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06.08.19

Links 8/6/2019: FreeBSD 11.3 Beta 3, Git 2.22.0 and IPFire 2.23

Posted in News Roundup at 7:49 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • Best Linux desktop of 2019

      The desktop is a critical aspect of your Linux experience, providing you with a user-friendly way to interact with your computer. Unlike Windows or Mac, Linux doesn’t tie you to a single desktop. Switching desktop environments is incredibly straightforward – just install a new one, log out and choose it from the login screen. You can install as many desktop environments as you like, although you can only use one at a time.

      In this guide, we’ve rounded up seven of the most popular desktops, highlighting their strengths and weaknesses. Before you dive in, however, take some time to think about what you want from your desktop.

      A desktop environment is more than the wallpaper which appears when you log in. It also includes a window manager and usually a set of utilities. It may come in the form of a pre-assembled package, such as Gnome or KDE, or it may be assembled by the distro maintainer, such as CrunchBang++’s Openbox or Puppy’s JWM.

      Most desktops can be tweaked and skinned to look radically different, so if you like your current desktop’s look but not much else, you can probably customise – or even source a special version – of another environment to keep that familiar look and feel. Even when desktop environments come as part of a pre-assembled package, they may vary between distributions. KDE, in particular, can look radically different depending on your chosen flavour of Linux.

    • Attempting to install Linux on a new laptop [Ed: In order to promote Vista 10 or WSL Microsoft will always strive to make installing and keeping GNU/Linux harder. For decades it was breaking the MBR and then there’s AARD.]

      My Dell Mini-9 (also known as the Inspiron 901) laptop is now 10 years old. It came with a 1.6 GHz Atom processor, 512M of memory, an 8GB SSD, and Ubuntu preinstalled. I upgraded the memory to 2GB a few years after I got it, and it’s been my travel laptop the entire time I’ve owned it. But its battery died about two years ago, and its SSD is no longer large enough to allow Ubuntu to upgrade to the latest versions. A new battery and adding a 16GB SD card returned the unit to usability, but it has become obvious that it is time for a replacement.

      Dell no longer offers any Inspiron laptops with Linux preinstalled (their Linux preinstalled laptops are the XPS series and since they start at $779, they’re well outside my price range), but historically their laptops have been fairly Linux friendly. When I found the Inspiron 11″ 3000 series on sale last year for $150 it looked like it might be the ideal replacement. So I hopefully ordered one.

      This laptop comes with an AMD E2-9000e processor with Radeon R2 graphics, 4GB of memory, a 32GB eMMC drive, and Windows 10 Home preinstalled. It has one USB 2 port, one USB 3 port, an HDMI video port, and a slot for a micro-SD card. Getting it with Linux was not an option, nor is there an option to download a Linux bootable iso for it, though curiously both the system setup guide and the service manual list Linux as a supported operating system. It is offically an Inspiron 3180, Reg model P24T, Reg Type No P24T003. Its small size and light weight make it an ideal travel laptop.

    • Adversarial Interoperability: Reviving an Elegant Weapon From a More Civilized Age to Slay Today’s Monopolies

      Today, Apple is one of the largest, most profitable companies on Earth, but in the early 2000s, the company was fighting for its life. Microsoft’s Windows operating system was ascendant, and Microsoft leveraged its dominance to ensure that every Windows user relied on its Microsoft Office suite (Word, Excel, Powerpoint, etc). Apple users—a small minority of computer users—who wanted to exchange documents with the much larger world of Windows users were dependent on Microsoft’s Office for the Macintosh operating system (which worked inconsistently with Windows Office documents, with unexpected behaviors like corrupting documents so they were no longer readable, or partially/incorrectly displaying parts of exchanged documents). Alternatively, Apple users could ask Windows users to export their Office documents to an “interoperable” file format like Rich Text Format (for text), or Comma-Separated Values (for spreadsheets). These, too, were inconsistent and error-prone, interpreted in different ways by different programs on both Mac and Windows systems.

      Apple could have begged Microsoft to improve its Macintosh offerings, or they could have begged the company to standardize its flagship products at a standards body like OASIS or ISO. But Microsoft had little motive to do such a thing: its Office products were a tremendous competitive advantage, and despite the fact that Apple was too small to be a real threat, Microsoft had a well-deserved reputation for going to enormous lengths to snuff out potential competitors, including both Macintosh computers and computers running the GNU/Linux operating system.

      [...]

      Scratch the surface of most Big Tech giants and you’ll find an adversarial interoperability story: Facebook grew by making a tool that let its users stay in touch with MySpace users; Google products from search to Docs and beyond depend on adversarial interoperability layers; Amazon’s cloud is full of virtual machines pretending to be discrete CPUs, impersonating real computers so well that the programs running within them have no idea that they’re trapped in the Matrix.

      Adversarial interoperability converts market dominance from an unassailable asset to a liability. Once Facebook could give new users the ability to stay in touch with MySpace friends, then every message those Facebook users sent back to MySpace—with a footer advertising Facebook’s superiority—became a recruiting tool for more Facebook users. MySpace served Facebook as a reservoir of conveniently organized potential users that could be easily reached with a compelling pitch about why they should switch.

      Today, Facebook is posting 30-54% annual year-on-year revenue growth and boasts 2.3 billion users, many of whom are deeply unhappy with the service, but who are stuck within its confines because their friends are there (and vice-versa).

      A company making billions and growing by double-digits with 2.3 billion unhappy customers should be every investor’s white whale, but instead, Facebook and its associated businesses are known as “the kill zone” in investment circles.

  • Server

    • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.7: What’s Fresh in the Latest Beta?

      As Red Hat’s Chris Baker noted: “RHEL 7.7 marks the final release in the Full Support Phase of the RHEL 7 lifecycle. This 10-year lifecycle is a key feature of the world’s leading enterprise Linux platform… future releases will emphasize production stability, rather than introducing net-new features.”

      He added: “The release includes the ability to offload virtual switching operations to network interface card hardware. The value of these features also improve the operation of Red Hat OpenStack Platform and Red Hat OpenShift deployments, both built on top of Red Hat Enterprise Linux, that use virtual switching and network function virtualization (NFV).”

      RHEL 7.7 Beta users get default access to Red Hat Insights as part of their subscription; a software-as-a-service (SaaS)-based predictive analytics solution.

    • RHEL 7.7 Beta Is Now Available, Kdenlive 19.04.2 Is Out, Vampire: The Masquerade – Coteries of New York to Support Linux, IceWM 1.5.5 Released and the Document Foundation Announces New “What Can I Do for LibreOffice” Website

      Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.7 beta is now available. This version is the final release in the Full Support Phase of RHEL 7 and includes many enhancements and bug fixes. Updates include support for the latest generation of enterprise hardware and remediation for the Microarchitectural Data Sampling (MDS)/ZombieLoad vulnerabilities. See the release notes for more details.

    • 5 reasons to use Kubernetes

      Kubernetes is the de facto open source container orchestration tool for enterprises. It provides application deployment, scaling, container management, and other capabilities, and it enables enterprises to optimize hardware resource utilization and increase production uptime through fault-tolerant functionality at speed. The project was initially developed by Google, which donated the project to the Cloud-Native Computing Foundation. In 2018, it became the first CNCF project to graduate.

      This is all well and good, but it doesn’t explain why development and operations should invest their valuable time and effort in Kubernetes. The reason Kubernetes is so useful is that it helps dev and ops quickly solve the problems they struggle with every day.

      Following are five ways Kubernetes’ capabilities help dev and ops professionals address their most common problems.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

  • Kernel Space

    • Amlogic Video Decode Driver Revised A Ninth Time In Pursuit Of The Linux Kernel

      Going back to last year we’ve been watching the progress of an open-source Amlogic video decode driver for the likes of the Amlogic GXBB/GXL/GXM chipsets. That driver has yet to be mainlined but is now up to its ninth round of public review.

      Maxime Jourdan of BayLibre continues work on this Amlogic video decoder which at present is still just supporting MPEG-1/MPEG-2 formats but with plans for MPEG-4, H.264, HEVC, and even VP9 in the future.

    • Linux Foundation

      • LF Edge announces first Akraino release for open edge computing

        The Linux Foundation’s LF Edge project announced the first release of the Akraino Edge Stack with 10 “blueprints” for different edge computing scenarios. Also: LF Edge recently announced new members and the transfer of seed code from Zededa to Project EVE.

        The Akraino Edge Stack project, which earlier this year was folded into the Linux Foundation’s LF Edge umbrella initiative for open source edge computing, announced the availability of Akraino Edge Stack Release 1 (Akraino R1). Last month, LF Edge announced new members and further momentum behind its Project EVE edge technology. More recently Linux Journal’s Doc Searls published a piece on the LF’s 5G efforts and argued for more grass-roots involvement in LF Edge (see farther below).

    • Graphics Stack

      • AMD GCN Back-End In GCC Compiler Adds “-march=gfx906″ Option For Vega 20

        The GNU Compiler Collection (GCC) that introduced an “AMDGCN” GPU back-end in the compiler with the new GCC9 release is now prepping Vega 20 support in the GCC 10 development code.

        The Radeon GCN compiler back-end was merged months ago for GCC 9 as the work being done by CodeSourcery / Mentor Graphics under contract for AMD. That code is already being used within the company’s CodeBench Lite AMD software and with time is expected to become useful in its own right within GCC.

      • Radeon ROCm 2.5 Released With rocThrust, AMD Infinity Fabric Link Support

        Version 2.5 of the Radeon Compute Stack (ROCm) was released on Friday as the newest feature release to this open-source HPC / GPU computing stack for AMD graphics hardware.

      • NVIDIA Firmware Blobs Get Updated To Help Some Pascal GPUs With Nouveau

        An updated firmware configuration should help some GeForce GTX 1000 “Pascal” users with their limited open-source driver support, but the situation remains a mess. Besides the fact of being binary blobs, it’s more complicated this time around with the interfaces changing for what is expected by the Nouveau DRM kernel driver.

        Hitting today in linux-firmware.git were changing the GP102/GP104/GP106/GP107 firmware blobs around the SEC2 RTOS block to point to what’s used by the GP108 graphics card. This firmware update/change was needed since the existing signed firmware files weren’t working correctly on newer Pascal graphics cards.

      • Mesa 19.2 RADV Driver Now Fully Supports EXT_sample_locations For Possible AA Benefits

        The Mesa 19.2 Git code as of today now has support in the RADV Vulkan driver for the VK_EXT_sample_locations extension that can be used for potentially enhancing anti-aliasing quality.

        Months ago was some minimal work around handling VK_EXT_sample_locations in RADV but now Samuel Pitoiset of Valve has landed a series of patches into Mesa Git for properly plumbing this extension in Mesa. VK_EXT_sample_locations has been around since Vulkan 1.0.60 and allows an application to modify the location of samples within a pixel for rasterization. Applications / game engines can specify alternative sample locations for each pixel in a group of adjacent pixels to allow for possible anti-aliasing quality improvements.

    • Benchmarks

      • A Look At How The Linux Performance Has Evolved Since The AMD EPYC Launch

        With next-generation EPYC processors expected to be released next quarter, it’s a good time to see how the performance of the original EPYC 7601 32-core / 64-thread processor’s performance has evolved on Linux since its 2017 launch. This article is looking at the performance of an AMD EPYC 7601 Tyan server when running Ubuntu 17.04 as the newest stable Ubuntu release when EPYC was originally introduced in June 2017 compared to the performance when running the new Ubuntu 19.04 as well as jumping ahead to running the in-development Linux 5.2 kernel release. Additionally, the Ubuntu 19.04 + Linux 5.2 kernel configuration when also disabling Spectre mitigations.

