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05.15.19

Links 15/5/2019: More Linux Patches and More Known Intel Bugs

Posted in Site News at 3:11 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • Linux-based OS Is Saving $430 Million In Indian State of Kerala

      Using Linux-based operating systems have tons of advantages like better security and freedom to customize the open source software. Another major advantage that attracts different organizations and schools is the cost saving that comes along the way. In the past, we have reported various European cities going the Linux way to cut down the costs and save the public’s money.

      As per a recent report published in Financial Express, schools in the Indian state of Kerala are saving about Rs 3,000 crore by moving to a Linux-based operating system. This news follows a previous report from 2017 that mentioned that Kerala is saving Rs. 300 crore each year. If the report is to be believed, it seems that the South Indian state is making great progress in making open source software available in schools.

    • New Chromebooks starting this year will be Linux-ready

      If you missed a heartbeat, that’s okay, but you read it right. Google has made an announcement that all Chromebooks launched this year onwards will be Linux-ready right out of the box.

      For those not aware, Chrome OS is built on Linux, which began as a Ubuntu spin-off and later migrated to Gentoo Linux. It then evolved using Google’s own Linux vanilla kernel.

      Installing Linux on Chromebook isn’t new. Since 2013, Linux applications can be run in Chrome OS using Crouton, a third-party set of scripts that allows access to a Linux distribution. Crouton lets you run side-by-side Chrome OS and Ubuntu, eliminating the need to boot one operating system at a time. Additionally, in 2018, Google announced that Linux desktop apps were officially coming to Chrome OS.

    • Intel rolls out Clear Linux Developer Edition

      Specifically, here’s what Intel is bringing to the open-source table.

      Clear Linux is a rolling-release Linux distribution. While keeping close to the main Linux kernel, Intel has optimized its release for performance and security on its x86 platforms. While it can be used in all of Linux’s usual roles, it’s designed for cloud and container use.

      The new installer brings Clear Linux into the 21st century. The earlier installer was, to be kind, obsolete. Clear Linux still uses the Intel-specific swupd update and package manager. This is different enough from other Linux distros that it will puzzle many users until they master it.

      In the new developer edition, besides giving developers a Linux designed to make the most of Intel hardware, its basic programmer bundles are curated to provide all the relevant developer tools with one installation command, For example, `c-basic` for developing in C, and `containers-basic` for container programmers.

    • Intel’s Clear Linux OS Gets New Developer Edition And Installer

      Intel’s primary goal with Clear Linux — which is built from scratch — is to provide a rolling release distribution optimized for security and performance. And performance is a the big hook. It’s tuned for Intel platforms with optimizations automatically switched on, and those optimizations run through the entire stack. (Take a look at any benchmark results at Phoronix and you’ll frequently see Clear Linux beating every other distribution in multiple workloads, and even edging past Windows 10 Pro).

    • Intel’s Clear Linux OS Now Offers Workflows Tailored for Linux Developers

      While Clear Linux OS isn’t as popular as Ubuntu, Debian, or Arch Linux, it always proved to be a viable and quite fast Linux-based operating system for desktop and server users, offering them the best performance possible on the Intel Architecture. Clear Linux OS follows a rolling-release model where you install once and receive updates forever.

      Clear Linux OS always wanted to be the Linux distribution for developers, but now Intel has announced new images, an updated installer, software store, and forum all dedicated to make its open-source operating system a playground for Linux developers of all sizes, genres, and ages, offering them curated content for the best development efficiency possible.

  • Server

    • Puppet Redefines Infrastructure Automation

      Automation of more than just the state of your virtual machines, containers and so on is extremely important. How do you enable more teams? It is all about service, safety and quality of delivery. This is what we are doing with Puppet to serve those exact needs. And with our latest release 2019.1, we simplify the experience in automation to meet those demands.

      We enhanced our agentless and agent-based capabilities, such as supporting the automation of network devices (for example, Cisco and Palo Alto) and giving users the ability to automate anything and anywhere quickly, efficiently, safely and at scale. But some of our most notable changes are centered around our agentless task runner, Bolt. We introduced it about a year and a half ago. Bolt is an automation tool built to automate anything in your infrastructure without the hassle. It was very well received by the Open Source community. What is new here though is we have found that more and more customers and users are starting to automate from a development perspective. Developers have a constant need to stand up an infrastructure quickly for both testing and support. Not only did we make Bolt more user-friendly for the broader community, but we also added YAML support.

    • Docker Enterprise 3.0 Now Available For Beta Trial

      Docker recently launched Docker Enterprise 3.0, which is claimed to be the first and only end-to-end container platform to help developers build and share any type of application – from legacy to cloud native – and securely run them anywhere, from hybrid cloud to the edge.

      Docker Enterprise 3.0, now open for public beta, delivers new desktop capabilities, advanced development productivity tools, a simplified and secure Kubernetes stack, and a managed service option to make Docker Enterprise 3.0 the platform for digital transformation.

    • 10 Free Proxy Servers for Anonymous Web Browsing

      Proxy Servers act as an intermediate level between you and the internet. They are used to provide different types of security, functions, and privacy. One can choose a proxy server depending on the need of the individual or the company’s policy.

      As the name suggests Proxy means substitute. When you visit any website, your IP address gets recorded. To avoid or hide the IP address, one can choose to show a substitute IP address by using a proxy server.

    • Server Market Trends 2019

      The server market in 2019 is in a state of transition as new workloads and use-cases push vendors and their technology into different directions. It’s a transition that is also leading the global server market to new growth, as both enterprises and cloud vendors continue to acquire new hardware.

      Clearly, the SSD is the dominant medium. The SSD vs. HDD debate has largely been settled; the falling price of SSD means it will certainly replace the HDD, though not overnight. Companies shopping for an SSD array have plenty of great choices.

      While x86 and Intel have long dominated the server market, that dominance is no longer a foregone conclusion, as different requirements and buying patterns are shifting the landscape. Intel’s x86 dominance is facing increasing challenges from AMD, while x86 overall is facing new pressure from ARM technology in the data center market.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • Peak Red Hat | LINUX Unplugged 301

      We scale the Red Hat Summit and come back with a few stories to share.

      Plus some big community news, finding threats on the command line, and our reaction to Microsoft shipping the Linux kernel in Windows.

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux 5.0.16

      I’m announcing the release of the 5.0.16 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:

      https://git.kernel.org/?p=linux/kernel/git/stable/linux-s…

    • Linux 4.19.43
    • Linux 4.14.119
    • Linux 4.9.176
    • Linux 5.1.2

      I’m announcing the release of the 5.1.2 kernel.

      All users of the 5.1 kernel series must upgrade. Well, kind of, let me rephrase that…

      All users of Intel processors made since 2011 must upgrade.

      Note, this release, and the other stable releases that are all being
      released right now at the same time, just went out all contain patches
      that have only seen the “public eye” for about 5 minutes. So be
      forwarned, they might break things, they might not build, but hopefully
      they fix things. Odds are we will be fixing a number of small things in
      this area for the next few weeks as things shake out on real hardware
      and workloads. So don’t think you are done updating your kernel, you
      never are done with that :)

      As for what specifically these changes fix, I’ll let the tech news sites
      fill you in on the details. Or go read the excellently written Xen
      Security Advisory 297:

      https://xenbits.xen.org/xsa/advisory-297.html

      That should give you a good idea of what a number of people have been
      dealing with for many many many months now.

      Many thanks goes out to Thomas Gleixner for going above and beyond to do
      the backports to the 5.1, 5.0, 4.19, and 4.14 kernel trees, and to Ben
      Hutchings for doing the 4.9 work. And of course to all of the
      developers who have been working on this in secret and doing reviews of
      the many different proposals and versions of the patches.

      As I said before just over a year ago, Intel once again owes a bunch of
      people a lot of drinks for fixing their hardware bugs, in our

    • Allwinner ARM Boards With SATA See Big Speed Boost From Single Line Patch

      Right now the low-end Allwinner ARM SBC boards featuring a SATA port have been running at a measly 36~45MB/s but with changing around a single line of kernel code, that can jump to 120MB/s.

      ARM SBCs are notorious with slow I/O particularly when piggybacking off USB or just relying upon a microSD card, but for those using SATA HDD/SSD storage with Allwinner boards, that performance is about to get a whole lot better. Uenal Mutlu discovered that by changing around some bits for increasing the SATA/AHCI DMA TX/RX FIFOs, the performance can improve by multiple times for hardware relying upon the Linux kernel’s AHCI_SUNXI driver.

      [...]

      For now the patch is on the kernel mailing list but hopefully will be deemed reliable enough for making it into Linux 5.3.

    • F2FS For Linux 5.2 Sees Better SMR Drive Support, Various Fixes

      While no flashy features like EXT4′s case-insensitive option with Linux 5.2, the Flash-Friendly File-System (F2FS) did see a good amount of fixes and other improvements for this new kernel round.

      F2FS continues seeing more adoption particularly on Google Android devices and that has led into an uptick in fixes now that more vendors are evaluating this file-system optimized for non-rotating drives. Jaegeuk Kim sent in the F2FS changes for Linux 5.2 on Monday and it’s again heavy on the fixes.

    • Linux Foundation

      • LF Energy Ecosystem Gains Momentum for Open Source Innovation With New Members and Projects

        LF Energy, a Linux Foundation initiative developing and sustaining open source technology innovation in the energy and electricity sectors, is rapidly growing its community with additional founding Premier member, Faraday Grid, joining RTE. New General members include IBM, OSISoft, and Recurve; while Elering AS, Energinet, Energy Foundation, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Fraunhofer IEE, FIWARE Foundation, Iowa State University, Monash University, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), North Carolina State University FREEDM Center, Project Haystack, Stanford University, TenneT, The Energy Coalition, University of Kassel, and Washington State University join European Network of Transmission System Operators (ENTSO-E) and Vanderbilt University as new Associate members.

    • Graphics Stack

      • xserver release process and gitlab

        I was asked off-list what tasks are involved in releasing a new X server, since eventually people are probably going to want one.

        And that’s a good question! The unfortunate answer is that the process has been informal and has varied over time. We have often used tracking bugs in bugzilla to define the set of remaining issues to address within a release, but we’re not using bugzilla anymore. So I think it’s probably a good idea to start with the processes available to us in gitlab. From what I can tell, “milestones” are the best fit for this.

      • The Process For Eventually Releasing X.Org Server 1.21

        While formally the X.Org Server aimed to put out a new feature update every six months, in recent years they have been well off that trajectory with not much feature activity going on especially now that GLAMOR / XWayland / xf86-video-modesetting have stabilized and many Linux distributions eyeing Wayland by default. But there is now at least some little bit of interest in what’s going into X.Org Server 1.21.

        It’s already been one year since the release of X.Org Server 1.20 and it doesn’t appear the 1.21 update is imminent. Adam Jackson of Red Hat who has served as the release manager the past several cycles says he was asked off-list by an unnamed person about what goes into releasing a new version of the xorg-server.

      • Dave Airlie (blogspot): Senior Job in Red Hat graphics team
      • Red Hat Is Looking To Hire Another Experienced Open-Source Graphics Driver Developer

        Red Hat is hiring for their open-source graphics driver team.

        Red Hat developers already oversee the Nouveau DRM kernel driver, manage the mainline Linux kernel’s DRM subsystem, work on the VirGL stack, working on plumbing the SPIR-V / NIR compute support for Nouveau, and the other efforts over the year by David Airlie and others… There’s a lot of upstream open-source work they do for graphics and related areas like libinput.

    • Benchmarks

      • Linux Laptop Benchmark Battle: Meet The Affordable Challenger To Dell’s XPS 13

        By now it’s no secret that Dell’s XPS 13 9370 is my daily driver. It’s the laptop that carried me into my Linux journey and has remained a reliable companion since. Recently, however, an unexpected challenger has appeared on my radar. Star Labs (not to be confused with the fictional research facility which inadvertently created Metahumans), a UK-based PC company specializing in Linux laptops, recently rolled out the Star LabTop Mk III.

        It’s worth paying attention to.

        This is not to say the LabTop Mk III is an outright better laptop than the XPS 13, but it’s certainly putting up a strong fight — especially given the price.

      • GeForce GTX 650 vs. GTX 1650 Performance For Linux Gaming, Performance-Per-Watt

        The latest in our benchmarking with the new GeForce GTX 1650 is some “fun” tests seeing how its performance compares to that of the GeForce GTX 650 Kepler. Various OpenGL and Vulkan Linux gaming tests were carried out as well as some compute tests and throughout monitoring the AC power consumption to yield the performance-per-Watt metrics.

        The GeForce GTX 650 Kepler graphics card launched nearly seven years ago already with its 40nm GK107 GPU that provided 384 CUDA cores, 1058MHz core clock speed, and 1GB of GDDR5 video memory. The GTX 650 has a 64 Watt TDP but came with a 6-pin PCIe power connector. The GTX 650 / Kepler is the last generation currently supported by the mainline Linux driver and also the oldest NVIDIA hardware with Vulkan driver coverage, making this comparison particularly interesting.

        The GeForce GTX 1650 meanwhile with its 12nm TU117 GPU has 896 CUDA cores, 1485MHz base clock speed, 1665MHz boost clock speed, and 4GB of GDDR5 video memory. The GeForce GTX 1650 has a 75 Watt TDP without the need for any external PCIe power connection.

      • Intel UHD Graphics 630 With Gallium3D Yields Roughly Radeon HD 5750 Linux Performance

        For those wondering how Intel’s new Gallium3D-based OpenGL driver is performing relative to various NVIDIA and AMD discrete graphics cards, here are some quick tests of older/lower-end parts.

        Off Mesa Git with Linux 5.0 from Ubuntu 19.04, I ran some benchmarks with the Core i9 9900K when using its UHD Graphics 630. The ANV Vulkan driver and new “Iris” Gallium3D drivers were at play. Radeon cards were tested off the same Mesa 19.2-devel snapshot while NVIDIA cards were on their 430 Linux driver.

  • Applications

    • VirtualBox 6.0.8 Released to Make Shared Folders Work with Linux Kernel 3.16.35

      VirtualBox 6.0.8 is a small update, but it addresses some important problems to make your VirtualBox experience better. For starters, it fixes the saved state resume failures, as well as mouse click pass-through issues that users experienced in multi-screen virtual machines, and a crash that occurred when shutting down a virtual machine without graphics controller.

      This release also adds some important improvements for Linux platforms, such as support for shared folders on systems powered by Linux kernel 3.16.35 LTS, support for correctly handling the read-only flag of shared folders, and support for successfully building the VirtualBox kernel module in both non-default and debug build setups.

    • Nextcloud Partners with Nitrokey, Unauthorized Version of Arch Linux Available from the Microsoft Store, VirtualBox 6.0.8 Released, Help Test Plasma Theme Switching and Intel Announces Major Clear Linux Update

      VirtualBox 6.0.8 has been released. According to Softpedia News, this is a maintenance and stability release, but it does fix some important problems, such as saved state resume failures and mouse click pass-through issues. For Linux platforms, this release also adds “support for shared folders on systems powered by Linux kernel 3.16.35 LTS, support for correctly handling the read-only flag of shared folders, and support for successfully building the VirtualBox kernel module in both non-default and debug build setups.” See the full changelog for more information.

    • Portainer: Web-Based Docker GUI For Remote Or Local Use

      In my search of a Docker GUI that can be used remotely I came across Portainer Community Edition, a lightweight, free and open source web-based Docker GUI that can be used to manage containers, images, networks, and volumes.

      The tool, which is compatible with the standalone Docker engine and with Docker Swarm, is simple to both use and deploy, being available as a Docker container itself. It can be used both on the local machine as well as a remote Docker GUI.

    • Spring Clean with Stacer, a System Optimizer tool for Linux

      An all-new version of Stacer, a system cleaner and optimizer tool for Ubuntu and other Linux desktops, is available for download.

      This is the first update to the app in over a year, and brings a handful of new features to the utility.

      As mentioned, Stacer isn’t new. We’ve written about the handy tool many, many times before, praising the ease with which it lets you clear caches, cruft and other clutter which accumulates over time.

      Read on for to be (re)introduced to Stacer, learn about the latest features, and hear a couple of reasons why you might want to use this tool on your own system!

    • xsos – A Tool To Read SOSReport In Linux

      We all are already know about sosreport. It’s used to collect system information that can be used for diagnostic.

      Redhat support advise us to provide a sosreport when we raise a case with them to analyze the current system status.

      It’s collecting all kind of reports that can help user to identify the root causes of issue.

      We can easily extract and read the sosreport but it’s very difficult to read. Since it has created a separate file for everything.

    • 8 Best Free Electronic Design Automation Tools

      Electronic Design Automation (EDA) is a type of software that enables individuals to design electronic systems. These systems can be printed circuit boards (which mechanically support and electrically connect electronic components using conductive pathways) and integrated circuits (an electronic circuit manufactured by lithography, or the patterned diffusion of trace elements into the surface of a thin substrate of semiconductor material). The EDA tools enable chip designers to design and analyze entire semiconductor chips.

      The electronic design market has witnessed rapid expansion in recent years, with the market becoming increasingly more global. With the rise of semiconductor industries in many emerging countries, such as China, good quality EDA software is in strong demand. EDA is a complicated business, involving a diverse set of software algorithms and applications that are required for the design of intricate next generation semiconductor and electronics products. EDA tools assist designers capture and verify the functional and physical characteristics of their designs before they actually manufacture them. They also allow designers to design complex products, which reduces the time to bring the electronic system to market, and keep costs within budget.

