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01.14.20

Links 14/1/2020: Git v2.25.0 and End of Vista 7

Posted in News Roundup at 7:50 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • GNU/Linux

    • Why Should You Use Linux?

      When people debate which operating system is the best-either MacOS or Windows-not many mention the third option: Linux. Why is that?

      See, Linux has its own niche in the tech industry, but that’s it. Yes, you can use Linux as your daily driver, but learning Linux can take a long time depending on which distro, Linux’s word for “version”, you have.

      But I’m not saying you shouldn’t use Linux. In fact, if you’re into technology at all, I recommend using Linux for a month or two just to see how it works and the things you can do with Linux.

    • Server

      • OpenStack’s Complicated Kubernetes Relationship

        2020 may be the year the OpenStack community comes to terms with Kubernetes

        As the open source community heads into 2020, loyalties between OpenStack and Kubernetes are likely to become increasingly divided. Contributors to open source projects are trying to determine where to prioritize their efforts, while IT organizations are wondering to what degree they will need a framework such as OpenStack to deploy Kubernetes.

        Most Kubernetes deployments thus far have been on top of open source virtual machines or commercial platforms from VMware. Most of those decisions have been driven by the need to isolate Kubernetes environments sharing the same infrastructure. In addition, many IT organizations lacked the tools or expertise required to manage Kubernetes natively, so it became easier to simply extend existing tools to manage Kubernetes as an extension of a virtual machine-based platform.

        The debate now is to what degree that approach will continue as organizations become first more familiar with native Kubernetes toolsets and alternative approaches to isolating workloads using lighter-weight virtual machines emerge.

        Lighter-weight alternatives to OpenStack and VMware for deploying Kubernetes clusters already exist, notes Rob Hirschfeld, CEO of RackN, a provider of an infrastructure automation platform based on open source Digital Rebar software.

        At the same time, managed service providers such as Mirantis have begun rolling out highly distributed services based on Kubernetes that make no use of OpenStack at all.

      • IBM

        • Huawei has created an alternative to Android and Windows

          A trade war between the US and Huawei has forced Chinese companies to look for a replacement Android, the license of which was revoked by Google. In the summer of 2019 mobile giant from China has introduced Harmony OS – the concept of a universal operating system for mobile devices, including smartphones, TVs and even wearable electronics. On the weekend unexpectedly Huawei has introduced another OS – openEuler, reports the Chronicle.info with reference for Today.

        • Red Hat urges U.S. Supreme Court to support unrestricted use of software interfaces

          Today, Red Hat filed an amicus brief (a “friend of the court” brief) asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit decision in Oracle v. Google. The lower court incorrectly extended copyright protection to software interfaces. If left uncorrected, the lower court rulings could harm software compatibility and interoperability and have a chilling effect on the innovation represented by the open source community.

          As the world’s largest developer of enterprise open source software solutions, Red Hat’s customers include more than 90% of the Fortune 500. Using a community-powered approach to software development, Red Hat has developed reliable, high-performing, enterprise-quality cloud, middleware, storage, and virtualization technologies.

          Red Hat also has a long and extensive history of developing software written in Java as well as implementations of the Java programming language. Red Hat’s significant involvement with Java development over the last 20 years has included extensive contributions to OpenJDK, an open source implementation of the Java platform, and the development of Red Hat Middleware, a suite of Java-based middleware solutions to build, integrate, automate and deploy enterprise applications.

          [...]

          “The Federal Circuit’s unduly narrow construction of 17 U.S.C. § 102(b) is harmful to progress, competition, and innovation in the field of software development,” Red Hat stated in the brief. “IBM and Red Hat urge the Court to reverse the decision below on the basis that 17 U.S.C. § 102(b) excludes software interfaces from copyright protection.”

    • Audiocasts/Shows

      • Podcast.__init__: Using Deliberate Practice To Level Up Your Python

        An effective strategy for teaching and learning is to rely on well structured exercises and collaboration for practicing the material. In this episode long time Python trainer Reuven Lerner reflects on the lessons that he has learned in the 5 years since his first appearance on the show, how his teaching has evolved, and the ways that he has incorporated more hands-on experiences into his lessons. This was a great conversation about the benefits of being deliberate in your approach to ongoing education in the field of technology, as well as having some helpful references for ways to keep your own skills sharp.

      • 2020-01-13 | Linux Headlines

        GRUB gets an important patch, a great twitter client for desktop Linux, another Linux distro reaches out to Windows 7 refugees, and the ever-deepening relationship between Microsoft and Samsung.

    • Kernel Space

      • Linus Torvalds, creator of the Linux operating system, warned developers not to use an Oracle-owned file system because of the company’s ‘litigious nature’
      • It’s a no to ZFS in the Linux kernel from me, says Torvalds, points finger of blame at Oracle licensing

        Linux kernel jockey, Linus Torvalds, has taken time out to remind open source loyalists that he is no fan of the ZFS file system due, in part, to the sometimes tortuous nature of open source licensing.

        Torvalds was responding to a question late last week regarding a recent update to the Linux kernel breaking the third party ZFS module.

        With his new non-sweary hat on, Torvalds patiently explained his position around out-of-tree components such as ZFS. In essence, they aren’t his problem. We imagine ensuring nothing breaks in the user space is challenging enough.

        “Note that ‘we don’t break users’ is literally about user-space applications, and about the kernel I maintain,” he explained, adding: “If somebody adds a kernel module like ZFS, they are on their own. I can’t maintain it, and I can not be bound by other people’s kernel changes.”

        So there you have it, ZFS fans. Except, of course, you don’t.

        The Linux supremo went on to throw a little shade at Platinum Linux Foundation member Oracle, adding, “There is no way I can merge any of the ZFS efforts until I get an official letter from Oracle that is signed by their main legal counsel or preferably by Larry Ellison himself that says that yes, it’s OK to do so and treat the end result as GPL’d.”

      • Intel and AMD in Linux

        • Intel Uncore Frequency Driver On Linux Is Closer To Mainline With Latest Patches

          The Intel Uncore Frequency driver for Linux allows reading and setting the uncore frequency, which controls the RING / Last Level Cache (LLC) clocks. Increasing the uncore frequency can help with improving memory latency or at least making the latency consistent by avoiding the dynamic uncore frequency selection. Increasing the clocks obviously come with increased power/heat. By default, the Intel uncore frequency is dynamic based upon the CPU performance state and power constraints.

          Intel has long published as part of their data sheets that the uncore frequency is controlled via a specific MSR (register 0×620) while now the intel_uncore frequency driver makes it easy to read and manipulate it from user-space. Interested server administrators could already manipulate the MSR as desired, but the Intel Uncore Frequency Linux driver makes it very easy now to read and set via new sysfs interfaces.

        • Intel Revs Linux Patches For Per-Client Engine Busyness – Allowing For Great GPU Insight

          One of the set of patches for Intel’s Linux kernel graphics driver that have been floating around for more than one year is about exposing per-client (process) statistics in how each application is making use of the GPU’s render/blitter/video hardware and various insightful statistics related to that. The patches aren’t queued for mainline yet but at least a new revision of the work was published.

        • RADV’s Next-Gen Geometry Code Continues To Be Revised For Navi GPUs

          The NGG (Next-Gen Geometry) support with Navi continues to be refined by the open-source AMD Linux graphics drivers with the RADV Vulkan driver seeing a fresh batch of fixes/clean-ups, inspired in part by the NGG code from the RadeonSI and AMDVLK drivers.

          The latest batch of RADV NGG work comes via Valve open-source driver developer Samuel Pitoiset. Landing in Mesa 20.0-devel today is a performance optimization, support for the NGG passthrough mode, disabling of vertex grouping, and other tweaks.

          Nothing too major itself but the latest in a long series of NGG activity for the open-source AMD Linux graphics drivers.

    • Benchmarks

      • Looking At The Linux Performance Two Years After Spectre / Meltdown Mitigations

        Last week marked the two year anniversary since the formal public disclosure of the Spectre and Meltdown disclosures. To commemorate that anniversary, I was running some fresh benchmarks of various Intel desktop and server processors with the in-development Ubuntu 20.04 LTS to look at the performance impact today with the default CPU vulnerability mitigations and then again with the mitigations disabled at run-time.

        A daily snapshot of Ubuntu 20.04 LTS was used as of last week for offering the very latest look at the Linux performance two years after Spectre/Meltdown entered the public spotlight. Ubuntu 20.04 LTS right now is running on a Linux 5.4 based kernel, GCC 9.2.1, and the other latest stable packages.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Games

      • Enjoy this peaceful 4 hour long trailer for THE LONGING, a game that takes 400 days to beat

        A curious one this, a game that has a clock that counts down from 400 days as soon as you start it and you don’t even need to play it to get to the ending, as time continues when you’re not playing. I’ve played some slow games before but this is an all new kind of sloth.

        It’s called THE LONGING and you play as Shade, the last lonely servant of a King who once ruled an underground kingdom. The King’s powers have faded and he sleeps for 400 days to regain strength and you’re supposed to stick around until he awakens. Announced today, Studio Seufz have now given it a release date of March 5 and you can see the wonderful four hour long trailer below. The trailer is obviously a joke, at how you can just sit around and do nothing.

      • Feral Interactive are asking what you want ported to Linux again

        Feral Interactive, the porting studio behind a lot of great games available on Linux are asking for some feedback again on where they should go next.

        In the past, they’ve teased how they feed port requests into “THE REQUESTINATOR”. Looks like my number three from when they asked in November 2018 turned out okay with Shadow of the Tomb Raider. As always though, we want additional ports to buy and more varied titles to play through.

      • VVVVVV Goes Open Source For Its 10th Anniversary

        Indie title VVVVVV, the minimalistic platformer created by Terry Cavanagh, reached its tenth anniversary earlier this week. To mark the occasion, Cavanagh announced on his blog that he was releasing the source code for the game for others to do as they pleased.

      • VVVVVV’s Source Code Is Now Public, 10 Year Anniversary Jam Happening Now!

        Or possibly tomorrow is, depending on who you ask – technically, the game first went live at 3am GMT on the 11th January 2010, after a very, very long day of fixing every last bug I could, making last minute builds, and trying to slowly upload everything on an extremely unreliable internet connection that kept cutting out. But I’ve always gone by “it’s not tomorrow until you wake up” rules, so I still think of January the 10th as the real launch day

      • Chronicon, the excellent action-RPG now has much better gamepad support

        Chronicon is an Early Access action-RPG with a feel and atmosphere like the classic Diablo, I absolutely love it and it’s now much better with gamepads. Don’t let the retro pixel style to it fool you, this is a deep ARPG with tons of enemies, quests and loot that will have you sorting for days.

        Last time I tried it, the gamepad situation was a bit poor. Since trying it again now, it’s close to flawless. Hot-plugging works, Steam Controller works as does the Logitech F310 and it makes for a massively improved experience. Weirdly, the Back button on either is still not detected, so you will need to rebind inventory. Chronicon is damn fun with keyboard and mouse but when you want to kick back and relax a little more, gamepads are where it’s at and now you can easily do that too with no fussing. This is going to be terrible for my free time.

      • Fantastic RTS ‘Tooth and Tail’ now lets you adjust campaign difficulty plus big sale

        Tooth and Tail, a brilliant real-time strategy game released back in 2017 from Pocketwatch Games continues seeing upgrades to make it appeal to even more people.

        An RTS where you are a character in the field, you’re the flag-bearer directing your troops around as you run through all the destruction. It’s pretty damn clever actually, with a full story-based single-player campaign and cross-platform online play there’s a lot to enjoy about it. Especially with gamepad support, really easy to get into. Not seen it before?

    • Desktop Environments/WMs

      • Xfce 4.14 Maintenance and 4.15 Updates

        As promised we’re trying to be much better at doing maintenance releases for Xfce 4.14. In part, we had a hard time doing maintenance for Xfce 4.12 because with all the porting work it was hard to focus on fixing Gtk+2 bugs and many bugreports/fixes didn’t apply to both 4.12 and 4.14.

      • Xfce 4.16 Is Making Good Progress On Utilizing GTK3 Client-Side Decorations

        Several months ago we learned of the Xfce 4.16 plans to drop GTK2 support and explore client-side decoration goals among other changes for this lightweight desktop environment release expected in late 2020.

        The Xfce 4.16 goal of making use of client-side decorations and in particular the GTK3 GtkHeaderBar appears to be making good progress.

      • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

        • Akonadi / KMail and Google accounts

          You can see the consequences of that oversight in KDE bugs, for instance kmail no longer allows addition of gmail account or Dolphin Kio-gdrive authentication with Google account fails. There are probably multiple duplicates in KDE’s bugzilla as well.

