump’s perceived interest in improving relations with Moscow, which would mean relaxing sanctions. They viewed Trump as a threat after he declared in his first major foreign policy address as candidate on April 26, 2016, “We desire to live peacefully and in friendship with Russia and China” and said, “This horrible cycle of hostility must end and ideally will end soon.”

    • Britain has the world’s lowest trust in social media

      In all, just 12 per cent of Brits said they trusted what they read on social media, as opposed to 20 per cent of Germans, 23 per cent of Yanks and 28 per cent of Canadians. People in the developing world were even more happy to give social media the benefit of the doubt with over half of Indians, Thais and Saudis surveyed expressing a trust of the medium.

    • Big U.S. news media Twitter accounts amplify Trump’s lies uncritically 19 times a day: Study

      All the big American media outlets “failed to rebut President Donald Trump’s misinformation 65% of the time in their tweets about his false or misleading comments,” according to a Media Matters study.

      The study found that major U.S. media outlets amplified Trump’s lies and disinformation over 400 times during the three-week study period, or 19 times per day, without identifying in the same moment that the information is just total bullshit and shouldn’t be taken as truth.

    • Study: Major media outlets’ Twitter accounts amplify false Trump claims on average 19 times a day

      The Twitter feed of The Hill, which has 3.25 million followers, was by far the worst offender we reviewed, producing more than 40 percent of the tweets that pushed Trump’s misinformation without context over the entire study. It promoted Trump’s falsehoods without disputing them 175 times — an average of more than eight per day. These numbers are so high in part because the outlet tweets about Trump far more frequently than other outlets, generating about a quarter of the total data. That high volume led to the outlet tweeting about false or misleading Trump claims 200 times. The feed rarely disputes the Trump claims it tweets about, instead simply passing along the misinformation 88% of the time. The Hill also frequently resends the same tweet at regular intervals, not only amplifying his falsehoods, but also making it more likely that the misinformation will stick with its audience through the power of repetition.

    • Embedded on the Frontline: Carole Cadwalladr and OSI

      This is more of a problem with OSI than it might seem, as mostly it is only concealed information which needs investigating! No better example of this exists than the work of the renowned investigative journalist Seymour Hersh. What has made his recent reports of such significance is information gleaned from “intelligence sources” – which Hersh has cultivated over years, and which have given us special insight into controversial events such as the alleged chemical weapon attacks in Syria.

      Equally topical are the “closed source investigations” obtained by Wikileaks, whose revelations about US war crimes and covert actions in the Middle East have been of such fundamental importance and use to those pursuing “truth and justice” – and the people who try to avoid them.

      That the work of these two genuine investigative journalists has been the cause of such strife to those caught in the headlights is evidenced by their reaction and the extreme efforts to stifle the incriminating truth. Hersh may not have been subject to trumped-up charges and imprisonment, but his writings have been stifled by publishers and his conclusions ignored by Western media.

    • The media is already bungling its Trump re-election coverage

      Hillary Clinton’s email scandal was the single most-covered story of the entire campaign in 2016. Trump was key in this process: As the story went on, he would seize on any new development and blast it as part of his Crooked Hillary narrative. The press would then write stories about Trump’s statements and tweets. Rinse and repeat.

      The outlines of a similar process are already taking shape for Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden over a scandal involving Ukraine. It’s EMAILS all over again.

      Just as with Clinton, there is some genuine sleaze in the Biden story. As The New York Times reports, it goes back to 2016, when Biden was point man in the Obama administration’s effort to tamp down on corruption in Eastern Europe. He threatened to stop $1 billion in loan guarantees if the Ukrainian government didn’t sack their top prosecutor, who was widely viewed as corrupt. The guy was duly fired, and the guarantees went through.

    • Democrats badly need to win the Senate — instead, they’re bailing out. WTF?

      It seems like Democrats really love having Mitch McConnell as Senate Majority Leader. Although the Senate battleground is certain to be better for Democrats in 2020 than it was in 2018 — a year when the Democratic vote reached an all-time high in a midterm election, coming within almost a million votes of the 2016 presidential election turnout — several top Democratic recruits announced this week that they won’t run for competitive Senate seats.

      Republicans currently hold a 53-47 edge in the Senate. There will be at least 34 seats up for election in 2020, and 22 of those are currently held by Republicans. This is a much different picture than in 2018, when Republicans knocked off Democratic incumbents in North Dakota, Missouri, Indiana and Florida despite the fabled “blue wave” in the House races.

      Only 12 Democrats will have to defend their seats in 2020, and most of those are pretty safe bets. Democrats need only pick up three seats this time around to win back control of the Senate — that is, if they also win the White House. But only two of the Republican incumbents up for re-election, Cory Gardner of Colorado and Susan Collins of Maine, represent states that lean Democratic. As CNN’s Harry Enten explained, 16 of the other 20 Republican-held seats “are in states that were 10 points or more Republican than the nation as a whole in a weighted average of the last two presidential elections.”

