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11.08.19

Links 8/11/2019: Ubuntu MATE 19.10 Reviewed, FreeBSD Migrating to OpenZFS

Posted in News Roundup at 12:06 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • GNU/Linux

    • Desktop

      • My Linux story: Learning Linux in the 90s

        Most people probably don’t remember where they, the computing industry, or the everyday world were in 1996. But I remember that year very clearly. I was a sophomore in high school in the middle of Kansas, and it was the start of my journey into free and open source software (FOSS).

        I’m getting ahead of myself here. I was interested in computers even before 1996. I was born and raised on my family’s first Apple ][e, followed many years later by the IBM Personal System/2. (Yes, there were definitely some generational skips along the way.) The IBM PS/2 had a very exciting feature: a 1200 baud Hayes modem.

        I don’t remember how, but early on, I got the phone number of a local BBS. Once I dialed into it, I could get a list of other BBSes in the local area, and my adventure into networked computing began.

    • Audiocasts/Shows

      • Episode Ctrl V | User Error 78

        Paying attention to all the Linux users we never hear from, being less clever than we thought, and our biggest fears.

        Plus alternatives to copy paste, and whether Popey loves pink.

    • Kernel Space

      • Graphics Stack

        • AMDVLK 2019.Q4.2 Brings Several More Extensions, Game Tuning

          AMDVLK 2019.Q4.2 is out today as AMD’s second open-source Radeon Vulkan Linux driver update for the fourth quarter.

          With a while since 2019.Q4.1, today’s update is fairly notable especially with newly supported Vulkan extensions. Now wired up for this AMD Vulkan Linux driver is VK_KHR_shader_subgroup_extended_types, VK_KHR_pipeline_executable_properties, VK_KHR_timeline_semaphore, VK_KHR_shader_clock, and VK_KHR_spirv_1_4. Also new is computeFullSubgroups support.

        • The Khronos Group have now released a Vulkan Guide to get you started

          The Khronos Group seems to be making another big push for Vulkan API adoption lately, after putting up an official GitHub repository of code samples they’ve now done a Vulkan Guide.

          Another joint effort between Khronos members, with an aim of it being “the perfect place to get started with the API”. It’s aimed to be a mostly light read, that links to many other helpful resources for learning Vulkan development. They say it’s “intended to help better fill the gaps about the many nuances of Vulkan”.

    • Applications

      • Create Vector Graphics with Open Source Software

        Vector graphics consist of shapes, called objects, which are simple geometric primitives: points, lines, curves, circles, and polygons. The shapes are all based on mathematical equations, to represent images in computer graphics. It is possible to edit each object separately, for example, by changing the shape, colour, size and position. By combining paths that are straight or curved and various colors and shading very detailed illustrations can be created.

        As vector-based images are not made up of a specific number of dots, they can be precisely scaled without any reduction in the image quality. Unlike vector graphics, bitmap images are resolution dependent. This means that it is difficult to alter the size of a bitmap without sacrificing a degree of image quality. Vector graphics also have simpler storage, and the option to convert a vector graphic to a bitmap if needed.

      • QEMU 4.2 Cycle Kicks Off With Inaugural Release Candidate

        The initial release candidate for the upcoming QEMU 4.2 is now available as a sizable update to this important piece of the open-source Linux virtualization stack.

      • Proprietary

        • The 6 Best PostgreSQL Monitoring Tools in 2019

          The main point of monitoring PostgreSQL databases is to ensure that the data they hold is available whenever it is needed and that their performance—i.e. how fast they respond to queries—remains within acceptable parameters. Today, we’re having a look at a few of the best PostgreSQL monitoring tools.

          We’ll start off by briefly explaining what PostgreSQL is, where it is coming from and how it came to be. After all, it can only help to know a bit more about what we’re trying to monitor. Then, we’ll specifically discuss the monitoring of PostgreSQL databases. We’ll learn how database servers should be considered in their entirety and that the best monitoring will not only include the actual database software but also the underlying operating system and hardware. We’ll then get to the core of this post as we introduce the best PostgreSQL monitoring tools we could find and give you a brief review of each one.

        • Confirmed! Microsoft Edge Will be Available on Linux

          Microsoft tried to gain its lost position by creating Edge, a brand new web browser built with EdgeHTML and Chakra engine. It was tightly integrated with Microsoft’s digital assistant Cortana and Windows 10.

          However, it still could not bring the crown home and as of today, it stands at the fourth position in desktop browser usage share.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Games

      • Small Mode returns to Steam, Broadcast Settings appear on Linux and more on Steam Cloud Gaming

        Valve continue upgrading the experience for the new Steam Library with another Beta update available now.

        I know plenty of people missed Small Mode, well the good news is that it has returned! If you go to View -> Small Mode in the top menu it will now correctly switch to it. It has been updated too, so you can view your Collections in it too. Don’t know what Small Mode is?

        [...]

        For the Linux client, Valve updated vaapi decoding to libva2 compatibility, they applied some fixes to free disk space checking due to issues with some NFS mounts and Steam Input’s F12 binding was fixed as well. See the full changelog here.

      • Sweet action-adventure Chasm is now available on itch.io

        Bit Kid have just recently put up their successfully crowdfunded action-adventure game Chasm on itch.io. Announced a few days ago, it’s good to see more developers support the very indie friendly store.

        In Chasm you play as a new recruit taking on your first mission for the Guildean Kingdom. You investigate various rumours about a vital mine being shut down, but what you discover is worse than you had imagined. The whole town is empty, kidnapped by supernatural creatures emerging from the depths. That’s the basic setup anyway, although each play-through will be different thanks to the randomized map.

      • Summer Daze at Hero-U is successfully funded and on the way to Linux

        Summer Daze at Hero-U, the prequel to Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption from Lori and Corey Cole has been funded on Kickstarter so that’s another game on the way to Linux.