        Given our passion for Linux benchmarking, this article was primarily driven out of curiosity sake for seeing how the AMD EPYC performance has evolved under Linux since launch. Some of the changes to the performance since 2017 have been as a result of more Zen “znver1″ tuning within the GCC compiler and other AMD EPYC/Zen optimizations but also plenty of broad/general Linux performance optimizations to the kernel, GNU C Library, and many other key components of Linux seeing improvements over the past two years.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Kdenlive Scores Another Big Bug Fix Update

        “The second minor release of the 19.04 series is out with 77 bug fixes and minor usability improvements. Among the highlights for this release are fixes for compositing issues, misbehaving guides/markers and grouping inconsistencies,” they say.

        The Kdenlive Windows build — yup, the app is also available for Windows — has also been updated to better support dark themes (by showing white icons) and slideshows.

        Although not part of this release, the Kdenlive team say work has begun on a revamp of the Titler feature. This is being done as part of the Google Summer of Code (GSoC), so expect to hear further updates on that effort soon.

        You can download an AppImage of Kdenlive 19.0.4.2 right now from the Kdenlive servers. AppImages don’t need to be installed, work on virtually every Linux distro, and contain all the dependencies required to run.

      • Krita at the 2019 Libre Graphics Meeting

        Krita project maintainer Boudewijn gave the first presentation, State of the Libre Graphics. It was recorded, but the videos have not been announced yet. The link goes to the slides. This presentation is a sort of a mix between a keynote and an update on what all of the libre graphics projects have been doing since the last LGM. There were were about thirty projects who had sent in slides, which is about double from last year. Libre graphics is healthy!

        Other things that were going on were discussions about spot colors with Jan Peter Homann from Freie Farbe. Spot colors aren’t much used by creative painters, but people who design magazine covers, packaging or similar things often need them. Freie Farbe’s spot colors are defined in Lab, which theoretically makes adding support to Krita for their system very easy.

        There were other discussions about how projects could give users support, an introduction into hacking on Blender, a presentation of Krita’s new HDR capabilities and much, much more.

        Boudewijn attended the Inkscape hackfest, and invited an Inkscape developer to the 2020 Krita Sprint, which will likely be in Rennes. Inter-project communication is important!

      • Multiple Datasets: Overview

        For Google Summer of Code 2019, I am working on KDE community’s project Gcompris. GCompris is a high quality educational software suite, including a large number of activities for children aged 2 to 10. Currently GCompris offers more than 100 activities, and more are being developed. For me the journey from making my first contribution to Gcompris, to my Google Summer of Code Project has been very interesting, and in this post I’ll be discussing about my GSoC project i.e Adding multiple datasets to Gcompris

      • I’m going to Akademy!

        Akademy is free to attend however you need to register to reserve your space, so head to https://akademy.kde.org/2019/register and press the buttons.

        Akademy is very important to meet people, discuss future plans, learn about new stuff and make friends for life!

        Note this year the recommended accomodations are a bit on the expensive side, so you may want to hurry and apply for Travel support. The last round is open until July 1st.

      • GSoC’19 Project : Milestone 1

        After a couple weeks of discussions, bug reporting, fixing and coding with lots of people from the KDE Community, KNotifications can now be used for applications targeted towards the Windows 10 OS. Yes! KNotifications could well be supporting Windows 10 native notifications within the next couple releases.

        Any and all KDE applications using KNotifications need not change their code base to enjoy this new feature! More details follow:-

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Okay Dash to Panel, That Does Looks Super Slick…

        I haven’t used a Windows desktop “properly” for around 8 years or so (and can’t say I miss it, either).

        Back when I first started this blog I had a multi-boot set up on my PC that married a (seemingly endless) stack of Linux distros with a version (I forget which) of Windows 7.

        — Why am I talking about Windows 7?

        Well, because one of the things I really remember being quite “cool” about it — please note: I use the term loosely — was a feature called Aero Peek.

      • Gnome-gitg Split View feature progress. [GSoC]

        Introducing split view in gitg is comprised of small small tasks just like any other software feature requires.

        One such task is:- Gitg should be able to detect binaries and images diffs if these are in the diffs then split-view simply does not makes sense.

        [...]

        Dash to Panel is one of the best GNOME extensions available IMO. In one stroke it changes the GNOME Shell desktop experience in to a more traditional layout.

        Both the Dash to Panel and code-cousin Dash to Dock GNOME extensions offer a window preview feature similar to Aero Peek. It’s an optional setting, but it’s there; it’s not new.

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

      • User Friendly Zorin OS 15 has been released, based on Ubuntu 18.04.2 LTS

        Ever since the first release of the Zorin OS nearly a decade ago, has launched its next major version of the operating system: Zorin OS 15.

        In this new release, every aspect of the user experience has been redefined and refined. Zorin OS allows the user to deal with the installation of apps, on how to get works done, and on how to interact with the devices around you.

    • Screenshots/Screencasts

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • People of openSUSE: Stasiek Michalski

        I’ve been using computers for as long as I can remember, playing Solitaire, The Settlers, and other simple DOS games, because that’s what my parents and grandma liked to play. I started with Win95, 98, and 2000, before learning about Linux.

        My interest in design was sparked by the original iPhone icons, which I loved. In contrast with my hatred toward the Faenza icon theme, both have fairly similar style yet widely different results. That’s how I began exploring and learned from there.

        Correspondingly, my Linux journey started back in 2007 when my dad showed me Ubuntu, and just like what I did with Windows 2000 before, my pastime became installing and reinstalling Linux alongside Windows in different configurations (I apparently was consumed by the concept of installation and configuration, which might explain my YaST obsession?).

        Later in 2010, I had a tough time with a machine that wouldn’t take any distro with the exception of openSUSE (although it did end up with a few Linuxrc errors). Besides, I really liked its GNOME 2 config back then; it was really user friendly yet powerful. I gave KDE a shot but to this day I never really liked it.

      • SUSE Reworking Btrfs File-System’s Locking Code

        SUSE continues to back the Btrfs file-system and as part of that investing in new/improved functionality around this Linux file-system once billed as the competitor to ZFS. This week one of the SUSE developers sent out a set of patches implementing a new “DRW” lock and wiring that into the file-system driver.

      • Digital Transformation: An Interview with Rania Mohamed (SUSE Global Services Consultant)

        We’ve heard the mantra loud and clear. Business must transform to become digital businesses to survive. And the numbers are stark, with 80 % of businesses striving to make the transition by 2021.

        We sat down with SUSE Solutions Architect, Rania Mohamed, to get her perspective on what ditgital transformation is and how you can start your own transformation.

    • Slackware Family

      • VideoLAN releases VLC 3.0.7

        The new 3.0.7 release for the VideoLAN multimedia player VLC was tagged in git almost two weeks ago but it took until today to find official tarballs on their web site. By the looks of the git log I can only assume that the VideoLAN developers needed to fix some annoying post-release bugs first.
        The ChangeLog documents that the focus of the developers is mostly on the Android, MacOS and Windows platforms, presumably because that is where most of the issues are found? Also – through sponsoring by the European Commission’s EU-FOSSA2 program – more than 35 security bugs were fixed.
        So I built new ‘vlc‘ packages for Slackware 14.2 and -current yesterday and uploaded them to my repository. Between the previous 3.0.6 and this 3.0.7 release I updated some of the packages’ internal libraries: bluray, dav1d, dvdnav, ebml, matroska. If you want to know what you can expect from the VLC 3.x releases (as opposed to the 2.x releases which took way too many years to get obsoleted) you can read this older article on my blog.

      • Why was a BogoMip bogus?

        I woke up this morning wondering something I hadn’t in years. Why was Linux’ BogoMip bogus?

        I first installed Slackware Linux from a huge stack of 3.5″ floppy disks. My life was changed. This was in the 1.0.X kernel days.

        I stopped dicking around with Linux as my desktop OS when OS X bridged the gap. I have not made zlilo in over 2 decades, but this morning I woke up wondering about BogoMips!?

        BogoMips were the computing speed measurement of note at my first internet start-up, an ISP and datacenter, and every new Intel or Intel-compatible CPU was curiously investigated by our tech team. When we’d boot a Linux kernel, we would watch carefully to see “the number of million times per second a processor can do absolutely nothing”.

    • Fedora

      • PostgreSQL and upgrades

        As mentioned previously, I run a personal Fediverse instance with Pleroma, which uses Postgres. On Fedora, of course. So, a week ago, I went to do the usual “dnf distro-sync –releasever=30″. And then, Postgres fails to start, because the database uses the previous format, 10, and the packages in F30 require format 11. Apparently, I was supposed to dump the database with pg_dumpall, upgrade, then restore. But now that I have binaries that refuse to read the old format, dumping is impossible. Wow.

        A little web searching found an upgrader that works across formats (dnf install postgresql-upgrade; postgresql-setup –upgrade). But that one also copies the database, like a dump-restore procedure would. What if the database is too large for this? Am I the only one who finds these practices unacceptable?

      • Fedora Community Blog: FPgM report: 2019-23

        Here’s your report of what has happened in Fedora Program Management this week. Elections voting is underway!

        I have weekly office hours in #fedora-meeting-1. Drop by if you have any questions or comments about the schedule, Changes, elections, or anything else.

      • PHPUnit 8.2

        RPM of PHPUnit version 8.2 are available in remi repository for Fedora ≥ 27 and for Enterprise Linux (CentOS, RHEL…).

      • Fedora Magazine: Contribute to Fedora Magazine
    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Ubuntu Studio: Updates for June 2019

              We hope that Ubuntu Studio 19.04’s release has been a welcome update for our users. As such, we are continuing our work on Ubuntu Studio with our next release scheduled for October 17, 2019, codenamed “Eoan Ermine”.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Corporations and open source: why and how

    Here’s a really simplistic model: if you want someone to do something, you have to give them a compelling reason to do it, and you have to make it as easy as possible for them to do it. That is, you need to have good answers to Why? and How? (I don’t know much about marketing, but I think these are the value proposition and the call to action.)

    Let’s look at the Why and How model as it applies to corporations funding open source. They don’t do it because the answers to Why and How are really bad right now.

    Why should a corporation fund open source? As much as I wish it were different for all sorts of reasons, corporations act only in purely selfish ways. In order to spend money, they need to see some positive benefit to them that wouldn’t happen if they didn’t spend the money.

    This frustrates me because a corporation is a collection of people, none of whom would act this way. I could say much more about this, but we aren’t going to be able to change corporations.

    Companies only spend money if doing so will bring them a (perceived) benefit. Funding open source would make it stronger and better, but that is a very long effect, and not one that accrues directly to the funder. This is the famous Tragedy of the Commons. It’s a fair question for companies to ask: if they fund open source, what do they get for their money?

  • Dashing Diademata Delivers Second Generation ROS

    A simple robot that performs line-following or obstacle avoidance can fit all of its logic inside a single Arduino sketch. But as a robot’s autonomy increases, its corresponding software gets complicated very quickly. It won’t be long before diagnostic monitoring and logging comes in handy, or the desire to encapsulate feature areas and orchestrate how they work together. This is where tools like the Robot Operating System (ROS) come in, so we don’t have to keep reinventing these same wheels. And Open Robotics just released ROS 2 Dashing Diademata for all of us to use.

    ROS is an open source project that’s been underway since 2007 and updated regularly, each named after a turtle species. What makes this one worthy of extra attention? Dashing marks the first longer term support (LTS) release of ROS 2, a refreshed second generation of ROS. All high level concepts stayed the same, meaning almost everything in our ROS orientation guide is still applicable in ROS 2. But there were big changes under the hood reflecting technical advances over the past decade.

