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01.04.20

Links 4/1/2020: Libinput 1.15, Q4OS 3.10 and Shotwell 0.30.8 Released

Posted in News Roundup at 5:31 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • GNU/Linux

    • Nathan Wolf: Linux in the Kitchen | Life Enhancement Blathering

      There are so many ways Linux can be used. Most commonly, we see it used to run the Internet in servers and cloud thingies and such. If you are a desktop user, you might use it for office tasks in your home or work, maybe you are a content creator and you do video or audio editing, maybe you game or do 3D design, such as in parametric modeling, such as using Fusion 360 on Linux. There is another place that Linux fits quite nicely, that place is your Kitchen. At this stage, I would, in no way, give up Linux in the kitchen or trade it for a poor substitute like ChromeOS (which I have before). General Purpose Linux, the real thing, belongs in the kitchen as much as a coffee pot microwave oven or a toaster. I am not talking shoe-horning it into the life-center of your home, it is a perfect fit.

      It is almost an automatic fit with using Linux for “traditional productivity” but it is not often thought about in the kitchen. Linux is something that makes domestic life a bit easier. Here are a couple of ways Linux just makes my life a bit easier and makes you look like a renaissance man or woman. I personally don’t have natural talent in the kitchen but out of necessity, I have to perform these functions better, more efficiently with improvements in my measure of performance as well as my measure of effect. As in, my kids enjoy what I make.

      I am going to break down the applications that I use in the Kitchen to help organize my life just a little bit better. I will admit, that I am a work in progress on this. I am continually tweaking this but I am at a point now where I feel like it is a satisfactory solution and not just a novelty. I am running this on openSUSE Tumbleweed but I can’t see why you couldn’t use any other distribution… like openSUSE Leap.

    • Desktop/Laptop

      • Chromebooks silently testing microphone support for Linux on Chrome OS 79

        Chrome OS may have supported Linux applications since 2018, but it debuted with quite a few limitations. Though GPU acceleration finally started to land for some Chromebooks in the middle of last year, the Linux container still hasn’t been able to capture audio input for things like microphones. Or, at least, it couldn’t until the feature silently landed with Chrome OS 79.

        [...]

        The feature has been tested and works with applications like Audacity and should work with any audio input device recognized by Chrome OS, including external devices like dongles or USB microphones. The only real drawback right now is that you might have to sort through a handful of audio input devices before you find the correct one, and you might have to perform these steps again if you restart your Chromebook.

      • Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition comes with Ubuntu 18.04

        Ahead of CES 2020 next week, Dell has released new details on its updated Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition which will ship with Ubuntu 18.04.

        The latest edition of Dell’s popular laptop for developers includes the company’s first-ever four sided InfinityEdge display which will feature a 16:10 aspect ratio as opposed to the 16:9 display found on the previous generation. The new Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition can even be outfitted with a 4K 3840 X 2400 touchscreen panel with HDR 400.

        One new addition that will likely be welcomed by developers is the inclusion of fingerprint-reader support that will make it easier for secure authentication. However, this feature won’t be available at launch but will be rolled out shortly after via an OTA update.

        [...]

        The latest XPS 13 Developer Edition will be released at the beginning of February and the device will have a starting price tag of $1,119 for the Core i5 model with 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD.

        However, if you’d prefer to pick up the latest model of the regular Dell XPS 13, it will be available in January starting at $999. The reason the Developer Edition is priced a bit higher is because Dell offers better baseline specs for its developer-focused systems than it does for its consumer-focused machines.

      • $20 DIY USB ‘Kill Cable’ Locks Down Your Linux Laptop If Snatched In Public

        A software engineer has created a DIY USB “kill cable” that can shut down or wipe out your Linux laptop if someone tries to snatch it from your table or lap when you are working in public spaces like malls, cafes or parks.

        Dubbed the “BusKill,” this USB cable has been designed by Michael Altfield who is a software engineer and Linux sysadmin by profession.

        BusKill cable can be connected to your laptop on one end and to your belt on the other end. So when someone tries to snatch your laptop from your lap or table — the USB cable will get disconnected from the laptop and trigger a udev script that can execute a series of preset operations.

      • My New Year’s resolution is to finally ditch Chrome, Windows and other computing crap in 2020

        When it comes to dropping Windows, I’ve got plenty of choice when it comes to Linux. There are some brilliant distros out there that offer polished and well supported operating systems. During my time at Linux Format (a fine magazine that you should all be reading), I grew particularly fond of elementary OS, a stylish disto that is easy to use, and being based on Debian, has got excellent app support – including Steam.

        As for games – while native support in Linux still isn’t great, things like Proton, which is a tool created by Valve, let you run Windows games in Linux via emulation. Now, that might have an impact on performance, but seeing as I’m currently running a super-powerful PC that can run the likes of Red Dead Redemption 2 at 8K resolution, I could simply brute-force those games to run.

    • Kernel Space

      • The Linux Kernel Code of Conduct Committee Begins Offering Regular Reports

        Greg Kroah-Hartman on Friday released a December 2019 report on the behalf of the Code of Conduct committee. This marks of what they hope will be regular (monthly?) reports from the committee on their work.

        For last month they received just one report simply described as “insulting behavior in email.” Stemming from an investigation, that lone report resulted in “education and coaching” but without shining any further light onto the incident.

        At least a lone report for the month on the kernel mailing list that sees thousands of posts per month (from a quick count on their archive, around 9,760 mailing list posts for December).

        Previously from the start of the CoC in September 2018 through July of 2019 they indicated three instances of insulting behavior in emails and one case of inappropriate language in the kernel source tree. From August through November there were no reports. In the four earlier reports, they all resulted in the “education and coaching.”

      • Graphics Stack

        • Radeon Gallium3D Fixes Up 10-Bit HEVC Video Decode Support

          Hitting Mesa 20.0-devel a short time ago were a set of patches to the Radeon Gallium3D video code for fixing 10-bit HEVC video decode support.

          The AMD Radeon open-source Linux graphics driver has supported 10-bit HEVC video decode acceleration using the P016 format, but that has caused problems with GStreamer-based software while working fine for the likes of MPV and FFmpeg.

        • libinput 1.15.0
          libinput 1.15 is now available.
          
          No significant changes over the RC, merely quirks for the Logitech MX Master
          2S and the Madcatz R.A.T.3 mouse. Thus, to fill the void with useful
          stuff, let's copy-paste the RC1 announcement text here so it looks like
          we've been busy:
          
          A few new features, a lot of maintenance work. On the feature front we have
          scroll button locking and tablet pad keys support.
          
          Scroll button locking holds a scroll button logically down even when the
          button is physicall released. This applies to button scrolling (hold the
          button while moving a mouse up/down generates scroll events). Previously the
          button had to be physicall held down during the scroll motion which is
          difficult for a number of users. When the scroll button lock is enabled, the
          first click of the button holds it logically down, the second click releases
          it. This feature comes with the usual set of configuration hooks:
                 libinput_device_config_scroll_set_button_lock()
                 libinput_device_config_scroll_get_button_lock()
                 libinput_device_config_scroll_get_default_button_lock()
          
          Some tablet devices have hardware buttons that are designed to map to a
          specific functionality (e.g. to open the OSD). These buttons are now
          supported through the new LIBINPUT_EVENT_TABLET_PAD_KEY event. Noteworthy
          here is that for those events the key code matters (unlike the tablet pad
          button code which is just a sequential number). See the documentation for
          more details. In addition to the event we have a new API to query whether a
          given tablet has a specific hw key:
              libinput_device_tablet_pad_has_key()
          
          
          Other than those, a whole bunch of device specific-fixes and general
          cleanups. Touchpad scrolling was approximately 10% faster than the nominal
          pointer speed, that has been adjusted now.
          
          The new libinput debug-tablet tool is useful to check whether a tablet sends
          the full axis values (or any, for that matter). libinput debug-events now
          takes multiple devices, libinput record has a better CLI for recording
          multiple devices simultaneously and libinput replay had simultaneous replay
          fixed.
          
          Tablet forced proximity out has been improved - it won't happen while the
          pen is down.
          
          In libinput 1.14 we disabled a direct tool switch from tablets, causing the
          eraser button to stop working. This was caused by some tablets that break
          the spec and act as if pen and eraser are both in proximity when the button
          is pressed. This issue is fully fixed now and the eraser button should work
          as expected now.
          
          And finally, lots of fixes to the CI with the massive benefit that we can
          actually run the test suite in the CI now. Less reliance on my little laptop
          is a good thing.
          
          As usual, the git shortlog is below.
          
          Anatolii Lishchynskyi (1):
                quirks: ignore mode switch button on Madcatz R.A.T.3 mouse
          
          Björn Daase (1):
                quirks: fix horizontal scrolling for Logitech MX Master 2S on bluetooth
          
          Peter Hutterer (8):
                gitlab CI: use a minimal alpine image for the commit checks
                gitlab CI: fix skopeo copy
                gitlab CI: update to latest ci-templates
                meson.build: re-add missing trailing slash to the HTTP link
                doc/user: fix some HTML formatting
                test: add the test cases to the suite in the utils tests
                test: indentation fix
                libinput 1.15.0
          
        • Libinput 1.15 Released For Improving Input On X.Org + Wayland Desktops

          Among the changes to find with libinput 1.15 are scroll button locking, a new pad key event for special event buttons (such as for launching an on-screen display), touchpad scrolling speed fixes, a new libinput debug-tablet tool, various device fixes / quirks added, and other fixes.

        • Mesa Development Activity Was Up By ~20% In 2019, Just Under 3 Million Lines Of Code

          Mesa3D as principally the collection of Linux OpenGL/Vulkan drivers is up to 2,996,270 lines of code (and documentation / associated scripts) within its Git tree! That should put it over the three million mark very soon while the Git activity was up by about 20% in 2019.

          Mesa’s nearly three million lines is spread across 7,282 files and has seen commits from over one thousand developers and amounting to 118,826 commits as of New Year’s Day.

        • Zink Is Moving Closer To OpenGL 3.0 Support Over Vulkan

          Zink was one of the Mesa/Gallium3D innovations that saw mainline status in 2019 for offering OpenGL support atop Vulkan hardware drivers. While an interesting approach, so far only the dated OpenGL 2.1 support has been exposed but the Collabora-led effort is closing in on OpenGL 3.0 capabilities.

          Zink could play a vital role in the future when GPU hardware vendors begin focusing on Vulkan support exclusively or at least otherwise dropping OpenGL support for future generations of hardware. Though the primary limitations for this generic OpenGL-over-Vulkan layer is that Zink is quite slow compared to dedicated hardware drivers and that only OpenGL 2.1 has been exposed to date.

        • X.Org Server Development Hits A Nearly Two Decade Low

          With Red Hat shifting their support to Wayland and expecting the X.Org Server to go into a hard maintenance mode quickly, in 2019 indeed it did.

          Without any other companies investing significantly into the X.Org Server itself with engineering resources, the X.Org Server is seeing little work these days beyond work to XWayland for running X11 applications on top of Wayland and also work to GLAMOR as the 2D acceleration code over OpenGL. It’s rare seeing activity elsewhere sans the occasional commits to the xf86-video-modesetting DDX driver.

