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03.19.20

You May Never Find a Better Time Than Now to Start a Freedom Lab

Posted in Free/Libre Software at 10:32 pm by Guest Editorial Team

Article by figosdev

A computer lab

A freedom lab establishes a project or (typically small) group of people, similar to an organisation, devoted to research or a task related to software freedom.

It can be about promoting, improving, documenting or designing Free software. It can be about studying aspects of the community or about activism. It can be political, such as promoting Free software from an anti-capitalist software; or apolitical, such as an umbrella organisation designed to help coordinate different groups.

Cooperation between labs is ad-hoc and voluntary, though the Freelabs Federation is one organisation (you can create others) that can assist other labs — yours could as well. There aren’t by-laws for collaboration, leaving that up to each lab to make their own decisions in this regard, but the thrive guidelines are still recommended as a place to start.

These voluntary guidelines are more about working together despite differences than they are about conformity or “conduct” and are simply suggestions for making things easier.

It’s worth pointing out that if you feel passionate about a Free software (or free culture) related cause, you are encouraged to pursue it via such a lab. Be sure to let us know about your work; freedom labs do not need to exist in social isolation. One of the overarching purposes of these labs is to create more nodes for software freedom as a federated network. This is “federation” in an ad-hoc sense, and does not refer to a single mode of communication or a particular protocol. This is a grassroots effort; a community of communities that is harder to knock down, take over with corporate interference, or pay off.

But since it is still a fairly new idea, some “seed ideas” to get started are recommended here.

A Lab to Develop New Ideas for Labs

Might as well start with recursion; if your only interest is in ideas, a simple lab like this could help people collaborate on more ideas for labs. There is no rule that a lab has to be single-purpose, even if it has an area of focus. This article is about ideas for labs, but who knows was such a group could come up with?

A Free Software Watchdog Lab

Techrights calls its feed the “Free software Sentry” — it has no monopoly on the concept, and has welcomed collaboration from other groups, such as the now defunct Free Media Alliance, the Free software Fellowship and Debian.community. When these groups work together, it is without any formal ties. What ties together these groups is simply a common interest in Free software.

Personally, if we are to become even partly independent of the largest Free software groups, it’s my opinion that the Free software Definition is something that governs what we do. Of course it’s only my opinion, but I don’t wish to redefine Free software. I do think the definition could benefit from a fifth freedom, though I also think everybody should be very careful and even wary of such an effort (even my own.) I consider the FSD akin to a constitution for the Free software movement, and nothing to take more lightly than that. There is no way to enforce this, but if you feel similarly, the thrive guidelines do provide suggestions on how you can collaborate with groups without abandoning your own principles.

Note that joining an existing freedom lab is also meant to be an option, though starting one can be as simple as having one or two people spending time on an issue, and documenting their ideas, efforts and outcomes.

Freeing Projects from Gitjail

This is a major crisis in our community, and someone who argues that it’s the worst thing happening to Free software right now may not be exaggerating. I can certainly think of other Free software crises that vie for that ranking.

If you have ideas for how to liberate Free software from Github — please, please either start a lab or keep talking about your ideas. At least send an article to Techrights about it (it will go a little farther if the article is under a free licence. Techrights makes extensive use of CC By 3.0 for example.)

Increasing Free Speech for Free Software

We are also in the middle of a cancel crisis, and the freedom lab movement is in part a response to that. But it isn’t only about free speech, it is about partial autonomy. Joining the freedom lab movement does not require abandoning any other project or organisation.

If you have other ideas about standing up for “Free as in Speech”, please consider this.

Web Browser Alternatives

Not just alternative Web browsers! I wrote recently (and really for years now) about how much I loathe what the Web browser has turned into. Blame the Web — blame the companies responsible for giving it the scope it has.

If you’re happy with the state of the browser, this probably won’t interest you at all. If you’re not, let’s talk about how we could make more alternatives to Web browsing. This would involve creating interesting tools, whether they use HTTP/HTML or gopher or something closer to gopher than HTML5 — they can be multipurpose, but so was the Web before it got “too corporate.”