      There’s a good range of EDA tools out that are released under an open source license which let developers customize, and create their latest designs. To provide an insight into the quality of software that is available, we’ve compiled a list of 8 high quality free Linux EDA applications. Hopefully, there will be something of interest here for anyone who wants to design electronic systems.

    • Proprietary

      • Adobe Warns Users Someone Else Might Sue Them For Using Old Versions Of Photoshop

        For years we’ve noted repeatedly how in the modern era you no longer truly own the things you buy. From game consoles that magically lose important functionality post purchase, to digital purchases that just up and disappear, we now live in an era where a quick firmware update can erode functionality and overlong EULAs can strip away all of your rights in an instant, leaving you with a hole in your pocket and a glorified paperweight.

        The latest case in point: Adobe this week began warning users of its Creative Cloud software applications that they are no longer authorized to use older versions of the company’s software platforms (Lightroom Classic, Photoshop, Premiere, Animate, and Media Director). In the letter, Adobe rather cryptically implied that users could risk copyright infringement claims by mysterious third parties if they continued using older versions of these platforms and refused to update them. E

      • Adobe Tells Users They Can Get Sued for Using Old Versions of Photoshop

        Adobe is warning some owners of its Creative Cloud software applications that they’re no longer allowed to use older versions of the software. It’s yet another example of how in the modern era, you increasingly don’t actually own the things you’ve spent your hard-earned money on.

        Adobe this week began sending some users of its Lightroom Classic, Photoshop, Premiere, Animate, and Media Director programs a letter warning them that they were no longer legally authorized to use the software they may have thought they owned.

        “We have recently discontinued certain older versions of Creative Cloud applications and and a result, under the terms of our agreement, you are no longer licensed to use them,” Adobe said in the email. “Please be aware that should you continue to use the discontinued version(s), you may be at risk of potential claims of infringement by third parties.”

      • Adobe warning of legal problems if subscribers keep using old versions of Creative Cloud apps [u]

        “Adobe recently discontinued certain older versions of Creative Cloud applications. Customers using those versions have been notified that they are no longer licensed to use them and were provided guidance on how to upgrade to the latest authorized versions,” said Adobe in a statement to AppleInsider.

        “Unfortunately, customers who continue to use or deploy older, unauthorized versions of Creative Cloud may face potential claims of infringement by third parties. We cannot comment on claims of third-party infringement, as it concerns ongoing litigation.”

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Games

      • SteamWorld Quest Flips the Switch to Linux, Mac, and PC on May 31

        SteamWorld Quest is coming to new platforms later the month.

      • Counter-Strike: Global Offensive updated again – watch live events, Danger Zone updates and more

        Valve seem to have a renewed focus on Counter-Strike: Global Offensive lately, with a lot of regular updates. This latest one has some fun new toys.

      • Don’t Starve: Hamlet expansion has officially left Early Access

        Klei Entertainment have expanded their weird and wonderful survival game with Don’t Starve: Hamlet, which has now left Early Access. Sounds like a pretty fun expansion too, as Wilson has discovered a lost town of “aristocratic Pigmen” hiding out in a foreboding tropical jungle

      • Hegemone Pass, a 2D stealth RPG that will support Linux is on Kickstarter

        I like the sound of this alert system, as if you get spotted they don’t just chase you, they will actually sound the alarm and end up calling in some reinforcements and any neighbouring enemies will jump in to help them against you. If there’s a lot of them, you might end up facing off against an additional wave of enemies.

        Actual combat is turn-based with a timeline to show when someone will be available, although you can mess with this. Some attacks will allow you to push people back which would be handy if you’re running low of health.

        They’re hoping to get €16K, with the campaign set to end of June 10th. They’ve had a bit of a slow start, looks like it might struggle a bit as they’ve not even managed to gather €400 yet.

      • Funny looking abstract puzzle adventure ‘Kindergarten’ is getting a sequel, out in June

        I totally missed the fact that Kindergarten 2 was actually announced all the way back in 2017. I still haven’t played the original but I know a lot of people enjoyed it. It’s going to be a bigger game this time too, with a promise of “new ways to get ruthlessly murdered”.

        There’s going to be plenty of new story missions, new environments, collectible cards and unlockable outfits. The description is amusing too, going over activities you can expect to do like helping the teacher get their fix—oh my.

      • The Swords of Ditto is a much better and more interesting game with Mormo’s Curse

        It’s had a bit of a rough history, especially on Linux. With the original release, it had problems with invisible walls making it basically impossible to continue. Those issues have been long solved but another problem was that before the forced permadeath made it hard to properly experience it and enjoy it. Now that’s no longer forced, you can have a much better time with it and I certainly have.

      • Beautiful action-adventure set inside the human mind, Figment, to expand with Figment: Creed Valley

        Figment: Creed Valley is an “encore” to the original beautiful action-adventure game Figment, one that will continue the story of the original game. When checking out the original Figment back in 2017, I said “Few games catch me completely by surprise with their beauty as well as their gameplay” and I totally stand by that. It’s a game I remember very well, it truly left a lasting impression. More of that is going to be awesome, especially with the unique setting deep inside the human mind.

      • While there’s no date for the Linux version of Insurgency: Sandstorm, NWI remain committed to do it

        New World Interactive held a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) earlier this week for Insurgency: Sandstorm and naturally there was a question about the upcoming Linux version which they answered.

        Originally, they said they were hoping Linux version of Sandstorm would come in the first few updates. Sadly, that didn’t happen and we’ve been left waiting while they improve various aspects of the game. A common complaint seems to be performance, with lots of posts and reviews talking about it needing to be improved.

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Please test improved Plasma Theme switching for Plasma 5.16

        You like Plasma Themes? You design Plasma Themes even yourself? You want to see switching Plasma Themes working correctly, especially for Plasma panels?

        Please get one of the Live images with latest code from the Plasma developers hands (or if you build manually yourself from master branches, last night’s code should be fine) and give the switching of Plasma Themes a good test, so we can be sure things will work as expected on arrival of Plasma 5.16:

        KDE neon Unstable Edition
        openSUSE Krypton

        If you find glitches, please report them here in the comments, or better on the #plasma IRC channel.

      • Hello KDE

        Hello, my name is Sharaf. My nick on IRC is sh_zam.

        My project is to port Krita to android devices. We’ve been successful in making the APK, but it only works if I build it, as it requires tweaking qt libraries, a bit. At the moment, my goal is to make the build system fully automatic and spit out the signed APKs for different architectures at the end.

        Once I do that, I’ll move on to UI, events and other fun stuff!

      • GSoC 2019

        This summer will be a little bit interesting as I joined theGoogle Summer of Code (GSoC).The software I will be working on is Krita.Krita is a painting software I have been using for more than one year.Since the (pre)release of Krita 4.0, I use it to paint all my works.

        Before using Krita, I used to use PaintToolSAI, and there are quite a lot of conceptsand functionalities in it that I find really useful; after getting involved in theKrita community I am pretty lucky to be able to introduce these little shiny starsto our community, and even implement some of them.

        My project for GSoC is onthe undo/redo system in Krita. The system currently works using an undo stack to storage individual changes to the document,and invoking these commands to perform undos and redos. This system is complex and not easyto maintain. As Dmitry suggests, a better solution wouldbe storing the states of the document as shallow copies, since it simplifies the system and make history brushes possible. It would be a rather hugeand fundamental change in the code, and he recommends me to experiment with vector layers first.

      • KDE Itinerary – Barcodes

        While discussing data extraction methods for KItinerary earlier I briefly mentioned barcodes as one source of information. It’s a subject that deserves a few more details though, as it’s generally good to know what information you are sharing when your ticket barcode gets scanned.

  • Distributions

    • 8 Promising Linux Distributions To Look Forward To In 2019

      Linux is amazing. Period. Over the years, Linux has gained tremendous traction — it built a complete ecosystem of developers and users who love working on open source. From a day-to-day use to sophisticated penetration testing, Linux has marked its presence everywhere. Also, one of the most amazing thing about Linux is that you can tweak or create your own distros. From individuals to big firms, many are creating Linux distribution and giving it to the world.

      So, if you are a Linux enthusiast and looking for some new Linux Distros to get your hands, read along as we list down some of the most promising Linux distros to look for in 2019.

    • 10 Kubernetes distributions leading the container revolution

      Kubernetes has become the project to turn to if you need container orchestration at scale. The open source container orchestration system out of Google is well-regarded, well-supported, and evolving fast.

      Kubernetes is also sprawling, complex, and difficult to set up and configure. Not only that, but much of the heavy lifting is left to the end user. The best approach, therefore, isn’t to grab the bits and try to go it alone, but to seek out a complete container solution that includes Kubernetes as a supported, maintained component.

    • Screenshots/Screencasts

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • InfinityBook Pro 13 as an important part of the openSUSE reference tests

        From 24th to 26th of May 2019, TUXEDO Computers will be part of the openSUSE Conference 2019 in Nuremberg/Germany. There, the hardware manufacturer from Königsbrunn near Augsburg/Germany will present a selection of current devices. The laptops can be viewed and tested here. Via the TUXEDO Computers online shop, more than 20 devices can be configured according to individual requirements and equipped, for example, with the Linux distribution openSUSE. The openSUSE conference in May is the annual openSUSE community event that brings people from all over the world together. Organized lectures, workshops and BoF sessions provide a setting for more informal meetings and hack sessions.

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Fetch Sponsoring Challenge for Mobile Manipulation Researchers

            The official competition robot will be a Stock Fetch Mobile Manipulator, with Ubuntu 18.04 and ROS Melodic installed. Official competition robots will be provided for teams, but they can also use their own robot as long as no major hardware modifications were used, Fetch said.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • How much open source is too much when it’s in Microsoft’s clutches? Eclipse Foundation boss sounds note of alarm

    The Eclipse Foundation oversees numerous open-source projects including Jakarta EE, the open-source Java Enterprise Edition. It is also the home of the free Eclipse IDE, among the most popular IDEs for Java development.

    One of the original Eclipse designers was Erich Gamma, who in 2011 joined Microsoft where he has worked on Visual Studio Code, Microsoft’s open-source and cross-platform development tool.

    Visual Studio Code has been a remarkable success. A recent Stack Overflow survey ranked it as the most popular development environment overall. Eclipse still leads for Jakarta EE development, according to its own survey (PDF), though VS Code puts in a decent showing (considering it is a relative newcomer) at 28 per cent usage (below).

  • 10 tips for managing an open source community

    Twenty years ago, I started using free and open source software. Soon after, I started asking questions on dedicated forums, learned how to use IRC to chat with developers, and contributed my first bug reports. As my contributions increased, I made a career move from industry to open source software.

    Over the past 20 years, I’ve learned a lot about using and contributing to free and open source software and working with communities and developers. Here are 10 of the key areas you’ll find in an open source project and some tips for managing them better.

  • Three Ways to Become a Computer Programmer

    LEARN BY DOING: Learning by doing is a practical way to understand all that you have read. It gives you the ability to learn new things in a more practical way. Being able to tinker with or reverse engineer computer programs can make you a better computer programmer. I briefly mentioned above that I spent a lot of time in the Open Source community. A lot of the projects I have done in my career are based on works from the Open Source community. This is one, if not the best, place to learn how to code!

    APPLY KNOWLEDGE LEARNED: The Open Source community is inarguably the ideal place for a person to become a better programmer. It provides the tools and support that are needed to be a computer programmer. It also provides software that learners can tinker with, which gives you an opportunity to apply your knowledge. So, a learner can identify a SDK (a fancy word for a tool box), and start practicing how to program.

  • Events

    • openSUSE.Asia Summit 2019 Logo Competition

      Today, we will start a logo competition for openSUSE.Asia Summit 2019, which is going to be held in Bali, Indonesia. A logo is an essential material for the successful summit. As you have seen, the former openSUSE.Asia summits have their unique logos reflecting the communities where the summit took place. Following tradition, we have logo competition to collect great logo for this year’s summit.

      The competition is open now and ends on 15 June 2019. The organizing team will send “Geeko Mystery Box” as an appreciation for the best logo designed. This year, logo will be voted by openSUSE.Asia committee.

    • Blog: Expanding our Contributor Workshops

      tl;dr – learn about the contributor community with us and land your first PR! We have spots available in Barcelona (registration closes on Wednesday May 15, so grab your spot!) and the upcoming Shanghai Summit. The Barcelona event is poised to be our biggest one yet, with more registered attendees than ever before!

      Have you always wanted to contribute to Kubernetes, but not sure where to begin? Have you seen our community’s many code bases and seen places to improve? We have a workshop for you!

    • Intel Kicks Off OSTS2019 With New Firmware Initiative, New Cloud Hypervisor, Clear Linux

      Intel is running their once internal-only Open-Source Technology Summit (OSTS) in Washington this week but for a first time they have begun inviting customers and industry stakeholders and others to this annual open-source shindig. We’re out here for the very interesting event with Imad Sousou and Raja Koduri talking today and some highly interesting technical talks ahead tomorrow. Here is the initial slew of announcements.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • TLS 1.0 and 1.1 Removal Update

        As you may have read last year in the original announcement posts, Safari, Firefox, Edge and Chrome are removing support for TLS 1.0 and 1.1 in March of 2020. If you manage websites, this means there’s less than a year to enable TLS 1.2 (and, ideally, 1.3) on your servers, otherwise all major browsers will display error pages, rather than the content your users were expecting to find.

  • LibreOffice

    • Annual Report 2018: The Document Foundation

      Every year, The Document Foundation produces an Annual Report, detailing its activities in the projects and community. We’ll be posting parts of it here on the blog, while we prepare a final printed version…

      [...]

      In 2017, TDF launched four tenders aimed at sharing knowledge about improving LibreOffice in several strategic areas, where the tasks are beyond the capabilities of independent volunteer developers. In 2018, companies selected to implement two of the tenders reported back on their work.

      Firstly, Collabora was selected for the tender “improve image handling in LibreOffice (#201705-01)”. A new image life-cycle was developed, with simpler memory management for handling images and new swapping strategy. The results were incorporated into the LibreOffice 6.1 release – and a more detailed technical description of the work is on the blog, in order to share knowledge and experience from this project with the developer community and the general public.

      The second tender, “implement HSQLDB binary format import in LibreOffice (#201705-03)”, was also assigned to Collabora and implemented by Tamás Bunth. He developed a mechanism to import database files with high fidelity from the HSQLDB binary file format, used by many existing ODB files, by reading the Java serialization code, and writing a filter to import all data into LibreOffice Base. The objective was to remove the legacy Java/HSQLDB database and to simplify the move to Firebird. More details are provided here.

    • Importing charts from DOCX drawingML group shapes in Writer

      Years ago I posted about a large rework to where Collabora helped a customer to make Writer read the drawingML markup for DOCX shapes. You can read the various benefits of this switch in that article — but similar to other large reworks, this also broke some previously working corner-cases, where test coverage lacked.

  • Programming/Development

    • Erlang OTP 22.0 is released

      OTP 22 has just been released. It has been a long process with three release candidates before the final release. We decided this year to try to get one month more testing of the major release and I think that the extra time has paid off. We’ve received many bug reports from the community about large and small bugs that our internal tests did not find.

      This blog post will describe some highlights of what is released in OTP 22 and in OTP 21 maintenance patches.

    • Episode #130: Python.exe now shipping with Windows 10 [Ed: Embrace, extend, Python]
    • print(5 * ‘=’ * 5 == ‘=’ * 5 * 5 == 5 * 5 * ‘=’)
    • 100 ways to learn Python and R for data science

      Learners of all types are drowning in the deluge of information and learning resources available online. This barrage of information often leaves people confused about how to find the right course, tutorial, book, or other material that can help simplify their learning journey and achieve their personal objectives and needs.

      The data science community is not alien to this dilemma. To add to the confusion, the recent alleged conduct of established learning platforms led many people, including instructors, to question their patronage. These events have furthered the vacuum of trusted sources to help learners pursue their learning paths.

    • Count the vowel characters within a string with Python function
    • This Week in Rust 286
    • 2 tips to make your C++ projects compile 3 times faster

      In this article, I will demonstrate how to speed up your compilation times by distributing compilation load using a distcc server container. Specifically, I’ll show how to set up and use containers running a distcc server to distribute the compilation load over a heterogeneous cluster of nodes (development laptop, old desktop PC, and a Mac). To improve the speed of recompilation, I will use ccache.

    • 8 Secrets Of GitLab’s Remote Work Culture

      At the GitLab Contribute event, Sid Sijbrandij, CEO and co-founder of GitLab shared some open secrets that make GitLab a successful ‘all remote’ company. What’s unique about GitLab is that being true to its Open Source roots, the company wants to share these ‘secrets’ with the rest of the world. It wants other companies to learn and benefit from the work it has done.

    • PHP in 2019

      Today I want to look at the bright side: let’s focus on the things that have changed and ways to write clean and maintainable PHP code. I want to ask you to set aside any prejudice for just a few minutes. Afterwards you’re free to think exactly the same about PHP as you did before. Though chances are you will be surprised by some of the improvements made to PHP in the last few years.