          The Google account used for the integration – the one that “owns” the API tokens and a few other things – has the KDE e.V. board email attached to it. That’s sensible, since Google integration in KDE applications and frameworks is something institutional, not personal (so it wouldn’t make sense to have any individual developer’s address on it). The e.V. exists to support the community, after all.

          This does mean that when things break with the integration – and they have been broken, for months now – the board gets email with questions. This is a semi-official statement from the board about what’s going on (semi-, because it is on my personal blog, and statements like “I don’t know” and “I don’t use” are personal, not institutional).

        • gbgcpp – Ribbons using Qt

          I’ve been involved in the gbgcpp group, a part of the larger Sweden C++ community, for a couple of years. It is fun to see that there is a lot of C++ developers out there, once you start looking for them.

          In the next meetup, this Wednesday, there will be both C++ and Qt. The topic is to implement Ribbons in Qt, based on a seminar by Dag Brück. If you happen to be in the vicinity of Gothenburg, I recommend you to go there!

        • My KDE in 2019: Developer Documentation Update

          Late 2019 year-end post, I know. It’s been a rather busy start to the new year even when I tried to hit the ground running. Unfortunately, some things like blog posts have taken a backseat. Hopefully not for long.

          2019 was a wild year for me personally and I don’t mean that in the completely good sense. One of the highlights, though, was being hired to do contractual work for KDE as a technical writer and documentation specialist. TL;DR I went through KDE’s developer docs and queried a few devs on the state of the documentation and what needs to be done to make it easier for new developers to get started using our libraries/frameworks and contribute to KDE projects.

          It was definitely an honor to formally work for the community. I have been a sporadic contributor (lately more just helping out on IRC) and getting the chance to work on more technical matters again and be involved on a deeper level was exciting. Plus, the accountability definitely helped in the motivation aspect. Sadly, due to personal circumstances, I wasn’t able to follow up on the matter after the contract formally ended. Fortunately, that period is over and I can get the ball rolling again.

          [...]

          2019 was spent for analysis and planning so, hopefully, 2020 will be spent putting all of these into action. Writing documentation is often seen as a boring task but, especially when it comes to developer documentation, it can be the perfect opportunity to become familiar with the software and libraries, the tools and processes, and, most importantly, with the people and the community that make KDE awesome

      • GNOME Desktop/GTK

        • GtkSourceView on GTK 4

          I spent some time this cycle porting GtkSourceView to GTK 4. It was a good opportunity to help me catch up on how GTK 4’s internals have changed into something modern. It gave me a chance to fix a few pot-holes along the way too.

          One of the pot-holes was one I left in GtkTextView years ago. When I plumbed the pixelcache into GTK 3’s TextView I had only cached the primary text content. It seemed fine at the time because the gutters (used for line numbers) is just not that many pixels. So if we have to re-generate that every frame, so be it.

          However, in a HiDPI world and 4k monitors on our laps things start to get… warm. So while changing the drawing model in GtkTextView we decided to make the GtkTextView gutters real widgets. Doing so means that GtkSourceGutterRenderer will be real GtkWidget‘s going forward and can do all sorts of neat stuff widgets can do.

    • Distributions

      • Must Read: 5 Best Linux Distros for Windows 7 Users

        With that in mind we asked our readers what they think are the best Linux distros for Windows 7 users to switch to. This post rounds up their responses.

        Now, if you’re running Windows 7 at the moment and you’re scared about making the switch to Linux let me tell you that you’re not alone — I was there was where you are once!

        One helpful tips to soinstall Linux alongside Windows 7 as a dual boot, and switch between systems just by rebooting your computer.

      • Windows 7 Support Ends Today, Upgrade to Something Supported Soon
      • Windows 7 support ends today: Here are your best Windows 10 alternatives

        Ubuntu is an open-source Windows OS alternative that, unlike Microsoft’s operating system, is free to download. Introduced in 2004, OS is based on Linux platform and has nearly all the features that one would find in Windows OS. The operating system also gets regular updates and supports Intel x86 (IBM-compatible PC), AMD64 (x86-64), ARMv7, ARMv8 (ARM64) among other architectures. The OS even runs Microsoft’s MS Office software but it doesn’t support games, in case you want that much flexibility. There’s also a slight learning curve with this one, so be prepared to invest a bit more time in this as compared to Windows.

      • Windows 7 end of life: Time to move on

        So, what are your options? Simply put, you may want to consider upgrading at last. Biting the bullet and shouldering the expense of upgrading can save you from picking up the tab for a costly cyberattack.

        On the bright side, if you were thinking about switching to another system, there is no better opportunity than now. You have several options to choose from. You can opt for Linux, which offers a number of distributions (the name for Linux operating systems) such as Ubuntu, ElementaryOS, or alternatively you can take a peek at some of the distros we discussed in one of our recent articles.

      • Screenshots/Screencasts

      • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandriva/OpenMandriva Family

        • [OpenMandriva] Additional desktop environments updated once again!

          I am pleased to announce that all currently the most popular desktops are available in the OpenMandriva repository and have been updated to the latest releases.

          So, if you don’t like the default Plasma 5, then you have option to use a different environment like Gnome, Cinnamon, Mate, Xfce, IceWM or i3. In addition @fedya has prepared Sway, and in the repository we can also find under the tutelage of @bero the LXQT and Lumina – both QT based environments. All desktop you can find in Cooker, Rolling* and in upcoming stable release Rock 4.1.

          [...]

          GNOME environment was updated to latest stable 3.34.3 along with most components that fall into this gtk stack.

      • Fedora Family

        • Fedora 32 Greenlit For Enabling FSTRIM Support By Default

          Back in December was the proposal to finally enable FSTRIM by default for Fedora 32 in benefiting solid-state storage. Today the formal approval was given by the Fedora Engineering and Steering Committee to go ahead with this long overdue change.

          The change is to enable the systemd fstrim.timer unit by default for running FSTRIM weekly on EXT4/XFS/Btrfs/F2FS file-systems running on flash-based storage devices. FSTRIM is used for notifying the underlying storage devices about unused blocks for wear leveling and more efficient handling.

        • Fedora program update: 2020-02

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

      • Canonical/Ubuntu Family

        • Ubuntu’s Unity Desktop Lives On

          And no, I don’t just mean on the desktops of those still running Ubuntu 16.04 LTS.

          Now, I’m not particularly clued up on my anime (more a Super Sentai guy myself, I like the colours) but Alex (aka BabyWogue) is a fan of the genre.

          And in recent episodes of “Rikei ga Koi ni Ochita no de Shoumei shitemita”, a new adaptation of the popular manga of the same name, Alex spotted something familiar… Something that will be of particular interest to sites like mine: the Unity desktop!

        • Root User in Ubuntu: Important Things You Should Know

          In Linux, there is always a super user called root. This is the super admin account that can do anything and everything with the system. It can access any file and run any command on your Linux system.

          With great power comes great responsibility. Root user gives you complete power over the system and hence it should be used with great cautious. Root user can access system files and run commands to make changes to the system configuration. And hence, an incorrect command may destroy the system.

          This is why Ubuntu and other Ubuntu-based distributions lock the root user by default to save you from accidental disasters.

        • All about Ubuntu editions and which version should you use?

          Ubuntu is one of the most popular Linux distributions developed and released by Canonical, and not without reason. It has very enriched repositories, with support for all the programs you could ever need.

          It provides the exceptionally smooth user experience, and if you have an issue, it also has a great community, where most problems that you could potentially have are already solved.

          Apart from these things, Ubuntu provides many different flavors and you can find the one that suits you the best. Here, we have provided a concise list of these different versions of Ubuntu, and reasons it could be the one for you. Although there are hundreds of Linux distros that are derived from Ubuntu, we are talking about the distros that made a considerable impact in the Linux community and have active developers working on a daily basis for providing sustained security updates.

        • Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter Issue 613

          Welcome to the Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter, Issue 613 for the week of January 5 – 11, 2020. The full version of this issue is available here.

    • Devices/Embedded

    • Free, Libre, and Open Source Software

      • T-Mobile Poland deploys ONF’s open-source EPC

        T-Mobile Poland is using OMEC’s gateway control, user plane and billing components to deliver a Fixed Mobile Substitution (FMS) service to its customers. The OMEC components include standard 3GPP interfaces for interconnecting to T-Mobile’s existing base stations, mobility management entities and lawful intercept platforms.

        Michal Sewera, head of the EPC Shared Service Center at T-Mobile Poland, commented, “Our OMEC deployment provides us with a lightweight packet core providing connectivity, billing and charging at scale for a large number of fixed-mobile subscribers.

      • This New Open Source Software Can Help Spot Cancerous Cells

        A global team of researchers say they have open sourced new software designed to assess the proportion of cancerous cells in a tumour sample, among a range of other functions that could make it easier to create personalised cancer treatment plans.

        Researchers at the Francis Crick Institute, UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, Oregon Health & Science University, the www.bdi.ox.ac.uk, and the University of Toronto published the tools this week. They were released to accompany a study, published in Nature Biotechnology, that creates a benchmark approach to computational methods of assessing genetic diversity in a tumour.

        As the research team noted: “Cancers are often made up of many cells which vary genetically to each other. These genetic differences mean the cancer may be particularly susceptible or resistant to a given treatment.

        “As a result, identifying these variations can help clinicians decide which treatment is most likely to be successful for a specific patient.

      • US adds AI export hurdles. Open source might lessen the impact

        Industry is wary of broad government regulation which could hamper product innovation. In turn, regulators are cautious of what geopolitical impact the tech industry’s global growth might have. The focus of the regulation strikes a balance between the two forces.

        Due to the open source availability of some of the technological elements that power geospatial software, rules in this field are “potentially less impactful than one might imagine,” said Robert Cheetham, founder and CEO of Azavea, in an interview with CIO Dive.

        “Because so much of this work is happening in an open intellectual commons, from which everyone is drawing, contributing and participating in, it narrows the scope of what the regulation could cover,” said Cheetham, whose B-corporation builds geospatial applications for civic and social impact.

      • Building a Real-Time App: 13 Open Source Projects You Should Be Tracking Right Now

        Open source is the dominant model of software consumption in the modern era. Cutting-edge startups and entrenched incumbents alike find open source software development and community building a significant part of their overall business strategies.

        [...]

        There are seemingly limitless open source projects to evaluate. Further complicating matters, each project has its own domain competence and cultural nuances. Considering a single distributed application will have tens or (many) more open source dependencies, development teams must continuously test new open source offerings and hone new skills to use these solutions, while simultaneously architecting their applications.

        In order to help sort through the noise, I’ve looked at six categories of open source projects for this article: data storage, message systems, service meshes, REST frameworks and streaming frameworks. For each category, I’ll identify any dominant players as well as some other projects of note.

      • These Open Source Habits Could Make Your Career

        On an average day, Ryan McKinley gets about four job offers from companies that use — or want to use — the search engine Apache Lucene.

        That’s because McKinley, as an early contributor to Lucene’s open source codebase, is one of a handful of developers with the authority to make high-level changes within the project.

        McKinley, however, isn’t looking for work. He’s the VP of applications at recently formed Grafana Labs, which builds commercial-grade software atop the Grafana open source project. The company hired him because he was the project’s leading community contributor.

        After decades using open source to advance his projects and his career, McKinley has a few takeaways for engineers looking to parlay open source contributions into career growth.

      • Web Browsers

        • Mozilla

          • Conda is pretty great

            Lately the data engineering team has been looking into productionizing (i.e. running in Airflow) a bunch of models that the data science team has been producing. This often involves languages and environments that are a bit outside of our comfort zone — for example, the next version of Mission Control relies on the R-stan library to produce a model of expected crash behaviour as Firefox is released.

            [...]

            I had been vaguely aware of Conda for a few years, but didn’t really understand its value proposition until I started working on the above project: why bother with a heavyweight package manager when you already have Docker to virtualize things? The answer is that it solves both of the above problems: for local development, you can get something more-or-less identical to what you’re running inside Docker with no performance penalty whatsoever. And for building the docker container itself, Conda’s package repository contains pre-compiled versions of all the dependencies you’d want to use for something like this (even somewhat esoteric libraries like R-stan are available on conda-forge), which brought my build cycle times down to less than 5 minutes.

          • Newsletter 2 (Firefox 73)

            Heads up: the next newsletter will likely cover both Firefox 74 and Firefox 75 due to the shorter release cycles this year.