Nobody believes this is going to kill the Web. But some of us have grown to loathe it, so at least this would give us some things to try (just like some of us already think gopher is “kind of cool”) and even if some things required (or even offered) JavaScript functionality, these tools may or may not — and would not have to. As far as Free software, the Web is sort of dead-ish anyway. DRM is now part of the Web standard, rendering the standard “worthless” and subjugated. How do you think that’s going to get fixed? Clearly we need more ideas.

Free software and Anti-Capitalism

I am primarily anti-monopoly, and don’t consider myself anti-capitalist. However, this is an important movement that already associates with Free software through certain people. I have encouraged the formation of an organisation — or at least a broad project — which promotes Free software specifically for and by anti-capitalists. I think this would be positive for Free software, but more to the point — it’s the right of anti-capitalists to create their own Free software organisation if they think it’s a good idea.

Some people might wonder what the point of such an organisation would be. Personally, I think if this group existed, it could provide a multitude of useful ideas, some of which would not only help anti-capitalists. But it would also be a community where anti-capitalists could freely and openly discuss their politics in relation to Free software, and this would not prevent anybody else from joining the Free software movement, though it might help draw more anti-capitalists into Free software.

The Freedom NOT to Run the Software

UNIX at least, and by extension GNU/Linux, already had modularity as a “feature” when Richard Stallman decided to start the GNU Project.

Free software has always benefit from modularity, in terms of autonomy, ease of development and benefits (and relative freedom) for users.

Though it is a matter of debate and discussion, there are people (including myself) who have spent years advocating for more modularity, who also argue that as software has gotten less modular and gained “gratuitously interdependency” we have actually lost a degree of autonomy, ease of development and (relative) freedom for users. A lab (even mostly) devoted to this idea could help save Free software from full corporate takeover.

For Free Software Users

While it isn’t possible to make developers do anything at all, that’s no reason that people can’t advocate for users more. The fact that many developers are volunteers (some are even paid by corporations) doesn’t change the right of users to speak up about what they want, but lately a lot of organsations have floated or stood by the idea that users should just shut up or do everything themselves. Code or GTFO?

Adding to the disingenuous nature of this idea is when people do volunteer to make something work better for users, they are often told they’re holding up development or just interfering. So the idea that users need advocacy is probably more true than ever.

Note that advocacy need not the sole purpose — strategy and coding (and education) are all possible aspects of such a group. This idea for a lab was offered to me with the possibility of me being president of such an organisation. I declined, but I support the idea and might lend a hand to such an effort, without leading it.

Transforming the Distro Concept

A distro is hardly a bad thing itself. But in the hands of a co-opted organisation (apparently several!) the distro can be a tool for bundling software in a way that gradually diminishes software freedom. This is certainly related to modularity. So how can the distro be transformed into something more freedom respecting?

I know very well that distros are not all the same, and a one-size-fits-all solution to this problem isn’t the answer. Even if it WERE one-size-fits-all, we want a solution that itself is easier to fork than a distro — otherwise, it simply puts the same problem (difficulty forking) onto another level. How to create solutions to non-forkablity that don’t result in “now you have two problems” is a fun problem to try to solve (a challenge) and one I worked on from at least 2016 to 2018.

I would likely be inclined to assist such an effort. Of course if people would rather “steal” my ideas about that and set off on their own with them, then by all means, Steal This Idea!

I am no fan of systemd and the goal is not to create conformity but to make it easier for SMALLER groups of people to “take over” their own distribution, starting with someone else’s. (Forking.) Distros are becoming more unwieldy, and far from wanting every distro to be the same, I would rather make it easier for people to enjoy freedom. So easy to fork tools to make it easier for more people (not just large corporate cults like /Debian II: Doing It All For The G-Money/) to take software in the direction that matters to them — to me, this is what software freedom is about.

The distro can be a tool for freedom (it has helped in the past) or for package deals and lock-in. Help us strategise code against the corporate monopolist paradigm.

Your Ideas

Your lab is about your ideas. Even if you start with these (even if you don’t) greater autonomy is likely necessary to keep the Free software movement alive.

What we aren’t doing is asking people to abandon Free software. We are asking people to defend it. A few more lifeboats on hand would not be a bad thing. We live in a world where the conventions of everyday life have proven themselves dangerously inadequate.

