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Links 3/6/2019: Linux 5.2 RC3, Mageia 7 RC, and Lots of Openwashing

Posted in News Roundup at 11:06 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Desktop

    • Richard Hughes: Breaking apart Dell UEFI Firmware CapsuleUpdate packages

      When firmware is uploaded to the LVFS we perform online checks on it. For example, one of the tests is looking for known badness like embedded UTF-8/UTF-16 BEGIN RSA PRIVATE KEY strings. As part of this we use CHIPSEC (in the form of chipsec_util -n uefi decode) which searches the binary for a UEFI volume header which is a simple string of _FVH and then decompresses the volumes which we then read back as component shards. This works well on plain EDK2 firmware, and the packages uploaded by Lenovo and HP which use IBVs of AMI and Phoenix. The nice side effect is that we can show the user what binaries have changed, as the vendor might have accidentally forgotten to mention something in the release notes.

    • It’s Not Just You – Linux Apps Are Completely Broken With The Latest Dev Channel Update

      For those of us that hang around in the Beta, Dev and Canary Channels of Chrome OS on a regular basis, we’re pretty accustomed to bugs and issues. It is part of the territory when you live on the bleeding edge of technology, and as you climb the ladder of Chrome releases, the OS becomes more and more unstable.

      Today’s bug report is a pretty big one, however, and we wanted to make sure that everyone that lives in the Dev Channel on a regular basis is aware that this particular issue in the latest update that rolled out yesterday looks to be affecting everyone.

      So, what is happening, exactly? From what we can tell so far, the Linux container will install just fine, but as soon as anything is run or installed, the container will not ever come back online. No restarts will help, unfortunately, and the only way to get Linux containers to respond again is to fully remove them and re-install.

  • Server

    • Ask Slashdot: Is Dockerization a Fad?

      You are expected to “dockerize” your setups and be able to launch a whole string of processes to boot up various containers with databases and your primary PHP monolith with the launch of a single script. All fine and dandy this far.

      However, I can’t shake the notion that much of this — especially in the context of LAMP — seems overkill. If Apache, MariaDB/MySQL and PHP are running, getting your project or multiple projects to run is trivial. The benefits of having Docker seem negilible, especially having each project lug its own setup along. Yes, you can have your entire compiler and Continuous Integration stack with SASS, Gulp, Babel, Webpack and whatnot in one neat bundle, but that doesn’t seem to dimish the usual problems with the recent bloat in frontend tooling, to the contrary….

      But shouldn’t tooling be standardised anyway? And shouldn’t Docker then just be an option, who couldn’t be bothered to have (L)AMP on their bare metal? I’m still skeptical of this Dockerization fad. I get it makes sense if you need to scale microsevices easy and fast in production, but for ‘traditional’ development and traditional setups, it just doesn’t seem to fit all that well.

      What are your experiences with using Docker in a development environment? Is Dockerization a fad or something really useful? And should I put up with the effort to make Docker a standard for my development and deployment setups?

    • Open Mainframe Project Launches Annual Summer Internship to Help Train the Next Generation of Mainframe Engineers
  • Audiocasts/Shows

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux 5.2-rc3
      Hmm. Fairly calm week, and rc3 is almost exactly the same size as rc2
      was. Which is a bit unusual - usually rc2 is calm, and then rc3 is
      when people have started finding problems and we get a more active
      But far be it for me to complain about a calm rc week, so I won't.
      Nothing particularly stands out. Yes, the continued SPDX work does
      kind of result in a constant background hum of license comment
      cleanups if you look at the patch itself, but it obviously has no code
      impact (outside of one buggy conversion that was fixed, but caused a
      build failure before that ;)
      Anyway, even ignoring the SPDX changes, there's just a lot of small
      fixes spread all over, not anything that looks particularly scary or
      worrisome. Maybe next week is when the other shoe drops, but maybe
      this will just be a nice calm release. That would be lovely.
    • Linux 5.2-rc3 Released Following A Calm Week

      Usually for a Linux kernel cycle’s third weekly release candidate, it tends to be a bit noisy with a fair amount of regressions getting noticed and ultimately addressed. That’s really not been the case with Linux 5.2-rc3 that Linus Torvalds noted is a rather calm release.

    • Linux Foundation

      • Cloud computing community needs more women to join, says CNCF ecosystem director

        From Ada Lovelace to Grace Hopper, women have played an important part in the development of computing. Female executives such as Ginni Rometty and Meg Whitman have opened the doors of the boardroom; and women-led start-ups abound.

        Yet despite these high-profile successes, the overall percentage of women and minorities in tech is still ridiculously low. One place where this really stands out is in the open-source community, where male contributors outnumber women.

      • What’s happening with the Linux sustainable energy initiative? An update from LF Energy

        In the short time since we last interviewed LF Energy’s executive director Shuli Goodman – in November 2018, shortly after it was founded – the body, which came out of the Linux Foundation and aims to make energy usage drastically more efficient with an open source framework, has added more than 20 new members and established three projects.

        Big hitters including the sustainable research subsidiary NREL of America’s Department of Energy, Monash University, IBM, Stanford University, Washington State, Vanderbilt, and École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne have joined as members, with a view to finding a collaborative way to better manage energy consumption and distribution.


        The Open Energy Data Initiative (OEDI) could provide the “means and mechanisms” for being able to work with big data in energy, she explained, from data lakes to AI algorithms. This is probably “one of the highest priorities” that she finds when speaking with utilities providers.

        “Very few utilities globally have either the capacity or the reach in terms of the amount of data, to be able to really, in a wholesale way, transition to AI and machine learning,” she explained. “They actually need each other to be able to do that in the predictive maintenance space – it’s not like transformers fail a lot, but what it’s going to take is a lot of data across a lot of data points to be able to really successfully begin managing the grid.”

        OEDI, then, is a “foundational element” to say to the market that there is an opportunity in better energy management with an open source approach to big data.

      • The Linux foundation brings global unification through open-source collaboration

        It is a gathering storm of technological advances: artificial intelligence, network virtualization, 5G, containerized applications, neural processing units. As new technology enables greater connectivity, the race toward a smart society based on the internet of things gathers speed.

        Thanks to open-source collaboration, the journey has become a cooperative one rather than a arms race. Software developers understand that pooling knowledge and resources is more productive than working alone; and project collaboration overcomes political and geographical differences.

        “As a global community … whether it’s Europe, Asia, China, India, [or] Japan, developers are coming together very nicely through a common governance which crosses boundaries,” said Arpit Joshipura (pictured), general manager of networking, orchestration, and edge/internet of things at the Linux Foundation.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Intel GVT-g Live Migration Support Is Nearing Mainline

        A Phoronix reader pointed out to us this weekend that Intel support for live migration with their graphics virtualization technology is nearing mainline support.

        The past few years Intel has talked about live migration of vGPU resources around their GVT-g (Graphics Virtualization Technology) for both KVM and Xen. This 2016 presentation covers some of their motives with being able to transition the vGPU resources for maintenance, load balancing, fault recovery, and other purposes just as you would other resources with a virtual machine being live migrated.

      • Vulkan 1.1.110 Released With EXT_fragment_shader_interlock & NV_shader_sm_builtins

        Vulkan 1.1.110 made it out today as a small update to this graphics/compute API specification and this minor update does bring with it two new extensions.

        There’s a new EXT extension as well as a new NVIDIA vendor extension.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • KDE Usability & Productivity: Week 73

        Week 73 in Usability & Productivity initiative is here! We have all sorts of cool stuff to announce, and eagle-eyed readers will see bits and pieces of Plasma 5.16’s new wallpaper “Ice Cold” in the background!

      • KDE Plasma Now Uses Slight RGB Hinting By Default For Better Fonts

        KDE developers were busy as ever as they closed out their work in May on prepping KDE Plasma 5.16 and other improvements to KDE Frameworks and KDE Applications.

      • hello GSoC
      • KDE Plasma 5.16 Unveils Its Cool New Wallpaper

        The “content” of the default KDE Plasma desktop wallpaper is, I concede, not super important to most people. But just like Ubuntu’s choice of desktop drag, what’s on the desktop matters: it informs a new user’s “first impressions”.

        So picking the right wallpaper is worth taking the time to do.

        For Plasma 5.16, the KDE community ran a community wallpaper competition. Participants — literally anyone with Krita (or similar) and some free time — were able to submit original, high-quality wallpapers for consideration. The artist(s) of the winning background snags themselves a nimble Slimbook Linux PC!

        The contest was a break from tradition; past default Plasma wallpapers were created by Ken Vermette.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Running NVIDIA On GNOME’s X.Org Session May Get A Lot Smoother

        Canonical’s Daniel van Vugt continues doing a lot of interesting performance investigations and optimizations around improving the experience of GNOME not only for Ubuntu but the upstream components. His latest focus has been on NVIDIA enhancements and now for the X.Org session there is a merge request pending to provide for a smoother experience.

        This week Van Vugt opened up a pull request that provides a “significant improvement” to the frame-rate smoothness for NVIDIA’s proprietary Linux graphics driver running on GNOME under the X.Org session (this MR doesn’t affect the Wayland session).

  • Distributions

    • Reviews

      • Review: Manjaro Linux 18.0.4

        I’ve always been a big fan of Ubuntu because of ease of use and it always seemed to work with my hardware, but I’ve always had a desire to use a rolling release and have more control over my system. Manjaro really impressed me with how well it worked on my computer, even with pretty new hardware (mhwd gets the credit here). Other things about Manjaro that seal the deal are Pamac, Manjaro Settings Manager, and the community. I don’t think I can ever go back to the release model that Ubuntu uses and I will be using Manjaro as my distro of choice for the foreseeable future.

    • New Releases

      • GParted reaches version 1.0 after 15 years in development

        Need a tool to manage the partitions of your drives? Need to fix a corrupted USB drive? Want to change the filesystem of a storage device? All of these questions and any similar ones almost always emerge with the same answer in any Linux user’s mind – GParted.

        GParted or the GNOME Partition Editor is a tool for managing partitions of storage devices, and everything else related to it. Personally, it was one of the first tools in Linux that I learned about when I was starting on this journey. And it remains a companion. GParted can always be trusted to fix all your storage device problems.

      • 4MLinux 29.0 STABLE released.