  • Here’s how tech companies like Atlassian, Microsoft, and Red Hat are revamping their interview process for developers today

    Increasingly, companies are relying on open source software, or software that is free for anyone to use, download, and modify. Employers may seek developers who create or contribute to innovative open source projects — which can quickly pick up popularity online.

    And Adi Sakala, director of software engineering at Red Hat, even says that open source drives the process of evaluating candidates at his company.

    [...]

    Sakala says he tries to do interviews in a “community fashion” and see if candidates can approach problems in an “open way.” After all, Red Hat provides support and services for Linux and other open source projects, which run on participation and code contributions from the company.

    For example, the team may have the candidate pick an existing public issue in the open source project and break down the process on how to solve it. It’s not just about the technicalities of solving the issue, but also looking to existing solutions in the open source community and collaborating with other teams.

    And since the job often requires working with open source collaborators, Sakala says looking for good communication skills and the ability to handle constructive criticism is especially important.

    “Most of our products function as communities,” Sakala said. “Working in communities requires you to be more than a technically strong person. We have to be part of the community.”

    [...]

    “We don’t ask for resumes,” Taggar said. “When you start at Triplebyte, you go straight into doing the skills quiz. It’s about your process, not your background or resume. That’s how we’re able to identify really great patterns that wouldn’t make it through traditional hiring processes.”

  • Digital Will, Part I: Requirements

    The technologies for this digital will should rely on free and open-source software (FOSS) not just because that matches my own ideals (and the ideals of Linux Journal), but also because a FOSS solution helps with the fault-tolerance requirement. FOSS software, even if it becomes unmaintained, still should be available for use in the future, whereas proprietary software or services may not.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • SUMO Platform Roadmap

        Our support platform went through numerous changes and transitions during the last couple of years. With the SUMO team joining efforts with the Open Innovation group last year, we have started thinking about different approaches to our support platform strategy. Our support platform is complex and there are a lot of legacy items that need to be taken care of. Besides this we need to get ready for all the new things that are coming our way.

        We want to ensure we’re providing a stable platform that will support Mozilla in the years to come as well as manage all the new products and changes expected in the following years.

        During this first half of the year we have worked on setting up a roadmap that prioritizes the work and helps us be more intentional about the changes we want to make in order to provide the best support platform for our users. With this we have also worked on new processes that will hopefully simplify the way we work with the platform as well as the overall development process.

      • Mozilla VR Blog: Check out Hubs on Oculus Quest!

        We’re excited to share that Hubs is now available on Quest, the new standalone VR headset from Oculus. Because Hubs is web-based, there are no applications to install or limits on cross-platform compatibility. Simply invite people to join your rooms in VR, on a desktop, or with a phone at any time. Launch a browser on the Quest and go to hubs.mozilla.com to create a room, then invite people to join you by sending them the invite link or room code!

        Standalone headsets like the Oculus Quest represent exciting new advancements in the systems that we have available for consumer VR technology. Untethered devices with tracking capabilities built into the headset allow for more freedom of movement around a space and more natural interactions within an environment.

        At Mozilla, we’re committed to supporting a rich, open ecosystem of online content that can be accessed by any device. This is one of the reasons that the immersive web is so powerful – like traditional websites, applications like Hubs can be accessed through browsers with a single URL on new devices without being limited to store requirements. By developing Hubs for the web, we’re able to iterate and deploy changes quickly, which allows us to get new features and bug fixes out quickly and often. It also means our users can be together in the same room on the Quest, PC, and smartphones as well.

  • SaaS/Back End

    • A New Era In Servers Is Starting Now

      You know the world is a different place when shipping 2.58 million servers in a quarter feels like a slowdown, a disappointment, and perhaps a leading indicator of an overall economic slowdown in the world.

      But the slight 5.1 percent downtick in server shipments in the first quarter of 2019 is probably more a function of the hyperscalers and cloud builders having spent a fortune on infrastructure in late 2017 and early 2018 and then waiting to see what the future holds for future processors from Intel and AMD.

    • Kubernetes Users Need Training: Mark Brandon, SuperGiant CEO

      With the explosive growth of Kubernetes adoption, there is a growing demand for training. “People want to use new tool kits that make their jobs easier, but they don’t know how to use them,” said Mark Brandon, founder and CEO of SuperGiant. “We have partnered with the Linux Foundation to create courses that help these users.”

      Brandon’s team created Supergiant toolkit created to “scratch our their itch,” as they say. Their cloud bills were too high because the hardware utilization was too low. They found that the so-called autoscaling tools from most vendors only meant it was easy to scale up.

    • Top 20 Best Big Data Tools and Software That You Can Use in 2019

      In our old days, we traveled from one city to another using a horse cart. However, nowadays is it possible to go using a horse cart? Obviously no, it is quite impossible right now. Why? Because of the growing population and the length of time. In the same way, Big Data emerges from such an idea. In this current technology-driven decade, data is growing too fast with the rapid growth of social media, blogs, online portals, website, and so forth. It is impossible to store these massive amounts of data traditionally. As a consequence, thousands of Big Data tools and software are proliferating in the data science world gradually. These tools perform various data analysis tasks, and all of them provide time and cost efficiency. Also, these tools explore business insights that enhance the effectiveness of business.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • FreeBSD 11.3-BETA3 Now Available
      
      The third BETA build of the 11.3-RELEASE release cycle is now available.
      
      Installation images are available for:
      
      o 11.3-BETA3 amd64 GENERIC
      o 11.3-BETA3 i386 GENERIC
      o 11.3-BETA3 powerpc GENERIC
      o 11.3-BETA3 powerpc64 GENERIC64
      o 11.3-BETA3 sparc64 GENERIC
      o 11.3-BETA3 armv6 BANANAPI
      o 11.3-BETA3 armv6 BEAGLEBONE
      o 11.3-BETA3 armv6 CUBIEBOARD
      o 11.3-BETA3 armv6 CUBIEBOARD2
      o 11.3-BETA3 armv6 CUBOX-HUMMINGBOARD
      o 11.3-BETA3 armv6 RPI-B
      o 11.3-BETA3 armv6 RPI2
      o 11.3-BETA3 armv6 PANDABOARD
      o 11.3-BETA3 armv6 WANDBOARD
      o 11.3-BETA3 aarch64 GENERIC
      
      Note regarding arm SD card images: For convenience for those without
      console access to the system, a freebsd user with a password of
      freebsd is available by default for ssh(1) access.  Additionally,
      the root user password is set to root.  It is strongly recommended
      to change the password for both users after gaining access to the
      system.
      
      Installer images and memory stick images are available here:
      
      https://download.freebsd.org/ftp/releases/ISO-IMAGES/11.3/
      
      The image checksums follow at the end of this e-mail.
      
      If you notice problems you can report them through the Bugzilla PR
      system or on the -stable mailing list.
      
      If you would like to use SVN to do a source based update of an existing
      system, use the "stable/11" branch.
      
      A summary of changes since 11.3-BETA2 includes:
      
      o Support for the IPV6_NEXTHOP option has been restored.
      
      o Warnings for IPsec algorithms deprecated in RFC 8221 have been added.
      
      o Fix for FC-Tape bugs.
      
      o A fix in jail_getid(3) for jail(8) ID 0.
      
      o Warnings for weaker geli(4) algorithms have been added.
      
      o Various updates and fixes in libarchive(3).
      
      o A fix in cxgbe(4) to address a connection hang when running iozone
        over an NFS-mounted share.
      
      o A fix to the zfs(8) 'userspace' subcommand where all unresolved UIDs
        after the first were ignored.
      
      o An apm(8) fix to correct battery life calculation.
      
      o The default size of Vagrant images has been increased.
      
      o Reporting on deprecated features for all major FreeBSD versions has
        been merged.
      
      A list of changes since 11.2-RELEASE is available in the stable/11
      release notes:
      
      https://www.freebsd.org/relnotes/11-STABLE/relnotes/article.html
      
      Please note, the release notes page is not yet complete, and will be
      updated on an ongoing basis as the 11.3-RELEASE cycle progresses.
      
      === Virtual Machine Disk Images ===
      
      VM disk images are available for the amd64, i386, and aarch64
      architectures.  Disk images may be downloaded from the following URL
      (or any of the FreeBSD FTP mirrors):
      
      https://download.freebsd.org/ftp/releases/VM-IMAGES/11.3-BETA3/
      
      The partition layout is:
      
          ~ 16 kB - freebsd-boot GPT partition type (bootfs GPT label)
          ~ 1 GB  - freebsd-swap GPT partition type (swapfs GPT label)
          ~ 20 GB - freebsd-ufs GPT partition type (rootfs GPT label)
      
      The disk images are available in QCOW2, VHD, VMDK, and raw disk image
      formats.  The image download size is approximately 135 MB and 165 MB
      respectively (amd64/i386), decompressing to a 21 GB sparse image.
      
      Note regarding arm64/aarch64 virtual machine images: a modified QEMU EFI
      loader file is needed for qemu-system-aarch64 to be able to boot the
      virtual machine images.  See this page for more information:
      
      https://wiki.freebsd.org/arm64/QEMU
      
      To boot the VM image, run:
      
          % qemu-system-aarch64 -m 4096M -cpu cortex-a57 -M virt  \
      	-bios QEMU_EFI.fd -serial telnet::4444,server -nographic \
      	-drive if=none,file=VMDISK,id=hd0 \
      	-device virtio-blk-device,drive=hd0 \
      	-device virtio-net-device,netdev=net0 \
      	-netdev user,id=net0
      
      Be sure to replace "VMDISK" with the path to the virtual machine image.
      
      === Amazon EC2 AMI Images ===
      
      FreeBSD/amd64 EC2 AMIs are available in the following regions:
      
        eu-north-1 region: ami-07fd27786377bc6fd
        ap-south-1 region: ami-01f208a9f001a22e2
        eu-west-3 region: ami-085439f21755d95a4
        eu-west-2 region: ami-0993e4ba21a62262d
        eu-west-1 region: ami-0f2f6a13b79dd804b
        ap-northeast-2 region: ami-07164fb9df8db807f
        ap-northeast-1 region: ami-0c1b2bbd0b1cced6e
        sa-east-1 region: ami-0d51b7b8c6a2f8a57
        ca-central-1 region: ami-054c4785980cbfbb4
        ap-southeast-1 region: ami-07cbfed103b47434a
        ap-southeast-2 region: ami-06e7f111242f4a03e
        eu-central-1 region: ami-05b82446f270f2c7e
        us-east-1 region: ami-0b3ea59d3140af471
        us-east-2 region: ami-0b59f21c8a159bf51
        us-west-1 region: ami-0a6d215b372bd8a86
        us-west-2 region: ami-0861887499c7e29c3
      
      === Vagrant Images ===
      
      FreeBSD/amd64 images are available on the Hashicorp Atlas site, and can
      be installed by running:
      
          % vagrant init freebsd/FreeBSD-11.3-BETA3
          % vagrant up
      
      === Upgrading ===
      
      The freebsd-update(8) utility supports binary upgrades of amd64 and i386
      systems running earlier FreeBSD releases.  Systems running earlier
      FreeBSD releases can upgrade as follows:
      
      	# freebsd-update upgrade -r 11.3-BETA3
      
      During this process, freebsd-update(8) may ask the user to help by
      merging some configuration files or by confirming that the automatically
      performed merging was done correctly.
      
      	# freebsd-update install
      
      The system must be rebooted with the newly installed kernel before
      continuing.
      