      Despite the uphill challenge, if Democrats win by 8 million to 9 million votes nationwide — the same margin by which they regained control of the House, in a midterm election that saw the turnout rate among voters under 30 increase by 79 percent, relative to the last midterm in 2014 — they can plausibly pick up four seats, losing one (they must defend two seats of their own in Republican territory), and end up with a 50-50 split in the Senate. Assuming, of course, they have a Democratic vice president to break the tie.

    • Biden Chided for Calling Trump a GOP ‘Aberration’ as Opposed to Symptom of Party’s Disease

      Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden is receiving many sideways glances and correctives—as well as direct rebukes—for suggesting President Donald Trump is somehow an “aberration” separate from the ills and misdeeds of the contemporary Republican Party.

      According to the New York Times’ Shane Goldmacher published on Saturday, Biden has used the term “aberration” repeatedly on the campaign trail in Iowa over recent days. The reporting indicates that many Democratic operatives and voters—though they agree Trump represents a unique threat and is unlike any president to ever hold the office—believe it’s a “naive” understanding of the current politics, as well as bad strategy, to frame Trump’s relationship to the GOP this way.

    • Back in Iowa, Sanders Says Big Ag’s Stranglehold a Key Part of ‘Major Crisis’ Facing Rural America

      Asked by the newspaper whether the nation could realistically move back to a system of smaller, family farms, Sanders said he didn’t “think we’re going to go back to the 1880s,” but did say “the heart of rural America is agriculture” and that his campaign intends to focus more on the issue of rural issues and farming in 2020 than they did when he first ran in 2016.

      “I come from a rural state,” Sanders said. “It’s an issue we probably should have talked about more last time. We will do that this time.”

      According to the newspaper, Sanders said it is time for the nation to push for major changes to the entire food production system.

      As Bill Neidhardt, spokesperson for the campaign, put it, Sanders believes the “rural way of life needs to be preserved both in his home state of Vermont and across Iowa,” and in order to achieve that, the senator’s speech—which will reportedly address corporate control over agriculture, fair trade deals, support for new farmers, climate change, clean water, rural education, rural health care and immigration—”will call for major, structural changes to the agricultural economy.”

    • Will Progressives Stop Biden, the Credit Card Candidate?
    • Biden ‘A Good Friend of Mine,’ Says Sanders, But Not Much ‘Question About Who’s More Progressive’

      In the ostensibly friendly battle between the more than twenty candidates now running for the Democrat’s presidential nomination, the battle over who is “most progressive” has emerged as one theme that makes the 2020 primary race stand apart from previous election years.

      And while former vice president Joe Biden, largely considered the frontrunner in the field despite only entering the race officially just last month, made headlines for claiming he should be granted that title, Sen. Bernie Sanders on Sunday morning pushed gently back on that idea.

      “Look Joe Biden is a good friend of mine and I’m not here to attack Joe,” said Sanders when asked about the issue by ABC News’ Jonathan Karl during an interview in Iowa on Sunday morning. In response to the question, Sanders said their distinct voting records when they served together in the Senate speak for themselves.

      “Joe voted for the war in Iraq, I led the effort against it. Joe voted for NAFTA and Permanent Normal Trade Relations [PNTR] with China, I led the effort against that. Joe voted for the deregulation of Wall Street, I voted against that,” Sanders said. “You know, I think if you look at Joe’s record and you look at my record, I don’t think there’s much question about who’s more progressive.”

    • Impeach now: It’s time for Democrats to fight, or surrender. History will judge them

      “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything,” as an old piece of political folk wisdom holds. The Democratic Party has apparently not learned this lesson. This is why (among other reasons) Donald Trump will likely defeat the Democratic nominee — whoever that may be — and win the 2020 presidential election.

      On Wednesday, Attorney General William Barr testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee about his handling of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report about obstruction of justice and Donald Trump and his inner circle’s collusion with Russia.

      Barr again showed himself to be Donald Trump’s henchman and a man who does not serve the American people or the rule of law. In that role, Barr basically argued that Donald Trump is a king who is above the law; repeatedly lied and misrepresented Mueller’s findings; deflected what Mueller in (now) two separate letters has communicated as serious concerns about how Barr distorted the findings of the Trump-Russia investigation; and in total sullied the office of the attorney general and the Department of Justice.

      Barr and the Trump regime have contempt for basic democratic norms such as checks and balances. As such, Barr refused to testify before the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday.