          • No judgment digital definitions: Online advertising strategies

            It’s hard to go anywhere on the internet without seeing an ad. That’s because advertising is the predominant business model of the internet today. Websites and apps you visit every day are largely “free” for you because they monetize your data and your attention through advertising. And, as data sets of individuals and groups online have become more readily available to companies in recent years, advertisers have developed strategies to minimize what they spend on ads while maximizing the profit made from them. The ad tech arms race is constantly evolving, and the more invasive practices that are used, the more valuable your data is. Here are some of the most common online advertising strategies and associated activities being used that rely on collecting data about you today.

      • Funding

      • FSF

        • Licensing / Legal

          • Creative Commons and USAID Collaborate on Guide to Open Licensing

            Over the past two years, we’ve been working with USAID, the Global Book Alliance, the Global Digital Library, and the Global Reading Network on early childhood reading programs, with a focus on helping these programs to recognize the potential of open licensing to increase the reach and efficacy of resources that promote youth literacy. In the course of doing that work, we all realized that additional materials needed to be created for grantees of the programs to not only understand the open license grant requirements, but to undertake the practical steps of implementing open licenses. To respond to that need, we collaborated with USAID and the Global Reading Network to write and co-publish Open Licensing of Primary Grade Reading Materials: Considerations and Recommendations, a guide to open licenses that includes an introduction to the basics of copyright, an overview of the benefits of open licensing, and suggestions for choosing and implementing open licenses.

          • German Lawyer Niklas Plutte shares OSS tips

            Under the title « Open Source Software Recht: Große FAQ mit vielen Praxistipps” (in German language) the German lawyer Niklas Plutte (Rechtsanwalt) summarises the main questions related to open source licensing.

            In particular, the paper analyse how far open licences will produce a reciprocal (or copyleft) effect, meaning that in case or re-distribution of the program (as is, modified or in combination with other software) the copy, the modified or derivative work must be provided under the same licence and made available to the public in source code form, which could be shared and reused by anyone.

      • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

        • Open Data

          • Announcing new data sets on the IBM Data Asset eXchange

            The IBM® Data Asset eXchange (DAX) is an online hub for developers and data scientists to find carefully curated free and open data sets under open data licenses. A particular focus of the exchange is data sets under the Community Data License Agreement (CDLA). Since launching the exchange in 2019, the CODAIT team has been working on steadily adding new data sets to the exchange.

            [...]

            To make it easier to use data sets on the Data Asset eXchange, we’ve introduced interactive notebooks hosted on Watson Studio that illustrate how to get started with your first steps of exploratory data analysis. Right now, we’ve added notebooks for a few data sets, including Fashion-MNIST, JFK Weather, PubTabNet, PubLayNet and more.

            We’re working on more content related to data cleansing, exploratory analysis, and machine learning with data sets from the Data Asset eXchange, so watch this space! We encourage you to check out these recent data sets and notebooks as well as all of the other data sets.

      • Programming/Development

        • Synthesizing Loop-Free Programs with Rust and Z3

          Automatically finding a program that implements a given specification is called program synthesis. The main difficulty is that the search space is huge: the number of programs of size \(n\) grows exponentially. Naïvely enumerating every program of size \(n\), checking whether each one satisfies the specification, and then moving on to programs of size \(n+1\) and so on doesn’t scale. However, the field has advanced by using smarter search techniques to prune the search space, leveraging performance improvements in SMT solvers, and at times limiting the scope of the problem.

          In this post, I’ll explain one approach to modern program synthesis: counterexample-guided iterative synthesis of component-based, loop-free programs, as described in Synthesis of Loop-Free Programs by Gulwani et al. We’ll dissect exactly what each of those terms mean, and we’ll also walk through an implementation written in Rust that uses the Z3 solver.

        • 4 things cloud-native Java must provide

          Because of Java and Enterprise Java’s history, an application built on a traditional Java stack, even if it is optimized for cloud-native environments, requires more memory and takes longer to start than applications built on other popular languages. With modern platforms like Kubernetes, Istio, and Knative, the need to have smaller runtimes that can scale up, down, and even down to zero is becoming more and more important.
          So, what should cloud-native Java look like in order to enable people to develop, build, run, debug, and deploy in an immutable infrastructure without a steep learning curve? How easily can developers evolve cloud-native Java for serverless applications on demand?

        • Excellent Free Tutorials to Learn R

          The R language is the de facto standard among statisticians for the development of statistical software, and is widely used for statistical software development and data analysis. R is a modern dialect of S, one of several statistical programming languages designed at Bell Laboratories.

          R is much more than a programming language. It’s an interactive suite of software facilities for data manipulation, calculation, and graphical display. R offers a wide variety of statistical (linear and nonlinear modelling, classical statistical tests, time-series analysis, classification, clustering, …) and graphical techniques, and is highly extensible. The ability to download and install R packages is a key factor which makes R an excellent language to learn. What else makes R awesome? Here’s a taster.

        • 2020.02 Important Things

          Sterling Hanenkamp (of Raku Async Advent fame) has written an endearing blog about their position with regards to the renaming of Perl 6 to Raku and the important things in life. (/r/rakulang comments).

        • Git

          • [ANNOUNCE] Git v2.25.0
            The latest feature release Git v2.25.0 is now available at the
            usual places.  It is comprised of 583 non-merge commits since
            v2.24.0, contributed by 84 people, 32 of which are new faces.
            
            The tarballs are found at:
            
            https://www.kernel.org/pub/software/scm/git/
            
            The following public repositories all have a copy of the 'v2.25.0'
            tag and the 'master' branch that the tag points at:
            
              url = https://kernel.googlesource.com/pub/scm/git/git
              url = git://repo.or.cz/alt-git.git
              url = https://github.com/gitster/git
            
            New contributors whose contributions weren't in v2.24.0 are as follows.
            Welcome to the Git development community!
            
              Ben Keene, Colin Stolley, Dominic Jäger, Erik Chen, Hariom
              Verma, Heba Waly, James Coglan, James Shubin, Johannes Schindelin
              via GitGitGadget, Jonathan Gilbert, Josh Holland, Kazuhiro
              Kato, Łukasz Niemier, Manish Goregaokar, Matthew Rogers,
              Mihail Atanassov, Miriam Rubio, Nathan Stocks, Naveen Nathan,
              Nika Layzell, pan93412, Paul Menzel, Philippe Blain, Prarit
              Bhargava, r.burenkov, Ruud van Asseldonk, ryenus, Slavica
              Đukić, Thomas Menzel, Utsav Shah, Yi-Jyun Pan, and Zoli Szabó.
            
            Returning contributors who helped this release are as follows.
            Thanks for your continued support.
            
              Alban Gruin, Alessandro Menti, Alexander Shopov, Alexandr
              Miloslavskiy, Andreas Schwab, Andrei Rybak, brian m. carlson,
              Christopher Diaz Riveros, Daniel Ferreira, Denis Ovsienko,
              Denton Liu, Derrick Stolee, Dimitriy Ryazantcev, Đoàn Trần
              Công Danh, Ed Maste, Elia Pinto, Elijah Newren, Emily Shaffer,
              Eric Wong, Garima Singh, Hans Jerry Illikainen, Jean-Noël
              Avila, Jeff Hostetler, Jeff King, Jiang Xin, Johannes Berg,
              Johannes Schindelin, Johannes Sixt, Jonathan Nieder, Jonathan
              Tan, Jordi Mas, Junio C Hamano, Kevin Willford, Martin Ågren,
              Matthias Rüster, Mike Hommey, Peter Krefting, Philip Oakley,
              Phillip Wood, Pratyush Yadav, Ralf Thielow, René Scharfe, Robin
              H. Johnson, Rohit Ashiwal, SZEDER Gábor, Tanushree Tumane,
              Taylor Blau, Thomas Braun, Thomas Gummerer, Todd Zullinger,
              Trần Ngọc Quân, and William Baker.
            
          • Git v2.25.0

            Git 2.25 has been released. This blog post looks at “partial clone support” and “sparse checkouts” as these features mature. “A clone of a Git repository copies all of its data: every version of every file in the history.

          • Highlights from Git 2.25

            The open source Git project just released Git 2.25 with features and bug fixes from over 84 contributors, 32 of them new. Here’s our look at some of the most exciting features and changes introduced since Git 2.24.

          • Git 2.25 Released As Its First Update Of 2020

            Git 2.25 is out today with over 500 commits making up this latest feature release.

            The Git distributed revision control system is up to version 2.25 with a variety of changes. There aren’t too many notable user-facing changes but a lot of churn internally:

            - The git multi-pack index functionality now can show progress indicators.

        • Python

          • Logistic Regression in Python

            As the amount of available data, the strength of computing power, and the number of algorithmic improvements continue to rise, so does the importance of data science and machine learning. Classification is among the most important areas of machine learning, and logistic regression is one of its basic methods. By the end of this tutorial, you’ll have learned about classification in general and the fundamentals of logistic regression in particular, as well as how to implement logistic regression in Python.

          • Szorc: Mercurial’s Journey to and Reflections on Python 3

            Here is a longish blog entry from Mercurial maintainer Gregory Szorc on the painful process of converting Mercurial to Python 3.

          • Mercurial’s Journey to and Reflections on Python 3

            Mercurial 5.2 was released on November 5, 2019. It is the first version of Mercurial that supports Python 3. This milestone comes nearly 11 years after Python 3.0 was first released on December 3, 2008.

            Speaking as a maintainer of Mercurial and an avid user of Python, I feel like the experience of making Mercurial work with Python 3 is worth sharing because there are a number of lessons to be learned.

            This post is logically divided into two sections: a mostly factual recount of Mercurial’s Python 3 porting effort and a more opinionated commentary of the transition to Python 3 and the Python language ecosystem as a whole. Those who don’t care about the mechanics of porting a large Python project to Python 3 may want to skip the next section or two.

            [...]

            This effort began in earnest in June 2015 with global source code rewrites like using modern octal syntax, modern exception catching syntax (except Exception as e instead of except Exception, e), print() instead of print, and a modern import convention along with the use of from __future__ import absolute_import.

            In the early days of the port, our first goal was to get all source code parsing as valid Python 3. The next step was to get all the modules importing cleanly. This entailed fixing code that ran at import time to work on Python 3. Our thinking was that we would need the code base to be import clean on Python 3 before seriously thinking about run-time behavior. In reality, we quickly ported a lot of modules to import cleanly and then moved on to higher-level porting, leaving a long-tail of modules with import failures.

            This initial porting effort played out over months. There weren’t many people working on it in the early days: a few people would basically hack on Python 3 as a form of itch scratching and most of the project’s energy was focused on improving the existing Python 2 based product. You can get a rough idea of the timeline and participation in the early porting effort through the history of test-check-py3-compat.t. We see the test being added in December 2015, By June 2016, most of the code base was ported to our modern import convention and we were ready to move on to more meaningful porting.

  • Leftovers

    • Mapache – Life On Fire
    • The Millennial Meaninglessness of Writing About Tech
    • MIT Suspends Another Professor for Epstein Ties

      MIT has placed tenured mechanical engineering professor Seth Lloyd on administrative because of a failure to disclose ties to Jeffrey Epstein, the deceased and disgraced financier accused of sex trafficking and other crimes.

      Over the years, Epstein donated $225,000 to Lloyd’s research and also gave him a personal gift of $60,000, according to an extensive report about Epstein’s connections to MIT that the university released Friday. Lloyd hid the source of the donations by processing them through various administrators — ultimately tainting his research by linking it to Epstein’s disgraceful legacy.

      [...]

      Joi Ito, the since-resigned director of the MIT Media Lab also accepted — and obscured the source of — hundreds of thousands of dollars from Epstein and millions more that were funneled through Epstein’s company. Computer scientist Richard Stallman also resigned in the wake of controversy surrounding off-color comments he made about the scandal.

    • Education

      • Defying Threat of Termination, 1,200 Florida Teachers Rally to Save Public Education

        “Florida teachers are rallying for fair pay and better funding for schools, and they won’t be intimidated or undermined.”

      • An Evolutionary Explanation for Unscientific Beliefs

        “Another theory is that humans were created by God,” announced my tenth-grade biology student as she clicked past PowerPoint slides of Darwin’s finches and on to images of a catastrophic flood. After her presentation, I carefully avoided inane debate and simply reiterated the unique ways in which science helps us make accurate predictions. I then prepared for pushback from parents and administrators. Sure enough, the next day the superintendent of the school district came to my classroom with some creationist literature that he was confident would change my mind on the whole theory of evolution by natural selection thing. It didn’t, but it did lead me to pursue a PhD in educational psychology in my search to explain how such beliefs could be maintained in modern times, particularly in the face of such strong counterevidence.

