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07.03.19

Links 3/7/2019: Debian Installer Buster RC 3 (Buster’s Final Release Imminent), Linux Mint’s New Mintbox PC

Posted in News Roundup at 11:04 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • Slimbook is offering a new laptop called Slimbook PRO X

      Slimbook launched the PRO X, which is the best Linux notebook in its pro category.

      Slimbook is a Spanish company which sells laptop computers with a variety of supported operating systems, including several Linux distributions.

      Slimbook PRO X is the best Labtop for Linux users in terms of price, quality, benefits and features compared with other high-end equipment, manufacturers such as DELL or ASUS.

      The Laptop body is made of metal alloy based on aluminum and magnesium. It comes with 1.1 kilogram of weight with battery included.

    • Linux apps can now access Android devices over USB with Chrome OS 75

      Chrome OS 75 is now available for supported Chromebooks and comes with several new features and security improvements.

      Last week, the Chrome OS fans were blessed with an update in Chrome v75.0.3770.102 (Platform version: 12105.75.0). It is worth mentioning that the developers are actively working on improving the support for Linux applications with each update. Considering this, the main highlight of this version is that it enables Linux apps to access Android devices via USB. There are some other new features as well, but first, let’s talk a bit about the operating system itself.

      Google is the mastermind behind the Chrome operating system, which is based on the Linux kernel. This OS originates from the free Chromium OS, and its user interface is just like that of a Google Chrome browser. Accordingly, the software aims for web applications.

  • Server

    • Microsoft Says Linux Surpassed Windows on Azure [Ed: Microsoft boosters such as Bogdan Popa keep pushing that "Microsoft loves Linux" lie because they know that this lie is actually useful to Microsoft and contributes to brand dilution]

      “Microsoft loves Linux” is something that we hear every once in a while, especially from Microsofties who try to get the software giant more involved into this world that they once hated.

    • Linux is now beating Windows on Microsoft’s own turf, and Azure is better for it

      A Linux kernel developer working with Microsoft has let slip that Linux-based operating systems have a larger presence on Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform than Windows-based ones. The revelation appeared on an Openwall open-source security list in an application for Microsoft developers to join the list, and was apparently part of an evidently credible argument that Microsoft plays an active-enough role in Linux development to merit including the company in security groups.

    • How Volkswagen Tests Autonomous Cars with GPUs and OpenShift

      When Volkswagen AG arrived at the Red Hat Open Innovation Lab two years ago, the company was looking for a solution to help them build self-driving autonomous cars. The venerable German automaker had all the internal pieces required to build those cars and write that software, but sometimes the trouble with self-driving cars is that last step through which all software must pass: testing.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

  • Kernel Space

    • Announcing the LPC 2019 registration waiting list

      As registration spots open up, the Plumbers organizing committee will allocate them to those on the waiting list with priority given to those who will be participating in microconferences and BoFs.

    • Preliminary schedule for LPC 2019 has been published

      The LPC committee is pleased to announce the preliminary schedule for the 2019 Linux Plumbers Conference.

      The vast majority of the LPC refereed track talks have been accepted and are listed there. The same is true for microconferences. While there are a few talks and microconferences to be announced, you will find the current overview LPC schedule here. The LPC refereed track talks can be seen here.

    • Graphics Stack

      • NVIDIA Open-Sources TensorRT Library Components

        NVIDIA announced via their newsletter today that they’ve open-sourced their TensorRT library and associated plug-ins.

        TensorRT is NVIDIA’s flagship platform for deep learning inference and focused for doing so on NVIDIA GPU hardware. TensorRT is built atop CUDA and provides a wealth of optimizations and other features.

      • AMD Posts Open-Source Linux Driver Support For “NAVI 14″ GPU

        While the Radeon RX 5700 “Navi 10″ series is launching on 7 July and there was the recently presented open-source Linux patches (so far for the AMDGPU kernel driver and RadeonSI OpenGL; Vulkan support still pending), today was the surprise move of posting the kernel patches for an unannounced “Navi 14″ graphics processor.

        We’ve seen “Navi 14″ mentions before in Linux driver patches but this is the first time we’re seeing the support actually enabled for this unannounced Navi graphics processor. On top of the new Navi 10 patches, the Navi 14 enablement comes down to just under 1,400 lines of new kernel code. As of writing, only the AMDGPU kernel bits have been posted while the Mesa patches are still pending.

      • AMDVLK 2019.Q3.1 Adds HDR10 Support For Direct Display Mode, Fixes Issues

        AMDVLK 2019.Q3.1 is out as the latest update to AMD’s official open-source Vulkan Linux driver.

        Unfortunately this update doesn’t yet introduce the open-source Navi (Radeon RX 5700 series) support, but hopefully they’ll do a timely drop of that next week to complement their open-source AMDGPU and RadeonSI bits already available.

      • NVIDIA have announced their new “GeForce RTX SUPER Series” lineup

        NVIDIA today revealed their new lineup of graphics cards, a refresh of the current series called the “GeForce RTX SUPER Series” which includes the GeForce RTX 2060 SUPER, GeForce RTX 2070 SUPER and GeForce RTX 2080 SUPER.

      • Will AMD’s New Radeon RX 5700 Series Graphics Cards Support Linux At Launch?

        I have both cards in hand but am currently testing on Windows 10. Linux kernel 5.3 is on the horizon and it should deliver baked-in Navi 10 support, but in the meantime less technical users are hoping for an official binary. The option is there to build the code into your kernel, but that’s asking a lot of the average gaming enthusiast.

        So I reached out to AMD directly to ask when we can expect that, and what the company’s launch plans look like for Linux users. “We are targeting a launch day driver [for Linux] but Windows obviously takes priority,” says AMD PR Manager Derek Forrest via email. Forrest emphasized that no hard target is set, but “it won’t be long.” While it’s not a concrete answer, I’d rather AMD be realistic rather than over-promise and under-deliver.

        That leads to another question I’ve been pondering lately. With AMD being such a prolific contributor to the open source community, why does Linux launch support seem to be erratic or unpredictable for these big GPU launches? Why can’t the big distros have the drivers ready for an ideal out-of-box experience?

      • AMD’s unannounced Navi 14 GPUs enabled in new Linux kernel patches

        We’re just a few days away from the launch of the new AMD RX 5700 XT and Radeon RX 5700 graphics cards on Sunday, and we can’t wait to talk about how the new Navi RDNA GPUs perform. But we’re not allowed yet. What we can say, however, is that the Navi 10 silicon inside them is being joined by upcoming Navi 14 chips. Well, according to AMD’s own Linux submissions anyways.

        Yesterday kernel patches for the as-yet unannounced Navi 14 GPU were posted, presumably in order to get into the new Linux 5.3 kernel update cycle instead of having to wait for the 5.4 version. AMD has already provided Navi 10 support for the Linux 5.3 kernel that’s getting merged in Autumn of this year, enabling the RX 5700-series cards, but you will still be able to use the new Navi-powered Radeon GPUs on Linux distributions that are compatible with the Radeon Software for Linux software.

      • Intel SVT-AV1 0.6 Released With AV1 Decoding, SIMD Optimizations

        Intel’s open-source developers working on their Scalable Video Technology video encoders (and decoders) on Tuesday released SVT-AV1 0.6 as their latest work on high-performance AV1 support using CPU-based encoding/decoding.

        SVT-AV1 has been seeing remarkable progress on bettering its performance since Intel open-sourced the effort a few months back along with SVT-VP9 and SVT-HEVC. It was just in April that Intel then formally announced these encoders and acknowledged Netflix is among the customers planning to use them.

      • Libdrm 2.4.99 Released With Navi Support, AMDGPU Changes

        AMD’s Marek Olšák released a new version of the Mesa DRM library (libdrm) on Tuesday.

        This libdrm update is notable as it contains the basic bits needed for Navi support. Having those bits in a released version of Libdrm is a prerequisite for landing the RadeonSI Navi 10 support. Now that the libdrm release is out there, hopefully this RadeonSI merging into Mesa 19.2 is imminent.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • [bobulate] lives!

        Well, it’s been a long six-to-eight months. But [bobulate] is back, and some of the pent-up blogging needs are ready to be unleashed on Planet KDE and wherever else.

        Late last year there were some hiccups with my hosting provider, which led to SSL issues. Those were solved, and I carried on with the existing hosting. Then in february or so the MySQL server at the hosting provider went down, and I filed some tickets, grumbled a bit, and figured it would resolve itself. After all, this blog isn’t a staggeringly important piece of internet infrastructure, and I could let off notifications through the Calamares announcements for my major work, and through Twitter for KDE packaging on FreeBSD.

        And february dragged on into april, may, with no resolution of the issues in sight, and then a letter arrived from the Dutch internet authority saying that my hoster was no longer an official registry and that my domains were now floating around.

        That’s when some form of panic struck – although in the end I only lost one of them to a domain-hijacker in Hong Kong. I’ve switched hosting to another Free-Software-friendly place, switched out WordPress for the much easier-to-manage Jekyll, and will be re-building the archives as I go along.

      • Topsy-turvy 5th Week

        Finally, I can write myself off as a professional developer, cause for the first time I got paid, that also by cash, for writing code. So after the boost battle of last month, it was time to test the algorithm out in the wild and not limit it to the confined boundary of the tests.

        Didn’t play much with the code, this week, took a break and just relaxed. To point out a couple of things, I did get hold of the mouse events, how they are passed and evaluated by the tool subsystem of Krita. A couple of discussions around how it would be implemented. And a little bit of optimizing the algorithm. And for all, I got a small gif of the tool in action which I requested 4 years back, though it still needs a lot of work. Not that accurate to be honest and at the same time there are places where it can be optimized

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Pitivi – Making a Nest

        Pitivi is an open source video editing software for Linux. It provides creatives with a simple and elegant interface to edit and bring their videos to realisation. As with every other great software, Pitivi’s development community is always striving to add newer and better features. This year I participated in the Google Summer of Code to add the ‘Nesting’ Feature to the platform. I am currently working on this with my mentor Thiblahute Saunier. In this blog I chart out our current progress and the future tasks at hand.

        [...]

        In the past few weeks I’ve learnt and improved a lot. In the beginning I was a bit reserved and shy to tell my problems but after talking and getting to know my mentor, I think I’ve overcome that fear. The guidance of my mentor has been crucial in this journey. Until now he has done all of the heavy-lifting for the back-end all the while helping me to get up to speed. Hopefully now I will be able to take the reins and at the same time be able to learn more from him. I look forward to an amazing summer and the work we have in front of us.

      • Removing rsvg-view

        I am preparing the 2.46.0 librsvg release. This will no longer have the rsvg-view-3 program.

        [....]

        Rsvg-view requires GTK. But GTK requires librsvg, indirectly, through gdk-pixbuf! There is not a hard circular dependency because GTK goes, “gdk-pixbuf, load me this SVG file” without knowing how it will be loaded. In turn, gdk-pixbuf initializes the SVG loader provided by librsvg, and that loader reads/renders the SVG file.

        Ideally librsvg would only depend on gdk-pixbuf, so it would be able to provide the SVG loader.

        The rsvg-view source code still has a few calls to GTK functions which are now deprecated. The program emits GTK warnings during normal use.