    • Unauthenticated Remote Code Execution on djangoci.com

      Yesterday the Django Security and Operations teams were made aware of a remote code execution vulnerability in the Django Software Foundation’s Jenkins infrastructure, used to run tests on the Django code base for GitHub pull requests and release branches. In this blog post, the teams want to outline the course of events.

    • Git magic: split repository into two
    • 12 Most Popular Python Interview Questions You Must Prepare For
    • Pycon India 2019 is coming!

      They are currently accepting proposals for talks and workshops. For more details, check out the official Pycon India 2019 website.

Leftovers

  • Science

    • Flat Earthers, and the Rise of Science Denial in America

      A better way to respond is to stop talking about proof, certainty, and logic, and start talking more about scientific “values.” In my book The Scientific Attitude: Defending Science From Denial, Fraud, And Pseudosience, I defend the idea that what is most distinctive about science is not its method but its “attitude”: the idea that scientists care about evidence and are willing to change their views based on new evidence. This is what truly separates scientists from their deniers and imitators.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Threats By Text, A Mob Outside The Door: What Health Workers Face In The Ebola Zone

      As soon as a person shows symptoms, workers in hazmat suits whisk them off for testing at a “transit center” surrounded by orange netting.

      A patient who has the disease is sent to a treatment unit that’s even more isolated — while teams of foreigners in expensive cars descend on their neighborhood, seeking out anyone who might have been exposed to a patient so they can be vaccinated. And if the patient dies, the family does not get to take home the body. Yet another team of people in hazmat suits shows up to bury the deceased.

      The approach makes sense from a purely medical standpoint. But in a country with a history of oppression by authorities, it’s practically tailor-made to raise suspicion and resistance.

    • Democrats Have No Safe Options On Health Care

      Even though most of the candidates have committed to some form of universal health care, the Democratic primary is turning into a debate about the future of the country’s health care system. Presidential hopefuls have proposed policies ranging from an ambitious four-year plan to transform Medicare into a universal single-payer system, in which the government pays for everyone’s health care and private insurance plans are effectively eliminated, to a more modest scheme that would leave the existing health care system intact but create a government-administered public insurance plan people could choose to purchase. But some of the candidates have been light on policy specifics, so it’s likely that health care will be a big topic at the debates and beyond.

    • No Mercy: How A Kansas Town Is Grappling With Its Hospital’s Closure
    • Mom fails drug test after eating poppyseed bagel before giving birth

      “Anywhere from one to three bagels with poppyseeds can produce positive tests on a urine toxicology.”

      Dominguez gave birth later that day, and her baby’s tests for opiates came back negative. Still, the hospital monitored Carter for withdrawal, and because of Elizabeth’s failed drug test, hospital staff followed protocol and called Child Protective Services.

    • California jury links RoundUp to cancer, awards couple $2 billion

      But a growing number of juries disagree with the EPA’s position. Monday’s ruling marks the third case since August in which a jury found that glyphosate caused cancer. More than 13,000 similar lawsuits have been filed against Monsanto or its parent company Bayer.

      Many of those suits were spurred by a 2015 World Health Organization analysis that said glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic in humans.”

      Alva and Alberta Pilliod, the plaintiffs in the California case, argued they developed non-Hodgkin lymphoma following decades of using the weedkiller.

    • Deaths of despair, once an American phenomenon, now haunt Britain

      IN RECENT YEARS America has witnessed a troubling trend: a rise in what have become known as “deaths of despair”. Sir Angus Deaton and Anne Case, an academic couple both of Princeton University, have tracked an increase in the number of middle-aged whites dying from drug overdoses, suicides and alcohol-related conditions. Their work has shaped political debate in America. Now a report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), a British think-tank, published on May 14th, suggests that something similar is taking place on the other side of the Atlantic.

      This is one of the initial findings of a five-year review of inequality begun by the IFS, which will look at everything from income to political participation. [...]

    • Republicans have stopped pretending on abortion

      But heartbeat bills wage a more direct assault on the right to abortion, by simply making most of them illegal. They don’t pretend to be about women’s health. They don’t pretend to hold women and their rights in anything but contempt. In that sense, they’re at least a little more honest about what Republicans want to do.

    • Alabama passes bill banning abortion

      It will now go to Republican Governor Kay Ivey. She has not said whether she will sign it, but she is seen as a strong opponent of abortion.

    • ‘Heartbeat’ Bills Get the Science of Fetal Heartbeats All Wrong

      From there, the issue is what that “heartbeat” actually is. “At six weeks, the embryo is forming what will eventually develop into mature systems. There’s an immature neurological system, and there’s a very immature cardiovascular system,” says Jennifer Kerns, an ob-gyn at UC San Francisco and director of research in obstetrics and gynecology at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital. The rhythm specified in the six-week abortion bans, she says, “is a group of cells with electrical activity. That’s what the heartbeat is at that stage of gestation … We are in no way talking about any kind of cardiovascular system.”

    • Health Care in the US Should Be Affordable and Accessible

      I’m sharing my recent journey as a cautionary tale. And, yet, what am I warning against? That we are all somewhat powerless when sickness strikes, but that those of us who aren’t wealthy suffer so much more. The thought of being without insurance is frightening indeed, yet in our present system we pay in so many ways for the existence of those insurance companies. We pay in co-pay; we pay in not getting treatment we need if insurance deems it unnecessary (no matter what your doctor says); we pay yearly out-of-pocket fees whether we’re 20 or 80 years old. (For Medicare patients, a monthly payment comes out of Social Security.) For most American families with insurance, whether workplace-based or individually purchased, premiums go up regularly, if not annually. At present, we have no alternative to the existing health-insurance system, yet it is actually failing us all in so many ways.

    • A Growing Movement Wants To Loosen Laws Around Psilocybin, Treat Mushrooms As Medicine

      If the Denver ballot measure passes, adults 21 and older who are caught with psilocybin mushrooms, or even growing them for personal use, would become the lowest priority for local police. Plus, the city and county of Denver would be barred from spending any money to prosecute psilocybin cases.

    • Cigarettes in plain packages — it only took 25 years

      Plain packages were first proposed in 1994 as a way to protect public health by dampening sales after Ottawa lowered tobacco taxes.

      At the time, the industry argued that taxes were making cigarettes too expensive, forcing smokers onto the black market to buy cheaper cigarettes — a contraband supply which the industry itself helped create.

      (In 2008, Canada’s two largest tobacco companies paid more than $1 billion in fines and pleaded guilty to helping supply the contraband market).

      When he announced the tax cut, then-Prime Minister Jean Chrétien attempted to balance the public health risk with some new anti-tobacco policies, including removing the shelf-appeal of cigarettes by making the packages ugly.

      The industry immediately scrambled to fight back.

    • The job-killer that wasn’t: 9 years later, smoking ban is a clear win

      Meanwhile, experience has established conclusively that the dire economic forecasts issued by those who opposed the smoking ban were, at best, paranoiac exaggerations — not unlike the scare tactics being employed today to discourage regulations designed to protect the public from contaminants and diseases that pose real threats to our health.

      So the next time someone tells you that governmental attempts to regulate the safety of of our workplaces, public spaces or natural resources are doomed to end in expensive failure, remember Ray Basham’s marathon campaign to do the right thing.

      Then, if you happen to be in a bar or restaurant, take a breath of smoke-free air and raise a glass to Basham’s small, enduring victory for common sense.

    • Measles-stricken cruise ship quarantined, reportedly owned by Scientologists

      Though health officials in St. Lucia did not identify the ship or its owner, St. Lucia Coast Guard Sgt. Victor Theodore told NBC News that the vessel’s name is Freewinds, which is the name of a cruise ship owned by the Church of Scientology and based in the Caribbean. According to the Church’s website, the 440-foot vessel hosts religious retreats “ministering the most advanced level of spiritual counseling in the Scientology religion.”

    • Water is an economic issue, not just an environmental issue

      In cities throughout the West, local business communities and chambers of commerce have added their voices to key water policy decisions. In Utah, that has meant acknowledging that water is an economic issue, not just an environmental issue, and working to add the business voice to key policy decisions regarding this finite resource. This proactive approach includes pushing for greater investment in the state’s water data, advocating for aggressive conservation through tiered-pricing and helping develop a more adaptive water strategy.

    • How a U.N. Bid to Prevent Sexual Violence Turned Into a Spat Over Abortion

      The internal State Department cable, sent by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s office to the U.S. Embassy in Berlin and U.S. Mission to the U.N. on Tuesday morning, made clear how the German push has angered the Trump administration. The cable told U.S. diplomats to notify the German government of the U.S. intent to vote no on its U.N. Security Council Resolution on Sexual Violence in Conflict if it didn’t change language to address U.S. concerns

    • Girl’s $143,000 bill for snakebite treatment reveals antivenin price gouging

      Though it’s a straightforward process, relatively few people end up needing an antivenin of any kind—less than 50,000 per year in the country. And that leads to steep prices.

    • Maine becomes the first state to ban Styrofoam

      Maryland’s legislature also has approved bills to ban polystyrene, but it’s unclear whether Republican Gov. Larry Hogan will sign the legislation. Democratic Delegate Brooke Lierman, the primary sponsor of the Maryland House bill, said banning foam products was the first step to curbing people’s reliance on single-use plastics.

    • Conservative Dems’ Rural Voter Project Is All About Sinking Medicare-for-All

      Two conservative former Democratic senators, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Donnelly of Indiana, have launched the One Country Project, a 501(c)(4) not-for-profit organization that aims to attract rural voters to the Democratic Party. However, according to Maplight’s Andrew Perez, working in partnership with The Intercept, the organization is also a “dark money” group, using the two former lawmakers to push an anti-Medicare-for-all agenda.

      Perez found that “the One Country Project’s website is registered to an executive at Forbes Tate Partners, a lobbying and public relations firm founded by former Clinton administration officials.” Forbes Tate Partners is leading lobbying efforts for Partnership for America’s Health Care Future (PAHCF), which, according to Maplight, is a “health industry-backed nonprofit created to crush momentum for a comprehensive universal health care system.”

      Heitkamp had previous ties to Forbes Tate Partners, hiring a subsidiary called Columbia Campaign Group for polling and media campaign consulting for her 2018 Senate bid. Her former chief of staff, Tessa Gould, is now a partner there. The Heitkamp campaign, Perez reports, paid Gould $35,000 for consulting in March, part of the over $6 million the campaign had left over from a last-minute infusion of donations after Heitkamp declined to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

      Heitkamp railed against Medicare-for-all in a May op-ed for The Washington Post, writing that “polling indicates that most Americans are satisfied with the health care they receive and do not want their coverage options taken away and replaced with a one-size-fits-all government program.” Both Heitkamp and Donnelly campaigned against such a proposal in their reelection bids, and both lost to Republicans.

    • Female genital mutilation victims not availing of health services – charity

      The association offers counselling and treatment to victims suffering physical problems such as constant pain, problems passing urine, problems having sex and problems giving birth. However, cultural barriers and fear of the unknown are preventing many women and girls from using the service.

    • Persistent female genital mutilation despite its illegality: Narratives from women and men in northern Ghana

      Female Genital Mutilation continues to persist despite its illegality because of social pressure on women/girls to conform to social norms, peer acceptance, fear of criticism and religious reasons. Implementing interventions targeting border towns, religious leaders and their followers, older men and women and younger men and women will help eradicate the practice.

    • Congress fights to save historic female genital mutilation case

      Months after a federal judge in Detroit declared the law unconstitutional, the DOJ announced last month it would not appeal the decision because it concluded the 1996 FGM statute was too weak to defend.

      Several congressional leaders disagree and have intervened in the case, hoping to convince an appeals court that the law is valid and can pass constitutional muster. If successful, this would allow prosecutors in Detroit to take two doctors and six others to trial for allegedly subjecting nine minor girls to FGM, including some who cried, bled and screamed during the procedure.

    • Ending Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) by 2030: Harnessing National and Regional Laws to Protect Women and Girls

      It is pertinent to point out that most of these laws have not been effective in curbing the practice of FGM in affected countries despite the influx of aid and decades of awareness raising and abandonment campaigns. In many African countries, FGM still is performed without legal consequences for offenders, despite laws prohibiting the practice. Where FGM is performed in private clinics without prosecution of physicians who carry out the procedure, the state provides de facto consent to the practice and is therefore accountable.

    • U.S. government backs off case of female genital mutilation

      Two months ago, the Department of Justice issued a statement on the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation, calling it a federal crime punishable by imprisonment or removal from the country.

    • Feds drop female genital mutilation case, say law needs rewrite

      The government recently withdrew an appeal of a decision by U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman in the first such federal prosecution in the country. In a letter Wednesday to Congress, Solicitor General Noel Francisco called genital mutilation an “especially heinous practice” but said the law needs to be changed to mesh with U.S. Supreme Court precedent.

  • Security

    • Intel CPUs impacted by new Zombieload side-channel attack

      Academics have discovered a new class of vulnerabilities in Intel processors that can allow attackers to retrieve data being processed inside a CPU.

      The leading attack in this new vulnerability class is a security flaw named Zombieload, which is another side-channel attack in the same category as Meltdown, Spectre, and Foreshadow.

    • Intel reveals four more Spectre-like bugs in its processors

      Intel has revealed four more vulnerabilities in all its modern processors, all of which could lead to side channel attacks that use speculative execution to leak data.

    • Zombieload Intel Vulnerability Explained: Nasty Flaw In Millions Of CPUs

      Zombieload is the latest Intel CPU vulnerability to plague everything from desktop computers to enterprise level servers. However, due to the increasingly complex nature of online attacks, it is becoming harder for companies to detect and fix them.

      These fixes are usually half measured at best and cause the processors of enterprises as well as the average user to lose their performance value in the long run or so we’re told. Online attacks like Spectre and Meltdown affect almost everyone that uses a computer. It is a problem which is forcing companies to cut corners, more often than not, in areas concerning performance.

    • Intel CPU Exploit Zombieload Uses Hyperthreading To Steal Data

      he latest Intel CPU exploit termed Zombieload is a speculative execution side-channel attack. It uses Intel Hyperthreading to execute a Microarchitectural Data Sampling (MDS) attack which targets buffers in CPU microarchitecture.

      According to a report, Intel CPUs made since 2008 are all susceptible to this attack. The latest 8th and 9th gen Intel CPUs are safe from this issue. Intel has released a security patch for this security flaw.

    • Debian Patches New Intel MDS Security Vulnerabilities in Debian Linux Stretch

      On May 14th, Intel disclosed four new security vulnerabilities affecting several of its Intel CPUs, which could allow attackers to leak sensitive information if the system remains unpatched. Intel has worked with major OS vendors and device manufactures to quickly deploy feasible solutions for mitigating these flaws, and now patches are available for users of the Debian GNU/Linux 9 “Stretch” operating system series.

      “Multiple researchers have discovered vulnerabilities in the way the Intel processor designs have implemented speculative forwarding of data filled into temporary microarchitectural structures (buffers). This flaw could allow an attacker controlling an unprivileged process to read sensitive information, including from the kernel and all other processes running on the system or cross guest/host boundaries to read host memory,” reads the security advisory.

    • How to check if your Windows or Linux system is vulnerable to Microarchitectural Data Sampling (MDS) attacks

      Intel yesterday disclosed a new group of Microarchitectural Data Sampling (MDS) hardware vulnerabilities that affect its CPUs.

      Rogue In-Flight Data Load (RIDL), Fallout, and ZombieLoad speculative execution attacks are related to Spectre and Meltdown which were discovered last year, and allow attackers to leak in-flight data from CPU-internal buffers (Line Fill Buffers, Load Ports, Store Buffers), including data never stored in CPU caches.

    • Buffer the Intel flayer: Chipzilla, Microsoft, Linux world, etc emit fixes for yet more data-leaking processor flaws

      Intel on Tuesday plans to release a set of processor microcode fixes, in conjunction with operating system and hypervisor patches from vendors like Microsoft and those distributing Linux and BSD code, to address a novel set of side-channel attacks that allow microarchitecture data sampling (MDS).

      These side-channel holes can be potentially exploited by malicious software or rogue users already on a vulnerable machine to extract information, such as passwords and other secrets, from memory it is not allowed to touch. Browser histories can be sniffed, virtual machines snooped on, disk encryption keys stolen, and so on.

    • Intel Discloses Four New Microarchitectural Data Sampling (MDS) Vulnerabilities
    • More vulnerabilities affecting Intel chips revealed
    • MDS Tool: find out if you are vulnerable to Microarchitectural Data Sampling Attacks (MDS)
    • The BSDs Get Promptly Mitigated For The MDS Side-Channel Vulnerabilities

      When Spectre and Meltdown came to light, there was some frustrations in the BSD community that it took time for them to be briefed and ultimately handling the mitigations for these CPU security vulnerabilities. Fortunately, with the new Microarchitectural Data Sampling (MDS, also dubbed “Zombieload”) vulnerabilities, the key BSDs have seen punctual patches.

      FreeBSD on Tuesday issued a security advisory that does include patches and additional guidance. FreeBSD’s guidance is also recommending the disabling of Hyper Threading for systems with users/processors in different trust domains. FreeBSD also provides instructions on setting up the loading of the latest Intel CPU microcode files and applying patches for FreeBSD 12 and 11 series.