    • Let’s Not Rewrite History To Defend Joe Biden’s Record Of Cynical Dog-Whistle Politics

      An emerging defense of Joe Biden’s Democratic presidential campaign is that many of his questionable political acts occurred during a “different time.” When it comes to the 1994 “crime bill,” it is excused as a product of a time when the United States was more tolerant of racial injustice than it is today.

      Biden wrote the legislation that became the law signed a few months prior to the first midterm election of Clinton’s presidency. It was not an organic response to public concern but a deliberate strategy to appeal to conservative white voters.

      Nonetheless, pundits like Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo, for example, believe progressives are missing some sort of context for Biden’s policy positions and suggests it’s naive to believe they are any cause for concern.

      “The [crime] bill was coming just after the peak of the late 20th century crime wave which totally transformed American politics. Though we know now it had just crested, this was not at all clear at the time,” Marshall wrote. “It was also to a great degree meant to counter throw-away-the-key crime politics being pushed by the GOP.”

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • The Urgent Necessity of Public-Interest Journalism

      In that spirit, last week the Sidney Hillman Foundation announced the winners of the annual Hillman Prizes, which will be awarded on May 7 at a ceremony in New York. Since 1950, the prizes have been given in recognition of outstanding journalism in service of the common good. This celebration of a free and independent press is particularly timely at a moment when the White House is waging war on the First Amendment and, according to PEN America, the United States has fallen below the top 30 countries in the world in press freedom.

    • Press Freedom Continues to Face Setbacks in China

      In the world’s second-largest economy, thousands of internet sites are blocked, including Facebook, Gmail, Google, Instagram and Pinterest. News websites such as VOA English and Chinese, the BBC, The New York Times, Bloomberg and others have been forced outside of what is called the Great Firewall of China.

      With the tightening of social media at home, Twitter has become a place for some to share information and read more about world events.

    • Cambridge Capitulates to the Mob and Fires A Young Scholar

      So Dr Carl has been dismissed, not because his research is fraudulent or inaccurate, but because there’s a risk it could lead indirectly to bad actors promoting views that could incite racial or religious hatred. It matters not whether the scholarship is true; the critical thing is whether it upsets people.

      Universities like Cambridge proudly resisted these assaults on intellectual freedom in the past—it was the home of such free thinkers as Erasmus, Charles Darwin and John Maynard Keynes. Indeed, protecting scholars from persecution by political and religious pressure became one of the defining purposes of the world’s great universities.

      Imagine what would happen if the behaviour of St Edmund’s College become a new norm. [...]

    • Why the TikTok ban is worrying

      Appallingly, the order makes no mention at all of the most pertinent legal provision: Section 79 of the Information Technology (IT) Act and the rules issued under it, which form the liability regime applicable to intermediaries (online services). The intermediary liability rules in India generally shield online platforms from liability for the content uploaded to their platform as long as the company operating is primarily involved in transmitting the content, complies with government and court orders, and is not abetting illegal activity. It is this regime that has ensured that online platforms are not hyperactively censoring expression to avoid liability, and has directly supported the proliferation of speech online.

    • Russia’s “Sovereign Internet” is About Counterintelligence

      The bill does more than just forcing ISPs to prefer routing within Russia, it also also forces ISPs to only allow Russian DNS services. These two things combined equal a lot more than just stopping the threat of foreign-driven internet outages. It strengthens censorship and intelligence within Russia.

      If you control the DNS servers of everyone in the country, you then control the vast majority of what people can see and do by blocking content or redirecting users to sites that better serves the government’s aims. This is a practice that China does regularly with its great firewall.

      Furthermore, moving the country away from net neutrality and moving to routing that prefers Russian infrastructure allows the government to better monitor everything that the citizens are doing, because Russian companies then control all of the equipment.

    • Putin signs controversial [Internet] law

      The legislation, which will take effect in November, creates a monitoring and management center supervised by Russia’s telecoms agency, Roskomnadzor, state news agency RIA-Novosti reported.

      In extraordinary situations, the agency would be able to cut off external [Internet] traffic to create a solely Russian web system.

    • Putin signs “Internet sovereignty” bill that expands censorship

      Back in March, we reported on Putin signing two other bills that gave the Russian government the power to punish people for the online publication of fake news and insults to public officials. The latest bill focuses lower on the technology stack.

    • Putin signs law to create an independent Russian internet

      In addition, information from state entities and state-owned enterprises on the Internet will be protected via encryption, RIA-Novosti reported.

      While Russia’s internet has faced restrictions in the past, it has tilted hard in the direction of greater domestic censorship in recent years. Activists fear an independent Russian internet would involve the creation of a Chinese-style national firewall to monitor and censor content passing in and out of the country.