      • GNOME Shell Might Soon Respect Your Font Settings

        Have you ever wanted to change the GNOME Shell font only to learn you can’t, not without editing a hidden .css file?

        If so, GNOME developers have heard you and are finally working on a fix for this overlooked and long-standing issue.

        Florian Müllner has contributed the code necessary to make GNOME Shell respect your font settings (which can be configured using the GNOME Tweaks tool).

  • Distributions

    • Endeavour OS – Ready To Be Released

      XFCE is a great environment to explore Linux so they are shipping distro with the offline installer that installs XFCE environment. In case, you are already familiar with a different desktop environment, they are also planning an online installer that will provide 10 desktop environments — Base, i3-wm, Openbox, Mate, Xfce, KDE, Cinnamon, Gnome, Deepin, and Budgie.

      The team will release the online installer after 15th July. No date for online installer has been given. For the community forum, the team is planning to use Discourse. The forum will also be made public on 15th July.

      So far this is everything we know about this distribution. Their website does not mention much about its future and specific things they will be focusing on.

      I installed the beta version in Virtualbox. You can check the screenshots above. The distro is very fast as it uses XFCE and it ships with a great set of applications for daily use including Firefox web browser, Pidgin internet messenger, Parole media player, Qt Designer, and many other daily use system utilities.

    • Screenshots/Screencasts

      • Xubuntu 19.10 Daily Builds with XFCE 4.14 Pre Release Run Through
      • Xubuntu 19.10 Daily Builds with XFCE 4.14 Pre Release

        Today we are looking at the long-awaited XFCE 4.14, which is still in development but it should be released in August, so we will get the Stable release of XFCE 4.14 in Xubuntu 19.10 which is really exciting, but we can already enjoy it in Xubuntu 19.10 we can already enjoy XFCE 4.14. So it is a great way to look at it and enjoy it!

      • SwagArch 19.07 Run Through
      • SwagArch 19.07

        Today we are looking at SwagArch 19.07. It is based on Arch and is a rolling difference. The main change in the release is that it is no longer uses a highly modified version of XFCE but a more vanilla version of the Budgie Desktop and it really looks good for me! It uses about 1GB of ram when idling and uses Linux Kernel 5.1. Enjoy!

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandriva Family

    • Fedora

      • SMC Malayalam fonts updated in Fedora 30

        The Fedora package smc-fonts has a set of Malayalam fonts (AnjaliOldLipi, Kalyani, Meera, Rachana, RaghuMalayalamSans and Suruma) maintained by SMC. We used to package all these fonts as a single zip file hosted at https://savannah.nongnu.org/projects/smc. These fonts were last updated in 2014 for Fedora, leaving them at version 6.1.

        Since then, a lot of improvements were made to these fonts — glyph additions/corrections, opentype layout changes, fontTools based build system and separate source repository for each font etc.. There were lengthy discussions on the release management of the fonts, and it was partially the reason fonts were not updated in Fedora. Once it was agreed to follow different version number for each font, and a continuous build+release system was put in place at Gitlab, we could ensure that fonts downloaded from SMC website were always the latest version.

    • Debian Family

      • Debian Installer Buster RC 3 release
        The Debian Installer team[1] is pleased to announce the third release
        candidate of the installer for Debian 10 "Buster".
        
        
        Foreword
        ========
        
        This release candidate of the installer is meant to validate some very
        last changes, making sure Recommends of the Linux kernel packages are
        properly installed. That's also a way to double check the setup for
        generating installation images is ready to prepare official Buster
        images in a few days.
        
        Installation reports for this specific D-I Buster RC 3 release are
        welcome as always, but users may want to join the fun of testing the
        official installation images on Saturday!
        
        https://lists.debian.org/debian-cd/2019/06/msg00024.html
        
        Improvements in this release
        ============================
        
         * base-installer:
            - Enable installation of Recommends while installing the kernel
              (#929667).
         * debian-installer-utils:
            - Always set APT option if --{with,no}-recommends options are used
              (#931287).
         * debian-cd:
            - Include Buster release notes on DVD, 16G USB and BD images.
         * grub2:
            - Add shim-signed to Recommends for grub-efi-{arm64,i386}-signed
              packages (#931038).
        
        
        Localization status
        ===================
        
         * 76 languages are supported in this release.
         * Full translation for 39 of them.
        
        
        Known bugs in this release
        ==========================
        
         * There seems to be no known major bug as of yet.
        
        See the errata[2] for details and a full list of known issues.
        
        
        Feedback for this release
        =========================
        
        We need your help to find bugs and further improve the installer,
        so please try it. Installer CDs, other media and everything else you
        will need are available at our web site[3].
        
        
        Thanks
        ======
        
        The Debian Installer team thanks everybody who has contributed to this
        release.
        
        
         1. https://wiki.debian.org/DebianInstaller/Team
         2. https://www.debian.org/devel/debian-installer/errata
         3. https://www.debian.org/devel/debian-installer
        
        
        Cheers,
        
      • Debian Installer Buster RC3 Brings Last Minute Improvements

        While Debian 10.0 “Buster” is due to be released this weekend, a seemingly last release candidate of the Debian Installer is now available.

        Debian Installer Buster RC3 was issued this morning with just a couple of changes. With this update, the Debian Installer ensures that the package “Recommends” of Linux kernel Debian packages are properly installed, the Buster release notes have been added to the larger images, and the SecureBoot shim-signed is now added to the grub-efi-signed packages.

      • Enrico Zini: live-wrapper fork

        I sometimes need to build Debian live iso images for work, and some time ago got into an inconvenient situation in which live-wrapper required software not available in Debian anymore, and there was no obvious replacement for it, so I forked it and tried to forward-port things and fill the gaps.

      • Debian 10 Buster expected this week, but not for Linux on Chromebooks (unless you manually upgrade)

        It’s a big week in the Linux world as Debian 10 Buster is expected to arrive on July 6. What does that have to do with Chromebooks? Thanks to Project Crostini, Chrome OS devices can run Linux, using the current default version of Debian 9 Stretch.

      • DebConf19 Cheese and Wine Party

        This C&W is the 15th official DebConf Cheese and Wine party. The first C&W was improvised in Helsinki during DebConf 5, in the so-called “French” room. Cheese and Wine parties are now a tradition for DebConf.

        The event is very simple: bring good edible stuff from your country. We like cheese and wine, but we love the surprising stuff that people bring from all around the world or regions of Brazil. So, you can bring non-alcoholic drinks or a typical food that you would like to share as well. Even if you don’t bring anything, feel free to participate: our priorities are our attendants and free cheese.

        We have to organize for a great party. An important part is planning – We want to know what you are bringing, in order to prepare the labels and organizing other things.

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu 19.10 (Eoan Ermine) Wallpaper Competition Is Now Open for Submissions

            Canonical announced today that the wallpaper competition for the upcoming Ubuntu 19.10 (Eoan Ermine) operating system is now open for submissions.
            With every new Ubuntu release, Canonical puts together a wallpaper contest where artists and designers from all over the world are invited to submit their artwork with the ultimate prize of it being shipped with the next major release of the Ubuntu operating system.

            This year’s wallpaper contest is for Ubuntu 19.10, dubbed Eoan Ermine, a release that will see the light of day this fall on October 17th. The contest is open to anyone and stars today, July 2nd, until the beginning of September, a few weeks before the launch of the beta release on September 26th.

          • Canonical’s Desktop Team is hiring

            You do not need to already be a GNOME or a Ubuntu/Debian expert to apply for this position – you’ll be given a mentor and plenty of time and support to learn the ropes.

          • Ubuntu 19.10 Indeed Working On “Experimental ZFS Option” In Ubiquity Installer

            It looks like in July we could finally see an “experimental ZFS” option within Ubuntu 19.10 and its daily images for those wanting an easy-to-use ZFS On Linux based installation of Ubuntu.

            We’ve been anticipating Canonical to add this easy-to-use option for setting up a ZoL (ZFS on Linux) root file-system configuration when installing Ubuntu. We figured it would be rolled out to coincide with their long talked about revamped desktop installer, but it looks like such an experimental option will go straight into the existing Ubiquity installer.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Ubuntu MATE for Raspberry Pi 4

              The lead developer of Ubuntu MATE 18.04.2 for the Raspberry Pi 3, Martin Wimpress, has tweeted a photo of a Raspberry Pi 4, saying:”This should keep me occuPIed 4 a while.”

            • Linux Mint 20 and Future Releases Will Drop Support for 32-bit Installations

              As you might know, Canonical announced last month that they plan to drop support for 32-bit systems all together, not only for new installations, but they ended up realizing that some major projects like Wine and Steam still need 32-bit libraries, so starting with Ubuntu 19.10 (Eoan Ermine) they’ll only build select 32-bit packages.

              Many users were asking if Ubuntu-based distributions will be affected by this major change, which shouldn’t be a surprize to anyone in 2019, so it looks like Linux Mint, one of the most popular Ubuntu-based operating systems out there will follow on Ubuntu’s steps to drop support for 32-bit systems in future releases, starting with Linux Mint 20.

            • Linux Mint doing a small-form-factor MintBox 3, they don’t sound too happy about Snaps

              The Linux Mint team have another monthly update blog post out, to talk about the state of Linux Mint and it sounds like things are going well. They also announced the small-form-factor MintBox 3 and something about Snaps.

            • Linux Mint’s New Mintbox PC is Powerful (But Also Pretty Pricey)

              As one of the most popular Linux distributions on the planet it’s only natural that Linux Mint has some hardware to call its “own”.

              And Compulab’s competitive range of ‘MintBox’ PCs, consumer-focused versions of its usual industrial wares pre-landed with Linux Mint and contributing a percentage back to the project, does the job admirably.

              Now fans of the small form-factor computers have reason to be excited, because a brand new MintBox is on the way and based on its tentative specs it’s going to be a BEAST!

              The only downside is that if you want one — and on paper, you will — you might need to start saving for one now…

            • MintBox 3 will be a high-power, fanless computer with Linux Mint

              The folks behind the popular Linux Mint operating system have been partnering with fanless PC maker CompuLab to offer a line of co-branded MintBox computers since 2012.

              For the most part these have been small, low-power computers with laptop-class hardware and starting prices around $599 or lower.

              The next model will be something a little different: the upcoming MintBox 3 is still fanless, but it’s a high-performance computer with support for up to an Intel Core i9-9900K processor, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 Ti graphics, 32GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD.

            • MintBox 3 Linux Mint-Powered Mini PC Announced as the Most Powerful MintBox Ever

              Yes, we’re talking about MintBox 3, the third generation of the tiny and powerful MintBox computer powered by the ever popular Linux Mint operating system. MintBox 3 comes in two variants and promises to be the most powerful MintBox computer ever built in collaboration with Compulab.

              “We’re working with Compulab on the most powerful MintBox ever,” said Clement Lefebvre, leader of the Linux Mint project. “MintBox 3 will be based on the Airtop 3. I’ve been using an Airtop 1 as my main computer for a while now and it’s a beautiful machine.”

            • Monthly News – June 2019

              Many thanks for your support and your donations. You make this project thrive and it’s a real pleasure to work on it.