        As it turns out, the theory of evolution by natural selection provides a strong explanation for how and why some people don’t believe evolution by natural selection has ever taken place. I initially thought the problem was a matter of knowledge and the standards people have for what constitutes knowledge, but eventually it became clear that holders of anti-scientific beliefs (from William Jennings Brian of the Scopes Monkey Trial to modern day conspiracy theorists) typically root their convictions in moral obligation.

    • Health/Nutrition

    • Integrity/Availability

      • Proprietary

        • Cryptic Rumblings Ahead of First 2020 Patch Tuesday [iophk: why is Canonical not utilizing this already? Do they have too many microsofters inside the perimeter now?]

          According to sources, the vulnerability in question resides in a Windows component known as crypt32.dll, a Windows module that Microsoft says handles “certificate and cryptographic messaging functions in the CryptoAPI.” The Microsoft CryptoAPI provides services that enable developers to secure Windows-based applications using cryptography, and includes functionality for encrypting and decrypting data using digital certificates.

          A critical vulnerability in this Windows component could have wide-ranging security implications for a number of important Windows functions, including authentication on Windows desktops and servers, the protection of sensitive data handled by Microsoft’s Internet Explorer/Edge browsers, as well as a number of third-party applications and tools.

          Equally concerning, a flaw in crypt32.dll might also be abused to spoof the digital signature tied to a specific piece of software. Such a weakness could be exploited by attackers to make malware appear to be a benign program that was produced and signed by a legitimate software company.

        • Pseudo-Open Source

          • Openwashing

            • Actiontec Expands Its Role at prpl Foundation With Commitment to Enable Support for the Wi-Fi Alliance’s Data Elements Specification

              Actiontec Electronics announced that it is expanding its role at the prpl Foundation with a commitment to contribute code to support the Wi-Fi Alliance’s Data Elements Release 1 specification. Actiontec is already a member of the prpl Foundation, an open-source collaborative foundation that enables high-velocity, service-driven innovation on customer-premises equipment.

              Actiontec’s contribution will enable carriers deploying the prpl Foundation’s solution on their gateways to monitor in-home Wi-Fi performance, helping to ensure the best Wi-Fi experience for each subscriber. The WiFi Alliance’s Data Elements Specification defines a standard set of Wi-Fi parameters, making it easier for service providers to gather data across CPE devices from different vendors. Support for Wi-Fi Data Elements is a requirement for Wi-Fi CERTIFIED EasyMesh™ R2 certification.

            • Uber Open-sources Manifold Visual Debugging Tool for Machine Learning Researchers

              Manifold helps scientists and engineers identify performance issues through slices and models of ML data, and diagnose their real causes by surfacing variations in the distribution of features across data subsets.

              Uber recently announced that it is has released Manifold as an open source project. Manifold is a model-agnostic machine learning visual debugging tool that the company utilizes to identify issues in ML models. To provide the advantages of this tool to other ML practitioners. Manifold was first introduced in January 2019.

            • Lyft open-sources Flyte tool for managing machine learning workflows

              Ride-sharing company Lyft Inc. today said it has open-sourced a new debugging tool for artificial intelligence data that its pricing, locations, estimate time of arrivals, mapping and self-driving developer teams have been using in-house for the last three years.

              Flyte is described by Lyft as a “structured and distributed platform for concurrent, scalable and maintainable machine learning workflows.”

            • TIER IV Alliance with LG on Advanced Cloud Simulator Technology Expected to Accelerate Safe Deployment of Autonomous Vehicles

              Tier IV, a world leader in the open-source software development for self-driving technology known as Autoware, has entered into a strategic alliance with global innovator LG Electronics related to advanced simulator technology. The collaboration, which will provide a turnkey cloud service for simulation-based testing and verification of Autoware, is expected to contribute significantly to the deployment of emerging autonomous driving technologies.

            • MicroEJ is Releasing Studio V5 for Fast Open Source Embedded Software Development

              Today, MicroEJ is releasing the new V5 version of its free Studio, an Integrated Development Environment (IDE) for embedded software design, based on multi-languages, multi-libraries, and multi-app secure containers.

              It represents two years of intense efforts in close collaboration with its ecosystem of partners, customers and developers, to optimize software assets creation related to domains such as Security, User Interface, Communication, Numeric, and Simulation.

            • Facebook Shares Its 2019 Year in Review for Open Source

              Facebook said it released 170 new open-source projects in 2019, bringing its total portfolio to 579 active repositories.

              Open-source developer advocate Dmitry Vinnik said in a blog post that the social network’s internal engineers contributed more than 82,000 commits in 2019, while some 2,500 external contributors committed over 32,000 changes.

              He added that almost 93,000 new people starred Facebook’s open-source projects last year.

          • Privatisation/Privateering

            • Amazon accused of ‘strip mining’ open source software

              ust before the start of the festive season shut-down in mid-December, the New York Times published a long article accusing one of the world’s largest technology companies – Amazon – of nefarious business practices.

              Amazon reacted strongly, with Andi Gutmans, VP of Analytics and ElastiCache at Amazon Web Services (AWS) calling the NY Times article “skewed and misleading” as well as “silly and off-base”.

              Referring to open source companies that it said had complained about Amazon’s business practices, which included benefiting by integrating open source software pioneered by others into its own products, the NYTimes wrote: “Some of the companies have a phrase for what Amazon is doing: strip-mining software. By lifting other people’s innovations, trying to poach their engineers and profiting off what they made, Amazon is choking off the growth of would-be competitors and forcing them to reorient how they do business.”

          • Entrapment (Microsoft GitHub)

            • Financial Services Firms Must Contribute More Software Repos, to Retain Staff and Stay Relevant [Ed: This article promotes the fiction that only code Microsoft controls counts as FOSS. It is a hostile and malicious takeover.]

              Does this tell us anything ? Overall, I was quite encouraged, but felt financial services firms in particular have more to do.

              My first observation regards firms not featuring on the list. Many Financial Services companies – banks, asset managers and other open source-consuming tier 1 hedge funds – are notable by their absence on Github, though in fairness some host repos elsewhere. While Goldman Sachs, for a long time active with Java, and JP Morgan are readily findable, many of their rivals sadly barely register. Kudos to those that have contributed, particularly the likes of Two Sigma and Man AHL, who have truly put money, time and effort where their mouths are.

              Vendors like Bloomberg and Thomson Reuters have found repos to be useful for promoting APIs to their databases, not unlike some internet services firm submissions represented in the list. They’re doing well.

              Particularly pleasing for me were two “proprietary” software firms active in Financial Services, MathWorks and SAS, both releasing significant numbers of high calibre code repos, not least because I worked many years for one of them. Predictably, most repos from my former company are in their own proprietary though openly-viewable and editable language, MATLAB. For SAS, somewhat less predictably to my mind at least, more code submissions were in Python and JavaScript than SAS code itself. Kudos therefore to my former competitors at SAS ! It seems they understand the programming languages preferred by their staff’s children and grandchildren, a bit like my using DuckDuckGo, chatting with gamers on Discord and shouting “boomer” at anyone over the age of 33.

        • Security

          • Security updates for Monday

            Security updates have been issued by Arch Linux (file and firefox), Debian (apache-log4j1.2), Fedora (chromium, dovecot, GraphicsMagick, kubernetes, libvpx, makepasswd, matio, and slurm), Mageia (libtomcrypt, ming, oniguruma, opencv, pcsc-lite, phpmyadmin, and thunderbird), openSUSE (chromium, chromium, re2, and mozilla-nspr, mozilla-nss), Red Hat (chromium-browser, firefox, and rabbitmq-server), Slackware (mozilla), and SUSE (crowbar-core, crowbar-openstack, openstack-horizon-plugin-monasca-ui, openstack-monasca-api, openstack-monasca-log-api, openstack-neutron, rubygem-puma, rubygem-rest-client, firefox, libzypp, and openssl-1_1).

          • Arm Chips Vulnerable to PAN Bypass – “We All Know it’s Broken”

            Memory access protections baked into the ARMv8 64-bit specification are vulnerable to being bypassed – and the Arm team has only just mitigated the bug, which would allow an attacker to circumvent its “Privileged Access Never” (PAN) controls in the kernel.

            PAN, introduced in 2014, is a meant to prevent privileged access to user data unless explicitly enabled – as a security mechanism against possible software attacks.

            A Linux kernel commit message on January 6 this year acknowledges the issue and puts in place a stop-gap measure. But one security researcher, “Siguza” says they originally found the flaw in October 2018 and that PAN “was never an issue to get around”.

          • Spotify Accidentally Leaks Details on Its Home Thing Smart Speaker

            A leak may have revealed Spotify’s upcoming foray into smart home speakers. New setup images for something called ‘Spotify Home Thing’ have appeared online.

          • Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt/Fear-mongering/Dramatisation

          • Privacy/Surveillance

            • Constitutional Court hears case against controversial snooping law

              Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht) will hold an oral hearing on 14 and 15 January on whether global internet surveillance by Germany’s foreign intelligence agency, the BND, is constitutional. The hearing comes after Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and the Society for Civil Rights (GFF) together with an alliance of four media organisations lodged a constitutional complaint before the court challenging the BND’s surveillance powers.

              “The law allows the foreign intelligence agency to spy on journalists abroad almost without restrictions and to share the information with other intelligence agencies. This is an unacceptable restriction of press freedom,“ said Christian Mihr, Executive Director of RSF Germany. “There is a great deal of uncertainty among media professionals because you never know if you are being monitored. Besides, we don’t know what is exchanged between the intelligence agencies.”

            • The German Constitutional Court Will Revisit the Question of Mass Surveillance, Will the U.S.?

              On January 14 and 15, 2020, the German Federal Constitutional Court will be holding a hearing to reevaluate the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) Act, which gives the BND agency (similar to the National Security Agency in the United States) broad surveillance authority. The hearing comes after a coalition of media and activist organizations including the Gesellschaft für Freiheistrechte filed a constitutional complaint against the BND for its drag net collection and storage of telecommunications data. This new hearing continues a renewed effort on the part of countries around the world to re-access the high cost of liberty that comes with operating an invasive drag net surveillance program and may increase global pressure on the United States’ intelligence community.

              One of the coalitions leading arguments against massive data collection by the foreign intelligence service is the fear that sensitive communications between sources and journalists may be swept up and made accessible by the government. Surveillance which, purposefully or inadvertently, sweeps up the messages of journalists jeopardizes the integrity and health of a free and functioning press and could chill the willingness of sources or whistleblowers to expose corruption or wrongdoing in the country.

            • Star Wars icon Mark Hamill deletes Facebook account

              His followers supported the decision to delete Facebook. “I deleted Facebook 8 months ago and it feels great. Zuckerberg is making billions and destroying democracy in the process,” responded one user. “Facebook has become an Empire. Like the very one you destroyed,” tweeted another.

            • Facebook: Star Wars’ Mark Hamill deletes account over political ads

              It followed its decision to let politicians run adverts that contain lies on the social network.

              The firm has said that it does not believe decisions about which political ads run should be left to private companies.

    • Defence/Aggression

      • Cities in the Crosshairs Are Pushing Back Against Nuclear Weapons

        Two years after a mistakenly sent text alert warning of an inbound ballistic missile threat caused widespread panic and confusion across Hawaii, cities remain potential targets and nuclear jitters continue to grow around the world.

      • Droning the World: The Assassination Complex From Bush to Obama to Trump

        How the U.S. presidency became a killing machine.

      • Obama Normalized Drone Warfare. Trump Is Escalating It.

        We’re only a few days into the new decade and it’s somehow already a bigger dumpster fire than the last. On January 2nd, President Trump decided to order what one expert called “the most important decapitation strike America has ever launched.” This one took out not some nameless terrorist in a distant land or a group of civilians who happened to get in the way, but Major General Qassem Suleimani, the leader of Iran’s elite Quds Force and the mastermind of its military operations across the Middle East.

      • Come Home America: Stop Policing the World and Waging Endless Wars

        I agree wholeheartedly with George S. McGovern, a former Senator and presidential candidate who opposed the Vietnam War, about one thing: I’m sick of old men dreaming up wars for young men to die in.

      • Being History with Iran

        We went to Iran because you have to see these places before the U.S. blows them up, and it’s very good to see you here today in downtown Chicago, that’s also precious, for a similar reason.