    • Facebook tried to turn a ban of far-right figures into a PR opportunity, but it backfired

      Thursday’s incident raises the question of why, if Facebook believed the targeted figures were promoting “hate and violence,” it took the time to organize a public relations opportunity around the bans – rather than taking action immediately.

    • Facebook bans Alex Jones and Laura Loomer for violating its policies against dangerous individuals

      Facebook today removed Louis Farrakhan, Alex Jones, Paul Nehlen, Milo Yiannopoulos, Paul Joseph Watson, Laura Loomer, and Infowars from Facebook and Instagram, saying their accounts violated its policies against dangerous individuals and organizations. They will be prohibited from creating new accounts, although Facebook and Instagram users will continue to be able to create posts praising them and their viewpoints, the company said.

    • The Atlantic Daily: Facebook and Instagram Crack Down on (Some) Extremists
    • Facebook Bans Alex Jones, Milo Yiannopoulos, Other Far-Right Figures

      When Facebook bans an individual or organization, it typically also removes posts from other users who praise or support them. In this case, a Facebook spokesperson said that people will be able to post about or praise these banned users, though they won’t be allowed to share any of their views or opinions that Facebook considers hate speech or calls for violence.

    • Facebook urges caution as Danish election looms

      With this in mind, social media giant Facebook has been in discussion with Danish politicians, parties, ministries and even the intelligence services to try and ensure the upcoming election will be as free from ‘fake news’ as possible, reports Politiken.

    • Facebook critic Husic unable to place ads on platform Featured

      Husic, who has been a critic of Facebook for quite some time, told the ABC’s Afternoon Briefing program on Thursday that when he tried to advertise on the social media platform, he came up against a blank wall. “You know I’ve been trying since the start of the election and been told there’s a whole lot of administrative ‘apparently’ changes that have been made that have been literally insurmountable to resolve,” he told host Patricia Karvelas.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Google will soon let you delete your location and browsing history

      You can choose between a three-month of 180-month purge. Anything older will be deleted from your account and, we assume, their servers.

    • Homeland Security will begin administering DNA tests at the border to check for fraud, child trafficking

      Border authorities also recently started to increase the biometric data they take from children 13 and younger, including fingerprints, despite privacy concerns and government policy that restricts what can be collected.

      Officials with the Department of Homeland Security wouldn’t say where the DNA pilot program would begin, but they did say it would start as early as next week and would be very limited.

    • How DNA Testing at the US-Mexico Border Will Actually Work

      Starting as soon as next week, the Department of Homeland Security will begin piloting a DNA testing program at the US-Mexico border intended to expose immigrants suspected of posing as families. CNN first reported the initiative, which WIRED has confirmed will be conducted jointly by Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement at two undisclosed locations over the course of several days. It will employ a new form of genetic testing, known as Rapid DNA technology, that makes it possible to process a DNA sample and produce results in about 90 minutes.

    • Check In For Your Flight With Your Face? Passenger Questions JetBlue Facial-Recognition System

      JetBlue says it doesn’t actually have a stored image of Fegan or any other passenger, but is instead communicating with a CBP database, according to the statement:

      The photo captured at the gate is sent directly to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), who then compares it against their passport gallery of those on that specific flight. If a match is found, they will return the confirmation number to us, which we will then use to board the customer. If no match is found, an error will be shown and the customer will be directed to visit the podium to have their passport manually inspected and boarding pass scanned.

      [...]

      The Department of Homeland Security wants to continue to roll out facial recognition at U.S. airports.

    • Mark Zuckerberg wants to build WeChat for the West

      All three rationales probably played a part. Yet the firm’s “privacy pivot” is perhaps better seen as an aikido-like redirection of detractors’ momentum. Mr Zuckerberg’s speech at his firm’s annual developer conference in San Jose on April 30th suggested as much. Far from retreating, he is limbering up for a new contest—to reinvent social networking, this time around messaging. “The future is private,” he declared grandiosely. Though he might not admit it in public, he seems keen to turn Facebook into a Western version of WeChat, the Chinese messaging app whose array of mobile services, from payments to filing court paperwork, has made it ubiquitous in China—even if his recent pledge to store user information only in countries that respect the rule of law is an implicit admission that he has given up on the Chinese market, where Communist minders insist that Western firms must keep all data locally.

    • A US police force is running suspect sketches through Amazon’s facial recognition tech and it could lead to wrongful arrests

      Amazon told the Post that using sketches doesn’t contravene its rules, but said that it would expect police to “pay close attention to the confidence of any matches produced this way.” Confidence is the percentage rating Rekognition gives any match it makes, and Amazon recommends that law enforcement set a threshold of 99% when using the software.

      The Post found, however, that deputies weren’t even shown this rating when using Rekognition, but were shown five possible matches for each search, irrespective of the system’s confidence in its match.