        The status of the‭ ‬4MLinux‭ ‬29.0‭ ‬series has been changed to STABLE.‭ ‬Edit your documents with LibreOffice‭ ‬‭ ‬and GNOME Office‭ (‬AbiWord‭ ‬3.0.2,‭ ‬GIMP‭ ‬2.10.10,‭ ‬Gnumeric‭ ‬1.12.44‭)‬,‭ ‬share your files using DropBox‭ ‬73.4.118,‭ ‬surf the Internet with Firefox‭ ‬66.0.5‭ ‬and Chromium‭ ‬74.0.3729.108,‭ ‬send emails via Thunderbird‭ ‬60.7.0,‭ ‬enjoy your music collection with Audacious‭ ‬3.10.1,‭ ‬watch your favorite videos with VLC‭ ‬3.0.6‭ ‬and mpv‭ ‬0.29.1,‭ ‬play games powered by Mesa‭ ‬18.3.1‭ ‬and Wine‭ ‬4.7.‭ ‬You can also setup the‭ ‬4MLinux LAMP Server‭ (‬Linux‭ ‬4.19.41,‭ ‬Apache‭ ‬2.4.39,‭ ‬MariaDB‭ ‬10.3.14,‭ ‬PHP‭ ‬5.6.40‭ ‬and PHP‭ ‬7.3.5‭)‬.‭ ‬Perl‭ ‬5.28.1,‭ ‬Python‭ ‬2.7.15,‭ ‬and Python‭ ‬3.7.1‭ ‬are also available.‭

        ‬As always,‭ ‬the new major release has some new features:‭ Audacious available out of the box, a new desktop ‬sub-menu called “Office” ‭(‬with AbiWord, Gnumeric, LazPaint‭)‬,‭ spellcheck functionality added to Sylpheed and HexChat, improved LibreOffice installation script, better support for MINIX file system (via ‬util-linux‭ and GParted)‬,‭ much improved ‬3D acceleration in Quake2. And finally, the 4MServer now includes PHP 7.3 with NaCl cryptography support.

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandriva Family

      • Mageia 7 RC released for testing

        The Mageia Community is very happy to announce what will hopefully be the last release before Mageia 7 is final. We all hope that this release builds on the quality of the previous beta releases.

        The release process so far has been smooth so we all hope that there are no new release critical bugs found here and that we can get Mageia 7 out into the wild shortly!

      • Mageia 7 Release Candidate Ships With Linux 5.1 Kernel, KDE Plasma 5.15.4, Mesa 19.1

        Next month will be two years since Mageia 6 shipped while the long Mageia 7 release cycle is just about over with the availability this weekend of the release candidate.

        Mageia 7 RC is expected to be the last test release before officially shipping Mageia 7. In this release candidate they have shifted the base to using the Linux 5.1.15 kernel, RPM 4.14.2 + DNF 4.2.6, Mesa 19.1 drivers, KDE Plasma 5.15.4, GNOME 3.32, and various other updated packages.

      • Mageia 7 Linux distribution reaches release candidate (RC) status — download it now!

        We recently learned that most Windows 10 users aren’t even keeping the operating system up to date, choosing to forgo the often buggy feature releases. Yes, the majority of Windows 10 users are ruining a version that is over a year old! That is shocking stuff folks, and it truly speaks volumes about the negative public perception of Microsoft’s operating system. When you factor in the people still on Windows 7 (and Vista and XP), things aren’t looking too good for Windows.

        Thankfully, Linux is picking up the slack, offering an alternative to the much-maligned Windows 10. Amongst Ubuntu, Fedora, Chrome OS, and other distributions, computer users have no shortage of great operating systems these days. One very good, albeit less popular, Linux-based operating system is Mageia. It has a very strong community of knowledgeable users, making it a good choice for both Linux expert and beginners. Today, Mageia 7, the upcoming version of the OS, reaches a major milestone — release candidate status.

    • Debian Family

      • Ben Hutchings: Debian LTS work, May 2019

        I was assigned 18 hours of work by Freexian’s Debian LTS initiative and worked all those hours this month.

        I released Linux 3.16.66, and then prepared and released Linux 3.16.67 with a small number of fixes. I backported the updated Linux 4.9 packages from Debian 9.9, uploaded them and issued DLA-1771.

        I had a little advance notice of the MDS speculative execution flaws, and started backporting the mitigations for these to older stable branches, starting with a version for Linux 4.14. I backported to 4.9 (Debian stretch/jessie) first, then to 4.4 (CIP) and 3.16 (Debian jessie). The charge for this time was accordingly split between CIP and Freexian.

      • The space rover coquine, or how I ended up on the dark side of the moon

        Once the robot arrived, we needed to track down batteries and figure out how to build custom firmware for it with the appropriate wifi settings. I asked a friend if I could get two 18650 batteries from his pile of Tesla batteries (he had then from the wrack of a crashed Tesla), so now the rover is running on Tesla batteries.

        Building the rover firmware proved a bit harder, as the code did not work out of the box with the Arduino IDE package in Debian Buster. I suspect this is due to a unsolved license problem with arduino blocking Debian from upgrading to the latest version. In the end we gave up debugging why the IDE failed to find the required libraries, and ended up using the Arduino Makefile from the arduino-mk Debian package instead. Unfortunately the camera library is missing from the Arduino environment in Debian, so we disabled the camera support for the first firmware build, to get something up and running. With this reduced firmware, the robot could be controlled via the controller server, driving around and measuring distance using its internal acoustic sensor.

      • GSoC Project Overview & Week 1

        Here’s a quick rundown on my project for this summer:

        The Debian Patch Porting System aims to systematize and partially automate the security patch porting process.

        The number of security vulnerability identifiers is quite large- these are relevant to specific distributions, organizations and applications. Each organization handles security vulnerabilities that are relevant to them in their own way. MITRE’s vulnerability identifier called Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) is global, and most advisories are somehow related to a CVE.

        The purpose of the system is to unify all these algorithmically for easy patch finding, management and application. The system would be able to take any vulnerability as input and extract patches w/r/t that vulnerability. Patches can be collected by employing certain patch finding methods. Some of these methods are to crawl sites, trackers, and various distributions’ respositories. Along with that, general purpose information about that vulnerability and its equivalent identifiers for other organizations could also be collected to get the vulnerability’s complete profile. This profile could then be stored in a NoSQL database.

        Following this, the system would then test whether the patches are applicable for the upstream source that they are for. Patching heuristics can be employed to test the patch’s applicability in the source package. Some of these heuristics are fuzzing, patching w/r/t offsets, etc.

        The nature of the system is to be generic enough so that it can fit in with Debian (maybe allow use with the Debian Security Tracker), or act independently as well.

      • Utkarsh Gupta: Becoming a Debian Maintainer in 90 days!

        I started contributing to open source around an year back and on 1st January 2019 to Debian, specifically (wasn’t really a new year resolution, though :P).

        I’ll be honest here. The reason behind taking the “Debian road” was solely to distract myself from the mental abuse I was going through.


        Since I wanted to distract myself from various stuff, I learnt things quickly and kept working, consistently.
        I turned up on IRC every single day since then. Praveen became both, my guru and my package sponsorer. He kept uploading and I kept packaging. This went on for a month until my dificulty level was bumped. From basic Ruby gems and Node libraries, I was given gems and modules that had a test failures to debug and had a weirdly different build system. This made me uncomfortable. I complained. To which, Praveen said and I quote,
        “If you want to keep working on a simple stuff, then it’s not gonna help you move forward. And it’s your loss. No one else would care. So it’s your call.”

        There was probably no option there, was it? :P
        I took it on. Struggled for a few days but it became normal and I made it through. Like they say, “It gets better :)”, it did!
        I took a little more challenging stuff, understood more concepts. Fixed test failures, RC bugs and learned a lot of stuff (still a lot, lot more to learn, though) in the process, like understanding about the Debian release cycle, how the migration of package takes place, setting up your own repositories, et al.

        In this process, I also met another JS guru, Xavier. He did not only corrected my mistakes and sponsored my packages, but also helped me in actually understanding a lot of things. From the mailing list, we started conversing over private mail threads and soon, in a span of 3 months, the thread stretched over to 300 mails!

        In the early March, I was told that I could apply for the position of the Debian Maintainer, if only I understood the process of when to upload a package to experimental and when to unstable. I was given a few packages as a test by Praveen for the same.
        And luckily, I passed. This meant that the only part remaining was to fulfil the initial keysigning requirement. For which, there was a Mini DebConf, Delhi around the corner.

        As it happened, Praveen, Abhijith, and Sruthi came to the Mini DebConf from Kerala and I got my keys signed by them! :D
        Soon after, I applied for becoming a DM.


        Lastly, thanks to the Debian community. Debian has really been an amazing journey, an amazing place, and an amazing family. I am just hoping to make it to DebConf and meet all the people I adore \o/

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Dell Unveils Three New Precision Series Laptops Powered by Ubuntu

            More Ubuntu based Laptop buying option for you. Three new powerful mobile workstation laptops launched by Dell with Ubuntu as base OS.

            Dell announced that it is launching three new Precision series powerful laptops armed with Ubuntu Linux Operating system. Three new models is introduced in this series – Precision 5540, Dell Precision 7540, and Dell Precision 7740.

          • Canonical: Key trends that will define the cloud in 2020

            Open source software is growing in popularity among enterprises, as an increasing number of organizations are integrating open source solutions into their IT operations or even building entire infrastructures around it. Up to 60 per cent of IT decision makers recently surveyed by Black Duck Software reported already using open source software, with more than half contributing to open source projects.

            Open source thrives in the ecosystem created by cloud computing. The growing number of open source DevOps tools and automation and infrastructure platforms such as OpenStack and Kubernetes are playing a key part in fast-growing open source adoption.

            As organizations continue to migrate their operations to the cloud, open source will play one of the key parts in IT innovation beyond 2020.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Linux Mint Monthly News – May 2019

              Last month I mentioned the amazing amount of support we received from you, the many emails you sent us to tell us you enjoyed our work and how great it felt. We need to move on from this and not feel overly confident over it, but as you may know there is a month between what happens and the moment we can report on the donations we received, and, well… we received many

              In fact, we have never received that many donations in the past, or from that many people within the same month. 868 people donated a total of $24,149. This is huge, it’s even bigger than what we see after a release. So before we put this behind us, thank you, many thanks to you all for supporting us. We love what we do, you love what we do, and we love the fact that you love it too. I don’t really know what to say other than thank you.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • The Apache Software Foundation Welcomes JetBrains as its Newest Targeted Sponsor
  • What is Incident Response? IR stages and free Open Source software

    The current age is of supercomputers in our pockets. However, despite using the best security tools, criminals keep on attacking online resources. This post is to introduce you to Incident Response (IR), explain the different stages of IR, and then lists three free open source software that helps with IR.

  • Top 5 Recently Open Sourced Framework For Developers [Ed: Analytics India Magazine seems to have learned that things outside Microsoft (GitHub) do exist and count]

    Over the last couple of years, tech giants have been open sourcing their projects so that both the companies, as well as the developer community can benefit from the same.

    According to a recent survey, nearly 53% of the companies have open source programmes or have plans to establish them within the next year. The survey also pointed out that nearly 59% of the respondents felt that open source programs are critical to the success of engineering and product teams.

  • Top 12 Free and Open Source ETL Tools for Data Integration

    Searching for ETL and data integration software can be a daunting (and expensive) process, one that requires long hours of research and deep pockets. The most popular enterprise data management tools often provide more than what’s necessary for non-enterprise organizations, with advanced functionality relevant to only the most technically savvy users. Thankfully, there are a number of free and open source ETL tools out there. Some of these solutions are offered by vendors looking to eventually sell you on their enterprise product, and others are maintained and operated by a community of developers looking to

    In this article we will examine free and open source ETL tools, first by providing a brief overview of what to expect and also with short blurbs about each of the currently available options in the space. This is the most complete and up-to-date directory on the web.