  • Benchmarks

    • Linux 5.4 vs. Liquorix Kernel Benchmarks For AMD Ryzen + Radeon Gaming On Ubuntu

      The Liquorix kernel is the long-standing effort for providing a “better distro kernel” optimized for desktop/multimedia/gaming workloads. As it’s been a while since last testing the Liquorix kernel spin of Linux, I recently carried out some tests of its Linux 5.4 based kernel compared to Ubuntu’s generic mainline PPA images of Linux 5.4 as well as the low-latency kernel variety.

      The Liquorix kernel continues to tweak its Linux kernel configuration and add in extra patches for aiming to optimize the kernel for gaming/desktop-type workloads. Liquorix employs the MuQSS scheduler, Zen interactive tuning, a 1000Hz tick rate, hard kernel preemption, BFQ for the I/O scheduler, and other tweaks.

      On an AMD Ryzen 9 3900X + Radeon RX Vega 64 system I ran benchmarks with its 5.4.0-6.3-liquorix official kernel build for Ubuntu compared to the Linux 5.4.6 mainline kernel builds both of the generic and lowlatency binaries from the Ubuntu Mainline Kernel PPA.

  • Applications

    • Shotwell 0.30.8 Released with Fix for Tumblr Publishing

      Shotwell 0.30.8 was released today as the latest stable version. Here’s how to install it in Ubuntu 18.04 and higher.

    • Vim Creator Bram Moolenaar Aiming To Improve Vim Performance With Vim9 Fork

      Bram Moolenaar began developing Vim as an improvement over the Vi editor while now he is looking to make improvements over Vim itself with an experimental fork called Vim9.

      Vim9 is an experimental fork of Vim that is principally focused on making Vim scripts execute faster and better to deal with. Vim9 is Bram’s playground for Vim improvements with trying to make Vim scripts run faster. This comes after Vim 8.2 brought popup boxes and text properties for addressing the other leading requests for improvements to this text editor.

    • Daniel Stenberg: Restored complete curl changelog

      For a long time, the curl changelog on the web site showed the history of changes in the curl project all the way back to curl 6.0. Released on September 13 1999. Older changes were not displayed.

      The reason for this was always basically laziness. The page in its current form was initially created back in 2001 and then I just went back a little in history and filled up with a set of previous releases. Since we don’t have pre-1999 code in our git tree (because of a sloppy CVS import), everything before 1999 is a bit of manual procedure to extract so we left it like that.

      Until now.

      I decided to once and for all fix this oversight and make sure that we get a complete changelog from the first curl release all the way up until today. The first curl release was called 4.0 and was shipped on March 20, 1998.

      Before 6.0 we weren’t doing very careful release notes and they were very chatty. I got the CHANGES file from the curl 6.0 tarball and converted them over to the style of the current changelog.

  • Instructionals/Technical

  • Wine or Emulation

    • Wine Announcement
      The Wine development release 5.0-rc4 is now available.
      
      What's new in this release (see below for details):
        - Bug fixes only, we are in code freeze.
      
      The source is available from the following locations:
      
      https://dl.winehq.org/wine/source/5.0/wine-5.0-rc4.tar.xz
      
      
      http://mirrors.ibiblio.org/wine/source/5.0/wine-5.0-rc4.tar.xz
      
      Binary packages for various distributions will be available from:
      
      https://www.winehq.org/download
      
      You will find documentation on https://www.winehq.org/documentation
      
      You can also get the current source directly from the git
      repository. Check https://www.winehq.org/git for details.
      
      Wine is available thanks to the work of many people. See the file
      AUTHORS in the distribution for the complete list.
      
      
    • Wine 5.0-RC4 Released With The Stable Update Expected Later This Month

      Wine 5.0-RC4 has just 15 fixes including for bugs affecting Adobe Photoshop CS5, audio CD detection with multiple applications, Pokemon Reborn, and various games. Most of the fixes are fairly mundane making Wine 5.0-RC4 quite a small release unless by chance you were impacted by one of these fifteen bugs.

    • A fourth release candidate is out for Wine 5.0

      With a full release expected a bit later this month, Wine 5.0 has a fourth release candidate up to get in some last testing.

      Since they’re currently in a “code freeze”, no big fancy new features are currently being pulled in while they hammer in the final few nails to ensure Wine 5.0 is as stable as possible. For Wine 5.0 RC4 only 15 bugs were noted as fixed. Usual applies, some are old bugs seeing retesting that were fixed in older releases.

      A pretty quiet release but that’s to be expected both with the festive period, plus winding down to actually get the release out and done. Find the release notes here.

  • Games

    • Electronic Arts is banning some Linux gamers from Battlefield V

      Some Linux gamers who are using Wine to play Battlefield V are finding themselves permanently banned from the game.

      Player using the DXVK package are falling foul of Electronic Arts’ anti-cheat system, seemingly because the DXVK Direct3D DLLs — used to render 3D scenes in Wine — are detected, for some reason, as being a cheat tool.

      While annoying for those affected, the problem is not unheard of. As BleepingComputer notes, the DXVK project page itself issues a warning: “Manipulation of Direct3D libraries in multi-player games may be considered cheating and can get your account banned. This may also apply to single-player games with an embedded or dedicated multiplayer portion. Use at your own risk”.

      Complaints from gamers who have been hit with a ban can be found on the Lutris discussion forums. One banned player who contact Electronic Arts to find out what was going on received the following reply…

    • EA Appears To Be Permanently Banning Linux Players On Battlefield V

      Many users have taken to the Lutris Forums to report that EA is permanently banning Linux players on Battlefield V. “Good friends, finally after some time without being able to play Battlefield V for Linux, this week I was using lutris-4.21, I was having fun when my anti-cheat, FairFight, blew me out of the game, so I was banned,” writes one user. “As I was not using any cheating, I think the anti-cheat considered dxvk or the table layer that used at the time as cheating…” Another user said the “same problem” happened to them, and they “got banned on tuesday for cheating.”

      While some users await a response from EA, others have received an email confirming the action that was taken on their account. “… After thoroughly investigating your account and concern, we found that your account was actioned correctly and will not remove this sanction from your account,” the email states.

    • Linux Gamers Banned in Battlefield V if Using Wine and DXVK

      Linux users who are running Battlefield V under Wine with DXVK are being permanently banned from Electronic Art’s Battlefield V because the anti-cheat system is mistakenly detecting them as cheating.

      Wine is an application that allows users to run Windows programs directly in Linux. To better run 3D games, users can install the DXVK package, which will create new Direct3D DLLs that utilize the Vulkan graphics API to render games in Wine.

      According to a forum post at Lutris.net, Linux users are reporting that Electronic Art’s anti-cheat system for Battlefield V is detecting these DLLs as a game modification and triggering an automatic and permanent ban on their accounts.

    • Some of our most anticipated games for Linux in 2020

      A new year has arrived, so let’s have a quick look over some of the most promising titles to be coming to Linux across 2020. There’s plenty to be excited about. If any take your fancy, you can click the screenshot for a better look.

    • The Humble Choice bundle is up for January with 12 games to pick from

      Humble Choice (formerly Humble Monthly) has a new set of games up for January and this time there’s 12 to pick from.

      Each month, Humble put out a selection of games and depending on what tier of Choice you’re on, you get to pick between 3-9 games to keep. The selection for January isn’t great for Linux supported titles, but you may get on well if you make use of Steam Play Proton.

    • Police Stories gives you more chances to practice your tactics with custom missions

      Mighty Morgan keep improving their tactical top-down shooter Police Stories, with an update landing last month adding in a Custom Mission mode. See Also: Original thoughts on Police Stories.

      While there’s a lot to enjoy in the story mode, apart from the cheesy cliché story, being able to mess around and do whatever you want was missing. Police Stories felt like it really needed a mode where you set it up how you want, especially for when you’ve finished the main campaign. Now it’s in, with the Custom Mission mode. Thankfully, it’s unlocked right away so you can enjoy practising as much as you want.

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • KaOS 2020.01

        A nice way of starting 2020 is to present to you the January release of a new stable ISO.

        For the many changes in this release, two stand out. First one is the addition of signed kernel modules for Linux 5.4. All internal modules are now automatically signed during the kernel build, out of tree modules like virtualbox-modules and NVIDIA packages have the signing added too. Building of those modules was adjusted to use the kernel specific signing files during each and every rebuild. You can harden your system by adding module.sig_enforce=1 to your kernel boot line.

  • Distributions

    • Kali Linux to Default to Non-Root User With 2020.1 Release

      The Kali Linux distribution is going to switch to a new security model by defaulting to a non-root user starting with the upcoming 2020.1 release.

      This change will come with the release of the 2020.1 version scheduled for late January 2020, but users can already test it via the daily builds.

      They will also be able to test it by downloading and running the weekly images released until Kali 2020.1 will be officially available.

      “New year is a good time for major changes, and in that spirit we would like to announce a major change in the Kali security model releasing in the upcoming 2020.1 release – Default Non-Root User,” the Kali Linux team announced on Twitter.

    • New Releases

      • Q4OS 3.10 Centaurus, stable

        A significant update of the Q4OS 3 Centaurus stable LTS desktop is immediately available for download. The new 3.10 series brings important changes for key Q4OS desktop environments, Plasma and Trinity. Both desktops are now much more independent one on each other, Q4OS Plasma doesn’t require presence of the Trinity desktop anymore. As a positive side effect, we could significantly reduce size of the Plasma installation media.

        In addition to adoption the Debian Buster 10.2 release, we have included a dedicated hardware reporting tool into both Plasma and Trinity live media. Screen scaling tool for Trinity desktop has been even improved again. Plasma Debonaire theme has been polished, so it now looks a bit darker. Apart from the changes mentioned, Q4OS 3.10 brings numerous improvements and fixes as well as cumulative upgrade covering all changes since the previous Q4OS 3 Centaurus stable release, see the complete Changelog.

        Current users only need to perform regular update of their systems to get new Q4OS amenities and make existing installations up to date. New users can immediately download any kind of the Q4OS installation media images from the Downloads section of the Q4OS website.

    • Screenshots/Screencasts

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandriva/OpenMandriva Family

      • The January 2020 Issue of the PCLinuxOS Magazine

        The PCLinuxOS Magazine staff is pleased to announce the release of the January 2020 issue. With the exception of a brief period in 2009, The PCLinuxOS Magazine has been published on a monthly basis since September, 2006. The PCLinuxOS Magazine is a product of the PCLinuxOS community, published by volunteers from the community. The magazine is lead by Paul Arnote, Chief Editor, and Assistant Editor Meemaw. The PCLinuxOS Magazine is released under the Creative Commons Attribution- NonCommercial-Share-Alike 3.0 Unported license, and some rights are reserved. All articles may be freely reproduced via any and all means following first publication by The PCLinuxOS Magazine, provided that attribution to both The PCLinuxOS Magazine and the original author are maintained, and a link is provided to the originally published article.

        In the January 2020 issue:

        * RIP Sproggy! You Will Be Missed
        * GIMP Tutorial: Photo Filmstrip
        * PCLinuxOS Family Member Spotlight: rgradle
        * Tip Top Tips: Move Firefox 71′s Tab Bar BACK To The Bottom
        * Casual Python, Part 12
        * ms_meme’s Nook: PCLOS Capers
        * IPTV: Free Streaming Over The ‘Net
        * Short Topix: Mozilla Removes Avast, AVG Firefox Extensions Over Snooping Claims
        * De-Googling Yourself, Part 8
        * PCLinuxOS Recipe Corner: Impossibly Easy Bacon Pie
        * And much more inside!