    • Meltdown Redux: Intel Flaw Lets Hackers Siphon Secrets from Millions of PCs

      More than a year has passed since security researchers revealed Meltdown and Spectre, a pair of flaws in the deep-seated, arcane features of millions of chip sold by Intel and AMD, putting practically every computer in the world at risk. But even as chipmakers scrambled to fix those flaws, researchers warned that they weren’t the end of the story, but the beginning—that they represented a new class of security vulnerability that would no doubt surface again and again. Now, some of those same researchers have uncovered yet another flaw in the deepest guts of Intel’s microscopic hardware. This time, it can allow attackers to eavesdrop on virtually every bit of raw data that a victim’s processor touches.

      Today Intel and a coordinated supergroup of microarchitecture security researchers are together announcing a new, serious form of hackable vulnerability in Intel’s chips. It’s four distinct attacks, in fact, though all of them use a similar technique, and all are capable of siphoning a stream of potentially sensitive data from a computer’s CPU to an attacker.

      [...]

      AMD and ARM chips don’t appear to be vulnerable to the attacks, [...]

    • RIP Hyper-Threading? ChromeOS axes key Intel CPU feature over data-leak flaws – Microsoft, Apple suggest snub

      In conjunction with Intel’s coordinated disclosure today about a family of security vulnerabilities discovered in millions of its processors, Google has turned off Hyper-Threading in Chrome OS to fully protect its users.

      Meanwhile, Apple, Microsoft, IBM’s Red Hat, QubesOS, and Xen advised customers that they may wish to take similar steps.

      The family of flaws are dubbed microarchitecture data sampling (MDS), and Chipzilla’s official advisory is here, along with the necessary microcode updates to mitigate the data-leaking vulnerabilities and list of affected products. Installing these fixes and disabling Intel’s Hyper-Threading feature is a sure fire way to kill off the bugs, though there may be a performance hit as a result.

    • Steinar H. Gunderson: Bug fest
    • Cameron Kaiser: ZombieLoad doesn’t affect Power Macs

      The latest in the continued death march of speculative execution attacks is ZombieLoad (see our previous analysis of Spectre and Meltdown on Power Macs). ZombieLoad uses the same types of observable speculation flaws to exfiltrate data but bases it on a new class of Intel-specific side-channel attacks utilizing a technique the investigators termed MDS, or microarchitectural data sampling. While Spectre and Meltdown attack at the cache level, ZombieLoad targets Intel HyperThreading (HT), the company’s implementation of symmetric multithreading, by trying to snoop on the processor’s line fill buffers (LFBs) used to load the L1 cache itself. In this case, side-channel leakages of data are possible if the malicious process triggers certain specific and ultimately invalid loads from memory — hence the nickname — that require microcode assistance from the CPU; these have side-effects on the LFBs which can be observed by methods similar to Spectre by other processes sharing the same CPU core. (Related attacks against other microarchitectural structures are analogously implemented.)

    • Canonical Releases Ubuntu Updates to Mitigate New MDS Security Vulnerabilities

      Four new security vulnerabilities affecting Intel microprocessor have been publicly disclosed earlier, and Intel already released updated microcode firmware to mitigate them, but in the case of Linux-based operating system these flaws cannot be addressed only by updating the CPU firmware, but also by installing new Linux kernel versions and QEMU patches.

      The vulnerabilities (CVE-2018-12126, CVE-2018-12127, CVE-2018-12130, and CVE-2019-11091) affect various Intel processors and could allow a local attacker to expose sensitive information. They have an impact on all supported Ubuntu Linux releases, including Ubuntu 19.04 (Disco Dingo), Ubuntu 18.10 (Cosmic Cuttlefish), Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver), Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus), and Ubuntu 14.04 ESM (Trusty Tahr).

    • How Hackers Broke WhatsApp With Just a Phone Call

      All it took to compromise a smartphone was a single phone call over WhatsApp. The user didn’t even have to pick up the phone.

    • The Ultimate Bad Take: Bloomberg’s Leonid Bershidsky Thinks A WhatsApp Vulnerability Proves End To End Encryption Is Useless

      Bloomberg has really been on a roll lately with getting security stories hellishly wrong. Last fall it was its big story claiming that there was a supply chain hack that resulted in hacked SupermMicro chips being used by Amazon and Apple. That story has been almost entirely debunked, though Bloomberg still has not retracted the original. Then, just a few weeks ago, it flubbed another story, claiming that the presence (years ago) of telnet in some Huawei equipment was a nefarious backdoor, rather than a now obsolete but previously fairly common setup for lots of equipment for remote diagnostics and access.

      The latest is an opinion piece, rather than reporting, but it’s still really bad. Following yesterday’s big revelation that a big security vulnerability was discovered in WhatsApp, opinion columnist Leonid Bersidsky declared it as evidence that end-to-end encryption is pointless.

    • Microsoft warns wormable Windows bug could lead to another WannaCry
    • WhatsApp was [cracked] and attackers installed spyware on people’s phones

      The Facebook subsidiary, which has 1.5 billion users, said an advanced cyber actor infected an unknown number of people’s devices with the malware, which it said it discovered in early May.

      The Financial Times first reported the vulnerability. It said the bad actors were able to install the surveillance technology by phoning the target through WhatsApp’s call functionality, giving them access to information including location data and private messages.

    • Cybersecurity experts fear fallout from Apple case

      The Supreme Court ruled on Monday that a group of iPhone users can proceed with their class-action lawsuit against Apple, which claims that the company’s monopoly over the downloading of apps from its App Store drives up prices.

      The case will now work its way through the lower courts, but at issue is the potential that Apple could be forced to allow users to download apps from third-party groups and not just the App Store.

    • Kali Linux Basics

      Kali Linux is a Debian based distribution for Ethical Hackers, Penetration Testers, Security Researchers and Enthusiasts. It is stable, updated, enterprise ready, open source and well maintained distribution by Offensive Security. Kali Linux default desktop environment is GNOME but it also offers a variety of other desktop environments including KDE, MATE, LXDE and others. It can be installed on various type of systems including laptops, Servers, ARM devices (raspberry pi etc) and Cloud. It also has a portable version for android devices called NetHunter which can be used within android operating system and comes with pre-installed tools and scripts that offer portability while doing security auditing or penetration testing.

    • International Conference on Cyber Crime & Legal Compliance
    • Security Think Tank: Understanding tech is key to effective data segregation
    • Nitrokey and Nextcloud collaborate on securing private clouds

      Nitrokey develops fully open and auditable security USB keys for two-factor authentication, cryptographic key storage and much more. Their devices are developed and produced in Germany, primarily in Berlin. No overseas manufacturing is used to ensure quality and avoid hardware security breaches. The installed firmware can even be exported and verified, preventing attackers from inserting backdoors into products during shipping. Nitrokey has many other unique features, like hidden encrypted storage for plausible deniability at border checks. Learn about their offering on their website.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Malmö court jails man for murder: ‘It was an execution’

      Four young men were brought to trial earlier this year, accused of having plotted to lure the 24-year-old and the 29-year-old, who survived, to the park where they were later shot.

      “It was an execution,” said the district court in a judgment seen by The Local.

      The 24-year-old was shot four times in the back. The older man said he had only survived because Mezar ran out of bullets.

    • Students Walked Out of a Vigil for the STEM School Highlands Ranch Shooting After Politicians Spoke

      “As the trend is now to propagate the name of the shooter, shooters and their intents, [that] just kind of glorifies it, if anything inspires other people,” Brendan told NBC News. “So in this happenstance, the absolute legend of the events of yesterday, Kendrick Castillo, is the name I think should not go away to the sands of time.”

    • A Popular YouTuber Read the Christchurch ‘Manifesto’ to Half a Million Subscribers

      After a Motherboard investigation showed Facebook banned white supremacy while allowing white nationalism, the tech giant decided to ban support of the latter. Although this particular video of the Christchurch manifesto did violate YouTube’s policies, the company previously refused to commit to banning white nationalism in general.

      Google did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

    • At Odds on Many Fronts, U.S. and Russia Hope for Better Ties

      Russia and the United States voiced hope Tuesday that badly strained relations could begin to improve despite wide differences on multiple fronts and deep mutual suspicion exacerbated by Russian meddling in American elections.

      With tensions running high over Iran, Syria, Ukraine and Venezuela, Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed vindication from the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and said he thought it was time to move on. Meanwhile, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo conveyed President Donald Trump’s interest in restoring better ties.

      In the highest-level face-to-face contact between the two countries since special counsel Robert Mueller’s report was released last month, Putin told Pompeo he hoped relations with the U.S. would now improve. Still, his claim of vindication covered only allegations that Russia and the Trump campaign colluded to hurt Hillary Clinton’s candidacy. Putin did not address Mueller’s conclusion that Russia actively interfered in the election.

    • Fake ‘Humanitarianism’ masks murder for profit

      Unlike a regular corporation, the corporations that manufacture and sell weapons to their government are virtually 100% dependent upon their government and its military allies, for their own success; their markets are only those governments, not individuals (such as is the case for normal corporations).

      Consequently, either their government will control them, and those firms won’t have any effective control over their own markets, or else those firms will, themselves, control their government, and thereby effectively control their markets, via the government’s foreign policies — not only via expanding its military alliances (those firms’ foreign markets), but via its designating ‘enemy’ nations that it and its ‘allies’ (those arms-producers’ foreign markets) can then use those weapons against.

      In countries such as the United States, arms-producers are benefiting and controlled by the country’s billionaires, instead of (as in Russia, for example) benefiting and controlled by the government. These totally profit-driven arms-producers need to have market-nations that are called ‘allied’ governments, but they also need to have some target-nations that are called ‘enemy’ governments, so as to ‘justify’ more arms-production by these firms, against which to use these weapons. Only in nations where arms-producers are privately instead of publicly controlled are the government’s foreign polices predominantly controlled by the country’s arms-producers. That’s the way it is in America.

      The main ‘ally’ of the U.S. is the Saud family, who own the government of Saudi Arabia. As a recent debate-brief said, “The US has been the world’s leading exporter in weapons since 1990 and the biggest customer is Saudi Arabia. The U.S. sold a total of $55.6 billion of weapons worldwide, and in 2017, cleared $18 billion dollars with Saudi Arabia alone.”

      Under Trump, those sales are set to soar, because on 20 May 2017 “U.S. $350 Billion Arms-Sale to Sauds Cements U.S.-Jihadist Alliance” — notwithstanding now the slaughter in Yemen and the slaughter of Jamal Khashoggi. Yet, Trump talks up his ‘humanitarian’ concerns for the people of Venezuela as ‘justification’ for his possibly invading Venezuela, and America’s military is preparing to do that.

    • Bernie Sanders Delivers Online Address: ‘We Must Not Go to War With Iran’

      Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders on Tuesday came out forcefully against the Trump administration angling the United States into another costly and unnecessary war of choice in the Middle East—this time against Iran—delivering an online address in which he warned that any military action without approval from Congress would be an “unconstitutional and illegal” breach of office.

      “Let me be as clear as I can be: a war with Iran would be an absolute disaster,” said Sanders in the roughly six-minute speech. “Sixteen years ago, the United States committed one of the worst foreign policy blunders in the history of our country by attacking Iraq. That war was sold to the American people based on a series of lies about weapons of mass destruction. We should remember that one of the leading advocates for that war was John Bolton.”

      Sanders declaration against a possible war comes amid increasing concerns, as Common Dreams has reported, that Bolton—Trump’s national security advisor—is leading the administration’s underhanded attempt to provoke or manufacture a military confrontation with Iran.

    • Amnesty International Marks Nakba Day With Palestinian Refugees’ Testimonies Detailing ‘Seven Decades of Misery’

      “The Nakba (catastrophe in Arabic) saw the state of Israel established, 750,000 Palestinians forced into exile, and over 500 Palestinian villages and towns destroyed,” British Palestinian scholar-activist Yara Hawari wrote at openDemocracy last year. “Palestinian society was torn apart and Palestinians were geographically fragmented.”

      On Tuesday, Amnesty International denounced Israel’s refusal to grant Palestinian refugees their right to return as “a flagrant violation of international law.” The human rights advocacy group also published stories from refugees living in Lebanon and Jordan that demonstrate how Israel’s position has fueled “seven decades of misery.”

      “More than 70 years after the conflict that followed Israel’s creation, the Palestinian refugees who were forced out of their homes and dispossessed of their land as a result continue to face the devastating consequences,” Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s research and advocacy director for the Middle East and North Africa, said in a statement.

      “Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, Jordan, and the Occupied Palestinian Territories are trapped in a cycle of deprivation and systematic discrimination with no end in sight,” he added. “For many of them life is full of suffocating restrictions and has become a living hell.”

    • Spanish jihadi cell funded through Danish tax fraud on chicken, cheese and chocolate

      A Spanish jihadist cell funded itself through tax fraud on chicken, cheese and chocolate sold in Denmark, according to an investigation published Tuesday led by non-profit European newsroom Correctiv.

    • Germany: Migrants attack police probing death at refugee center

      Officers described an atmosphere of high emotion inside the facility as 40-50 asylum-seekers prevented them from recovering the woman’s body.

      At one stage police were pelted with stones and other objects, a police spokesman said.

    • Tackle white supremacy as terrorism, experts say

      Deadly attacks by white supremacists are on the rise, but in most cases their acts are not considered terrorism. Experts say that must change, even if it’s hard for some Americans.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Victory! EFF Wins National Security Letter Transparency Lawsuit

      A federal district court in San Francisco has ruled strongly in favor of our Freedom of Information Act lawsuit seeking records of how and when the FBI lifts gag orders issued with National Security Letters (NSLs). These records will provide a window into the FBI’s use of a highly secretive investigative tool that has been historically misused. They will also provide insight into the effectiveness of the USA Freedom Act, the national security reform law passed by Congress in 2015.

      NSLs are a form of administrative subpoena that allows the government to obtain basic information about customers of communications providers, banks and credit agencies, and a range of other companies. The defining feature of NSLs, however, is that the FBI can issue a blanket gag order with its information request, preventing recipients from saying anything about them, including the very fact that they have received an NSL.

      The FBI has issued over 500,000 NSLs since 2001, the vast majority of which contained such indefinite gag orders. As a result, the public has had little insight into the scope of the government’s use of NSLs, aside from internal reports that paint a picture of overreach and misuse. EFF and others have long argued that NSL gag orders violate the First Amendment, and we succeeded in having the statute ruled unconstitutional in 2013.

    • Tulsi Gabbard says she would drop charges against Julian Assange, and pardon Edward Snowden

      Representative Tulsi Gabbard, a Democratic presidential candidate, said the WiliLeaks founder Julian Assange and national security whistleblower Edward Snowden should not be prosecuted for disclosing information.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • ‘A Million Elephants’ No More: Conservationists In Laos Rush To Save An Icon

      The Laos government and conservation groups estimate there are only about 800 elephants left in the country — 400 wild elephants, 400 in captivity.

    • Koalas ‘Functionally Extinct’ in Australia with Just 80,000 Estimated to Remain: What You Need to Know

      The Australian Koala Foundation said it believes “there are no more than 80,000 koalas in Australia,” making the species “functionally extinct.”

      While this number is dramatically lower than the most recent academic estimates, there’s no doubt koala numbers in many places are in steep decline.

      It’s hard to say exactly how many koalas are still remaining in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory, but they are highly vulnerable to such threats as deforestation, disease and the effects of climate change.

      Once a koala population falls below a critical point, it can no longer produce the next generation, leading to extinction.

    • Mariana Trench: Deepest-ever sub dive finds plastic bag

      Victor Vescovo descended nearly 11km (seven miles) to the deepest place in the ocean – the Pacific Ocean’s Mariana Trench.

      He spent four hours exploring the bottom of the trench in his submersible, built to withstand the immense pressure of the deep.

      He found sea creatures, but also found a plastic bag and sweet wrappers.

    • US man makes deepest-ever dive in Mariana Trench, discovers trash

      On the deepest dive ever made by a human inside a submarine, a Texas investor and explorer found something he could have found in the gutter of nearly any street in the world: trash.

      Victor Vescovo, a retired naval officer, said he made the unsettling discovery as he descended nearly 6.8 miles (35,853 feet/10,928 meters) to a point in the Pacific Ocean’s Mariana Trench that is the deepest place on Earth. His dive went 52 feet (16 meters) lower than the previous deepest descent in the trench in 1960.

    • EU Overshoot Day 2019: If EU consumption was the global norm, the Earth’s yearly budget would be exhausted on 10 May

      Human society is supported by what nature provides – food, fiber, timber, carbon absorption, and land to build infrastructure. However, if all people around the world shared the same lifestyle we enjoy in the EU, mankind would have used as much as the planet’s ecosystems can renew over the entire year by 10 May already. This means that 2.8 Earths would be needed to sustain the demand of natural resources required by such a lifestyle.

    • UN: Life on Earth is nearing a state of collapse

      The UN-backed team of experts recommend a range of actions that could slow down or even reverse species extinction rates across the planet. They include the adoption of less intrusive agricultural practices, stepped-up conservation efforts and forward-thinking polices from governments, especially in countries with biodiversity hotspots.

    • Molly Fleming: Brands should follow Selfridges’ lead on palm oil to ensure long-term loyalty

      The vast majority of consumers (88%) say they are more loyal to companies that support social or environmental issues, according to a 2017 study by Cone Communications, and in the two years since then conscious consumerism has grown drastically.

      Selfridges’ move to eliminate palm oil shows it’s moving in the right direction, as it will boost its environmental credentials and solidify loyalty. The brand can rest easy knowing it will be known as one of the leaders in this crusade and others should learn from its decision.