        Their campaign ended a few days ago with $106,155 in funding (just over their 99k goal), showing that there’s plenty of gamers out there interested in a Visual Novel that mixes in light RPG and adventure game elements. It did look a bit touch-and-go a few days before the end, thankfully though they got a good boost at the end of the campaign to push it over.

      • Learn about eating enemies in the new Bite the Bullet trailer

        The upcoming run and gun game Bite the Bullet from Mega Cat Studios is looking really good in the latest feature trailer. Currently in development and due to release in Q1 2020, Bite the Bullet is a fast-paced action platformer RPG with diet-based skill trees.

        You work for DarwinCorp, with a mission to collect genetic material from every possible species. A lot of species don’t seem happy about it, so they send you in to collect their genetic data with brute force. What DarwinCorp don’t know, is that you collect it by eating your targets as a half Human, half Ghoul. When you eat you gain access to new abilities, you can transform and unlock more. It’s a gross idea but also somewhat amusing too.

    • Distributions

      • New Releases

      • Screenshots/Screencasts

        • Ubuntu MATE 19.10 Full Review

          Ubuntu MATE is a special flavor of Ubuntu that focuses on the classic desktop. With the release of 19.10, the developers focus on ironing out bugs and streamlining the experience. Did they succeed? In this review, I will show you around the new release with a special focus on stability.

        • Ubuntu MATE 19.10 – Overview of the Installation Process

          Ubuntu MATE is a special flavor of Ubuntu that focuses on the classic desktop. In this video, I’ll show you the entire installation process on real hardware. You’ll see the process from beginning to end, and we’ll perform an installation while wiping out the current OS.

        • Pinebook Pro Unboxed, Booted, Then Taken Apart [Video]

          The second batch of Pinebook Pro pre-orders went live this week, just as buyers of the first wave begun to receive their devices!

          And, naturally, as you’d expect, in true millennial tech ownership style, a swathe of Pinebook Pro unboxing videos started to sprout out of the web’s fertile mantle.

          Including the following comprehensive run-through by YouTuber jpakkane1 (a link to which landed in the omg! tip box yesterday, so thanks Sadat!).

          This 10 minute clip has everything you could possibly want to see: a literal unboxing; first boot experience; side-by-side comparison with (unfair klaxon sound) a 13.1″ MacBook (!); and connection to an external display.

      • Fedora Family

        • Managing software and services with Cockpit

          The Cockpit series continues to focus on some of the tools users and administrators can use to perform everyday tasks within the web user-interface. So far we’ve covered introducing the user-interface, storage and network management, and user accounts. Hence, this article will highlight how Cockpit handles software and services.

          [...]

          Because Cockpit uses systemd, we get the options to view System Services, Targets, Sockets, Timers, and Paths. Cockpit also provides an intuitive interface to help users search and find the service they want to configure. Services can also be filtered by it’s state: All, Enabled, Disabled, or Static. Below this is the list of services. Each row displays the service name, description, state, and automatic startup behavior.

        • Fedora Stakeholders Debate Statically Linking Python For Better Performance

          A surprisingly controversial proposal for Fedora 32 is to shift from dynamically linking Python 3 with the libpython3.X.so library to static linking. The change can yield double digit percentage improvements to Python scripts but at the cost of larger on-disk space.

          There is a change proposal for next spring’s Fedora 32 release to switch to static linking with Python 3 and its library. A 5~27% improvement has been reported as the possible benefit to Fedora though that may vary depending upon the actual Python workload.

    • Devices/Embedded

    • Free, Libre, and Open Source Software

      • My first open source contribution: Talk about your pull request

        Previously, I wrote about keeping your code relevant when making a contribution to an open source project. Now, you finally click Create pull request. You’re elated, you’re done.

        At first, I didn’t even care whether my code would get merged or not. I had done my part. I knew I could do it. The future lit up with the many future pull requests that I would make to open source projects.

        But of course, I did want my code to become a part of my chosen project, and soon I found myself googling, “How long does it take for an open source pull request to get merged?” The results weren’t especially conclusive. Due to the nature of open source (the fact that anyone can participate in it), processes for maintaining projects vary widely. But I found a tweet somewhere that confidently said: “If you don’t hear back in two months, you should reach out to the maintainers.”

      • Key FOSS stakeholders gather to shape Open Source Beyond 2020

        On 14-15 November 2019, the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Informatics, DIGIT and Directorate‑General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology, CONNECT are holding a joint workshop to discuss the future of Open Source Software and Open Source Hardware Beyond 2020, at Avenue de Beaulieu 25, Brussels.

      • Productivity Software/LibreOffice/Calligra

        • Footnotes and Endnotes in LibreOffice Writer

          A note is a string of text placed at the bottom of a page in a book or document or at the end of a chapter, volume or the whole text. The note can provide an author’s comments on the main text or citations of a reference work in support of the text. Footnotes are notes at the foot of the page while endnotes are collected under a separate heading at the end of a chapter, volume, or entire work.

      • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

      • BSD

        • The FreeBSD Migration To OpenZFS Is Still Looking To Be A Great Change

          Last year it was decided that FreeBSD’s ZFS code would be re-based on OpenZFS (ZFS On Linux) code for ultimately better support and functionality as well as largely unifying the open-source ZFS ecosystem. While still transitioning towards the OpenZFS code-base, for FreeBSD it’s still looking to be a positive move and one that will pay off for all parties involved.

      • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

        • libredwg-0.9.2 released

          This is a minor patch update.
          Added the -x,–extnames option to dwglayers for r13-r14 DWGs,
          Fixed some more leaks,
          Added DICTIONARY.itemhandles[] for r13 and r14,
          Added geom utils to some programs: dwg2SVG and dwg2ps,
          Added basic POLYLINE_2D and LWPOLYLINE support to dwg2SVG.

      • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

        • Open Hardware/Modding

          • Tuya helps you easily Design & Manufacture your own Smart Home Solutions

            One person in the LetsControlIt forum thread linked above explains the stock firmware can be updated over-the-air via a Raspberry Pi 3/3+ board using a project named Tuya-Convert.

            [...]

            I stopped there, so sorry there won’t be any CNX Software branded devices, but we can see it’s 5-steps process with functions definition, app UI design, hardware debug, advanced features, and mass production.

            The company also claims to offer “Military-grade AES and HTTPS WAN/LAN encryption”, but Michael Steigerwald, founder of the German IT security startup VTRUST, disproved the claim as the messages contain “canttouchthis” unencrypted password, at least that was the case in December 2018.

            So if you ever wanted to launch your own brand, it looks to be an easy way to get started, but you may want to handle the firmware & software part on your own.

          • The EU declares war on e-waste

            As of 2021, manufacturers across Europe will be required to improve both the reparability and service life of devices such as washing machines, refrigerators, dishwashers, electric motors, light sources and LED screens. Manufacturers must also be more precise when it comes to including energy consumption information on the labels of their products and providing replacement parts for at least 10 years after purchase.

            Laptops and smartphones, however, are not covered under the new rules — more on that later.

      • Programming/Container

        • 4 container usage takeaways from the 2019 Sysdig report

          You probably already knew that most of the containers created by developers are disposable, but did you realize that half of them are only around for less than five minutes? That and other fascinating details are available in the latest annual container report from Sysdig, a container security and orchestration vendor.

          This is the company’s third such report. The results are obtained from their own instrumentation collected from a five-day period last month of the more than 2 million containers used by their own customers. This means the results could be somewhat skewed toward more experienced container developers.

          Nevertheless, the report merits some scrutiny. Here are four important takeaways.

        • CNCF Adopts Longhorn Storage Project from Rancher Labs

          Based on 30,000 lines of Go code employed to create separate engine and management plane, Longhorn is significantly lighter than traditional storage software because it builds on existing Linux storage primitives, Liang says. It also doesn’t require a dedicated storage administrator to deploy and manage. It’s designed from the ground up to be used by the same team managing the Kubernetes cluster, he notes, adding modern storage hardware such as solid-state drives (SSDs) and NVMe backplanes made it easier to build Longhorn without compromising performance.

          While some applications might want to access block storage directly, Liang says Rancher Labs expects most organizations will layer a file system on top of Longhorn to access various forms of persistent storage.

        • Lessons From A Failed SaaS – Building SaaS #37

          In this episode, we talked about the things I learned from my SaaS project and some of the reasons why it failed to succeed financially. We dug into the technical and marketing challenges that I faced and what went wrong.

          I’m shutting down my side project, College Conductor. The SaaS never achieved a sustainable level of success. I started the site to help my wife with her college consulting business. As you can see from what follows, the site didn’t mange to deliver what she (or anyone else) really needed.

        • Setup Complete Qt SDK on Ubuntu Eoan Ermine

          Qt Software Development Kit (Qt SDK) includes Qt Creator IDE & Qt Framework Libraries with Full Code Examples among other things. On Ubuntu 19.10, if you want to develop GUI applications with Qt, you need to install that Qt SDK first with a C++ compiler. Installing it on 19.10 is slightly different to different to 18.04 as this involves configuring GNU GCC C++ compiler on 19.10. After setup, you will have a ready, complete Qt SDK with Creator, Designer, Linguist, and Assistant works with G++ compiler. I hope this will be useful for you all. Happy hacking!

        • PyCharm 2019.3 Beta

          We’re very excited to announce the Beta release for PyCharm 2019.3, a feature-complete preview of the upcoming release. Give the Beta build a go and try all the new functionality – download it from our website.

        • Webinar Recording: “Visual SQL Development with PyCharm” with Maxim Sobolevskiy

          This week we had a webinar with Maxim Sobolevskiy, the DataGrip Product Marketing Manager, showing the wonderful, magical Database tool in PyCharm. The webinar recording is now available.

  • Leftovers

    • Health/Nutrition

      • Warren’s Excellent Opening Gambit on Medicare-for-All

        Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders have set themselves apart from the Democratic presidential field in explicitly advocating Medicare for All proposals. Under their plans, an expanded Medicare system would fully cover everyone in the country. There would be no co-pays, deductibles and premiums — and no private insurance.

      • Flint’s Children Suffer in Class After Years of Drinking the Lead-Poisoned Water

        The contamination of this long-struggling city’s water exposed nearly 30,000 schoolchildren to a neurotoxin known to have detrimental effects on children’s developing brains and nervous systems. Requests for special education or behavioral interventions began rising four years ago, when the water contamination became public, bolstering a class-action lawsuit that demanded more resources for Flint’s children.

        That lawsuit forced the state to establish the $3 million Neurodevelopmental Center of Excellence, which began screening students. The screenings then confirmed a range of disabilities, which have prompted still more requests for intervention.

        The percentage of the city’s students who qualify for special education services has nearly doubled, to 28 percent, from 15 percent the year the lead crisis began, and the city’s screening center has received more than 1,300 referrals since December 2018. The results: About 70 percent of the students evaluated have required school accommodations for issues like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, also known as A.D.H.D.; dyslexia; or mild intellectual impairment, said Katherine Burrell, the associate director of the center.

        “We have a school district where all that’s left are damaged kids who are being exposed to other damaged kids, and it’s causing more damage,” said Stephanie Pascal, who has taught in Flint for 23 years.

    • Security (Confidentiality/Integrity/Availabilitiy)

    • Defence/Aggression

      • A Tight Grip On Our Nuclear Toys

        “Everyone wants to play with the big boys, and the only way to become one of the big boys is to have nuclear toys.”