        This month’s cover was designed by parnote.

        Download the PDF (12.2 MB)

        https://pclosmag.com/download.php?f=2020-01.pdf

        Download the EPUB Version (9.4 MB)

        https://pclosmag.com/download.php?f=202001epub.epub

        Download the MOBI Version (8.1 MB)

        https://pclosmag.com/download.php?f=202001mobi.mobi

        Visit the HTML Version

        https://pclosmag.com/html/enter.html

      • [PCLinuxOS] Screenshot Showcase
      • PCLinuxOS Family Member Spotlight: rgradle

        PCLinuxOS (KDE) is currently running on my desktop machine (ASUS m/b with AMD A10 processor), and on an HP laptop computer (AMD Phenom II/Mate). Performance on the desktop machine is great, but a bit slow on the laptop. I do some video editing for my church on the desktop machine using Kdenlive, a native Linux application that is very powerful. I also do some graphics development for the church using GIMP. Very powerful, but long learning curve with GIMP. Now I wish I had paid more attention to the GIMP articles that appeared in the PCLinuxOS magazine some time ago. I have a Windows 10 virtual machine on my desktop computer for a few applications that will not run under Linux. My wife, a Windows user from way back, was right at home on her KDE desktop in no time at all. When people try to tell me how complicated Linux is to use, I always bring up my my wife’s experience as an example of how easy Linux, and especially PCLinuxOS, is to use.

        One of the things I always appreciate about PCLinuxOS is that the software is well thought out, meaning that the updates generally work well and without problem. This is really a nod to those to maintain the software in the repository. Thank you, thank you. Also, I always appreciate the help available on the forum. Even when I have made newbie errors, someone is always willing to provide direction to get me on the path forward. Just outstanding.

      • R.I.P, Sproggy! You Will Be Missed!

        On December 23, 2019, our beloved PCLinuxOS family member, Sproggy, lost his battle with cancer.

        [...]

        When I first joined the PCLinuxOS forum, Sproggy was a moderator. We both hit it off pretty early on. My interactions with him increased a lot when I took over the editor’s role for the magazine. We would chat frequently — usually daily — in the magazine’s IRC channel on FreeNode, then called #pclinuxos.mag (it’s now #pclosmag).

        We would chat about everything and anything. We’d talk about family, politics (particularly anytime there was a General Election coming up in the U.K.), world events, personal trials and tribulations, work, what’s for dinner, and sometimes just nonsense. There was hardly a topic we didn’t touch on. At that time, the magazine’s IRC channel was a hopping place. Joble, Hootiegibbon, CSolis, grnich, ms_meme, AndrezjL, Meemaw, myself and many others frequently hung out there. Sproggy would join in on the conversations with just about everyone.

    • Gentoo Family

      • Gentoo News: FOSDEM 2020

        It’s FOSDEM time again! Join us at Université libre de Bruxelles, Campus du Solbosch, in Brussels, Belgium. This year’s FOSDEM 2020 will be held on February 1st and 2nd.

        Our developers will be happy to greet all open source enthusiasts at our Gentoo stand in building K where we will also celebrate 20 years compiling! Visit this year’s wiki page to see who’s coming.

    • Arch Family

      • Now using Zstandard instead of xz for package compression

        As announced on the mailing list, on Friday, Dec 27 2019, our package compression scheme has changed from xz (.pkg.tar.xz) to zstd (.pkg.tar.zst).

        zstd and xz trade blows in their compression ratio. Recompressing all packages to zstd with our options yields a total ~0.8% increase in package size on all of our packages combined, but the decompression time for all packages saw a ~1300% speedup.

        We already have more than 545 zstd-compressed packages in our repositories, and as packages get updated more will keep rolling in. We have not found any user-facing issues as of yet, so things appear to be working.

      • Arch’s Switch To Zstd: ~0.8% Increase In Package Size For ~1300% Speedup In Decompression Time

        Arch Linux has been working the past several months on transitioning to Zstd-compressed packages in place of XZ compression for faster package installation. At the end of December that package compression scheme changed and the results are impressive.

        The package compression ratio for XZ and Zstd are similar and when recompressing all of Arch’s packages with Zstd yielded a total increase of about 0.8% for all packages combined. However, the decompression time for all Arch packages saw a ~1300% speedup. Also promising is that no issues have come up yet in their testing.

    • Fedora Family

      • Fedora 32 Looking At Using EarlyOOM By Default To Better Deal With Low Memory Situations

        For months there has been many different discussions over the Linux desktop’s poor performance when under memory pressure / out-of-memory type situations. That has resulted in some upstream work so far like GNOME GLib’s GMemoryMonitor as well as discussions by distribution vendors about what solutions they could enable today to help the low memory situations. Fedora 32 could begin shipping and using EarlyOOM by default to help in this area.

    • Debian Family

      • ElectronPlayer

        There is a new tool available for Sparkers: ElectronPlayer

    • Canonical/Ubuntu Family

      • Ubuntu Studio 20.04 LTS Status

        We are writing this post to answer this question which is a definitive YES unless otherwise posted, meaning circumstances would have to drastically change at this point to make it non-LTS.

        It seems as though the non-LTS status of 18.04 caused a lot of shock and has people now, nearly two years later, questioning the viability of Ubuntu Studio as a whole and whether or not it even has a future.

        If it didn’t have a future, 19.04 and 19.10 wouldn’t have had releases, since we went through a bit of a crisis in March of 2019. However, those issues were mitigated and Ubuntu Studio is stronger than ever, with our leader Erich Eickmeyer having upload permissions on select Ubuntu Studio-specific packages (and now doing packaging on new multimedia items in Ubuntu that aren’t in Debian), our Debian Developer Ross Gammon having upload permissions on the Ubuntu Studio Package Set, and Ubuntu Core Developer Thomas Ward who has upload privileges to the entire Ubuntu archive. This is a position we were not in two years ago, but we are now.

  • Devices/Embedded

  • Free, Libre, and Open Source Software

    • Web Browsers

      • Mozilla

        • Karl Dubost: Week notes – 2020 w01 – worklog – First week

          After 10+ days of holidays, the first morning is going through the pile of bugs and emails. I had cleaned my desk before leaving for holidays on December 21. So starting this morning was like a fresh breeze. I’m on diagnosis rotation. Let’s discover the effect of holidays on the pile. I’m pleasantly surprised. Ah I see! Ksenia did the hard work. Cool.

          [...]

          The webcompat-bot was not only suspended by GitHub, but also all the issues with it in the repo. It means hours of work just gone. We probably need to prepare for this again. And we need to have a reliable backup of all issues (and comments) and probably events, labels, etc.

          Basically we need a static version of the issues we have been working on.

          In the meantime we are keeping track of the events in a detailed incident report (non public) and some information in public. We also deployed a landing page for webcompat.com/issues/new.

          Once we know what it was about I would detail a bit more things.

        • Karl Dubost: Week notes – 2019 w51 – worklog – Last week

          At the end of this week, I will be out of work until January 2nd. I’m looking forward the next 10 days from 21 to 31. But first… work!

        • Tip Top Tips: Move Firefox 71′s Tab Bar BACK To The Bottom

          It seems like about every six releases or so, Mozilla’s Firefox developers change the format (or change something in the format) for the userChrome.css file that allows users to customize their Firefox interface. Then, Firefox users who have tweaked the Firefox interface to be **just right** for their use have to start all over again and try to figure out the new changes to get their customizations back. The last change to the userChrome.css occurred with Firefox 65.

          Right on cue with Firefox 71, Mozilla’s Firefox developers have done it again. Yep. They have altered SOMETHING in the userChrome.css file that renders previous userChrome.css file iterations ineffective and rather useless.

          So, this month’s tip comes from Ramchu, where he shows us how to move Firefox 71′s tab bar BACK to the bottom-most spot on the Firefox toolbar, where many users prefer it to be, and where many users feel it should be. Color me (Paul Arnote, the magazine’s chief editor) a believer of both. At LEAST give us a choice, amongst all the other choices users are presented with to easily make the desired change.

        • Short Topix: Mozilla Removes Avast, AVG Firefox Extensions Over Snooping Claims

          In its “infinite” wisdom, Google has now blocked certain Linux web browsers from accessing its services, according to an article on BleepingComputer. These Linux web browsers include Falkon, Konqueror and QuteBrowser. All but QuteBrowser are in the PCLinuxOS repository. Google asserts that they “may not be secure” … as if logging into any Google service is like logging into some kind of fortress of security and privacy.

          The issue was reported on Reddit by u/onedoer. Ironically, there are also several replies in the Reddit thread of other users who have had no problem using the aforementioned Linux web browsers.

          BleepingComputers, in their independent tests, were able to confirm — on multiple machines — the inability to log into Google services on both Falkon and Konqueror. Clicking on the “Learn More” link reveals a number of reasons that Google provides for the possible block. They could include lack of support for JavaScript or having JavaScript support turned off, having unsecure or unsupported extensions installed, the use of automated testing frameworks, or the browser is embedded in a different application.

          There is only speculation about why the web browsers work for some users, but not others. Google has not yet responded to a query from BleepingComputers with an answer of any kind. Imagine that.

    • Productivity Software/LibreOffice/Calligra

      • About problems in LibreOffice from Linux distro packages

        Very big thank you for all people who write bug reports about LibreOffice in to our bugzilla. But sometime I see, that your problems are only in Linux distro’s (like SuSe, Ubuntu, Arch, etc.) LibreOffice and we can’t repro your problem in LibreOffice from TDF site.

    • CMS

      • The Month in WordPress: December 2019

        As 2019 draws to a close and we look ahead to another exciting year let’s take a moment to review what the WordPress community achieved in December.

        WordPress 5.3.1 and 5.3.2 Releases

        The WordPress 5.3.1 security and maintenance release was announced on December 13. It features 46 fixes and enhancements. This version corrects four security issues in WordPress versions 5.3 and earlier. Shortly afterwards, WordPress 5.3.2 was released, addressing a couple high severity Trac tickets, and includes 5 fixes and enhancements, so you’ll want to upgrade. You can read more about these releases in the announcements for 5.3.1 and 5.3.2.

    • Health

      • State saves millions with open source EHR

        In the decade since they were made a cornerstone of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act in 2009, electronic health records (EHRs) have become omnipresent in the US health system. EHRs enable healthcare providers to keep track of their patients’ medical data and share it with other authorized parties.

        VistA, an open source EHR solution developed by the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), is a highly rated and free alternative to expensive, proprietary EHR software. The State of North Carolina saved millions of dollars by choosing VistA, says K.S. Bhaskar, president of database company (and VistA implementer) YottaDB, in his Lightning Talk at All Things Open 2019, “VistA on Linux: A complete FOSS stack for electronic health records.”

    • FSF

      • Licensing / Legal

        • A Brief History of Open Source Software, Part 2: OSS Licenses and Legalities

          It would not be an exaggeration to say that the magic of open source software (OSS) is based as much on legal innovation as it is on collaboration. Indeed, the essential innovation that launched free and open source software was not Richard Stallmans GNU Project, but his announcement of a revolutionary new licensing philosophy, and the actual license agreements needed to put that philosophy into effect. Only later did global collaboration among developers explode, riding the wave of Stallman’s licenses, Linus Torvald’s pioneering work in creating the distributed development process, and rapidly increasing telecommunications bandwidth.

