01.30.20

Links 30/1/2020: New Stable Kernels and FreeNAS 11.3

Posted in News Roundup at 1:31 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • GNU/Linux

    • Server

      • IBM

        • OpenShift 4.3: The Project Launcher

          In Red Hat OpenShift 4.2, we introduced a number of new console customization features, including ConsoleNotifications, ConsoleExternalLogLinks, ConsoleLinks, and ConsoleCLIDownloads. New in 4.3, the ConsoleLink feature has been extended to cover even more use cases. In addition to the User Menu, Help Menu, and Application Menu, users can now add links to specific project dashboards.

        • Vault IDs in Red Hat Ansible and Red Hat Ansible Tower

          This article demonstrates the use of multiple vault passwords through vault IDs. You will learn how to use vault IDs to encrypt a file and a string. Once they’re encrypted, the vault ID can be referenced inside a playbook and used within Red Hat Ansible and Red Hat Ansible Tower.

        • What’s your biggest sysadmin pet peeve?

          But sometimes, it feels like it’s just a little harder than it needs to be.

          We’ve taken great pains to build standardized processes, establish systems for nearly everything, document our work, and make everything we can consistent and automatable. Our work may be difficult, but at least we’ve been able to bring it under control and make it predictable.

          Well, in theory. It never works out that way in practice.

          No matter how well-written our documentation is, that’s no guarantee it’s ever going to get read. No matter how many cases our ticketing system is designed to handle, somehow it never seems to prevent the unnecessary drive-by request. No matter how much care we put in to ensure that code deployments never happen late at night or on a weekend, sometimes they always do. Something breaks, and we get the call.

          Almost always, these things generate unplanned work, throw off our carefully-made plans, and cause slowdowns, missed deadlines, and, well, headaches.

          To some degree, that’s all just a part of the job. But that doesn’t stop us from grimacing and wishing perhaps, just this once, things had gone according to plan. So we’re curious: What unplanned activity irks you the most? We’ve listed a few common headaches we’ve heard above.

    • Audiocasts/Shows

      • The Linux Link Tech Show Episode 842

        alpine linux, debian, docker, pi stuff

      • FreeBSD Down Under | BSD Now 335

        Hyperbola Developer interview, why you should migrate from Linux to BSD, FreeBSD is an amazing OS, improving the ptrace(2) API in LLVM 10, First FreeBSD conference in Australia, and a guide to containers on FreeNAS.

      • Host Your Blog the Right Way | Self-Hosted 11

        We each like different blogging platforms, and share why. Then our tips for keeping your server secure.

        Plus a great way to score cheap drives, a Project Off-Grid update, making your household light switches smart, and Alex’s review of the HDHomeRun.

    • Kernel Space

      • Need 32-bit Linux to run past 2038? When version 5.6 of the kernel pops, you’re in for a treat

        Linux fans intent on holding back the years will be delighted to hear that the upcoming version 5.6 of the kernel should see 32-bit systems hanging on past the dread Y2038.

        Arnd Bergmann, an engineer working on the thorny Y2038 problem in the Linux kernel, posted to the mailing list that, yup, Linux 5.6 “should be the first release that can serve as a base for a 32-bit system designed to run beyond year 2038″.

      • Linux 5.4.16

        I’m announcing the release of the 5.4.16 kernel.

        All users of the 5.4 kernel series must upgrade.

        The updated 5.4.y git tree can be found at:
        git://git.kernel.org/pub/scm/linux/kernel/git/stable/linux-stable.git linux-5.4.y
        and can be browsed at the normal kernel.org git web browser:

        https://git.kernel.org/?p=linux/kernel/git/stable/linux-s…

      • Linux 4.19.100
      • Linux 4.14.169
      • Linux 4.4.212
      • Linux 4.9.212
      • AMD Sensor Fusion Hub Driver Revved But Not On Tap For Linux 5.6

        Earlier this month AMD finally published their Sensor Fusion Hub driver for Linux to improve the Ryzen laptop support. That new “SFH” driver hasn’t been queued as part of any Linux 5.6 pull request but a second version of the driver did make it out this week.

        The AMD Sensor Fusion Hub support has been long awaited and is needed for supporting the accelerometer/gyroscopic sensors on Ryzen laptops among other functionality. There have been requests for supporting the Sensor Fusion Hub on Linux going back to 2018.

      • Linux 5.6 Graphics Changes Bring Open-Source NVIDIA Turing, AMD Pollock Enablement

        The Direct Rendering Manager (DRM) kernel driver updates were sent in today for Linux 5.6 with plenty of fun features in tow.

        Highlights of the open-source kernel graphics driver changes for Linux 5.6 consist of:

        - Nouveau Turing GeForce RTX 2000 series support albeit required on binary firmware images not yet published by NVIDIA. Beyond that, still no re-clocking support so the performance is quite slow. TU10x GPUs are supported and not yet TU11x.

      • Staging Changes Lighten The Linux 5.6 Kernel By More Than Thirty Thousand Lines

        With Linux 5.6 the staging area has seen new functionality but thanks to removing old code it ends up removing a fair number of lines of code from the kernel.

        The Linux 5.6 staging pull is adding just under eight thousand lines of code but deleting 40,990 lines. The lightening the kernel by 30k+ lines of code comes from dropping some old Cavium Octeon drivers, dropping a number of old ISDN components, and other clean-ups.

      • Systemd-Homed Merged As A Fundamental Change To Linux Home Directories

        Systemd-homed has been merged as the latest (optional) fundamental change to Linux distributions in how home directories are handled.

        Systemd-homed makes it easier to support migratable home directories, more self containment within home directories, better password and encryption handling, and other modern Linux home directory features.

        Some of the design objectives for systemd-homed are outlined in the documentation with support for LUKS encrypted volumes, mounting home directories from a CIFS server, FSCRYPT encryption, Btrfs sub-volume handling, and making use of JSON-formatted user records.

      • process_madvise(), pidfd capabilities, and the revenge of the PIDs

        Once upon a time, there were few ways for one process to operate upon another after its creation; sending signals and ptrace() were about it. In recent years, interest in providing ways for processes to control others has been on the increase, and the kernel’s process-management API has been expanded accordingly. Along these lines, the process_madvise() system call has been proposed as a way for one process to influence how memory management is done in another. There is a new process_madvise() series which is interesting in its own right, but this series has also raised a couple of questions about how process management should be improved in general.
        The existing madvise() system call allows a process to make suggestions to the kernel about how its address space should be managed. The 5.4 kernel saw a couple of new types of advice that could be provided with madvise(): MADV_COLD and MADV_PAGEOUT. The former requests that the kernel place the indicated range of pages onto the inactive list, essentially saying that they have not been used in a long time. Those pages will thus be among the first considered for reclaim if the kernel needs memory for other purposes. MADV_PAGEOUT, instead, is a stronger statement that the indicated pages are no longer needed; it will cause them to be reclaimed immediately.

        These new requests are useful for processes that know what their future access patterns will be. But it seems that in certain environments — Android, in particular — processes lack that knowledge, but the management system does know when certain memory ranges are no longer needed. The bulk of a process’s address space could be marked as MADV_COLD when that process is moved out of the foreground, for example. In such settings, letting one process call madvise() on behalf of another helps the system as a whole make the best use of its memory resources. That is the purpose behind the process_madvise() proposal.

      • KRSI and proprietary BPF programs

        The “kernel runtime security instrumentation” (or KRSI) patch set enables the attachment of BPF programs to every security hook in the kernel; LWN covered this work in December. That article focused on ABI issues, but it deferred another potential problem to our 2020 predictions: the possibility that vendors could start shipping proprietary BPF programs for use with frameworks like KRSI. Other developers did pick up on the possibility that KRSI could be abused this way, though, leading to a discussion on whether KRSI should continue to allow the loading of BPF programs that do not carry a GPL-compatible license.
        It may be surprising to some that the kernel, while allowing BPF programs to declare their license, is entirely happy to load programs that have a proprietary license. This behavior, though, is consistent with how the kernel handles loadable modules: any module can be loaded, but modules without a GPL-compatible license will not have access to many kernel symbols (any that are exported with EXPORT_SYMBOL_GPL()). BPF programs interact with the kernel through special “helper functions”, each of which must be explicitly exported; these, too, can have a “GPL only” marking on them. In current kernels, about 25% of the defined helpers are restricted to GPL-licensed code.