I have long believed that greater freedom means greater opportunity. Here is yours. If not now, when? If you find yourself bored with streaming videos and eating takeout (the new norm?) Here’s a great excuse for more people to connect — no matter how corporate culture tries to act as our gatekeepers. Organisations rarely bite the hand that feeds them! As long as that hand is big and corporate enough, and doesn’t belong to lowly users and independent developers…

Long live Stallman, and Happy Hacking!

Licence: Creative Commons CC0 1.0 (public domain)

What Diplomatic Immunity Means to Bundesverfassungsgericht

Posted in Europe, Patents at 3:35 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

You broke the law. What do you mean I broke the law? I have diplomatic immunity!

Summary: The European Patent Office (EPO) isn’t accustomed to accountability; what will António Campinos tell his boss tomorrow?

Germany’s FCC and Its Decision on UPC May Not Matter Much Anymore (and the Government in Berlin Knows That) (Updated)

Posted in Courtroom, Europe, Patents at 3:22 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Update (20/3/2020): The decision is now online in German and in English. Thank you, Justice Huber, for doing the right thing in the face of great pressure if not harassment from the litigation ‘industry’.

Tomorrow morning we’ll know the (in some sense) irrelevant outcome

UPC lobbying budget:
UPC lobbying budget - Can't say if dead or dead - It's dead, Jim - I need to change profession

Summary: Tomorrow morning the Federal Constitutional Court in Germany (Bundesverfassungsgericht) will publish a decision that leaves UPC as dead as it already is, based on last month’s declaration from the British government (among other key factors)

THREE years ago the corruption in EPOnia was still making headlines across Europe. It was only a year or two after the corruption had been culminating in all sorts of ways. We can count the ways, enumerating literally dozens of examples. We’ve written and published over 3,500 articles about the EPO alone.

“Anyway, legal issues aside, the EPO also fails on technical merits.”The EPO has not changed since; but it made use of some new PR strategy and put aside budget and lawyers for intimidation and bribery of the press. At one point it even sanctioned IP Kat (back when it was still run by decent people — sadly no longer the case due to staffing/editorial changes). IP Kat nowadays participates in the EPO’s abuses by means of censorship of EPO critics. It’s really that bad and rather blatant. They hope nobody will notice that, but people do notice…

Anyway, legal issues aside, the EPO also fails on technical merits. The official European Patent Office/Organisation’s (EPO) Web site suffered downtime issues this week (the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) had similar issues last year and two years ago — issues that some blamed on corruption, nepotism and incompetence. This week one USPTO whistleblower wrote: “Rec 100s complaints about the new CIO leadership. The CIO seems to be every where but at work. I guess the contractors are running the place. The Dep CIO is still failing as a leader, transferring old staff over to CIO to achieve even greater failure that got her trasferred”).

“Will they be OK with the EPO trying to seize control of the legal system too? Not likely. Not if they do their job properly.”We don’t wish to focus too much on the USPTO and every pertinent EPO abuse, including the corruption of the media, the bribery, the fake job ads and so on. Let’s just say that the Justices at the FCC are certainly aware of many of these things. They’ve had years to familiarise themselves, as they’re dealing with numerous (perhaps half a dozen) complaints about the Office. They’ve been observing the abuses against EPO judges, not to mention all sorts of corruption such as nepotism (the legal system is extremely sensitive to such bad publicity).

Will they be OK with the EPO trying to seize control of the legal system too? Not likely. Not if they do their job properly.

One can count on the overzealous among Team UPC to act as though the UPC is about to start. Bristows’ Gregory Bacon (some of his UPC boosting colleagues left the firm) said some nonsense and around the same time “Kluwer Patent blogger” (probably the same firm hiding itself and suppressing its opposition, as usual) wrote: “”We await to see what the significance might be that the decision will be issued by the Senate rather than Chambers”, Bristows writes in an article published earlier today.”

Citing oneself, Bristows?

Anyway, one big blow was served last Friday but was "lost in Corona" (“Dutch Court Rules That Seat Agreement Signed Between the EPO and the Dutch Government Violates Article 45 TFEU”), so will this Friday bring another blow?