          In this installment, we’ll explore how Stallman’s philosophy spread and forked, and where it has taken us to today.

          The legal theories, agreements, and documentation that relate to OSS, and its precursor, Free and Open Source Software (for convenience, in this installment I’ll refer to both types collectively as FOSS), are far too complex to explore more than superficially in an article of this type. But for current purposes, it is less important to acquire a deep knowledge of FOSS legal terms than it is to gain insight into why the legalities of FOSS are so important.

        • Allison Randal Joins Conservancy Board

          We’re very excited to welcome Allison Randal to Conservancy’s Board of Directors. When it comes to free and open source software, there are few people who have had so much experience in so many different ways. Over the last 30 years, she has taken on projects that became instrumental in welcoming more people to the software freedom cause. She’s made numerous critical technical contributions in addition to her impressive leadership contributions. She’s also worked hard to get folks from very different organizations to collaborate on languages, licensing and events. We’re very lucky that Randal has chosen to bring her uniquely broad and historical perspective to her work as a Conservancy Director.

          Randal is a board member at the Perl Foundation, a board member at the OpenStack Foundation, and co-founder of the FLOSS Foundations group for free software community leaders. At various points in the past she has served as president of the Open Source Initiative, president of the Perl Foundation, board member of the Python Software Foundation, chairman of the Parrot Foundation, chief architect of the Parrot virtual machine, Open Source Evangelist at O’Reilly Media, conference chair of OSCON, Technical Architect of Ubuntu, Open Source Advisor at Canonical, Distinguished Technologist and Open Source Strategist at HP, and Distinguished Engineer at SUSE. She collaborates in the Debian project, and is currently taking a mid-career research sabbatical at the University of Cambridge. While on sabbatical, she has been teaching computer science.

        • Bruce Perens quits Open Source Initiative amid row over new data-sharing crypto license: ‘We’ve gone the wrong way with licensing’

          Last year, lawyer Van Lindberg drafted a software license called the Cryptographic Autonomy License (CAL) on behalf of distributed development platform Holo – and submitted it to the Open Source Initiative (OSI) for approval as an Open Source Definition-compliant (OSD) license.

          The debate over whether or not to approve the license, now in its fourth draft, has proven contentious enough to prompt OSI co-founder Bruce Perens to resign from the organization, for a second time, based on concern that OSI members have already made up their minds.

          “Well, it seems to me that the organization is rather enthusiastically headed toward accepting a license that isn’t freedom respecting,” Perens wrote in a missive to the OSI’s license review mailing list on Thursday. “Fine, do it without me, please.”

          Perens, for what it’s worth, drafted the original OSD.

          Another open-source-community leader familiar with the debate – who spoke with The Register on condition of anonymity – claimed Lindberg lobbied OSI directors privately to green-light the license, contrary to an approval process that’s supposed to be carried out in public.

          “I don’t think that’s an appropriate characterization,” said Lindberg, of law firm Dykema, in a phone interview with The Register. “I think there are number of people who from the beginning made up their minds about the CAL. You’ll see a lot of people jumping onto any pretext they can find in order to oppose it.”

    • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

      • Open Data/Storage

        • Open source storage: driving intelligence in the small data sprawl era

          Open source storage is an emerging phenomenon; data storage software that is developed in a public, collaborative manner under a license that permits the free use, distribution and modification of the source code.

          Organisations are now dealing with a huge amount of data, petabytes-worth, and it all needs to be stored in manner that is flexible, accessible and secure, while allowing analytics and intelligence-driven solutions to gain actionable insights from it.

          There are a three trends that have given rise to open source storage and Stephen Manley — chief technologist at Druva — has helped Information Age dissect the subject.

          [...]

          He pointed to two of the most popular open source storage offerings, Ceph and Lustre. Both of them have a very different architecture than file systems before, such EXT4 or ZFS. One of the big differences with them is that they separate out the data storage into “a big book object” and they store the metadata in a separate database. And to Manley, this reflects that they’re building for a cloud architecture, “because cloud storage only started being anchored on object storage and then offers database services on top”, he explained.

        • Researchers develop new open-source system to manage and share complex datasets

          A research team has developed an open-source data-management system that the scientists hope will solve all of those problems. The researchers outlined their system today in the journal PLOS ONE.

          “We wanted to create a file format and a dataset model that would encapsulate the majority of datasets we work on, on all the instruments in a lab,” said Philip Grandinetti, professor of chemistry at The Ohio State University and senior author of the paper. “There’s this long-standing problem, pervasive among scientists, that you buy a multimillion-dollar instrument and the companies that make that instrument have their own proprietary format, and it’s a nightmare to share with anyone else.”

          Large datasets are tricky to share, in part because software is often proprietary, but also in part because the files are often so large that they are hard to share in an email or through a cloud-based server. And even if the files can be exported as a file type that can be shared, important metadata—the things that explain what the dataset actually is—are often lost.

    • Programming/Development

      • new, switch and assert keywords in Java

        When we create a class in Java and decide to use this class, we need to make an object of this class and using the object of the aforementioned class we control and use the components of the class.

        An object of a class works like the handle of a motorbike. If you need to control the bike you need to hold the handle of this bike. I believe you have understood why we need to create an object.

        You must be thinking if the object is so important, we need to know how to create an object of a class. We create an object of a class by using the ‘new’ keyword. The ‘new‘ keyword gives instructions to the processor to holds the memory in the system to store the object of this class.

      • The Rust Programming Language Blog: Reducing support for 32-bit Apple targets

        The Rust team regrets to announce that Rust 1.41.0 (to be released on January 30th, 2020) will be the last release with the current level of support for 32-bit Apple targets. Starting from Rust 1.42.0, those targets will be demoted to Tier 3.

        The decision was made on RFC 2837, and was accepted by the compiler and release teams. This post explains what the change means, why we did it, and how your project is affected.

      • Ruby 2.7 Now Available

        As with past few releases, the last major release of the Ruby programming language before 3.0 was released around Christmas. Ruby 2.7.0 comes with new features and performance improvements “larger in scale than previous releases”, as the team behind Ruby puts it.

        Among the newly introduced changes are pattern matching, REPL improvement, compaction GC and the separation of positional and keyword arguments. One of the most highlighted additions is Pattern matching, a widely used feature in functional programming languages. Introduced as an experimental feature, it can traverse a given object and assign its value if it matches a pattern.

      • Perl / Raku

        • My Y2020 Bug

          For reasons that must have been clear at the time, I once wrote a test in terms of epoch time, and wanted it to run on systems that did not use January 1 1970 as the epoch. So I loaded Time::Local and added timegm( 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 70 ) to the desired epoch.

          This morning I got a CPAN testers report failure. It seems that if you give timegm() a year in the range 0-99 it assumes it is within 50 years of the current year, so my test suddenly thought the epoch was 2070.

      • Python

        • Creating Feeds with Django

          Django ships with built-in syndication feed generating framework, which is used to generate dynamic Atom and RSS feeds.

          RSS is an abbreviation for Really Simple Syndication, it’s a way to have information delivered to you instead of you having to go find it. RSS is basically a structured XML document that includes full or summarized text along with other metadata such as published date, author name, etc.

        • entry_point_inspector 0.1.2

          Entry Point Inspector is a tool for looking at the entry point plugins installed on a system.

        • Python Data Weekly Roundup – Jan 3 2020
        • Talk Python to Me: #245 Python packaging landscape in 2020

          Python is growing incredibly quickly and has found its place in many facets of the developer and computational space. But one area that is still shaky and uncertain is packaging and shipping software to users.

        • Python Bytes: #162 Retrofitting async and await into Django
        • PyOpenGL 3.1.5 is Out

          I’ve pushed out the PyOpenGL 3.1.5 release. It has some (relatively minor) fixes for wgl and egl operations, and one for what looks like a change in numpy scalar handling in the latest numpy. Available on PyPI now.

        • How to Automatically Send Text Messages on Android Using Python

          The process of sending text messages can be automated easily using the Python Programming Language by writing a few lines of code. Python provides modules like PYAIRMORE that can be used to send text messages from android device. This module has many functions but we will discuss about sending messages. Sending messages using PYAIRMORE is same as sending messages from your android. The only difference is we perform this task by writing a script and by means of scripting, you can automate a lot of stuff. To perform this task, you must have an android device with AirMore app installed on it.

        • DjangoCon Europe 2020 Announcement

          Your location prior to the event is not significant. We can do all things that need to be done in Porto ourselves. The only important thing is that you have the energy and free time to help organize a wonderful DjangoCon Europe. The official language of all these prior activities will be English, as well as the conference itself.

        • Adding Custom Model Managers In Django

          A manager is an interface through which database query operations are provided to Django models. At least one Manager exists for every model in a Django application, objects is the default manager of every model that retrieves all objects in the database.

          However, one model can have multiple model managers, we can also build our own custom model managers by extending the base manager class.

        • Python 3.7.5 : Testing the PyMongo package – part 001.
        • Casual Python, Part 12
  • Leftovers

    • A Grim New Definition of Generation X

      People born in the 1960s may be the last human beings who will get to live out their full actuarial life expectancies.

    • 2020 Hindsight

      The last ten years have not been pretty. The chaotic hopes implicit in the Occupy movement in the US were dashed by the reactionary response implicit in the inauguration of Donald Trump as president of the world’s most hated nation. Likewise, similar hopes in repressive regimes throughout the Middle East were dashed by dictatorial governments backed by US, Saudi, and European agencies intent on maintaining their hold on the energy resources in the region and in re-establishing tired colonial dreams. Black people living in the US of A continued to be killed at alarming rates by trigger happy police who continue to get away with their crimes, even when the victim was white skinned. Needless to say, the gap between the wealthiest and the rest of us continued to grow, encouraged by most elected representatives on both sides of the aisle—most of whom saw their assets increase in often astounding sums. It’s not that one expects politicians to be better than the rest of us. However, it would be a positive thing if they weren’t so much worse.

    • Watching the Watchmen

      On October 25, 2019, I supported Martin Scorsese’s put-down of Marvel Comics super-hero films in a CounterPunch article. The article appeared just five days after HBO began streaming “Watchmen.” I knew little about Alan Moore, the author of the graphic novel that inspired the series, but decided to begin watching the watchmen. Written in 1985, it shared Scorsese’s dim view of super-heroes. In a 2017 interview, Moore’s vitriol surpassed Scorsese’s:

    • Négritude in The Last Black Man in San Francisco

      In The Last Black Man in San Francisco—the 2019 surreal documentary with bravado performances and indelible faces—a young white woman says something about hating the city by the Bay. One of the black characters adds that you can’t hate it without first loving it. These days, San Francisco is a city you can love and hate in about equal measures: love it for its trade union and working class history; and hate it for its contemporary collaboration with corporations and the super rich, who don’t give a rat’s ass about its heritage of resistance.

    • In 2020, Leningrad will become the first Russian-language band to play at Coachella

      Leningrad, a legendary Russian rock band founded in 1997, has appeared in the music festival Coachella’s 2020 lineup.

    • Health/Nutrition

      • The War on Reproductive Care Is Preventing Patients From Seeking Help

        Looking back at 2019, it’s now clear that the relentless attacks on the 61 million U.S. residents at risk of pregnancy were intended not only to restrict access, but to also successfully create as much chaos and confusion in the reproductive health care landscape as possible. This is particularly true in the South and Midwest, disproportionately affecting those in rural areas, people of color, youth and low-income communities.