      	# shutdown -r now
      
      After rebooting, freebsd-update needs to be run again to install the new
      userland components:
      
      	# freebsd-update install
      
      It is recommended to rebuild and install all applications if possible,
      especially if upgrading from an earlier FreeBSD release, for example,
      FreeBSD 10.x.  Alternatively, the user can install misc/compat10x and
      other compatibility libraries, afterwards the system must be rebooted
      into the new userland:
      
      	# shutdown -r now
      
      Finally, after rebooting, freebsd-update needs to be run again to remove
      stale files:
      
      	# freebsd-update install
      
    • FreeBSD 11.3 Beta 3 Arrives With Various Fixes, Correct Battery Life Reporting

      Another weekend, another new FreeBSD test release is now available for evaluation.

      FreeBSD 11.3 Beta 3 was issued on Friday as the third and final beta to happen, including the last step prior to branching. FreeBSD 11.3 is riding on schedule so far for an on-time release around 9 July but ahead are still multiple release candidates expected over the next month.

    • Original from site

      The third BETA build for the FreeBSD 11.3 release cycle is now available. ISO images for the amd64, armv6, arm64, i386, powerpc, powerpc64, and sparc64 architectures are available on most of our FreeBSD mirror sites.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • Square updated its terms of services; community raise concerns about restriction to use the AGPL-licensed software in online stores

      Last month, Square a financial services and mobile payment company updated its terms of service effective from this year in July. Developers are raising concerns upon one of the terms of service which restricts the use of AGPL-licensed software in online stores.

      What is GNU AGPL Affero General Public License

      The GNU Affero General Public License (AGPL) is a free and copyleft license for software and other kinds of works. AGPL guarantees the freedom for sharing and changing all versions of a program. It protects developers’ right by asserting copyright on the software, and by giving legal permission to copy, distribute and/or modify the software.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • An open source bionic leg, Python data pipeline, data breach detection, and more news

        A generation of people learned the term bionics from the TV series The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman. What was science fiction (although based on fact) is closer to becoming a reality thanks to prosthetic leg designed by the University of Michigan and the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab.

        The leg, which incorporates a simple, low-cost modular design, is “intended to improve the quality of life of patients and accelerate scientific advances by offering a unified platform to fragmented research efforts across the field of bionics.” It will, according to lead designer Elliot Rouse, “enable investigators to efficiently solve challenges associated with controlling bionic legs across a range of activities in the lab and out in the community.”

        You can learn more about the leg, and download designs, from the Open Source Leg website.

  • Programming/Development

    • A muggle’s guide to AWK arrays: 1

      If (like me) you don’t have a degree in computer science and haven’t done a lot of programming, you might have the impression that AWK arrays are highly technical things best left for AWK wizards to play with.

      I’d agree that AWK arrays can be a little intimidating, but they’re very, very useful. In this series of occasional blog posts I hope to make arrays less scary for AWK users. I’ll assume that readers already know the basics of AWK syntax and uses, but haven’t had much to do with AWK arrays. (Tutorials Point has a nice series of webpages introducing AWK.)

    • Outreachy Week 1 – Week 3: Working Remotely is Hard

      Time flies! I am already into the 3rd week of the internship, which is also a perfect time for a retrospective. This is an honest share to what working remotely has been like for me and also a report to record what I’ve been doing these three weeks.

    • Concurrency in Python

      Computing has evolved over time and more and more ways have come up to make computers run even faster. What if instead of executing a single instruction at a time, we can also execute several instructions at the same time? This would mean a significant increase in the performance of a system.

      Through concurrency, we can achieve this and our Python programs will be able to handle even more requests at a single time, and over time leading to impressive performance gains.

      In this article, we will discuss concurrency in the context of Python programming, the various forms it comes in and we will speed up a simple program in order to see the performance gains in practice.

    • LLVM/Clang 9.0 Merges Support For Intel “Cooperlake” CPU Target

      The LLVM 9.0 compiler code in development along with the Clang 9.0 C/C++ front-end now have support for the -march=cooperlake target for optimizing the generated code for next-generation Intel Cooper Lake processors.

      Cooper Lake is the successor to the recently launched Cascade Lake processors. Cooper Lake sticks with 14nm++ and is expected to be out in H1’2020 with support for eight memory channels per CPU, possible PCI Express 4.0, and other modest improvements over current-generation Xeon Scalable processors.

    • Talk Python to Me: #215 The software powering Talk Python courses and podcast
    • Git v2.22.0
    • it 2.22 Released With Improvements Around Merge Handling, Other Small Enhancements

      Git 2.22 was released today as the newest release of this highly popular distributed revision control system.

      Git 2.22 ships with improvements around handling rebasing of merges interactively, creating branches from merge bases, a new tracing mechanism, display improvements during Git bisecting, and a variety of smaller highlights.

    • Git 2.22.0 is Released, which Fixes many Bugs and other Performance Improvements

      Git 2.22.0 is released, which fixes many bugs and addressed other performance improvements.

      Added few new features and improved UI, Workflows. Also, done some code cleanup, docfix, build fix.

      This new release has comes after three months of developments.

      Four new configuration variables {author,committer}.{name,email} have been introduced to override user.{name,email} in more specific cases.

    • 7 valuable programming languages for sysadmins in 2019

      Once upon a time, encouraging a system administrator to learn a programming language might have been wonky career advice. Programming languages are for programmers, after all—you know, the people who write code for a living. The sysadmin just keeps everything up and running.

      That’s a reasonable but dated thought process. In today’s multi-cloud and hybrid cloud environments, which are increasingly automated and managed with code, strategically learning a language (or several) is often a smart move. This fact doesn’t mean you’re now doing double duty as an application developer, but rather that in modern IT environments some traditional sysadmin duties have become more code-driven. Factor in related trends such as containers, microservices, and orchestration, and you begin to understand why automation has been such a hot topic in IT. We need automation to keep things running smoothly as systems scale in production, all the more so given today’s distributed computing environments.

      If you’re a sysadmin, you could learn any programming language just for the heck of it. No one’s stopping you. But some languages make particular sense. Your mileage may vary depending on factors like your infrastructure, applications, codebases, toolchains, and so on. Let’s look at seven languages worth considering for today’s sysadmin.

    • Bzip2 uses Meson and Autotools now — and a plea for help

      There is a lot of activity in the bzip2 repository!

      Perhaps the most exciting thing is that Dylan Baker made a merge request to add Meson as a build system for bzip2; this is merged now into the master branch.

    • Debian GSoC Kotlin project blog: Converting build files to Groovy; week 2 update

      I spent the first two weeks on updating build files of Kotlin to groovy so that we can reduce the dependency on kotlin-dsl while packaging Kotlin.

      task(“dist”) is the task that we call in order to build Kotlin 1.3.30 so it would be enough to translate and deal with only those subprojects which are involed in the “dist” task graph. I wrote this code here find out exactly which tasks from which subprojects are being called; the build files of these subprojects are also shown.

      There was a total of about 83 subprojects involved in the build process, out of these about 67 had build files written in kotlin-dsl. During this week I translated about 40 of those build files, so only 27 more remain. I have also translated the root projects build file. My work could be seen here.

      The build logic for the build files are written in Kotlin and placed in the $rootDir/buildSrc directory. Kotlin supports writing custom extension functions like fun String.customfunction() but groovy doesnt support this behaviour, so I had to introduce intermediate functions for these functions in the build logic so that these function can be invoked from within the groovy buildfiles.

    • Extending Wing with Python (Part One)

Leftovers

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Trump’s EPA Is Letting “Forever Chemicals” Into Our Food, Experts Say

      A growing chorus of environmental groups and public health experts are slamming the Trump administration for its milquetoast response to the widespread problem of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), a family of toxic “forever chemicals” that are linked to serious diseases and have contaminated food products and drinking water across the country.

      Earlier this week, environmental groups released photos of previously unreleased research by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) showing the presence of 16 PFAS chemicals in food products sampled from eight mid-Atlantic states, including seafood, meat, dairy products, various vegetables and pre-packaged chocolate cake. Exposure to PFAS chemicals is associated with a variety of health problems, including cancer, changes in cholesterol levels, damage to the immune system, hormone disruption, congenital disabilities, and liver and kidney disease, according to the Environmental Working Group.

      While the FDA said in a statement this week that identifying levels and human health effects from dietary PFAS exposure is an “emerging area of science” and pledged to continue research and testing, public health watchdogs said the previously unreleased FDA findings are evidence that the government must take swift action to limit human exposure to the dangerous chemicals immediately.

      So far, they said, the Trump administration’s response to the PFAS crisis, which includes an “action plan” currently proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has not gone far enough to protect public health. The plan only focuses two chemicals in the PFAS family, which includes thousands of compounds, and the agency has not moved swiftly enough to propose new regulations that will keep PFAS chemicals out of food and drinking water while holding the companies that use and make them accountable.

      “To say that this EPA plan is abysmal would be too kind,” said Kyla Bennett, the science policy director at Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), a group which represents federal environmental scientists and other experts, and a former attorney and scientist formerly with EPA, in a statement on Thursday. “Under its current leadership, EPA appears incapable of fulfilling its mission of protecting the public from emerging health threats.”

    • Red and White Meats Carry the Same Cholesterol Risks, Study Finds

      Instead, researchers at the University of California, San Francisco found that diets high in dairy and plant-based foods edged out red and white meats in terms of lower levels of unhealthy cholesterol.

      “When we planned this study, we expected red meat to have a more adverse effect on blood cholesterol levels than white meat, but we were surprised that this was not the case — their effects on cholesterol are identical when saturated fat levels are equivalent,” senior author Ronald Krauss, professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, said in a press release.

      Previous research has shown that saturated fats, usually derived from animal products, raise the amount of LDL, considered a “bad” cholesterol, in your bloodstream. LDL can build up in the arteries, leading to a heart attack or stroke, which has led to the belief that consuming saturated fat-rich red meat can also boost risk of heart disease, CNN reported.

      Published this week in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the study examined the LDL levels of diets with varying saturated fat and meat amounts. Separated into two groups, more than 100 healthy men and women aged 21 to 65 years old were randomly asked to eat primarily either high saturated fat foods or low saturated fat foods.

      Each group ate three different four-week test diets: one with red meat, one with white meat, and a diet without any meat. In between each, participants were asked to return to their normal diets.

    • IS RED OR WHITE MEAT HEALTHIER? SCIENTISTS COMPARE BEEF, CHICKEN AND PLANTS IN CHOLESTEROL STUDY

      White meat could carry the same heart health risks as red meat according to scientists who studied how beef and chicken affect cholesterol levels.

      The authors of a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded plant-based proteins seem to be the best option for those looking to control their blood cholesterol levels.

      Past studies indicate red meat, but not poultry, can raise the risk of heart disease, while proteins found in plants can protect the cardiovascular system. It is thought the high levels of saturated fats in red meat raise the levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or “bad” cholesterol in the blood, and can in turn cause heart disease. LDL particles can clog up the arteries by delivering waxy cholesterol to their walls, which leads to a build-up of plaque linked to heart disease or stroke.

      It is also believed that the size of the LDL particles plays an important role in a person’s chance of developing heart disease. Compared with their larger counterparts, smaller LDL particles are better at getting in the arteries to transport cholesterol.

    • White meat is just as bad for you as red beef when it comes to your cholesterol level, study says

      The red meat or white meat debate is a draw: Eating white meat, such as poultry, will have an identical effect on your cholesterol level as eating red beef, new research indicates.

      The long-held belief that eating white meat is less harmful for your heart may still hold true, because there may be other effects from eating red meat that contribute to cardiovascular disease, said the University of California, San Francisco researchers. This needs to be explored in more detail, they added.
      Non-meat proteins such as vegetables, dairy, and legumes, including beans, show the best cholesterol benefit, according to the new study published Tuesday in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

    • Both Red and White Meat Raise Cholesterol Levels, Study Finds

      For years, many health experts have thought that swapping out your red meat for white meat was the way to go.