      • Mexico: One Failed US War Doesn’t Justify Another

        On November 4, ten dual US-Mexican citizens — members of an offshoot sect of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints — died in a highway ambush, apparently the latest casualties of rampant and violent drug cartel activity in northern Mexico.

      • The Language of Erasure

        Last month UK authorities came across a gruesome scene. Thirty-nine bodies were discovered in a freight truck in Essex. Most of these unfortunate souls originally came from Vietnam and were abandoned to die an agonizing, suffocating death alone; the alleged victims of human trafficking. It is not the first time that this has happened. In 2015 Austrian officials found seventy-one bodies in a truck lorry outside Vienna. And in 2000, the bodies of fifty-eight Chinese people were found in a container in Kent.

      • Transcript: Kremlin declines to review comments by Chechen ruler, who says gossipers should be ‘killed’ and ‘imprisoned’

        Meduza: On November 5, Chechen head-of-state Ramzan Kadyrov appeared on Chechen television and called for the severe punishment of those who “violate harmony between people by spreading rumors.” According to translations by the BBC and Current Time, Kadyrov said at a government cabinet meeting that these individuals should be “killed, imprisoned, and scared.” Has the Kremlin looked into this speech? How does the Kremlin respond to the head of one of Russia’s regions advocating murder?

      • Watching My Students Turn Into Soldiers of Empire
      • Iraq: Teargas Cartridges Killing Protesters

        Security forces have fired teargas cartridges directly at protesters in Baghdad, Iraq on numerous occasions since protests resumed on October 25, 2019, killing at least 16, Human Rights Watch said today.

      • Germany: Imams will have to prove they speak the language

        The bill would change current residency and labor ordinances by requiring foreign clerics to prove within a year of arriving in Germany that they understand enough German to discuss key topics such as family, shopping, work, and their immediate surroundings. Prior to that, proof of a basic understanding of German would suffice.

      • The Navy’s Secretive And Revolutionary Program To Project False Fleets From Drone Swarms

        Another way of looking at it is NEMESIS shifts from traditional electronic warfare tactics, in which multiple electronic warfare systems execute individual electronic attacks on multiple enemy sensors to achieve largely individual or localized effects, to a very diverse set of networked electronic warfare systems cooperatively making electronic attacks on huge portions of an enemy’s sensor network. That network may stretch across large distances and multiple warfighting domains. In doing so, it achieves a cohesive set of far more unified, powerful, and convincing effects.

      • US Adds Mali Jihadist to Global Terrorist List

        Since its formation, JNIM has targeted Malian and French troops, as well as U.N. peacekeepers. The group has been blamed for the deaths of more than 500 civilians and the kidnapping of dozens of others in attacks in the Sahel region, including the June 2017 attack at a resort frequented by Westerners outside Bamako, Mali, and the March 2018 attacks in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.

    • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

      • The FBI tried to make Iceland a complicit ally in framing Julian Assange

        Former Icelandic Interior Minister tells Independent Australia how he blocked U.S. interference in 2011 in order to defend WikiLeaks and its publisher Julian Assange. Sara Chessa reports.

        A MINISTER OF THE INTERIOR wakes up one summer morning and finds out that a plane full of United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents has landed in his country, aiming to carry out police investigations without proper permission from the authorities.

        How many statesmen would have the strength to say, “No, you can’t do this”, to the United States? Former Icelandic Interior Minister Ögmundur Jónasson, in fact, did this — and for the sake of investigative journalism. He understood that something wrong with the sudden FBI mission in Reykjavik, and that this had to do with the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks and its publisher Julian Assange.

        Initially, it looked like a simple matter of collaboration against cyber attacks.

    • Environment

    • Finance

      • Taxing Bill Gates $100 Billion, Counters Bernie Sanders, Could End Homelessness and Microsoft Founder ‘Would Still Be a Multibillionaire’

        The message, said the 2020 candidate, is that “the billionaire class cannot have it all when so many have so little.”

      • Fighting Words for Young Workers From a Radical Elder

        I was explaining to my 26-year-old son recently that while I’m continuing to work as a writer, because I waited until age 70 to begin collecting my Social Security benefits, I am now collecting almost $29,000 on top of what I earn doing my freelance journalism thing.

      • Hiking the Estate Tax Will Help Close the Wealth Gap

        As the gap between America’s richest 1% and the rest of the country continues to widen, conservative politicians have weakened one of the best tools for combating economic inequality. That tool is the federal estate tax on family fortunes. We should strengthen this tax so the wealthy start paying their fair share.

      • How Unofficial Capital Controls Stopped a Run on the Banks in Lebanon

        Lebanon’s banks were closed for two weeks due to the mass protests throughout the country. The banks opened last Friday (1 November). There was the expectation of a run on the banks and massive capital flight as Lebanese, expatriate Lebanese and foreigners withdrew their cash. It didn’t happen, but it doesn’t mean that all is well despite the repeated assurances of the banks, the Central Bank, and the Association of Banks in Lebanon. The banks are playing fast and loose with the realities on the ground.

      • How U.S. Sanctions on Iran Are Killing Innocent People

        In late October, Human Rights Watch released a short report with a sharp title—“Maximum Pressure: US Economic Sanctions Harm Iranians’ Right to Health.” In November 2018, a year ago, the U.S. renewed its unilateral sanctions against Iran, and included “secondary sanctions” on non-U.S. entities. | By Vijay Prashad

      • Is the Run on the Dollar Due to Panic or Greed?

        What’s going on in the repo market? Rates on repurchase agreements (“repo”) should be around 2%, in line with the fed funds rate. But they shot up to over 5% on September 16 and got as high as 10% on September 17. Yet banks were refusing to lend to each other, evidently passing up big profits to hold onto their cash – just as they did in the housing market crash…

      • America’s Education System: Teaching the Price of Everything and the Value of Nothing

        I am a substitute teacher (grades K-12) in a public school system located in Virginia, a state on the eastern seaboard of the United States. For many years prior to becoming a substitute teacher, I also taught at a private school in Virginia. Tuition and fees at the private school are approximately $42,000 (USD), the public schools are, of course, tuition free.