      • Scheduling for the Android display pipeline

        The default CPU-frequency governor used by Android is schedutil, which relies on the CPU utilization of the runnable tasks to select the frequency of the CPU they execute on: the higher the utilization, the higher the frequency of the CPU when they are runnable. This governor fits so well with the needs of mobile Android devices that, in Android, it also takes care of the SCHED_RT tasks, which are normally run at the maximum frequency in mainline Linux kernels.

        Schedutil chooses the lowest frequency sufficient not to overload the system, based on the measurement of the system utilization. This solution works well when tasks are independent and are able to run in parallel. But, whenever there is a dependency — tasks that are blocked on the completion of others — the single-task utilization accounting mechanism is no longer sufficient to define the requirements of the whole task set.

        For example, in the scenario shown below, schedutil sees that RenderThread only requires 50% of a CPU’s capacity, so it sets the CPU frequency to 50% of the maximum. But RenderThread cannot run until the UI thread has done its work — the two tasks cannot run in parallel — so it misses its deadline.

      • Control-flow integrity for the kernel

        Control-flow integrity (CFI) is a technique used to reduce the ability to redirect the execution of a program’s code in attacker-specified ways. The Clang compiler has some features that can assist in maintaining control-flow integrity, which have been applied to the Android kernel. Kees Cook gave a talk about CFI for the Linux kernel at the recently concluded linux.conf.au in Gold Coast, Australia.

        Cook said that he thinks about CFI as a way to reduce the attack, or exploit, surface of the kernel. Most compromises of the kernel involve an attacker gaining execution control, typically using some kind of write flaw to change system memory. These write flaws come in many flavors, generally with some restrictions (e.g. can only write a single zero or only a set of fixed byte values), but in the worst case, they can be a “write anything anywhere at any time” flaw. The latter, thankfully, is relatively rare.

      • Linux Kernel 5.6 Source Tree Includes WireGuard VPN

        The lean-coded, fast, modern, and secure WireGuard VPN protocol has made it into the Linux kernel as Linus Torvalds merged it into his source tree for version 5.6.

        The wait is closely coming to an end, with the next Linux kernel expected to be released in just a few months, considering that the latest refresh occurred on January 26.

        [...]

        Jason Donenfeld himself was excited about this step and shared that he tried to stay awake to see it happen, “refreshing Linus’ git repo on my phone until I was dreaming.”

        “I look forward to start refining some of rougher areas of WireGuard now,” announced the original author and developer of the project.

        Torvalds is a supporter of the WireGuard project. When Donenfeld made the pull request in 2018 to have it integrated into the Linux kernel, Torvalds expressed hope that the merge would happen soon.

      • Remembering the LAN

        We can have the LAN-like experience of the 90′s back again, and we can add the best parts of the 21st century internet. A safe small space of people we trust, where we can program away from the prying eyes of the multi-billion-person internet. Where the outright villainous will be kept at bay by good identity services and good crypto.

        The broader concept of virtualizing networks has existed forever: the Virtual Private Network. New protocols make VPNs better than before, Wireguard is pioneering easy and efficient tunneling between peers. Marry the VPN to identity, and make it work anywhere, and you can have a virtual 90s-style LAN made up of all your 21st century devices. Let the internet be the dumb pipe, let your endpoints determine who they will talk to based on the person at the other end.

    • Applications

      • 6 Best open source video editor in 2020

        When youtube and other similar platforms are proliferating then need of the best video editor software is at its zenith and if we get something in free and opensource to edit our videos than it would be ‘icing on the cake’.

        Now, we are in 2020 and already the Open-source software has gained a good reputation in the IT sector. It is because of the source code which is available for everyone that is not the case with closed software thus also reduce the risk of having spies or other third party spy software.

      • Dino is a Decent XMPP Client for Linux Desktops

        And it’s this service that Dino, a new desktop XMPP client for Linux desktops, makes use of.

        A small, lightweight chat app, Dino is designed with security, privacy and openness at its core, all presented in a clean, straight-forward and user-friendly interface.

        Dino is fully functional with other XMPP/Jabber clients and servers (i.e. you don’t need to be using the same app to chat) and it supports end-to-end encryption using OMEMO or OpenPGP.

      • New Update for bitfarm-Archiv GPL released

        New Update for bitfarm-Archiv GPL released
        As of today, GPL-Version 3.5.0 of the Open-Source-DMS document management system bitfarm-Archiv is available. The fully fledged DMS is in line with the current laws and contains five new features which effectively save users time.

      • Useful Backup Software For Linux In 2020

        Let’s have a quick look into the list of useful and best backup software for Linux based operating system in 2020.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Games

      • Build your own first-person shooter in Unity

        Raspberry Pi Press is back with a new publication: this time, it’s Wireframe’s time to shine, with Build Your Own First-Person Shooter in Unity.

      • The Bad Seed DLC releases for Dead Cells on February 11

        One of my absolute favourite action platformers, the “RogueVania” game Dead Cells is getting a first DLC with The Bad Seed and it now has a release date of February 11.

        The Bad Seed should keep runs feeling fresh, with two new early-game biomes mixed with a bunch of new enemies and weapons plus “some unseen mechanics and a giant boss”. Sounds like everything the game needs once you’ve played multiple tens of hours in it.

      • ULTRAKILL – a fast-paced and rather violent FPS has a Steam page up and new demo coming soon

        Retro first-person shooters as a genre and theme are very much back in action, I am super happy about this and ULTRAKILL is one that needs to be in your sights.

        Fusing together elements from the classic like Quake, with modern touches from newer games and fast-paced character action from the likes of Devil May Cry it’s definitely got a unique feel to it.

        It currently has an older demo up on itch.io which we briefly covered before. Now, it has a Steam page up as it moves closer to a wider Early Access release and they’ve announced that a new demo will be coming soon.

      • Nightdive Studios have released some extended System Shock footage

        Excited for the System Shock remake? I certainly am! Nightdive Studios recently sent a special demo to backers but to keep the hype going for everyone else they’ve also doing a long new video.

        This is not the same as the demo recently released to the public, this is a bigger version that Nightdive will continue to update and backers keep hold of it until the game releases. You might want a coffee ready and the video is over an hour long but it’s a good look into what to expect from this hotly anticipated System Shock reboot.

      • Battle Axe has some awesome pixel-art with gameplay inspired by Gauntlet and Golden Axe

        Currently crowdfunding on Kickstarter, Battle Axe looks impressive. A retro-themed pixel-art action adventure taking inspiration from the likes of Golden Axe, Dungeons & Dragons: Shadow over Mystara, and Knights Of The Round.

        It will be launching with Linux support, as clearly confirmed on the campaign page.

      • Tactical combat with time manipulation arrives with Iron Danger on March 25

        Today, Daedalic Entertainment and Action Squad Studios announced that their tactical combat game Iron Danger will release on March 25.

        An exciting sounding game with time manipulation mechanics and it looks pretty darn good visually too. The setting sounds equally delightful, with a mixture of nordic mythology, steampunk and tech noir. We covered this briefly back in September last year, where the developer confirmed Linux would happen. With the announcement today, Daedalic confirmed very clearly on Twitter that Linux support is in.

      • Rocket League Ends Online Multiplayer Support For Linux and macOS

        If you are playing Psyonix’s Rocket League on a Mac or Linux computer, you should know that the developer has announced that they will be dropping support for online multiplayer for the game on both those of these platforms. This will happen in March after a final patch for the game has been released.

        Harmonix says, “As we continue to upgrade Rocket League with new technologies, it is no longer viable for us to maintain support for the macOS and Linux (SteamOS) platforms. As a result, the final patch for the macOS and Linux versions of the game will be in March. This update will disable online functionality (such as in-game purchases) for players on macOS and Linux.”

      • Psyonix explains why Rocket League support for MacOS and Linux was pulled

        Psyonix has explained its reasons for pulling support for Rocket League on MacOS and Linux.