              We’ve had to overcome a few issues and this development cycle hasn’t been the smoothest, but we’re really happy right now. We’re excited to get close to the BETA release and to show everybody what we’ve been working on. We’re proud of our achievements and some of the features and improvements which were implemented. We’re delighted to be together and to have fun within the team, working on all of this.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Web Browsers

    • 6 open source web browser alternatives

      Open source web browsers have come a long way since Microsoft dominated the web browser market with its closed source Internet Explorer (IE). For many years, IE was the standard browser for Microsoft’s Windows operating system, while Safari (also closed source) was the default browser for MacOS. Then Mozilla’s introduction of Firefox, followed by Google’s release of Chrome, sparked a revolution in open source internet browsers. Those two are extremely well known but are not the only open source browsers available.

      This article introduces seven open source browsers, summarizes their features, and shares how you can contribute to them.

    • Mozilla

      • State of Performance Test Engineering (H1/2019)

        Late in 2018 I stepped out of the familiar position of automation engineer, and into the unknown as an engineering manager. A new team was formed for me to manage, focusing on performance test engineering. Now here we are, just over six months in, and I’m excited to share some updates!

      • Socorro Engineering: June 2019 happenings

        Socorro is the crash ingestion pipeline and Crash Stats web service for Mozilla’s products like Firefox.

      • Mozilla joins brief for protection of LGBTQ employees from discrimination

        Last year, we joined the call in support of transgender equality as part of our longstanding commitment to diversity, inclusion and fostering a supportive work environment. Today, we are proud to join over 200 companies, big and small, as friends of the court, in a brief brought to the Supreme Court of the United States.

  • Databases

    • Microsoft wakes up, stretches, remembers: Oh yeah, we do Windows too. And lo, SQL Server 2019 Windows-based container emerges [Ed: Misleading. Like the image Microsoft spreads that says “SQL Server Linux Linux”. MSSQL Server DOES NOT run on GNU/Linux but DrawBridge. It’s a scam. it’s a lie. Microsoft marketing on steroids. A ploy.]

      Windows Server containers turned up in preview form on Microsoft’s Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) in May bringing with it the risk of a lift-and-shift box-ticking exercise.

    • Why time series databases are exploding in popularity

      Over the last two years, time series databases like TimescaleDB and InfluxDB have exploded in popularity, according to DB-Engines data, with AWS also jumping into the market with its Amazon Timestream database in late 2018. In so doing, it’s an open question whether all databases begin to look like time series databases and if, in this way, “niche” becomes mainstream and databases like TimescaleDB, InfluxDB, and Amazon Timestream become the MySQLs and PostgreSQLs of the future.

  • LibreOffice

    • The COSM Project

      In 2017, contributors to the Open Document Format (ODF) specification at OASIS (Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards) noted that while the Technical Committee continues to generate changes, the integration of these changes – a substantial task, which is key for the future of the ODF standard – is only being conducted on a volunteer basis.

      To support current adoptions of the ODF standard format by governments and enterprises and potential adoptions in the future, it would have been important to release the new ODF 1.3 version in a timely manner, to avoid that delays could affect the position of ODF in the marketplace.

      Open Document Format 1.0 was published as an ISO/IEC international standard ISO/IEC 26300 – Open Document Format for Office Applications in 2006. Open Document Format 1.2 was published as ISO/IEC standard in 2015.

      In early 2018, the Board of Directors of The Document Foundation addressed the need of evolving the standard by establishing the independent COSM – Community of ODF Specification Maintainers – project at Public Software CIC (a UK Community Interest Company) to hold funds and to retain editors to work at the Technical Committee.

    • LibreOffice Appliances project (GSoC 2019): Report 5

      I managed to sort out the blog not building. The problem was a case of incorrect syntax in the _config.yml on this site.

      I passed the evaluation and I’ll be here for another two months by the looks of it. We’ve now got a working program which starts and control LibreOffice just like planned, however it is quite rough and the next two months will be spent making it smoother and better-looking mainly, I reckon. Apart from any other work my mentors might throw at me. :)

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • Some thoughts on the future of OpenPGP and GnuPG

      The problem is that a) there’s no revenue model for email security, so the big companies are reluctant to work on it for profit, and b) it’s not sexy, so the talented youngsters aren’t willing to work on it for fun. That will be true of any replacement, which is why despite people suggesting a modern replacement for over a decade, nobody has actually made one. And while starting from scratch may look tempting because it gets rid of all the technical debt, it also gets rid of all the technical assets.

    • 3 easy ways to remove backgrounds from images

      Gnu Image Manipulation Program or GIMP for short, is an open-source image editing program, oh, and it’s free! Given that it costs nothing it’s pretty great. It’s got tonnes of features, and supports every file format I can think of, I’ve certainly never been left wanting more.

      All those complex features come with a learning curve, though. Removing a background with GIMP will yield better results, but requires more skill.

      First off, open your image in GIMP.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • How to support open-source software and stay sane

      Scientists writing open-source software often lack formal training in software engineering, which means that they might never have learnt best practices for code documentation and testing. But poorly maintained software can waste time and effort, and hinder reproducibility. Biologists who use computational tools routinely spend “hours and hours” trying to get other researchers’ code to run, says Adam Siepel, a computational biologist at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York, and a maintainer of PHAST, a tool used for comparative and evolutionary genomics. “They try to find it and there’s no website, or the link is broken, or it no longer compiles, or crashes when they’ve tried to run it on their data.”

      But there are resources that can help, and models to emulate. If your research group is planning to release open-source software, you can prepare for the support work and the questions that will arise as others begin to use it. It isn’t easy, but the effort can yield citations and name recognition for the developers, and improve efficiency in the field, says Wolfgang Huber, a computational biologist at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg, Germany. Plus, he adds, “I think it’s fun.”

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • 6 of the Best IoT Projects Using Arduino

        If you’re an electronics hobbyist, chances are you’ve heard of the Arduino. It’s a tiny computer that you can use to do surprisingly complex things. It also happens to be behind a fair number of Internet of Things projects.

        While some people reach a for Raspberry Pi or something even more powerful, an Arduino or Arduino Uno might be all you need. We’ve put together a list of IoT projects that prove this to be true.

      • 5 Bluetooth Low-Energy Products You Should Consider Buying

        If you are working with Arduino projects, you require good Bluetooth controller modules. Adafruit, the parent company of Arduino, offers an official BLE module called “Bluefruit LE UART Friend.”

  • Programming/Development

    • Functional Programming in Python

      In this course, you’ll learn how to approach functional programming in Python. You’ll start with the absolute basics of Functional Programming (FP). After that, you’ll see hands-on examples for common FP patterns available, like using immutable data structures and the filter(), map(), and reduce() functions. You’ll end the course with actionable tips for parallelizing your code to make it run faster.

    • Episode #137: Advanced Python testing and big-time diffs
    • PyCoder’s Weekly: Issue #375 (July 2, 2019)
    • PyCharm: What We Did At PyCon 2019: A Wrap-up

      PyCon 2019, Cleveland…heck of an event and kudos to Ernest Durbin for a most memorable edition in his delightful city.

      We at PyCharm did some memorable things at PyCon, with some weird ideas that turned out nicely. Some time has passed: let’s do a retrospective.

    • DjangoCon US 2019 Schedule Is Live

      We are a little over two months away from DjangoCon US in San Diego, CA, and we are pleased to announce that our schedule is live! We received many excellent proposals, and the reviewers and program team had a difficult job choosing the final talks and tutorials. Thank you to everyone who submitted a proposal or helped to review.

    • Constraint layouts

      Systems of linear equations can have one solution, multiple solutions, or even no solution at all. Additionally, for performance reasons, you don’t really want to recompute all the solutions every time.

      Back in 1998, the Cassowary algorithm for solving linear arithmetic constraints was published by Greg J. Badros and Alan Borning, alongside its implementation in C++, Smalltalk, and Java. The Cassowary algorithm tries to solve a system of linear equations by finding its optimal solution; additionally, it does so incrementally, which makes it very useful for user interfaces.

      Over the past decade various platforms and toolkits started providing layout managers based on constraints, and most of them used the Cassowary algorithm. The first one was Apple’s AutoLayout, in 2011; in 2016, Google added a ConstraintLayout to the Android SDK.

      In 2016, Endless implemented a constraint layout for GTK 3 in a library called Emeus. Starting from that work, GTK 4 now has a GtkConstraintLayout layout manager available for application and widget developers.

      The machinery that implements the constraint solver is private to GTK, but the public API provides a layout manager that you can assign to your GtkWidget class, and an immutable GtkConstraint object that describes each constraint you wish to add to the layout, binding two widgets together.

    • What’s the point: OpenAPI-to-GraphQL, TensorRT, Jenkins, GNU Rush

      In time for its first major release, IBM decided to rename OASGraph to OpenAPI-to-GraphQL. The project is meant to automatically generate GraphQL wrappers for RESTlike APIs and was open sourced last year.

      The new name should be a clearer indicator of the project’s function and align with other libraries that follow the “x-to-y naming convention”. Other than that the tool has moved from the StrongLoop organisation to GitHub, making it more accessible and dispelling the notion it would only work with LoopBack.

    • Parse arguments with Python

      If you’re using Python for any amount of development, you have probably issued a command in a terminal, even if only to launch a Python script or install a Python module with pip.

    • Python 3.6.9 security-fix release is now available

      Python 3.6.9 is now available. 3.6.9 is the first security-only-fix release of Python 3.6. Python 3.6 has now entered the security fix phase of its life cycle. Only security-related issues are accepted and addressed during this phase. We plan to provide security fixes for Python 3.6 as needed through 2021, five years following its initial release. Security fix releases are produced periodically as needed and only provided in source code form; binary installers are not provided. We urge you to consider upgrading to the latest release of Python 3.7, the current fully-supported version.

    • Python 3.7.4rc2 is now available for testing

      Python 3.7.4rc2 is now available. 3.7.4rc2 is the second release preview of the next maintenance release of Python 3.7, the latest feature release of Python. Assuming no further critical problems are found prior to 2019-07-08, no code changes are planned between this release candidate and the final release.

    • DjangoCon Australia 2019: Tickets on sale

      For the 7th year running, DjangoCon Australia is coming up on August 2nd. Just like last year, the sibling conference to DjangoCons EU and US, is on in Sydney at the International Convention Centre.

      DjangoCon Australia is a one-day event, organized as a specialist track as part of PyCon AU. Packed with talks about best practices, communities, contributions, and the present and future of Django, DjangoCon Australia 2019 will be bigger than ever.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • Robots.txt is 25 years old

      The first public mention of “a proposed standard that will allow WWW server maintainers to indicate if they want robots to access their server, and if so which parts” was on 25 Feb 1994, to the www-talk@www0.cern.ch mailing list (msg): [...]

Leftovers

  • Apple

    • Report: Apple Discovers MacBook Air Logic Board Issue

      Not all 13-inch MacBook Air with Retina Display units from 2018 are believed to be affected by the logic board issue. The memo reportedly said that only units with certain serial numbers were affected; Apple plans to inform the owners of those devices via email. Affected units can be taken to Apple’s retail stores or authorized repair shops until four years after their original purchase date, 9to5Mac said.