      Red meat has been linked to diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers. White meat, on the other hand, has long been believed to be the superior option.

      However, new research from Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute (CHORI) suggests that white meat, such as poultry, is just as harmful to your blood cholesterol levels as red meat.

      So, if you want to keep your blood cholesterol levels in check, it’s best to hold back from eating too much of either type of meat.

      Non-meat proteins — such as vegetables, dairy, and legumes — proved to be most beneficial for cholesterol levels, according to the study published Tuesday in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

      “This new study is interesting in that increases in cholesterol from the consumption of animal meat is comparable between red beef and white poultry,” Dr. Ethan Yalvac, an interventional cardiologist with Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian, told Healthline.

      “However, the findings do support our current recommendations that saturated fats in general should be avoided as much as possible regardless of source,” he added.

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • All Americans Have Blood on Their Hands

      Shortly after Truthdig columnist Danny Sjursen left the Army, where he spent 18 years on active duty and rose to the rank of major, he sat down with Editor in Chief Robert Scheer for an interview about life after the military and a discussion about the conclusions he drew throughout his military career. Sjursen, who attended West Point and did several tours in the Middle East, including Iraq and Afghanistan, opened up to Scheer about how leaving the institution where he spent most of his adult life has allowed him to finally be completely frank about his experiences, in his columns as well as in his recent book, “Ghost Riders of Baghdad: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Myth of the Surge.”

      “I’d like to think that I was always bold on active duty,” Sjursen tells Scheer in the latest installment of “Scheer Intelligence,” “but the reality is that I was censoring myself. You know, there is a degree of fear and harassment, and it’s very passive-aggressive stuff. But the book was a labor of love [that] tears apart the notion of American exceptionalism that brought us to Iraq, to a folly.”

      Now, as Sjursen pursues a Ph.D and a career as a writer while adapting to his new life and grappling with post-traumatic stress disorder, the former soldier is still profoundly troubled by his experiences at war, not only as he led soldiers to their deaths, but also as he watched U.S. forces devastate Iraq and Afghanistan. Although he went to Iraq thinking the trouble with the war was the way it was being fought, he left with a very different impression of the conflict.

    • The Handmaid’s Tale: On Self Defense

      Imagine you are black and living in America with its genocidal legacy of slavery, lynching, mass incarceration, Cointelpro –a land where you can still be shot by a police officer, or another citizen for that matter, for nothing more than the color of your skin, or that you are an indigenous person whose land has been repeatedly stolen, a genocide committed against your people, your own children taken from your family and placed in schools where they are not allowed to speak or cultivate their own languages or traditions. Imagine you are living in Puerto Rico and you have had a sterilization program perpetrated against the women in your community as a means of colonial control.

    • Angst and Madness at the End of Empire

      In the waning days of the American Empire a sort of collective madness has seemed to take hold of its ruling class. It is perhaps most clear in the unhinged and incessant decrees of the bloated emperor via tweet. But it is also in the idiotic ramblings of his minions redefining fossil fuels as “freedom gas” or rapidly melting Arctic seas as an economic “opportunity.” It can also be seen in the reactionary and warmongering responses of the so-called resistance in the corrupt Democratic Party establishment and corporate media regarding Russiagate. Or Bolton and Pompeo inventing evidence to justify more imperial wars just years after the disastrous assault on Iraq and during the longest ongoing US war in Afghanistan. It extends to the incredulous claims of Michele Bachmann that Trump is “godly and biblical” and televangelist Kenneth Copeland, who described his aversion to flying commercial airlines as getting in “a long tube with demons,” calling for a national day of prayer for the orange-tinted tyrant. It is truly staggering to behold.

      Amidst all this madness, crimes and atrocities are being committed in broad daylight by that same ruling class both domestically and abroad. In the Middle-East the ruling class, via their corporations General Dynamics, Raytheon, Lockheed Martin and Boeing, is aiding and benefiting from outright genocide in Yemen by the most brutal and criminal of America’s colonies: Saudi Arabia. Similar profits are garnished from backing the apartheid regime in Israel and the military junta in Egypt. In Brazil the ruling class has only just begun to see the dollars roll in from Bolsonaro’s further opening up of the Amazon, the planet’s proverbial lungs. In Modi’s India, they are salivating at the chance to despoil more of the sub-continents riches. And around the world corporations and the fossil fuel industry continues its mad and blind dash toward species extinction.

      Back in the US police violence against people of color remains steady and the prison industry is still booming. Along the southern border, migrants from Central America are seeking legal asylum, scores of them young children. Their only “crime” is fleeing their homelands which have been ruthlessly torn up by US foreign policy for at least a century. But they are being rounded up by militias and sent to concentration camps. LGBT and mentally ill migrants are being tortured in solitary confinement. Families are being separated, children caged, violated, dying from preventable diseases.

    • Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution in the Crosshairs of US Imperialism

      With the likes of John Bolton and Elliot Abrams directing US foreign policy, the US government has abandoned all pretense of “plausible denial” for its illegal regime-change initiatives. The “humanitarian” bombs may not be falling but, make no mistake, the US is waging a full-bore war against the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela.

      Back in 1998, Venezuela had had nearly a half a century of two-party rule. A duopoly, not unlike the Republican and Democratic parties in the US, alternated in power imposing a neoliberal order. Poor and working people experienced deteriorating conditions of austerity regardless of which party was in power.

      Then third-party candidate Hugo Chávez was elected president. HeH He initiated what has become known as the Bolivarian Revolution, which has inspired the peoples of the world while engendering the enmity of both the US imperialists and the Venezuelan elites.

      This article explores the contributions, shortcomings, and lessons of the Bolivarian Revolution’s two decades, in the context of the US regime-change efforts from its inception to current attempts by the US to install the unelected Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s president.

    • Tightening the Noose on Cuba

      On the 2ndof May 2019, the Trump Administration decided to enforce Title 111 of the Helms-Burton Act. Title 111 authorises US nationals with claims to confiscated properties in Cuba to file suits in US courts against persons that may be “trafficking “in that property.

      Title 111 of the Helms-Burton Act has not been enforced before though the Act was enacted in 1996 through a move by two US legislators, a Republican Senator, Jesse Helms and a House of Representatives member, Dan Burton. It was signed into law by then US president, Bill Clinton. Since the Act allows the US president to suspend some of its provisions up to 6 months at a time, it was felt that implementing Title 111 was not necessary given that economic sanctions against Cuba aimed at throttling its economy were already all-encompassing.

      But president Trump who is determined to increase pressure upon Cuba has decided to tighten the noose. He is being egged on by some legislators from South Florida with its significant ‘Cuban exile electorate’ — an electorate that is staunch in its support of Trump — who are angry that some US companies are now trading with Cuba. Besides, heightened harshness against Cuba is also aimed at curtailing oil shipments between Cuba and Venezuela at a time when hawks in the Trump Administration such as National Security Adviser John Bolton are pushing hard for regime change in Caracas.

      Opposition to the enforcement of Title 111 has been swift from certain quarters. The Ambassador of the European Union (EU) to Cuba Alberto Navarro reiterated on 31stMay 2019 the EU’s unanimous rejection of what he viewed as a clear violation of international law. In fact, the EU had voiced its opposition to the Helms-Burton Act in its entirety when it was first enacted in 1996. A number of Latin American countries are also incensed by the US decision. Even civil society groups in the US are against this unjust measure targeting Cuba.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Australian Federal Police Raid Even More Journalists Over Leaked Documents

      Australia got scary in a hurry.

      One day after raiding the home of News Corp Australia journalist Annika Smethurst over the publication of leaked documents detailing the government’s domestic surveillance plans, the Australian Federal Police raided ABC News Australia over leaked documents detailing the killing of unarmed civilians by Australian special forces in Afghanistan.

      Somewhat surprisingly, the AFP did not prevent John Lyons, the executive editor of ABC News, from live-tweeting the entire raid. This resulted in an astounding stream of tweets (with photos!) showing the AFP was seeking a wealth of information from ABC offices, including notes, correspondence, reports, briefing documents, photographs, and anything else it could use to (presumably) find the source of the leaks.

      The AFP claims the raid of the ABC offices has nothing to do with its raid of a journalist’s home the previous day. This is only true in the sense that two different sets of leaks were targeted. In the greater scheme of things, they are very definitely related, as is the investigation currently being pursued by the Department of Home Affairs targeting yet another journalist over a story about asylum seekers seeking to enter Australia by boat.

      Journalists all over the world are shocked by the Australian government’s actions, which directly threaten press freedom in that country. The continuing expansion of its national security powers have reduced the rights of the country’s citizens. These powers are on full public display, being utilized in an incredibly damaging way.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • ‘Green Wave’ Party conference in Scarborough starts tomorrow

      The Green Party ‘spring’ conference will open tomorrow (Friday) in Scarborough, with a big celebration congratulating all of our new MEPs and councillors (3.45pm).

      Co-leaders Sian Berry and Jonathan Bartley will be reinforcing the “yes to Europe, no to climate change” message in their speeches on Saturday, as the party celebrates spectacular European and local election results, and polling putting us on 12% in general election voting intention.

      Jonathan said: “This is a tremendous exciting time to be a Green. The Green Wave, driven by the demand for action of our climate emergency and the pressing human needs causes by inequality and poverty, is pushing through Europe.

      “We offer policies designed to reinvigorate our communities, the democratic process and our natural environment.

    • Siberia expects mass migration as it warms

      Siberia, currently one of the most sparsely populated places in the northern hemisphere, could become a target for mass migration as the climate warms.

      By 2080, scientists report, melting permafrost and warming summer and winter temperatures will mean that agriculture could thrive and support between five and seven times the current population.

      Lands to the south are becoming far less able to feed and sustain their existing populations, as heat makes crops harder to grow and cities untenable, and mass migration northward is likely, the scientists predict.

      Their study, which is produced by the Krasnoyarsk Federal Research Centre in Siberia and the US National Institute of Aerospace, says the current problem of falling population in Russia will be reversed as conditions in Siberia become much better for growing food, and both summers and winters more pleasant to live in. It is published in the journal Environmental Research Letters.

    • Deputy leader celebrates Green successes as party conference opens

      The Green Party deputy leader, Amelia Womack, will open the party’s spring conference in Scarborough with a call to build on the electoral and campaign successes of this year, which have seen the number of Green councillors and Green MEPs more than double and membership increase by nearly 15,000 in England and Wales.

      Amelia will tell delegates that electoral success is being achieved despite the odds being stacked against smaller parties with a political system that is badly broken, and a hollowed-out, outdated and out-of-touch media.

      “Our archaic democracy needs to be revived with a truly proportional system where every vote and every voter matters,” she will say.

      “A system where MPs can sit in the party which truly reflects their values and beliefs in a mature parliament with collaboration at its heart.

      ”For three years that system has tried to handle Brexit… and it has failed embarrassingly.”

      Amelia Womack will also say the Green Party remains committed to equality for women on boards of business, in the houses of Parliament and in every aspect of public life.

    • Greta Thunberg, Fridays for Future movement win Amnesty human rights award

      Swedish teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg and her Fridays for Future protest movement on Friday won an Amnesty International human rights award for their “unique leadership and courage in standing up for human rights.”
      Thunberg and the millions of school students she inspired to skip school and protest on Fridays won the Ambassador of Conscience Award, which has also been awarded to NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, singer Alicia Keys, as well as Nobel Peace Prize winners Malala Yousafzai and Nelson Mandela.

    • National Weather Service Radar Detects 80 x 80 Mile Swarm of Ladybugs

      The National Weather Service (NWS) picked up an unusual formation on its San Diego radar Tuesday evening: a swarm of ladybugs.