        Taking to the game’s subreddit, the developer detailed its decision to stop supporting these operating systems and said that MacOS and Linux users can get a refund.

        Combined, less than 0.3 per cent of the games player base are found on both platforms.

        “Rocket League is an evolving game, and part of that evolution is keeping our game client up to date with modern features. As part of that evolution, we’ll be updating our Windows version from 32-bit to 64-bit later this year, as well as updating to DirectX 11 from DirectX 9,” said the Reddit update.

    • Distributions

      • 7 Best Linux Distros For Programmers

        Linux distributions allow you to not only browse the web but also to work on any other necessary tasks. The Linux kernel is very flexible and it enables developers to make any modifications and contributions they want. Besides, Linux can run on any hardware and is compatible with all the popular programming languages.

        The flexibility of Linux distros is a reason why Linux has always been so popular among programmers. Some distros have quite impressive functionality and many useful tools, offering the best environment for software developers. We prepared this list of the seven best distros so that you can choose the one that fits your objectives.

      • Meet Zorin Grid: A Slick Linux Desktop Management Tool For Schools And Businesses

        If you’re a decision maker for a business, school or organization that’s been tempted to migrate your PCs to Linux now that free support has ended for Windows 7, you’ve probably identified some pain points. Desktop Linux distributions like Zorin OS are fast, secure and feature an attractive desktop that feels familiar. But you need a solution for centrally managing, securing and monitoring those PCs. You also need cross-platform software that fills the void when you make the switch permanent. That’s exactly where the newly announced Zorin Grid plans to enter the picture later this year.

      • Reviews

        • Beelink Gemini T45 Pentium N4200 Mini PC Review

          No sooner had I written ‘Beelink T45 Review with Windows and Linux, and Tweaking BIOS Power Limits’ than Beelink announce they wouldn’t in fact sell that configuration but an ‘updated’ version.

      • New Releases

        • Kali Linux 2020.1 is here with a new theme and single installer image

          The minds behind Kali Linux, namely Offensive Security, started the decade with a new update that focuses on improving the user interface, making installation more straightforward, and abandoning the root user model.

          If you haven’t heard much about Kali Linux, it makes sense to first introduce it to you all before getting to its latest version details. It is an operating system that is powered by Debian and focuses on penetration testing and ethical hacking.

      • Screenshots/Screencasts

        • Solus OS 4.1 Plasma Run Through

          In this video, we are looking at Solus OS 4.1 Plasma.

        • What’s New in Elementary OS 5.1 Hera

          Elementary OS 5.1 codename “Hera” is the latest minor release of Elementary OS 5.0, brings a major update that adds many improvements and new features, as well as updated components and fresh new artwork.

          In this release, Elementary OS 5.1 based on ubuntu 18.04 LTS includes base packages and powered Linux kernel 5.0. Implemented out-of-the-box Flatpak support to make it easier and secure for users to install third-party apps that are not available in the AppCenter but are essential for their everyday tasks.

          Also, it comes with Sideload, a new, in-house built graphical utility that lets you install Flatpak apps with a single click. In addition, elementary OS 5.1 adds Flatpak support to the AppCenter so that users can manage Flatpak apps alongside regular applications from the official repositories.

      • Gentoo Family

        • exGENT 2020 Linux Distro Makes Gentoo Fun to Use with the LXQt Desktop

          Arne Exton’s exGENT GNU/Linux distribution aims to continue the tradition of Gentoo-based live distros with a new release that puts the latest LXQt 0.14.1 desktop environment in the spotlight.

          We all know by now that Gentoo is one of the hardest Linux-based operating systems to install due to packages needing to be compiled from sources locally. But the good thing about Gentoo is that it doesn’t uses a one-size fits all approach, which mens that it can be fully optimized for specific hardware.

          Newcomers who want to try Gentoo Linux on their personal computer have a hard time due to the lack of Gentoo-based live distributions. Here’s where exGENT Linux comes into play, promising to offer users an up-to-date Gentoo-based live system that can be installed in a few minutes.

      • Debian Family

        • Mollamby: the Debian Developer certificate

          In March 2018, the script for generating Debian Developer certificates was updated to create certificates for non-uploading Debian Developers.

          We can see that in the logs of the Debian keyring, the Debian Project Leader’s girlfriend, Molly de Blanc, was added to the Debian Developer non-uploading keyring in December 2018.

          In April 2019, Miss de Blanc started a new job at GNOME Foundation.

          If you assume she had to give her previous employer, the FSF, one or two months notice, then she probably received the GNOME job offer in January or February. Take another step backwards and it appears she was in the process of making job applications in December 2018.

          It appears that the DPL’s girlfriend was promoted and given that holy DD status at the very time she was looking for a job.

          [...]

          Ironically, McGovern’s email accuses the person asking the question of being divisive. Yet just weeks later, Neil McGovern played a key role in one of the most divisive events in the entire history of free software, ambushing de Blanc’s former boss, Richard Stallman, using his GNOME title to add weight to an anti-RMS attack blog.

    • Devices/Embedded

    • Free, Libre, and Open Source Software

      • 4 open source productivity tools on my wishlist

        Last year, I brought you 19 days of new (to you) productivity tools for 2019. This year, I’m taking a different approach: building an environment that will allow you to be more productive in the new year, using tools you may or may not already be using.

        But what about…

        When searching for productivity apps, I never find everything I want, and I almost always miss something great that my readers share with me. So, as I bring this series to a close, it’s time again to talk about some of the topics I failed to cover in this year’s series.

      • Run your network with open source software

        Way back in 2005, a company called Vyatta was founded by Allan Leinwand. It offered the first commercially supported, open source router and firewall solution. Named after the ancient Sanskrit for “open,” the company’s goal of bringing open source networking products to the market was so successful that it was purchased by competitor Brocade. This effectively killed Vyatta, but because Vyatta’s product was open source, it didn’t stop it. As it turns out, Vyatta’s software-defined networking capabilities have been continued and developed as VyOS.

        The VyOS distribution is based on Debian Linux, with source code available from a Git repository and a rolling release ISO. For mission-critical applications, there are long-term support releases and support contracts.

      • Events

        • Jonathan Dowland: FOSDEM 2020 timetable

          This coming week is FOSDEM! If you’re like me and find schedule planning easier with paper and highlighters, this might be useful.

          FOSDEM provide a (30 page) schedule PDF for printing, but the printing order doesn’t clearly show which tracks are in parallel.

        • Steve McIntyre: Presenting guest lectures at the University of Lincoln, January 2020

          Dr Charles Fox from the University of Lincoln contacted me out of the blue back in September. He asked me if I would give a couple of guest lectures to his Computer Science students. I was deeply flattered! I took him up on his invitation, and on Tuesday 28th Jan I headed up to visit him and the TSE students.

          My first talk was to provide background on Free and Open Source Software. I started with the history of software in the 1950s, working forwards through the events that sparked the FLOSS movement. I spoke about the philosophical similarities and differences between Free Software and Open Source, and how FLOSS has grown to a state of near-ubiquity. Several of the students are already involved in some existing FLOSS projects, so I was clearly preaching to the choir! I hope I managed to interest the rest of the audience too; I certainly had a warm welcome!

      • Productivity Software/LibreOffice/Calligra

        • LibreOffice 6.4 Released with New Features, Performance Improvements

          The new version includes a QR code generator, which technically makes it easier for users to add QR codes in their documents. The QR codes can then be scanned with a mobile phone for links and other information.

          The Document Foundation says it has also focused on improving consistency across the entire suite, so it updated the hyperlink context menus to display the same options regardless of the app you’re using. So beginning with this release, there are four hyperlink options, namely Open Hyperlink, Edit Hyperlink, Copy Hyperlink Location and Remove Hyperlink.

      • BSD

        • FreeNAS 11.3-RELEASE

          We are pleased to announce the general availability of FreeNAS 11.3-RELEASE! The 11.3 series represents a year-long development effort and brings with it a wide variety of improvements and fixes.

          Please read these Release Notes thoroughly before updating to become familiar with the potential impacts of the many new features brought in by this update. Please report any bugs to https://jira.ixsystems.com/projects/NAS.