    • Malaysia minister accuses EU of palm oil ‘trade war’

      Kok said Malaysia would consult with Indonesia before looking what action could be launched at the WTO.

    • AOC Wants You to Call Your Parents About Climate Change After Study Finds Children Can Impact Adults’ Views

      “Parents of children in the treatment group expressed higher levels of climate change concern than parents in the control group,” the authors wrote, explaining that parents whose kids talked to them about climate were more worried than those who didn’t. “The effects were strongest among male parents and conservative parents, who, consistent with previous research, displayed the lowest levels of climate concern before the intervention. Daughters appeared to be especially effective in influencing parents. Our results suggest that intergenerational learning may overcome barriers to building climate concern.”

      The takeaway? Young people, and especially young women, may be the best communicators on the planet when it comes to making adults see the devastating potential of climate change — especially when it comes to conservative dads.

    • Pompeo ‘can’t rank’ climate change on list of national security threats

      The interview comes days after The Washington Post reported that the Trump administration pushed to have references to climate change removed from an international statement on Arctic policy.

      Karl pressed Pompeo on that report, asking: “What are you doing specifically to address this threat? Or do you not take it seriously?”

    • One million species threatened with extinction because of humans

      The global rate of species extinction “is already tens to hundreds of times higher than it has been, on average, over the last 10 million years,” according to the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), a UN committee, whose report was written by 145 experts from 50 countries.

      Shrinking habitat, exploitation of natural resources, climate change and pollution are the main drivers of species loss and are threatening more than 40% of amphibians, 33% of coral reefs and over a third of all marine mammals with extinction, the IPBES report said.

    • Jakarta Is Sinking. Now Indonesia Has to Find a New Capital

      Jakarta is a victim of climate change, the fault of humans the world over (though mostly the fault of corporations), but it’s also a victim of its own policies. The city is sinking—a process known as land subsidence—because residents and industries have been draining aquifers, often illegally, to the point that the land is now collapsing. Think of it like a giant underground water bottle: If you empty too much of it and give it a good squeeze, it’s going to buckle. Accordingly, parts of Jakarta are sinking by as much as 10 inches a year.

    • Human influence on drought started a century ago

      Researchers have typically turned to tree rings for archives of past droughts. By compiling records from many trees, historical maps called “drought atlases” have been built for a number of regions and can cover nearly a millennium. These can provide incredible historical information, including events like the megadroughts of the Western United States between 800 and 1300 CE. But each drought atlas is only one piece of the global picture.

      A new study led by NASA’s Kate Marvel pulls all these regional drought atlases together—along with recent data and climate-model simulations—to see what they can tell us about human impacts on drought since 1900.

    • Environmental Science Is Crucial to Combat Climate Change — So Why Isn’t It a Mandatory Class?

      It was a lesson that would stick with me to this day: Every piece of trash that disappears once you throw it in a garbage bag for disposal never actually vanishes. Instead, it ends up in one of the 2,500 landfills across the nation, where some of the waste, like plastics, will most likely sit for up to a thousand years emitting harmful greenhouse gases and increasing the rate of climate change.

      Since 1960, the amount of municipal solid waste produced has nearly tripled in the United States alone, with the amount of waste generated rising from 88.1 million tons to 262.4 million tons in 2015. [...]

    • Finnish researcher calls for end to domestic air travel, citing climate concerns

      Long-haul flights have long been considered to be major factors in raising the amount of carbon in the earth’s atmosphere, but Baumeister said the environmental impact of domestic air travel is rarely discussed in the climate debate and has proposed to put an end to domestic flights altogether.

      He said domestic flights can be very easily replaced with more environmentally-friendly modes of ground transport, according to his new academic paper titled “Replacing short-haul flights with land-based transportation modes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions: the case of Finland.”

    • Finland absent from EU countries’ call to fast-track climate measures

      The letter’s signatories propose that the European Union commit to becoming carbon neutral by the year 2050 and direct a quarter of its next seven-year budget to combat global warming.

      The joint letter was released at a summit in Sibiu, Romania, on Wednesday. The climate stance was signed by the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Latvia, France, Luxembourg, Portugal, Spain and Sweden. Germany, the EU’s largest member state, and all of Eastern Europe are also not among the signers.

    • Microplastics in squishy creature’s poo hurt ocean’s ability to absorb CO2

      In a paper published to Environmental Science & Technology, a team including lead author Alina Wieczorek found that microplastics also impact the amount of atmospheric CO2 absorbed by oceans. Along with trees, oceans are a vital resource in efforts to reduce and limit atmospheric CO2 as they act as carbon sinks through biological, chemical and physical processes.

      Microplastics are having an effect because they are being eaten in large quantities by salps, a jellyfish-like creature that plays an important part in transporting CO2 to the seafloor. Estimates suggest oceans have captured between one-quarter and one-half of all human-derived CO2 in the past two centuries, with salps being instrumental in this.

    • Electric bikes making increasing inroads in Danish market

      Imports of electric bikes have also been rising fast and more than tripled since 2013, where 16,000 came into the country. In 2018 this had risen to 50,000. Most of the bikes coming into Denmark in 2018 came from China, and the Chinese also accounted for 39 percent of all imported bikes.

    • Los Angeles Fire Season Is Beginning Again. And It Will Never End. A bulletin from our climate future.

      Already, the fires are different. Cal Fire used to plan for wind events that could last as long as four days; now it plans, and enlists, for 14. The infernos bellowed by those winds once reached a maximum temperature of 1,700 degrees Fahrenheit, Cal Fire’s Angie Lottes says; now they reach 2,100 degrees, hot enough to turn the silica in the soil into glass. Fires have always created their own weather systems, but now they’re producing not just firestorms but fire tornadoes, in which the heat can be so intense it can pull steel shipping containers right into the furnace of the blaze. Certain systems now project embers as much as a mile forward, each seeking out more brush, more trees, new eaves on old homes, like pyromaniacal sperm seeking out combustible eggs, which lie everywhere. In at least one instance, a fire has projected lightning storms 21 miles ahead — striking in the right place, these ignite yet more fire. “California is built to burn,” the fire historian Stephen Pyne tells me. “It is built to burn explosively.”

      Some fires no longer even need much fuel, not in the traditional sense. In Paradise, where on the very same day as the Woolsey fire an entire town of 26,000 was incinerated in just 12 hours, many of the trees survived, having evolved to endure conditions like these — indeed, to thrive in them. Instead, the fire leaped from man-made structure to man-made structure, an especially horrifying sight to anyone living in a well-paved subdivision or even a bare half-acre plot in the hills of Los Angeles. Clearing brush didn’t seem to be enough anymore. The trees that died were just the collateral damage; this time, homes were the fuel.

    • Firm of Top Biden Advisor Anita Dunn Works for Fracked Gas Giant Dominion Energy

      An uproar ensued last week within Democratic party circles with the news that Heather Zichal, a former fossil fuel company board member, is serving as an advisor on climate change to presidential hopeful and former Vice President Joe Biden.

      Yet the fossil fuel connections of Biden’s burgeoning circle of advisors do not end with Zichal.

    • Bill Nye is angrily telling everyone to get their act together and fight climate change: ‘The planet’s on f—ing fire’

      On Sunday, Nye joined the talk-show host John Oliver on “Last Week Tonight” to offer up a fiery public service announcement. In the segment, Oliver was discussing the Green New Deal, a proposed set of regulations and initiatives that hopes to make the US carbon-neutral in 10 years and create jobs in the process. The concept has been championed by many Democrats, notably Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Oliver said it has catalyzed a debate about climate legislation across the country (even though Green New Deal legislation has stagnated in Congress).

      Oliver added, however, that we’re far from out of the woods when it comes to curbing carbon emissions. Then he invited Nye to share his thoughts on the matter — and Nye got real.

    • ‘The Planet’s on F***ing Fire’: Bill Nye Explains Climate Change to Adults

      In a segment on John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight Sunday, the beloved science communicator riffed on the set-up of the PBS series that made him famous. Donning a lab coat and safety glasses, he proceeded to school the audience on global warming, but this time he used some very adult language.

    • The Planet Is On Fucking Fire

      With reports the beleaguered planet is now recording the highest levels of atmospheric carbon in over three million years and oblivious goons in power seeing melting Arctic ice as a great shipping opportunity, no more Mister Nice Science Guy Bill Nye is losing it. Nye put in a memorably fiery appearance on Last Week Tonight, where John Oliver presented a typically cogent, detailed, 20-minute segment on climate change, explaining the grim facts, the value of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’ Green New Deal, the issue of carbon taxes, and the fact that “we’re going to need a lot of different policies working tandem, and we have to take action right now.” Oliver then invited the ordinarily placid science educator to “drive the urgency home” with “one of his enjoyable, lighthearted demonstrations.”

    • Trump Praises LNG Exports in Louisiana as His Trade War with China Threatens the Industry

      Today President Donald Trump appeared at Louisiana’s $10 billion Cameron Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) export facility to promote LNG exports and American “energy independence.”

      Trump’s visit to the Cameron Parish terminal comes the day after his escalating trade war, which he called “a little squabble with China,” led China to raise tariffs on U.S. LNG from 10 to 25 percent — a major blow to the U.S. industry, which could slow America’s massive plans to expand LNG export facilities.

    • Mexico City Declares Environmental Emergency as Wildfire Smoke Chokes the Air

      Authorities in Mexico City declared an environmental emergency Tuesday as smoke from wildfires caused air pollution to reach levels well above what the World Health Organization (WHO) considers safe.

    • Plastic leachates impair growth and oxygen production in Prochlorococcus, the ocean’s most abundant photosynthetic bacteria

      Plastic pollution is a global threat to marine ecosystems. Plastic litter can leach a variety of substances into marine environments; however, virtually nothing is known regarding how this affects photosynthetic bacteria at the base of the marine food web. To address this, we investigated the effect of plastic leachate exposure on marine Prochlorococcus, widely considered the most abundant photosynthetic organism on Earth and vital contributors to global primary production and carbon cycling. Two strains of Prochlorococcus representing distinct ecotypes were exposed to leachate from common plastic items: high-density polyethylene bags and polyvinyl chloride matting. We show leachate exposure strongly impairs Prochlorococcus in vitro growth and photosynthetic capacity and results in genome-wide transcriptional changes. The strains showed distinct differences in the extent and timing of their response to each leachate. Consequently, plastic leachate exposure could influence marine Prochlorococcus community composition and potentially the broader composition and productivity of ocean phytoplankton communities.

    • Plastic Pollution Harms Ocean Bacteria That Produce 10 Percent of Earth’s Oxygen

      It’s well known that ocean plastics harm marine life, but could the eight million metric tons of plastic that enters the seas each year also make it harder for us to breathe?

      That’s the troubling implication of a new study published in Communications Biology Tuesday, which found that plastic pollution can have negative impacts on the ocean bacteria that produces 10 percent of Earth’s oxygen.

    • Take Me Out to the Extinction Game

      Sports team mascots serve several important purposes for colleges, universities and professional organizations. Mascots help establish brand identity and provide a point of emotional connection for fans. They symbolize attractive qualities such as strength, power, and luck. Perhaps most importantly, mascots are believed to help teams win.

      But with the exception of mascots representing Native Americans, little analytical attention has been paid to the entities that sports team mascots represent — including animal species like tigers, bears and dolphins.

      Recognizing the lack of research about animal sports mascots, my colleague Brian McCullough and I set out to explore the relationships sports fans have with their favorite teams’ mascots. Our work was published recently in the journal Society & Animals.

      For our research, we set out to determine if there was a connection between fans’ commitment to their favorite team and their awareness of the conservation status of the species represented by that team’s mascot.

      Our research shows that, unfortunately, conversations about plight of the species represented by a mascot rarely occur.

    • Conservative? Conserving What?

      It’s hard to believe the leadership of the so-called conservative party of Canada would push the idea that EVs produce more CO2 than gas-guzzlers. Obviously, they can’t do the maths, like weighing the mass of gasoline that goes into the fuel tanks of gas-guzzlers. My last gas-guzzler eats its weight in gasoline every four years. It’s 13 years old… Some of that ends up as CO2… None of what my Solo EV will eat comes from hydrocarbons. My Solo also weighs a fraction of what my gas-guzzler weighs so the energy/carbon cost of its manufacture will be tiny.

    • U.S. Senate Threatens Sanctions Over Russian Pipeline

      Critics say the Nord Stream 2 project, which would double the amount of Russian gas piped to Germany via the Baltic Sea, makes little commercial sense and is a geopolitical power play by Moscow to exert energy leverage over Western Europe. Countries such as Poland and the Baltic states have joined the United States in opposing the pipeline. They also warn it could destabilize Ukraine as it wages war against Russian-backed separatists in the east of the country. Despite the conflict, the Ukrainian government relies heavily for revenue on transit fees for Russian gas going into Europe.

    • Car giant plumps for carbon neutrality

      Bosch, the German engineering conglomerate which is the world’s largest supplier to the car industry, says it is aiming for full carbon neutrality by next year, in order to meet the challenge posed by climate change.

      Volkmar Denner, Bosch’s chief executive, says it’s vital that companies act now in order to stop the planet from overheating and endangering global stability.

      “Climate change is not science fiction; it’s really happening”, Denner said in a statement reported by Reuters news agency.

      “If we are to take the Paris Agreement seriously, then climate action needs to be seen not just as a long-term aspiration. It needs to happen here and now.”

      Bosch says that at present it emits around 3.3 million tonnes of climate-changing carbon dioxide each year, while its annual energy consumption is equivalent to the combined total of the power used by all private households in the cities of Berlin and Munich.

      Offsetting emissions

    • 17 signs we’re in the middle of a 6th mass extinction

      Although it may not be obvious, another devastating mass extinction event is taking place today — the sixth of its kind in Earth’s history. The trend is hitting global fauna on multiple fronts, as hotter oceans, deforestation, and climate change drive animal populations to drop in unprecedented numbers.

    • World ‘not on track’ to meet Paris climate accord objectives

      “We are not on track to achieve the objectives defined in the Paris Agreement,” he said. “And the paradox is that as things are getting worse on the ground; political will seems to be fading.”

      Earth’s long-term warming trend continued in 2018 as persistent warmth across large swaths of land and ocean resulted in the globe’s fourth hottest year, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the U.S. In the 139 years, NOAA has maintained records, 2018 ranks just behind 2016 (warmest), 2015 (second warmest) and 2017 (third warmest).

    • Their Islands Are Being Eroded. So Are Their Human Rights, They Say.

      It is also the first time that the Australian government — which has failed to meet emissions reduction targets and continues to approve embattled coal mine projects — has faced climate change litigation that asserts a human rights violation. The claimants call on the country to help fund sea walls and other infrastructure that might save the Torres Strait Islands, which have a population of about 4,500, and to meet the emissions targets set under the Paris climate agreement.

    • U.S. says it will complete Keystone XL environmental review

      Earlier this week, an executive for Calgary-based TC Energy — formerly known as TransCanada — said the delays have caused the company to miss the 2019 construction season.

    • UN Report: Nature’s Dangerous Decline ‘Unprecedented’; Species Extinction Rates ‘Accelerating’

      “The overwhelming evidence of the IPBES Global Assessment, from a wide range of different fields of knowledge, presents an ominous picture,” said IPBES Chair, Sir Robert Watson. “The health of ecosystems on which we and all other species depend is deteriorating more rapidly than ever. We are eroding the very foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide.”

      “The Report also tells us that it is not too late to make a difference, but only if we start now at every level from local to global,” he said. “Through ‘transformative change’, nature can still be conserved, restored and used sustainably – this is also key to meeting most other global goals. By transformative change, we mean a fundamental, system-wide reorganization across technological, economic and social factors, including paradigms, goals and values.”

      “The member States of IPBES Plenary have now acknowledged that, by its very nature, transformative change can expect opposition from those with interests vested in the status quo, but also that such opposition can be overcome for the broader public good,” Watson said.

    • ‘Revolutionary change’ needed to stop unprecedented global extinction crisis

      And yet, the Global Assessment has an optimistic outlook. It emphasises that if the world’s legal, institutional and economic systems are transformed then it is possible to achieve a better future for biodiversity and human well-being in the next 30 years.

      But this is only possible if reform happens immediately, as incremental change will be insufficient.

    • Highlights on UN IPBES report on species loss: Damage isn’t permanent, as long as we remedy it soon, dramatically

      The Global Assessment Report is an exhaustive, 1,800-page Summary for Policymakers. It could go a long way in ending speculation as to the extent of destruction in nature in recent years.

      “I would say that the report is likely to be interpreted as ‘Boy, we are in trouble’ but there are solutions,” Prof Sir Robert Watson, Chair of IPBES, told BBC ahead of the report’s release on Monday. “Our report will talk about to what degree are we losing biodiversity, and to what degree could we protect some of it in the future.”

    • Water restrictions loom for Sydney as drought continues to impact on dam levels

      The latest research from Sydney Water reveals levels across 11 dams in Greater Sydney are dropping faster than they have in decades.

      Since April 2017, the levels have plummeted from 96 per cent combined capacity to just over 55 per cent and continue to fall by 0.4 per cent every week.

      If levels fall below 50 per cent, it will trigger stage-one water restrictions for Sydney households — which bans hosing hard surfaces and limits watering gardens to times outside 10am to 4pm.