  • Top 10 open source networking tools for administrators

    Before the world became flat, the world became highly networked. Boundaries around locations and time zones blurred. The world today is highly productive and efficient but only if the network link is functioning between locations. As networks have become bigger and busier, monitoring has become complex and critical. Cloud services, web meetings, video, VoIP, BYOD — you name it — have further added stress on your network. Network monitoring in the cloud environment is particularly challenging because container environments are continually evolving and the applications built are equally dynamic and may scale or disappear entirely at any given point. Network performance monitoring can consist of monitoring performance of websites, Internet servers, the various links and, route analytics. Response time, availability, and uptime are important metrics to monitor for any network. For example, status request failures, timeouts, and connection failure to retrieve a file or message indicate network failure that triggers an action in the monitoring system for troubleshooting. Here is a list of open source networking tools for administrators to keep handy.

  • The Defining Role of Open Source Software for Managing Digital Data

    When I think about technology and data today, there is a seismic shift from ‘confinement’, and ‘restriction’ to ‘openness’ and ‘transparency’.
    In technology, exciting breakthroughs coming to us are happening because of collective efforts and collaboration. And, most technologists and business leaders find this openness attractive—be it becoming more agile in a state of changing market dynamics, staying innovative and insight-driven, reducing operating cost, and doing more with less.
    On the other hand, data liberation and data literacy are the mainstream debates. Data is increasingly being generated from different channels: it comes from inside and outside the organization in both structured and unstructured ways. It is distributed and stored across cloud, on-premises, and hybrid infrastructures. And, organizations that invest in leveraging data for data-driven decisions and improving brand trust at every level will have a competitive advantage.

  • Silvaco and Si2 Release Unique, Free 15nm Open-Source Digital Cell Library

    The library is available to Si2 members and universities at no fee under the Apache-2.0 open source license agreement.

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

    The “one blockchain to rule them all” sentiment has been prevalent in those who followed the battle between Ethereum and Bitcoin, yet the developers of the Cosmos SDK, an open-source framework for building blockchain applications in Go, share a different philosophy.

  • Bitnami aims to make open source so easy, enterprises can do it [Ed: He has just sold out to a proprietary software giant with NSA links and a history of large-scale GPL violations]

    Many companies no doubt envy the all open-source elite — companies that chucked proprietary software in favor innovative, rapidly upgraded operating system technologies. But they don’t envy the work of the information technology personnel that must run it day-in-day-out. Combining the perfect mix of OS software for production in enterprises is still a pretty messy business.

  • AB1784 Open Source Vote Check Law At California Democratic Convention [Ed: US voting machines still run proprietary software with Microsoft back doors, so a company with decades of crimes controls the election and lobbies viciously to keep is that way]

    David Schmidt was taking petition signatures to get this open source vote check bill passed before the California Assembly. It will allow voters to check their votes rather than he says corporate machines.

  • Red Hat’s Adam Clater: Open Source Tech, Freedom of Choice Key to Federal IT Modernization

    Adam Clater, chief architect for North America public sector at Red Hat, wrote in a GCN article published Tuesday that federal agencies should advance information technology modernization and the initial step they need to do is avoiding proprietary or vendor lock-in arrangements when it comes to cloud adoption.

    “Cost-effective and long-term efficient modernization demands that agencies have the capability to build applications that can run in and across any cloud,” Clater wrote.

    “Without that hybrid cloud capability, agencies may well end up in the same place they started.”

  • Let freedom and innovation ring

    Open source technology offers agencies the freedom of choice they need to effectively innovate their way out of their current challenges…

  • Interview: Puppet CEO Yvonne Wassenaar on her first 100 days, the shift to the cloud, and open source

    At a time when lots of enterprise tech companies founded around open-source projects are reconsidering their approach, Puppet is doubling down on its open-core philosophy.

    That’s the approach that new Puppet CEO Yvonne Wassenaar is taking with the Portland company’s product strategy as other companies consider opening or closing their software projects to different degrees. Puppet believes that a new emphasis on its open-source Bolt task-automation project, as well as a new cloud-native infrastructure management project called Lyra that will become generally available this morning, will draw users interested in applying those capabilities to small teams who will hopefully upgrade to paid products like Puppet Enterprise as their needs increase.

  • EY Open-Sources ‘Nightfall’ Code for Private Transactions on Ethereum

    One of the world’s largest consultancy firms has released a new set of protocols for enabling private transactions atop the ethereum blockchain.

    The project, dubbed “Nightfall,” by Ernst & Young (EY) was released on GitHub Friday.

    The goal, according to the code’s description on GitHub, is to provide a means for transacting on ethereum with “complete privacy.” As it states:

  • Software developers are keeping an open mind about blockchain

    There’s been considerable skepticism about how much can be accomplished with blockchain, and a feeling that it may have been a passing fad. However, software developers, as a professional group, are optimistic about blockchain technologies. A majority, 55%, say there are potential applications for blockchain beyond its cryptocurrency roots.

  • Open Source Blockchain Solution Enables Anyone To Create A Blockchain In 3 Simple Steps

    ARK has launched ARK Deployer; a free tool that enables users to quickly and easily create their own blockchain in just a few simple steps.

  • ARK Launches the ARK Deployer, an Open Source Tool to Create a Blockchain in 3 Simple Steps

    ARK, a leading Blockchain technology provider with an open-source Blockchain platform, has launched the ARK Deployer; a free tool that enables users to quickly and easily create their own Blockchain in just a few simple steps.

    The ARK Deployer revolutionizes a process that previously was lengthy and complex because it significantly reduces the barriers to enter Blockchain technology due to the intuitive user interface. Now anyone, regardless of their technical experience
    or background, can build, customize and deploy their own Blockchain. ARK Deployer could be interesting for developers, individuals, startups, and businesses across the world who want to create and customize their own Blockchain, tailored to their individual needs.

  • Open Source Angular 8.0 Development Platform Ships
  • Open Source GraphQL Client for React Hits 1.0 Release

    The goal of URQL is to be easy to use yet powerful, and the developers have chosen to rearchitect the 1.0 version around a new approach of “Exchanges”…

  • Events

    • mini-DebConf Marseille 2019

      I was in Marseille last week for the mini-DebConf the fine folks at Debian France organised and it was great! It was my first time there and I really enjoyed the city.

      The venue was lovely and perfectly adapted to the size of the conference. The main auditorium was joy to work in: blinds on the windows to minimize the sun glare, a complete set of stage lighting and plenty of space to set up our gear.

      If you couldn’t attend the conference, you can always watch the talks on our video archive.

      The highlight of my trip was the daytrip to the nearby Frioul archipelago. Although we repeatedly got attacked by angry seagulls (they were protecting their chicks), the view from the south shore of the Pomègues Island was amazing. It was also the first time I went on a daytrip during a mini-DebConf and I think it should happen more often!

    • Texas Linux Fest 2019 Recap

      Another Texas Linux Fest has come and gone! The 2019 Texas Linux Fest was held in Irving at the Irving Convention Center. It was a great venue surrounded by lots of shops and restaurants.

      If you haven’t attended one of these events before, you really should! Attendees have varying levels of experience with Linux and the conference organizers (volunteers) work really hard to ensure everyone feels included.

      The event usually falls on a Friday and Saturday. Fridays consist of longer, deeper dive talks on various topics – technical and non-technical. Saturdays are more of a typical conference format with a keynote in the morning and 45-minute talks through the day. Saturday nights have lightning talks as well as “Birds of a Feather” events for people with similar interests.

  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

      • Google to restrict modern ad blocking Chrome extensions to enterprise users

        Back in January, Google announced a proposed change to Chrome’s extensions system, called Manifest V3, that would stop current ad blockers from working efficiently. In a response to the overwhelming negative feedback, Google is standing firm on Chrome’s ad blocking changes, sharing that current ad blocking capabilities will be restricted to enterprise users.

      • Google’s API changes mean only paid enterprise users of Chrome will be able to access full adblock

        Google has warned investors that “New and existing technologies could affect our ability to customize ads and/or could block ads online, which would harm our business,” and ad blocker developers like Raymond Hill of Ublock Origin have speculated that “Google’s primary business is incompatible with unimpeded content blocking. Now that Google Chrome product has achieve high market share, the content blocking concerns as stated in its 10K filing are being tackled.”

      • Google is facing an imminent antitrust investigation from the US Justice Department

        Citing anonymous sources, the WSJ says the Federal Trade Commission, which works alongside the DOJ to bring federal antitrust cases, will defer to the Justice Department in this case. Prior to this, the FTC brought a case against the company in 2011 related to the placement of tracking cookies in Apple’s Safari browser. That case was resolved a year later with a $22.5 million civil penalty judgement, at the time the largest such judgement the FTC had ever earned in court. According to the WSJ, the FTC then investigated Google in 2013 for broad antitrust violations, but closed the case without taking any action against the search giant. Now, the DOJ is leading the charge on a new, potentially unprecedented antitrust evaluation of the company.

  • Databases

    • The Ultimate Open Source Database List Profiling 16 Software Tools

      Searching for data management and database software can be a daunting (and expensive) process, one that requires long hours of research and deep pockets. The most popular enterprise database tools often provide more than what’s necessary for non-enterprise organizations, with advanced functionality relevant to only the most technically savvy users. Thankfully, there are a number of options we profile in this open source database list. Some of these solutions are offered by vendors looking to eventually sell you on their enterprise product, and others are maintained and operated by a community of developers looking to democratize the data management space.

      In this article we will examine free and open source database software, first by providing a brief overview of what to expect and also with short blurbs about each of the currently available options in the space. This is the most complete and up-to-date directory on the web.

    • Database Development in an Open Source World

      Data development in a pure open source environment is possible. In larger enterprises and consulting firms, expect to interface with internal and external systems based on a mix of open source, homegrown code, and commercial technologies. Thousands of words could be devoted to pontificating on the ideal of pure environments. That is not this article. Open source database tools are found in many categories, including engine, modeling, script management, metadata, interactive query, semantic layer development, governance and more.

    • Percona herds the open source cats

      The culture of Percona is very much wrapped up with founder Peter Zaitsev, who was one of Monty Widenius’ original colleagues at MySQL. While there were significant defections after the company came under Oracle’s ownership, Zaitsev left well before, while the company was still independent. He objected to the company becoming more investor-focused, rather than customer-focused.

  • Healthcare

    • St. Jude Cloud’s open-source genomics research data now available in real-time [Ed: This is about open data, not open source. Different things. Misleading.]

      St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is updating its cloud-based repository of pediatric whole-genome sequencing data to include prospective clinical data, the Memphis, Tenn.-based treatment and research facility announced May 28.

      Like other such databases, the St. Jude Cloud initially comprised genomics data collected retrospectively and released after corresponding research had been published. Now, however, it will be updated monthly with whole-genome, exome and transcriptome data from consenting subjects, making St. Jude the first institution to release real-time clinical genomics data.

    • IPF Open Source Imaging Consortium Launched to Advance Diagnosis [Ed: "Open Source" as PR, no substance to it]
    • Open-source group to aid ILD care through digital imaging, ML

      A group of experts conducting research in an aspect of lung disease associated with respiratory diseases such as emphysema is forming an Open Source Imaging Consortium to aid diagnosis through digital imaging and machine learning.