          To install this release, refer to https://www.freenas.org/download/ for installation instructions and to download the installation file.

        • FreeNAS 11.3 Released With A Plethora Of Improvements

          FreeNAS 11.3 has a year’s worth of improvements and features a much improved Replication Engine, managing SMB ACLs via the FreeNAS web user-interface, SMB Shadow Copies being enabled by default for new shares, an iSCSI wizard, dashboard updates, ZFS performance optimizations, new APIs, and much more.

      • FSF/Similar

        • FSFellowship releases sticker set 1.0 for download

          FSFellowship is releasing our first stickers. These are licensed CC-BY for you to use as you see fit.

          You can download an A4 PDF with four stickers to a page and then print it onto A4 label paper in your printer.

          These stickers were produced with free software using LibreOffice. You can download the LibreOffice document here.

        • Licensing / Legal

          • US court fully legalized website scraping and technically prohibited it

            On September 9, the U.S. 9th circuit court of Appeals ruled (Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of California) that web scraping public sites does not violate the CFAA (Computer Fraud and Abuse Act).

            This is a really important decision. The court not only legalized this practice, but also prohibited competitors from removing information from your site automatically if the site is public. The court confirmed the clear logic that the entry of the web scraper bot is not legally different from the entry of the browser. In both cases, the “user” requests open data — and does something with it on their side.

      • Programming/Development

        • Development corner: IDEs and tools that can make your coding more productive

          Every craft needs craftsmen, every craftsman needs tools. If you make a living developing code, you want a friendly ecosystem to help you achieve best results from your work. Good development software will allow you to achieve higher productivity and precision, leading to a product that is more effective and with fewer bugs. Finding the right tools is an important part of this equation. Let’s see if we can assist in the search.

        • Libvirt: adoption of GLib library to replace GNULIB & home grown code

          These problems are common to many applications / libraries that are written in C and thus there are a number of libraries that attempt to provide a high level “standard library”. The GLib library is one such effort from the GNOME project developers that has long been appealing. Some of libvirt’s internal APIs are inspired by those present in GLib, and it has been used by QEMU for a long time too. What prevented libvirt from using GLib in the past was the desire to catch, report and handle OOM errors. With the switch to aborting on OOM, the only blocker to use of GLib was eliminated.

          The decision was thus made for libvirt to adopt the GLib library in the latter part of 2019. From the POV of application developers nothing will change in libvirt. The usage of GLib is purely internal, and so doesn’t leak into public API exposed from libvirt.so, which is remains compatible with what came before. In the case of QEMU/KVM hosts at least, there is also no change in what must be installed on hosts, since GLib was already a dependency of QEMU for many years. This will ultimately be a net win, as using GLib will eliminate other code in libvirt, reducing the installation footprint on aggregate between libvirt and QEMU.

          With a large codebase such as libvirt’s, adopting GLib is a not as quick as flicking a switch. Some key pieces of libvirt functionality have been ported to use GLib APIs completely, while in other cases the work is going to be an incremental ongoing effort over a long time. This offers plenty of opportunities for new contributors to jump in and make useful changes which are fairly easily understood & straightforward to implement.

        • Excellent Free Tutorials to Learn Lua

          Lua is a lightweight, small, compact, and fast programming language designed as an embeddable scripting language. This cross-platform interpreted language has a simple syntax with powerful data description constructs. It has automatic memory management and incremental garbage collection, making it ideal for configuration, scripting, and rapid prototyping. Lua tries to help you solve problems with only hundreds of lines, or even less. To achieve this aim, Lua relies on extensibility.

          In the popularity stakes, Lua lags behind say Python, Perl, or Ruby for scripting purposes. As a barometer of its popularity, Lua is currently ranked in 41st place on the TIOBE Index (January 2020).

          Lua is not designed to develop standalone software. But Lua excels as a secondary language. Witness Lua cropping up in kernels, tools, and games. Lua was designed, from the beginning, to be integrated with software written in C and other conventional languages. But it’s also used as a standalone language.

          This language is free software distributed under the terms of the MIT license. Lua’s developers consist of a team at PUC-Rio, the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. The language has been in development for 26 years.

        • This Week In Rust: This Week in Rust 323

          Hello and welcome to another issue of This Week in Rust! Rust is a systems language pursuing the trifecta: safety, concurrency, and speed. This is a weekly summary of its progress and community. Want something mentioned? Tweet us at @ThisWeekInRust or send us a pull request. Want to get involved? We love contributions.

        • Python

          • Random Forests (and Extremely) in Python with scikit-learn

            In this guest post, you will learn by example how to do two popular machine learning techniques called random forest and extremely random forests. In fact, this post is an excerpt (adapted to the blog format) from the forthcoming Artificial Intelligence with Python – Second Edition: Your Complete Guide to Building Intelligent Apps using Python 3.x and TensorFlow 2. Now, before you will learn how to carry out random forests in Python with scikit-learn, you will find some brief information about the book.

          • Wing Python IDE 7.2.1 – January 29, 2020

            Wing 7.2.1 fixes debug process group termination, avoids failures seen when pasting some Python code, prevents crashing in vi browse mode when the first line of the file is blank, and fixes some other usability issues.

          • A tiny Python called Snek

            Keith Packard is no stranger to the linux.conf.au stage; he has spoken on a wide variety of topics since he started going to the conference in 2004 (which was held in Adelaide, where organizers apparently had a lot of ice cream for attendees). One of his talks at this year’s conference was on an education-focused project that he has been working on for around a year: a version of Python called “Snek” targeting embedded processors. He gave a look at some of the history of his work with 10-12 year-old students that led to the development of Snek as well as some plans for the language—and hardware to run it on—moving forward.

  • Leftovers

    • Soviet Hippies: The Grass is Greener on the Other Side

      Terje Toomistu’s Soviet Hippies is a strange trippy film. It’s full of characters coming out of a thaw, as if you were watching George Romero’s zombies in Night of the Living Dead go backwards to where they started from and find themselves in the Amazing Mirror Maze at Mall of America® — liking what they’re seeing for the first time. But one dimension removed.

    • Health/Nutrition

    • Integrity/Availability

      • Proprietary

        • Judge forces insurer to help small business to clean up after a crippling ransomware attack [iophk: Windows TCO]

          A Maryland federal judge on Thursday ruled that an Ohio insurer must cover the costs following a ransomware attack that forced a client to replace much of its technology. State Auto Property & Casualty Insurance is on the hook for losses incurred by National Ink & Stitch, a Maryland screen printing business, after a 2016 hack resulted in “direct physical loss or damage” of National Ink & Stitch’s property.

          No dollar figure has been set yet. The embroidery company had sought $310,000 in damages from State Auto, which has a $1.3 billion market cap.

        • Pseudo-Open Source

          • Openwashing

            • NSA cloud advice, Facebook open source year in review, and more industry trends

              As part of my role as a senior product marketing manager at an enterprise software company with an open source development model, I publish a regular update about open source community, market, and industry trends for product marketers, managers, and other influencers. Here are five of my and their favorite articles from that update.

        • Security

          • Leaked Report Shows United Nations Suffered Hack

            Sophisticated hackers infiltrated U.N. offices in Geneva and Vienna last year in an apparent espionage operation, and their identity and the extent of the data they obtained is unknown.

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

            • Critical OpenSMTPD Bug Opens Linux and OpenBSD Mail Servers to Hackers

              Cybersecurity researchers have discovered a new critical vulnerability (CVE-2020-7247) in the OpenSMTPD email server that could allow remote attackers to take complete control over BSD and many Linux based servers.
              OpenSMTPD is an open-source implementation of the server-side SMTP protocol that was initially developed as part of the OpenBSD project but now comes pre-installed on many UNIX-based systems.
              According to Qualys Research Labs, who discovered this vulnerability, the issue resides in the OpenSMTPD’s sender address validation function, called smtp_mailaddr(), which can be exploited to execute arbitrary shell commands with elevated root privileges on a vulnerable server just by sending specially crafted SMTP messages to it.