      “It was very strange because it was a relatively clear day and we weren’t really expecting any rain or thunderstorms,” NWS San Diego meteorologist Casey Oswant told NPR. “But on our radar, we were seeing something that indicated there was something out there.”

    • Spotted: A Swarm Of Ladybugs So Huge, It Showed Up On National Weather Service Radar

      Meteorologists in Southern California were puzzled by the big green blob on their radar — it looked like a rainstorm on what was a clear day. Then they discovered it was beetles.

    • The Unseen Threat: Noise in the Arctic Marine Environment

      In recent years we’ve experienced a growing awareness that the noise generated by humans in the world’s oceans affects life beneath the waves. That noise comes from a variety of sources — including acute sounds associated with military sonar, oil exploration, mining and seabed construction — but the most common and widespread source is the chronic noise made by ships as they travel.

      This chronic noise affects a variety of marine species, including fish and invertebrates, but it can be particularly disruptive for mammals like whales and seals that use sound to communicate — sometimes over vast distances — and to detect prey.

    • 17 of World’s Largest Car Makers Ask Trump for Compromise on Plan to Weaken Fuel Efficiency Standards

      Seventeen of the world’s largest automakers want President Donald Trump to find a compromise with California on his plan to weaken Obama-era tailpipe emissions standards, The New York Times reported.

    • Automakers Tell Trump His Pollution Rules Could Mean ‘Untenable’ Instability and Lower Profits

      The world’s largest automakers warned President Trump on Thursday that one of his most sweeping deregulatory efforts — his plan to weaken tailpipe pollution standards — threatens to cut their profits and produce “untenable” instability in a crucial manufacturing sector.

      In a letter signed by 17 companies including Ford, General Motors, Toyota and Volvo, the automakers asked Mr. Trump to go back to the negotiating table on the planned rollback of one of President Barack Obama’s signature policies to fight climate change.

      The carmakers are addressing a crisis that is partly of their own making. They had sought some changes to the pollution standards early in the Trump presidency, but have since grown alarmed at the expanding scope of the administration’s plan.

    • Black Water

      It poured rain in Harlem the day and night before my sister-comrades and I prepared to take flight from JFK airport on American Airlines flight 979 departing at 11:11 a.m. for Caracas, Venezuela, to make our way to the First Ecosocialist International.

      The tea tree and patchouli oils I dropped into my big straw African hat before I left Harlem kept me calm, alert, and awake. We hardly got any sleep the night before as we packed food and small gifts for the families we would be staying with in the Afro-indigenous maroon villages located in Veroes.

      Our plane was late for our Miami layover and we rushed to our plane for Caracas. The whole vibe changed. I heard very little English being spoken anymore. We were getting closer. We spotted a few of our comrades coming from other places on the plane and delightfully greeted them. About 100 delegates from 19 different countries and 12 indigenous nations to gather in the land of the “Knowers, Seed Protectors, and Seed Sowers.”

      I’ve never seen such beautiful views from the sky and was moved to fly over the Caribbean islands. Islands that inspire our revolutionary, maroon, self-determined hearts. As I walked to the back of the plane I felt like everybody paid attention to the black and white keffiyeh wrapped around my head. People were really polite, especially the older woman sharing a row with me.

    • Following Trump’s Executive Order, EPA Moves to Limit States’ Ability to Block Dirty Energy Projects

      In just the latest move by the Trump administration to expand dirty energy infrastructure no matter the cost to the climate and public health, the Environmental Protection Agency on Friday issued a new guidance that limits the ability of states and tribes to block permits for proposed projects such as fossil fuel pipelines.

      “Not a day goes by where [EPA] doesn’t do *something* to endanger your health,” Jake Levine, a climate attorney who served as an energy aide to former President Barack Obama, tweeted in response to the news Friday.

    • Netfa Freeman on Cuba Sanctions, Reynard Loki on Indigenous Oil Victory

      A former US diplomat to Cuba, Wayne Smith, wrote once that Cuba “seems to have the same effect on American administrations that the full moon once had on werewolves.” It comes to mind as you hear of National Security Advisor John Bolton denouncing Cuba’s “malign influence and ideological imperialism”—to an audience including veterans of the failed Bay of Pigs invasion, no less—as the reason for renewed sanctions on the country, including restrictions on US citizens’ ability to travel there. It could be occasion for the press to explore the US’s “international outlier” stance toward Cuba. We’ll talk about what’s happening with Netfa Freeman of the Institute for Policy Studies.

      Also on the show: Corporate media would have us believe they’re interested in climate action, but they’re failing a key test of that, which would be taking seriously the lives and deaths of people on the frontline. The recent court victory of Ecuador’s indigenous Waorani, against the government’s push to auction off their land to oil companies, brings together critical things: Biodiversity, the global impact of the Amazon, the integrity of agreements between indigenous communities and the state, and legal protections for nature. But coverage suggests it’s just not that interesting to corporate media. We’ll get the story from Reynard Loki, Editor at the Earth | Food | Life project of the Independent Media Institute.

    • The Dams That Kill Orca

      By the time Bill Clinton arrived in the early 1990s, Chuck had turned his attention to the plight of the Pacific salmon, whose stocks were plummeting across the region from rapacious logging, livestock grazing and, most devastatingly, the chain of dams choking the life out of his ancestral river.

      Over the course of 20 years, Chuck and I met up probably once every two week, either in his house and gallery in The Dalles or here in Oregon City. We’d plot strategy, tell tall tales, gripe about politics and engage in some pungent editorializing on the dilapidated state of the planet. So when he invited me to join him on the trip up to Skokomish, I happily agree to pick him and drive him north.

      After our feast, a friend of Chuck’s lent us two sea kayaks and promised that the weather was perfect for an evening cruise on the Sound. It took a few minutes to squeeze Chuck into the kayak. He was a large man, afflicted with diabetes and other chronic illnesses that often went untreated because of the vicious vagaries of the US health care system. But he was a whiz with a paddle once he got situated and soon we were cutting our way across the dark, still waters of Annas Bay toward the Great Bend of the Hood Canal. As a huge orange moon, Chuck called it the Sturgeon Moon, crested over Mount Rainier to the east, the once placid waters around us began to roil and our kayaks rocked violently. Then suddenly three, no four, dorsal fins, large and luminous in the moonlight, breached the surface no more than 30 feet from our boats, and subsided as quickly as they had appeared. Orcas. Chuck turned to me and chuckling nervously said, “Evidently we’re trespassing. The orcas aren’t my clan. Do you know the way back?”

    • The Accelerating Ecological Genocide

      In May 2019, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) released its latest assessment of the accelerating extinction rates of our global biodiversity. The report was compiled by 145 expert authors from 50 countries over the past three years. It has inputs from another 310 contributing authors and is based on the review of about 15,000 scientific publications. The full report (exceeding 1,500 pages) will be published later this year. A preliminary overview of the report makes a somber reading. Here are the highlights:

      Nature’s decline is unprecedented; species extinction rates are accelerating; current global responses are insufficient; 1,000,000 species threatened with extinction; nature is declining globally at rates unprecedented in human history — and the rate of species extinction is accelerating, with grave impacts on people around the world now likely.

      The report finds that around 1 million animal and plant species are now threatened with extinction, many within decades, more than ever before in human history. The average abundance of native species in most major land-based habitats has fallen by at least 20%, mostly since 1900. More than 40% of amphibian species, almost 33% of corals and more than a third of all marine mammals are threatened. The picture is less clear for insect species, but available evidence supports a tentative estimate of 10% being threatened. At least 680 vertebrate species have been driven to extinction since the 16th century and more than 9% of all domesticated breeds of mammals used for food and agriculture have become extinct by 2016, with at least 1,000 more breeds still threatened.

      Ecosystems, species, wild populations, local varieties and breeds of domesticated plants and animals are shrinking, deteriorating or vanishing. The essential, interconnected web of life on Earth is getting smaller and increasingly frayed. This loss is a direct result of human activity and constitutes a direct threat to human well-being in all regions of the world.

    • More Microplastics in Deep Sea Than Great Pacific Garbage Patch

      Microplastics have infiltrated the earth’s largest ecosystem: the deep ocean.

      Researchers at the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) used small drone submarines to take sea-water samples from the ocean surface all the way down to the floor, at 3,200 feet. They found that there were actually more microplastics 1,000 feet below sea level than there are in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, USA Today reported. The findings come as people around the world prepare to celebrate World Oceans Day Saturday and gives new insight into how plastics impact the entire marine environment.

    • Influential Science Nonprofit ILSI Exposed as a Food Industry Lobby Group

      The International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI) is a corporate-funded nonprofit group with chapters around the world that claim to conduct “science for the public good,” but documents released in a new study reveal that the influential ILSI science group is a actually a lobby group that protects the interests of the food industry, not public health.

      The June 2019 paper in Globalization and Health describes internal emails that were obtained by the public interest group U.S. Right to Know via state public records laws. The documents reveal clear examples of how ILSI advances the interests of the food industry, especially by promoting industry-friendly science and arguments to policymakers. “Researchers have labelled the International Life Sciences Institute an industry front group, after studying thousands of documents,” reported the BMJ.

      As one example, the paper quotes an email from Alex Malaspina, the former Coca-Cola executive who founded ILSI, lamenting the failure of ILSI Mexico to follow the industry position on soda taxes. Malaspina describes “the mess ILSI Mexico is in because they sponsored in September a sweeteners conference when the subject of soft drinks taxation was discussed. ILSI is now suspending ILSI Mexico, until they correct their ways. A real mess.”

    • Are industry-funded charities promoting “advocacy-led studies” or “evidence-based science”?: a case study of the International Life Sciences Institute

      Industry sponsorship of public health research has received increasing scrutiny, and, as a result, many multinational corporations (MNCs), such as The Coca-Cola Company and Mars Inc., have committed to transparency with regard to what they fund, and the findings of funded research. However, these MNCs often fund charities, both national and international, which then support research and promote industry-favourable policy positions to leaders. We explore whether one industry funded charity, the International Life Sciences Institute (‘ILSI’), is the scientifically objective, non-lobby, internationally-credible body that it suggests it is, so as to aid the international health and scientific communities to judge ILSI’s outputs.

    • Michael Bloomberg Pledges $500 Million to Move U.S. ‘Beyond Carbon’

      Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has a new mission: closing every coal plant in the U.S. by 2030.

      The goal is part of Bloomberg’s new Beyond Carbon initiative, which he will formally announced during a commencement address at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Friday, The Associated Press reported. Bloomberg is pledging $500 million towards an effort to close coal plants and transition the country towards 100 percent renewable energy. It is the single-largest philanthropic effort dedicated to addressing the climate crisis, Bloomberg’s foundation said.

  • Finance

    • Google warns of US national security risks from Huawei ban

      Google has warned the Trump administration it risks compromising US national security if it pushes ahead with sweeping export restrictions on Huawei, as the technology group seeks to continue doing business with the blacklisted Chinese company.

      Senior executives at Google are pushing US officials to exempt it from a ban on exports to Huawei without a licence approved by Washington, according to three people briefed on the conversations.

    • Google Argues Banning Huawei Could Be A “US National Security Risk”

      he Chinese smartphone company is already under a 90-day trial period after which it won’t be able to use Google’s Android and services on its new devices. Huawei has also said they are working hard to quickly release their new Android alternative OS, which would most likely be called Ark OS.

    • Bilderberg and the Future of Capitalism

      The 67th Meeting of the fearsome Bilderberg group was held from 30 May to 2 June 2019, with some 130 guests from all over the world. 23 countries that stayed in one of the most sumptuous places in Switzerland, the Montreux Palace Hotel.