    • Open Source System Debuts for EHR Data Sharing [Ed: A bit more about data sharing than Open Source]

      A consortium of cancer care institutions released details on a prototype system designed to link electronic health record (EHR) systems to provide a source of real-world patient information to guide research and improve cancer treatment.

      Minimal Common Oncology Data Elements (mCODE) is an open source system allowing for the interflow of common clinical data amassed on patients within institutional EHR systems. mCODE collects data on 6 core domains: patient characteristics and demographics; lab tests and vital signs; specific details regarding the cancer; genomics such as molecular characteristics; treatments including surgical, radiation, drug and other treatments; and outcomes, such as current cancer status and survival. These elements of the patient journey are subdivided into 27 types of profiles and encompass 73 distinct data elements that can provide critical information for clinical inquiry.

      The initial set of standards and specifications for mCODE was released at the 2019 American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting by a collaboration including ASCO, its nonprofit subsidiary CancerLinQ, the MITRE Corporation, and the Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology Foundation…

    • Open-Source System Introduced to Guide, Improve Cancer Treatment Through EHR Systems

      The lack of interoperability and inability to share information among EHR systems smoothly has long been a concern among oncologists and an impediment to large-scale research efforts that depend on agglomerations of data that, when mined, filtered, and analyzed, yield insights into drug performance and patient experiences under treatment.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

    • Securitize Makes Its Core Protocol Open Source [Ed: Protocols can maybe be "open", but this isn't about source code; pure openwashing]
    • Highway Care launches two open source work zone safety initiatives [Ed: This isn't "open source"; they just throw in the term like a marketing label which is meaningless.]
    • Getting the F… acebook out of Kea: Zuck’s open-sourcerers retrain load balancer as a server [Ed: Openwashing mass surveillance, espionage and censorship is a longtime tradition at Facebook even if all the core things are proprietary software and do malicious things]

      Antisocial media giant Facebook has published the source code for the latest version of DHCPLB, adding server functionality to the tool that was first developed by FB engineers for hardware provisioning and load balancing.

      The updated open-source DHCPLB can be downloaded from GitHub.

      At Facebook, the tool has already replaced an older implementation of the provisioning stack based on Kea, an open-source DHCP server project managed by the nonprofit Internet Systems Consortium (ISC).

      “With this version, we’ve seen better throughput and are able to iterate faster than we could with our previous solution,” Pablo Mazzini, a production engineer at Facebook, wrote in a blog post today. “In fact, we are now handling the same volume of traffic with 10 times fewer servers.”

    • EOS Releases Its Open Source iOS Wallet App and Chrome Extensions[Ed:"Open Source iOS" means you must use proprietary software with back doors to run it; how "open" is it really then? Same for Chrome, which is also proprietary and surveillance-centric. Another fine example of "open source" you cannot use until you pay Apple for a DRM-laden surveillance platform with back doors and worse.]

      The release of EOS open source iOS wallet app will allow developers to provide support for “inter-application transaction signing on native mobile devices”.

    • Why Some Android Phones Don’t Have the Play Store [Ed: Play Store is proprietary software and those who assumed that AOSP being "open" is good enough are missing the Big Picture]
    • [Repeat] Google’s Chrome Becomes Web ‘Gatekeeper’ and Rivals Complain [Ed: Chrome is proprietary software with DRM (EME) and Chromium helps distract from this.]
    • Why a “closed” open source project may be just what a community needs [Ed: Adobe's Mac Asay, who tried working for Microsoft (and failed), is still promoting the proprietary software model for 'FOSS' (his employer pays media to syndicate his ramblings, it's paid-for agenda up on display).]
    • Twilight of the open tech era [Ed: Open Source is dying. proprietary software giants take over the term and use that for openwashing of their surveillance businesses, lock-in included.]

      Today’s tech giants achieved success and scale by promoting their openness, but the industry’s open doors are shutting, one by one.

      Why it matters: Being “open” allowed tech innovators and companies to claim a sort of moral high ground. Without it, they are increasingly vulnerable to legal and regulatory restraint and popular disaffection.

    • Vendors Argue over AWS’ Open Distro for Elasticsearch [Ed: Amazon uses AWS to make FOSS de facto proprietary]

      AWS announced the release of their Open Distro for Elasticsearch back in March. However, the release has not come with support from all members of the community. While AWS states that they have released Open Distro in order to ensure that Elasticsearch remains fully open source, other members of the tech community claim this is another move by Amazon to further solidify their strong customer base.

      The Open Distro for Elasticsearch is, according to AWS, a value-added distribution of Elasticsearch licensed fully under the Apache 2.0 license. This release leverages the open source code from Elasticsearch and Kibana. According to Jeff Barr, chief evangelist for AWS, “this is not a fork; we will continue to send our contributions and patches upstream to advance these projects.”

    • US might have control of Open Source [Ed: The media must stop promoting the lie that GitHub is the same as all code; some clueless recruiters, 'analysts' etc. take that seriously and treat anything not on GitHub (Microsoft) as not existing. Meanwhile see that Microsoft still dominates news search results for “open source”, in effect killing it because all these results actually promote proprietary software such as GitHub (yes, it’s proprietary and nasty). Dependabot is another EEE move of Microsoft. Microsoft now relies on various sellouts and turncoats to help slow down the exiters' momentum. The corporate media that receives Microsoft money (so-called 'ads', a form of bribery for media companies) pretends that GitHub "Sponsors" is some sort of Microsoft charity rather than Microsoft asking the public for money.]

      It is starting to look like Donald (Prince of Orange) Trump has control of open source code and can freeze out whichever country fails to give him enough respect.

      For a while, Open Source has been touted as a way for developing countries to come up with their software, but now with Trump’s trade war, it looks like they were all suckered into signing up for US control.

      Restricted access to US technology is shaping up to have a big impact on Huawei. According to Abacus News, some Chinese software developers are wondering if the ongoing trade dispute between the US and China might soon affect them.

    • GitHub says Chinese developers are safe from export restrictions [Ed: For now. That's just the PR people speaking. And Microsoft has an extensive history lying and breaking promises/assurances. OSI doesn't care about Microsoft entryism and is part of the problem (taking Microsoft money and staff). FSF is mostly asleep at the wheel, hoping the problem will magically go away. It won't.]
    • Salesforce Empowers Developer Community with Open Sourced Lightning Web Components [Ed: Salesforce is openwashing by releasing a bunch of "components" with a source to accompany these. It's still proprietary software (the whole).]
    • Salesforce Lightning Web Components Framework Now Open Source
    • Salesforce Open Sources Lightning Web Components JavaScript Framework
    • Salesforce Open Sources Lightning Web Components to Improve DevOps Performance
    • Salesforce open sources Lightning Web Components
    • Salesforce: Open Sourcing Lightning UI Components Will Benefit Ecosystem Partners
    • Developers: Salesforce open sources framework so you can build apps on any platform
    • Open Source Xamarin.Forms 4.0 Simplifies Mobile App Creation [Ed: Microsoft is still openwashing its proprietary frameworks and IDE using Mono and Xamarin, whose CEO it put in charge of GitHub. Dark times.]
    • You Can Now Auto-Update Your GitHub Repos to Avoid Code Vulnerabilities [Ed: Read as, Microsoft will start modifying code you put in GitHub, which is incidentally in NSA PRISM and proprietary software will do this, like Windows Update.]
    • GitHub introduces Dependabot-powered automated security fixes [Ed: This means that without user intervention Microsoft and the US government (and US spy agencies) can tamper with code and binaries people download, e.g. to add back doors under the guise of (national) "security"]
    • Build like an open source community with GitHub Enterprise [Ed: Microsoft is now upselling GitHub while looking to spy on private code and, as the last paragraph shows, it uses FUD ("IP") to sell this, using typical scare tactics like Black Duck's. GitHub is proprietary software and Microsoft uses it not to spread FOSS but rather to promote its proprietary offerings and malicious agenda. Only people who refuse to accept reality have not yet decided to delete GitHub.]

      Customers will be protected for their use of GitHub. Specifically, from claims alleging that GitHub products or services, including any open source components we reuse in our products or services, infringe third-party IP rights.

    • Logz.io lands $52M to keep growing open source-based logging tools [Ed: Nothing to celebrate here; Logz.io is into surveillance and licks Microsoft's boots, helping the company's surveillance agenda. The funding comes from dodgy companies, too.]
    • Logz.io Raises $52 Million in Series D Funding Led by General Catalyst
    • Oracle looks to holy trinity of open positives [Ed: Again openwashing Oracle where almost everything is proprietary software]

      Oracle may not always be viewed positively in open source circles, the company’s approach to Java and wider open platform still draws headlines a decade after it took up a position of stewardship over the Java platform and language in line with the acquisition of Sun Microsystems.

      Looking to highlight more positive angles in terms of Oracle’s open universe this month is the company’s David Cabelus in his position as senior principal product manager for developer services.

      Cabelus notes the continued adoption of DevOps and Kubernetes and says that the notion of simplified and combined deployment is what spawned the Open Service Broker API project, which provides a consistent model for exposing cloud services to applications and application deployment tooling.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • Huawei Crackdown Hits Open Source Groups

      Organizations including IEEE, multiple Linux Foundation groups, the Open Networking Foundation, and the OpenStack Foundation have been busy studying the legal limits of Huawei’s involvement following actions by the U.S. government. ETSI and 3GPP haven’t responded to requests for comment on the matter, and while none of the aforementioned groups have outwardly restricted Huawei’s access, they note that the situation is fluid and will continue to be reviewed by legal counsel.

      “This is just a piece of the trade war,” William Ho, principal analyst at 556 Ventures, told SDxCentral. If the restrictions being levied against Huawei are central to the U.S.-China trade war, “this will all be rolled back” similar to what happened with ZTE, another China-based vendor. But the long-term damage could still hurt Huawei’s prospects.

      “Everybody’s got ideas, and I think that open source and all those organizations bring in a breadth of different thought,” Ho said. “If you operate in a vacuum, you’re not going to get that… It’s only effective if there’s global cooperation in technology, and 5G and 4G has been beneficiary versus 3G in the past.”

    • Open Source Software Licensing [Ed: Open Source? They mean Free software, which predates it. Also fails to mention GNU and starts with Linux.]

      For over 30 years, open source software (OSS) has formed the backbone of the technology industry. Today, it is nearly impossible to find a computing device that does not utilize an open source component. For example, the Linux kernel powers well over a billion devices. As the adoption of OSS accelerates, it is increasingly important to understand the history, legal issues, and future challenges of the open source world.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Stanford Doggo: Students develop open-source agile quadruped robot

        Members of Stanford Student Robotics’ Extreme Mobility team have developed a four-legged robot that can walk, jump and even do a backflip. On May 21, Aaron Schultz ’20 and Nathan Kau ’20 presented Stanford Doggo at the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) in Montreal, Canada.

        All instructions and code for building the robot, called Stanford Doggo, are open-source and accessible on the online project page, with further details in the team’s paper.

        The Extreme Mobility team, started by Kau in the 2017-18 academic year, was borne out of an interest in building legged robots. Stanford Doggo arose as the team researched existing legged-robot projects.