      • The Road to Homelessness
      • The Class Warfare of Billionaires Against Sanders and Warren

        For many decades, any politician daring to fight for economic justice was liable to be denounced for engaging in “class warfare.” It was always a grimly laughable accusation, coming from wealthy elites as well as their functionaries in corporate media and elective office.

      • ‘Maybe Rich People Can See the Writing on the Wall’: CEOs Stepping Down at Levels Not Seen Since 2008

        “You expect a high turnover during a recession period. To see more turnover during a period where companies are doing very well is surprising.”

      • Inequality and the Iron Law of Decaying Public Services

        Fires are raging everywhere in California these days, and firefighters are having enormous trouble keeping up. Chronically understaffed local fire departments simply don’t have the resources to handle act one of what climate change has in store for us.

      • The Nature Conservancy and BLM Collaborate to DeFacto Privatize and Destroy Our Public Land

        In a recent article the Bureau of Land Management, The Nature Conservancy, and local ranchers claimed that removing conifers, mainly juniper trees, on public lands increases and improves habitat for sage grouse, big game, and other species that rely on juniper/sagebrush habitat. But the best available science and on-the-ground evidence from similar projects show that it does just the opposite.

      • Why is Latin America Burning?

        In Latin America several countries are under turmoil, as people cannot even meet their most basics needs. The last few months have seen a remarkable spectacle: hundreds of thousands of citizens are taking to the streets to protest to what they perceive is their governments’ attack on their well-being, and the governments’ responses have been late and inadequate.

    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

      • Massive Power, Dangerous Lies, and Why Corporations Like Facebook Must Be Broken Up

        Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook says he’ll run political ads even if they are false. Jack Dorsey of Twitter says he’ll stop running political ads altogether. Dorsey has the correct approach but the debate skirts the bigger question: Who is responsible for protecting democracy from big, dangerous lies? Donald Trump lies like most people breathe.

      • The Rediscovery of Civil Society: Perils and Potentials

        The concept of “civil society” gained epic popularity in the past few decades. The discourse of civil society entered dramatically into the global political and academic scene in the 1970s with the advent of the Polish Solidarity movement. We in the West watched with amazement and tears of joy as the power of the human spirit confronted totalitarian state power in country after country, first in Poland, then spreading to Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, East Germany, and the former Soviet Union (including Russia and her former satellites).

      • ‘Baby Trump Is Coming to Tuscaloosa!’: 12-Hour GoFundMe Signals Alabama Protesters Ready for President

        “All extra funds will he donated to the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery,” said organizer behind the effort. “Will update once we have a location. He needs a lot a space seeing as he is a big baby.”

      • Tom Steyer Aide Offered Money for Endorsements

        A top aide to Democratic presidential candidate Tom Steyer in Iowa privately offered campaign contributions to local politicians in exchange for endorsing his White House bid, according to multiple people with direct knowledge of the conversations.

      • Social Media Is Amplifying Trump’s Rants and Disinformation More Than Ever—Can Society Protect Itself?

        As 2020 nears, disinformation—intentionally false political propaganda—is increasing and getting nastier.

      • $2 Million and Compulsory Training for President’s Children Called ‘Poetic End’ to Trump Charity Abuse Case

        The New York attorney general, whose office filed the suit, said that “no one is above the law—not a businessman, not a candidate for office, and not even the president of the United States.”

      • ‘The Answer Is Not Joe Biden’: The Nation Magazine Issues Official Anti-Endorsement

        “Stumbling through the primaries, Biden’s zombie campaign crowds out worthier challengers, handing Trump a free pass on the very issues that should be his Achilles’ heel.”

      • ‘Outrageous’: Sanders Condemns Kentucky GOP for Threatening to Overturn Gubernatorial Election

        “In a democracy, we cannot allow politicians to just overrule election results,” said the 2020 Democratic presidential candidate. “The will of voters must be respected.”

      • Living a Mixed Metaphor: Down the Rabbit Hole With Donald Trump

        There can be no question about it. Donald Trump is Lewis Carroll’s Queen of Hearts. “Off with his head!” was the president’s essential suggestion for — to offer just one example — a certain whistleblower who fingered him on that now notorious Ukrainian phone call. And if The Donald hasn’t also been playing the roles of White Rabbit, Mad Hatter, and other characters from Carroll’s classic nineteenth century children’s book, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, then tell me what he’s been doing these last years.

      • Why a Russian Politician Just Called Trump ‘Hitler’
      • Right-Wing Nationalism Threatens Our Future

        What follows is a conversation between journalist John Feffer and Marc Steiner of The Real News Network. Read a transcript of their conversation below or watch the video at the bottom of the post.

      • Governments Beware: People Are Rising Up All Over the World

        Lately there seem to be an unusually large number of mass resistance movements unfolding in countries all over the world. Here in the U.S., Puerto Rico’s recent political turmoil upended the entire local government structure. In Latin America, there have been upheavals over the past few weeks in Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador and Chile. In the Caribbean, Haiti is experiencing its worst political turmoil since the 2004 ouster of President Jean Bertrand Aristide. On the other side of the planet, Arab nations like Iraq and Lebanon have erupted into mass upheavals. Sudan just a few months ago toppled dictator Omar al-Bashir and now wants his party disbanded. And in Hong Kong, months of mass sustained protests have brought the nation to a standstill. What is happening?