      The Bilderberg meetings began at the start of the Cold War as a discussion club of American and European leaders against communism or, more specifically, against the Soviet Union. The first event took place in 1954 at the Bilderberg Hotel (which remained as the name of the group), in the Dutch city of Oosterbeek. Since then its meetings have been in various places in the western world, most of them in North America.

      Switzerland has been one of the Group’s preferred host countries after the United States. Switzerland had hosted it five times before this occasion (1960, 1970, 1981, 1995 and 2011).

      Bilderbergers conferences are secret events, run by those who pull the strings behind world leaders – politicians, CEOs, big financiers and other business executives, artists and personalities from the Western world. They are almost always American and Euro-Western. This time there are a dozen from Turkey, Poland, Bulgaria and Estonia.

      The most they get to the East is Turkey, perhaps in the hope of attracting it back to NATO as an alternative to its inclusion in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). The SCO is not an Eastern version of the Bilderbergers but an open forum for economic development policies and defense strategies, without Western-style secrets or manipulations.

    • Making Capitalism History

      To perish or to radically transform the way we relate to one another and to nature, that is the question humanity has never had to face until now.

      The evidence backing the above assertion is strong and accumulating. Nevertheless, there remains a stubborn problem of awareness as many who understand the perils facing humanity fail to connect them to its source: the capitalist organization of planetary life. Failure to address this problem will only guarantee that the predictable future characterized by immense suffering associated with a generalized social collapse and ecological ruination on a planetary scale will come to pass.

      In this brief essay, I will tackle this problem of awareness by addressing a series of thematically-related questions that are often raised by those who question whether the source of the problems we currently face can reasonably be said to be the capitalist system.

    • China-Russia Partnership Threatens US Global Hegemony

      The U.S. expected China to integrate into global capitalism as a subordinate power, but recent deals with Russia show China is moving towards equality in economic and military power

    • Diary: Neighbors

      What’s worse is that American favoritism walks hand in hand with the State Department’s love for facilitating, mediating, and participation in financing and sanctioning the global economy, manifested in American control of global finance institutions such as the World Bank.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • If Britain Leaves the EU, It Will Be Vulnerable to Trump’s Whims

      When I was growing up in London in the 1970s and 1980s, it was fashionable among those on the left to talk about how a denuded UK had essentially become the United States’ 51st state. The implication was that a post-imperial, cash-strapped, diplomatically and militarily diminished Britain had essentially ceded its foreign policy and a large part of its sovereignty to the dictates of the U.S. In 1986 the New Model Army band even wrote a song titled “51st State” about Thatcher’s U.S.-controlled Britain, mockingly referencing the “star-spangled Union Jack.”

      At the huge annual Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament rallies that my parents would take my siblings and me to, speakers frequently portrayed Britain as a (very) junior partner in a dishonorable enterprise that spread U.S. military adventurism into the far reaches of the globe. These were, after all, the dark days of the dirty wars in Latin America, the death squads of Suharto’s Indonesia and Ferdinand Marcos’s Philippines, and the violent state repression in Apartheid South Africa, all of which occurred with at least a nod and a wink from D.C.

      Today, however, three years into the Brexit saga, with Britain engulfed in political chaos, Trump and his team are treating the country less as the 51st state and more along the lines of how the Soviet Union used to treat its abused satellites in Eastern Europe: as a peon, a country that exists at the beck and call of the master, a vassal whose leadership is expected to take any and every humiliating gesture thrown its way.

      Trump’s ludicrous state visit to the U.K. this week, in which he essentially forced Theresa May to offer up the royal family as a prop for his self-aggrandizing fantasies, showed exactly how vulnerable Britain now is. Trump flew in and promptly created a protocol-shattering shit-storm.

      Before Air Force One even landed, the president was indulging in a particularly juvenile round of tweets against Sadiq Khan, London’s progressive mayor, who, by virtue of the fact that he is Muslim, has long attracted Trump’s wrath. And in an interview with the Rupert Murdoch-owned Sun newspaper, he endorsed the arch-Brexiteer Boris Johnson to succeed the hapless Theresa May as prime minister while also insulting the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle. Once on U.K. soil, he ostentatiously met with Nigel Farage, the far-right public face of Brexit, whose newly formed political party took nearly one-third of the vote in the U.K. in the recent European Parliament elections; and just as ostentatiously announced that he had refused to meet the Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn.

    • Electoral Politics Versus Democracy

      American Party politics would be a complete farce if the consequences weren’t so grave. Were either of the dominant Parties to achieve 100% consensus on any issue, it would represent the views of about 18%* of eligible voters. And while a diversity of views would represent social vitality in a functioning democracy, in the winner-take-all American system, it represents continued rule by the oligarchs.

      This matters because there is majority support, if not outright consensus, around some of the larger issues confronting the collective ‘us’ of the planet. Something akin to a Green New Deal would in theory— unadulterated and uncorrupted by those who make it necessary, 1) address climate change + mass extinction, 2) employ a lot of people in jobs that pay a living wage and 3) demonstrate that government has a role in useful social endeavors.

      However, collective self-interest must first wind its way through an architecture of aggravated taking, the circumstance where some— those with the power to do so, have organized society for their own benefit. As both Marx and Gramsci put it, the existing distribution of buildings, bank accounts and baubles is the starting point for social explanations of their possession. The explanatory process is to start with who ‘owns’ what, and then work backwards.

    • Donald Trump in the Role of His Life

      Donald Trump achieved the dream of his life: He became a President’s impersonator. Several excellent comedians have proven to be excellent impersonators of celebrities, among them Tina Fey, Rich Little, Jim Carrey, and Robin Williams. Not one to be topped, Donald Trump decided to impersonate a President.

      Impersonating another person is a relatively common phenomenon. In New York City, it is estimated that the police arrests about 100 suspects annually for impersonating a police officer.

      By becoming an impersonator, and not believing himself to be the real thing, President Trump can say that he is not responsible for the multitude of inane tweets his impersonator has been writing since he became President, which now seem to be coming out of him at an even faster pace. The latest tweets reveal a feud between actress Bette Midler and him.

      The origin of the feud is a quote that she attributed to him and that she shared with her 1.53 million Twitter followers that said, “If I were to run, I’d run as a Republican. They’re the dumbest group of voters in the country. They believe anything on Fox News. I could lie and they’d still eat it up. I bet my numbers would be terrific.”

    • Joe Biden Reverses Position on Federal Dollars for Abortion

      After two days of intense criticism, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden reversed course Thursday and declared that he no longer supports a long-standing congressional ban on using federal health care money to pay for abortions.

      “If I believe health care is a right, as I do, I can no longer support an amendment” that makes it more difficult for some women to access care, Biden said at a Democratic Party fundraiser in Atlanta.

      The former vice president’s reversal on the Hyde Amendment came after rivals and women’s rights groups blasted him for affirming through campaign aides that he still supported the decades-old budget provision. The dynamics had been certain to flare up again at Democrats’ first primary debate in three weeks.

    • ‘A Quarter-Measure at Best’: Despite New Stance on Hyde, Say Critics, Biden No Progressive on Reproductive Rights

      When it comes to supporting abortion rights, Joe Biden is no progressive.

      That’s the message from women’s healthcare advocates after the Democratic presidential candidate announced Thursday that he no longer supports the Hyde Amendment while stressing that he makes “no apologies” for his previous backing of the measure that particularly impacts low-income women and women of color.

      Hyde, passed in 1976, bars federal funds from being used for abortion care except in the cases of rape or incest, or if the woman’s life is in danger.

      Speaking at a Democratic fundraiser in Atlanta Thursday evening, Biden said, “If I believe healthcare is a right, as I do, I can no longer support an amendment that makes that right dependent on someone’s ZIP code.”

      “I’ve been struggling with the problems that Hyde now presents,” he said, adding that “circumstances have changed” recently. Biden pointed to the wave of “extreme laws in clear violation of constitutional rights” enacted recently by Republican lawmakers.

      “I want to be clear,” said Biden. “I make no apologies for my last position.”

      The former vice president’s reversal of position—which came the same week as he drew outrage by affirming his support for the anti-choice amendment—drew praise from Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), who called it “Proof that the power of women can change things.”

    • ‘Bravo… Now Do the Iraq War’: After Hyde Reversal, 2020 Candidate Seth Moulton Reminds Biden of Other Position He May Want to Retract

      After 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden bowed to pressure and announced he no longer supports the anti-choice Hyde Amendment, Rep. Seth Moulton on Friday applauded Biden for reversing his position and said he should do the same for the Iraq invasion he voted for as a senator in 2002.

      “Bravo to Joe Biden for doing the right thing and reversing his longstanding support for the Hyde Amendment,” tweeted Moulton, who is also a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate. “It takes courage to admit when you’re wrong, especially when those decisions affect millions of people.”

    • Democrats Get Ready

      The 2020 election, now a “mere” seventeen months away, has been sucking up political oxygen for months. Remember that the next time anyone questions “American exceptionalism”!

      That our electoral seasons grind on for so long is only one of many reasons why our political culture, like our gun culture, is off the charts exceptional – and absurd.

      The ways we deal with real and imaginary “existential threats” are nothing if not absurd. The human race could well go under before long – if not from global warming, then from nuclear war. These threats surely are “existential,” according to the literal meaning of the word. But they are not the existential threats we hear about. They are not even so-called “elephants in the room,” unmentioned but on everybody’s mind.

      I believe that it was the Israelis who introduced “existential threats” into our political discourse. Israel needs existential threats to thrive and perhaps even just to get by. They help keep the country together; and, for keeping “benjamins” flowing in from abroad, they work like a charm. Israelis therefore cobble them together as best they can.

      In recent years, with Palestinian resistance on the skids militarily and diplomatically, Iran has become Israel’s most serviceable existential threat, notwithstanding the sheer implausibility of the idea.

    • Joe Biden, Opportunist, Insincere Catholic

      What does it mean, that Joe Biden has suddenly reversed himself on the Hyde Amendment? For MSNBC’s Donny Deutsch, a branding and marketing professional, former chairman of an advertising firm, host of MSNBC’s “Saturday Night Politics” talk show, and outspoken opponent of Bernie Sanders (and any hint of any “socialism” in U.S. politics, as “toxic” and “Kryptonite” given the masses’ supposed inherent American animus towards socialism), it’s a great thing. It gets rid of one obstacle to Biden getting the nomination he deserves, as the representative of the establishment Deutsch wants to preserve. It’s that cut-and-dry.

      Not to me. I don’t believe life begins at conception, or that there’s a creator-god who mandates that once a human egg is fertilized, the host body must bring the pregnancy to term. I don’t believe abortion is murder. I believe it should be available to women on demand, safe and legal and without apology.

      But I was once a Christian. I know what it is to accept the idea that there is a divinely-dictated moral law governing such matters. I do not fault the sincere believer who believes it is wrong to abort a fetus. I will argue my own position, but respect the other’s and its dubious otherworldly premises.

      I more respect the believer who opposes abortion consistently, with conviction, than the wavering opportunist who will adjust conviction to enhance political prospects. This is what Biden has done.

    • Mom and Pop(ulation)

      As wealth consolidates and faith in all things fades, the religious right only grows more fantastical, punitive and apocalyptic. Indeed, their new mascot is not the poor and persecuted Palestinian Jesus Christ but a billionaire celebrity from New York who would only believe in God if he saw him in the mirror. For many people in the United States “pro-life” is not only their most important, but their only political belief. There is hardly a more convicted subgroup and as a result, Republicans can do basically anything they want to the working class as long as they harp on the right’s “populist” priorities of abortion, guns and immigration.