      • Hospitals Are Seizing Patients’ Homes and Wages for Overdue Bills

        The American Hospital Association, the biggest hospital trade group, says it promotes “best practices” among medical systems to treat patients more effectively and improve community health.

      • My 92-Year-Old Father Didn’t Need More Medical Care

        Despite the medical system, my father did avoid further trips to the hospital, an ICU admission, and more antibiotics and machines. He spent the rest of his time at home and was able to say goodbye to everyone. And being at home was cheaper. We still don’t have all the bills, but the tab just for about 12 hours in the hospital came to $19,276.83. In contrast, the more than 200 hours of home care he got over the next 10 days cost only $6,093.

        Many Americans are puzzled about why end-of-life care costs are so high, and why physicians cannot seem to reduce them. My father’s story is the answer.

    • Integrity/Availability

      • Proprietary

        • Pseudo-Open Source

          • Openwashing

            • Apple’s ServiceTalk Goes Open Source

              Apple’s ServiceTalk is now open source! For the uninitiated, ServiceTalk is a JVM network application framework that is aimed at providing a common and extensible networking abstraction on top of a lower-level networking framework (for instance, Netty).

          • Entrapment (Microsoft GitHub)

            • The Schism at the Heart of the Open-Source Movement

              Richard Schneeman is a software developer in Austin. Since 2012, he’s contributed to Ruby on Rails, an open-source coding software that GitHub has long used as part of its infrastructure. “Since I have contributed to Ruby on Rails, and I know that GitHub is using Ruby on Rails, I know that ICE is directly using my code,” he told me. “When I first found out, I was like, Oh, this has gotta be a mistake, right?”

              In December, Schneeman signed an open letter alongside 2,000 other open-source contributors, who called the ICE contract a betrayal of open source’s commitment to “inverting power structures and creating access and opportunities for everyone.”

              When reached for comment, a spokesperson for GitHub referred me to an October blog post from the company’s CEO and co-founder, Nat Friedman. The post acknowledges the work GitHub has done to connect and build users, but also points to a tension central to the open-source project. For a project to call itself “open source,” it can’t place restrictions on who can and cannot access it.

              Friedman noted that although GitHub is an enormous part of the open-source community, its contract with ICE is for a different product, the GitHub Enterprise Server—a version of the typical GitHub platform retooled for the company using it. Data are hosted on the company’s own servers, access is restricted solely to its own employees, sharing is limited based on internal rules and regulations, and so on.

              Friedman explained that GitHub doesn’t know the specifics of how ICE is using the Enterprise product. He maintained a distinction between the open-source repositories the platform is known for and ICE’s “private work” using the Enterprise software. As he argued, interrogating the agency or potentially terminating its contract would compromise Github’s core philosophy.

              “A world where developers in one country or every country are required to tell us what type of software they are creating would, in our view, undermine the fundamental rights of software developers,” Friedman wrote in his blog post.

              It’s important to note that GitHub has a code of conduct and has removed users from its site for violating those terms. Being unpopular is neither illegal nor a violation of the terms of service.

            • The Schism at the Heart of the Open-Source Movement (The Atlantic)

              It is not all that often that the mainstream press looks at issues in the open-source world, but this article from The Atlantic does just that; it looks at the controversy surrounding GitHub renewing its contract with the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency and the concerns some have had with their code being used by ICE.

        • Security

          • Security updates for Friday

            Security updates have been issued by Debian (netty) and Fedora (libssh, nethack, php, samba, and xen).

          • Privacy/Surveillance

            • Sonos’ Wasteful ‘Recycle Mode’ Bricks Perfectly Usable Tech

              Sonos is taking heat this week for a wasteful “feature” in its “smart” speakers that isn’t all that smart.

            • What Chinese Spying Concern? Justin Bieber Officially Joins TikTok

              Justin Bieber has officially joined TikTok. The singer has already garnered 600K followers to help promote his latest track.

            • Wyze Breach Leaves Data Of 2.4 Million Users Exposed Online

              Another day, another company leaving massive troves of consumer data openly accessible to the internet.

            • Facebook Fined $1.65 Mn by Brazil

              Facebook engaged in an “abusive practice” by allowing data from 443,000 users in Brazil to be unduly available to developers of the application “This is Your Digital Life,” according to the Ministry of Justice.

              That application — a psychological survey — collected personal data from millions of Facebook users worldwide, which were then transferred to British consultancy Cambridge Analytica and used without consent in political campaigns, such as the one that gave Brexit a victory in Britain and Donald Trump a win in the 2016 US presidential election.

              Brazilian authorities began investigating after reports that users in the country could also have been victims of data misuse.

            • De-Googling Yourself, Part 8

              HTTPS (HTTPS) is an implementation of the HTTP protocol over an additional layer of security that uses the SSL/TLS protocol. This additional layer allows data to be transmitted over an encrypted connection and to verify server and client authenticity through digital certificates. The TCP port used by default for the HTTPS protocol is 443.

              The HTTPS protocol is used, as a rule, when it is desired to prevent the information transmitted between the client and the server from being viewed by third parties, such as online shopping. The existence in the address bar of a lock (which can be left or right depending on the browser used) demonstrates secure page certification (SSL/TLS). The existence of this certificate indicates the use of the HTTPS protocol and that communication between the browser and the server will take place securely. To verify the identity of the server, double-click the lock to view the certificate.

              Over HTTPS connections, third-party MITM attacks are not possible because the connection is encrypted end-to-end. Thus, it is possible to track that you have accessed a particular site, but not what you have accessed on that site.

    • Defence/Aggression

      • The Way Forward

        Long after 1936, when the Spanish voted in a leftist government, many Latin American countries followed suit – Cuba with Castro, Chile with Allende, Brazil with Lula, Venezuela with Chavez and Maduro, Nicaragua with Ortega, Bolivia with Morales and others. Vernon Richards’ “Lessons of the Spanish Revolution,” reprinted some months back, makes one miserable inference very clear: the only people who’ve learned the lessons of the Spanish revolution are fascists in places like Bolivia and the U.S. government. Certain basic, obvious steps – like replacing reactionary military officers – are rarely taken. As a result – coups; and leaders like Evo Morales have to run for their lives.

      • Opening Pandora’s Box in Iraq

        As far back as at least the American Revolution, there was an unwritten rule among combatants that you don’t kill the commander in the field of battle. That’s why generals could be seen directing their troops while sitting astride a horse behind the front lines —easy targets for anyone equipped with a rifled barrel on their long gun to pick off. The reason they felt relatively safe doing so was that it was that both sides understood that if commanding officers were fair game and one were slain, there’d be nobody to surrender or order a retreat, and all conflicts would be fought to the death.

      • U.S. Encirclement Endangers Cuba’s Economy, Provokes Response

        Closing a session of Cuba’s National Assembly on December 21, President Miguel Díaz-Canel declared that, “The 61st year of the Revolution has indeed been difficult and challenging.” He blamed these troubles on the “brutal” and “demented” U.S. blockade. Dangers have mounted for Cuba’s socialist revolution, and the government there is responding.

      • A New Year and a New Trump Foreign Policy Blunder in Iraq
      • The Syrian Conflict is Awash with Propaganda, Chemical Warfare Bodies Should not be Caught Up in It

        In the very early spring of this year, I gave a lecture to European military personnel interested in the Middle East. It was scarcely a year since Bashar al-Assad’s alleged use of chlorine gas against the civilian inhabitants of the Damascus suburb of Douma on 7 April 2018, in which 43 people were said to have been killed.

      • The Powers of Love and War: a Story

        Stalingrad. Stalingrad. Stalingrad changed everything in my life. Since my return home from the war I’ve never felt emotions of normal human warmth. None of the personal kindliness I’d expected. Instead of warmth and healing, I’ve felt only chaos. Something almost otherworldly. Much as in Russia. I’m well aware that the ugliness of my experiences changed me too. And that ten years later I still feel war and fire and death and the smells of war in my every breath. To returnees like me the everlasting peace politicians speak of mean little. For what am I, Helmut Seifert Hartmann? I’m just a war-shattered, sex-hungry survivor from the war in East Europe where among the young men inhabiting the cellars of the German-occupied part of Stalingrad, cold and rats and smells reigned. Ach, the smells. Zapach voyny, the smell of war, I still repeat just  as I did in Russian nights. In the cellars of Stalingrad. Today, in the miserable corners of the homeland I’m still searching for the fire of life I once knew.

      • Trump, Troll-in-Chief, Wags the Impeachment Dog By Going to War With Iran

        It is extremely suspicious that Trump has abruptly begun trafficking in the sanguinary merchandise of all-out war just at this moment when his throne is on the brink of toppling.

      • Congress Failed to Act to Prevent Iran War. Now Trump Has Put Millions at Risk.

        The Trump administration’s assassination of Iranian government official Qassim Suleimani, the leader of Iran’s Quds Force, is a dangerous escalation of violence against Iran at an already explosive time. This reckless move by the administration is likely to set off a series of escalations of violence across the Middle East that could result in all-out war and risk the lives of millions of people.

      • Trump Celebrates New Decade by Trying to Start World War III

        I have maintained a straightforward core operating principle for the last 20 years: If John Bolton is happy, we are all in deep trouble. The assassination on Thursday of Iranian military leader Qassim Suleimani on the orders of Donald Trump has made Bolton — a bloodthirsty neocon war-hawk whose lust for war in Iran is bottomless — a very happy man.

      • Bernie Sanders Condemns Trump for Putting US on Path to “Another Disastrous War”

        Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders denounced President Donald Trump late Thursday night for giving the order to assassinate Iran’s Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force — calling the move a “dangerous escalation” that brings the United States “closer to another disastrous war in the Middle East that could cost countless lives and trillions more dollars.”

      • War With Iran

        The assassination by the United States of Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force, near Baghdad’s airport will ignite widespread retaliatory attacks against U.S. targets from Shiites, who form the majority in Iraq. It will activate Iranian-backed militias and insurgents in Lebanon and Syria and throughout the Middle East. The existing mayhem, violence, failed states and war, the result of nearly two decades of U.S. blunders and miscalculations in the region, will become an even wider and more dangerous conflagration. The consequences are ominous. Not only will the U.S. swiftly find itself under siege in Iraq and perhaps driven out of the country—there is only a paltry force of 5,200 U.S. troops in Iraq, all U.S. citizens in Iraq have been told to leave the country “immediately” and the embassy and consular services have been closed—but the situation could also draw us into a war directly with Iran. The American Empire, it seems, will die not with a whimper but a bang.

      • Corporate Media Turns to Warhawks, Including Former Bush Officials, to Beat Drums of War on Iran

        “Nothing’s been learned from 2003. Nothing.”

      • “Latest Step on Trump’s March to War”: US Sends 3,500 More Troops to Middle East

        The announcement comes a day after the U.S. killed Iran’s top military leader Qassem Soleimani.

      • U.S. Sending 3,000 More Troops to Mideast as Reinforcements

        The United States is sending nearly 3,000 more Army troops to the Mideast as reinforcements in the volatile aftermath of the killing of an Iranian general in a strike ordered by President Donald Trump, defense officials said Friday.

      • Iran Vows ‘Harsh’ Response to U.S. Killing of Top General

        Iran vowed “harsh retaliation” for a U.S. airstrike near Baghdad’s airport that killed a top Iranian general who had been the architect of its interventions across the Middle East, as tensions soared in the wake of the targeted killing.