      It’s not clear why Apple didn’t publicly announce the replacement program.

    • Apple finds issue w/ logic board in some 2018 MacBook Airs, offers free repair

      Apple has confirmed in an internal document to repair staff that it’s identified an issue with the main logic board in what it says is a “very small number” of MacBook Air models. Apple Stores and authorized repair staff have been informed to replace the main logic board in affected machines at no cost to customers, according to the document obtained by 9to5Mac.

    • Apple Recalls 15-Inch MacBook Pro Laptop Computers Due to Fire Hazard

      The batteries in the recalled laptop computers can overheat, posing a fire hazard.

    • Apple recalls 432,000 MacBook Pro laptops for fire and burn risks

      Manufactured in China, the recalled computers had a retail price of $2,000 and more, and were sold at Apple and electronics stores nationwide, as well as online, from September 2015 through February 2017.

    • 2015 15″ MacBook Pro Recall Applies to About 432,000 Units, Apple Received 26 Reports of Batteries Overheating

      Last week, Apple launched a worldwide recall and replacement program for select 2015 15-inch MacBook Pro units, sold primarily between September 2015 and February 2017, due to batteries that “may overheat and pose a fire safety risk.” Apple will replace affected batteries free of charge.

    • ‘Dangerous’ Muslim Brotherhood fatwa app in Apple Store’s top 100 downloads

      The Euro Fatwa app, which was launched in April, was created by the European Council for Fatwa and Research, a Dublin private foundation set up by Yusuf Al Qaradawi, spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood.

      Touted as a guide to help Muslims adhere to Islam, critics including Germany’s security service, say the app is a radicalisation tool.

    • Jony Ive found Tim Cook’s disinterest in design ‘dispiriting’

      But more damagingly, the WSJ highlights that Ive was left “dispirited” by Tim Cook, in stark contrast to his close relationship with Steve Jobs. Cook, apparently “showed little interest in the product development process” according to the paper’s sources. Ive was also left frustrated by the makeup of Apple’s board of directors, which was filled with people with backgrounds outside of Apple’s core business (the pun is ours, and very much intended).

      As well as these reports, Ive’s own words have come back to haunt the company. Back in 2014, he told The Times he’d leave Apple if it stopped innovating. Awkward.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Men Who Eat ‘Western’ Junk Food Diet Have Lower Sperm Counts, Study Finds

      According to a recent Harvard University-led study, it could mean a significantly reduced sperm count for young, otherwise fit men, possibly contributing to a rise in Western infertility rates.

      U.S. and Danish researchers found that young men who ate mostly processed junk foods had 25.6 million sperm per ejaculate fewer than those who followed more balanced and plant-based diets. A low sperm count is defined as having fewer than 15 million sperm per milliliter or less than 39 million sperm per ejaculation, CNN reported.

      “Our findings support the growing evidence that adhering to generally healthy diet patterns, including local variations, is associated to higher sperm counts and more favorable markers of sperm function,” the researchers said in a presentation of their findings at European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) annual meeting in Vienna, Austria last week.

      A low sperm count can make it difficult for couples to become pregnant and the researchers noted falling fertility rates over the past few decades, referring to it as a “crisis.” While there are likely multiple factors contributing to this trend, the study suggests that diet may play a significant role, as a nearly 60 percent drop in Western fertility rates since the 1970s appears to follow the rise in popularity of processed junk foods.

    • Junk food loving young men have lower sperm counts than healthier eaters, researchers say

      Burgers, fries, pizza and high energy drinks impact testicular function in young men, new research suggests. Specifically, the sperm counts for men who typically eat “Western” meals of high fat foods were 25.6 million lower, on average, than the counts of men noshing on fish, chicken, fruits, vegetables and other more “prudent” foods, a new Harvard study found.

    • Men’s fertility irreversibly damaged by age of 18 thanks to Western junk food diet, study finds

      Male fertility is being irreversibly damaged by a diet of western junk food by the time men reach 18, a study has found.

      A groundbreaking investigation has established that teenagers who favour high-fat and processed foods like pizzas, chips and snacks are killing off sperm-producing cells that can never be replaced.

      It showed that a diet dominated by fish, chicken, vegetables and fruit is best is for protecting those cells and ensuring healthy levels of sperm.

    • Young, fit men who eat a diet of pizza, chips and burgers have much lower sperm count, study finds

      Young, fit men whose diets are made up of pizza, burgers, chips and other processed staples have drastically lower sperm counts than those who eat fresher foods, a study suggests.

      A team of US and Danish researchers, led by Harvard University, found men whose diet most closely matched a stereotypical “western diet” had the lowest average sperm counts.

    • Trader Joe’s Veggies Recalled Over Listeria Concerns

      Packaged vegetables, including some sold under the Trader Joe’s brand, were recalled due to possible Listeria contamination, CNN reported Tuesday.

      The recall was issued by the company Growers Express and also impacts the Giant Green and Signature Farms brands. Affected products include butternut squash, cauliflower, zucchini and vegetable bowls.

    • Trader Joe’s, Green Giant and Signature Farms packaged vegetables recalled due to Listeria risk

      Some packages of butternut squash, cauliflower, zucchini and vegetable bowls sold under the brands Green Giant, Trader Joe’s and Signature Farms have been recalled, according to the Food and Drug Administration.

      The vegetable products were voluntarily recalled by manufacturer Growers Express due to concerns about possible contamination with the bacteria Listeria monocytogenes, the FDA said in a Monday statement.
      The packaged vegetables were produced at a factory in Biddeford, Maine, and were distributed to grocery stores across the United States, primarily in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Maine. The FDA issued a list of the stores and states affected.

  • Security

    • Ransomware Hits Georgia Courts As Municipal Attacks Spread [iophk: "Windows TCO"]

      “There’s definitely an increase or uptick in the amount of ransomware campaigns that we’re seeing out there, but it’s not specific to municipalities or state or federal organizations, it’s just pretty much across the board in every industry vertical,” says David Kennedy, CEO of the penetration testing and incident response consultancy TrustedSec. “We’re working seven consecutive ransomware attacks right now—a couple of manufacturing, a couple of credit unions, and one local type of government incident.”

    • Singapore Government Announces Third Bug Bounty Program

      The latest bug bounty program, similar to the previous two, will be hosted by HackerOne. The project is conducted in collaboration with the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA) and the Government Technology Agency of Singapore (GovTech).

      HackerOne will invite approximately 200 international hackers and 100 local hackers to take part in the challenge, which offers payouts between $250 and $10,000 per vulnerability report. The program will run from July to August and results will be announced in September.

    • US officials are talking about banning end-to-end encryption again

      A source believed to have been in attendance said, “The two paths were to either put out a statement or a general position on encryption, and [say] that they would continue to work on a solution, or to ask Congress for legislation,” adding that the importance of the matter was reflected by the attendance of a group of Number 2s (from different stakeholder agencies, it’s not a scatological reference).

      The problem for end users doesn’t end with the NSA getting a better foothold on your WhatsApp chats because whilst it’ll be easier for law enforcement and security agencies to see if you’re up to no good, relaxing encryption also opens up a much wider foothold for [attackers] and cybercriminals to abuse the services too. And that’s not to mention that if friendly intelligence can access your data, then foreign spies and snoopers can as well – it’s all or nothing.

    • Exploit Using Microsoft Excel Power Query for Remote DDE Execution Discovered

      The Mimecast Threat Center team reached out to the Microsoft Security Response Center (MRSC) with our information and a working proof of concept. MRSC opened a case but Microsoft decided not to fix this behavior, and their response included a workaround by either using a Group Policy to block external data connections or use the Office Trust center to achieve the same. MRSC accepted our request to publish this research per the CVD policy.

    • How [Attackers] Turn Microsoft Excel’s Own Features Against It [iophk: fails to mention improved options like LibreOffice and Calligra]

      On Thursday, researchers from threat intelligence firm Mimecast are disclosing findings that an Excel feature called Power Query can be manipulated to facilitate established Office 365 system attacks. Power Query allows users to combine data from various sources with a spreadsheet—like a database, second spreadsheet, document, or website. This mechanism for linking out to another component, though, can also be abused to link to a malicious webpage that contains malware. In this way, attackers can distribute tainted Excel spreadsheets that wreak havoc, from granting attackers system privileges to installing backdoors.

      “Attackers don’t need to invest in a very sophisticated attack—they can just open up Microsoft Excel and use its own tools,” says Meni Farjon, Mimecast’s chief scientist. “And you have basically 100 percent reliability. The exploit will work in all the versions of Excel as well as new versions, and will probably work across all operating systems, programming languages, and sub-versions, because it’s based on a legitimate feature. That makes it very viable for attackers.”

    • Cyber warfare is here

      Cybereason said they weren’t going to name the affected providers, but said many were sizable, and that it didn’t find evidence that North American providers had been infiltrated.

      The company also didn’t notify the targeted individuals.

      Cybereason thinks a [attack] this sophisticated is very likely the work of a nation-state.

    • Security updates for Tuesday

      Security updates have been issued by Arch Linux (firefox, firefox-developer-edition, libarchive, and vlc), CentOS (firefox, thunderbird, and vim), Debian (firefox-esr, openssl, and python-django), Fedora (glpi and xen), Mageia (thunderbird), openSUSE (ImageMagick, irssi, libheimdal, and phpMyAdmin), Red Hat (libssh2 and qemu-kvm), Scientific Linux (firefox, thunderbird, and vim), SUSE (389-ds, cf-cli, curl, dbus-1, dnsmasq, evolution, glib2, gnutls, graphviz, java-1_8_0-openjdk, and libxslt), and Ubuntu (python-django).

    • Kali Linux in the DigitalOcean Cloud

      DigitalOcean is a cloud provider similar to AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, and many others. They offer instances, called “droplets”, with different Linux distributions such as Debian, Ubuntu, FreeBSD, etc. Similar to AWS, DigitalOcean has datacenters around the world and sometimes multiple datacenters in each country.

      However, one feature in particular sets them apart them from their competitors. A little while ago, they added support for custom images, which allows users to import virtual machine disks and use them as droplets. This is perfect for us as we can use our own version of Kali Linux in their cloud.

      While it might be possible to load the official Kali Linux virtual images, it wouldn’t be very efficient. Instead, we’ll build a lightweight Kali installation with the bare minimum to get it working.

    • Cybersecurity Experts Blocked 5 Million Attempted Hacks of IoT Cameras

      Trend Micro cybersecurity experts report that they blocked an astounding five-million hack attempts on IoT cameras. It’s quite frightening to think what may have happened if these experts weren’t hard at work.

    • Public Certificate Poisoning Can Break Some OpenPGP Implementations

      OpenPGP installations can grind to a halt and fail to verify the authenticity of downloaded packages as the keyserver network has been flooded with bogus extra signatures attesting ownership of a certificate.

      Vulnerabilities that allow this type of certificate spamming attack have been known for years and a timely fix or mitigation is nowhere in sight, neither from the keyserver network community nor the OpenPGP Working Group.