      • How To Make Your Own AirPods for $4

        Apple’s Airpods are a tragedy. Ecologically, socially, economically—they’re a capitalist disaster (or success story, depending how you look at capitalist endeavors in general). The batteries in the $160 wireless earbuds die within a year and a half, at which point they become useless.

        The opposite of Airpods, then, is this extremely punk pair of DIY wireless earbuds that someone on Reddit hacked together using an old pair of wired Apple headphones and some hot glue.

  • Programming/Development

    • 5 Best Self-hosted GitHub Alternatives

      GitHub may be the most popular computer code hosting service for version control using Git, which is a distributed version control system for tracking changes in source code during software development created by Linus Torvalds in 2005, but it’s not the only option available—not by a long shot.Ever since Microsoft acquired GitHub in October 2018 for $7.5 billion, there has been a surge in demand for self-hosted GitHub alternatives. Fortunately, there are quite a few open source projects that allow developers to easily track code changes and coordinate the development of projects both large and small.

      In this article, we bring you an overview of 5 best self-hosted GitHub alternatives to help you reclaim control of your own code and perhaps gain access to useful features you didn’t even know existed. After all, why would you trust someone else with your code when you can host it yourself?

    • The challenges in designing a library for PEP 425 (aka wheel tags)

      If you have ever looked at a project that has a lot of wheels (like numpy), you may have wondered what the part that comes after the project name and version mean. Well, they are known as platform compatibility tags and they are primarily defined in PEP 425. For someone like me whose personal projects are all written in pure Python, I never really paid much thought to what those tags meant since the wheel tags for my projects are all py3-none-any (you will find out what that means later in this post). So what led me from not caring to learning as much as I could about wheel tags and what did I learn along the way?

    • Refactoring whizz: Good software shouldn’t cost the earth – it’s actually cheaper to build

      ThoughtWorks chief scientist Martin Fowler has written about the curious inverse relationship between quality and cost in the field of software development.

      The user cannot distinguish between good or bad internal design simply by observing the user interface or the features, he observed. This means that poor-quality software appears more productive in the early stages, since functionality is delivered more quickly. In just a few weeks, though, this changes.

      “Progress is rapid initially, but as time goes on it gets harder to add new features,” he writes on his personal website. “Even small changes require programmers to understand large areas of code, code that’s difficult to understand. When they make changes, unexpected breakages occur, leading to long test times and defects that need to be fixed.”

    • TDK-Micronas partners with Quansight to sponsor Spyder
    • Undervalued Software Engineering Skills: Writing Well

      It is with a larger organisation that writing becomes important for messages to reach a wider group of people. For software engineers, writing becomes the tool to reach, converse with and influence engineers and teams outside their immediate peers. Writing becomes essential to make thoughts, tradeoffs and decisions durable. Writing things down makes these thoughts available for a wide range of people to read. Things that should be made durable can include proposals and decisions, coding guidelines, best practices, learnings, runbooks, debugging guides, postmortems. Even code reviews.

    • Using Data Validation for Robust APIs

      Over the past few years, I worked on two types of API projects. Some implemented proper data validation, and the others did not. Believe me: it was a huge difference!
      I mostly worked on HTTP APIs and backends, and validating the body of a POST/PUT/PATCH is a common step.

      Unexpected input handling is quite a challenge when implementing an API. You need to validate that the input is a well-formed JSON/XML/… (easy) and then you have to ensure that the fields are reasoned: no missing mandatory field, correct type, reasonable values, …

    • What Is Server Side Rendering? Is It Still Useful?


  • Science

    • Study finds Twitter has a negative effect on learning

      Researchers studied roughly 1,500 students in 70 Italian high schools in 2016 and 2017. Half of the students used Twitter to analyze the 1904 novel, “The Late Mattia Pascal,” a satire of self-knowledge and self-destruction. Students posted reflections on the text and quotes, interacting with tweets from their classmates.

      The other students used traditional classroom teaching methods, while all students’ performance was graded based on a test measuring their comprehension and retention of the book.

      The study found that students who used Twitter saw performance on the test reduced by about 25 percent to 40 percent of a standard deviation from the average result.

    • How a Group of Students Built and Launched a Rocket to Space

      A group of undergraduates from the University of Southern California became the first students ever to launch a rocket into space, as WIRED reported last week. The rocket, Traveler IV, reached an altitude of 339,800 feet and a top speed of 3,386 miles per hour. (For reference, that’s about six miles higher than Blue Origin’s first flight).

  • Health/Nutrition

    • How ‘Limbic Capitalism’ Preys on Our Addicted Brains

      I give these critics a hearing. But in my own usage, I will stick to “addiction.” The word provides a usefully concise and universally understood way of referring to a pattern of compulsive, conditioned, relapse-prone and harmful behavior. The important job, and the goal of my new book, The Age of Addiction: How Bad Habits Became Big Business, is to explain why that pattern of harmful behavior has become more conspicuous and varied over time.

    • Chemical Lobby and Health Advocates Square Off on Bills Regulating Toxic Foam

      Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, holds tremendous power in formulating legislation regarding the regulation of deadly per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Barrasso is the Senate’s top recipient of cash from the chemical industry and has a lengthy legislative record promoting the industry’s interests.

      Barrasso is also the Pentagon’s point man. He is opposed to addressing all PFAS chemicals as a class. Doing so might deprive the military of war-making technology they say is vital to their mission. PFAS is the active ingredient in fire-fighting foams used by the military during routine fire-fighting exercises on military bases. The carcinogenic foam is allowed to leach into the soil to poison groundwater and municipal sewer systems. Nothing can put out a super-hot petroleum fire like PFAS-laced foam.

      Common sense legislation calls for all 5,000+ PFAS chemicals to collectively be regulated because they are all deemed to be toxic.

      Barrasso’s stance defends the “profit over people” class of industrialists and militarists. Barrasso and the new breed of extremists with the upper hand in Washington question whether lawmakers should take such an approach because each chemical structure presents different levels and types of risks to human health and the environment. They say the science is extremely complex and requires years more of study before laws should be made – if they’re deemed necessary.

  • Security

    • Why open source firmware is important for security

      I gave a talk recently at GoTo Chicago on Why open source firmware is important and I thought it would be nice to also write a blog post with my findings. This post will focus on why open source firmware is important for security.

    • How much is good online security worth to you? How about $100,000? [iophk: “except that 2FA is used to lock people into Google’s proprietary mail clients, as they do not support 2FA on IMAP and probably never will since it is an open protocol which allows free choice of mail clients, not just Google’s”

      Google’s research indicates that spear phishing emails impersonating family members, colleagues, government officials, or even Google itself, are the main ways to break into accounts. Attacks can persist for several weeks, and involve sophisticated man-in-the-middle techniques that prompt users to enter not just their password, but also authentication codes sent by SMS or from devices running software like Google Authenticator. Because of this weakness – and those deriving from the SIM swap attack – Google recommends that “high-risk users” enrol in its Advanced Protection Program, which requires the use of hardware 2FA keys.

      The cost of these is very low now – typically around $25. Of course, the downside with such hardware keys is that they require setting up, carrying around and using. Whether the undoubted extra security is worth the extra effort will depend on individual circumstances. For those who manage to minimise how much about their personal lives appears online, it may be enough to use weaker forms of 2FA. But given the central importance of email accounts in our digital lives, and how gaining control of them makes taking over other online services much easier, it is certainly something that people should seriously consider. Buying hardware keys could prove one of the best investments they ever make. Just ask someone who didn’t, and paid the price. In the case of Sean Coonce, that price turned out to be $100,000.

    • Open Source Security – How to Defend at the Speed of Attack

      On the sixth stop of a multi-city tour, ISMG and Sonatype visited San Francisco for an engaging discussion on how to mitigate risks introduced by open source software. Sonatype CMO Matt Howard discusses the relevance and value of this application security conversation.

      The reason why this topic resonates so well across sectors and regions? “Because software is the last path for differentiation in every industry,” Howard says, “and whether you know it or not, every business in the world today is largely a software company.”

    • Venafi: Four Ways Open Source Libraries Leave Organizations at Risk [Ed: of course proprietary software is absolutely perfect and comes with no risks, holes, back doors and so on]
    • WordPress Slick Popup plugin could leave backdoor open to hackers [Ed: This is a really sloppy case of programming or intentional malice caught thanks to the source being available. "The login credentials for the administrative accounts are the same for all of the sites."]
    • Netgate® Progresses TNSR™ Open Source Secure Networking with Release 19.05
    • KeePassXC 2.4.2 released

      We are happy to announce KeePassXC 2.4.2, the second maintenance release of the 2.4 series!

      This release fixes several bugs and introduces a memory wiping feature that will reduce the risk of secrets remaining in memory after a database is locked or being swapped to disk. Combined with the existing restrictions on memory access by non-administrators, this feature increases the security of KeePassXC.

      Other notable changes are fixes to entry editing, prevention of infinite save loops, ability to open non-http url’s, and preventing data loss when opening a database with duplicated attachment binaries.

    • KeePassXC Password Manager 2.4.2 Released (Howto Install)

      KeePassXC, cross-platform community fork of KeePassX, released version 2.4.2 a few days ago with many improvements and security fixes.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Virginia Beach shines light on victims, not mass shooter

      The victims of America’s latest mass shooting had been dead for less than a day when police and city officials released…

    • Stop Politicizing the Military, Pentagon Tells White House

      The Pentagon has told the White House to stop politicizing the military, amid a furor over a Trump administration order to have the Navy ship named for the late U.S. Sen. John McCain hidden from view during President Donald Trump’s recent visit to Japan.

      A U.S. defense official said Patrick Shanahan, Trump’s acting defense chief, is also considering sending out formal guidance to military units in order to avoid similar problems in the future.


      Shanahan did not detail what those steps could be, but a defense official said Shanahan is considering a clearer directive to the military about avoiding political situations. The goal would be to ensure there is less ambiguity about how the military should support VIP events and how service members should respond to such political requests, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

      Shanahan also said that he spoke with McCain’s wife, Cindy, a few days ago. He declined to provide any details.

      The order to keep the Navy destroyer out of sight reflected what appeared to be an extraordinary White House effort to avoid offending an unpredictable president known for holding a grudge, including a particularly bitter one against McCain.

      The McCain incident has dogged Shanahan throughout his weeklong trip to Asia, even as he tried to deal with critical national security issues involving the eroding U.S. relationship with China and the continuing threat from North Korea.

    • xxxxxxxx

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Trump’s Charges Against Julian Assange Would Effectively Criminalize Investigative Journalism

      The new charges against Assange—far broader than the narrow password-hacking charge on which he was first detained for extradition—are unprecedented, politically charged, and consequential. Like the earlier charge, they focus on his 2010 publication of the “Iraq War Logs” document cache and the “Collateral Murder” video showing airstrikes targeting two Reuters correspondents. These new charges accuse Assange of trying to persuade his source, Chelsea Manning, to leak; of helping to protect that source’s identity; and of publishing information that, in government officials’ opinion, could harm national security. All of these charges may well describe how intelligence officials view the leaks in question. But they also describe the routine tradecraft of investigative and national-security journalists—and they would effectively criminalize a wide range of essential reporting practices in the United States.