      • Moscow awards half a billion rubles in compensation for land where the ex-mayor’s wife once spent more than 11 billion rubles reportedly for a golf club

        Moscow Arbitration Court judge Maksim Makhalkin has awarded the city a plot of land in the Khoroshevo-Mnevniki District for the construction of a new subway station on the Bolshaya Koltsevaya line. The owner of the land, an Austrian company called “Reno Immobilienhandels GmbH,” will receive more than 529 million rubles ($8.3 million) in compensation.

      • Throwing the Base Under the Bus—and Other Deep Thoughts From NYT

        The New York Times‘ Thomas Edsall has an axe to grind, and the paper loves to let him grind it. Edsall is convinced that the Democrats need to move to the center, in ways that will offend much of the party, in order to appeal to the moderate white “swing” voters he believes are the key to a Democratic victory in 2020.

      • Mainstream Media Pro-Johnson Propaganda Gets Into Full Swing

        We are now under election broadcasting rules.

      • Of Course Donald Trump Jr. Outed the Alleged Whistle-Blower

        Tweeting a link to a story on Breitbart that named the person believed to have filed the complaint against the president, first son Donald Trump Jr. also included the name in his tweet just in case his followers wanted to save themselves a click. Then he flew off the handle in the face of criticism for [checks notes] putting an individual’s life in grave danger. “The outrage on this is BS,” Junior told reporter Yashar Ali, adding that true Don Jr. Trumpologists should know better than to suggest he tweeted the whistle-blower’s alleged name at the behest of the administration. “Those pretending that I would coordinate with The White House to send out a Breitbart link haven’t been watching my feed for a long time,” he added in a text message. (The White House told Ali that neither the president nor any senior administration officials were aware Jr. was going to tweet the alleged name in advance. They did not add if the president subsequently gave his son a cookie for doing so, or if he promised the two would have a catch in the backyard real soon.)

      • Trump attempts to distance himself after Don Jr. names purported Ukraine whistleblower on Twitter

        The president’s eldest son went a step further on Wednesday, posting the purported whistleblower’s name on Twitter to his 4 million followers while sharing a Breitbart article alleging that the whistleblower “worked closely” with a Trump critic, because both were included in an email chain while they worked in the Obama administration.

      • Bill Gates and Elizabeth Warren are tweeting at each other about wealth inequality [iophk: tweets in place of official communications :( ]
    • Censorship/Free Speech

      • Federal Court Says Man Arrested For ‘Criminally Defaming’ Cops Can Continue Suing To Block The Law From Being Enforced

        As we’ve noted multiple times here at Techdirt, criminal defamation laws are unconstitutional, outdated, and almost exclusively used by law enforcement agencies to punish their critics. The ACLU — along with a victim of New Hampshire’s terrible criminal defamation law — is hoping to have this law struck down as unconstitutional.

      • The big questions behind TikTok’s looming national security investigation

        Less than two months after TikTok came under fire for appearing to censor videos related to the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, the app is facing a new challenge from the US government. The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) has contacted TikTok’s Chinese parent company ByteDance with concerns that the app could pose a threat to US citizens.

        Those concerns will most likely lead to a national security review — one that lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have been calling for since early October. In the end, ByteDance could be forced to sell off Musical.ly, the American company it acquired in 2017 that helped launch TikTok’s viral success. If that happens, it could mark the end of TikTok in the US, and serve as a warning to any Chinese company looking to break into the American market.

    • Privacy/Surveillance

      • Insider Threats: DOJ Says Twitter Employees Spied On User Accounts For Saudi Arabia

        We live in interesting times. A year ago, the NY Times had reported that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was aggressively using Twitter to keep tabs on and harass critics of the government. As part of that story, it also claimed that the Saudis might have a “mole” within the company in the form of Ali Alzabarah, who had risen through the engineering ranks to a point where he could access information on people the Saudi government was interested in. That story only noted that Western intelligence agencies had alerted the company that the Saudis were “grooming” Alzabarah. Now, the DOJ has charged two former Twitter employees, including Alzabarah, along with a third individual who worked in social media marketing, with spying for the Saudis. The complaint is worth reading.

      • The Race Is On To Create A Federal Online Privacy Law: First Entry From Reps. Eshoo & Lofgren

        There’s a race on to have Congress introduce a comprehensive federal privacy law. As you may (or may not?) know, the US really doesn’t have a law protecting our privacy. To date, any privacy protections have been a mixture of other laws, from the defanged 4th Amendment protecting (in theory more than reality) against government intrusion into our private lives, to the FTC’s consumer protection mandates. However, many people recognize that this probably isn’t doing enough to protect privacy in this age — and with the EU taking the lead with the GDPR, it’s become clear that the US needs to put at least something in place. So far, Congress has failed to come up with much, and there’s a bit of a ticking time bomb in the form of California’s hugely problematic CCPA law, which is set to go into effect on January 1st, despite a long list of problems with the law.

      • “He’s F–king Destroyed This Town”: How Mark Zuckerberg Became the Most Reviled Man in Tech

        Not anymore. On my last couple trips up to San Francisco, not one person I spoke to had anything good to say about Facebook, a company that minted hundreds of Bay Area millionaires when it went public in 2012. (Facebook, which once offered one of the most coveted jobs in the United States, has since fallen from being the number one “best place to work,” according to the job-survey site Glassdoor, to seventh place.) The list of reasons for the fall from grace are endless. There were the data breaches and privacy scandals, the Cambridge Analytica fiasco, and the Russian hacking of the 2016 election. Facebook monopolized the digital-advertising market, got media companies hooked on its traffic pipeline, then destroyed careers when it pulled the plug. Along the way, Zuckerberg was slow to acknowledge Facebook’s impact on the world, dismissing any complicity in election meddling (a “pretty crazy idea”) or Facebook’s responsibilities as a media platform (“We are a tech company, not a media company”) or an arbiter of hate speech (“I don’t believe that our platform should take [Holocaust denials] down”). Perhaps most offensive to his well-heeled neighbors, Zuckerberg was ruthless in crushing the competition, acquiring rivals or copying their features with single-minded purpose.