          • Privacy/Surveillance

            • Facial Recognition Company Clearview Lied About Its Crime-Solving Power In Pitches To Law Enforcement Agencies

              A very questionable facial recognition tool being offered to law enforcement was recently exposed by Kashmir Hill for the New York Times. Clearview — created by a developer previously best known for an app that let people put Trump’s “hair” on their own photos — is being pitched to law enforcement agencies as a better AI solution for all their “who TF is this guy” problems.

            • UK Ignores US, Won’t Fully Ban Huawei Gear From Its Networks

              We’ve repeatedly noted that while Huawei certainly engages in some clearly sketchy shit (like any good unaccountable telecom giant), the evidence supporting the global blacklist of the company has been lacking. The Trump administration still hasn’t provided any public evidence supporting the central justification for the global blackballing effort (that Huawei works for China to spy wholesale on Americans), and at least some of the effort is little more than gamesmanship by companies like Cisco, which don’t want to compete with cheaper Chinese gear as they hunt down network and 5G contracts.

            • Puerto Rico’s Justice Department Demanded Info From Facebook About Journalists Who Livestreamed Protests

              Historically, the DOJ hasn’t really let the First Amendment stand in the way of its investigations. In very recent history, the FBI has targeted journalists to hunt down leakers, and has impersonated journalists during investigations. While the DOJ and FBI have dealt with some limited repercussions due to their targeting of First Amendment activities (which includes targeting Muslims because they’re Muslims), it really hasn’t promised to stop doing this. Nor has it been told to stop doing this. Instead, the DOJ has simply made it slightly more difficult for investigators to violate people’s rights.

            • Why Public Wi-Fi is a Lot Safer Than You Think

              If you follow security on the Internet, you may have seen articles warning you to “beware of public Wi-Fi networks” in cafes, airports, hotels, and other public places. But now, due to the widespread deployment of HTTPS encryption on most popular websites, advice to avoid public Wi-Fi is mostly out of date and applicable to a lot fewer people than it once was.

              The advice stems from the early days of the Internet, when most communication was not encrypted. At that time, if someone could snoop on your network communications—for instance by sniffing packets from unencrypted Wi-Fi or by being the NSA—they could read your email. They could also steal your passwords or your login cookies and impersonate you on your favorite sites. This was widely accepted as a risk of using the Internet. Sites that used HTTPS on all pages were safe, but such sites were vanishingly rare.However, starting in 2010 that all changed. Eric Butler released Firesheep, an easy-to-use demonstration of “sniffing” insecure HTTP to take over people’s accounts. Site owners started to take note and realized they needed to implement HTTPS (the more secure, encrypted version of HTTP) for every page on their site. The timing was good: earlier that year, Google had turned on HTTPS by default for all Gmail users and reported that the costs to do so were quite low. Hardware and software had advanced to the point where encrypting web browsing was easy and cheap.

            • U.K. Police Will Soon be able to Search Through U.S. Data Without Asking a Judge

              Law enforcement officials in the U.S. and U.K. have negotiated a deal that sells out the privacy rights of the public in both nations. For Americans, it will effectively abrogate Fourth Amendment protections, and subject their data to search and seizure by foreign police.

              This is all going to start happening in a few months—unless Congress does something to stop it now. That’s why we’re launching an action today, asking you to reach out to your members of Congress and tell them to introduce a joint resolution that could put a halt to the deal. If it isn’t stopped, the worst parts of this deal will likely come standard on future agreements, and Americans will be subject to more and more searches by foreign police.

            • ‘This Type of Surveillance Threatens Us All’
            • New Bill Would Make Needed Steps Toward Curbing Mass Surveillance

              Last week, Sens. Ron Wyden (D–Oregon) and Steve Daines (R–Montana) along with Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D–California), Warren Davidson (R–Ohio), and Pramila Jayapal (D–Washington) introduced the Safeguarding Americans’ Private Records Act (SAPRA), H.R 5675. This bipartisan legislation includes significant reforms to the government’s foreign intelligence surveillance authorities, including Section 215 of the Patriot Act. Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act allows the government to obtain a secret court order requiring third parties, such as telephone providers, Internet providers, and financial institutions, to hand over business records or any other “tangible thing” deemed “relevant” to an international terrorism, counterespionage, or foreign intelligence investigation. If Congress does not act, Section 215 is set to expire on March 15.

              The bill comes at a moment of renewed scrutiny of the government’s use of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). A report from the Department of Justice’s Office of the Inspector General released late last year found significant problems in the government’s handling of surveillance of Carter Page, one of President Trump’s former campaign advisors. This renewed bipartisan interest in FISA transparency and accountability—in combination with the March 15 sunset of Section 215—provides strong incentives for Congress to enact meaningful reform of an all-too secretive and invasive surveillance apparatus.

            • PayPal Forecast Disappoints as Acquisitions Weigh on Profit

              Chief Executive Officer Dan Schulman has been pushing PayPal into new partnerships with banks, technology giants and e-commerce platforms as he seeks to make it a versatile financial tool rather than just a payment method for websites. In November, PayPal spent about $4 billion to buy the coupon shopping app Honey, gaining access to valuable data on consumer buying habits. About 17 million people use Honey apps or web browser extensions to find discounts at online shopping sites.

              Last year PayPal also took a majority stake in China’s GoPay, and in December, it announced an agreement with Latin America’s MercadoLibre to offer payments in Brazil and Mexico. Earlier this month, PayPal announced an expansion of its partnership with UnionPay, which could boost its presence in China’s massive payments system.

            • Google’s tearjerker Super Bowl ad is sad and creepy

              Given all the ways it collects data on us, it’s depressing to consider that Google apparently doesn’t see anything unsettling about an ad that highlights a grieving widower providing the search giant with even more personal details. What kinds of ads would our voiceover man see in Google Chrome after feeding this information to Assistant — cruises to Alaska? Mustache trimmers? Funeral services? Gross, right? But that’s what Google’s good at: convincing us that, sure, you have to give up a little privacy, but look at all you get in return.

            • Facebook’s messaging apps are more important than ever as revenue growth stalls

              More pressing, however, is that while Facebook’s user growth remains steady, the same cannot be said for its revenue and profit. Facebook still makes money hand over fist, of course, but the future of the business depends on finding ways to make more money from those new users, and that doesn’t appear to be happening even as Facebook can say more people use its products than ever before. Profit growth this past quarter compared with the fourth quarter of 2018 was only 7 percent, compared to the whopping 61 percent jump Facebook experienced a year ago.

            • Confidentiality

              • [Older] Equifax Ordered to Spend $1 Billion on Data Security [iophk: Windows TCO]

                After agreeing to pay up to $700 million to settle charges brought by the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Equifax now must pay an additional $380.5 million into a fund for class action benefits, attorneys’ fees, expenses, service awards and notice and administration costs, bringing the tally to well over $1 billion.

                But expenses associated with the massive cyber blunder don’t stop here. Chief Judge Thomas W. Thrash, Jr., in the Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta, has ordered Equifax to fork out an additional $1 billion to strengthen its cybersecurity posture and ensure history doesn’t repeat itself.

    • Defence/Aggression

    • Environment

    • Finance

      • After a Half Century of Corporate Dominance Over the Food Economy, Change Is Coming

        Family farmers are fighting back against Big Ag to put forth a complete overhaul of industrial agribusiness policies, supplanting them with sensible, democratic approaches to serve the common good.

      • The Davos Set’s Most Dangerous Delusion

        Few thinkers are more deserving of criticism than Milton Friedman. Not only was he the late 20th century’s leading proponent of unfettered capitalism, he served as one of the intellectual fathers of the neoliberal ideology that has been so dominant (and destructive) over the past 50 years. It is no exaggeration to say that the Chicago School economist was one of the most—if not the most—influential ideologists of the past half-century, shaping economic policy in Washington and beyond while providing an effective intellectual apologia for capitalists, who seldom fail to put profit over people.

      • Brexit Deal Cleared by EU Parliament; U.K. Set to Leave Friday

        The European Union grudgingly let go of the United Kingdom with a final vote Wednesday at the EU’s parliament that ended the Brexit divorce battle and set the scene for tough trade negotiations in the year ahead.