      • Iran Admits to Downing Airplane, Sparking Renewed Anti-Government Protests

        Iranian protesters have taken to the streets for a third day, after the Iranian military acknowledged it accidentally shot down a Ukrainian airliner last week, killing all 176 people on board, including 82 Iranians and 57 Canadians. Iran initially denied downing the plane, but Iran’s Revolutionary Guard took responsibility for what authorities now describe as a “disastrous mistake.” The plane was downed hours after Iranian forces fired 22 rockets at military bases in Iraq housing U.S. troops, in retaliation for the U.S. assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani. Millions of Iranians took to the streets last week to pay tribute to Soleimani, but this week anti-government protests resumed in at least a dozen cities. There are reports of Iranian forces firing live ammunition and tear gas to disperse the protesters. Meanwhile, in Washington, Defense Secretary Mark Esper has publicly contradicted President Trump’s assertion that Soleimani was planning to attack four U.S. embassies at the time of his assassination. Esper said he had not seen evidence supporting Trump’s claim. For more on the Iranian protests, we speak with Ali Kadivar, assistant professor of sociology and international studies at Boston College. Kadivar grew up in Iran during the Iran-Iraq War and completed his undergraduate and first graduate degree at the University of Tehran, where he was active in the student movement.

      • Seems Increasingly Likely Trump Just Made Up the ‘Imminent Threat’ Posed by Soleimani

        New reporting reveals the president conditionally approved the Iranian general’s assassination seven months ago.

      • A Call to Catholics: Let Us End Our Complicity in War

        Once again, information has surfaced regarding United States governmental efforts to mislead and misinform people about disgraceful, cruel destruction caused by a United States war of choice against people who meant the U.S. no harm. In the Afghanistan Papers, the United States government officials acknowledged, privately, their own uncertainty about why they were going to war against Afghanistan in 2001. The trove of newly released documents about the 18-year war unmasked years of high-level deceit and deliberate efforts to obfuscate realities on the ground in Afghanistan.

      • How Democracies Die

        The U.S. suffers from an epidemic of nihilistic violence.

      • The USA’s System of Checks, Balances and Reality Crumbles as it Seeks War with Iran

        Send in Pope Francis, Not the Marines

      • Trump’s “WMD” Scandal? Was the Charge of “Imminent” Soleimani Attack Just Made Up?

        The “intelligence” on which Trump and Esper and secretary of state Mike Pompeo made their decision to off Soleimani was likely raw and cherry-picked.

      • As Tensions With Iran Escalate, It Is Time to Challenge Empire in the Classroom

        For educators, war is one of the most difficult topics to discuss within our classrooms. And yet, with the recent U.S. assassination of Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, Iraqi senior military leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis and other Iraqis, the threat of imminent war is now forcefully part of the everyday thoughts of many students.

      • Russia’s Investigative Committee claims that investigative journalists murdered in Central African Republic were killed during a robbery

        Journalist Orkhan Dzhemal, documentary filmmaker Alexander Rastorguyev, and cameraman Kirill Radchenko were killed in July 2018 during an armed robbery, Russian Investigative Committee Deputy Head Igor Krasnov told Kommersant.

      • The Smoking Gun in the Soleimani Assassination
      • Man who made Russia’s first fake Putin gravestone faces terrorism charges for an online video role-playing executions of regime officials

        Karim Yamadayev is a 38-year-old activist from Tatarstan. He lives in Naberezhnye Chelny, a city of about half a million residents, and is part of a group called Bessrochny Protest (Permanent Protest). Yamadayev runs a political discussion group in Naberezhnye Chelny and regularly creates protest installations and other opposition projects.

      • Interview: Mohammad Marandi On Aftermath Of Trump’s Assassination Of Iranian General Soleimani (With Transcript)

        For the first interview of 2020, Rania Khalek and Kevin Gosztola are joined by Mohammad Marandi, a Tehran University professor in Iran.

        We start the interview with Mohammad sharing his thoughts about the Iranian response to the U.S. assassination of Iran General Qassim Soleimani.

      • How Rising Temperatures Increase the Likelihood of Nuclear War

        In the case of climate change, the unbridled emission of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases is raising global temperatures to unmistakably dangerous levels. Despite growing worldwide reliance on wind and solar power for energy generation, the global demand for oil and natural gas continues to rise, and carbon emissions are projected to remain on an upward trajectory for the foreseeable future. It is highly unlikely, then, that the increase in average global temperature can be limited to 1.5 degrees Celsius, the aspirational goal adopted by the world’s governments under the Paris Agreement in 2015, or even to 2°C, the actual goal. After that threshold is crossed, scientists agree, it will prove almost impossible to avert catastrophic outcomes, such as the collapse of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets and a resulting sea level rise of 6 feet or more.

        Climbing world temperatures and rising sea levels will diminish the supply of food and water in many resource-deprived areas, increasing the risk of widespread starvation, social unrest, and human flight. Global corn production, for example, is projected to fall by as much as 14 percent in a 2°C warmer world, according to research cited in a 2018 special report by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Food scarcity and crop failures risk pushing hundreds of millions of people into overcrowded cities, where the likelihood of pandemics, ethnic strife, and severe storm damage is bound to increase. All of this will impose an immense burden on human institutions. Some states may collapse or break up into a collection of warring chiefdoms—all fighting over sources of water and other vital resources.

      • Climate change could lead to more injuries and deaths

        Injuries like drownings, falls, and assaults could kill up to an additional 2,135 people each year in the US as climate change continues to cause unusual temperature swings. The findings by researchers from Imperial College London, Columbia, and Harvard were published today in the journal Nature Medicine. The connection between swings in temperature — unusual spells of heat or cold — and injuries still can’t be explained, but researchers say that their estimates could help spur efforts to prevent those deaths.

      • Will Boeing Survive as a Civilian Aircraft Maker in 2020?

        The dismissal of Dennis Muilenburg as CEO of Boeing might have looked like an early Christmas present to the employees and shareholders of Boeing, but the company’s disease has gone way past the point where any single corporate surgeon can save the patient. For those who bothered to look (and this evidently did not include the Federal Aviation Administration), Boeing’s increasing degeneration has been evident for decades, even as the stock price continued to rise, as a consequence of quirky accounting practices that masked the company’s deteriorating cash flow position. If the 737 Max 8 is killed off for good, it will create a huge existential risk for Boeing’s future as a viable civilian aviation manufacturer, as the company had projected revenues from its 737-related sales into its business plans for many years to come (it goes without saying that the Pentagon will keep the company afloat, with Boeing effectively operating as a military subdivision of the Department of Defense).

    • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

      • Whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling, Who Went Through Kafkaesque Trial, Wins 2020 Sam Adams Award

        Former CIA operations officer Jeffrey Sterling will receive the Sam Adams Award for Integrity in Intelligence this Wednesday, joining 17 earlier winners who, like Sterling, demonstrated extraordinary devotion to the truth and the rule of law by having the courage to blow the whistle on government wrongdoing.

        Tuesday will mark the fifth anniversary of the eerie beginning of Sterling’s trial for espionage — the kind of trial that might have left even Franz Kafka, author of the classic novel The Trial, stunned in disbelief.

    • Environment

    • Finance

      • California Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Says She Simply Doesn’t Believe All Of Those Who Have Been Harmed By Her AB5 Bill

        We’ve written a few times now about California’s AB5 law that has more or less made it difficult to impossible for many freelancers/contractors to still work in California. Even though the stated intentions of the bill’s author, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, and its supporters was to “protect” workers, the reality is anything but that. It’s yet another case of politicians who have no clue how the world actually works, insisting that what they’re doing must work fine because their intentions are good. Many people who have been impacted by this have found that Gonzalez has been dismissive of their concerns — and at times directly rude to people on Twitter highlighting these issues. We had thought that perhaps Gonzalez had realized there might be a more constructive way at the end of last year when she asked for thoughts on a possible small tweak to the law. That change would have been wildly insufficient, but it was, at least, a step in the right direction.

      • Citing Dark Money Fears, Coalition Raises Alarm Over ‘Zombie’ FEC During Pivotal 2020 Elections

        “It is beyond belief that in this presidential year of enormous consequence, the nation’s campaign finance enforcement agency is defunct.”

      • Understanding France’s General Strike in the Context of the Yellow Vests and Global Class Warfare

        Labor and capital are at loggerheads in France. As the open-ended strike launched on December 5th against a neoliberal overhaul of the pension system continues to expand, the Macron regime has dug in its heels to defend the advantages this so-called reform would have for the wealthy (even though it has recently been forced to present what it considers to be a “compromise” to the union leadership). In order to fully understand the nature and importance of this battle, it needs to be situated in relation to the recent history of the Yellow Vests movement as well as the global context of contemporary class warfare.

      • We Need a New Deal for Housing

        When I came of age in Flint, Michigan, homeownership was a crucial part of the American dream.

      • “Apple Says ‘No!’” and what that means for the future of Better Blocker following our move to Ireland

        We didn’t want to do this.

    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

      • Fascism Expert: Trump Has Laid the Groundwork for “Full-On Authoritarian Rule”

        Last week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that Congress will soon send its articles of impeachment for Donald Trump to the Senate, where Republicans are determined to acquit him on all charges, including abuse of power, obstruction of Congress, and encouraging foreign powers to interfere in the 2020 presidential election.

      • Bring Democracy Back to North Carolina

        Finally, there’s good news.

      • Queen Agrees to Let Harry and Meghan Move Part Time to Canada

        Queen Elizabeth II agreed Monday to grant Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, their wish for a more independent life, allowing them to move part-time to Canada while remaining firmly in the House of Windsor.

      • Our Country, the United States, is a Rogue Nation and Our Leaders are Criminals

        For as long as I’ve been alive, my country has been a rogue state.

      • Citing Betrayal of Oath, Watchdog Group Files Formal Ethics Complaint Against McConnell Over Trump Impeachment

        “The public declarations by Senator McConnell that his role in the impeachment process is to coordinate with the White House and thereby make a mockery of the trial directly contradict his oath of impartiality.”

      • Progressives Applaud Sanders for Willingness to Release List of Possible Judicial Nominees Before Election

        “As the field narrows, all presidential candidates should prioritize the courts if they want to show voters they have a real plan to protect any of their other ideas from a hijacked judiciary.”

      • Warren Says ‘No Interest’ in Discussing It Further After Dropping Bombshell Accusation of Sexism on Sanders

        “I would concede that I could’ve misinterpreted it and would call my ‘good friend’ for clarity before asserting something that clearly goes nuclear on his campaign,” said one observer. “Unless that is, my intention was to go nuclear on his campaign. In which case, I’d do what Warren did.”

      • Corporate Democrats Desperately Want a Sanders-Warren Feud

        Corporate Democrats got a jolt at the end of last week when the highly regarded Iowa Poll showed Bernie Sanders surging into first place among Iowans likely to vote in the state’s Feb. 3 caucuses. The other big change was a steep drop for the previous Iowa frontrunner, Pete Buttigieg, who — along with Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden — came in a few percent behind Sanders. The latest poll was bad news for corporate interests, but their prospects brightened a bit over the weekend when Politico reported: “The nonaggression pact between Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren is seriously fraying.”

      • Biden, Buttigieg, and Corporate Media Are Eager for Sanders and Warren ‘Trash Talk’ Narrative to Take Hold

        It would be a serious error for progressives to buy into corporate media portrayals of the Sanders and Warren campaigns as destined to play a traditional zero-sum political game.

      • #JoeVotedForTheWar Trends After Sanders Camp Fires Back at Biden’s Denials of Support for Iraq Invasion

        “It is appalling that after 18 years Joe Biden still refuses to admit he was dead wrong on the Iraq War.”

      • The Useless War Powers Act

        Practically speaking, the Trump administration’s extrajudicial assassination of a top Iranian general was probably legal. The rationale is straightforward: Congress has steadily settled on a constitutionally dubious theory of handing the president near-limitless authority over how, when, and why the country goes to war.

      • Ocasio-Cortez’s Revolt Against DCCC ‘Exactly What We Need’ Say Progressive Democrats

        Congresswoman from New York withholds dues from the party machine and launches a new PAC to help insurgent left-wing candidates.

      • ‘Ludicrous’: Sanders Refutes Claims Made in Anonymously Sourced Hit Piece by CNN About Warren Meeting

        “This story—based on the accounts of four anonymous sources—is the most outrageous hit piece I’ve ever seen,” said one critic of the news outlet’s decision to publish the reporting.

      • CNN’s Sanders Hit Piece Doesn’t Pass the Smell Test

        CNN (1/13/19) has an anonymously sourced hit piece out today on Bernie Sanders, claiming that at a meeting in Elizabeth Warren’s home on December 18, 2018, he told her “a woman can’t win” the presidency.

      • Bernie Sanders Is Right About Biden’s Record on Social Security

        In the 2000 presidential campaign, Al Gore was roundly mocked on “Saturday Night Live” and elsewhere for promising multiple times during a presidential debate that unlike his Republican opponent, he would fight to preserve Social Security by putting it in a “lockbox.” The mockery was for what pundits considered Gore’s condescending tone and puzzling repetition of the word lockbox, but he was tapping into a core truth: Americans, across all political parties, believe in protecting Social Security. According to a 2019 Pew Research survey, 74% of Americans say Social Security benefits “should not be reduced in any way.”