      • Documents Show Facebook Controlling Competitors With User Data: Report

        Some 7,000 pages of documents reveal how Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg and his team harnessed users’ personal information to reward partners by giving them preferential data, while depriving rivals of the same sort of information, it reported.

        NBC said the emails, notes and other documents dated as far back as 2011 and were supposed to be kept out of the public eye pending the civil case in California.

      • Twitter and Facebook Are Global Bullhorns for Trump’s Lies. We Need to Break Them Up

        Intermediating between the powerful and the people was once mainly the job of publishers and journalists—hence the term “media.”

        This role was understood to be so critical to democracy that the Constitution enshrined it in the First Amendment, guaranteeing freedom of the press.

        With that freedom came public responsibility, to be a bulwark against powerful lies. The media haven’t always lived up to it. We had yellow journalism in the 19th century and today endure shock radio, the National Enquirer and Fox News.

        But most publishers and journalists have recognized that duty. Think of the Pentagon Papers, Watergate and, just weeks ago, the exposure of Trump’s withholding $400 million in security aid to Ukraine until it investigated his major political rival, Joe Biden.

        Zuckerberg and Dorsey insist they aren’t publishers or journalists. They say Facebook and Twitter are just “platforms” that convey everything and anything—facts, lies, conspiracies, vendettas—with none of the public responsibilities that come with being part of the press.

        Rubbish. They can’t be the major carriers of the news on which most Americans rely while taking no responsibility for its content.

      • Former Twitter employees charged in US with spying on accounts for Saudi Arabia

        The two Saudis and one US citizen allegedly worked together to unmask the ownership details behind dissident Twitter accounts on behalf of the government in Riyadh and the royal family, the department said.

        According to a court filing, they were guided by an unnamed Saudi official who worked for someone prosecutors designated “Royal Family Member-1,” which The Washington Post reported was Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

        Those charged were former Twitter employees Ali Alzabarah and Ahmad Abouammo, along with Ahmed Almutairi, a marketing official with ties to the royal family.

      • Why Facebook Is Soliciting Lies

        Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg shares with President Donald Trump the belief that he can blatantly lie about his past and get away with it. Testifying before Congress in October, Zuckerberg intimated that he had founded Facebook to oppose the Iraq War. (Trump, of course, also lies about his alleged opposition to the war.) But Zuckerberg’s actual 2003 creation, FaceMash, was a “hot or not” guide for piggish male Harvard students (like himself). Again, sounding a lot like Trump, he had blogged about women’s photos as he was making FaceMash, “I almost want to put some of these faces next to pictures of some farm animals and have people vote on which is more attractive.”

      • Google, Facebook and many others are coming for your health data: watch out for your privacy

        Last week, Google announced that it would be buying Fitbit, valuing the 12-year-old company at $2.1 billion. Many have seen this as an attempt to boost Google’s position in the wearables sector. So far, the company’s Wear OS platform has made relatively little impact. The acquisition certainly improves Google’s position, but it is only part of a much larger strategy to scoop up the huge amounts of data that are now being generated in the health sector: “Google aspires to create tools that help people enhance their knowledge, success, health and happiness.”

      • WeWork Hit With Biometric Privacy Suit Over Facial Scans

        WeWork allegedly uses facial scans to track people in its shared office spaces without informed written consent, in violation of the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act, according to a class complaint in Illinois state court.

        “When individuals arrive at a WeWork office space, each Defendant requires them to have their facial geometry scanned to enroll them in We Work’s database(s),” plaintiff Elliot Osborne alleges.

        The lawsuit highlights the risks for gig economy companies in gathering Illinois residents’ biometric data. Most Illinois biometric privacy cases are filed by employees against their employers for using fingerprint time-keeping systems and other biometric identifiers to track employee movement without the required consent.

        WeWork collects the biometric data without getting informed written consent, Osborne alleged in his Nov. 5 complaint.

        BIPA allows for $1,000 to $5,000 in statutory damages per violation. That could mean significant liability for WeWork, depending on the size of the potential class and the viability of the plaintiff’s claims.

    • Freedom of Information / Freedom of the Press

    • Civil Rights/Policing

      • ‘I hope Russia will fight for me’ Libertarian activist Mikhail Svetov says he’s being politically persecuted with pedophilia allegations

        On October 6, libertarian activist and politician Mikhail Svetov was named in a felony case involving supposedly lewd acts against a minor. Svetov is currently a witness in the investigation, but police have searched his home and officials interrogated him for 12 hours on Wednesday. In August 2019, moreover, Russia’s federal censor, Roskomnadzor, added Svetov’s Instagram page to its list of banned websites (without actually blocking it) because of several posts the agency deemed to be child pornography. Mikhail Svetov is perhaps the most prominent member of Russia’s unregistered Libertarian Party, and he’s one of the main speakers and organizers responsible for this summer’s opposition protests in Moscow. He also has a YouTube channel with 164,000 subscribers, and he gives lectures around the country, often at events that are disrupted by local police. Meduza asked Svetov why he thinks he’s been named in the felony investigation.

      • Russian libertarian activist reportedly faces pedophilia case because of charges filed by ‘Izvestia’ (which denies it)

        The felony pedophilia case against libertarian activist Mikhail Svetov was launched in response to charges filed by the “Izvestia” multimedia information center. Svetov’s lawyer, Mikhail Biryukov, says the allegations concern one of Svetov’s Instagram posts from 2012. Izvestia reportedly filed a complaint against the post on August 7, 2019, and Russia’s federal censor, Roskomnadzor, added the content to its ban list a week later.