      The Democrats, always caring more about Republicans of all stripes than the left, or even their own party, have since abandoned abortion has a politically toxic issue. It was a Democratic Governor in Louisiana who just banned abortion entirely (the six weeks date being a near impossibility to detect). The name of the Governor is John Bel Edwards, who just sounds like an alt-right version of the Presidential candidate John Edwards, who was much maligned for his own child out of wedlock. Of course, abortion clinics have been closing at such rapid rates under neoliberalism, it can be austerity, not criminal justice, that brings women to heel.

    • EU Elections are Proof of Europe’s Decay

      Europe, an “old” colonialist continent, is decaying, and in some places even collapsing. It senses how bad things are going. But it never thinks that it is its own fault.

      North America is decaying as well, but there, people are not even used to comparing. They only “feel that things are not going well”. If everything else fails, they simply try to get some second or third job, and just survive, somehow.

      On both sides of the Atlantic, the establishment is in panic. Their world is in crises, and the ‘crises’ arrived mainly because several great countries, including China, Russia, Iran, but also South Africa, Turkey, Venezuela, DPRK and the Philippines, are openly refusing to play in accordance with the script drawn in Washington, London and Paris.

      In these nations, there is suddenly no appetite for sacrificing their own people on the altar of well-being of Western citizens. Several countries, including Venezuela and Syria, are even willing to fight for their independence.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • The Impossibility Of Content Moderation Plays Out, Once Again, On YouTube

      I was traveling a bit this week so didn’t watch the slow motion train wreck that was happening on YouTube in real time. The latest situation began when Vox video producer Carlos Maza posted publicly on Twitter about Steven Crowder — one of those ranty angry “comedians” — kept posting “repeated, overt attacks on my sexual orientation and ethnicity.” He noted that Crowder’s fans had taken to harassing and doxxing him and generally being assholes. He “reported” the content to YouTube, saying that he felt the content violated its policies on bullying and harassment. After a few days, YouTube posted via Twitter (oddly) a kinda weird explanation, saying that after reviewing the videos, they didn’t actually violate YouTube’s harassment policies.

      Lots of people got angry about that decision, and then YouTube changed its mind (partly), choosing to (maybe temporarily) demonetize Crowder’s channel until he agreed to “address all of the issues with his channel”, specifically “continued egregious actions that have harmed the broader community” whatever that means.

      As Robby Soave at Reason notes, this is a solution that pissed off absolutely everyone and satisfied absolutely no one. Though, there is one thing that pretty much everyone agrees: boy YouTube sure pointed a pretty large cannon at its own foot in dealing with this one (seriously, don’t they employ people who have some sort of clue about these kinds of communication issues?).

      As Soave points out, there’s really no good results here. He’s correct that Crowder does seem to be an asshole and there’s no reason to express any sympathy for Crowder being a jerk and attacking someone for their sexual orientation or ethnicity. Crowder deserves to be called out and mocked for such things. At the same time, it is quite reasonable to sympathize with Maza, as being on the end of such targeted harassment by assholes is horrific. Part of the problem, here, is the disconnect between what Crowder himself did (just be a general asshole) and what Crowder’s followers and fans did (taking Crowder’s assholish comments and escalating them into harassment). That puts a platform like YouTube (once again) into a really impossible position. Should it be holding Crowder responsible for the actions of his crazy deranged followers (which it can easily be argued he winkingly/noddingly encouraged) even if Crowder didn’t do the harassment directly, and was just generally an asshole? It’s a tough call. It may seem like an easy call, but try to apply that standard to other situations and it gets complicated fast.

    • The Impossibility Of Content Moderation: YouTube’s New Ban On Nazis Hits Reporter Who Documents Extremism, Professor Teaching About Hitler

      And this gets, once again, to the very problem of expecting platforms to police this kind of speech. The exact same content can mean very different things in different contexts. In some cases, it may be used to promote odious ideology. In other cases, it’s used to document and expose that ideology and the ignorance and problems associated with it.

      But how do you craft a policy that can determine one from the other? As YouTube is discovering (truth is, they probably already knew this), the answer is that you don’t. Any policy ends up creating some sort of collateral damage, and the demands from well meaning people mean that the direction this tends to go in leads to greater and greater takedowns. But, if in the process of doing this we end up sweeping the documentation under the rug, that’s a problem as well.

      Here’s another example: right after YouTube’s new policy was put in place, a history teacher found that his own YouTube channel was banned.

    • Colorado’s Governor Jared Polis Signs Strong Anti-SLAPP Law And Blocks Damaging Licensing Restrictions

      When Jared Polis was in Congress, he was one of the (tragically few) reliably good, principled voices on topics that were important to us here at Techdirt: copyright, patents, encryption and more. Now that he’s governor in Colorado, it appears he continues to do good things. First up, he’s signed an excellent new anti-SLAPP law modeled on California’s gold standard anti-SLAPP law. As we’ve discussed at length over the years, anti-SLAPP laws are a key tool in protecting free speech. They do this in two key ways: by ending bogus lawsuits designed to silence critics by enabling a court to toss them out very quickly (before they get too involved) and (importantly) making it much easier to make the plaintiffs in such cases pay the legal expenses of the defendants they sued. These laws have been in place in about half of the states so far, and they’ve been incredibly useful in deterring lawsuits that have no merit, but are filed entirely to burden the defendants with costs and general chilling effects of being dragged to court.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Florida Plan for a Huge Database to Stop School Shootings Hits Delays, Legal Questions

      It was supposed to be operational six months ago, part of Florida’s wide-ranging effort to prevent the next school shooting: a sprawling new database that would merge people’s social media posts with millions of records on individuals who have been bullied, placed in foster care, committed a crime, or even been mentioned in unverified tips made to law enforcement.
      The plan, however, has sputtered, an Education Week investigation found.
      The two biggest reasons: bureaucratic delays, plus concerns over exactly how much sensitive information can legally be shared in the way lawmakers envisioned.

      Documents obtained by Education Week via open-records requests show that over the past year, state agencies have discussed the possibility of sharing a breathtaking amount of data. That included more than 2.5 million records related to Floridians who received involuntary psychiatric examinations, records for over 9 million people placed in foster care, diagnosis and treatment records for substance abusers, unverified criminal reports of suspicious activity, reports on students who were bullied and harassed because of their race or sexual orientation, and more.

    • The Future Of School Safety Includes Round-The-Clock Surveillance Of Students

      To go to school is to be surveilled, on campus and off. The average school hosts a number of cameras, and the average school administration is always looking for more ways to keep tabs on students, even after they’ve gone home.

      The move towards pervasive surveillance of off-campus activities is generally justified with the meaningless assertion that if it stops one person from shooting up a school (or just shooting themselves), it’s all worth it. Two articles based on public records requests — both written by Benjamin Herold of Education Week — show there’s a surveillance state being built one school district at a time.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • “They Are Not the Central Park 5”: Ava DuVernay’s Series Restores Humanity of Wrongly Convicted Boys

      We spend the hour with Ava DuVernay, whose damning new four-part television series “When They See Us” tells the story of five teenagers of color from Harlem—four African-American and one Latino—who were wrongfully accused and convicted of raping and nearly killing a white woman out for a jog in New York City’s Central Park. The night that would come to define the boys’ lives was April 19, 1989, more than 30 years ago. In the sensational trial that followed, they became known as the “Central Park Five.” Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam and Raymond Santana served between six and seven years, and Korey Wise, the only teenager tried as an adult, served more than 13 years. In agonizing detail, “When They See Us” exposes the inner workings of a criminal justice system designed to fail people of color, laying bare the decades of trauma triggered by the boys’ wrongful convictions. It also looks unsparingly at those responsible for the miscarriage of justice, including Linda Fairstein, the head of the Sex Crimes Unit at the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, who spearheaded the case, played by Felicity Huffman. Since the series premiered, Fairstein has been forced to resign from several boards, including Safe Horizon, the Joyful Heart Foundation and her alma mater, Vassar College. Glamour magazine, which named Fairstein Woman of the Year in 1993, issued a statement saying, “Unequivocally, Glamour would not bestow this honor on her today.” Ava DuVernay says that her series reveals that “the system’s not broken; the system was built this way.”

    • Virginia Prosecutor ‘Reform’ Efforts Include Nailing Sexting Teens With Child Porn Charges And Screwing Defense Lawyers

      Virginia has a mixed history when it comes to handling teens and sexting. For the most part, these cases have been handled with maximum vindictiveness, resulting in teens being charged with child porn production and possession. In rare cases, prosecutors have exercised more discretion, allowing these experiences to be educational rather than punitive. But default mode is still to use the law like a weapon, rather than a tool, as if justice were somehow achieved by ruining teens’ lives forever for some stupid indiscretions.
      A parent’s firsthand experience with this has resulted in him calling out Theo Stamos, Arlington County Commonwealth’s Attorney, for her attempt to portray herself as a reformer in her run for reelection. Jeff Edmeades’ son was railroaded by Stamos for possessing intimate photos of a teen sent to him by fellow students. Exercising her vaunted discretion, Stamos decided to force his son into a plea bargain by hitting him with the harshest charges she could.

    • Facebook AI study: Major object recognition systems favor people with more money

      Computer vision for recognizing household objects works better for people in high-income households, according to analysis of 6 major object detection systems shared today by Facebook AI researchers. The study examined object classification systems made by Facebook, Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure, AWS, IBM Watson, and Clarifai.

      Results show the 6 systems work between 10-20% better for the wealthiest households than they do for the poorest households.

      A company spokesperson declined to share specific figures on the performance of other individual companies, but Facebook’s system had an accuracy gap as high as 20% between a home making $3,500 a month or more in the United States and a household with an income of $50 a month or less in countries like Somalia and Burkina Faso.

    • AI Techs Of Facebook, Microsoft, And Google Prefer “Rich People”: Research

      Object recognition is a computer vision (CV) technique using which computers can recognize objects, such as items in our common households. Now many companies have developed their own systems which are becoming better over time.

      The closest object recognition tech you can find is right on your phone, Google Lens. Facebook uses the technique to automatically add ‘Alt text’ in images to help visually impaired users.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Microsoft Again Slams America’s Shaky Broadband Maps

      We’ve long noted how US telecom policy never really accomplishes much because the underlying data we use to make decisions is hot garbage. The FCC doesn’t really spend much time fact checking industry availability and speed claims, resulting in coverage maps that hugely overstate broadband speed, availability, and overall competition. When efforts to improve US broadband mapping pop up, the telecom sector routinely lobbies to kill them, lest somebody actually get a good idea of the broken state of US telecom.

      Outside of consumers and consumer groups, nobody much cares about this perpetual dance of dysfunction. One lone exception has been Microsoft, which has been increasingly highlighting the shaky quality of US broadband mapping data. Microsoft has been a major backer of White Space broadband, which utilizes the spectrum freed by the migration to digital television as a new emerging broadband option.

      In a recent blog post the company argued that the FCC is potentially overstating US broadband (defined by the FCC as 25 Mbps downstream) availability on a fairly epic scale. In part because the agency isn’t verifying ISP claims, but also because when an ISP serves just one home in a census block, the FCC takes that to mean the entire census block is connected to broadband. Microsoft’s data shows that 162 million Americans don’t technically use “broadband” (25 Mbps), often because they can’t get it or it’s not affordable.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Trademarks

      • Kawhi Leonard Accuses Nike Of Trying To Steal His Logo Via Trademark

        As we’ve stated in previous posts, Nike has a reputation for jealously protecting its intellectual property, while also on occasion acting as though those same rules don’t apply to its actions. This isn’t terribly uncommon among those that treat IP concerns more severely: IP for me, but not for thee. Still, Nike does have some past examples of its own hypocrisy that are fairly glaring.

        But nothing compares to the accusations against the company made by Toronto Raptors star Kawhi Leonard, who claims that Nike basically tried to trademark his logo design out from under him.

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