      • Video of Trump Warning ‘Our President Will Start a War With Iran Because He Has Absolutely No Ability to Negotiate’ Resurfaces

        “The only way he figures that he’s going to get reelected—and as sure as you’re sitting there—is to start a war with Iran,” Trump said of Obama in 2011.

      • Hawks Rejoice at Trump Decision to Assassinate Iranian Military Leader

        As peace advocates voiced alarm at the very real prospect of all-out conflict with Iran following the assassination Thursday night of that country’s top military leader on orders from U.S. President Donald Trump, war hawks who have had their crosshairs trained on Iran for years enthusiastically celebrated Trump’s decision — and even suggested the president should go further by targeting the nation’s oil refineries.

      • The Killing of General Soleimani: Hail Mars! Hail Pluto!

        If it is true the United States killed Iranian Quds Forces Commander General Qassam Soleimani in Iraq yesterday, unverified by the Iranians as I write this, then there is no hyperbole or exaggeration too great to encapsulate what may befall tens of millions of families. The equivalent of the killing of General Soleimani would be as if the Iranians assassinated General Richard Clarke, the US four star general in charge of all US special operations, but only if General Clarke had the name recognition of Colin Powell and the competency of Dwight Eisenhower. Those Iranians in government and civil society who want restraint, de-escalation and dialogue will find it hard to argue against retaliation. After more than 20 years of Iran enduring insult after insult, provocation after provocation, and attack after attack, I find it hard to believe there are many Barbara Lees in the Islamic Consultative Assembly.

      • Moscow stock exchange reaches all-time record as oil prices rise following Soleimani assassination

        On January 3, as the Moscow Exchange opened for the first time in 2020, its index reached its highest point in history. By 1:30 PM local time, the index had grown to 3083.49 points.

      • ‘World War III’ Trends as Hawks Rejoice at Trump Decision to Assassinate Iranian Military Leader

        “Hawks are celebrating Soleimani’s assassination not because they believe it weakened Iran…But because they believe we have passed an irreversible point of escalation.”

      • After Mossad Targeted Soleimani, Trump Pulled the Trigger

        Last October Yossi Cohen, head of Israel’s Mossad, spoke openly about assassinating Iranian general Qassem Soleimani, the head of the elite Quds Force in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

      • Trump’s Iran Aggression Deserves Full-Throated Opposition

        Trump is betraying his voters and threatening millions of lives. Call him on it before it’s too late.

      • ‘A More Dangerous World’: Iran Killing Triggers Global Alarm

        Global powers warned Friday that the world became a more dangerous place after the U.S. assassinated Iran’s top general, urging restraint on all sides. Britain and Germany also suggested that Iran shared some blame for provoking the targeted killing that dramatically ratcheted up tensions in the Mideast.

      • The Real Reason Trump Assassinated Qassem Soleimani

        Ann Arbor – The madman in the White House has been sulking and raging for weeks about his impeachment proceedings, tweeting manically on some days more than 100 times. With the release by JustSecurity.org of unredacted emails on the Ukraine scandal showing that Trump personally (and illegally) withheld congressionally mandated military aid to an ally, the Republican defense of the president is collapsing. Some GOP senators such as Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski seem to be weakening on calling witnesses and subpoenaing records for the Senate trial, and the Democrats only need four Republican senators to ensure a proper proceeding, which would certainly put Trump’s presidency in peril.

      • ‘Right Now Is the Moment to Decide If You Are Pro-Peace or Not’: Ocasio-Cortez Joins Progressive Chorus Against War With Iran

        “Congress now has a moral and legal obligation to reassert its power to stop this war and protect innocent people from horrific consequences.”

      • Sen. Tim Kaine Files War Powers Resolution to Stop Trump From ‘Stumbling Into a War With Iran’

        “Congress cannot be a bystander,” said Quaker lobbying group FCNL. “The #EndlessWars must stop!”

      • Trump’s Illegal, Impeachable Act of War

        Violence begets violence; revenge engenders cycles of vengeance. This is exactly why war, or acts of war, must not be taken lightly. It also explains why America’s recent adventurism in the Middle East has only increased Islamic terrorism, killed hundreds of thousands worldwide, and ultimately left the U.S. no better off than when it began its crusade after the 9/11 attacks. Instead, this cycle of violence and revenge has produced nothing but “blowback” in the form of global anti-Americanism.

      • McConnell and Pelosi Give No Signs of Budging on Impeachment

        Congress opened the new year with the Senate deadlocked over President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, leaving the proceedings deeply in flux as Republicans refuse to bend to Democratic demands for new witnesses.

      • The USA Doubles Down on its Saudi Allegiance

        For the United States to abandon proxy warfare and directly kill one of Iran’s most senior political figures has changed international politics in a fundamental way. It is a massive error. Its ramifications are profound and complex.

      • Trump Order Aimed at Palestine Solidarity, Not Antisemitism

        President Donald Trump issued an executive order last month to deny funding to post-secondary schools that violate Title VI of the Civil Rights Act by discriminating against Jewish people. The order notes that such bigotry is rooted in antisemitism, and says that it will determine whether discrimination has occurred by using the non-legally binding working definition of antisemitism adopted by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA). The IHRA defines antisemitism as “a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews.” There’s nothing objectionable in that definition and, in a period of terrifying and at times murderously violent attacks on Jewish people, it is absolutely necessary to fight antisemitism.

      • Alex Lawson on Social Security & Disability, Audrey Sasson on Antisemitism

        This week on CounterSpin: Social Security is not just about the ability of individuals and families to stay afloat; it’s an acknowledgement that all of us are more secure when hardship is relieved. Well, to hell with that, says the Trump administration—pushing a rule change to take Social Security benefits out of the reach of millions of people with disabilities. Never mind that it’s already hard to qualify, never mind that cutting benefits for many disabled people means taking them out of the workforce, never mind that people will die—and by “never mind,” we mean it can’t mind much to corporate media, based on their relative disinterest in the story we talk about with Alex Lawson, executive director of the group Social Security Works.

      • Tokyo 2020: Why some people want the rising sun flag banned

        Fans cheering in a stadium and waving a flag is a staple sight at any international sports event.

        But what if a flag is so offensive to some countries it sparks a whole movement to get it banned?

        That is what’s happening with Japan’s rising sun flag and the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. And the strongest criticism is from South Korea – where some politicians even compare it to the Nazi swastika.

        Critics say the flag is flown by fans who want to romanticise and rewrite the human rights abuses by Japanese forces.

        South Korea wants it banned at the games – but the 2020 organisers say the flag is “widely used in Japan” and is “not a political statement”.

      • Iran vows vengeance after America kills Qassem Suleimani

        Less clear is whether the strike will advance America’s stated goal of creating a less belligerent, more restrained Iran. Though it now seems a distant memory, the current tensions began with Mr Trump’s decision in 2018 to withdraw from an agreement that lifted some sanctions on Iran in exchange for curbs on its nuclear programme. Any hope of renegotiating that deal—of finding a diplomatic solution to a steadily worsening conflict—probably died with General Suleimani.

    • Environment

      • World Gone Wrong: an Environmental Diary of 2019
      • In Indonesia, Outlaw Gold Miners Poison Themselves to Survive

        His stunt has made him famous in the gold fields of Sumbawa, an Indonesian island 100 miles east of Bali where makeshift mining camps dot the jungle hills. But it also illustrated the stark choice the illegal miners here face. In order to earn a living they effectively poison themselves, their communities and the environment by using mercury, an outlawed but popular way to extract gold from ore.

        For decades, Mr. Syarafuddin and thousands of small-scale miners like him have worked illegally in West Sumbawa on land the government leases to large mining companies. The outlaw miners pay nothing for rights to the land but reap as much as $6 million a month in gold.

        About one million small-scale gold miners operate across Indonesia, the world’s largest island nation, and the outlaw industry presents a vexing paradox for the country.

      • Australia Is Committing Climate Suicide

        Australia today is ground zero for the climate catastrophe. Its glorious Great Barrier Reef is dying, its world-heritage rain forests are burning, its giant kelp forests have largely vanished, numerous towns have run out of water or are about to, and now the vast continent is burning on a scale never before seen.

        The images of the fires are a cross between “Mad Max” and “On the Beach”: thousands driven onto beaches in a dull orange haze, crowded tableaux of people and animals almost medieval in their strange muteness — half-Bruegel, half-Bosch, ringed by fire, survivors’ faces hidden behind masks and swimming goggles. Day turns to night as smoke extinguishes all light in the horrifying minutes before the red glow announces the imminence of the inferno. Flames leaping 200 feet into the air. Fire tornadoes. Terrified children at the helm of dinghies, piloting away from the flames, refugees in their own country.

        The fires have already burned about 14.5 million acres — an area almost as large as West Virginia, more than triple the area destroyed by the 2018 fires in California and six times the size of the 2019 fires in Amazonia. Canberra’s air on New Year’s Day was the most polluted in the world partly because of a plume of fire smoke as wide as Europe.

        Scientists estimate that close to half a billion native animals have been killed and fear that some species of animals and plants may have been wiped out completely. Surviving animals are abandoning their young in what is described as mass “starvation events.” At least 18 people are dead and grave fears are held about many more.

      • Climate warning as global CO2 levels rise to highest point

        Levels of the damaging greenhouse gas carbon dioxide have reached an alarming new milestone at the world’s oldest measuring station in Hawaii.

      • Amazon Threatens To Fire Employees Who Speak Out On Climate Change

        The group claims Amazon changed its policy in September and that the updated policy “requires employees to seek prior approval to speak about Amazon in any public forum while identified as an employee.”

        However, Amazon spokesperson Jaci Anderson says the company’s communications policy isn’t new. “In September, Amazon actually tried to make it easier for employees to speak out by adding a form on an internal website where employees could seek approval; prior to that, they had to get direct approval from a senior vice president,” reports CNBC. “She added that employees are ‘encouraged to work within their teams’ and can suggest ‘improvements to how we operate through those internal channels.’”

      • Floods in Indonesia’s Capital Leave 43 Dead, 397,000 Displaced

        The death toll from floods in Indonesia’s capital rose to 43 of Friday as rescuers found more bodies amid receding floodwaters, disaster officials said.

      • Birthday Cheers for Greta Thunberg as 2020′s First #FridaysForFuture Strikes Take Place Across Globe

        “Happy birthday to Greta, who stood today, as every Friday, refusing to be neutral,” wrote musician Patti Smith.

      • Atlantic current could falter before 2100

        The Atlantic current won’t come to a full stop the day after tomorrow. But it could face a temporary halt later this century.

      • Climate Change Is Affecting Us in Ways We Never Imagined

        Cold weather doesn’t prove global warming is fake, despite what President Trump and other climate change deniers have tweeted for years. Climate scientists have spent considerable time and energy attempting to explain how, as National Geographic reported last year, “an atmosphere changed by rising levels of gases like carbon and methane leads to more climate changes than just warming.”

      • Energy

        • Washington Post is Confident Fossil Fuel Industry Has Enough Political Power to Destroy the Planet

          Charles Lane used his Washington Post column to brag about the fact that the fossil fuel industry and climate denialists have had enough political power to prevent more widespread use of electrical cars, as he had apparently predicted would be the case a decade ago. He seems very proud of this fact. He also concludes by citing a prediction that there will be 125 million electric vehicles on the road worldwide in a decade, less than one-tenth of the total. And he is confident that the actual number will be below this.