“This UPC decision may be already moot,” I told Henrion (FFII) some hours ago, “because the UK is not participating in the process, which means UPCA cannot go on (as Berlin confirmed months ago)” (this is a matter of public record in newspapers as well).

“I personally do not share this kind of enthusiasm because the UPC is already dead anyway.”The court says: “Generally, this information will be announced three days prior to publication. On the day of their respective publication, the decisions will normally be available on the website of the Federal Constitutional Court as of 9:30 a.m. and are sent via newsletter simultaneously.”

That’s 8:30 AM British time.

Citing Stjerna's latest paper, Henrion noted that “Nokia and BASF [are] writing UPC court fees so that SMEs cannot participate” and added that: “If the FCC dismiss the complaint on Friday, FFII eV will file a second one. [] If the German Constitutional Court kills the Unitary Patent on Friday, I will do a virtual party on Jitsi. Bring something to drink!”

I personally do not share this kind of enthusiasm because the UPC is already dead anyway. “There are strong grounds to throw out the UPCA, not the complaints, for good,” I told him. “It’s the product of a litigation ‘industry’ coup, designed to corrupt the system and break the underlying laws for profit. Unitary Patent already died last month here in the UK. Another German nail in the French coffin would help thwart future attempts by ‘Team UPC’.”

“They look to discredit the decision in case it doesn’t go their way.”Henrion took note of “UPCtracker” Thomas Adam, who insults the court and the Justice. He wrote: “#UPC re: decision of DE Constitutional Ct to be published on Fr., March 20, 2020. Not an expert in constitutional procedural law, so following observations should be taken w a grain of salt. The form of announcement indicates that the decision will be one by the full Senate (8 judges) as compared to a 3-judges/chamber decision (the latter being competent to deny acceptance of the complaint, sec. 93b of the Act on the Fed. Constitutional Ct., but – of relevance here – not competent to declare an Act of parliament as unconstitutional; sec. 93c(1) 3rd sentence); a chamber decision wd have been surprising this late in the game but it appears that the case was never formally admitted by the Senate; having said that, a Verfassungsbeschwerde must be admitted in order to be decided, sec. 93a but can happen implicitly). In case of a draw (4:4), complaint is denied. Dispensing with oral hearing would be due to parties involved waiving such right, sec. 25(1). So form of decision (by way of “Beschluss”) not prejudicial for outcome. Dissenting opinions are possible.”

So they proactively moan about the decision. They look to discredit the decision in case it doesn’t go their way.

“In case the case is not refered [sic] to the CJEU,” Henrion told him, “FCC will breach its obligations.”

Separately he had said “UPC FCC decision to be published this Friday [...] If the court does not refer the matter to the CJEU, this will be a big fault by the FCC.”

“We understand that the decision is already written and ready to be published, but regardless of its conclusion the outcome will be the same.”My gut feeling tells me nobody will really pay attention tomorrow, due to the pandemic. We recently exposed profound EPO corruption and German journalists said they would not be covering it because of coronavirus. They actually said that.

The Team UPC troll/sockpuppet in Twitter (intended to lobby and ‘harass’ the FCC) said: “No. But heralded for tomorrow, Fr., at 9:30 am CET (though Court runs on limited capacity due to COVID-19).”

Well, the decision won’t matter for UPC’s fate or even for software patents in Europe. It is in many ways moot before its arrival.

We understand that the decision is already written and ready to be published, but regardless of its conclusion the outcome will be the same. No doubt Team UPC will shout from rooftops tomorrow morning, either in ‘damage limitation’ attempts (distorting the meaning of the outcome) or celebrations over nothing of real substance, merely resulting in yet more complaints and inaction from the German government.

WSLconf in a Meme

Posted in Microsoft, Ubuntu, Vista 10 at 12:32 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Canonical and Microsoft

Summary: How to saturate news about “Linux” with fluff about Vista 10 for a week if not longer

Links 19/3/2020: New LibreOffice, Librem Mini and System76 Keyboard

Posted in News Roundup at 11:58 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • GNU/Linux

    • Best Chromebooks for Linux in 2020

      Chromebooks tick a lot of boxes: they’re affordable, portable, and have enough processing power for all basic tasks, such as web browsing or document editing. Some even come with high-end hardware components capable of meeting the needs of software developers and other professionals.