      • BoJo Johnson’s Brexit Fantasies

        Immediately after his general election victory BoJo jetted to the private Caribbean island of Mustique with his latest mistress. Sequestered in a rental villa that cost £20,000/$26000 a week for a couple of weeks (probably paid for by one of his billionaire pals), and supposedly chugging down vodka martinis while sunning his plump frame on the beach, BoJo was unavailable for a response at the start of the Iran crisis. Not that he would have done much. With an unenviable track-record when it comes to being Trump’s lapdog, his response would have been all-too predictable.

      • Condemning NAFTA 2.0 as ‘Giveaway to Fossil Fuel Industry,’ Sanders Vows to Immediately Renegotiate Trump Deal If Elected

        “We need a trade policy that works for the working class and improves the environment. And that’s exactly what I will fight for as president.”

      • Trump: New Trade Deal With Canada, Mexico to Boost U.S. Growth

        President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed into law a major rewrite of the rules of trade with Canada and Mexico that he said replaces the “nightmare” of a Clinton-era agreement and will keep jobs, wealth and growth in America.

      • Trump Legal Team Donated Thousands to GOP Senators Ahead of Impeachment Trial

        President Trump’s legal team made numerous campaign contributions to Republican senators overseeing the impeachment trial.

      • 10 Things Every American Needs to Know About Trump’s Impeachment

        Don’t get bogged down by the marathon minute-by-minute coverage of the Senate impeachment trial stretching late into the night. Don’t get overwhelmed by all the complex procedural maneuvers aimed at securing a fair and open trial with witness testimony and new documents that Republicans want to prevent at all costs.

    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

      • Mutually Assured Madness: Immunity to the 25th Amendment

        When Ronald Reagan first arrived at the White House after his big electoral victory over President Jimmy Carter in November 1980, and was now cleared to see and know all the secrets and issue commands, he was asked what he wanted to do first. He asked to see the War Room. The aides, handlers, military and security people were puzzled, what War Room? Reagan described the one with the big circular-arc table and circular-arc overhead light, and the big screen-map of the world that would show the progressive trajectories of B-52 bombers making a nuclear attack on Russia, in the event of such an attack. Reagan was told there was no such War Room. “But I saw it in a movie!” he protested. Indeed, we all saw it in Stanley Kubrick’s 1964 phenomenal cinema satire of Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD) nuclear war (Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb).

      • ‘Out of Touch’ Pro-Israel Group Criticized for Ads Hitting Bernie Sanders on Electability

        “They know they are increasingly out-of-touch with Democratic voters, so they have to hide behind tired talking points about electability instead.”

      • With Bernie Sanders Now a Frontrunner, Corporate Media Smears His as Trump-ish

        Demonizing attacks will likely evolve, especially because the elite in both parties hates and fears Sanders so much that they would prefer Trump to Sanders.

      • ‘Absurd’: Sanders Campaign Hits Back at AP Story Equating Bernie’s Social Security Record With Biden’s

        “While Joe Biden was calling for cuts to Social Security, Bernie was sponsoring bills to block cuts and expand benefits.”

      • How to Survive this Election

        Having closely followed the 2016 Election, from the clear signs of manipulation and potential fraud in the earliest Primaries to the finger-pointing and hysteria over alleged Russian “election hacking” after one of the most unpopular US Presidential candidates in History beat another of the most unpopular of the US Presidential candidates in History, I resolved to stop following the media circus that passes for “politics” in our country. I thus managed to steer clear of what promised to be a remake of the 2016 Election – until last week when the CNN attack on Sanders finally drew me in.

      • The Swamp That Trump Built

        My favorite line from the Trumpist defense of their boss so far is from attorney Jay Sekulow. As the opening argument wound down, he told the Senate and whomever else was listening that “justice demands” the articles of impeachment against Trump “must be rejected.” There were a lot of things going on in the defense’s opening statements of Trump’s impeachment trial. Justice, however, was not one of them. Power, absolutism, corruption and denial were present, but a quest for justice certainly wasn’t, not even within the narrow confines of these stunted proceedings. The process continues in less than twenty-four hours with the likelihood that the show will continue to produce more repetition, denial and obstruction, which is how I would describe business as usual in Washington on most days. The impeachment process has just consolidated it all and put it on television. One thing I have had confirmed during my viewing is that there are a lot of lousy and overpriced attorneys who only seem smart because their clients are not.

      • ‘Huge’: Bernie Sanders Endorses Progressive Primary Challenger Jessica Cisneros

        “We’re proud that presidential candidates are taking a close look at South Texas as we fight to turn Texas blue in November—and that they know we’re the only candidate in this race who will champion Democratic values in Washington.”

      • A Different Impeachment

        For over two centuries, the American military has protected us by protecting our nation. Now it is time for the nation to protect the American military, by removing Donald Trump from the Presidency.

      • The End of American Exceptionalism? Study Indicates Failure of US Democracy Creating Wave of Self Doubt

        A new study shows that less than half of all Americans are satisfied with the nation’s democratic system.

      • US: Returns to Mexico Threaten Rights, Security
      • Why the Green Party isn’t the Problem

        I just read the open letter by Noam Chomsky, Bill Fletcher, Barbara Ehrenreich, Kathy Kelly, Ron Daniels, Leslie Cagan, Norman Solomon, Cynthia Peters, and Michael Albert calling on the Green Party not to run a candidate this year.

      • Bring It On: Why Democrats Should Take the Hunter Biden for John Bolton Trade

        What’s the worst that can happen?  Quite likely we will “learn” what we already know.

      • Trump Trial: Pointed Questioning With Bolton Book at the Center

        President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial shifted swiftly to pointed, back-and-forth questioning Wednesday as Republicans strained to contain the fallout over John Bolton’s forthcoming book, which threatens their hopes of ending the trial with a quick acquittal.

      • John Bolton Is a Shark, and There’s Blood in the Water
      • ‘He’s Desperate’: Trump Rants About Impeachment ‘Con Job’ as McConnell Admits He Doesn’t Have Votes to Block Witnesses

        “The pressure is working,” said Indivisible. “We need to hear from Bolton and the other witnesses who know exactly how egregious Trump’s abuse of power was.”

      • Game Over
      • The Impeachment Trial Has Been a Farce Staged by the GOP Since Day One

        At the Senate impeachment trial of President Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told fellow Republican senators in a private meeting Tuesday that he does not yet have enough votes to block Democrats from calling impeachment witnesses. Democrats have pushed for former national security adviser John Bolton to testify. On Sunday night, The New York Times published details about a draft of Bolton’s forthcoming book, in which he claims Trump personally told him in August he wanted to maintain a freeze on $391 million in military aid to Ukraine until Ukraine turned over materials related to former Vice President Joe Biden. On Tuesday, Trump’s defense team wrapped up their opening arguments. We speak with Mehdi Hasan, senior columnist at The Intercept and host of “UpFront” on Al Jazeera English. John Bolton’s role in the impeachment trial is “hugely ironic, because we’ve always known that John Bolton wanted regime change around the world; I just didn’t realize he wanted regime change in Washington, D.C.,” Hasan says.

      • Impeachment Battles Could Determine Who Holds Real Power in the US Government

        The legal and constitutional battles sparked by President Trump’s behavior could affect how the U.S. government works for generations, long after the impeachment trial is over.

      • What Happens If Iowa and Nevada’s 2020 Caucuses Are Disrupted?

        In 2012, the Iowa Republican Party named Mitt Romney (now Utah’s senator) as the winner of its presidential caucuses. But 16 days later, long after Romney rode a wave of momentum into New Hampshire, the Iowa GOP said that then-Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum had actually won after votes that weren’t turned in on caucus night were counted.

      • Dershowitz Is Wrong — Abuse of Power Is Grounds for Impeachment

        Alan Dershowitz, the Harvard emeritus law professor who is serving as a hired gun for Team Trump, is arguing that even if John Bolton testifies that Trump admitted the quid pro quo with Ukraine to him, the Senate could not remove the president from office. Dershowitz has gone so far as to say that even if Trump told Bolton he was withholding the congressionally authorized military aid to Ukraine until it helped him with an investigation of the Bidens, that is still not impeachable conduct.