    • Opposing Julian Assange’s Extradition Is Essential—Even if You Dislike Him

      Daniel Ellsberg was put on trial by the Nixon administration in 1972, charge with violating the Espionage Act because he leaked a secret history of American involvement in Vietnam to The New York Times—the Pentagon Papers. But his trial was halted and the charges dismissed because of misconduct by the government. This interview has been edited and condensed.

    • America’s persecution of Julian Assange has everything to do with Yemen

      I was in Kabul a decade ago when WikiLeaks released a massive tranche of US government documents about the conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq and Yemen. On the day of the release, I was arranging by phone to meet an American official for an unattributable briefing. I told him in the course of our conversation what I had just learned from the news wires.

      He was intensely interested and asked me what was known about the degree of classification of the files. When I told him, he said in a relieved tone: “No real secrets, then.”

      When we met later in my hotel I asked him why he was so dismissive of the revelations that were causing such uproar in the world.

      He explained that the US government was not so naive that it did not realise that making these documents available to such a wide range of civilian and military officials meant that they were likely to leak. Any information really damaging to US security had been weeded out.

      In any case, he said: “We are not going to learn the biggest secrets from WikiLeaks because these have already been leaked by the White House, Pentagon or State Department.”

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Hurricane Season 2019: Global Warming, Forecasts and Probabilities

      On May 21, the first named storm of 2019, Andrea, was recorded on the north Atlantic. This makes 2019 the fifth consecutive year that a named storm has formed before the official start of Atlantic hurricane season.

    • A ‘Green New Deal’ Needs to Be Global, Not Local

      In the US and the U.K., the Green New Deal movement has galvanized hope for transitioning to the more equitable zero carbon world we so desperately need to address poverty and keep global average temperatures to below 1.5°C. But there has also been criticism of an apparent initial focus on jobs in “every town and city across the U.K.”, rather than on transformational justice globally. The challenge for Green New Deal advocates is to recognize the historical roots of the climate crisis, and avoid being the PR face of ongoing climate colonialism.

      In a challenge to current inadequate emissions reductions targets (80 percent by 2050), Green New Deal supporters are calling for Britain to go “zero carbon by 2030″, alongside addressing the social and economic impacts of neoliberalism and inequitable deindustrialization in many parts of the U.K.. Such plans could radically reduce poverty rates and low-paid precarious work across the country, and could be designed to address the fact that poor people and people of color are disproportionately negatively impacted by environmental pollution.

      But it can’t stop there. Nathan Thanki argues that a Green New Deal cannot be allowed to be “eco-socialism for [us] and barbarism for the rest of the world”. Thanki argues for a larger transformation of the structure of our energy, housing, food, transport, and health systems, alongside de-growth. And Yanis Varoufakis and David Adler propose an International Green New Deal that would fund a transition to renewable energy and commit to providing climate reparations and energy based on need rather than means or geography.

    • Three Years After Rushing Bernie Sanders Event, Animal Rights Activist Takes Mic From Kamala Harris at MoveOn Event

      Three years after he attempted to rush the stage at a Bernie Sanders rally, an animal rights activist Saturday interrupted an event featuring Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris in an attempt to spread his message against animal agriculture.

      Aidan Cook, a 24 year-old who is part of Direct Action Everywhere (DxE), rushed the stage during MoveOn.Org’s Big Ideas Forum in San Francisco on Saturday afternoon and took Harris’s microphone. Harris, a candidate for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, was onstage with moderator Karine Jean-Pierre, MoveOn’s chief public affairs officer, who jumped in between Cook and Harris after Cook took the microphone.

  • Finance

    • Uber reports $1 billion loss in first post-IPO quarterly results

      Uber has lost money almost every quarter since its founding a decade ago. Uber lost $4.46 billion in calendar year 2017 on a GAAP basis. Uber suffered a relatively modest $370 million GAAP loss in 2018, largely thanks to a one-time boost from a multi-billion dollar deal with Yandex.

    • Uber is still losing a whole lot of money

      So a sad day for Uber, but let’s just remember that its non-employees are the ones set to suffer in the long run, and the company hasn’t even been subtle about that plan. “As we aim to reduce driver incentives to improve our financial performance, we expect driver dissatisfaction will generally increase,” the company said in a filing last month.

    • Uber Lost $1 Billion In 1st Quarter, Hopes Profit-Slashing Price Cuts Ease Up Soon

      Uber has burned through money for years by spending heavily on growth — offering financial incentives to attract new riders and drivers, and taking on the costs of expanding into new markets around the world. So far, that growth has never translated into profits.

      Uber’s IPO did not go well. Despite pricing its shares relatively conservatively, at least compared with early expectations, the company saw its stock drop immediately, and it finished day one lower than it started. Since then, Uber shares have never sold at the value set for the initial offering.

    • Consumer loan cap will hurt poor and benefit loan sharks
    • Will the Democrats Abandon Lordstown to Trump?

      The vacant Lordstown General Motors facility is a frightening sight—6.2 million square feet of modern industrial might spread over 900 acres doing absolutely nothing except depressing the regional economy and the spirits of northeast Ohio. Just a few months ago it produced the Chevy Cruze and provided thousands of good paying industrial jobs with excellent benefits. Now it’s gone, and unless the Democrats have something meaningful to say about it, they too may be gone.

      Lordstown is the poster child for modern financialized capitalism and runaway inequality. It symbolizes the kind of system in which the super-rich reap the rewards and the rest of us pay the price.

      This new version of capitalism burst onto the scene when Wall Street deregulation took hold in the early 1980s, but it really came into full view when Wall Street’s insatiable greed took down the economy in 2007. The financial crash put GM on life support, and it quickly became crystal clear that textbook capitalism was a fiction.

      Under the supposed rules of free-markets, the corporations that cannot compete successfully should perish—what Schumpeter called creative destruction. In 2007, most of Wall Street’s big banks—as well as GM—would have gone down, but their size and the centrality of these mammoth institutions meant that their rapid demise (without government intervention) would crater the entire economy. They were, instead, the beneficiaries of taxpayer bailouts.

    • Why Democratic Presidential Candidates May Have to Choose Between Teacher Pay Raises and Charter Schools

      For years, the safe havens for education policy debate in the Democratic Party have been expanding pre-K programs and providing more affordable college, but in the current presidential primary contest, another consensus issue has been added to the party’s agenda: salary increases for K–12 classroom teachers. Kamala Harris has gotten the most press for coming out strongly for raising teacher wages, but other frontrunners including Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, and Bernie Sanders have also called for increased teacher pay.

      But what will happen when a consensus issue like teacher salary increases comes into conflict with a lightning rod issue like charter schools? That’s a scenario currently playing out in Florida.

      A recent law passed by the majority Republican Florida state legislature and signed by newly elected Republican Governor Ron DeSantis will force local school districts to share portions of their locally appropriated tax money with charter schools, even if those funds are raised for the express purpose of increasing teacher salaries in district-operated public schools. (Charter schools in Florida, as in many states, do not receive funds that are raised through bond referendums, mill levies, or other forms of local funding initiatives.)

    • WATCH: Seizing the Means of Production

      A Spotlight on Greece’s Occupied Worker-Run Factory

    • ‘Public Charge’ Raises Concerns About Poverty for Families

      As anti-immigrant policies and rhetoric increase in the U.S., more immigrant families – especially ones with at least a member who is undocumented – are shying away from applying for any form of public benefits. With the Trump administration pushing rule changes to expand the definition of who is a “public charge” and ineligible for permanent residency, a mix of fact and rumor is pushing families away from accessing the help they need for stability – and often when they are entitled to the support.

      “I missed the opportunity of getting housing at one point,” says Laura, a 35-year-old Boulder, Colorado, resident. “I had just started the process of getting separated from my husband. I was with my three children. We were staying with relatives for a few months while I was looking for employment and housing.”

      Laura, who migrated without documents from Mexico in the late 1990s and only wanted her first name used because of safety concerns, has a degree in film production. She eventually did find a job with a nonprofit arts’ organization that puts on stage shows about the lives of immigrants. It was worthwhile work that made her happy, but it didn’t pay much. She struggled to find an affordable apartment for her family.

      “I applied to a housing program in Boulder, and I qualified to get a townhouse” she says.

      But then the rumors started flying that the Trump administration was changing the definition of “public charge,” so that immigrants who applied for public benefits, or whose children accessed benefits, would be ineligible to apply for a change in their residency status. Among Laura’s circle of friends, the idea took root that anyone who accessed benefits “would be priorities for removal,” a term used by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to define the sorts of individuals that Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents should prioritize when seeking out undocumented people to deport. Laura, a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipient, was spooked.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Former Exploit Broker The Grugq Talks Election Interference and Disinformation
    • The Incredible Disappearance of Shai Masot

      The overwhelming majority of the tens of thousands who will read this article know who Shai Masot is and know why his activities are absolutely central to the Willsman story.

      And here is the truly terrifying thing.

      The overwhelming majority of the mainstream media “journalists” who produced those scores of stories about Willsman also know exactly who Shai Masot is and why his activities are central to the Willsman narrative. And every single one of those journalists chose to self-censor the crucial information that casts a shade over the “Willsman is an anti-semite” line. Every single one. Their self-censorship is not necessarily a conscious and singular act, though in many cases it will be. They are simply imbued with the line they are supposed to adopt, the facts they are supposed to ignore, to forward their career and remain accepted in their social group.

      Because the plain truth is that the Al Jazeera documentary The Lobby (part 1 below) showed to the entire political world that Mr Willsman’s thesis about the involvement of the Israeli Embassy in British politics and its objectives is broadly true. It says something about the current dystopia that is the UK, that this truly shocking documentary did not result in any official action against Joan Ryan (who has thankfully since hurtled herself into the political abyss), but that pointing out the undeniable truth about Israeli Embassy interference in British politics is an expulsion offence.


      This was a much worse example of lack of balance than those for which Russia Today is routinely censured by Ofcom and threatened with closure. But doubtless as it was a pro-Israel and anti-Corbyn lack of balance (Corbyn was condemned by both interviewees) Ofcom will take no action whatsoever. I am however putting in a complaint to Ofcom about this specific news item and I urge you to do the same.

      Al Jazeera’s exposure of Shai Masot led to his quietly being removed from the UK, however he was but the tip of the iceberg. With my FCO inside knowledge I could show that the Israeli Embassy has an extraordinary and disproportionate number of “technical and administrative staff” like Masot, and that there was a mystery over what kind of visa he had to live in the UK. The FCO refused to answer my questions and no mainstream media “journalist” was willing to pursue the case.

    • Answering the Mysterious Call of An Artist’s Spiritual Vocation

      When Carolyn Forché, a twenty-seven year old naïve academic poet living in the San Diego area, miraculously answered the call of a Salvadorian stranger named Leonel Gómez Vides, who showed up at her door out of the blue, to go to El Salvador, a country she knew very little about but to which he said war was coming and her poet’s eye was needed, she acted intuitively and bravely from her deep soul’s murmurings and said yes, not knowing why or where she was heading except into the unknown.

      This memoir, a souvenir of hope and terror and a call to resistance, a poet’s lucid dreaming between childhood and an adult awakening, invites the reader to examine one’s life and conscience through language that emulates our living experience as it strains toward meaning through a wandering dialectical consciousness that weaves the past present with the present past and lucid dreaming with the waking state.