    • IPFire 2.23 – Core Update 134 released

      This is the official release announcement for IPFire 2.23 – Core Update 134. This update ships security fixes in the Linux kernel for the “SACK Panic” attack as well as some other smaller fixes.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Swedish police call on lawmakers to criminalize possession of terror propaganda

      The head of the Swedish Security Police, Säpo, has called on lawmakers in the government to examine tabling laws to make possessing terrorist propaganda a criminal offense.

      According to Swedish news outlet SVT, Friberg, the chief of Säpo, asserted that police routinely discover radical Islamic terror propaganda in the hands of known extremist recruiters and terror suspects, as well as material which instructs potential terrorists how to execute the most effective terror attacks.

    • Schools Are Using ‘Aggression Detecting’ Mics That Are Set Off By Coughing, Slamming Locker Doors To Head Off The Next School Shooting

      Schools are spending more and more money on safety. Or, at least, that’s what they’re saying they’re spending the money on. But simply adding more layers of surveillance — on campus and off — isn’t really doing much to make schools safer.

      Preventing violence at schools is a noble goal, but many of the solutions are just repackaged law enforcement products that treat campuses as high-crime areas. The latest developments being pitched to schools aren’t innovative. They’re just another way to help administrators view students as persons of interest in crimes yet to be determined.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • To Journalists, Trump-Putin Banter About Getting ‘Rid’ of Journalists No Laughing Matter

      To guardians for freedom of the press, Trump’s and Putin’s brief comments in Osaka, Japan, were not to be taken lightly, and were a telling reflection of the leaders’ disdain for the role journalists play in informing the world of important events and writing the first version of history.

    • Albanian Prime Minister must respect press freedom

      The newspaper published an article online on 5 June 2019 which accuses the head of government of using mafia money to buy votes during the 2017 election. BILD supports this accusation with telephone wiretap tapes that document the government’s entanglement with the mafia.

      According to BILD the authenticity of the tapes is proved. Mr Rama immediately announced that he would go to the German courts and sue BILD reporter Peter Tiede. He justified this by saying that in Germany the judiciary does not play silly games and the dignity of the people and of the state is respected.

    • In Youngstown, Ohio, the local paper celebrated its 150th year in business. Now it’s closing

      “This isn’t a two-paper town becoming a one-paper town. This isn’t cutting print days. Just… no newspaper in a city of 67,000 anchoring a metro area of 565,000,” Benton pointed out.

      The closure news hit just a few days after the paper celebrated its 150th anniversary. “Due to great financial hardships, we spent the last year searching for a buyer to continue to operate The Vindicator and preserve as many jobs as possible while maintaining the paper’s voice in the community. That search has been unsuccessful,” Jagnow and Brown told readers in a letter in Saturday’s edition.

    • WikiLeaks to keep fighting for Julian Assange’s freedom

      “The precedent that it sets is not about Julian and WikiLeaks, it’s about the most serious attack on the press freedom in decades. Our main focus will be supporting, and me as the chief editor as well, we will continue, even though we have a limited capacity, publishing information on the WikiLeaks website,” Hrafnsson said.

    • SEP (Australia) holds Sydney rally in defence of Assange and Manning

      The Socialist Equality Party (Australia) held a powerful rally in Sydney on Saturday to demand freedom for imprisoned WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, and the courageous whistleblower Chelsea Manning.

      The protest was one of a series being held by the SEP across the country. Further demonstrations will take place in Brisbane on July 6 and in Melbourne on July 14.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • What Is Regenerative Agriculture?

      We know that to solve the climate crisis, business as usual will not cut it. Not in electricity production. Not in industry. Not in transportation. And certainly not in agriculture.

    • Water Scarcity Claims Another Victim in South Indian Sugar Mills

      India is home to nearly a sixth of the world’s population but gets only 4% of the Earth’s fresh water. By 2030, demand is expected to outstrip supply by about 50%, according to the Water Resources Group. Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu and gateway to the Indian factories of Hyundai Motor Co. and Ford Motor Co., last month faced the worst water shortage in three decades. It received the lowest rainfall in 15 years in 2018.

    • Winter Bee Declines Greatest in 13 Years: Survey

      US keepers of honeybees lost about 38 percent of their colonies over the 2018–19 winter, according to preliminary results from a survey conducted by the Bee Informed Partnership, an organization devoted to understanding honeybee declines. Some winter losses are expected, but this year’s were 7 percentage points higher than last year’s, 9 percentage points above the average of all winter losses since 2006, when the annual survey started, and the highest they’ve been in the survey’s history.

    • Extinction Rebellion: A guide

      Images of French police pepper-spraying climate protesters in Paris last Friday have gone viral and sparked outrage around the world. The demonstration was held by Extinction Rebellion, a movement that began in the UK last year but has since expanded around the globe.

    • One Casualty of the Palm Oil Industry: An Orangutan Mother, Shot 74 Times

      Hope, who was named at a rehabilitation center, is a Sumatran orangutan — a critically endangered animal that scientists warn could be the first major great ape species to go extinct. As jungle and swamp are cleared for palm oil plantations, orangutans, whose name means “people of the forest” in Malay, are losing the very habitat that gives them their identity.

    • Palm Oil Posts Its Longest Quarterly Slump on Record

      Futures in Malaysia have now posted their seventh straight quarterly drop — the worst run since they started trading in 1995. The oil, used in everything from candy to biofuel, fell for a seventh straight day in Kuala Lumpur on Friday to close at 1,951 ringgit a metric ton ($472), the lowest in almost four years.

    • Malaysia palm oil price tumbles on lacklustre export data

      Exports of Malaysian palm oil products for June 1-25 fell 15.3% and 17.8% on-month, cargo surveyors Societe Generale de Surveillance and Intertek Testing Services said respectively on Tuesday.

      Independent inspection company AmSpec Agri Malaysia said the exports fell 14% on-month for the same period.

    • India likely to impose 10% tax on imported palm oil

      Pasha Patel, chairman, Maharashtra Commission of Agricultural Costs and Prices, said, “Most of the ministers concerned in the central government have agreed upon the need to impose a 10 per cent palm development tax on imported palm oil.”

    • New Zealand bans single-use plastic bags

      New Zealand officially banned single-use plastic shopping bags Monday, introducing hefty fines for businesses that continue to provide them.

      [...]

      More than 80 countries have already introduced similar bans, according to the UN Environment Programme.

    • Delhi’s organic farming revolution

      “Transition period is of three years, which helps to allow building healthy soil and restore biodiversity by avoiding pesticides. Delhi farmers, who are part of 500 clusters, will be making certified organic products by 2022. This will help to bring down retail prices of organic products including vegetables in Delhi, which presently come from Haryana and Himachal Pradesh,” said Prakash.

    • Scientists ‘speechless’ at Arctic fox’s epic trek

      A young Arctic fox has walked across the ice from Norway’s Svalbard islands to northern Canada in an epic journey, covering 3,506 km (2,176 miles) in 76 days.

    • Japanese fleet restarts commercial whaling

      “What we are seeing is the beginning of the end of Japanese whaling,” said Patrick Ramage, director of marine conservation at the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

      “Japan is quitting high-seas whaling … not yet a full stop, but that is a huge step towards the end of killing whales for their meat and other products,” he told AFP.

    • Koalas on the Decline — Dangerous New Threats, Emerging Solutions

      Ten years ago the shaky video of a dehydrated, wildfire-damaged koala captured headlines and the world’s attention.

      Crouched next to a charred tree trunk, a volunteer firefighter named David Tree gingerly poured bottled water into the open mouth of the burned koala. A tiny gray paw rested in his own large, calloused hand, allowing the animal to remain upright as she drank.

    • Antarctica Lost Sea Ice 4x the Size of France in 3 Years

      The rapid decline, revealed in a study of satellite data published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, marks a stunning reversal for the South Pole: Between 1979 and 2014, its sea ice was actually expanding. Then, it lost 2.1 million square kilometers (approximately 810,815 square miles) in three years, falling from 12.8 million square kilometers (approximately 4.9 million square miles) to 10.7 million square kilometers (approximately 4.1 million square miles).

      “It went from its 40-year high in 2014, all the way down in 2017 to its 40-year low,” study author and NASA Goddard Space Flight Center climatologist Claire Parkinson told AFP.

    • Antarctic sea ice in dizzying decline since 2014: study

      But between 1979 and 2014, they observed a phenomenon that was both intriguing and reassuring: the sea ice cover was expanding.

      From 2014 to 2017, however, “the Antarctic lost almost as much as the Arctic” over almost 40 years, NASA climatologist Claire Parkinson told AFP, and the trend has continued ever since.

      From a peak area of 12.8 million square kilometers, the sea ice cover receded two million square kilometers for reasons that remain unknown.

      “It went from its 40-year high in 2014, all the way down in 2017 to its 40-year low,” said Parkinson, whose findings were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

      The team analyzed microwave measurements from NASA and military satellites over the period to build up the most precise picture to date of the historic sea ice cover, measuring only area but not thickness.

    • Antarctic sea ice is declining dramatically and we don’t know why

      Decades of expanding sea ice in Antarctica have been wiped out by three years of sudden and dramatic declines, leaving scientist puzzled as to why the region has flipped so abruptly.

      A new satellite analysis reveals that between 2014 and 2017 sea ice extent in the southern hemisphere suffered unprecedented annual decreases, leaving the area covered by sea ice at its lowest point in 40 years. The declines were so big that they outstripped the losses in the fast-melting Arctic over the same period. “It’s very surprising. We just haven’t seen decreases like that in either hemisphere,” says Claire Parkinson at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, who undertook the analysis.

      However, researchers cautioned against pinning the changes on climate change and said it was too early to say if the shrinking is the start of a long-term trend or a blip.

    • Elephant Poaching Is on the Rise in Botswana, Study Confirms

      Less than two months after Botswana lifted its ban on elephant hunting, a new study has confirmed that poaching is on the rise in the country that around one-third of Africa’s savanna elephants call home.

      The study, published in Current Biology, used aerial surveys to conclude that the number of fresh elephant carcasses had increased by 593 percent between 2014 and 2018 in northern Botswana. The report authors confirmed that 156 elephants had been poached for ivory in 2018 based on skull damage, and estimated that at least 385 were poached between 2017 and 2018.

      “Increases in numbers of carcasses are worrisome because they can portend future increases in poaching and declines in elephant populations,” report authors Scott Schlossberg, Michael Chase and Robert Sutcliff of Elephants Without Borders wrote.

    • Poachers Are Invading Botswana, Last Refuge of African Elephants

      In September, conservationists in Botswana discovered 87 dead elephants, their faces hacked off and tusks missing. Poaching, the researchers warned, was on the rise.

      The news had international repercussions. Botswana had been one of the last great elephant refuges, largely spared the poaching crisis that has swept through much of Africa over the past decade.

      The country is home to some 126,000 savanna elephants, about a third of Africa’s remaining population — plentiful enough that they are increasingly in conflict with villagers in the northern part of the country.

      Following the announcement in September, Botswana’s ministry of the environment denied that there was a poaching crisis of any sort, and in May the government lifted a ban on trophy hunting that had been in place for five years, provoking worldwide condemnation.
      Even some scientists wondered whether the illegal ivory trade really had found its way to Botswana. Now, the researchers have published data in the journal Current Biology that seems to confirm their initial findings.