    • Facebook’s Cryptocurrency Might Work Like Loyalty Points

      Some were quick to note that this would reduce Facebook’s ability to make money from payments in the short term. But that may not matter much—if, in the end, Facebook’s crypto effort is really all about getting you to spend more time glued to Facebook.

    • [Older] Facebook taps former Vulcan and Gates Ventures exec John Pinette to run global communications

      Pinette was most recently VP of marketing and communications at Vulcan Inc., late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen’s holding company. He left that role in early March, part of a series of changes at the Seattle company following Allen’s death last October.

      Before his Vulcan role, Pinette served as director of communications at both Gates Ventures, Bill Gates’ private office; and the prominent hedge fund Pershing Square Capital Management. Prior to that, he led Google’s communications efforts in Asia and was a Microsoft director of communications.

    • [Older] Facebook hires top State Department lawyer as general counsel

      The company said Jennifer Newstead, the legal adviser to the U.S. State Department, is joining the company as its general counsel, replacing Colin Stretch, who said last year that he would be departing. Facebook also named John Pinette as vice president of global communications, succeeding Caryn Marooney, who announced her plans to leave in February.

      [...]

      Newstead brings some controversy with her. As part of the George W. Bush administration in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Newstead helped draft the Patriot Act, which granted law enforcement agencies greater surveillance power over ordinary Americans.

      Pinette most recently worked as vice president of marketing and communications at Vulcan, the business and philanthropic group started by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. Before that, he led communications for Bill Gates’ private office and also worked at Google.

    • No child’s play: Experts fume as baby care companies seek kids’ data

      Ecommerce giant Amazon and digital parenting networks First-Cry and Parentlane as well as Johnson & Johnson’s BabyCenter are among companies that offer services such as age-based content, recommendations or discount coupons to parents who share specific information about their children.

      “Children are particularly vulnerable and require heightened privacy protection. Amazon, Parentlane and FirstCry must clarify and inform parents what (they) intend to do with the data being gathered,” said Apar Gupta, director at Internet Freedom Foundation, a digital rights advocacy group.

      India is currently debating the contours of a proposed law on data protection based on recommendations by the Justice BN Srikrishna committee.

    • A federal privacy law could do better than California’s

      The effectiveness of this approach is becoming a mirage as the amount and pace of data collection keeps expanding. As Michelle Richardson of the advocacy group Center for Democracy and Technology explained in a recent Senate hearing, “Existing privacy regimes including … CCPA rely too heavily on the concept of notice and consent, placing an untenable burden on consumers and failing to rein in harmful data practices.” Privacy experts widely believe that the law needs to shift the burden away from individuals and onto the businesses that collect personal information.

    • Biometrics are not Protected in the United States – Court Case Reaffirms

      In Massachusetts, a judge has forced a number of people to attempt to unlock an iPhone to determine the owner and get access to the underlying data.

      This reaffirms what has already been said in security and privacy circles repeatedly. Biometrics are not protected speech and are not protected by the 5th amendment of the US constitution, and you can be forced to unlock a device against your will if you have fingerprint, face, or other biometric unlocks protecting your device from intrusion.

    • Worker fired for refusing to use fingerprint sign-in wins appeal due to breached Privacy Act

      However, the full bench sided with the worker on appeal yesterday in a ruling expected to throw the viability of finger and retinal scanning technology within the workplace up in the air.

      The FWC found Superior Wood breached its obligations under the Privacy Act by having inadequate protections in place to protect sensitive personal data at the time the worker was fired.

      The commission ruled the worker was “entitled to seek to protect” his biometric data, finding fingerprint scanning was “administratively convenient” for the employer rather than reasonably necessary.

    • Customs seize Finnish silk road server

      While German, French, Canadian and American officials as well as Europol cooperated in the case, Sinkkonen did not reveal in which country authorities found the servers.

    • “Smart” doorlocks have policies that let landlords and third parties spy on you

      Latch’s privacy policy is the usual IoT dumpster fire, allowing the company to harvest a vast amount of information from you and also share that information with a wide array of third parties, including (sometimes) your landlord. Almost every method of unlocking your Latch requires an app in the loop (even PINs that you use with a numeric keyboard are delivered by app) and the app gathers huge amounts of information on you. Moreover, landlords can choose to configure Latch locks to require the app.

    • How the U.K. Won’t Keep Porn Away From Teens

      What is taking shape is an enforcement regime made up not just of actual regulators and quasi-regulators but also major pornographers. It is a system that may not only fail to accomplish the law’s stated purpose (to keep children from stumbling upon adult content), but which also risks being captured by the biggest name in online porn, a multinational streaming conglomerate called MindGeek.