      One experiences this book as one does life, not, as the French existentialist Gabriel Marcel, has said, “as a problem to be solved but a mystery to be lived.” It is impossible to adequately “review” a book that breathes. One can only conspire with it to uncover the conspiracy of silence that is American government propaganda.


      Is it any wonder so many Americans are depressed?

      For Carolyn, the child of Czechoslovakian ancestry, the German holocaust atrocities haunted her, and she grew up suffering from periodic depressions that would lift once she felt the urge to do something about the injustices she saw. The urge to act for others freed her from wallowing in depression.

    • Should DOJ be able to indict the president? Elizabeth Warren has a plan for that

      Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts unveiled a plan Friday that would reverse current policy to allow the Justice Department to indict and prosecute a sitting president.

      “If Donald Trump were anyone other than the President of the United States right now, he would be in handcuffs and indicted. Robert Mueller said as much in his report, and he said it again on Wednesday,” Warren wrote in a Medium post.

      Warren, who was the first major 2020 Democratic candidate to call for Trump’s impeachment, said the impeachment process dictated by the Constitution should not be the only way to hold a president accountable for committing a crime.

      “That’s why I’ve got a plan to make sure that no President is above the law,” she wrote, vowing to appoint Justice Department officials who will “reverse flawed policies so no President is shielded from criminal accountability.”

      Warren also called on Congress to pass a law that makes it clear that sitting presidents “can be indicted for criminal activity, including obstruction of justice.”

      Warren’s statement came after Mueller made his first public comments about the investigation, reiterating that standing Justice Department policy holds that a sitting president cannot be indicted while in office.

    • EricMargolis.com
      India’s “Trump” Wins Big

      How fleeting is glory! Back in 1998, the South Asian Journalists Association proclaimed me “Journalist of the Year” for a newspaper article I had written about India.

      But the next year the award was angrily rescinded after I wrote that India should compromise with Pakistan over the festering Kashmir conflict. Prickly Indians didn’t like being criticized, even by an old friend like myself.

      This week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his rightwing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) coalition won a landslide electoral victory, gaining 302 of the 542 seats in parliament. The venerable Congress opposition party, that long led India, was crushed.

      We should pay attention. India is more or less the world’s largest democracy and is expected to be the third largest economic power by 2020. It’s also an important nuclear state with land and sea-launched ICBM’s that can strike the United States and Canada, Europe, and its rival, China.

      I’ve been writing for decades about the threat of accidental or planned nuclear war with Pakistan over Kashmir. My first book, “War at the Top of the World,” deals with the potential of future war between India and China over the high Himalayas and Burma, as well as India and Pakistan over Kashmir.

      India, energized by growing economic power and nuclear Viagra is feeling its national oats. Prime Minister Modi is a hard-line religious nationalist determined to press his concept of “Hindutva,” or religious power. He has vowed to confront India’s largest minority, some 200 million Muslims, 15 percent of its estimated 1.3 billion people, and make India a great Hindu power again.

    • ‘Read the Room’: Hickenlooper Booed at California Democratic Convention for Decrying Socialism, Calling for Pragmatism

      Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper misread the room at the California Democratic Convention Saturday when he tried to convince the conference that moving to the left is the wrong electoral strategy for 2020.

      Hickenlooper, who is running for the Democratic nomination for president, told the crowd at San Francisco’s Moscone Center that looking to socialism for an answer to the problems the U.S. faces in 2019 is an error that could cost the party its chance at the White House next year.

      “If we want to beat Donald Trump and achieve big progressive goals,” said Hickenlooper, “socialism is not the answer.”

      Loud, sustained booing followed the comment, prompting Hickenlooper to tell the crowd they could re-elect President Donald Trump if they weren’t “careful.”

    • Party and Politic: A Celebration of the American Citizen

      At 448 dense pages of legalese, the Mueller Report has swiftly, improbably become a sort of touchstone of the sordid times. Since its albeit-redacted release, about two dozen House Democrats held a 12-hour live marathon reading of the report, Sen. Elizabeth Warren read portions of it into the historic record, VICE read it online for 11 hours, and print versions are at or near the top of both the New York Times and Amazon bestseller lists. This weekend, it hit a New York theater, with over 100 performers from several theater and arts companies offering a 24-hour live reading titled “Filibustered and Unfiltered: America Reads the Mueller Report.” The event, billed as “a celebration of the power of the American citizen,” was held Saturday and Sunday nights at The Arc, a venue in Long Island City, Queens – one of the country’s most diverse areas, and Trump’s birthplace.

      Director Jackson Gay came up with the idea from an only half-serious social media post. Her primary goal was not so much presenting a performance as facilitating “a bunch of people coming together and finding their voice. We shouldn’t just sit back on our couches and let other people tell us what to think.” The invitation urges we the people to come “party and politic…Let’s unite, read and listen. All of Us. Together.” People were invited to stop in throughout the reading or stay for it all, with food available and musicians playing during the redactions, “just for our own sanity.” Tickets started at $10, with proceeds beyond covering the costs going to immigrant rights groups RAICES Texas and CARA Family Detention Pro Bono Project, which provides legal services to detained immigrant mothers and children. Performers were reportedly psyched for the event; said Broadway veteran Carson Elrod, “My 15 minutes will be fire and fury.”

    • The Transnational Capitalist Class, Global Economic Crisis, and Twenty-First Century Fascism

      Former co-host Peter Phillips rejoins host Mickey Huff to discuss his work on the Global Power Elites with fellow political sociologist William I. Robinson. They ponder— what will be the consequences of a capitalist crisis of overproduction in the 21st century, when nations and political institutions are dominated by a single transnational capitalist class? They discuss their most recent research and more, going well beyond the Trump hype about the state of the global capitalist order.

    • ‘Gatekeeper Mentality’ of DCCC Blacklist Adding to Divisions Within Democratic Party

      On Sunday, The New York Times published an article from reporter Jennifer Steinhauer in which a number of the party’s rising stars took public positions against a March decision by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) to blacklist vendors who work with anyone—including primary challengers—who run against an incumbent Democrat.

      As Common Dreams reported at the time, the policy says the DCCC “will not conduct business with, nor recommend to any of its targeted campaigns, any consultant that works with an opponent of a sitting member of the House Democratic Caucus.”

      Rep. Jahana Hayes (D-Conn.), who won her seat by beating fellow political newcomer Mary Glassman in a primary contest for retiring Rep. Elizabeth Esty in 2018 before winning the general election, said that the policy is choking off the possibility of fresh ideas and and a new generation of leaders.

      “If I waited my turn, I wouldn’t be here,” Hayes told the Times. “There is a gatekeeper mentality that sometimes can diminish new ideas.”

      That point was echoed by Steve Welchert, a spokesperson for Crisanta Duran, who is challenging Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) in next year’s primary.

      “It is having a chilling effect on everyone’s capacity to move forward,” said Welchert, who also called the DCCC policy “bullying.”

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • U.S. Begins Vastly Expanded Visa Screening

      he State Department is now requiring nearly all applicants for U.S. visas to submit their social media usernames, previous email addresses and phone numbers. It’s a vast expansion of the Trump administration’s enhanced screening of potential immigrants and visitors.

      In a move that’s just taken effect after approval of the revised application forms, the department says it has updated its immigrant and nonimmigrant visa forms to request the additional information, including “social media identifiers,” from almost all U.S. applicants.

      The change, which was proposed in March 2018, is expected to affect about 15 million foreigners who apply for visas to enter the United States each year.

      “National security is our top priority when adjudicating visa applications, and every prospective traveler and immigrant to the United States undergoes extensive security screening,” the department said. “We are constantly working to find mechanisms to improve our screening processes to protect U.S. citizens, while supporting legitimate travel to the United States.”

    • Judge denies Facebook’s motion to dismiss Cambridge Analytica lawsuit in DC

      D.C. Superior Court Judge Fern Flanagan Saddler decided the case could proceed, rejecting arguments from Facebook that D.C. does not have proper jurisdiction over the California-based social media behemoth that operates around the world.

      Saddler also rejected Facebook’s request to stay the proceedings pending another class-action case against Facebook in California over similar issues.

      The dismissal came shortly after another judge in Delaware ordered Facebook to turn over emails and records related to the Cambridge Analytica scandal to shareholders suing the company.

    • Newly Released Amazon Patent Shows Just How Much Creepier Alexa Can Get

      Rather than only record what is said after the wakeword is spoken, the system described in the patent application would effectively continuously record all speech, then look for instances of commands issued by a person.

    • Twitter is on the hunt for a Tweeter in Chief

      A job listing has appeared on the microblogging site, looking for a “Tweeter in Chief.” Someone who can “set the tone of who we are and how we act,” so an attitude of live-and-let-live towards white supremacy will probably see your CV rise to the top of the list.

    • Foursquare Is Adding Even More Data About Where You Are

      In a press release, Foursquare said it currently has a “measured audience in the US of over 100 million monthly devices.” And its understanding of users’ real-time comings and goings is only getting more accurate. On Friday, Foursquare said it had acquired Placed, which determines the efficacy of certain ad campaigns by tracking users’ real-time movements, from Snapchat parent Snap. Placed tracks the real-time location of nearly 6 million monthly active users through apps that pay users or offer other types of rewards in exchange for access to their data, per the Wall Street Journal.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • The story behind the iconic ‘Tank Man’ photo

      By this point, the Chinese government was trying desperately to control the message going out to the world. Several days before the crackdown began, China had made efforts to stop all American news outlets, including CNN, from broadcasting live in Beijing.

      “There was always a huge risk of being arrested and having film confiscated,” Widener said.


      To this day, his photos — and anything referring to the massacre — are banned in China.

    • Author Louisa Lim: How Beijing uses intimidation to censor the Tiannanmen Massacre outside of China

      Louisa Lim, a veteran China reporter-turned-scholar, surveyed 60 current and former China-based correspondents and found that three-quarters of those who had covered the anniversary had been on the receiving end of harassment and intimidation.

      “The party is still terrified by the legacy of Tiananmen and it really tried to limit coverage in all kinds of ways,” Lim told HKFP in an interview.

    • We Can Love Our Way to Justice for All

      Polarization, outrage, and vitriol rule the day. Trump’s epithets ricochet through the Twitterverse and beyond, degrading our discourse and deepening our divisions. Though partisan antagonism predates the Civil War, demographic shifts, political dysfunction, and new media have magnified old differences into dangerous distortions that threaten to undermine our already-imperfect union.

      What is to be done?

      Before we can transcend the prevailing “us versus them” mentality, we must first understand what motivates and sustains it. What leads us to dehumanize groups of people we don’t even know? How can we find common ground?

      One place to start: Consider people once consumed by tribal hatred who discovered their shared humanity with those they previously wanted to kill. Tony McAleer, former organizer for the White Aryan Resistance (WAR) and cofounder of Life After Hate, which helps extremists re-enter the mainstream, says that people often have never met those they purport to hate: “And there’s nothing more powerful—I know because it happened to me in my own life—than receiving compassion from someone who you don’t feel you deserve it from, someone from a community that you had dehumanized.” Arno Michaelis, former activist in the white power movement, echoes this sentiment: “People I claimed to hate, such as a Jewish boss, a lesbian supervisor, and black and Latino co-workers, defied my hostility. They treated me with kindness when I least deserved it, but when I most needed it.” On what attracts people to the movement, he says, “Rather than do the work it takes to get your personal life sorted out, it’s easier to blame other people.”