      • ‘Dystopian’: Reproductive Rights Advocates Decry California Woman’s Murder Charge Over Her Stillborn Baby

        “Pregnant people being criminalized and thrown in jail because of their pregnancy outcomes is not just a warning for the future: It’s already here.”

      • California City Abuses Computer Crime Laws In Suit Aimed At Stopping Journalists From Publishing Records

        A state appeals court in California struck down an order that undermined freedom of the press and prohibited a blog from publishing documents allegedly obtained through the City of Fullerton’s Dropbox account.

        Joshua Ferguson, a contributor to Friends For Fullerton’s Future, filed a lawsuit under the California Public Records Act against the City of Fullerton in mid-October after they failed to provide files related to police misconduct that he requested.

      • Bernie Sanders Calls to Break Up ICE

        With the goal of creating a “welcoming and safe nation for all,” Sen. Bernie Sanders on Thursday unveiled a sweeping plan to fundamentally overhaul America’s inhumane immigration system by reversing President Donald Trump’s xenophobic executive orders, placing a moratorium on deportations, ending ICE raids, and confronting root causes—including “decades of disastrous foreign policy decisions”—that have destabilized and impoverished Latin American nations.

      • We Said We Would See Him in Court and We Did
      • Macron Should Call Out Tajikistan President for Brutal Repression

        The last time Tajikistan President Emomalii Rahmon visited France, he shook hands with his then-counterpart Jacques Chirac in Paris. That was 2002. President Rahmon is by far the longest-serving leader in Central Asia and presides over a brutal human rights climate in Tajikistan. This Friday, Emmanuel Macron is set to welcome him back to France.

      • Texas officer who shot woman in her home sometimes had ‘tunnel vision,’ review says

        Dean said he had wanted to join the military and saw becoming a police officer as a “way to do some of those same things without having to deploy overseas.”

      • Vietnam: Drop Terrorism Charges Against Political Campaigners

        Vietnam should drop terrorism charges against three men accused of affiliation with an overseas political group that presently advocates for democracy, human rights, and political reform, Human Rights Watch said today. The People’s Court of Ho Chi Minh City is scheduled to hear their case on November 11. 

      • EU: Address Croatia Border Pushbacks

        The European Commission’s October 22, 2019 conclusion that Croatia is ready to join the Schengen Area wilfully brushes over evidence of violent pushbacks of migrants at its borders, Human Rights Watch said today in releasing a video documenting the abuses.

    • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Digital Restrictions (DRM)

      • Publishers Should be Making E-Book Licensing Better, Not Worse

        Macmillan, one of the “Big Five” publishers, is imposing new limits on libraries’ access to ebooks—and libraries and their users are fighting back.

        Starting last week, the publisher is imposing a two-month embargo period on library ebooks. When Macmillan releases a new book, library systems will be able to purchase only one digital copy for the first eight weeks after it’s published. Macmillan is offering this initial copy for half-price ($30), but that has not taken away the sting for librarians who will need to answer to frustrated users. In large library systems in particular, readers are likely to experience even longer hold queues for new Macmillan e-book releases. For example, under the new Macmillan embargo, the 27 branches of the San Francisco Public Library system, serving a city of nearly 900,000 people, will have to share one single copy right when the demand for the new title is the greatest.

    • Monopolies

      • Patents and Software Patents

        • Patent case: Case X ZR 47/16, Germany

          The Federal Court of Justice rejected a joint request by the parties to stay proceedings because of ongoing settlement negotiations. It held that the parties’ request had been made too late and was therefore no longer considered appropriate. The parties should have taken the scheduling of the hearing, but at the latest the approaching of the hearing, as an occasion to consider the possibility of a settlement.

        • Update on Section 101 Abstract Idea Reversal Rates at the PTAB

          We previously reported on the relative high number of reversals for abstract idea rejections. While still respectable, some months reached into the 30%s of rejections being reversed. This was jump from previous months (where the reversal rate hovered around 15%) likely stemmed from new USPTO leadership and new guidelines. Now it looks like the Board has fallen back.

          In October, there were 193 abstract idea rejections decided at the PTAB. Of these, 34 were reversed, meaning that the reversal rate was only 17.6%. A few things might explain this.

          It is likely that the applications that are actually making their way to the Board have already been filtered based on the updated guidance. So the applications that were weaker may have had prosecution reopened or allowances rather than getting sent to the Board. To confirm, we should have functionality on Anticipat as we just added bulk PEDs data to our database. Stay tuned.

      • Trademarks

        • Public Backlash Leads To Backcountry.com Backing Down From Trademark Bullying

          Trademark bullies, being the obviously frustrating entities that they are, rarely incorporate enough shame to allow for any retreat from their bullying ways. Still, occasionally you come across a trademark bully that actually feels enough public pressure to back down. Relatively rare as these instances are, it’s worth highlighting when an informed public actually pushes back on a bully enough to get them to back down.

      • Copyrights

        • Airbnb rentals and communication to the public: do you need a specific licence for your TV/radio sets?

          Earlier this week, The IPKat received an intriguing couple of questions from a reader who is currently studying IP law: does someone renting out their spare bedroom on Airbnb around 50% of the time have to acquire a separate licence for the TV set which they have in said room? and what if they also have a radio set that allows guests to play music in said environment?

        • USPTO Questions if Artificial Intelligence Can Create or Infringe Copyrighted Works

          There is no question that artificial intelligence is destined to replace some human work in the future. But can something that’s created by AI technology be copyrighted? And can AI creations infringe copyrights of others? These are questions the US Patent and Trademark Office would like to have answered by asking the public for input.

        • USDOJ Highlights Threat of Increasingly Sophisticated Pirate Services

          The Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division of the United States Department of Justice has issued a warning in respect of the way pirate material is being distributed online. A decade ago, individual downloads were the norm, Brian Benczkowski says. Today, however, technologically advanced multi-national streaming services are taking over while generating millions of dollars in profits.

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