        • Despite last-minute negotiations, Belarusian gas processing plants stop receiving petroleum from Russia

          Beginning on January 1, Belarusian gas processing plants stopped receiving raw materials from Russia, Interfax reported. One facility told journalists that it was subsisting on gas that had been stockpiled in December.

        • Breaking: Former Energy Secretary Rick Perry Rejoins Board of Dakota Access Owner, Energy Transfer

          Before joining the Trump administration, Perry had served on the board of Energy Transfer, the pipeline company behind controversial projects including Dakota Access, Bayou Bridge, and Mariner East, but resigned to become Secretary of the Department of Energy. On January 1, 2020, Perry was appointed as a director of LE GP, LLC, the general partner of Energy Transfer LP, according to today’s SEC filing, made after the market closed. (“Energy Transfer is structured as a master limited partnership,” Bloomberg reports.)

      • Wildlife/Nature

        • We’ve Launched A Fundraiser To Send ‘Scotty From Marketing’ Back To Hawaii

          Absence is supposed to make the heart grow fonder. Scotty from Marketing, and the army of spin doctors he employs, should think seriously about that, given that the more our Prime Minister moves around a fire ravaged country, and says stuff, the more people hate him.

        • Australia’s National State of Emergency: The Fire This Time

          Long term solutions requires a fundamental debate about the role of uncontrolled growth and hubristic attitudes towards nature.

        • Australia Braces for More Devastation as Government Denies Climate Crisis

          Australia is bracing for what is expected to be the worst weekend yet in an already devastating climate-fueled wildfire season that has ravaged the southeastern part of the country, killed at least 18 people and nearly half a billion animals, and destroyed 14.5 million acres of land. As thousands of evacuees fled to the beaches, conservative Prime Minister Scott Morrison is facing growing outrage for his inaction on climate and close ties with the coal industry. As fires blazed in December, the prime minister went on a holiday to Hawaii. He told reporters this week that fighting the fires — not climate change — was his top priority. On Thursday, Morrison was shouted out of the town of Carbago after being confronted by angry fire victims. We go to Melbourne, Australia, to speak with Tim Flannery, chief councilor at the Australian-based Climate Council.

        • Australia’s Tragedy Is a Cautionary Tale for the US Presidential Election

          There is no substitute for a systemic reorientation on climate – or a movement that unequivocally supports it.

        • Australia Wildfire Coverage Is Long on Koalas, Short on Causes

          If you’ve only been following the bushfires ravaging Australia through the headlines popping up on your social media feeds — which, let’s face it, is more popular than reading newspapers these days — it’s probably been in a series of isolated images: kangaroos fleeing fires en masse (People, 12/31/19), koalas begging passing motorists for sips of water (CNN, 12/30/19), local residents having to be sea-lifted to safety by the Australian navy (CNN, 1/3/20), fires generating their own storm clouds (The Hill, 12/30/19) and turning glaciers black as far away as New Zealand (Independent, 1/2/20). The New York Times (1/2/20) cited a local official warning of a coming “blast furnace,” and noting that the fires had led already led to the largest mass relocations in the nation’s history.

        • Belching in a good way: How livestock could learn from Orkney sheep

          The northernmost Orkney island, North Ronaldsay, is home to just 50 people and 2,000 sheep. Since the 19th Century, when islanders built a stone wall to confine the flock to the shoreline, it has survived on seaweed alone – and it now seems that this special diet could hold the key to greener, more climate-friendly livestock farming.

          “It’s a bit like doing a jigsaw,” laughs Sian Tarrant as she heaves another large stone on to the wall. “Only there are no straight edges and some of these pieces are really heavy.”

          The wind, which has been viciously squally all morning, punches at our faces and blasts the smaller slates on Sian’s rock pile until they shudder and rattle like teeth.

          [...]

          At the sound of our boots on the pebbles, the timorous flock wheels round and shoots off, leaping bits of rope and debris left by the tide. Kevin laughs and tells me, a little self-consciously, that he’s sure the sheep are more intelligent than most and certainly more devious.

          “I mean, just look at this wild habitat they live in,” he says, nodding at the rocky beach and the sulky steel-grey sky with its bulging, herniating clouds. “You have to be pretty adaptable to survive this.”

          And the sheep certainly have adapted. Since 1832, when the islanders decided to build the 2m-high dyke to keep the sheep from pasture they needed for cows, the flock’s diet has been restricted to seaweed foraged from the shore. They are one of only two groups of animals on Earth that exist purely on seaweed; the other is a marine iguana which lives in the Galapagos Islands.

          [...]

          In fact, North Ronaldsay mutton was served to the Queen on her Diamond Jubilee and is now in the process of acquiring Protected Geographical Indication status from the EU, like Wensleydale cheese and Jersey royal potatoes.

          [...]

          Worryingly, there have been several reports recently of “loopers”, escapee sheep who have spotted a gap or a partially tumbled-down bit of wall and leapt over it, straying on to the rich grasslands on the forbidden side. Although ewes with newborn lambs are deliberately brought briefly on to the grass in the summer – the males, which are sent for slaughter, are never permitted to venture on to pasture – the sheep’s stomachs are no longer adapted to grass and they risk copper poisoning if they eat too much.

          Just then we spot a sly looper skulking close to the wall. It’s on the unauthorised side, its eyes darting towards the prohibited patch of green near our car. Alison finds a torn oil skin the sea has dumped on the shingles and prepares to try to catch it.

    • Finance

      • The IRS Tried to Crack Down on Rich People Using an “Abusive” Tax Deduction. It Hasn’t Gone So Well.

        In March 2019, the IRS added a scheme to its annual “Dirty Dozen” list of “the worst of the worst tax scams.” That same scheme was targeted, just weeks earlier, when the U.S. Department of Justice filed a fraud lawsuit against a handful of promoters allegedly responsible for generating more than $2 billion in improper tax write-offs. And the Senate Finance Committee has been investigating that very same racket, recently demanding thousands of pages of documents from six promoters. Lawmakers from both parties have introduced legislation to halt the same practice.

        The scheme they’re all trying to kill is what’s called a “syndicated conservation easement,” which the IRS calls “abusive” and says has resulted in bogus deductions for the rich that have cost the U.S. Treasury billions in revenues.

    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

      • Bombshell Report on Emails About Ukraine Aid Freeze Provokes Fresh Calls for Fair Senate Impeachment Trial

        “The American people deserve a fair trial that gets to the truth, not a rigged process that enables a cover-up.”

      • Trump Judicial Adviser’s Dark Money Network Hides Supreme Court Spending

        A secretive network spending millions of dollars to confirm President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court picks terminated multiple 501(c)(4) nonprofit nodes last year while funneling money to an even more opaque limited-liability company, further obscuring the network’s funding sources.

      • Saudi Arabia: Repressive Site for Dakar Rally
      • Morons Rule

        It is no secret that Donald Trump is cruel, amoral, unfit for the office he holds, and, despite his age, immature. He is also, as his former Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, famously put it, “a fucking moron.”

      • Neoliberalism and the End of Politics

        Much of what passes for left commentary in the U.S. emerged from the post-WWII synthesis of radical right economics with a fey liberal notion of democracy. In recent years this synthesis has been given the name neoliberalism. Left largely untouched have been the premises and analytical architecture of neoliberalism, which are as much a part of the neoliberal ethos as the nominal ideas. As such, much of this criticism has had the effect of reinforcing the ideas and actions that are being critiqued.

      • The Democratic Party’s Campaign to Re-Elect President Trump

        Anyone who hoped that the terrible experience of a neofascistic presidency might jolt the Democratic Party media and politics establishment into embracing the basic lesson of the 2016 election – that running a dismal, dollar-drenched centrist well to the right of the citizenry for president just guarantees right-wing control of the United States’ executive branch – is certain to be disappointed.

      • “Shit-Life Syndrome,” Trump Voters, and Clueless Dems

        Getting rid of Trump means taking seriously “shit-life syndrome”—and its resulting misery, which includes suicide, drug overdose death, and trauma for surviving communities.

      • New year, new laws Eleven changes to Russian domestic policy that took effect on January 1, 2020
      • America Is a Democracy in Name Only

        One hundred years ago, women won the right to vote in the United States. The women’s suffrage movement took decades of organizing to achieve success, from the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848, to mass civil disobedience and protest leading up to the adoption and ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920. Now, a century later, the right to vote is on perilous ground, with aggressive and systematic efforts to disenfranchise voters in states across the country.

    • Censorship/Free Speech

      • Amazon threatens to fire employees who speak out on climate change

        A group of Amazon employees say the company has threatened to fire two workers for speaking out against the company’s environmental policies.

        In a statement posted to Twitter on Thursday, Amazon Employees for Climate Justice said that several employees were contacted by legal and human resources representatives, who said they were in violation of the company’s external communications policy.

    • Civil Rights/Policing

      • Afghan Children: Work of Necessity, Work of Choice

        If children like himself had a choice, Gul Mohammad thinks it better that they be able to study instead of having to work, better if the government would ensure that the needs of children were met.

      • Work of Necessity, Work of Choice [Ed: Same as above]

        At age 11, Saabir Gulmadin began chopping wood to support his family. Now 18, he earns about $1.50 US (120 Afghanis) for every 56 kg of wood he splits. It takes him 2 to 3 hours.

      • TWICE Threatens Legal Action, Beefs Up Protection After Stalker Threat

        South Korean police are reportedly keeping singer Nayeon of the K-Pop group TWICE under protection because a stalker has threatened her.

      • Trey Songz Faces $10 Million Sexual Assault Lawsuit

        An unnamed Georgia woman is suing singer Trey Songz for millions of dollars because of an alleged sexual assault.

      • Israeli Justice… a Futile Chase

        “Doctrine of Futility”

      • Inside a Training Course Where School Workers Learn How to Physically Restrain Students

        In the year that we’ve reported on restraint and seclusion, we have worked hard to become experts on the topic.

        We’re not educators, but we are dedicated learners. We read books and studies about how to work with children who have behavior disorders, and we talked to academic experts and researchers across the country about seclusion, or confining students in a place they can’t leave, and physical restraint. We learned by observing, too. ProPublica Illinois reporting fellow Lakeidra Chavis and I spent two days watching a Crisis Prevention Institute, or CPI, training for educators in the Chicago suburbs.

      • Dissenter Weekly With Guest John Kiriakou: UN Official Condemns ‘Coercive Confinement’ Of Chelsea Manning

        In our first “Dissenter Weekly Update” episode of the year, CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou joins the show. He is also a former senior investigator for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

        We highlight letters to the United Kingdom and United States government from United Nations Special Rapporteur Nils Melzer that condemn torture and mistreatment against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and U.S. military whistleblower Chelsea Manning.

    • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Monopolies

      • Take 2 Sues Fan Over Project To Finally Bring ‘Red Dead 1′ To The PC

        Take 2 Interactive, the famed game studio behind the Grand Theft Auto franchise, is no stranger to our pages. When we have posted about the company, however, it has typically been to highlight how many ridiculous lawsuits and threats it faces over IP from unlikely sources. There was the ongoing battle with Lindsay Lohan over GTA5. There was a strange cease and desist notice sent to the company by the infamous Pinkerton Agency over its accurate depiction in Red Dead Redemption. The point is that Take 2 has been on the receiving end of frustrating intellectual property challenges such that it really should have some perspective on better ways to handle things than to simply be as heavy-handed as possible.