      Based on aerial surveys and field visits, the authors report that fresh elephant carcasses in Botswana increased by nearly 600 percent from 2014 to 2018.

    • Chernobyl on Ice’: Nuclear Plant Barge Headed Across Arctic Circle

      The Lomonosov has been the target of criticism from Greenpeace for years. The environmental group first coined the name “Chernobyl on ice.”

      But the company behind Lomonosov, Rosatom, takes exception at comparing its barge plant to the famed site of the world’s worse domestic nuclear disaster.

      “It’s totally not justified to compare these two projects,” the Lomonosov’s chief engineer for environmental protection, Vladimir Iriminku, told CNN. “These are baseless claims, just the way the reactors themselves operate work is different.”

      The barge’s operators have learned from the disaster at Fukushima, Japan as well, they said.

      “This rig can’t be torn out of moorings, even with a 9-point tsunami, and we’ve even considered that if it does go inland, there is a backup system that can keep the reactor cooling for 24 hours without an electricity supply,” said Lomonosov deputy director Dmitry Alekseenko.

    • Williams pipeline support highlights Environmental Defense Fund’s long, cozy relationship with fracking pseudoscience

      The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), an environmental group with close ties to the corporate community, has taken a friendly approach to the explosion of the natural gas industry in the United States. In the early years of the fracking boom, EDF touted natural gas as a “bridge fuel” toward renewable energy. The organization helped to promote industry-funded misinformation by signing off on sham studies — for example from the University of Texas and the State University of New York at Buffalo — that claimed fracking was safe, but were fatally marred by basic errors in arithmetic and undisclosed conflicts of interest.

    • Climate crisis needs radical food changes

      To feed 9 billion people by 2050, and keep planet Earth from overheating, will mean massive and radical food changes – and not just in the way food is grown.

      To contain global temperatures to no more than 2°C above the average for most of human history will require humanity to change its diet, contain its appetite and reform the entire system of food production and distribution.

      This is the verdict of the latest study of the challenge set in Paris in 2015, when 195 nations promised to limit global warming – driven by profligate use of fossil fuels and by the conversion of forest, grassland and wetlands into commercial use – to “well below” 2°C by 2100.

      Researchers report in the journal Sustainability that they looked at 160 studies and analyses of global agriculture and food systems and most closely at the world’s smallholders and markets that sustain as many as 2.5 billion people, mostly in the developing world.

  • Finance

    • Jamaica Is Using Bob Marley’s Legacy to Market Austerity

      The island nation of Jamaica holds a special, almost spiritual significance for many people of color, as well as for anyone concerned about advancing equality and justice in the world. It is the birthplace of the Rastafari movement, reggae, dancehall—and democratic socialism before it became popular in the United States. Bob Marley’s legacy epitomizes the struggle for transforming an economy and society using its natural resources, its culture and industrious people. Marley himself strived to overturn an unfair global economic system that oppressed black Jamaicans and people of color everywhere.

    • Why retailers shouldn’t bank on PSD2 for protection

      The new SCA requirement is defined as the verification of customer identity involving at least two of the three following elements: knowledge, possession, and inherence. The additional regulations are designed to improve data security for online and mobile payments in an increasingly complex ecosystem. A verification check might include a PIN sent by text message or a biometric scan, such as fingerprint recognition.

    • PSD2 transition time is ends soon. This is how Finland will authenticate.

      The acceptance of biometric identifiers by the apps varies. Some banks only accept them for authentication with the bank’s own services while others, such as S-Pankki, accept them for all services requiring strong authentication.

    • Biometrics in Financial Services: How, What and Why?

      Open banking and the mandates of PSD2 are making banks, merchants and device makers consider how they can best deliver multi-factor secure customer authentication (SCA) solutions. Meanwhile, in an increasingly connected, always-on world, consumer demands for a more seamless UX have never been higher.

      Biometrics is taking centre stage as a means to strengthen security without simply adding more forgettable PINs and passwords.

    • Payment firms raise fears over EU security rules

      A lack of preparedness for the EU’s new regulations on authentication could cost Europe’s online economy more than €50bn according to a number of payment processors and e-commerce merchants.

    • America needs to see Amazon’s tax returns

      But there’s an awkward truth behind the political back-and-forth: we don’t know what Amazon’s tax bill really is. Like every other company in America, Amazon’s tax returns are private, legally considered to be a trade secret. We don’t know which tax breaks they’re taking, or how they’ve structured their finances to avoid various taxes in favor of others. If Amazon says its tax bill was lower because of investments, we simply have to take the company at its word.

    • What Just Happened Also Occurred Before The Last 7 U.S. Recessions. Reason To Worry?

      It is known among economists and Wall Street traders as a “yield curve inversion,” and it refers to when long-term interest rates are paying out less than short-term rates.

      That curve has been flattening out and sloping down for more than a year, raising worries among some analysts that investors’ long-term view of the market is not positive and that an economic downturn is looming.

      But on Sunday, an inauspicious milestone was achieved: The yield curve remained inverted for three months, or an entire quarter, which has for half a century been a clear signal that the economy is heading for recession in the next nine to 18 months, according to Campbell Harvey, a Duke University finance professor who spoke to NPR on Sunday. His research in the mid-1980s first linked yield curve inversions to recessions.

    • In Tense Times, ‘Call in the Woman’: Lagarde Will Lead the E.C.B.
  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Facebook’s new policy banning white nationalism ignores content that doesn’t explicitly use the term ‘white nationalism,’ auditors say [iophk: nor are other violent forms of supremacy banned there]

      The audit team, led by the ACLU’s former Washington director Laura Murphy, recommended that Facebook expand its policy beyond banning direct mention of white nationalism or separatism.

    • RSF urges Mauritania to restore mobile Internet

      According to RSF’s information, mobile Internet went down in the middle of the afternoon, on June 23rd, shortly after the opposition staged a demonstration to dispute the official result, according to which the ruling party presidential candidate won the first round outright, dispensing with the need for a second round runoff.

    • Nintendo Reaffirms That It Will Not Censor Third-Party Games, Says Doing So Would ‘Inhibit’ Industry

      In response, Furukawa reiterated that Nintendo would leave content regulation of third-party titles up to ratings boards like CERO and the ERSB. Alternatively, he stated that responsible parents can still use the Switch’s parental control functions to protect their children from suggestive content.

      Furukawa even took an elegant jab at Sony after that – by stating that ‘platform-holding companies’ would hurt the diversity of games in the industry if they chose ‘arbitrarily’ what gaming content should be allowed into the market.

    • Instead of banning opinion, we should ban censorship

      In today’s media, objectivity seems to be something we used to have. Stereotyped formulas are the algorithms of Facebook. And the term “hate speech” is being persistently repeated on every channel until we are fearful of every word we say.

    • Why You Could Lose your Security Clearance for Sympathizing with Edward Snowden or Julian Assange

      Nonetheless, I’ve found that most security clearance holders – whether from their annual security refreshers or just general common sense – already have a pretty good idea of the basics. They know not to use illegal drugs, consume alcohol to excess, get too far behind on their debts, or get too closely involved with foreign nationals.

      [...]

      But there are some other conceivable situations which present a closer call. What about someone who, for example, has expressed support on social media for those like Bradley (now “Chelsea”) Manning, Edward Snowden, or – of particular recent relevance – Julian Assange of WikiLeaks notoriety? Guideline A includes as a potentially disqualifying factor mere “sympathy” with or “encouragement of” persons who have committed or attempted to commit acts against the United States.

    • WSJ Op Ed Warns: Killing Section 230, Kills The Internet

      Rupert Murdoch and his Wall Street Journal have frequently attacked Google and other internet services, often in ways that suggest little understanding of how things actually work. Sometimes this has dipped into conspiracy theories and totally bullshit news stories whose sole purpose seems to be to attack Google in a misguided way. So, it’s actually nice to see that the WSJ at least agreed to publish the latest Andy Kessler op-ed about the importance of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act to keeping the open internet. The title, while a bit hyperbolic, is important: Kill Section 230, You Kill the Internet.

    • Removing Terrorist Content Isn’t Helping Win The War On Terror

      The terrorists are winning.

      This shouldn’t come as a surprise. The War on Drugs hasn’t made a dent in drug distribution. Why should the War on Terror be any different? Two decades and several billion dollars later, what do we have to show for it? Just plenty of enemies foreign and domestic.

      While politicians rail against “terrorist content,” encryption, and the right for people to remain generally unmolested by their governments, they’re leaning hard on social media platforms to eradicate this content ASAP.

      And social media companies are doing all they can. Moderation is hard. It’s impossible when you’re serving millions of users at once. Nonetheless, the content goes down. Some of it is actual “terrorist content.” Some of it is journalism. Some of it is stuff no one would consider terroristic. But it all goes down because time is of the essence and the world is watching.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • China Is Forcing Tourists to Install Text-Stealing Malware at its Border

      Foreigners crossing certain Chinese borders into the Xinjiang region, where authorities are conducting a massive campaign of surveillance and oppression against the local Muslim population, are being forced to install a piece of malware on their phones that gives all of their text messages as well as other pieces of data to the authorities, a collaboration by Motherboard, Süddeutsche Zeitung, the Guardian, the New York Times, and the German public broadcaster NDR has found.

      The Android malware, which is installed by a border guard when they physically seize the phone, also scans the tourist or traveller’s device for a specific set of files, according to multiple expert analyses of the software. The files authorities are looking for include Islamic extremist content, but also innocuous Islamic material, academic books on Islam by leading researchers, and even music from a Japanese metal band.

    • China Is Forcefully Installing A ‘Data-Stealing’ Malware On Tourists’ Phones

      China is notorious for its invasive security and surveillance operations, but now it has taken things to another level.

      A report by Vice suggests that Chinese border guards are forcing tourists to install software, which is basically malware, on their phones. This software copies messaging, contacts, and scans the phones for thousands of different documents.

    • Facebook may be ‘pivoting’ to something worse

      At the time, I noted that critics were concerned that the shift would mean Facebook was abdicating some of its responsibilities. Making Facebook more private would arguably not remove the problems of abuse – though it would make it harder for outsiders to find instances of Facebook’s failures.

      Recent stories have demonstrated that concern was perhaps justified.

    • Chris Hughes: Overstretched MI5 can’t monitor terror suspects 24/7

      Mistakes are made as highly-trained followers cut a fine line between observation and trying not to be spotted – and possibly killed.

    • Facebook elevates David Fischer to oversee growing ad buisness

      Facebook’s top advertising exec David Fischer was bumped up to the role of chief revenue officer in March, in a move that was not publicly announced. Fischer was previously VP of business and marketing partnerships and is a longtime Facebook exec that joined the company in 2010. Previously, he oversaw Google’s North American advertising teams in addition to working with other departments like Google Checkout.

      Fischer’s title change was included in a proxy statement filed with the SEC in April, but it went largely unnoticed at the time.

    • Google and the University of Chicago Are Sued Over Data Sharing

      On Wednesday, the University of Chicago, the medical center and Google were sued in a potential class-action lawsuit accusing the hospital of sharing hundreds of thousands of patients’ records with the technology giant without stripping identifiable date stamps or doctor’s notes.