      How could a distinctly British moral crusade end up empowering a foreign porn monopolist?

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • The vile experiences of women in tech

      In “Brotopia: Breaking up the Boys’ Club of Silicon Valley”, Emily Chang, a journalist at Bloomberg, explores the difficulties that women face. Start-up culture is often like a college fraternity house, which makes it hard for women to fit in, especially in senior management. Ms Chang recounts female engineers at Uber describing how they were invited to strip clubs by their male colleagues, for example. Meanwhile, female venture capitalists are scarce.

    • Palantir’s software was used for deportations, documents show

      Data mining firm Palantir’s software was used by a US government agency during an operation in 2017 in which immigrants crossing the border were arrested for deportation, newly released documents (PDF) have shown, contradicting the $20 billion firm’s earlier public statements.

      The Immigration and Customs Enforcement documents, obtained by advocacy organization Mijente through Freedom of Information Act litigation, notes that agents of ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations used Palantir’s software to build profiles of immigrant children and their family members for the prosecution and arrest of any undocumented person they encountered in their investigation.

    • Social Media Can’t Replace Social Infrastructure

      Today’s philanthropists, particularly those in tech, pursue with passion projects with goals such as space colonization and immortality. Many of these initiatives seem motivated by hubris and narcissism. Few corporate leaders from the information economy, including those in technology and finance, have supported the library, the primary institution promoting literacy and providing Internet access to those who have no other way to get online.

      In libraries, ordinary people with different backgrounds and interests can take part in a living democratic culture. Political leaders driven by the logic of the market have proclaimed for decades that institutions like the library don’t work any longer, that we’d be better off investing in new technologies. So libraries have been starved of resources. They’ve downsized staff, cutting back on librarians. They’ve decreased the budget for new books, periodicals, and films. They’ve reduced their hours and days despite rising attendance and circulation, leaving those with weekday obligations like work and school with fewer opportunities. A century ago, most US branch libraries were open seven days a week; today, most are closed on Sundays, the popular days for immigrants, blue-collar workers, and families.

    • Hacktivists Are on the Rise—but Less Effective Than Ever

      Hacktivist attacks generally aren’t very technically sophisticated, and often aren’t even very effective. “Back in 2009, when a lot of this was starting to come to the forefront of people’s minds, there weren’t DDoS protections in place, but defenses have picked up,” says Harrison Van Riper, a strategy and research analyst who tracks hacktivist activity at the security firm Digital Shadows. “We saw these hacktivists then shift to go after smaller targets and low hanging fruit like universities or small subsections of a government. Even if a site is down for 30 seconds, the hacktivists get a screenshot and then they can say they took it down.”

    • Israeli Law Silences and Punishes Critics and Human Rights Workers

      On one hand, Israel’s planned deportation of Human Rights Watch Director Omar Shakir simply continues its years-long attitude toward international human rights workers. For almost a decade, Israel has tried to apply pressure on international non-governmental organizations (INGOs), requiring microscopic inspection of their funding and recently proposing that members of INGOs attending meetings of the Knesset be forced to wear badges identifying themselves as such.

      Such individuals are regarded as “foreign agents.” Still, domestic Israeli human rights organizations such as Breaking the Silence face even more severe censorship and surveillance. Amnesty International has called on Israel to stop these acts of repression, but Israel has responded by increasing them, and in very dangerous ways.

      On the other hand, the European Union (EU) is now warning of the particular danger Shakir’s deportation presents. On April 30, in a statement before the United Nations Security Council, the EU called on Israel not to deport Shakir. “We are concerned that, within the current political landscape, those on all sides who seek to bridge the gap between Israelis and Palestinians are undermined,” said Finnish representative Kai Sauer on behalf of the EU.

      Three U.N. special rapporteurs called on Israel to reverse its deportation decision. The Israeli rights groups Association for Civil Rights in Israel, the New Israel Fund and B’Tselem; the Palestinian organizations Al-Haq, Al-Mezan and the Palestinian Center for Human Rights; U.S.-based groups, including the American Friends Service Committee, Amnesty International, the Center for Constitutional Rights and the Middle East Studies Association; and a group of Rhodes Scholars and T’ruah Rabbis have also criticized the deportation order.

    • People in Alabama Prisons Are Shackled to Buckets for Days on End

      On March 25, 2019, Christopher Caldwell reportedly found himself nearly immobile, shackled to a bucket at Limestone Correctional Facility in Alabama. His pant legs were taped up, and his belly, feet and hands were shackled. Caldwell’s handcuffs were shackled to his belly, preventing him from moving his hands above his waist.