      • New U.S. law requires government to report risks of overseas activities by ex-spies

        The new measure was driven by a Reuters investigation revealing how former National Security Agency employees clandestinely assisted a foreign cyber espionage operation in the United Arab Emirates, helping the monarchy target rivals, dissidents and journalists.

      • The US Is Losing Its Fight Against Huawei

        Now, as it weighs how to proceed, the US must confront a difficult question: Is it really prepared to cut off intelligence sharing with key partners who open their doors to Huawei? And if so, will it ultimately hand China yet another victory by weakening the very global alliance that could counter the rising superpower?

      • Presidential Primaries: What You Need to Know

        Every four years, our country holds a general election to decide who will be our next president. Before that happens, though, each party must choose its candidate through primary elections.But our system of primaries can be a bit confusing. So here’s a quick primer on the upcoming primaries, containing the most important things you need to know based on the most frequently asked questions:Are primaries, caucuses, and conventions written into the Constitution? No. The Constitution says nothing about primaries or caucuses. Or about political parties. So where did primaries and caucuses come from?From the parties themselves. The first major political party convention was held in 1831 by the National Republican Party (also known as the Anti-Jacksonian Party). The first Democratic National Convention was held in 1832. Who decides how primaries are run? It’s all up to the parties at the state level. Political parties can even decide not to hold a primary. This year, five states have decided not to hold Republican presidential primaries and caucuses, a move designed to stop Donald Trump’s long-shot primary challengers. Can state laws override party decisions? No. In 1981, the Supreme Court held that the Democratic Party wasn’t required to admit Wisconsin delegates to its national convention since they hadn’t been selected in accordance with Democratic Party rules. The court said that a political party is protected by the First Amendment to come up with its own rules. Why  did we start holding primaries? In the 19th century, the process for deciding on a party’s nominee was controlled by party bosses, who chose the delegates to the party conventions. In the early 20th century, some states began to hold primaries to choose delegates for party nominating conventions. Although the outcomes of those primaries weren’t binding, they sent a message about how a candidate might do in a general election. In 1960, for example, John F. Kennedy’s victory in the West Virginia primary [archival footage] was viewed by Democratic Party leaders as a strong sign that a Catholic like Kennedy could win the votes of Protestants. As recently as 1968, a candidate could still become the Democratic nominee without participating in any primaries, as Hubert Humphrey did that year. But since then, both parties have changed their rules so their presidential nominees depend on the outcomes of primaries and caucuses. They made these changes to better ensure their candidates would succeed in the general election. What’s the difference between a caucus and a primary?States that hold primaries allow voters to cast secret ballots in support of candidates. States that hold caucuses rely instead on local in-person gatherings at a particular time and place – maybe in a high school gym or a library – where voters who turn up openly decide which candidates to support. Here are the states that will have Democratic primaries in 2020 and those that will have caucuses: Iowa, Nevada, Kansas, North Dakota, Wyoming, and Maine.What’s the advantage of one over the other?Primaries are the easiest way to vote.

    • Censorship/Free Speech

      • Time Magazine Explains Why Section 230 Is So Vital To Protecting Free Speech

        For years now, we’ve been highlighting just how bad various mainstream media publications have been in discussing Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Therefore, it’s a bit of a pleasant surprise to find out that Time Magazine has published an excellent explainer by David French, a lawyer who has been a long time free speech supporter. At the very least, this new article makes up for an earlier Time article that appears (like so many) to confuse Section 230 with the 1st Amendment in terms of what enables the posting of disinformation online.

      • Home Owners Association Threatens Residents With Lawsuit For Online Criticism

        The fights involving Home Owners Associations (HOAs) are so legendary and stereotyped that they’ve even been a minor plot point in Seinfeld. The general stereotype is that HOAs involve insane political power struggles, significantly out of proportion to the actual issues at hand. It is often an example of Sayre’s law, in that the stakes are so little, yet the disputes are much more vicious and out of control than elsewhere. I’m thankful I don’t live in a place with an HOA, but for many years I did (as a renter, not an owner) and remember receiving a long (7 pages typed, I believe) letter from an owner complaining about HOA battles and claiming that he was afraid to go to the next HOA meeting for fear of being shot by another HOA member, and going on and on about threats of violence.

      • The Growing Threat to Free Speech Online

        There are times when vitally important stories lurk behind the headlines. Yes, impeachment is historic and worth significant coverage, but it’s not the only important story. The recent threat of war with Iran merited every second of intense world interest. But what if I told you that as we lurch from crisis to crisis there is a slow-building, bipartisan movement to engage in one of most significant acts of censorship in modern American history? What if I told you that our contemporary hostility against Big Tech may cause our nation to blunder into changing the nature of the internet to enhance the power of the elite at the expense of ordinary Americans?

        [...]

        Taken together, the two rulings put online providers in a difficult dilemma. Let everything in and your service would be quickly swamped with the worst, most vile forms of expression. But if you imposed even modest controls on user content, then you’d be liable for their words. Internet companies were on the verge of being forced to make a stark choice – dive into the sewer or dive into censorship..

        So, Congress acted. In 1996, it passed Section 230. The law did two things. First, it declared that “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.” In plain English, this means that my comments on Twitter or Google or Yelp or the comments section of my favorite website are my comments, and my comments only.

        But Section 230 went farther, it also declared that an internet provider can “restrict access to or availability of material that the provider or user considers to be obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable” without being held liable for user content. This is what allows virtually all mainstream social media companies to remove obscene or pornographic content. This allows websites to take down racial slurs – all without suddenly also becoming liable for all the rest of their users’ speech.

        It’s difficult to overstate how important this law is for the free speech of ordinary Americans. For 24 years we’ve taken for granted our ability to post our thoughts and arguments about movies, music, restaurants, religions, and politicians. While different sites have different rules and boundaries, the overall breadth of free speech has been extraordinary.

        As it always has through human history, free speech has been used for good and ill. Anti-vaccination activists abuse liberty by spreading medical misinformation online. Social media bullies have named and shamed even private citizens for often trivial offenses. But on balance, free speech is a great gift to American culture. As the courageous abolitionist Frederick Douglass declared in 1860, free speech is the “dread of tyrants.” It is the “great moral renovator of society and government.” The freedom to speak has been at the foundation of America’s most potent social movements.

    • Freedom of Information / Freedom of the Press

      • Former officers who searched ‘Meduza’ journalist Ivan Golunov arrested, may face drug possession and evidence falsification charges

        Five former Moscow police officers have been arrested in connection with the case of Meduza special correspondent Ivan Golunov. According to Russia’s Investigative Committee, the officers are Denis Konovalov, Akbar Sergaliev, Roman Feofanov, Maxim Umetbayev, and Igor Lyakhovets, a list that corresponds with earlier reporting from TASS and Kommersant. TASS initially claimed that Andrey Shchirov, the drug control chief for Moscow’s Western Administrative District and the former boss of all five officers, had also been arrested, but the Investigative Committee later clarified that he has been classified as a witness rather than a suspect (though his status may change over time). The five arrested officers will soon be indicted.

      • “Assange, Snowden, Manning and Harrison are the resistance fighters of the 21st century”

        The International and European Federations of Journalists (IFJ and EFJ) joined the two Belgian civil society organisations, Carta Academica and Belgium4Assange, in two public actions organised in Brussels to defend freedom of expression, freedom of the press and our right to know in general, and Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning, Sarah Harrison and Edward Snowden in particular.

        Over 120 personalities, artists, activists and journalists and a dozen organisations, including the International and European Federations of Journalists (IFJ and EFJ), signed a joint petition to the Belgian authorities to urge action on Julian Assange’s case. The text asks the Belgian government to recognise Julian Assange as a political prisoner, send observers to his trial, grant him international protection and do its utmost to impede his extradition to the US.

        “This text calls on the Belgian government to recognise Julian Assange as a political prisoner, to send observers to his trial, to grant him international protection and to do everything possible to prevent his extradition to the United States,” said Vincent Engel, representative of Carta Academica, at the Palais des Académies.

        The event also served as a ceremony to grant an Academic Honoris Causa title to four whistleblowers for their contributions to citizens’ right to know by denouncing crimes and state secrets. This honorary title was granted to Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden, Sarah Harisson and Julian Assange, whose father, John Shipton received it on his behalf.