      • Calling Bernie Sanders Anti-Semitic Is Islamophobic

        What follows is a conversation between professor Sahar Aziz and Shir Hever of The Real News Network.

      • Amazon’s Donation to Australia’s Bushfire Recovery Is Insulting

        To put this number in perspective, Bezos is worth $116,000,000,000; the figure is equal to .00059 percent of his net worth. It is the equivalent of someone worth $50,000 donating 29 cents. Of course, it’s not even Bezos’s money. It’s Amazon’s money. Amazon’s current market cap is $933,670,000,000. $690,000 is .000073 percent of $933.67 billion, which means that the donation hurts Amazon’s bottom line as much as it would hurt a person worth $50,000 to donate three cents.

        This is to say that Amazon’s donation is insulting. It’s a paltry donation from a tech company that has one of the worst records on environmental and climate issues, and it’s a tiny fraction of the money that Amazon should be paying in taxes but has avoided thanks to creative accounting (in 2018, Amazon paid just $20 million in taxes on $1 billion in revenue in Australia.) Yes, the donation is $690,000 that can be used for relief efforts, but Amazon’s donation isn’t happening in a vacuum.

      • The DHS classes nonviolent environmental activists in the same “domestic terrorist” category as Dylan Roof and James Fields

        The DHS classes “environmental themed ideologies” with “racial ideologies” as drivers of domestic terror attacks, despite the fact that white nationalist violence has resulted in repeated mass murders, while environmental direct action is generally nonviolent and does not harm people.

      • US Government Lists Non-Violent ‘Valve Turner’ Climate Activists as Threat on Par With Murderous Neo-Nazis

        “Apparently DHS hasn’t gotten the memo that pipeline protesters are working non-violently to ensure that the children and grandchildren of DHS employees—and everyone else—have a habitable climate to live in.”

      • Jeff Bezos Donated Some Pocket Change to Australia, Good Job

        With an estimated net worth of $116 billion, Jeff Bezo is the richest man in the world — maybe the entire freakin’ galaxy. So when he announced yesterday that he was donating a whole, entire $690,000 to Australia, you can imagine the reaction he got: anger, with a tinge of bemusement, and a whole lotta math about the precise degree to which this was a cheapskate move.

      • ‘World’s longest [Internet] shutdown cost Myanmar US$75M last year’

        The international internet research firm Top10VPN released a report – Global Cost of Internet Shutdowns in 2019 – last week, revealing a global economic cost at $8.05 billion for shutting down the internet.

        In terms of the economic impact globally, Iran was hit the hardest, resulting in over $2 billion in economic costs, followed by Sudan and India, while Indonesia came at seventh and Myanmar, 10th. However, Myanmar saw the longest shutdown in the world, surpassing Chad and India.

      • India lost nearly $1.3 bn to [Internet] shutdowns in 2019

        India imposed more [Internet] restrictions than any other large democracy, according to the Cost of Internet Shutdowns 2019 report released by Top10VPN, a U.K.-based digital privacy and security research group. The South Asian nation recorded the third-highest losses after Iraq and Sudan, which lost $2.31 billion and $1.86 billion respectively to disruptions. Worldwide [Internet] restrictions caused losses worth $8.05 billion, the report said.

      • The Real Argument Between Warren and Sanders Is About How to Win the Election

        Warren and Sanders are having an argument that’s not really about policy but about strategy: what’s the best way to create a coalition that can defeat Trump in the Electoral College.

        It’s this fundamental disagreement over strategy that sparked friction on Sunday after Politico reported that the Sanders campaign was giving volunteers a script that was critical of other candidates. The script was relatively tame: “I like Elizabeth Warren. [optional] In fact, she’s my second choice. But here’s my concern about her. The people who support her are highly educated, more affluent people who are going to show up and vote Democratic no matter what.” The script added, “She’s bringing no new bases into the Democratic Party.”

      • POLITICO EU Influence, presented by Deutsche Börse: Cabinet concerns — O’Reilly reelected — MEP revolving doors

        CABINET CONCERNS: Some EU officials say the cabinets of the new European commissioners contain too many former European Parliament aides and diplomats who until recently worked for national governments. Their concern is that they may be inclined to act more in keeping with the views of their political patrons or home governments rather than the broader EU interest, as Commission officials are meant to do.

        “Never before did party political considerations and member states’ interests play such an important role, to the detriment of experience and unbiased professionalism,” said one EU official.

        [...]

        MEP REVOLVING DOORS: In October, Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) wrote a letter (seen by POLITICO) to European Parliament President David Sassoli expressing concern about two former MEPs who quickly went on to join consultancies engaged in EU lobbying. The two MEPs in question were Anders Vistisen, who became a lobbyist at Grace PA, and Julie Girling, who joined BCW (Burson Cohn & Wolfe) in September as a senior adviser.

        Parliament in the dark: In a response to the letter (also seen by POLITICO), Sassoli confirmed that Vistisen and Girling neither informed the Parliament of their new roles nor joined the Transparency Register as registered lobbyists. Because they did not inform the Parliament, Sassoli argues he cannot take any action regarding the code of conduct for MEPs. For example, if they had registered as lobbyists, they would be prevented from using their former MEP badges when engaged in lobbying activities.

        FWIW, Sassoli writes in his letter that he has “not been notified or consulted by any former MEP concerning their post-mandate activities.” According to the code of conduct, former MEPs “who engage in professional lobbying or representational activities directly linked to the European Union decision-making process should inform the European Parliament thereof and may not, throughout the period in which they engage in those activities, benefit from the facilities granted to former Members.”

      • Trump’s Escalation Imperils Innocents

        While an eerie, surreal calm has fallen over US-Iranian relations, I wouldn’t assume we’re out of the woods yet. Trump had no reason to be confident that Iran’s response to his most recent escalation of violence would be little more than symbolic. Although he’s accepted that response more or less passively for now, with Trump, things can turn on a dime. Who can tell what determines his mood at any given time?

      • Farewell to Two Cuban Revolutionaries: Faure Chomón and Harry (‘Pombo’) Villegas

        In December 2019, Cuba bid farewell to two veterans of the struggle which overthrew the Batista dictatorship in January 1959. Both men remained committed revolutionaries and important figures in Cuba for the next 61 years. Faure Chomón Mediavilla died on 5 December, a few weeks before his 91st birthday. Harry Villegas Tamayo died on 29 December, at the age of 79. Both received state tributes and were laid to rest in the Pantheon of Veterans of the famous Colon Cemetery in Havana.

      • Why I’m Still Hopeful and Not Done Fighting for a More Just Society
      • Virginians Deserve to Have Local Control Over Confederate Monuments

        Confederate monuments are back in the news in Virginia. Legislation that would let cities and counties control decisions over local Confederate monuments will be introduced this month in both the Virginia House of Delegates and Senate. Lives depend on the outcome.

    • Censorship/Free Speech

      • Anti-SLAPP Laws Work: Tennessee Doctor Suing Patient Over Negative Review Drops Lawsuit

        Tennessee is home to an overabundance of BS defamation lawsuits. It must be something in the air area. (See also: Virginia, and Kentucky) Now that the state has a decent anti-SLAPP law, things should start changing. And it may start with Dr. Kaveer Nandigam of Nandigam Neurology in Murfeesboro, Tennessee.

      • Appeals Court: Not A Crime To Say A Mayor Should Get His Ass Capped

        Harassment statutes tend to be broadly written and often undergo legislative surgery after they’ve been challenged in court. This isn’t one of those cases. The statute stands. But the conviction does not.

      • Yakut shaman arrested multiple times for walking across Russia to exorcise Putin announces start of third walk

        Alexander Gabyshev, who has twice set out from Yakutia to Moscow on foot with the intention of exorcising President Vladimir Putin, has announced that he will begin his walk a third time in March 2020. Gabyshev, who has attracted a group of companions since he first began walking to Moscow, notified his supporters of his plans in a video posted to YouTube.

      • Virginia Needs a Strong Anti-SLAPP Law to Stop Bogus Lawsuits

        Sometimes lawsuits get filed to chill speech or harass people, rather than resolve legitimate legal disputes. Unfortunately, this trend has increased over the past few decades. Since the 1980s, these lawsuits have been called SLAPPs—or Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation.

        The best solution to stop SLAPPs are strong anti-SLAPP laws. The specifics vary by state, but in general, anti-SLAPP laws allow courts to expedite cases in which a defendant’s free speech rights are at risk. The laws also allow defendants who win anti-SLAPP motions to get their legal fees paid.

      • State Duma committee recommends against new online censorship bill

        The state-building and legislation committee of Russia’s State Duma has recommended against the adoption of a bill that would allow the Russian government to identify email users and block them if they use email to send banned online content. The bill was proposed by Andrey Klishas, the lawmaker behind a number of other draconian Internet regulation proposals, and a group of three other deputies. Lyudmila Bokova, one of those deputies, worked with Klishas to create Russia’s Internet isolation law.

      • Rwanda: Free Speech Convictions Upheld

        The Rwandan Court of Appeal decision on December 27, 2019 upholding the conviction of two former military officials is a violation of freedom of speech. Although the court reduced their sentences to 15 years each, it does not mitigate convictions for criticizing the authorities and government policies or the use of unreliable evidence in their trial. Human Rights Watch is also deeply concerned about reports of ill treatment and inadequately treated health problems in detention.

        On March 31, 2016, the Military High Court of Kanombe sentenced Colonel Tom Byabagamba and retired Brigadier General Frank Rusagara to 21 and 20 years in prison, respectively, on charges including inciting insurrection and tarnishing the government’s image. In the same trial, retired Sergeant François Kabayiza was sentenced to 5 years and a fine of 500,000 Rwandan francs (approximately US$650 at the time) for concealing evidence. He has since completed his sentence.

    • Freedom of Information / Freedom of the Press

      • Half a year later, police officers who arrested Meduza’s Ivan Golunov face criminal charges

        Russia’s Investigative Committee has opened a criminal case against the police officers who arrested Meduza special correspondent Ivan Golunov. Golunov was arrested on June 6, 2019, when he said police planted drugs on him and framed him for intent to distribute. Though he was released on June 11 following a major solidarity campaign, efforts on the part of Golunov’s legal team to apprehend the police officers involved in his arrest met with stagnation for several months.

      • Special Guests Kevin Gosztola and Ted Rall – The Project Censored Show

        Independent Journalists Kevin Gosztola and Ted Rall make return visits to the Project Censored Show to update listeners on their latest work. Kevin Gosztola shares the latest news about the cases of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and military whistleblower Chelsea Manning and in the second half of the program, editorial cartoonist Ted Rall explains his legal battle with his former employer, the Los Angeles Times, a case that has gone to the California Supreme Court. Ted also analyzes corporate-media coverage of the Democratic Party presidential contenders. Both guests also comment on the U.S. assassination of Iranian leader Qassem Soleimani.

      • The rising support for Julian Assange

        The working class is increasingly supporting Assange as they learn more about his dire conditions in Belmarsh Prison, the threat to his health and the end of the bogus Swedish investigation into him. However, there has also been increased support amongst layers of the ruling class, including social democratic forces who had previously abandoned Assange.

        This has taken the form of statements of support by prominent Australian politicians. Though when any faction of the ruling class start talking in defence of human rights, they cannot be taken on face value and their motivations must be examined.

      • Former Soldier Admits to Contract Killing of Slovak Journalist

        A former soldier told a court on Monday he had been hired to kill Slovak journalist Jan Kuciak — a reporter known for his corruption investigations whose murder triggered anti-graft protests that brought down the prime minister.

        Marcek, 37, said his cousin — co-defendant Tomas Szabo — had approached him with an offer to do the contract killing and drove him to the house.

        Marcek told the Special Criminal Court in Pezinok, north of the capital, that he had not known who Kuciak or Kuciak’s fiancée, Martina Kusnirova, were when he killed them at their house outside Slovakia’s capital Bratislava in February 2018.

      • Blog site Boing Boing [cracked]

        Boing Boing, which is among the most widely read blogs globally and covers areas including tech and cyber, wrote in a post on its site that the incident involved an attacker using an employee’s login credentials on Friday and then installing a widget within the Boing Boing theme that redirected readers to a nonsecure website.

      • WikiLeaks’ Assange in UK Court Fighting Extradition to USA

        WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange made a brief court appearance Monday in his bid to prevent extradition to the United States to face serious espionage charges.