      Caldwell had just been transferred to the prison from a relatively coveted work release center, and had already undergone extensive precautionary entrance procedures: several body cavity searches, metal detectors and drug dogs. But, per Capt. Patrick Robinson’s “bucket detail” policy — known colloquially as “shitting in a bucket” — Caldwell’s processing wasn’t complete. After guards placed him in a cell, shackled and taped him, he was told his restraints would not be removed until he “shat six times” in the bucket, according to an organizing group that platforms prisoners’ voices, Unheard Voices O.T.C.J. (Of The Concrete Jungle).

      Caldwell was bound to the bucket in a cell without running water for five days. His pleas for help were either ignored by guards, or met with mace threats.

      Another confined individual subjected to the “shitting in a bucket” practice, Daniel Bolden (AIS #254848), said that his memories of eating like a dog (due to constrained hands) are etched into his mind. Unable to shower, he was forced to lie near and in his own feces and urine.

    • No, ‘Sex Trafficking’ Won’t Actually Increase During the Kentucky Derby

      Yet despite the persistence of this narrative, many sex worker advocacy groups and anti-trafficking organizations alike say that there isn’t much evidence to support the idea that events like the Super Bowl or the Kentucky Derby are correlated with a rise in sex trafficking rates. “I don’t think the data convincingly makes a point there’s a major spike in trafficking” surrounding these events, says Bradley Myles, CEO of Polaris, an anti-trafficking organization that operates the National Human Trafficking Hotline based in Washington, D.C. “There’s data to suggest changes in the market, but not necessarily data to suggest major spikes.” The research that does exist, such as a 2018 study from the University of Minnesota (which was published in advance of the 2018 Super Bowl in Minneapolis), suggests that while the Super Bowl “correlates with an increase in the number of online ads for commercial sex in the host city,” that doesn’t necessarily mean that all of these ads are placed by sex traffickers or victims of sex trafficking; further, the impact is “short-lived,” and the media tends to “recycle unfounded and exaggerated numbers” when covering the event every year.

    • Sex Workers Aren’t Happy With the New Netflix Show About Dominatrixes

      The Twitter account for Mistress May shows an alabaster-skinned, dark-haired woman in a bustier, holding a riding crop and staring suggestively at the camera. “Welcome to my office. I’m Mistress May. And I didn’t give you permission to @ me,” her bio reads. At first glance, it looks much like any other dominatrix profile on Twitter, with one glaring difference: Mistress May primarily tweets links to positive reviews of the Netflix show Bonding, which was released on April 24th, because Mistress May is a fictional Twitter account created by Netflix to promote the show. Another glaring difference: unlike many sex workers on Twitter, Mistress May is verified. And this is not insignificant: on a website that many have argued partakes in discriminatory behavior against those who do sex work, many sex workers are outraged that Twitter would provide a platform for a fictional sex worker from a show that they have argued promotes an inaccurate and outright harmful view of their profession.

      [...]

      The fact that Mistress May has her own verified Twitter profile, at a time when many sex workers have been subject to shadowbanning or outright banning by major social media platforms, is an additional issue to many who have watched the show. The practice of shadowbanning — or removing a social media profile from suggested accounts to follow, and making it difficult for people to find — is widely used by large social media platforms to silence sex workers, says Jessie Sage, a sex columnist for the Pittsburgh City Paper and an organizer with the advocacy group SWOP Pittsburgh who has been subject to the practice and has written about Big Tech discriminating against sex workers. Although Twitter has denied shadowbanning users, Sage says sex workers have reported otherwise, and it has had an impact on their livelihoods. “Many sex workers have reported that this is dramatically cutting into bookings and sales,” says Sage. So watching Twitter “[shadowban] all of our accounts, but then verifying an account for a terrible show about sex work” feels like a particularly rough slap in the face.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Get These Dependencies Off My Lawn: 5 Tasks You Didn’t Know Could be Done with Pure HTML and CSS

      Here are some things that are built into the HTML and CSS standards that you probably didn’t know about. Or maybe you did. Congratulations.

    • I forgot how to manage a server

      The thing is, I’ve been writing and using config management for the last 6-ish years. I’ve shared many blogposts regarding Puppet, some of its design patterns, even pretended to hold all the knowledge by sharing my lessons learned after 3yr of using Puppet.

      And now I’ve come to the point where I no longer know how to install, configure or run software without Puppet.

    • These robocalls don’t want to talk to you, they just want you to call back, FCC says

      These recent “One Ring” calls attempt to bait consumers into calling the number back, which can result in you being billed toll charges as if you called a 900 number. The calls are also known as “Wangiri” – the term means “one ring and done” in Japanese, so labelled after the scam originated there years ago.

    • How social media destroyed the web’s art communities

      The blanding out of art hosts like DeviantArt and ConceptArt are the big ticket items, and the decay of tumblr into a “joyless black hole” exemplifies the process. But I feel things on a smaller scale are more instructive. Left unsaid, but also important: when audiences migrated to Facebook and other social media platforms, what was left behind on once-vibrant small community sites often went toxic fast.