    • UN Warns of ‘Biological Annihilation’ as The 6th Extinction Event Unfolds on Our Planet

      The trend is hitting global fauna on multiple fronts, as hotter oceans, deforestation, and climate change drive animal populations down on an unprecedented scale.

      Now, another report is expected to back up that idea.

      On Monday, the United Nations is scheduled to release a report from its Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) that assesses the state of the planet’s biodiversity.

    • Nature in worst shape in human history with 1 million species at risk of extinction, massive UN report warns

      The report said 1 million of the planet’s 8 million species of plants and animals are at risk of going extinct in the near future. Scientists blame human activities that have led to loss of habitat, climate change, overfishing, pollution and invasive species.

    • Those 3% of scientific papers that deny climate change? A review found them all flawed

      It’s often said that of all the published scientific research on climate change, 97% of the papers conclude that global warming is real, problematic for the planet, and has been exacerbated by human activity.

      But what about those 3% of papers that reach contrary conclusions? Some skeptics have suggested that the authors of studies indicating that climate change is not real, not harmful, or not man-made are bravely standing up for the truth, like maverick thinkers of the past. (Galileo is often invoked, though his fellow scientists mostly agreed with his conclusions—it was church leaders who tried to suppress them.)

      Not so, according to a review published in the journal of Theoretical and Applied Climatology. The researchers tried to replicate the results of those 3% of papers—a common way to test scientific studies—and found biased, faulty results.

    • Rare win for Canada’s Greens in special election deals blow to Trudeau

      Green candidate Paul Manly won the constituency of Nanaimo-Ladysmith with about 38 percent of the vote.

    • The U.N. Report on Extinction vs. Mike Pompeo at the Arctic Council

      Mike Pompeo was at a meeting of the Arctic Council in Rovaniemi, Finland. And there, as representatives from the seven other member states and six indigenous organizations warned about the rapid melting of Arctic sea ice, Pompeo, instead, exulted. “The Arctic is at the forefront of opportunity and abundance,” he said. “It houses thirteen per cent of the world’s undiscovered oil, thirty per cent of its undiscovered gas, an abundance of uranium, rare-earth minerals, gold, diamonds, and millions of square miles of untapped resources, fisheries galore.” In fact, he said, it can’t melt fast enough. “Steady reductions in sea ice are opening new passageways and new opportunities for trade. This could potentially slash the time it takes to travel between Asia and the West by as much as twenty days.” That is to say, the fact that one of the world’s largest physical features is in chaotic flux is, in fact, good news, because we’ll soon be able to ship stuff from China three weeks faster.

      I have never met an earth scientist who isn’t profoundly frightened by what is happening in the Arctic. As the fastest warming part of the planet, it offers a terrifying preview of what’s coming. Its white ice once deflected most of the sun’s incoming rays back out to space; now the blue water that’s replaced it absorbs the incoming solar radiation, amping up global warming. Meanwhile, the melting permafrost produces clouds of methane, itself a potent greenhouse gas. The newly open Arctic Ocean alters weather patterns, catching the jet stream in a way that makes for prolonged drought or flooding at lower latitudes. The rapid melting of Greenland’s great ice sheet seems to threaten the continued operation of the great ocean currents that warm northern Europe. And on and on—of all the scary spectacles on our Earth, none tops a fast-thawing north. But not to Pompeo, who looks to the Arctic and sees oil, gas, gold, and diamonds. It’s as if Gollum were Secretary of State.

    • Arctic Council fails to agree on declaration as US holds out on climate change

      The run-up to this year’s meeting in Rovaniemi was characterised by reports of conflict among the eight Arctic Council countries – Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States – with US newspaper The Washington Post reporting that US diplomats had attempted to remove any mention of climate change from the draft Rovaniemi declaration.

    • The Arctic Is Melting. Mike Pompeo Seems to Think This Is a Good Thing

      The politician made the comments during a speech about political and economic threats to the region, which several nations see as a vast store of untapped resources. China, Russia and others, he added, are investing in the frigid frontier.

      Pompeo did not use the words “climate change” once during his 2,400-word speech, according to the AP. He did say, however, that “America is the world’s leader in caring for the environment,” adding that President Donald Trump was committed “to leveraging resources in environmentally responsible ways.

    • U.S. Pressure Blocks Declaration on Climate Change at Arctic Talks

      According to diplomats involved in the negotiations, at issue was the United States’ insistence not to mention the latest science on climate change or the Paris Agreement aimed at averting its worst effects. The omission is especially notable because scientists have warned that the Arctic is heating up far faster than the world average because of rising greenhouse gas emissions.

    • ‘Climate change’ mention missing from U.S. defence of Arctic policy

      Finnish Foreign Ministry Timo Soini said Tuesday there will be no joint declaration as the summit couldn’t get the United States to agree on a text that includes language about climate change. Instead, he said there would be statements from ministers and Finland, which holds the chair of the Arctic Council.

      Bill Erasmus, chairman of the Arctic Athabaskan Council, a Canada-based group of Indigenous people, expressed disappointment that a joint declaration had not been reached.

  • Finance

    • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Takes On Myths About Class, Wealth, Poverty

      “When we say ‘tax the rich,’ we mean nesting-doll yacht rich. For-profit prison rich. Betsy DeVos, student-loan-shark rich. Trick-the-country-into-war rich. Subsidizing-workforce-w-food-stamps rich,” wrote Ocasio-Cortez. “Because THAT kind of rich is simply not good for society, & it’s like 10 people.”

    • Education Secretary Betsy Devos Hires Private Accounting Firm to Audit the Student Loan program: Asking For Bad News

      It took 42 years, DeVos pointed out, for the federal student-loan portfolio to reach half a trillion dollars (1965 until 2007). It took only 6 years–2007 to 2013–for the portfolio to reach $1 trillion. And in 2018–just five years later–the federal government held $1.5 trillion in outstanding student loans. In fact, uncollateralized student loans now make up 30 percent of all federal assets.

      This wouldn’t be a problem if student borrowers were paying off their loans. But they’re not. As DeVos candidly admitted last November, “only 24 percent of FSA borrowers—one in four—are currently paying down both principal and interest.” One in five borrowers are in delinquency or default, and 43 percent of all loans are “in distress” (whatever that means).

    • Undercover filming shows Amazon destroying millions of brand new unsold products

      Let’s be clear about this – these products are not tat. They’re not returns. They’re not broken. They are just unsold and the waste being created is utterly horrendous.

    • ‘Disgraceful’: While Reaping $21 Billion Windfall From Trump Tax Cuts, Report Shows, AT&T Slashed 23,000 Jobs

      AT&T promised to create thousands of new jobs as President Donald Trump’s tax legislation moved through Congress in 2017—but the telecom giant has done precisely the opposite since the bill became law, while raking in over $20 billion in extra profits.

      That’s according to an analysis published Monday by the Communications Workers of America (CWA), which found that AT&T has slashed 23,328 jobs since Congress passed Trump’s tax bill in 2017, including nearly 6,000 in the first quarter of 2019 alone.

      Meanwhile, according to CWA, AT&T has reaped $21 billion in tax cuts thanks to the Republican law, with $3 billion in annual savings expected in the future.

      “What AT&T is doing to hardworking people across America is disgraceful,” CWA president Chris Shelton said in a statement. “Taxpayers aren’t going to let AT&T get away with receiving over $21 billion in tax cuts and then destroying the livelihoods of tens of thousands of people.”

    • In Colombia, General Motors Workers Fight Surge In Firings Over Workplace Injuries

      For eight years, fired General Motors workers have camped outside the United States Embassy in Bogota, Colombia. They are protesting wrongful termination due to injuries at GM’s Colombia manufacturing plant.

      Colombia is the leading nation in the world in murders of labor leaders and union members.

      After their fight in the Colombia judicial system produced little to no results, fired GM workers pressured the U.S. government to hold the corporation accountable.

      “Assembling vehicles is hard work, and many U.S. auto workers will tell you that after a 30-year career they have pain that does not go away,” said Paige Shell-Spurling, an organizer with the Central America Solidarity Committee in Portland, Oregon.

      Shell-Spurling said “those injuries are being developed in periods as short as six-to-eight years in some cases” in the GM plant in Bogota.

      “It is disarming to see workers in their late 20s and early 30s walking with canes, permanently disabled, and eventually dismissed,” Shell-Spurling added.

      In 2012, protests and assistance from the U.S. Embassy helped bring GM to the negotiating table. GM was urged to improve working conditions at the plant to mitigate worker injuries even though they did not reach an agreement.

    • Blockchain 2.0 – Explaining Distributed Computing And Distributed Applications [Part 11]

      Blockchain 1.0 was about introducing the “blockchain” into the list of modern buzzwords along with the advent of bitcoin. Multiple white papers detailing bitcoin’s underlying blockchain network specified the use of the blockchain for other uses as well. Although most of the said uses was around the basic concept of using the blockchain as a decentralized medium for storage, a use that stems from this property is utilizing it for carrying out Distributed computing on top of this layer.

      DApps or Distributed Applications are computer programs that are stored and run on a distributed storage system such as the Ethereum blockchain for instance. To understand how DApps function and how they’re different from traditional applications on your desktop or phone, we’ll need to delve into what distributed computing is. This post will explore some fundamental concepts of distributed computing and the role of blockchains in executing the said objective. Furthermore, well also look at a few applications or DApps, in blockchain lingo, to get a hang of things.

    • Disney takes full control of Hulu as Comcast steps aside

      Today, Disney takes the reins at Hulu. Disney and Comcast announced a deal saying that Disney will assume full operational control of Hulu, effective immediately. In turn, Disney and Comcast have entered a “put/call” agreement, which means that as early as January 2024, Comcast can require Disney to buy NBCUniversal’s 33-percent interest in Hulu. On the flip side, Disney can require NBCUniversal to sell its interest in Hulu by January 2024 for fair market value.

      Fair market value will be assessed at the time of sale, but Disney has guaranteed Comcast a minimum sale price of $27.5 billion for the remaining stake in Hulu.

    • Mapping Notre Dame’s unique sound will be a boon to reconstruction efforts

      The acoustics of the cathedral—how it sounds—are also part of its cultural heritage, and given the ephemeral nature of sound, acoustical characteristics can be far trickier to preserve or reproduce. Fortunately, a group of French acousticians made detailed measurements of Notre Dame’s “soundscape” over the last few years, along with two other cathedrals. That data will now be instrumental in helping architects factor acoustics into their reconstruction plans.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Beto O’Rourke just hired a “senior advisor” who used to lobby for Keystone XL, Seaworld and private prisons

      Also: lest you fear that Berman will feel isolated in O’Rourke’s staff, consider that he’s got lots of allies around the office, like O’Rourke chief of staff Jen O’Malley Dillon, cofounder of Precision Strategies, whose client roster includes Pfizer, Bank of America and Facebook,

    • After Front Row Seat to Obama Years, Biden Called ‘Remarkably Naive’ for Saying He Expects GOP ‘Epiphany’ After 2020

      A comment from 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden bout the Republican Party on Tuesday generated intense criticism of the former vice president and had some observers wondering if Biden fully understands the present political moment.

      The comment in question was first reported on in a tweet by Bloomberg’s Sahil Kapur.

      “In New Hampshire, Joe Biden predicts that once President Trump is out of office, Republicans will have ‘an epiphany’ and work with Democrats toward consensus,” said Kapur.

    • #LindseyGrahamResign Goes Viral After Senator Advises Don Jr. to Refuse Congressional Subpoena

      Tens of thousands of social media users joined a call for Sen. Lindsey Graham’s resignation on Tuesday, after the South Carolina Republican publicly offered advice to Donald Trump Jr. about his recent congressional subpoena.

      The president’s eldest son was subpoenaed in April to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee about his contacts with Russia during the 2016 election, after twice backing out of planned testimony before the committee.

      The subpoena prompted Graham—one of President Donald Trump’s closest allies—to tell Trump Jr. on Monday to refuse to answer the panel’s questions.

      “You just show up and plead the Fifth and it’s over with,” Graham told reporters, according to The Washington Post.

      Graham also appeared on “Fox News Sunday” to declare Congress’s attempts to continue probing questions about Trump’s 2016 campaign, its communications with Russia, and potential obstruction of justice by the president “worthless,” and said Trump, Jr. should not respond to the subpoena.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Vox Admits It Got Section 230 Wrong, Fixes Its Mistake

      Last week we wrote about how annoying it was that major media publications were misrepresenting Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, and suggesting — completely without merit — that the law was designed to keep platforms “neutral” or that they were mere “pass through” vehicles, rather than actively engaged in moderation. We pointed out that online trolls and grandstanding politicians were making this incorrect claim, but it was not an accurate statement of the law, and the media should know better. In our comments, some people called me out for not suggesting that the media was being deliberately dishonest, and in response I noted that there wasn’t any evidence of deliberateness from most of them (not so much with the trolls and especially grandstanding politicians like Ted Cruz, who have been told, repeatedly, that they are misrepresenting CDA 230). I hoped that it was just a mistake that would be corrected.

    • The Facebook free speech battle, explained

      Facebook booted a hodgepodge of extremist figures recently, inflaming a faction on the right that is challenging the prevailing legal consensus on what is and isn’t protected speech on digital platforms.

      Some conservatives argue that Facebook is unfairly targeting conservative voices, or voices that seemingly abut conservative ideas, like Infowars’ Alex Jones. And a few politicians, like Republican Sens. Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley, are questioning whether it’s even legal for Facebook to do this.

      Facebook says it’s not targeting the right, but rather responding to a broad public push demanding that it crack down on extremism and misinformation — and that it has specific legal protections to do so.

    • YouTube User Fights Unfair Takedown Campaign from UFC

      San Francisco – The creator of popular post-fight commentary videos on YouTube is demanding an end to the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC)’s unfair practice of sending takedown notices based on bogus copyright claims. The creator, John MacKay, is represented by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).

      MacKay operates the “Boxing Now” channel on YouTube, and his videos include original audio commentary and small number of still images from UFC events. While those stills are an obvious fair use—a lawful way to use copyrighted content with permission—UFC has sent five takedown notices to YouTube claiming infringement, and YouTube has complied with each takedown. MacKay has responded every time with a counter-notice, explaining the fair and non-infringing nature of his videos, and YouTube has reposted the videos after UFC failed to respond.

    • When Ireland banned “Casablanca” as unfair to Nazis

      The decision by the Irish government to ban the viciously anti-gay campaigner Steven Anderson was the correct one given his hate speech. The banning recalls some famous or infamous decisions made by Irish censors over the years.

      Ironically, the man who banned Anderson is Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan, whose own father, Oliver J. Flanagan, was once a controversial politician widely known for anti-Semitism.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Canada Border Services seizes lawyer’s phone, laptop for not sharing passwords

      As more people travel with smartphones loaded with personal data, concern is mounting over Canadian border officers’ powers to search those phones — without a warrant.

      “The policy’s outrageous,” said Toronto business lawyer, Nick Wright. “I think that it’s a breach of our constitutional rights.”

      His thoughts follow a personal experience. After landing at Toronto’s Pearson Airport on April 10, he said the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) flagged him for an additional inspection — for no stated reason.

    • Canadian Border Agents Also Routinely Demanding Passwords From Travelers And Searching Their Devices

      The end result was CBSA agents confiscating Wright’s phone and laptop with the assurance they would be sent to a government lab in order to have their password protection cracked. Replacing them cost Wright $3,000.

      Wright claims this is a violation of Canada’s charter of rights. Canadian courts, like those in the US, have decided no involuntary sacrifice of rights is too great when national security is on the line. The CBSA, for its part, has greeted the tech future by pretending it’s still 1975, and that searching a phone is no different than searching a briefcase or the trunk of a car.

      For all of that, this is probably the right time to challenge this custom of customs officials. The nation’s top court has already drawn a distinction between briefcases and cellphones, saying the latter contains vast amounts of information that “touches a person’s biological core.” And at least one provincial court has declared Canadians’ rights are not null and void simply because they’re at a border crossing.

      The CBSA’s statement to CBC News says these suspicionless searches that can result in the indefinite seizure of citizens’ devices are “reasonable and necessary” to keep Canada secure. But they seem to be neither. There’s nothing “reasonable” about invasive searches completely divorced from articulable suspicion. That’s the very definition of “unreasonable.” And as for necessity, all the CBSA has to offer is that 38% of its 19,000+ device searches “uncovered evidence of customs-related offences.” This means most searches don’t recover any evidence of anything and that things like undeclared goods are somehow threatening to the country’s security.

    • San Francisco Takes a Historic Step Forward in the Fight for Privacy

      The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted today by 8-to-1 to make San Francisco the first major city in the United States to ban government use of face surveillance technology. This historic measure applies to all city departments. The Stop Secret Surveillance Ordinance also takes an important step toward ensuring a more informed and democratic process before the San Francisco Police Department and other city agencies may acquire other kinds of surveillance technologies.

      Face recognition technology is a particularly pernicious form of surveillance, given its disparate propensity to misidentify women, and people of color. However, even if those failures were addressed, we are at a precipice where this technology could soon be used to track people in real-time. This would place entire communities of law-abiding residents into a perpetual line-up, as they attend worship, spend time with romantic partners, attend protests, or simply go about their daily lives.

      It is encouraging to see San Francisco take this proactive step in anticipating the surveillance problems on the horizon and heading them off in advance.