        He and his lawyers complained they weren’t being given enough time to meet to plan their battle against U.S. prosecutors seeking to put him on trial for WikiLeaks’ publication of hundreds of thousands of confidential documents.

        The 48-year-old was brought to court from Bealmarsh Prison on the outskirts of London. He saluted the public gallery, which was packed with ardent supporters including the musician MIA, when he entered the courtroom. He later raised his right fist in defiance when he was taken to holding cells to meet with lawyer Gareth Peirce.

        Peirce said officials at Belmarsh Prison are making it extremely difficult for her to meet with Assange.

        “We have pushed Belmarsh in every way – it is a breach of a defendant’s rights,” she said.

        Assange refrained from making political statements. He confirmed his name and date of birth, and at one point said he didn’t understand all of the proceedings against him during the brief hearing at Westminster Magistrates’ Court.

      • Julian Assange blocked from seeing key evidence ahead of extradition…

        Julian Assange’s lawyers have complained prison officers stopped them spending adequate time with their client as the Wikileaks founder appeared in court ahead of his extradition hearing.

    • Civil Rights/Policing

      • How to Navigate California County Jails: A Guide for Inmates and Their Loved Ones

        ProPublica and The Sacramento Bee have been reporting on the crisis in jails across California.

        We’ve written about jail homicides, suicides and the outdated facilities that can make life inside more dangerous.

      • Denial of Entry to Hong Kong? Our Call, Says Beijing

        “In Hong Kong” – this was the repeated and emphatic answer from the immigration officers at Hong Kong International Airport when Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, asked where the decision had been made to deny him entry to Hong Kong.

        But Hong Kong and Beijing authorities apparently didn’t manage to get their stories consistent following media coverage of this unusual and disturbing decision to ban the head of an international human rights group from entering Hong Kong. Hours later, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Geng Shuang offered a different take, saying that “Allowing or not allowing someone’s entry is China’s sovereign right” despite the language of the Basic Law (BL), Hong Kong’s functional constitution, which states that the Hong Kong government has responsibility for who is allowed to enter. An official Fact Sheet notes that “The BL provides the Hong Kong … Government with full autonomy on immigration control matters.”

      • Minneapolis Activists Ask Local Leaders to Invest in Communities, Not Cops

        In dramatic effect, a Minneapolis resident dumps a bag of money onto a podium during public comments at the final City Council meeting on the 2020 budget last month. The person with them, who identified himself as David, is addressing the council members.

      • Immunity Just Barely Denied To Cop Who Claimed Driving A Beat-Up Car And Paying For Purchases Is Suspicious Behavior

        An arrest stemming from the most specious “investigation” has resulted in the denial of qualified immunity for one officer. But just barely. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals was almost able to talk itself out of denying qualified immunity to any of the four officers involved. The one officer who will now have to face a jury is was the ringleader of the investigatory debacle, but he was far from the only one guilty of rights violations.

      • Rise in Anti-Semitism Presents Moment to Be Vigilant Against All Oppression

        Janine Jackson: Reporting on a spate of violence in the New York area targeting Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods, a rabbi’s home and a kosher supermarket, the Washington Post says, “The spike in bias incidents against Jewish communities has law enforcement and elected officials wrestling with what to do.” There don’t really seem to be that many tools in their bag, though; virtually all of them are variants on policing and more policing.

      • Six Children Died in Border Patrol Care. Democrats in Congress Want to Know Why.

        After a ProPublica investigation into the death of a teenager in Border Patrol custody, House Democrats are ramping up pressure on the Trump administration to explain how six migrant children died after entering the U.S.

        “I find it appalling that (Customs and Border Protection) has still not taken responsibility for the deaths of children in their care,” said Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee.

    • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

      • Washington And Oregon Fine CenturyLink For Completely Bogus Broadband Fees

        For decades, broadband providers have abused the lack of meaningful competition in the telecom market by not only refusing to shore up historically awful customer service, but by raising rates hand over fist. This usually involves leaving the advertised price largely the same, but pummeling customers with all manner of misleading fees and surcharges that drive up the actual price you’ll be paying each month. And by and large regulators from both major political parties have been perfectly okay with this practice, despite it effectively being false advertising.

      • ICANN finally reveals who’s behind purchase of .org: It’s ███████ and ██████ – you don’t need to know any more

        Purchase funded by debt, includes another ex-ICANNer, will be done through four different companies. All perfectly normal

      • Is Iran’s Internet Down? Country Faces Fresh Web Outages During Protests Over Downed Plane

        “There are some reports of mild outages over the weekend. [They] appear linked to protests against the PS752 downing,” Adrian Shahbaz, of web watchdog Freedom House, told Newsweek via email.

        Internet providers named in the Oracle analysis include the Telecommunication Company of Iran (TCI), the Telecommunication Infrastructure Company (TIC) and Respina Networks & Beyond.

      • Iran’s Insoluble Paradox of Cutting Off the Internet

        Internet blackouts restricted Iranians over the weekend as anger mounts over an accidentally brought down airliner. Authorities denied a “cover-up” on Monday after taking days to reveal the plane was accidentally shot down last week. The disaster has sparked fresh protests, while Donald Trump demanded that the government abstains from shutting down the internet.

        However, data from Oracle Internet Intelligence Map, which tracks web connections, showed cuts to Iran’s international internet access on Saturday and Sunday. And on Monday, internet monitor NetBlocks reported a drop in connectivity at Tehran’s Sharif University ahead of any new demonstrations.

      • Lebanon faces Internet shutdown

        Lebanon is at risk of being disconnected from the global web as it struggles to secure the requisite dollars to maintain Internet connectivity.

        Ogero Chairman Imad Kreidieh confirmed on Twitter that he is facing “tremendous pressure” to secure $4 million in foreign currency to avert a shutdown by the end of March.

    • Digital Restrictions (DRM)

      • Bay Staters Continue to Lead in Right to Repair, and EFF Is There to Help

        Massachusetts has long been a leader in the Right to Repair movement, thanks to a combination of principled lawmakers and a motivated citizenry that refuses to back down when well-heeled lobbyists subvert the legislative process.

        In 2012, Massachusetts became the first US state to enact Right to Repair legislation, with an automotive law that protected the right of drivers to get their cars repaired by independent mechanics if they preferred them to the manufacturers’ service depots. Though wildly popular, it took the threat of a ballot initiative to get the legislature to act, an initiative that ultimately garnered 86% of the vote. The initiative led to strong protections for independent repair in Massachusetts and set the stage for a compromise agreement leading to better access to repair information for most of the country.

    • Monopolies

      • Comparative Analysis of Innovation Failures and Institutions in Context

        Many different legal and non-legal institutions govern and therefore shape knowledge production. It is tempting, given the various types of knowledge, knowledge producers, and systems with and within which knowledge and knowledge producers and users interact, to look for reductionist shortcuts — in general but especially in the context of comparative institutional analysis. The temptation should be resisted for it leads to either what Harold Demsetz called the Nirvana Fallacy or what Elinor Ostrom critiqued as myopic allegories.

        One easy reductionist step is to focus on a particular dilemma — a particular market failure, for example, ignoring or assuming away others — and then compare institutions in terms of effectiveness in resolving the dilemma. We might, for example, want to use comparative institutional analysis to examine the problem of pharmaceutical development. If we focus on overcoming the potential undersupply of drugs (because they are expensive to develop but cheap to copy), and if we identify the FDA approval process (and specifically clinical trials) as the most important cost driver, then we might compare as potential responses patents and other institutions like prizes, grants, and government provided infrastructure for clinical trials. We might then conclude that government funding of clinical trials is best because it lowers the cost of bringing drugs to market and without the deadweight loss associated with patents. That analysis might be useful, as far as it goes, but it would ignore other market failures, such as the demand-side failure that leads to underprovisioning of drugs to smaller or nonexistent markets. This is, of course, not to say that there is anything wrong with comparing institutions as solutions to the clinical trial cost problem. But it is to emphasize that we can only design institutions to address problems we recognize, and the risk of myopia is strong in comparative institutional analysis. Engaging in meaningful comparison seems to demand a reduction in the scope of problems to which the institutions might be addressed, lest the problem seem intractable.

        We suggest that comparative institutional analysis must be accompanied by comparative failure analysis, by which we mean rigorous and contextual comparative analysis of the ways different institutional responses fail. And we argue that several different types of failures are relevant to comparative analysis. Some failures originate at the system level — that is, market systems exhibit certain sets of failures, while political/government and community systems exhibit other sets. In terms of figuring out what society wants (i.e., from the demand side), the systems rely on different signals, information, processes, and so on. And in terms of satisfying societal demand, the systems rely on different actors, distribution methods, and relationships. Other types of failures are system independent — they are a function of the resources at issue or the nature of the problem to which the institution is addressed. Institutional de-sign can, of course, exacerbate or ameliorate these failures, but it is useful to understand their fundamental causes.

        So as a starting place, we think comparative analysis should account for characteristics that vary at the system level and shape both failures and institutions — characteristics like demand signaling processes, time horizons/discount rates, evaluative criteria (for projects, investments, or innovation), and the basic capabilities operative within different settings or systems. Failures and institutions obviously don’t correspond exactly, and we suspect that comparative analysis of these and other characteristics will provide guidance for continued comparative analysis. We strongly believe that solid comparative analysis will require both theoretical and empirical work, operating in tandem rather than in isolation from each other. Comparative analysis is necessarily contextual.

      • Patents

        • Wells Fargo Told to Pay $102.8 Million in Patent Verdict

          Wells Fargo & Co. was told to pay $102.8 million after a federal jury in Texas said in infringed United Services Automobile Association’s patents for a mobile deposit system.

          It’s the second trial Wells Fargo has lost against USAA. In November, a different Texas jury said the bank should pay $200 million for infringing two other patents. That brings the total to about $303 million owed by the San Francisco-based Wells Fargo. Wells Fargo said it “strongly disagrees” with the verdict and said it’s considering its option, including a likely appeal.

          San Antonio-based USAA said it had pioneered systems to allow its members to deposit checks from just about anywhere because it doesn’t operate traditional bricks-and-mortar banks and its military customers are all over the world.

        • Supreme Court Declines to Consider Medical Diagnostic Patents

          The U.S. Supreme Court stayed out of the debate over what types of medical diagnostic tests can be patented, leaving in legal limbo companies that discover ways to diagnose and treat diseases based on patients’ unique characteristics.

          The justices rejected an appeal by Quest Diagnostics Inc.’s Athena unit that sought to restore its patent for a test to detect the presence of an autoimmune disease. A lower court had ruled in favor of the nonprofit Mayo Clinic that the test wasn’t eligible for a patent because it merely covered a natural law — the correlation between the presence of an antibody and the disease.

          Justices on Monday also rejected appeals to clarify the rules regarding software patents. The Supreme Court’s action leaves it to Congress to resolve an issue that’s created a legal gray area for such discoveries.

          The Athena case is one of five the court was asked to consider regarding eligibility for patents. The justices also rejected an appeal over a patent owned by Vanda Pharmaceuticals Inc. for a method of using its Fanapt schizophrenia drug, as well as three patent cases related to software.

          Congress held a series of hearings in 2019 but is unlikely to pass any legislation in this election year. Lawyers and experts had seen the case as the best shot at getting the high court to take up the issue after what Athena lawyer Seth P. Waxman called an “unprecedented cry for help” from the appeals court that handles all patent disputes.

        • Apple Handed Mixed Rulings in Bids to Ax Qualcomm Patents

          Apple Inc. won an administrative bid to invalidate much of a tech patent that Qualcomm Inc. accused it of infringing with iPhone 7 models.

          But Apple wasn’t able to convince a U.S. Patent and Trademark Office tribunal to knock out claims in another Qualcomm patent—part of the companies’ longtime global intellectual property battle.

        • How Do Patent Incentives Affect University Researchers

          Universities and other beneficiaries of public funding for scientific research are encouraged to patent resulting inventions under the Bayh–Dole Act. This controversial framework gives academic grant recipients a direct financial stake in the success of their inventions by requiring universities to share the resulting patent royalties with inventors. This incentive for grant recipients might help justify Bayh–Dole patents when the conventional justification for exclusivity — that it is necessary for commercialization — fails to hold. But there is little evidence as to whether it works.