      • Michelin Beat A Chef’s Lawsuit, And That’s A Big Deal

        What this all boils down to is that Michelin has now legally won the right to criticize pretty much whoever they want, and pretty much however they want, with next to no repercussions for their actions. It’s a monopoly over criticism in the culinary world, and depending on how you view being a critic as a profession, this is either the best thing in the world or as disgusting as the slop your grandparents ate.

      • Patents

        • Looking ahead to 2020: lawyers contemplate key cases

          No one has 20/20 vision when it comes to the future, but with several Supreme Court cases granted certiorari, the rulings could have substantial implications for the IP space this year.

        • Software Patents

          • Europe rejects patent applications signed with AI inventor
          • EU Patent Office Rejects Two Patent Applications In Which An AI Was Designated As The Inventor

            We’ve written a bunch about why AI generated artwork should not (and need not) have any copyright at all. The law says that copyright only applies to human creators. But what about patents? There has been a big debate about this in the patent space over the last year, mainly lead by AI developers who want to be able to secure patents on AI generated ideas. The patent offices in the EU and the US have been exploring the issue, and asking for feedback, while they plot out a strategy, but some AI folks decided to force the matter sooner. Over the summer they announced that they had filed for two patents in the EU for inventions that they claim were “invented” by an AI named DABUS without the assistance of a human inventor.

            [...]

            The problem, yet again, is in people’s misguided belief that everything must be owned by someone, and that somehow without a patent it is impossible to successfully commercialize or market a product. There is tremendous evidence to the contrary (including just by looking at products after their patents run out — which is often a time when more innovation occurs, since there’s greater competition driving improvements). But, instead, you hear nonsense like the following from Prof. Ryan Abbott, who helped file the two now rejected patents, arguing that without patents, somehow these inventions might not come to be:

          • EU Patent Office Rejects Two Patent Applications in Which an AI Was Designated As the Inventor
      • Copyrights

        • The first Spotify Awards and the role played by streaming services in access to digital content

          Spotify has announced the launch of its first awards. The ceremony will take place in Mexico City, the “world’s music-streaming mecca” [Merpel says, "Yes, it is true. See below.”].

        • MangaDex Targeted by DMCA Subpoena, Now Migrating Servers

          MangaDex, a scanlation platform with tens of millions of monthly visitors, is experiencing extended downtime with a host migration and maintenance cited as the official reasons. However, TorrentFreak has learned that a DMCA subpoena was granted to copyright holder Viz Media in December, one that ordered Cloudflare to give up the identity of MangaDex’s operator. It’s unknown whether the matters are connected.

        • Infamous Pirate Group Starts Year by Leaking Frozen 2 Screener

          Infamous release group Hive-CM8 has leaked a screener copy of the Disney hit movie Frozen 2. While the group is careful not to release any movies which have yet to break even, it sees Frozen 2 as fair game, as it already “played in the budget”. That said, Hive-CM8 encourages those who want the full experience to see the movie at a local theater.

        • Academic Publishers Get Their Wish: DOJ Investigating Sci-Hub Founder For Alleged Ties To Russian Intelligence

          We’ve written plenty about Sci-Hub over the years. The service, which was set up to allow free and easy access to academic research that is all-to-often hidden behind insanely expensive paywalls (often, despite being paid for with public funds), is the bane of academic publishers, though the hero to many academics. As we’ve highlighted, the big publishers keep playing whac-a-mole with the service as they try to take it down around the globe, and each time it just seems to get the site more attention. From the earliest days, it’s been clear that Sci-Hub works by getting academics with access to various collections to “donate” their login credentials, so that Sci-Hub can fetch any missing papers not in its collection (if it, and its associated site Libgen, already have it, they make that version available).

Stop Treating Free/Open Source Software (and Everything Else) Strictly Like a Business

Posted in Finance, Free/Libre Software at 4:14 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

When a boss buys FOSS

Corporations try to buy my Free software project with their money. But that's none of my business.

Summary: With more and more projects being ‘scooped up’ by giant proprietary players (or developers/project leaders being hired for domination over these projects’ direction) we must reassess the shared goals of Free software users (and how they can be protected from such mischiefs)

AN ASSOCIATE of ours sent us this quip from Andrew Yang (early this morning). “We need to stop confusing human value with economic value. We don’t exist to serve the market. The market exists to serve us,” he wrote two days ago.

As we noted a couple of hour ago, money has become toxic — not a boost — to some institutions associated with Free/libre software or Open Source software. Hours ago we also remarked on Microsoft's payments to the OSI. They seem to have become very corrosive, rendering the OSI an enabler of openwashing just like the Linux Foundation. Wasn’t it supposed to be a brand enforcer? As opposed to force of ‘dilution’?

“It’s extremely important to guard organisations of public interest, maintaining their resistance to corrupting influence of money and thus keeping them unaffected or immune or safe from outside interests. Otherwise we all end up having FOSS groups that actually help proprietary software giants or patent offices that protect lawyers, not scientists (e.g. by disregarding § 101).”A lot of what we’re seeing in the world of Free/libre software or Open Source software (FOSS) resembles what happened to SUEPO over the years. Some readers tell us that there were people there who had acted like career-climbing ‘moles’, rising up to high management of the European Patent Office (EPO) instead of protecting staff. That was before Battistelli and Campinos, albeit back when software patents were creeping into Europe. It’s extremely important to guard organisations of public interest, maintaining their resistance to corrupting influence of money and thus keeping them unaffected or immune or safe from outside interests. Otherwise we all end up having FOSS groups that actually help proprietary software giants or patent offices that protect lawyers, not scientists (e.g. by disregarding § 101). We will have a lot more to say about that in days to come.

Microsoft: Can We Interest You in Some Proprietary Software?

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 3:43 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Similar to the “do you have a moment to talk about Jesus?” types…

GNU/Linux user and... The 'new' Microsoft

Summary: GNU/Linux users typically choose to stay as far as possible from Microsoft, but Microsoft doesn’t ‘get’ that (or maybe it does and it’s just trying to piss these users off; or piss on their foot)

In GNU/Linux Newer Isn’t Always Better

Posted in GNU/Linux at 3:27 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Distrubution (distro) releases for all major OEMs strictly depend on IBM’s systemd (hosted by Microsoft)

Installing systemd

Summary: How many people still feel about using modern GNU/Linux distros (as old LTS distros reach their end of life)

Microsoft Saying That It “Loves Linux” Is a Lot Like Islamophobes Who Say They Attack Islam to “Protect Muslim Women”

Posted in Deception, GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 2:48 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

why are you attacking gnu/linux? Is it because you're pushing windows while trying to confuse people by saying you 'love' what you attack?

Summary: It is abundantly clear, based on recent evidence, that Microsoft abhors GNU/Linux and continues to attack it; don’t fall for the fake ‘love’

“I mean, all through this presentation previously I talked about how you’re using the pawns you’re going to screw them if they don’t do what they want, and da-da-dah. You can’t let them feel like that. If they feel like that, you’ve lost from the beginning. It’s like you’re going out with a girl; forgive me ___________; it goes the other way also. You’re going out with a girl, what you really want to do is have a deep, close and intimate relationship, at least for one night. And, you know, you just can’t let her feel like that, because if you do, it ain’t going to happen, right. So you have to talk long term and white picket fence and all these other wonderful things, or else you’re never going to get what you’re really looking for. So you can’t let them feel like pawns, no matter how much they really are.” -Microsoft's chief evangelist James Plamondon

On Bruce Perens Leaving the OSI, Which He Cofounded

Posted in Free/Libre Software, OSI at 2:22 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Covered hours ago (Perens resigning): A Microsoft-Sponsored Open Source Initiative (OSI)

Are you telling me Bruce Perens started OSI? Yes, for business friendliness. But a few years later he said they had lost direction. Yes, but he stayed onboard for another two decades. Took him 20 years to realise what he had said ages ago?

Summary: Bruce Perens already complained about OSI, which he had set up, two decades ago, later adding that there was a plot to replace Richard Stallman (which he hadn’t approved of); now he’s officially out

Linux Turns 30 Next Year and Linux Foundation Will Definitely Use That for Revisionism (Again)

Posted in Deception, GNU/Linux at 2:04 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The Linux Foundation does it every time it can get away with deleting GNU from history

GNU/Linux... GNU? Yes, it started in 1983
2013: The Linux Foundation’s Big Lie: ‘Linux’ is 22 Years Old

Summary: Prepare for another propaganda opportunity next year; the Linux Foundation will take credit for a large system that's mostly GNU

Free Software Groups Aren’t Dying; But There Are Assassination Attempts With Corporate Money as the Weapon (Greed as the Collective Weakness)

Posted in Finance, Free/Libre Software at 1:48 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Free software was never fundamentally about making money or sustaining a business model; it’s about dignity, integrity, users’ freedom etc.

Money in FOSS not a problem; If you know how to say 'NO!'

Summary: Groups must learn to reject the seduction or the allure of corporate cash; they should decline offers from rich ‘donors’ or ‘sponsors’ or ‘patrons’ (amongst other convenient and whitewashing euphemisms)

THE FSF, based on what we’ve heard, lost many members. Yes, even after Stallman had left. We already saw some FSF numbers and heard that its campaign to enlist new members is regarded as a failure. It’s hard to tell for sure until the IRS filings for 2019 be come available (which can take a long time).

“This money comes with strings attached to it and salaried (by the ‘donor’) people take over the seats or make decisions by proxy… in exchange for money, always or at least sometimes. “Moments ago we wrote again about the OSI taking Microsoft money, previously we mentioned the FSF taking Red Hat money (while Red Hat celebrates Stallman's removal) and so on and so forth. How about EFF and Google? Days ago we also wrote about OSI misrepresenting its sources of income, omitting all the corporate cash (including a large lump of cash from Microsoft). Well, we'll never accept any corporate money (no matter the amount); we’d rather die as a site — like Groklaw ~7 years ago — than become an embarrassment to our legacy and track record.

The FSF isn’t dying; diminishing maybe, even for sure (if judged by the type of revenue sources), but it’s never too late to save it. We believe that money from patrons kills their mission; when we say “patrons” we mean companies such as Red Hat, i.e. IBM. This money comes with strings attached to it and salaried (by the ‘donor’) people take over the seats or make decisions by proxy… in exchange for money, always or at least sometimes. This neatly relates to the article Jagadees published the other day (about a “One Dollar-One Vote World”).

“Dr. Stallman habitually got ‘in trouble’ (negative press) because of views expressed by him about corporations and their corrupting influence.”Over the past few months Bernie Sanders showed, as he had shown 3-4 years ago, that it’s possible to raise a lot of money from a lot of people, not few very affluent individuals and corporations. If the FSF isn’t able to do that anymore, maybe there’s a trust problem. It needs to work towards restoring that trust instead of accepting corporate donations. We’ve published many articles to that effect lately. I personally know several people who canceled their membership because of how they perceived what had been done to the FSF’s (and GNU’s) founder, Richard Stallman. Dr. Stallman habitually got ‘in trouble’ (negative press) because of views expressed by him about corporations and their corrupting influence. Views like the one below…

“DRM is nearly always the result of a conspiracy of companies to restrict the technology available to the public. Such conspiracy should be a crime, and the executives responsible for it should be sentenced to prison.”

Richard Stallman

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