        “We are receiving lots of support from all over the world, also in Europe. Recently, the Council of Europe voted unanimously against Julian’s extradition and calling for his immediate release. All these actions are very important. Thank you all for all the efforts you are doing, especially to the IFJ”, John Shipton said after receiving the title.

    • Civil Rights/Policing

      • Glenn Greenwald and David Miranda on Bolsonaro’s Far-Right Movement in Brazil: ‘We Intend to Fight This Repression, Not Flee From It’

        The Rio de Janeiro-based couple, an American journalist and Brazilian congressman, detail the attacks they have endured over the past year.

      • A Step Forward for 10,000 Rohingya Refugee Children

        Bangladesh will allow 10,000 ethnic Rohingya refugee children to get a formal school curriculum for the first time after the government approved a “pilot” education program.

        It’s a step in the right direction, but also an urgent reminder of how far there is to go until all refugee children can get a real education.

      • French Police to Stop Using Explosive Tear Gas Grenades

        This week, France’s Interior Minister Christophe Castaner announced that French police would stop using the controversial GLI-F4 tear gas grenade. This move is long overdue, but doesn’t address serious concerns about other weapons French police still use to control crowds.

        In December 2018, Human Rights Watch documented injuries caused by police weapons during France’s “yellow vest” mobilizations and unrelated student protests, including people whose limbs were burned and maimed by presumed use of GLI-F4 instant tear gas grenades, which carry 25g of high explosive. The report also documented cases in which people were shot and injured by rubber ball-shaped projectiles (known as “flashballs,” based on one manufacturer’s trademark), and disproportionate use of chemical spray and “stingball” riot-control grenades. Amnesty International documented similar violations and the French human rights ombudsman has repeatedly called for an end to use of or revised guidelines for the use of some of these weapons.

      • Welcome New Monitoring for Poland

        Yesterday, one of Europe’s top human rights bodies voted to bring Poland under its monitoring mechanism. It’s the first time in over two decades that the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), composed of parliamentarians from all 49 member countries, has taken such a step against an European Union member state.

        It is a welcome move and a clear rebuke for the Polish government’s years of undermining rule of law.

      • Tunisia: Halt Prosecution of Prominent Activist
      • Sex Offenders Were Becoming Cops. After Our Stories, Alaska’s Governor Wants That To End.

        Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy is proposing changes to state law that would improve police hiring standards and oversight after some villages hired police officers that were sex offenders or had been convicted of domestic violence.

        The proposed legislation, introduced Monday, is intended to deter communities from appointing unqualified people as VPOs and to deter people with certain convictions from applying for the jobs, Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Megan Peters said.

      • Meet The Cops: Inside Donald Trump’s New Commission On Policing

        Attorney General William Barr swore in 18 members of a White House commission on policing.

        Comprised entirely of law enforcement officials, the commission claims it will study how to “make American law enforcement the most trusted and effective guardians of our communities.”

      • U.S. Supreme Court lets hardline Trump immigration policy take effect

        The justices, on a 5-4 vote, granted the administration’s request to lift a lower court’s injunction that had blocked the so-called public charge policy while litigation over its legality continues. The rule has been criticized by immigrant rights advocates as a “wealth test” that would disproportionately keep out non-white immigrants.

      • Michigan plans to overhaul its jail system

        That is good for nobody. Crowded jails are a financial burden for counties. It cost $478m to run Michigan’s in 2017. Pew researchers point to evidence that people jailed or imprisoned, even briefly, are far likelier to be rearrested within two years than others who pass through the justice system but are not locked up.

        If America is to put fewer people behind bars, the priority will be fixing its jails. Several states are trying. Starting this month, New York no longer demands cash bail from those arrested for minor, non-violent crimes. New Jersey ended cash bail in 2017 and has seen its jail population shrink, even as crime rates continue to fall.

        Now it is Michigan’s turn. After holding public hearings and gathering expert testimony across the state in the past year, a task force on jail reform published 18 policy recommendations for legislators on January 14th. These include spending more on mental-health care, reclassifying many of the 1,900 misdemeanour offences as civil infractions, changing rules on cash bail and promoting more non-custodial sentences for minor crimes.

      • How These Jail Officials Profit From Selling E-Cigarettes to Inmates

        A Kentucky river city once rich in tobacco was grappling with growing concerns about the health risks of electronic cigarettes.

        The former governor had already banned e-cigarettes in some state buildings, and lawmakers had prohibited selling them to anyone younger than 18.

      • All Three R. Kelly Lawyers Are Abandoning His Case

        Singer R. Kelly’s defense in a civil sexual assault case may be falling apart. Tuesday, a judge granted a motion filed by R. Kelly lawyers to withdraw from the case.

      • Vladimir Putin pardons Naama Issachar, whose prosecution on drug charges shook Russian-Israeli relations

        Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed an order pardoning Israeli citizen Naama Issachar, who was convicted on drug possession and contraband charges. Issachar was in Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport on a layover between Delhi and Tel Aviv when a dog found 9.6 grams of hashish in her checked luggage, to which she did not have access at the time.

    • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

      • Verizon’s 5G Superbowl Ads Will Hype Nonexistent Firefighter Tech And A Barely Available Network

        Speaking of over-hyping 5G: Verizon is planning to unload a significant mountain of 5G hype at the upcoming Superbowl, both via ads that will air during the game, but also with a deployment in the stadium itself. The company, still clearly sensitive to having been caught throttling and upselling firefighters during a recent historic California wildfire, is hoping to make its breathless adoration of firefighters a cornerstone of the ad campaign. Speaking to Ad Age, the company says its new ads will showcase 5G firefighter tech that doesn’t actually exist:

    • Monopolies

      • Patents

        • Design Patents Are Useless. So Why Are They Getting a Boost in DC?

          When we talk about patents, we’re usually talking about “utility” patents. Utility patents protect inventions that claim to have some practical application or use. (A lot of them still claim things that are actually useless, but they’re supposed to be potentially useful.)

          “Design” patents, by contrast, protect only the ornamental or decorative aspects of a design. They don’t protect any kind of functionality. If there’s a functional work to protect, only a utility patent will do.

        • Software Patents

      • Copyrights

        • CC Launches the Global Search for Its Next Chief Executive Officer

          The timing could not be more exciting for CC. We will welcome our next CEO as we prepare to enter our third decade as the global standard for sharing works of knowledge and creativity.

        • Kim Dotcom Domain Dispute Settled, Next Up: Supreme Court Extradition Ruling

          After falling into third-party hands, the main domain of Kim Dotcom’s K.im project has been returned following a settlement agreement. While this progress is being welcomed by the Megaupload founder, even more serious matters lie on the horizon. Will the New Zealand Supreme Court decide against extradition to the US? Dotcom predicts that while close, the judgment will not go in his favor.

        • Promoting Pirate Apps Lands US Phone Store in Court, Again

          The company behind the movie Hunter Killer has filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Verizon retailer Victra. According to the complaint, employees of the phone store promoted the use of pirate apps including Popcorn Time and Showbox. This case follows a similar lawsuit against the shop from two other movie companies, which was quietly settled in 2018.

        • Juice WRLD Reportedly Left Behind 2,000 Unreleased Songs

          According to sources, Juice WRLD left behind a vast library of unreleased work — somewhere in the vicinity of 2,000 songs.

        • CBS Gets Angry Joe’s YouTube Review Of ‘Picard’ Taken Down For Using 26 Seconds Of The Show’s Trailer

          Joe Vargas, who makes the fantastic The Angry Joe Show on YouTube, isn’t a complete stranger to Techdirt’s pages. You may recall that this angry reviewer of all things pop culture swore off doing reviews of Nintendo products a while back after Nintendo prevented Vargas from monetizing a review of a a game. The whole episode highlighted just how out of touch companies like Nintendo can be with this sort of thing, given how many younger folks rely on reviews like Vargas’ to determine where they spend their gaming dollars. Coupled with the argument that these commentary and review videos ought to constitute use of footage as fair use and it’s hard to see why any of this was worth it to Nintendo.

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