          This article examines how one aspect of the patent incentive — the prospect of royalties — affects the behavior of university researchers. Fortuitously, different schools offer inventors different shares of patent revenue. We have created a dataset of royalty-sharing policies from 152 universities, which shows substantial variation across universities and time. (For example, Caltech switched from sharing 15% to 25% of net income in 1994, the University of Washington switched from sharing 100% of initial revenues to a flat rate of 33% in 2004, and the University of Iowa switched from 25% to 100% of initial patent revenues in 2005.) Although prior work has reported that higher inventor royalties lead to more university licensing income, we show that this result was driven by coding errors. We also extend prior work by examining more years, doing a more convincing panel data analysis, using additional outcome variables, and looking at lateral moves by the most active patenters. In all of these analyses we find no compelling empirical evidence that increasing university inventors’ royalty share has a significant effect on any of the outcomes one would expect to be most affected.

          These results do not imply that patents provide no incentives to university researchers. They may provide reputational benefits or encourage faculty-run spin-offs, or even provide financial incentives that are not captured by our statistics. But the lack of a measurable impact of higher royalty shares on patenting activity suggests that, from a social welfare perspective, it may be preferable for a larger share of royalties to be retained by universities, which are then required by Bayh–Dole to reinvest this money in science research and education. In any event, our analysis raises promising questions for future research and calls into question the existing view that increasing the inventor’s share in university patent policies encourages researchers to develop and commercialize more remunerative patents.

        • The Impact of Institutions on Patent Propensity Across Countries

          This article offers a novel critique of the impact of institutions on the propensity to patent across countries. Patenting policy is regularly known to carry deep-rooted institutional implications. Yet in the case of developing countries, the United Nations constructed only loose policy concerning the role of the government, the business sector or Multi-National Enterprises in promoting patenting activity. Based on an implicit ‘hands off’ inclination towards the business sector, this yet uncorroborated policy flatly equates developing countries with advanced ones. More particularly, in the case of the twenty four emerging economies which are spearheading the developing world as hotbeds for meaningful innovation, little thought has thus far been given to the former’s institutional particularities in view of promoting patenting as proxy of domestic innovation.

          This article argues that advanced economies and emerging economies – abridging the development divide, in fact diverge over the impact of their government and business sectors in fostering patent propensity. For emerging countries there seems to be a negative relationship between the performance of innovation activity by the business sector and these countries’ propensity to patent as proxy for domestic innovation. Equally, for advanced economies there is a negative relationship between the performance of innovation activity by the government and the propensity to patent by these countries. This article ultimately calls for a fundamental policy reexamination of the role of institutions in giving incentives to patenting activity as a proxy for domestic innovation in emerging economies abridging the archetypical North-South divide.

        • Software Patents

          • Network-1 Receives Two New Patents from U.S. Patent Office Expanding Its Cox Portfolio To Include 35 Issued Patents

            Network-1 Technologies, Inc. (NYSE AMERICAN:NTIP), a company engaged in the development, licensing and protection of intellectual property, announced today that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office issued U.S. Patent No. 10,521,470 (“Methods For Using Extracted Features To Perform An Action Associated With Selected Identified Image”) and U.S. Patent No. 10,521,471 (“Methods For Using Extracted Features To Perform An Action Associated With Selected Identified Image”). The claims of the newly issued patents are generally directed towards methods of content extraction and identification, including performance of actions following therefrom.

          • Parallax Health Sciences Announces Patent Enforcement Initiative

            The growth of the Parallax patent portfolio and the corresponding infringement landscape was bolstered recently last year with the issuance of its patent US10,061,812 entitled, “Data Driven Outcomes” an international portfolio issued to Parallax Behavioral Health, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Company that has added significantly to the Company’s intellectual property assets. Additionally, Parallax holds exclusive worldwide licenses with Montecito Bio Sciences, Ltd., (“Montecito”). The Montecito portfolio of patents include: 1) a “Method to Produce a Plurality of Antibodies”, United States patent number US9,573,990 covering its breakthrough; 2) a “Portable Apparatus for Sample Analysis”, United States patent number US8,920,725 with; 3) its international counterparts in China CN200780039901.x; and 4) Hong Kong HK 10103654.9; and 5) India IN279743; and 6) Macau MOJ00129; and 7) a “Flow Through Testing System with Pressure Indicator”, United States patent number US9,588,114 to name a few of the Company’s patents or licenses now owned within the IP portfolio of assets.

          • KEI Comments on Intellectual Property Protection for Artificial Intelligence Innovation, for USPTO Request for Comments

            KEI is concerned that the Obama and Trump administrations have both promoted and entered into a series of international agreements limiting the ability of governments to force more transparency of software code or algorithms.

            [...]

            The potential volume of AI-generated IP claims is something that should be evaluated very carefully, because it can create massive demands on the legal system and society at large to resolve disputes and license rights. The type of rent-seeking activity we see in the areas of software, business methods and pharmaceutical patents illustrates the costs that low quality or monopolistic IP claims can impose on society, and creates a system where AI can generate a fantastic number of potential claims. This is something that is very dangerous.

            [...]

            In Europe the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has also declared on various occasions, particularly in its landmark Infopaq decision (C-5/08 Infopaq International A/S v Danske Dagbaldes Forening), that copyright only applies to original works, and that originality must reflect the “author’s own intellectual creation.” This is usually understood as meaning that an original work must reflect the author’s personality, which clearly means that a human author is necessary for a copyright work to exist.

            The second option, that of giving authorship to the programmer, is evident in a few countries such as the Hong Kong (SAR), India, Ireland, New Zealand and the UK. This approach is best encapsulated in UK copyright law, section 9(3) of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act (CDPA), which states:

            “In the case of a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work which is computer-generated, the author shall be taken to be the person by whom the arrangements necessary for the creation of the work are undertaken.”

            Furthermore, section 178 of the CDPA defines a computer-generated work as one that “is generated by computer in circumstances such that there is no human author of the work”. The idea behind such a provision is to create an exception to all human authorship requirements by recognizing the work that goes into creating a program capable of generating works, even if the creative spark is undertaken by the machine.

      • Copyrights

        • Tech industry rallies behind Google in Supreme Court fight

          Some of Google’s most formidable rivals – including Microsoft, IBM and Mozilla, which makes Firefox – filed amicus briefs on behalf of Google on Monday, arguing the high court could severely harm technological innovation if it sides with Oracle in the landmark copyright case.

          After nearly a decade of arguments in lower courts, the Supreme Court in 2019 agreed to take on the “copyright case of the decade” and decide whether Google violated federal copyright law when it used some of Oracle’s programming language to build its Android operating system.

        • Competition and Innovation in Software Development Depend on a Supreme Court Reversal in Google v. Oracle

          Today, Mozilla filed a friend of the court brief with the Supreme Court in Google v. Oracle, the decade-long case involving questions of copyright for functional elements of Oracle’s Java SE. This is the fourth amicus brief so far that Mozilla has filed in this case, and we are joined by Medium, Cloudera, Creative Commons, Shopify, Etsy, Reddit, Open Source Initiative, Mapbox, Patreon, Wikimedia Foundation, and Software Freedom Conservancy.

          Arguing from the perspective of small, medium, and open source technology organizations, the brief urges the Supreme Court to reverse the Federal Circuit’s holdings first that the structure, sequence, and organization (“SSO”) of Oracle’s Java API package was copyrightable, and subsequently that Google’s use of that SSO was not a “fair use” under copyright law.

          At bottom in the case is the issue of whether copyright law bars the commonplace practice of software reimplementation, “[t]he process of writing new software to perform certain functions of a legacy product.” (Google brief p.7) Here, Google had repurposed certain functional elements of Java SE (less that 0.5% of Java SE overall, according to Google’s brief, p. 8) in its Android operating system for the sake of interoperability—enabling Java apps to work with Android and Android apps to work with Java, and enabling Java developers to build apps for both platforms without needing to learn the new conventions and structure of an entirely new platform.

        • The case for open innovation

          The Court will review whether copyright should extend to nuts-and-bolts software interfaces, and if so, whether it can be fair to use those interfaces to create new technologies, as the jury in this case found. Software interfaces are the access points that allow computer programs to connect to each other, like plugs and sockets. Imagine a world in which every time you went to a different building, you needed a different plug to fit the proprietary socket, and no one was allowed to create adapters.

          This case will make a difference for everyone who touches technology—from startups to major tech platforms, software developers to product manufacturers, businesses to consumers—and we’re pleased that many leading representatives of those groups will be filing their own briefs to support our position.

        • Google says nature of APIs under threat as Oracle case heads to US Supreme Court

          The case – ten years in making – centres on Oracle’s claims that its Java patents and copyrights were infringed by Google when the search giant created its Android mobile operating system. An initial ruling in Google’s favour was overturned on appeal, and the case is finally due to land in the Supreme Court this year. Google filed its opening brief for the justices this week.

        • EFF Asks Supreme Court To Reverse Dangerous Rulings About API Copyrightability and Fair Use

          The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) today asked the U.S. Supreme Court to rule that functional aspects of Oracle’s Java programming language are not copyrightable, and even if they were, employing them to create new computer code falls under fair use protections.The court is reviewing a long-running lawsuit Oracle filed against Google, which claimed that Google’s use of certain Java application programming interfaces (APIs) in its Android operating system violated Oracle’s copyrights. The case has far-reaching implications for innovation in software development, competition, and interoperability.In a brief filed today, EFF argues that the Federal Circuit, in ruling APIs were copyrightable, ignored clear and specific language in the copyright statute that excludes copyright protection for procedures, processes, and methods of operation.“Instead of following the law, the Federal Circuit decided to rewrite it to eliminate almost all the exclusions from copyright protection that Congress put in the statute,” said EFF Legal Director Corynne McSherry. “APIs are not copyrightable. The Federal Circuit’s ruling has created a dangerous precedent that will encourage more lawsuits and make innovative software development prohibitively expensive. Fortunately, the Supreme Court can and should fix this mess.”In the first round of the case, in 2014, the Federal Circuit reversed a lower court to find that APIs were copyrightable, but sent the case back for trial on fair use. In the second round, the court took the almost unprecedented step of overturning a jury verdict of fair use. If upheld, these dangerous and flawed decisions will continue to put at risk the ability of developers to freely create innovative software that benefit the public because it can be used across platforms and services.“Treating the Java APIs as copyrightable gives Oracle, which stands to make billions from that decision, outsized control and monopoly power over the development of Java-compatible programs. Copyright law aims to stimulate creativity for the public good, not lock developers into a licensing scheme for the functional aspects of software,” said EFF Special Counsel Michael Barclay.

        • ACE Shuts Down UlangoTV ‘Pirate’ IPTV App, Seizes Domain

          The Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment has claimed another scalp in the ‘pirate’ IPTV space. The UlangoTV app provided free access to thousands of unlicensed TV streams but there was also an option to pay for more reliable content. Today, however, its clear it is unlikely to be returning after its domain was taken over by the global anti-piracy coalition.

        • Game Developer Sees Boost in Sales After Releasing Official Torrent

          Most copyright holders are doing everything they can to prevent their content from showing up at The Pirate Bay. However, the developer of the indie shooter game ‘Danger Gazers’ took the opposite approach. He uploaded a free copy of his own game to the torrent site and generated enough buzz to actually boost sales.

        • Academic Journals In Russia Retract Over 800 Papers Because Of Plagiarism, Self-Plagiarism And ‘Gift Authorship’

          Academic publishing hardly covers itself in glory, as Techdirt has reported over the years. It takes advantage of researchers’ belief that they need to publish in so-called “high impact” titles for the sake of their careers, in order to pay nothing for the material they provide. Since articles are reviewed by other academics — for free — profit margins are extremely good: around 30-40%. In order to retain these unusually high levels, the industry does everything in its power to undermine and subvert cheaper alternatives like open access, and often takes a heavy-handed approach to the enforcement of “its” copyright — even against the original author. Given this dismal industry background, it will come as no surprise to learn from Science magazine that Russian academic publishing has its own problems, fueled by the bad behavior of authors:

        • ‘We traditionally turn a blind eye’ A scholar explains how mass retractions and the largest audit in the history of Russian academia will affect the country’s higher education

          On January 6, the Commission Against the Falsification of Academic Research at the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAN) announced the retraction of 869 articles published in 263 different journals from the Russian Science Citation Index. In the largest review of academic work in Russian history, RAN’s commission recommended unlisting 2,500 articles for plagiarism and self-plagiarism. To find out more about the audit and its consequences for Russian higher education, Meduza spoke to commission member and Dissernet co-founder Mikhail Gelfand.

        • How Years Of Copyright Maximalism Is Now Killing Pop Music

          Almost five years ago, we warned that years of copyright maximalists brainwashing the public about ever expansive copyright and the need for everything to be “owned” had resulted in the crazy Blurred Lines decision that said that merely being inspired by another artist to make a song that has a similar feel, even if it doesn’t copy any actual part of the music, was infringing. We warned that this would lead to bad things — and it has.

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