    • Europe Dodged Far-Right Takeover But Autocracy Remains a Global Threat

      In 1991, the late Harvard political scientist Samuel Huntington wrote an influential essay in the Journal of Democracy entitled “Democracy’s Third Wave.” Huntington’s essay, published several months prior to the fall of the Soviet Union, surmised that modern democracy was associated with “waves” of democratic growth followed by “reverse waves” of autocracy.

      He identified a “long” first wave beginning in the 1820s, characterized by a global increase of male suffrage that continued until the 1920s. This first wave was subject to a reverse wave, beginning with the rise of fascism, first in Italy, and its subsequent spread through Western Europe and Japan. A second wave of democratization occurred after the allies’ defeat of fascism in World War II. This second wave would peak in 1962, when a smaller reverse wave again occurred from 1960-75 during heightened tensions of the Cold War.

      The mid-1970s saw the emergence of a third wave of democracy, beginning with the Carnation Revolution in Portugal in 1974 and the gradual transition to democracy in post-Francisco Franco Spain, which held free elections in 1977. This third wave continued with the rise of democracies in Eastern Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, and the decline of autocratic rule throughout much of South America.

    • Conservative Groups Are Stifling Criticism of Israel On and Off Campus

      On March 22, tenured English professor Anthony Alessandrini was startled to see a photo of himself in the New York Daily News. The picture accompanied an article by reporter Larry McShane. The headline was damning: “Kingsborough professor, during campus event, urged donations to group with alleged ties to Palestinian terror group.”

      Alessandrini (who is this reporter’s colleague at Kingsborough Community College) had not been contacted by either McShane or other Daily News staffers before the article was published and says that it is riddled with inaccuracies. What’s more, he sees the article as part of a pervasive campaign to silence critics of Israel — including many progressive Jews — that is being orchestrated by a network of conservative organizations that are firmly embedded in both the Evangelical Christian and Jewish Zionist right wings.

      One of the most prominent groups is the Lawfare Project, a well-funded legal group whose website claims to have “350 attorneys dedicated to upholding the civil and human rights of the Jewish community.” The site further boasts that the Project provides legal counsel to “members of pro-Israel communities who have been targeted and harmed based on their ethnicity, religion, citizenship and nationality.”

      Unlike more established groups, such as the 122-year-old Zionist Organization of America, the midtown-Manhattan-based Lawfare Project is relatively new.

      Mondoweiss, a website devoted to “news and opinion about Palestine, Israel and the United States,” and created by progressive Jews, reports that the Project launched in 2010 with start-up money from the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, the Jewish Communal Fund and the MZ Foundation.

    • While Combating Trump, We Must Set Our Sights on Total Liberation

      “Marcuse believed in ‘a universe where the sensuous, the playful, and the beautiful become the form of society itself’,” says cartoonist Nick Thorkelson, who illustrated the new graphic biography Herbert Marcuse, Philosopher of Utopia. How did philosopher Herbert Marcuse develop this belief, and what can it teach us as the U.S. flounders in political crisis? In this interview, Thorkelson discusses the work of Herbert Marcuse, his relationship to the radical movements of the 1960s and how his philosophy remains pertinent in the era of Trump.

    • Hidden in Plain Sight: Rebecca Gordon on Torture

      Soon after 9/11, the US began holding people in secret prisons around the world in places called “black sites.” Black sites were secret and what happened within them was unknown. When we did learn about the techniques our government was using to extract information, we were told it was not torture but something called “enhanced interrogation.” It sounded new and not so brutal. But it was torture. An updated version of it, but torture nonetheless, which forced us to think about what we were willing to do to other human beings in a state of war. In this episode, Rebecca Gordon argues that enhanced interrogation isn’t new. Torture as a tactic has been used by the United States since its inception to control people and suppress uprisings, domestically and abroad. She wants us to confront our history with torture and its connection to power and race, especially if we want to hold governments and interrogators accountable for their crimes.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • What Amazon Might Want With Boost Mobile

      Boost, which became part of Sprint after the carrier’s merger with Nextel in 2005, delivers its services over Sprint’s network. Any new owner would be able to use the new T-Mobile network for six years, Reuters reports. It’s also possible that Amazon, or another company, could acquire rights to some of the wireless spectrum now licensed by the FCC to Sprint or T-Mobile, or even some of the infrastructure owned by those two carriers. The Department of Justice is reportedly less pleased with the idea of a Sprint and T-Mobile tie-up than the FCC is and might want the two companies to spin off other units in order to assure that there are still four major wireless carriers. Amazon declined to comment.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • How Qualcomm shook down the cell phone industry for almost 20 years

      I read every word of Judge Koh’s book-length opinion, which portrays Qualcomm as a ruthless monopolist. The legal document outlines a nearly 20-year history of overcharging smartphone makers for cellular chips. Qualcomm structured its contracts with smartphone makers in ways that made it almost impossible for other chipmakers to challenge Qualcomm’s dominance. Customers who didn’t go along with Qualcomm’s one-sided terms were threatened with an abrupt and crippling loss of access to modem chips.

      “Qualcomm has monopoly power over certain cell phone chips, and they use that monopoly power to charge people too much money,” says Charles Duan, a patent expert at the free-market R Street Institute. “Instead of just charging more for the chips themselves, they required people to buy a patent license and overcharged for the patent license.”

    • INSIGHT: Could Huawei Retaliate Against U.S. With Its Massive Patent Portfolio?
    • Oil States and Patent Takings

      This Note discusses the Supreme Court’s Oil States Energy Services, LLC v. Greene’s Energy Group, LLC decision, which upheld the constitutionality under Article III and the Seventh Amendment of the inter partes review (IPR) process. This Note further explores the undecided issue of whether the Takings Clause applies to IPR proceedings and describes a framework for applying regulatory takings analysis to patent rights taken during IPR.

    • Patents, Information, and Innovation

      The role of patents in facilitating the exchange of information during the innovative process is highly contextual. Although numerous factors can affect the function of patents in encouraging disclosure, including the nature of the technology involved, most of the scholarship in this area has focused on two industries—biotechnology and software. To provide a richer description of the role of patents in the innovative process, this project evaluates the existing literature and sets forth examples drawn from a series of interviews conducted with medical device professionals from small and medium-sized firms. Although a small number of large corporations dominate the medical device landscape in terms of revenue, most truly innovative devices originate with small to mid-sized medical device companies. These emerging companies often depend on patent protection to help foster communication with investors and negotiate the alliances necessary to commercialize their inventions. By providing a descriptive timeline of the innovative process through a closer examination of the largely-overlooked medical device industry, this Article sets forth a more complete account of the role of patents in the larger narrative of innovation.

    • In re Patentability of the Peltzer Inventions

      The motion picture Gremlins (1984) stars Hoyt Wayne Axton (1938-1999) as Randall Peltzer, a prolific inventor with persistent cash-flow problems. Among other things, the motion picture discloses many of Peltzer’s inventions, including the “Bathroom Buddy,” the “Peltzer Smokeless Ashtray,” and the “Peltzer Pet.” This essay takes the form of an opinion letter evaluating the patentability of Peltzer’s inventions.

    • Facebook filed a patent for a drone made of kites

      Facebook filed a patent for an unusual drone that would use kites to stay aloft. The “dual-kite aerial vehicle” is composed of two kites tethered together and floating at different altitudes. Each kite could be directed independently, and the drone could generate its own energy to extend its flight time. As with all patents, we don’t know whether Facebook is building this system. But it indicates a continuing interest in experimental aerial vehicles, even after Facebook scaled back its earlier, well-publicized Aquila project.

      Facebook’s patent was filed in November of 2018. It claims the kite drone would improve on more plane- or helicopter-like designs by cutting down the weight, cost, and size required to keep an aircraft flying for long periods of time — though they could still be fairly large, since Facebook mentions a kilometer-long tether. Fleets of drones could be operated wirelessly from the ground, and the drones could generate power through solar panels or tether movement.

    • University Research Nonprofit Sues Samsung for Patent Infringement

      A new lawsuit alleges that Samsung Electronics Co. and three of its subsidiaries are infringing on a patent by using a patented method to manufacture semiconductor devices for computer chips, smartphones and mobile devices.

    • Freshly Published Patent Keeps the Dream of an Apple Self-Driving Car Alive

      Bumpy car rides suck and a newly published patent reveals Apple has fairly recently been exploring a “fully-actuated suspension system” using variable pressure air springs and a haptic-feedback system to create a smoother ride.

      The patent was originally filed in March 2016 with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and originates from Apple’s Project Titan division. It was finally published this week. The filing features a lot of technical gobbledygook, but in essence, it describes a suspension system that can “compensate for vehicle oscillations at frequencies below the primary ride frequency,” which would in turn potentially reduce motion sickness. It also details improvements to its braking and suspension for a generally smoother ride.

    • 16 Funny, Strange, and Cool Patents From the 1870s to the 1950s

      The inventors of America have some truly strange, offbeat ideas — a look at the archives of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office will reveal just that. But we’ve got to admit, some of the patents we’ve found, filed from the 1870s to the 1950s, are also just plain cool.

      From a “reversible” car to a bathtub that rocks and a hair-cutting device that gives the achieves the perfect bowl cut, here are some of the funniest, coolest and strangest patents.

    • Apple wins patent for a foldable display

      Apple has won a patent for a foldable screen that could be used on iPhones and other devices.

      The patent, granted Tuesday by the US Patent and Trademark Office, describes an electronic device with a display and cover that are flexible or bendable.
      Companies, including Apple, often patent ideas that never come to fruition, and the item described in an application doesn’t necessarily have to be feasible for the patent to be granted.
      The application was filed in January 2018 and is among a series of patent applications Apple has made around the idea of a foldable display. Patently Apple was the first to report that the patent had been granted.

    • Copyrights

      • Following CJEU Syed ruling, Swedish Supreme Court establishes criminal liability through warehouse storage of copyright infringing goods

        Mr Syed had a shop in the Old Town of Stockholm, in which he sold counterfeit clothes and accessories. Besides the store, the goods were also held at a storage facility close to the shop and in a warehouse located in the Southern part of Stockholm. He was criminally prosecuted and found liable for both trade mark and copyright infringement. As regards copyright, Syed was held liable not just for the items sold in his shop, but also for those held in storage. However, the first instance court ruled out that the latter would be relevant from a criminal standpoint. The decision was appealed, and the Swedish Patents and Market Court of Appeal excluded any liability of Syed for copyright infringement in relation to the items held in storage.

      • As US Stream-Ripping Increases, Almost Half of Rippers Are Educated & Affluent

        A new study conducted by music industry research company MusicWatch has revealed an increase in so-called stream-ripping in the United States. Up from 15 million participants in 2017 to 17 million last year, stream-rippers are likely to be both well-educated and affluent.

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