      It is encouraging to see San Francisco take this proactive step in anticipating the surveillance problems on the horizon and heading them off in advance. This is far easier than trying to put the proverbial genie back in the bottle after it causes harm.

    • San Francisco may become first U.S. city to ban facial recognition

      Efforts to restrict its use are getting pushback from law enforcement groups and the tech industry, though it’s far from a united front. Microsoft, while opposed to an outright ban, has urged lawmakers to set limits on the technology, warning that leaving it unchecked could enable an oppressive dystopia reminiscent of George Orwell’s novel “1984.”

    • San Francisco becomes the first US city to ban facial recognition by government agencies

      The city’s Board of Supervisors voted eight to one to approve the proposal, set to take effect in a month, that would bar city agencies, including law enforcement, from using the tool. The ordinance would also require city agencies to get board approval for their use of surveillance technology, and set up audits of surveillance tech already in use. Other cities have approved similar transparency measures.

      The plan, called the Stop Secret Surveillance Ordinance, was spearheaded by Supervisor Aaron Peskin. In a statement read ahead of the vote, Peskin said it was “an ordinance about having accountability around surveillance technology.”

    • EU Votes To Create Universal Biometric Database for Border Control Purposes

      The database will be known as the Common Identity Repository (CIR) and will unify records on over 350 million people. It will include both identity records like names, dates of birth, passport numbers, and other identification details, as well as biometrics like fingerprints and facial scans.

      “The systems covered by the new rules would include the Schengen Information System, Eurodac, the Visa Information System (VIS) and three new systems: the European Criminal Records System for Third Country Nationals (ECRIS-TCN), the Entry/Exit System (EES) and the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS),” EU officials said last week.

    • Smart meters: Why they are driving some people mad

      Things haven’t worked out well. “My smart meter loses connection, the weather seems to affect it, and it beeps all the time and the only way to stop it is to remove the batteries.”

      She says it’s driving her round the bend.

      Government figures show that until the end of 2018, nearly 15 million smart meters had been installed. But those same figures also show that only 12.5 million were operational.

      That leaves 2.3 million smart meters that have been installed but are not functioning.

      DCC is the company tasked with the job of making those devices smart again. But they’ve not implemented the technology to make that possible yet.

    • Call that smart? New energy meters won’t work in 1 in 3 homes: The farce behind scheme designed to cut bills (but actually costs us all £11bn)

      Thick walls, blocks of flats and poor mobile signals can all cause problems

      Other homeowners are being told they are on the wrong type of energy tariff

      Some suppliers are refusing smart meters to households with solar panels

      Meters can go haywire if households use LED light bulbs or dimmer switches

    • Facebook’s FTC settlement could include 20 years of privacy oversight
    • Facebook facing 20-year consent agreement after privacy lapses: source

      Several U.S. lawmakers have criticized aspects of a potential agreement between the FTC and Facebook that would elevate oversight of privacy policies and practices to Facebook’s board of directors and require the social media company to be more aggressive in policing third-party app developers.

      In a letter to the FTC, Senators Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat, and Josh Hawley, a Republican, told the agency that even a $5 billion civil penalty was too little and that top officials, potentially including founder Mark Zuckerberg, should be held personally responsible.

      Facebook’s 2011 settlement with the FTC also required it report to the government agency about its privacy practices for 20 years.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • How Activists Can Fight Back Against Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)

      On April 15, Senate Democrats called to restrict funding for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), a move that would significantly disrupt the Trump administration’s plans for immigration enforcement.

      “We cannot support the appropriation of funds that would expand this administration’s unnecessarily cruel immigration enforcement policies, its inhumane immigrant detention systems, or its efforts to build the president’s vanity projects,” Democrats wrote in a letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee. The senators called for a rejection of the Trump administration’s request for additional Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents, and limits on DHS funding for immigrant detention and deportation.

      So far, 20 Democratic senators have signed the letter, including 2020 presidential contenders Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Cory Booker.

    • Bearing Witness: My Journey Out of Mormonism
    • On Muslim Brotherhood, Trump Weighs Siding With Autocrats and Roiling Middle East

      In Washington, the renewed campaign against the Muslim Brotherhood is far from assured.

      A half-dozen current and former American officials and foreign diplomats familiar with the push discussed it on the condition of anonymity, several of whom said it faced legal and policy hurdles and could take weeks to resolve.

    • How Private Equity Is Turning Public Prisons Into Big Profits

      w a U.N. Bid to Prevent Sexual Violence Turned Into a Spat Over Abortion

      In recent years, corporations have privatized almost every part of the public prison system. Now, PE firms are swooping in, seeking lavish returns for investors.

    • Iran secretly executed teenage boys, human rights group says

      Iran secretly executed two teenagers last week, according to rights group Amnesty International, which criticized the country for its “utter disdain for international law and the rights of children.”

    • Iran: Two 17-year-old boys flogged and secretly executed in abhorrent violation of international law

      Iran remains the top executioner of children in the world. As a state party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Iran is legally obliged to treat anyone under the age of 18 as a child and ensure that they are never subjected to the death penalty or life imprisonment.

      Mehdi Sohrabifar and Amin Sedaghat had been held in a juvenile correction centre in Shiraz since 2017. On 24 April, they were transferred to Adelabad prison, apparently without knowing the reason. The same day, their families were granted a visit with them, but they were not told that it was in preparation for their execution.

      The next day, on 25 April, the families suddenly received a call from Iran’s Legal Medicine Organization, a state forensic institute, informing them of the executions and asking them to collect the bodies.

    • Minneapolis Jury Finds Ex-Police Officer Guilty In Fatal Shooting Of Unarmed Woman

      Mohamed Noor, the ex-Minneapolis officer charged in the shooting death of Justine Ruszczyk, was convicted of third-degree murder and manslaughter. He was found not guilty of intentional second-degree murder.

    • Former Minnesota Policeman Convicted in Fatal Shooting of Australian Woman

      Prosecutors called Noor’s shooting of Damond, who was unarmed, “reckless” and the prime minister of Australia at the time, Malcolm Turnbull, said it was “inexplicable.”

    • Trump Pushes to Designate Muslim Brotherhood a Terrorist Group

      The White House is pushing to issue an order that would designate the Muslim Brotherhood a foreign terrorist organization, bringing the weight of American sanctions against a storied and influential Islamist political movement with millions of members across the Middle East, according to officials familiar with the matter.

    • On second day of anti-cathedral protests, Yekaterinburg residents toss fencing into ponds and try to avoid arrest

      A spontaneous protest against the destruction of an open square to build a new cathedral in central Yekaterinburg stretched from the evening of May 13 into the early morning. Police officers left the square around midnight without dispersing protesters. On the evening of May 14, the square’s defenders — and their opponents — went face-to-face again.

    • On the ground for night one of protests in Yekaterinburg against the construction of a new cathedral

      A fence appeared overnight on May 13 in October Square in downtown Yekaterinburg, near the regional drama theater. This is the site where the Russian Copper Company (RMK) and the Ural Mining and Metallurgical Company (UGMK) intend to build “St. Catherine’s Cathedral” before 2023, when the city celebrates the 300th anniversary of its founding. The project has been approved, and arts patrons at the “St. Catherine’s Cathedral LLC” have leased the land. The construction has the support of the governor, City Hall, and the Russian Orthodox Church’s Yekaterinburg Diocese. Local activists and political oppositionists, however, don’t want to lose public space to the church, and past demonstrations already led to the cancellation of previous plans to build St. Catherine’s Cathedral on an artificial island created in the city pond. The new fence in October Square has provoked a full-scale confrontation, with sit-ins, sieges, and some violence. Meduza journalist Dmitry Andreev spent the night with the protesters, and witnessed the clashes firsthand.

    • Border Wall to Go Up in National Monument, Wildlife Refuge

      The U.S. government plans on replacing barriers through 100 miles (161 kilometers) of the southern border in California and Arizona, including through a national monument and a wildlife refuge, according to documents and environmental advocates.

      The Department of Homeland Security on Tuesday again waived environmental and dozens of other laws to build more barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border.

      Funding will come from the Defense Department following the emergency declaration that President Donald Trump signed this year after Congress refused to approve the amount of border wall funding he requested.

      Barriers will go up at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, a vast park named after the unique cactus breed that decorates it, and Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge, which is largely a designed wilderness home to 275 wildlife species. The government will also build new roads and lighting in those areas in Arizona.

    • A Russian video game developer bought F-16 fighter jet manuals on eBay. He might face up to 10 years in a U.S. prison.

      Russian video game developer Oleg Tishchenko is being tried in the United States. He worked on high-precision flight simulators for 15 years and purchased documentation about various airplane models online to better understand his models. Now, Tishchenko faces criminal charges for one of those purchases. Among other crimes, he has been accused of conspiring against the United States. If convicted, he may face a sentence of more than 10 years in prison.

    • Axon Hints It May Ruin A City’s Credit Rating For Cancelling Its Contract For Body Cam Footage Storage

      Axon — formerly Taser — is betting big on police body cameras. It doesn’t care much about the hardware. That’s the just the foot in the door. The real money is subscription and storage fees. These contracts are worth far more than the hardware, which Axon is willing to give away to secure a far more profitable revenue stream.

      Axon not only charges for storage of recorded footage but also for access. It provides a front end for law enforcement agencies to search uploaded footage. It also makes defense lawyers do the same thing — putting itself (and a lot of contractual language) between accused criminals and the evidence they’re legally entitled to have.

      Emails obtained via a public records request show Axon plays hardball with municipalities who decide they’d rather use a different vendor. When a California city decided to take its business elsewhere after four years with Axon, its representatives responded by threatening to trash the city’s credit rating. Beryl Lipton has the details for public records request powerhouse MuckRock.

    • Political blame game over Alwar gangrape brushes aside Rajasthan’s abysmal record on women’s safety

      The recent gang rape of a woman in Alwar’s Thanagazi has put the spotlight once again on unending crime against women in Rajasthan. According to data available with Rajasthan Police, there is a steep rise in rape cases in the last few years. In 2017, the state police registered 3,305 cases of rape and in just one year Rajasthan recorded an increase of 1,030 cases taking the total number of registered rape cases to 4,335 in 2018.

      If this was not enough, the first four months of this year have already taken this graph even further with the state recording 1,509 rape cases till April 2019. This shows an increase of 197 cases when compared to the number of rape cases registered in the first four months of 2018.

    • Asia Bibi: Pakistan’s notorious blasphemy case

      In Pakistan, the punishment for blasphemy against Islam and its prophet is either life imprisonment, or death. But all too often the allegation is misused as a way to settle personal scores. Once someone has been accused of blasphemy, before their case has even gone to trial, they and their families come under attack.

    • Asia Bibi, Christian Cleared of Blasphemy Charges, Leaves Pakistan for Canada

      The law prescribes a death sentence for anyone convicted of insulting Islam or the prophet Muhammad. Rights groups say the law has been used by extremists as a bludgeon against religious minorities.

      One outspoken critic of the blasphemy law was Salman Taseer, the governor of Punjab Province at the time of Ms. Bibi’s conviction. In 2011, he was assassinated by his bodyguard, who later suggested to the police that he had killed Mr. Taseer because of his opposition to the law.

    • Asia Bibi leaves Pakistan ‘for Canada’
    • Asia Bibi free at last as she leaves Pakistan for Canada after months of limbo

      Her case highlighted Pakistan’s harsh blasphemy laws which carry a death sentence and are accused of being a tool to persecute religious minorities. Blasphemy is an incendiary accusation in Pakistan and many allegations result in lynchings before they ever reach a trial.

    • Asia Bibi begins new life in Canada – but her ordeal may not be over

      Bibi’s backstory is well known after international attention was focused on her case. The former farm labourer was sentenced to death on flimsy evidence in 2010 after being accused of blasphemy in a dispute with Muslim women in her village over a cup of water. Two Pakistani politicians were later killed for publicly supporting her and criticising the country’s draconian blasphemy laws.

    • Asia Bibi, Pakistani Christian Woman Acquitted Of Blasphemy, Arrives In Canada

      “Since 1990, at least 65 people have reportedly been killed in Pakistan over claims of blasphemy,” the BBC reported.

    • Pakistan Christian Asia Bibi has arrived in Canada, lawyer confirms

      “Even if there was some grain of truth in the allegations leveled in this case against the appellant still the glaring contradictions in the evidence of the prosecution highlighted above clearly show that the truth in this case had been mixed with a lot which was untrue,” the ruling said.

    • Freed By ISIS, Yazidi Mothers Face Wrenching Choice: Abandon Kids Or Never Go Home

      The children are also seen as a threat to the ancient religion, in which only those born to two Yazidi parents are considered Yazidi. In an added legal complication, since the children’s fathers are Muslim, Iraqi law considers them Muslim as well. It’s an extremely controversial subject within the Yazidi leadership.

    • Statistically Correct Sexism

      The fact that men and women are “created equal” in our country does not mean that they magically become the same.

    • Bus driver closes door to woman in a short skirt

      Elise Bencheikh, who is 29 and lives in Paris, was waiting with a female friend at a bus stop in the north of the city at about 11pm last Tuesday when a bus pulled up but did not open its doors. When she asked why, she said, the driver told her: “You should dress properly.”

    • Iranian intelligence minister concerned with growth of Christianity; converts summoned

      Underground house churches continue to spring up across Iran, although they must do so in secrecy because they risk torture and imprisonment in the Islamic republic.

      Believers can be arrested for preaching the Gospel or having a copy of the Bible translated into Farsi.

    • Iran’s ‘Terror Factory’ Targeting Christians

      i”In Iran, any practice that contradicts Islam is regarded as a national security threat, punished severely by the court system.”

    • Nigeria/Netherlands: Shell ruling “a vital step towards justice”

      Shell has been accused of instigating a raft of horrifying human rights violations committed by the Nigerian government against the Ogoni people in the 1990s.

      Esther Kiobel, Victoria Bera, Blessing Eawo and Charity Levula are suing Shell over what they say is its role in the unlawful arrest, detention and execution of their husbands by the Nigerian military, following a brutal crackdown on Ogoni protests against Shell’s devastating pollution of the region.

    • Inside Syria’s Secret Torture Prisons: How Assad Crushed Dissent

      Another detainee, Nabil Shurbaji — a journalist who, by coincidence, was the first to inspire Mr. Ghabbash to activism in 2011 and later shared his cell in Mezze — tried to write on cloth scraps with tomato paste. Too faint. Mr. Shurbaji finally used the detainees’ own blood, from their malnourished gums, mixed with rust. A detained tailor sewed the scraps into Mr. Omari’s shirt. He smuggled them out.

      The message in blood reached Western capitals; the shirt scraps were displayed at the Holocaust Museum in Washington. But Mr. Shurbaji was still inside.

    • MCMC carries out two raids over alleged insults to Islam

      The investigation against the two suspects, one using a Facebook account under the name ‘Auni Zaara’ and the other ‘Fadhillah Abdulhamid’, was carried out under Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 for improper use of network facilities.

    • New far-right party seen entering Danish parliament – opinion poll

      A new Danish far-right party that wants Islam banned and hundreds of thousands of Muslims deported could win seats in Denmark’s parliament in an upcoming election, an opinion poll showed on Monday.

      iThe party ‘Stram Kurs’, which means Hard Line, was founded in 2017 by lawyer Rasmus Paludan who first came to public attention by posting anti-Islam YouTube videos. His stunts have included publicly burning the Koran, sometimes wrapped in bacon, in what he calls a tribute to free speech.

    • Burqa ban debate: Countries that proscribe veils, and those who make it compulsory

      World over, people have been divided over the ban on burqa (also spelt as burkha/burka) and other face-covering veils. While opponents of the ban call it an attack on the freedom of an individual to wear a dress of her choice, its proponents cite examples of cases where women are forced to wear the dress against their choice.

    • Bill 21 hearings: Former senator links veil to excision and forced marriage

      Noting Hirsi Ali has received death threats and now requires protection 24 hour a day because of her views, Hervieux-Payette said the author’s ideas — which she shares — need to be understood by all as they debate Bill 21.

    • Sandra Bland’s Phone Video Of Her Own Arrest Surfaces, Reviving Calls For New Inquiry

      The main record of Bland’s controversial arrest had been dashcam footage captured by a state trooper’s SUV in Prairie View, Texas. But that changed Monday night with the release of Bland’s recording, which was acquired by reporter Brian Collister of the Investigative Network and broadcast on WFAA.

    • Nike Told Me to Dream Crazy, Until I Wanted a Baby.

      Many American laws protect the rights of pregnant employees — they can’t be fired, for instance. But, since professional athletes are more like independent contractors, those protections don’t apply.

    • Mayor sides with Muslims in mega-mosque battle that divides community

      That decision led to another lawsuit filed by seven residents of the neighborhood who allege the mosque is not compatible with the surrounding area due to its massive size, lack of off-street parking, and traffic issues. Residents also claim their free-speech rights were violated by the mayor, who they believe was favoring one religious group over another.

      The suit states that residents who were against the mosque were not allowed to speak and in fact some were ushered out of the city council chambers by police on the orders of the mayor.

      [...]

      Most of the Christians here fled Iraq, escaping brutal Sunni and Shia persecution after the U.S. overthrew the government of Saddam Hussein, who protected the nation’s large Christian minority. Since the U.S.-orchestrated regime change in 2003, Iraq’s Christian population has been decimated by jihadist attacks, going from more than 1.5 million strong down to an estimated 200,000 today.