    • The Rise and Fall of Internet Art Communities

      There are a myriad of reasons people leave platforms—an unfriendly interface; outdated design; increased spam—but the shift away from tight-knit spaces for collective creativity marks more than just a natural fall in popularity. As the internet consolidated, it moved toward homogeneity and passivity, and the [Internet's] once-vibrant art communities became casualties in social media’s rapid, obliterative rise.

    • Pornhub wants to buy Tumblr and restore site to former porn-filled glory

      Shortly after Verizon announced the Tumblr porn ban, we reported that Tumblr’s algorithm for enforcing the ban was “flagging non-adult content as adult content, and vice versa.”

    • Tumblr has aroused the interest of Pornhub
    • Pornhub Is “Extremely Interested” In Acquiring Tumblr

      Pornhub Vice President Corey Price said in an email to BuzzFeed News that the porn-streaming giant is extremely interested in buying Tumblr, the once uniquely horny hub for young women and queer people that banned adult content last December to the disappointment of many of its users.

      Price said that restoring Tumblr’s NSFW edge would be central to their acquisition of it, were it to actually happen.

    • Why you don’t want Tumblr sold to exploitative Pornhub

      Outside of Pornhub, MindGeek owns many of the top porn streaming sites, like YouPorn, RedTube and GayTube. Widespread piracy of porn films by those sites has made it tough for performers to earn a living. Many smaller studios or performers don’t have the legal or financial resources to file constant copyright infringement takedown notices, and MindGeek’s sites have been accused of allowing re-uploads of videos days after taking them down.

      The truly insidious part is that MindGeek has also bought up a bunch of the top porn production studios, including Brazzers, Babes.com and Digital Playground. MindGeek has been accused of allowing those studios’ films to be pirated by its own streaming sites. That lets MindGeek earn and keep streaming ad revenue without giving performers a proper cut.

    • Verizon Looking To Sell Tumblr, Which Could Save Tumblr

      According to a report in the Wall Street Journal (pay wall), it appears that Verizon is looking to unload Tumblr. If you aren’t familiar with how Verizon ended up with the beleaguered blogging site, it’s because Verizon bought Yahoo, which acquired Tumblr back in 2013.

      After Tumblr banned porn content, likely at the behest of its corporate overlords, Verizon did little to promote or bring the platform back to its former glory. The porn ban was followed by the blocking of archivists, which was a tetanus infected nail in the coffin. Home to hundreds of millions of blogs (including my now defunct fake travel blog), the future of Tumblr is looking pretty grim. Conversely, it’s looking like it might actually have one.

  • DRM

    • Right to Repair Bill Killed After Big Tech Lobbying In Ontario

      The bill, which was put forward by Liberal MPP Michael Coteau in February, aimed to force companies like Apple to provide small businesses and average consumers with official parts, diagnostic tools, and repair manuals upon request, and at a fair price. It would have been the first such law in North America—though 20 US states are considering similar legislation—and threatened to send consumer-friendly ripple effects throughout major electronic manufacturers’ global operations.

    • Controversial Wikipedia Edits Wipe Out Denuvo Crack History

      People interested in whether a particular Denuvo-protected game has been cracked or not can no longer quickly visit the relevant Wikipedia page and view the information easily. Controversial edits to the official Denuvo page have removed an easy-to-read column, in part due to the claim that the sources used to report pirate releases are unreliable.

    • Ubisoft Adopts ‘Silent Key Activation’ To Get Rid Of Game Activation Keys

      Ubisoft wants the gaming world to end the use of game activation keys in pursuit of burying the ‘grey market’ where reselling of game activation keys takes place.

      The grey market for game key resellers has always been a sore eye for publishers as they hurt sales directly and many of these keys are bought using stolen credit cards.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • We Don’t Have to Travel to Russia to Sue Stream-Rippers, Labels Argue

        Several major labels including Universal, Warner Bros, and Sony, say that there is no need to travel to Russia to sue the operator of the steam-ripping sites FLVTO.biz and 2conv.com. Responding to a recent defense brief at the Court of Appeals, the music companies argue that the Russian site operator should defend himself and his site in a US court.

      • New “Small Claims” Bill Welcomed by Rightsholders, Feared by Copyright Troll Fighters

        A new bill introduced in the U.S. House and Senate this week, proposes to establish a copyright board to address “small claims.” Various copyright holders applaud the proposal, stating that this will allow smaller creators to protect their rights without the need for expensive lawsuits. However, digital rights activists and attorneys fear that the CASE Act will benefit so-called copyright trolls as well.

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