    • Google and University of Chicago sued over patient records

      The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in US District Court for Northern Illinois, accuses the hospital of sharing hundreds of thousands of patient records with the tech giant without removing date stamps and doctor’s notes. The complaint goes on to say that Google is uniquely capable of determining the identity of every medical record shared with it.

      “The personal medical information obtained by Google is the most sensitive and intimate information in an individual’s life, and its unauthorized disclosure is far more damaging to an individual’s privacy” than compromised credit card numbers or Social Security numbers exposed in typical [attacks], the lawsuit said.

    • What is surveillance capitalism and how does it shape our economy?

      Surveillance capitalism describes a market-driven process where the commodity for sale is your personal data, and the capture and production of this data relies on mass surveillance of the [Internet].

    • What if All Your Slack Chats Were Leaked?

      But it is possible for Slack to minimize that risk. Or it would be, if Slack gave all its users the ability to decide which information Slack should keep and which information it should delete.

      Right now, Slack stores everything you do on its platform by default — your username and password, every message you’ve sent, every lunch you’ve planned and every confidential decision you’ve made. That data is not end-to-end encrypted, which means Slack can read it, law enforcement can request it, and [attacks] — including the nation-state actors highlighted in Slack’s S-1 — can break in and steal it.

    • A Single Court-Authorized Wiretap Order in 2018 Swept Up 9.2 Million Intercepts

      There’s not much more information on the case in the report, other than that the wiretap order targeted 149 individuals in connection with a federal narcotics case over the course of 120 days. The wiretap order later expired, and police have not made any arrests in connection with the case, according to TechCrunch. Out of those roughly 9.2 million intercepts, none were listed as incriminating. The entire operation cost $315,673, though that total dropped to $15,180 when excluding expenditure on manpower.

    • With a single wiretap, police collected 9.2 million text messages [iophk: microsoft zack]

      The wiretap, granted by a federal judge in the Southern District of Texas, was granted as part of a narcotics investigation and became the federal wiretap with the most intercepts in 2018, according to the government’s annual wiretap report.

    • 4 Messed-Up New Ways Companies Are Spying On You

      Unless you’re reading this from a printout in a remote shack in the wilderness, you’ve grown used to the fact that cameras are constantly watching us whenever we leave our homes. But prying eyes are forever making inroads into the few parts of life we still consider private. And so …

    • Google and Facebook Are Sucking the Brains Out of Europe

      The primary concern about this brain drain isn’t national pride or flag-waving; it is power. It’s about who controls the huge and politically sensitive data sets on which AI relies.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Bosnian children fight back against segregation in schools

      This is a prime example of the widespread policy known as “two schools under one roof”, which splits students based on their ethnicity.

    • Saudi women use wedding contracts to assert right to drive

      To drive, women do not require the explicit approval of their male “guardians” – husbands, fathers and other male relatives, whose permission is needed by women to study, get married and even leave prison. But it remains unclear whether women have any legal recourse should their guardians prevent them from taking the wheel.

    • Saudi Arabia: Women use pre-wedding contracts to stipulate driving, working rights after marriage

      A Saudi woman took social media by storm recently when she posted her wedding contract online. The document prohibited her husband from taking a second wife. Angry online trolls rebuked her husband as “unmanly” for accepting the condition.

    • Anti-Wahhabi Saudi thinker faces execution: HRW

      Human Rights Watch has condemned the Saudi authorities for seeking the death penalty against a reformist religious thinker and critic on charges that bear “no resemblance to recognized crimes.”

      Hassan Farhan al-Maliki was arrested in September 2017 and has been held in detention since then. The Saudi authorities finally brought charges against him in October 2018.

    • Nepalese Journalists Pushed to Avoid Reporting on China, Tibet

      Anil Giri, foreign affairs correspondent for the Kathmandu Post, said journalists are discouraged from covering Tibetan affairs to mollify China and that government officials shy away from commenting on China-related issues.

      China sponsors junkets for Nepalese journalists and “that’s why probably we don’t see lots of criticism about China’s growing investment in Nepal, Chinese doing business in Nepal and China’s growing political clout in Nepal,” Giri said.

    • House bill targets use of Pentagon networks for child pornography

      The End National Defense Network Abuse (END Network Abuse) was introduced in the wake of in an investigation called “Project Flicker” carried out by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. This investigation identified over 5,000 individuals, including many affiliated with DOD, who were subscribed to child porn websites.

    • Android co-founder Andy Rubin accused of cheating wife out of fortune while running a sex ring

      The documents — first unearthed by BuzzFeed’s Ryan Mac — allege that Rubin forced his wife Rie Hirabaru Rubin into the prenuptial agreement just weeks before she was scheduled to give birth to their child, negotiating specific terms until three days before the couple’s city hall wedding. The lawsuit seeks to annul that agreement, which resulted in Rie being cut out of much of the wealth Andy obtained from Google and his later Essential project.

      As a complaint, the document is only an allegation and has not been confirmed by the court. Still, it echoes a number of details reported by the New York Times in October, including the allegation that Andy supported a string of mistresses, who would often be loaned to other men in what he described as “an ownership relationship.” The complaint alleges Andy had at least five such mistresses, including one (dubbed “M”) who was “complicit with Rubin in running what appeared to be a sex ring.”

    • Android Creator Andy Rubin Allegedly Ran A “Sex Ring”

      While Android co-founder Andy Rubin gave us the world’s most popular operating system, i.e., Android, he is apparently not the ideal guy we wished for. And that’s not me saying it — the recently made public documents say so.

      It is suggested that the San Mateo Superior Court recently unveiled a complaint filed by Rubin’s ex-wife, Rie Hirabaru Rubin, which throws light on how Andy Rubin and his lawyer forcefully made his wife sign a prenup prior to their wedding when she was pregnant.

    • Man, Allegedly Declared Dead By Hospital, ‘Wakes Up’ Just Before Burial

      “We had paid Rs 7 lakh to the private hospital earlier and when we told them that we had run out of money, they had declared Furqan dead on Monday,” Irfan said.

    • Pacific Forum countries urged to follow up on West Papua

      “Customary land is actually affected by these big projects – food project and oil palm plantation,” Ms Moiwend explained, adding that indigenous communities had little say in the development

    • The Turkish state puts “Academics For Peace” behind bars

      Tuna Altınel is being prosecuted by the Turkish justice system for signing a petition entitled “We, Turkish academics, will not be a party to this crime”, in January 2016. This petition denounced the intervention of Turkish military forces in the south-east provinces of Turkey since the summer of 2015 (UN HCHR report) and called for the resumption of talks in order to restore peace.

      As he arrived in Turkey on 12 April during French academic recess, his passport was confiscated. He was then arrested and incarcerated on Saturday 11 May. In February 2019, he participated in a public meeting—organized by an association legally recognized in France—, aiming to raise awareness about the consequences of military intervention on the civilian populations. His participation in that meeting appears to be one of the charges held against him.

    • Netherlands probes ‘terrorist motive’ in Utrecht shooting

      The suspect has confessed to opening fire and killing four people on a tram in the Dutch city. Prosecutors have revealed the contents of a letter written by the suspect in which he admits to “doing this for my religion.”

    • Muslim beauty queen accused of funding terrorism

      Webster admitted three counts of terrorism fundraising, relating to dates between March and August last year. She pleaded guilty to “inviting Amaani Noor to provide money to the organization The Merciful Hands, intending it should be used or having reasonable cause to suspect it may be used for the purpose of terrorism.”

    • Fatwa on Trinamul MP Nusrat Jahan for sindoor

      Back at the seminary, Mufti Asad Qasmi said: “We have come to know through media that she was wearing ‘sindoor’ and mangalsutra and has married a person of the Jain faith. She has violated Islam as a Muslim can marry a Muslim only,”

    • Four Indian Women Forced To Work As Bar Dancers In Dubai Rescued By Police

      The four women, from Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, were deluded into believing that they will be working for an event management company. However, when they reached Dubai, their employer locked them in a room, and they were then forced to work in a dance bar and solicit customers, Consul General of India to Dubai, Vipul, told Gulf News.

      According to reports, one of the women managed to send an SOS to her family back home via WhatsApp.

    • Outrage Over VIDEO of Muslim Prayer in Danish School Not Intended for Public Eye

      The video was not intended to reach the public light. A Sudanese mother of a third-grader filmed the group of pupils and their teacher, despite being specifically instructed not to do so, only to later upload it to the internet.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Domain overseer lifts all price caps on .Org domain names

      10 million .org domains are currently registered and were registered under a system in which Public Interest Registry could not increase prices at will. Now, non-profits and other organizations that have been using these domains for years could face steep price increases.

    • The Press Needs An Intervention When It Comes To Over-Hyping 5G

      By now we’ve made it very clear that while fifth generation wireless (5G) is good, it’s being painfully over-hyped. Yes, better faster networks with lower latency are always a good thing. And, in time, these networks will power a lot of nifty things. But if you read press coverage of the technology, you’d walk away thinking that 5G is akin to some kind of mystical panacea; something you just sprinkle around on the sidewalk anytime you want innovation and magic to spring forth from between the cracks. It will somehow result in four-day workweeks, we’re told. It will revolutionize cancer treatment, companies insist.

      Wireless carriers facing slumping smartphone sales would certainly like you to think 5G is more revolutionary than it actually is. So would network hardware vendors eager to sell upgraded gear to those wireless carriers. But again, while faster networks are good, they’re not magic, and it’s the press’ job to make it clear 5G is more evolution than revolution.

  • DRM

    • Microsoft’s Ebook Apocalypse Shows the Dark Side of DRM

      Your iTunes movies, your Kindle books—they’re not really yours. You don’t own them. You’ve just bought a license that allows you to access them, one that can be revoked at any time. And while a handful of incidents have brought that reality into sharp relief over the years, none has quite the punch of Microsoft disappearing every single ebook from every one of its customers.

      Microsoft made the announcement in April that it would shutter the Microsoft Store’s books section for good. The company had made its foray into ebooks in 2017, as part of a Windows 10 Creators Update that sought to round out the software available to its Surface line. Relegated to Microsoft’s Edge browser, the digital bookstore never took off. As of April 2, it halted all ebook sales. And starting as soon as this week, it’s going to remove all purchased books from the libraries of those who bought them.

      Other companies have pulled a similar trick in smaller doses. Amazon, overcome by a fit of irony in 2009, memorably vanished copies of George Orwell’s 1984 from Kindles. The year before that, Walmart shut down its own ill-fated MP3 store, at first suggesting customers burn their purchases onto CDs to salvage them before offering a download solution. But this is not a tactical strike. There is no backup plan. This is The Langoliers. And because of digital rights management—the mechanism by which platforms retain control over the digital goods they sell—you have no recourse. Microsoft will refund customers in full for what they paid, plus an extra $25 if they made annotations or markups. But that provides only the coldest comfort.

    • You Don’t Own What You’ve Bought: Microsoft’s Books ‘Will Stop Working’

      The latest in our forever ongoing series, recognizing in the digital age how you often no longer own what you’ve bought, thanks to DRM and copyright: this week, people with Microsoft ebooks will discover they’re dead.