    • Sri Lanka Expels 200 Islamic Clerics After Easter Attacks

      “Out of those who were sent out, about 200 were Islamic preachers.”

    • Jeremy Hunt issues warning on persecution of Christians

      “I think there are various reasons for this but the report makes it very clear that there are different reasons in different parts of the world why persecution of Christians in specific happens and, combined together, they’ve crept up on us.”

    • Thousands march in Kuala Lumpur to defend ‘sovereignty of Islam’

      PAS deputy president Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man warned that Saturday’s rally was a “warning and reminder” that Muslims will not stay silent when Islam is insulted.

    • This Woman Fought To End Minnesota’s ‘Marital Rape’ Exception, And Won

      It’s a rare spot of bipartisanship this session in Minnesota, which has the only divided legislature in the country.

      Teeson was up in the gallery with her parents for the House vote. In an unusual move, the entire chamber turned in their seats after the vote to face her, breaking into a round of applause.

      “I don’t think I’ve seen my dad cry, ever. And my mom and my dad and I looked at the board and within two seconds, three seconds, the whole board lit up green,” she says, breaking into tears. “It just solidified that what I’m doing is right and that one person’s voice can really make a difference.”

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Pai FCC ‘Solution’ To Nation’s Great Robocall Apocalypse? More Meetings

      Despite endless government initiatives and countless promises from the telecom sector, our national robocall hell continues. Robocalls from telemarketers continue to be the subject the FCC receives the most complaints about (200,000 complaints annually, making up 60% of all FCC complaints), and recent data from the Robocall Index indicates that the problem is only getting worse. Consumers continue to be hammered by mortgage interest rate scams, credit card scams, student loan scams, business loan scams, and IRS scams. 4.9 billion such calls were placed in April alone.

      There’s plenty of blame to go around when it comes to fixing the problem. The FCC, now little more than a rubber stamp for industry under Ajit Pai, has been lax in holding carrier feet to the fire. Carriers in turn have blamed everyone but themselves for their own lax response. Similarly, many carriers have been slow to offer customers free robocall blocking tech, and even slower in adopting call authentication technology (like SHAKEN/STIR), which would go a long way toward hampering the call spoofing at the heart of the problem.

    • The Race for Global Internet Access Is Not a Zero-Sum Game

      While the initiative was popular, Arora found that its outcomes did not align with its original mission. “The kiosks had become gaming stations,” she writes. “The vans came to be known as ‘movie vans,’” and “[m]any of the café owners swore by social networking sites like Orkut, the Facebook of the day, which kept their businesses alive.” In other words, Internet access didn’t have a substantive impact on people’s material conditions, but on the range of their access to leisure activities. Given access, the world’s disconnected inhabitants—like the rest of us—tend to use it for things like online dating, playing games, watching porn, and other pursuits and hobbies that hardly impact their class status.

    • We Don’t Need Social Media

      At the moment, the only people who actually need social media are the people who created it and continue to make money from it — and even they are using it less and less.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Peter v. NantKwest: Attorney Fees for Challenging PTO Decisions

      I believe there are many situations where it makes sense to award reasonable costs and attorney fees to the prevailing party. It goes further to ensure that the injured party is ‘made whole’ and it also discourages folks to push forward with weak arguments.

      That said, I don’t like 35 U.S.C. 145. That provision awards the USPTO “all the expenses of the proceedings” regardless of whether the agency wins or loses. The provision works to discourage the filing of Civil Actions to obtain a patent. In NantKwest, the USPTO is asking that “all the expenses” be interpreted to include its personnel expenses, including attorney fees, win-or-lose.

    • IBM Corp. v. Iancu (Fed. Cir. 2019)

      In International Business Machines Corp. (IBM) v. Iancu, the Federal Circuit found that the Board’s interpretation of key claim limitations was incorrect resulting in the Board’s decisions having errors.

      IBM owns U.S. Patent No. 7,631,346, entitled “Method and System for a Runtime User Account Creation Operation Within a Single-Sign-On Process in a Federated Computing Environment.” At the behest of several private companies (who have settled and are not parties here), the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, acting as delegee of the USPTO Director, instituted two related inter partes reviews (IPRs) of various claims of the ’346 patent. In the first IPR, the Board found that claims 1, 3, 12, 14, 15, and 18 are unpatentable because they are anticipated by Japanese Publication No. Tokkai 2004-302907A (Sunada). In the second IPR, the Board found that claims 1, 3, 12, 13, 15, and 18 are unpatentable because they are anticipated by U.S. Patent No. 7,680,819 (Mellmer).

      The Federal Circuit vacated and remanded the Sunada IPR decision as being based on an incorrect claim construction of the “federated computing environment” limitation of all claims at issue. In the Mellmer IPR decision, the same claim construction error was found to be present, but did not affect the Federal Circuit’s holding to reverse the Board’s decision.

      [...]

      Thus, the Board’s final written decision in the Sunada IPR was vacated and remanded for the Board to determine in the first instance whether, under the correct claim construction, Sunada anticipates the claims at issue in that IPR.

      With respect to the Mellmer IPR, the Federal Circuit reversed the finding of anticipation. The relevant claim limitation of the ’346 patent requires “triggering a single-sign-on operation on behalf of the user in order to obtain access to a protected resource that is hosted by the second system.” The Board construed “single-sign-on operation” to mean “a process by which a user is authenticated at a first entity and subsequently not required to perform another authentication before accessing a protected resource at a second entity.”

      It is undisputed that, under those definitions, a user performs an authentication when the user takes an action that provides credentials, or that plays a role in launching a provision of credentials on the user’s behalf, to obtain access to resources. Thus, a “single-sign-on operation” is one that does not require the user to take such action to gain access to a second entity’s resources after the user has been authenticated with a first entity.

      [...]

      The Federal Circuit therefore found that Mellmer does not teach the single-sign-on limitation of the claims at issue in the IPR. Thus, despite the incorrect claim interpretation, that interpretation did not change the finding that Mellmer does not anticipate the claims. The Board’s decision in the Mellmer IPR was therefore reversed.

    • Trademarks

      • Chicago Cubs Successfully Oppose Iowa Man’s ‘Cubnoxious’ Trademark; Court Cites Obnoxious Cubs Fans

        Since 2016, when the Chicago Cubs became magically relevant in baseball again, the team has also become relevant in intellectual property discussions. The Cubs have gone to war with the street vendors that have long set up shop near Clark and Addison, and the team has been party to an ongoing battle with roughly all the uses of the letter “W” in commerce.

        But as the team’s lawyers appear to have been invigorated by its on the field success, that isn’t to say that every single trademark dispute it initiates is one in which it’s the bad guy. For instance, one Iowa man decided to trademark the term “Cubnoxious”, but apparently didn’t have any actual plans to use it when the Cubs came calling.

        [...]

        So, yeah, this guy couldn’t bring the goods when the court asked what he planned on doing with the trademark. Now, I will say that, had this guy had an actual plan, the Cubs opposing the mark on the grounds of public confusion would seem pretty silly. What would the claim be, that the Cubs would call their own fans obnoxious? That obviously isn’t something a team is going to call its own fans.

    • Copyrights

      • Copyright As Censorship: American Law Institute Uses Copyright To Stop Discussion Of Controversial Publication Prior To Vote

        Courts frequently rely on these “Restatements” to better understand the state of the law today, including how various courts have ruled on the law (so-called “common law.”) For that reason, the Restatement process can get fairly controversial (including an ongoing controversy over the Copyright Restatement, which legacy copyright insiders are falsely claiming is somehow biased against legacy copyright companies). Leaving that particular controversy aside, it does appear that the ALI itself may need a refresher course on how copyright works, because it’s currently abusing copyright law to try to prevent open discussion about another controversial Restatement.

        ALI’s proposed Restatement of the Law of Consumer Contracts has similarly been beset by vociferous criticism from a variety of different parties. There’s a vote pending on the latest draft next week, on May 21st at the ALI’s annual meeting. Georgetown law professor Adam Levitan posted a draft of the proposed Restatement on Dropbox so that his followers could read it and understand what was in it prior to the vote.

        Apparently, the ALI had other thoughts in mind and, after first threatening Levitan, it issued a DMCA takedown to Dropbox to remove the file. It did this after first emailing Levitan and demanding he take it down and then (falsely) insisting that “fair use is excerpts” and saying that it relies on its copyright “to pay the light bill.”

      • US Govt. Seizes Millions in Cash & Crypto in Movie Piracy Case

        The United States Government has seized millions in cash and cryptocurrency as part of a movie and TV show piracy investigation carried out by Homeland Security Investigations and the MPAA. PayPal appears to have played an early key role by providing information on two subscription-based ‘pirate’ sites. From there, the rabbit hole deepened.

      • Namecheap Must Identify Nofile.io Registrant Following Piracy Complaint

        File-hosting service Nofile.io suffered some downtime recently. The outage coincided with a subpoena obtained by the RIAA a few days ago, which requires Namecheap to expose the domain registrant. The reason for the RIAA’s inquiry is a recent leak of a track from rapper ‘Tyler, the Creator.’

False Hope for Patent Maximalists and Litigation Zealots

Posted in America, Deception, Europe, Patents at 1:06 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Hope street

Summary: Patent litigation predators in the United States, along with Team UPC in Europe, are trying to manufacture optimistic predictions; a quick and rather shallow critical analysis reveals their lies and distortions

35 U.S.C. § 101 remains strong in the United States. Courts follow it. There are new examples. Some were publicised earlier this week; we posted two batches of daily links yesterday (double the usual) and we no longer deal with the matter as meticulously as last year because EPO affairs are more urgent than the USPTO‘s.

“Long story short, even if we ignore racketeering and extortion ‘behind the scenes’ (that’s the majority of troll activity) and only focus on what becomes public (actual lawsuits), trolls still dominate.”In the previous post we quickly noted that António Campinos continues granting European software patents because like the man who gave him the job he does not care about patent quality, only quantity. Maybe he strives to be like China, where patent filings exceed a million per year.

More low-quality patents would certainly mean more frivolous and baseless litigation. Patent trolls can exploit such patents to receive “protection money” without ever going to court or filing a lawsuit. They just make threats. On some occasions they do in fact proceed from threats to actions. Statistics published earlier this week (by RPX) show that the majority of new patent lawsuits get filed by trolls. It’s always the case. They are the majority of lawsuits; they make nothing at all; all they do is blackmail companies/people and sometimes sue. Lex Machina also has some new data. As Michael Risch put it yesterday: “I did want to drop a brief note that the Stanford NPE [trolls] Litigation Database appears to be live now and fully populated with 11 years of data from 2007-2017. They’ve been working on this database for a long while. It provides limited but important data: Case name and number, district, filing date, patent numbers, plaintiff, defendants, and plaintiff type. The database also includes a link to Lex Machina’s data if you have access.”

Long story short, even if we ignore racketeering and extortion ‘behind the scenes’ (that’s the majority of troll activity) and only focus on what becomes public (actual lawsuits), trolls still dominate. They do nothing for innovation and a lot against it. Sometimes they’re stopped without them even filing a lawsuit, owing to Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) inter partes reviews (IPRs).

“They’ve stooped rather low to generate pretense of “good news” or “hope”.”The upside is, software patent are nowhere near making a comeback and litigation numbers continue to fall, owing largely to 35 U.S.C. § 101 . Anticipat has just published some new spin, echoed by the likes of Janal Kalis; Anticipat’s folks are lying by omission, as usual, or intentionally spinning the numbers. They don’t count IPRs but instead focus on mere patent applications i.e. not actual US patents. They’ve stooped rather low to generate pretense of “good news” or “hope”.

Likewise, here in Europe, the chronic liars from Bristows (this time Edward Nodder) want us to think the dead UPC is suddenly resurrected because “change is [made] the training required to qualify as a patent attorney” in one small country with not so many European Patents (low on a per capita basis, too). The blog has been silent for so long, so here’s what they said yesterday (and will probably pay other sites to syndicate):

The Austrian parliament has reported here that it adopted amendments to the Patent Attorney Act on 9 May 2019. One change is to the training required to qualify as a patent attorney. Currently there is no requirement to have studied law at university, the legal knowledge being acquired through practical training. Under the new requirements, law (including Austrian and European) must have been studied at a university (the course content to be governed by a decree), and the duration of practical training will be shorter.

And that’s it; from the above Bristows came up with “Austria’s change to patent attorney training will enable representation in UPC” (their headline). This has nothing to do with UPC, but when Team UPC is ever so desperate they might even mistake EPC for UPC. Or focus on Austria, which does not even register on the EPO’s chart (warning: epo.org link) based on number of patents. Germany got 20,804 patents last year, compared to 535 in Austria (that’s 0.4% of the total at 127,625).

The Race to the Bottom of Patent Quality at the EPO

Posted in Europe, Patents at 12:20 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

They PACE the race

NASCAR sponsorsSummary: The EPO has become more like a rubber-stamper than a patent office — a fact that worries senior staff who witnessed this gradual and troublesome transition (from quality to raw quantity)

THE quality of patents granted by the European Patent Office (EPO) is a growing problem. Battistelli’s departure did not improve anything in that regard because António Campinos continues to promote software patents in Europe, just like the new Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), who is trying to work around 35 U.S.C. § 101/Alice (more on that in our daily links). They try ‘creative’ new buzzwords and revived buzzwords, such as “AI”. Kate Gaudry, over at Watchtroll in a post dated yesterday, was promoting software patents under the guise of “Artificial Intelligence Industry” (it means algorithms). What next? That’s part of a series that uses all sorts of hype waves to rebrand software patents. “CII” is so yesterday.

“This isn’t the way to make a solid patent office but a mere pipeline of bad patents.”Yesterday we saw patent maximalists from J A Kemp commenting on abstract European Patents (incompatible with the EPC) such as software patents. As we last noted yesterday (with a new example), such patents are still being granted — soon to be revoked in courts. Such patents must never be granted in the first place, right?

To quote J A Kemp:

Two recent decisions of an EPO Technical Board of Appeal emphasise the need for a proper technical context to be set out in claims to render an abstract idea patentable. The two appeals, by Ab Initio Technology LLC, related to inventions in the field of parallel processing, a field that seems on the face of it highly technical. However, the inventions were claimed as processes for converting computation graphs into a form better adapted for parallel processes but without specifying any steps of performing any processing, parallel or otherwise. At this level of generality the Board considered the inventions to be non-technical as merely mathematical methods. Claims to methods involving actual execution of the converted graphs were not sought, possibly because of lack of good basis in the applications as originally filed, but ought to have saved the day. This emphasises the need for detailed consideration of issues of technicality at the drafting stage.

T 1125/17 (Parallelizing computation graphs/AB INITIO) of 2.4.2019 and T 1337/17 (Sort value indicator/AB INITIO) of 2.4.2019 were heard by Technical Board of Appeal 3.5.06 on the same day, a common practice for related cases, in this instance a parent and divisional respectively. Although various requests in the two cases were refused for lack of clarity or the presence of added matter, the interesting parts of the decisions relate to inventive step of the 5th Auxiliary Request in T 1125/17 and obiter comments in T 1337/17.

[...]

Thus the applicant was forced to rely on the potential for a technical effect if the outputs of the claimed methods were executed. The Board however took the view that the claimed advantage required execution on a specific platform, which was not explicit in the claim, hence the technical effect is not inherent in the program. The Board did however imply that in some cases it might be possible that the “required execution platform was implicit in the program claim” but otherwise the hardware platform necessary to achieve any advantage must be explicit.

The possibility of hardware being implicit in a program claim seems likely to be rare but is consistent with T 0163/85 (Colour television signal) of 14.3.1989 which held that the structure of a television receiver was implicit in a claim to a colour television signal.

It is no secret that the Boards of Appeal, including this Technical Board of Appeal, lack independence from the Office. Unlike courts external or peripheral to the EPO, the Technical Board of Appeal rules under the shadow of Campinos, i.e. there’s an element of fear.

We continue to worry that the EPO is unwilling and incapable of accepting its own failure. It recently buried findings about low validity rates of its newly-granted European Patents. Office management is very well aware of this problem, but it’s just trying really hard to hide it. Under the surface, however, things gradually worsen. Remember that the number of granted European Patents doubled in about half a decade because patent quality rapidly collapsed. Maybe that means some extra cash for the EPO (minus Battistelli’s scam, which cost a tenth of a billion in less than a year), but at whose expense? Patents are not a real, physical product. They’re a man-made monopoly with intricate associated economics.

Does Ascension still think that a grant of a European Patent (over 100,000 of them per year) is something to brag about in a press release? Apparently so. This is what it wrote this week:

Patent EP20100742250 covers the key technology and composition of matter behind Ascension’s market disrupting Sequessome Technology that is used in the unique biolubricating Flexiseq gel. Flexiseq is clinically proven to provide a long-term, entirely drug-free solution to chronic joint pain such as osteoarthritis.

This is not my area, hence hard to critically assess, but examiners certainly lack time to properly examine applications and pressure from above (line managers and directors) compels examiners to grant if in doubt (or if prior art cannot be found very quickly). They tell us so explicitly. This isn’t the way to make a solid patent office but a mere pipeline of bad patents. It’s hardly surprising that many examiners lost interest in the job. SUEPO (the EPO’s staff union) has just linked to another set of articles about suicides and yesterday it added this article in French [PDF]. It’s from the same publisher that led much of the Benalla investigations (investigative journalism).

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