    • The Gaming Platform Wars Are Beginning To Screw Up Crowdfunding Games

      We’ve talked a great deal of late about Epic Games’ kicking off a PC gaming platform war with Steam through its own Epic Store. What the whole thing comes down to is that the Epic Store offers game publishers a revenue split that takes away half as much revenue from the publisher compared with Steam, coupled with a program for gobbling up 6 to 12 month exclusivity deals on many games that keep them off of Steam during that time period entirely. While Valve responded saying this would hurt gamers, and much of the public appeared to agree, Epic’s Tim Sweeney has twice now spoken publicly about his plans, while also stating that what Epic is really after is a better gaming marketplace and to get Steam to increase its own revenue splits, promising to end the exclusivity program if its rival does so.

      Many of our readers have noticed that I’m somewhat open to Epic’s strategy here, although I’m not certainly buying into it fully. Many of those same readers have rightfully pointed out that, whatever Epic’s longterm goals, the platform wars still aren’t good for the gaming public in the immediate. They’re absolutely right about that and one perfect example of how platform wars and exclusivity deals can hurt fans of PC games has shown up in the form of Shenmue 3.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • USPTO Disables PKI Authentication for EFS-Web and Private PAIR

      In announcing the permanent disablement of PKI authentication, the Office also announced that the deadline for practitioners to migrate a PKI certificate to a USPTO.gov account will be July 16, 2019. Practitioners who fail to migrate their PKI certificates by the July 16 deadline will have to obtain a verified USPTO.gov account using the Office’s new verification process (in the same manner that new practitioners will be required to obtain a verified USPTO.gov account). Information regarding the new verification process can be obtained here. Briefly, the new verification process consists of completing a Patent Electronic System Verification Form (PTO-2042a), having the form notarized, and mailing the original, notarized form to the USPTO. Thus, if you have a PKI certificate, but have not yet migrated that certificate to a USPTO.gov account, you will probably want to do so before the July 16 deadline.

    • Christmas (Tree Patents) In July

      It’s the week of the Fourth of July and that means that it’s time to talk about Christmas trees. Or at least about patents for creating an electric connection between different sections of artificial trees.

      In a pair of decisions yesterday [1][2], both dealing with a dispute between two companies over artificial Christmas trees, the Federal Circuit reversed the Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s determinations. In each case, the Federal Circuit found that the PTAB had applied an overly demanding standard in reaching a decision that the claims were not obvious.

      [...]

      In both cases, the PTAB appears to have been gun-shy of invalidating patent claims, even in the face of persuasive evidence to the contrary. This is consistent with a broader trend at the PTAB. While any given month may have a variety of outcomes, the PTAB has become more likely to uphold a flawed patent claim.

      [...]

      Between the substantive changes and Director Iancu’s rhetoric, PTAB judges may have seen the writing on the wall and begun to shift their decision-making processes towards allowing questionable patents to survive.

    • CRISPR Battle Joined Again

      The Patent Trial and Appeal Board decided that interference was a nullity, because there was no interference-in-fact between Berkeley’s claims (which broadly recited aspects of the CRISPR technology) and those in the Broad patents (which were specifically directed to reagents, systems, and methods for practicing CRISPR in eukaryotic cells. The Federal Circuit affirmed, leaving the Broad’s patent estate intact (albeit arguably dominated by Berkeley’s broader claims not limited to eukaryotic cells).

      Berkeley adopted a strategy of filing several applications last fall specifically directed to eukaryotic cell-directed aspects of CRISPR that would provoke an interference with the Broad claims (although the USPTO declared this interference on the basis that the claims of the Berkeley application were patentable but for the interfering granted claims in the Broad patent).

      The Broad patents and applications included in the interference (i.e., having claims considered to fall within the scope of the interference count) are: U.S. Patent Nos. 8,697,359; 8,771,945; 8,795,965; 8,865,406; 8,871,445; 8,889,356; 8,895,308; 8,906,616; 8,932,814; 8,945,839; 8,993, 233; 8,999,641; 89,840,713; and U.S. Application No. 14/704,551. Broad patents not not involved in this interference are U.S. Patent Nos. 8,889,418 and 9,882,372.

    • Good Luck Enforcing a Payment System Patent Claimed in Abstract Form

      On appeal, the Federal Circuit affirmed the holding — finding that the claim “is directed to the abstract idea of securely processing a credit card transaction with a payment server.” In reaching that conclusion, the court noted that the claim elements are written in “merely functional, result-oriented terms” — “an idea, having no particular concrete or tangible form.” (quoting Ultramercial). Further, the recitation of “servers” limited the invention’s use to particular area of existing technology, but did not “render the claims any less abstract.” (quoting Affinity Labs).

    • Automation & Predictive Analytics in Patent Prosecution: USPTO Implications & Policy

      Artificial-intelligence technological advancements bring automation and predictive analytics into patent prosecution. The information asymmetry between inventors and patent examiners is expanded by artificial intelligence, which transforms the inventor–examiner interaction to machine–human interactions. In response to automated patent drafting, automated office-action responses, “cloems” (computer-generated word permutations) for defensive patenting, and machine-learning guidance (based on constantly updated patent-prosecution big data), the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) should reevaluate patent-examination policy from economic, fairness, time, and transparency perspectives. By conceptualizing the inventor–examiner relationship as a “patenting market,” economic principles suggest stronger efficiencies if both inventors and the USPTO have better information in an artificial-intelligence-driven market. Based on economics of information and institutional-design perspectives, the USPTO should develop a counteracting artificial-intelligence unit in response to artificial-intelligence proliferation.

    • Google Patents Book-Like Foldable Phone with Actual Pages

      Found in the database of WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization) by LetsGoDigital, this 2018 patent depicts a device with three foldable sections, bound together within a hard shell, essentially looking like a very thin hardback book.

    • Under Armour Files Patent Application For Shoes That Will Be Able To Read Your Blood Pressure

      The patent, which was filed with the U.S Patent And Trademark Office on June 25th, describes two possible versions of the shoe, which was originally reported by the Baltimore Business Journal. The first version involves the user of the shoe connecting with a device similar to a Fitbit that would take an athlete’s blood pressure. Depending on the data reading, the sole of the shoe could adjust to improve the blood flow to the athlete’s leg.

      In the patent filing Under Armour is looking to connect to the athletes who suffer from poor circulation in their feet after difficult and physically taxing workouts. Their new technological innovation could lead to less discomfort caused by this common issue.

      The second patent application involves a shoe model that includes a “detector” placed in the bottom of the shoe that can also take a blood pressure reading, similar to that in the first application. Under Armour states in the second application that athletes have issues while recovering because the foot stops pumping blood. This “smart” shoe could alleviate these issues by taking its blood pressure readings.

    • Apple hit by universal keyboard patent infringement case [Ed: A patent troll. “The patent troll acquired the patent from Timothy Higginson for the sole purpose of suing tech companies and not to actually make anything.”]

      Apple is the subject of a patent lawsuit alleging it infringed a patent covering a universal keyboard.
      According to a complaint filed in the US District Court for the District of Delaware, Princeps Interface Technologies alleged that Apple infringed its US patent (6703963).

      The patent was first issued in 2004 and covers smaller keyboards for smaller devices.

    • Huawei Has 56,492 Patents and It’s Not Afraid to Use Them

      As Huawei Technologies Co. comes under unrelenting pressure from the Trump administration, the Chinese telecom giant has one advantage that the U.S. can’t undermine: a vast, global portfolio of patents on critical technology.

      Huawei holds 56,492 active patents on telecommunications, networking and other high-tech inventions worldwide, according to Anaqua’s AcclaimIP. And it’s stepping up pursuit of royalties and licensing fees as its access to American markets and suppliers is being restricted.

      The company is in protracted licensing talks with phone-services provider Verizon Communications Inc. and is in a dispute with chipmaker Qualcomm Inc. over the value of patents. Huawei also lodged claims against Harris Corp. after the defense contractor sued it last year alleging infringement of patents for networking and cloud security.

    • Trademarks

      • CJEU could force EUIPO to rethink offensive trademarks policy: lawyers

        An advocate general’s opinion that the EUIPO erred when refusing the “offensive” trademark ‘Fack Ju Göhte’ could force the office to review its procedures, lawyers predict

      • EUIPO Second Board of Appeal reminds that an opposition may be withdrawn at any time before a decision on appeal becomes final

        Article 66 EUTMR states that “The filing of the appeal shall have suspensive effect.” But what does that mean in practice? Does it imply that an opposition to a trade mark registration may be withdrawn pending such appeal? The answer is yes.

        In a decision delivered earlier this month, the EUIPO Second Board of Appeal considered this very matter and reiterated what the interpretation of this provision should be.

        [...]

        In January 2019, the Opposition Division refused to register the applicant’s sign for part of the contested goods. The applicant filed an appeal, requesting that the decision be set aside in its entirety.

        The opponent withdrew its opposition in April 2019.

        The Board of Appeal confirmed that an opposition may be withdrawn at any moment before the decision on appeal becomes final. In particular, Article 66(1) EUTMR provides that a decision takes effect only as from the date of expiration of the appeal period. Article 68 of the EUTMR sets out that an appeal shall be filed within two months of the date of notification of the decision. The decision is therefore deemed to become final once two months have passed following the initial decision. If the appeal is withdrawn, or two months have passed without an appeal being filed, then that decision becomes final. The same applies in the event that an application is withdrawn within the two-month period.

      • AG Bobek advises CJEU to annul the ‘Fack Ju Göhte’ decision and distinguish between ‘public policy’ and ‘morality’ (and, yes, freedom of expression also matters in trade mark law)

        Can the sign ‘Fack Ju Göhte’, which is also the name of a successful German comedy, be registered as an EU trade mark (EUTM)?

        Well, things have not proved easy for this application, as the EUIPO initially refused registration on grounds that the sign applied for would be contrary to ‘accepted principles of morality’ as per Article 7(1)(f) EUTMR. Subsequently, also the EUIPO Fifth Board of Appeal and the General Court (T‑69/17) upheld the initial EUIPO decision.

        Now, the case is pending before the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) (C-240/18 P).

    • Copyrights

      • Yes, The EU Copyright Directive Does Have A Few Good Ideas — But They Need To Be Implemented Properly

        The problem being addressed here is one Techdirt has written about before. For example, back in 2015, a German museum sued the Wikimedia Foundation for displaying 17 images of the museum’s public domain works of art. Even though the works of art were unequivocally in the public domain, the museum claimed that the photographs were new creations, and therefore covered by copyright. Article 14 aims to clarify that once an object is in the public domain any reproduction of that object is also in the public domain. It’s hardly a huge concession, but it’s better than nothing.

      • Spanish Court Throws Out Copyright Trolling Case

        Spanish ISP Euskaltel has welcomed a decision by a court to throw out a copyright trolling case against one of its customers. The Commercial Court No. 2 of Bilbao dismissed the case due to insufficient evidence supporting a claim for damages. Meanwhile, Euskaltel has now reported a third copyright troll to Spain’s data protection agency for alleged privacy breaches.

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