      Last year, at Google I/O in Mountain View, Google announced its intention to ship all future Chromebooks with Linux support right out of the box, making it possible for users to run just about any popular Linux distribution in a container, in parallel with Chrome OS.

      There’s also GalliumOS, a fast and lightweight Linux distro for Chromebooks built on top of Xubuntu to provide a fully functional desktop. It integrates Google’s mouse driver to offer a touchpad experience similar to Chrome OS and features multiple Optimizations that improve responsiveness and eliminate system stalls.

      As you can see, Chromebooks have a lot to offer to Linux users—not to mention their ability to run Android apps. To help you spend your money wisely, we’ve compared dozens of popular Chromebooks, and here’s our list of the best Chromebooks for Linux in 2020.

    • Upcoming Chrome and Chrome OS releases

      Due to adjusted work schedules at this time, we are pausing upcoming Chrome and Chrome OS releases. Our primary objectives are to ensure they continue to be stable, secure, and work reliably for anyone who depends on them. We’ll continue to prioritize any updates related to security, which will be included in Chrome 80. Please, follow this blog for updates.

    • Google Discontinues Chrome And Chrome OS Releases

      There seems to be the slightest change in the release date of Chrome and Chrome OS. As reported by Google, They are pausing Chrome and Chrome OS release due to adjusted work schedules.

    • COVID19: Google suspends upcoming Chrome, Chrome OS releases

      In view of the ongoing developments with novel coronavirus outbreak, Google on Wednesday said it has paused upcoming releases for Chrome and Chrome OS to ensure it continues to be stable, secure, and work reliably for all.

      “Due to adjusted work schedules at this time, we are pausing upcoming Chrome and Chrome OS releases. Our primary objectives are to ensure they continue to be stable, secure and work reliably for anyone who depends on them. We’ll continue to prioritize any updates related to security, which will be included in Chrome 80,” Google Chrome wrote in a blog post.

    • Desktop/Laptop

      • 7 Features Linux Should Borrow From Mac, Amiga, Haiku

        Linux (or, GNU/Linux, if you prefer) distributions are absolutely amazing. Stability, speed, flexibility; Your average Linux-based system is a veritable powerhouse of functionality – a tour de force of what computers can accomplish. But, from time to time, other operating systems have some pretty great ideas. Here are 7 of my personal favorites that our favorite Linux distributions might want to consider… “borrowing”. Hint hint.

      • Raspberry Pi 4: Chronicling the Desktop Experience – File Management – Week 21

        This is a weekly blog about the Raspberry Pi 4 (“RPI4”), the latest product in the popular Raspberry Pi range of computers.

        One area I’ve not covered to date is utility software. Nestling in the Raspbian repositories are a ton of utilities from the essential to the wacky. File management is definitely a routine but important activity for any desktop user. Recognizing that file management software is deeply personal (causing almost as many conflicts as text editors), I’ve looked at a good spectrum of file managers this week.

        There’s good and bad news. Raspbian repositories host packages for lots of high quality open source file managers, including both graphical and console based software. Sadly, you often don’t get the latest stable release.

      • Announcing the Purism Librem Mini

        Our small form-factor mini-PC that puts freedom, privacy and security first. We’re really excited about the Librem Mini, it’s a device our community have wanted and we’ve wanted to offer for some time.

        The Librem Mini is accessible, small, light and powerful featuring a new 8th gen quad core i7 processor, up to 64 GB of fast DDR4 memory and 4k 60 fps video playback. It’s a desktop for your home or office, a media center for your entertainment, or an expandable home server for your files and applications.

      • Everything You Need to Know About the Purism Librem Mini Linux PC

        Purism, a company that has already impressed with its Librem lineup of devices, is ready to enter the mini-PC fight with a new device called Librem Mini and supposed to offer all the benefits of its other products but packed in a smaller form factor.

        So today, we’ll be providing you with a closer look at Librem Mini in a way that could help you decide whether it’s worth the money or not.

      • Purism Librem Mini is a privacy-focused Linux mini PC

        It seems that we have gotten past the obsession with dongles that gave rise to small HDMI PC sticks. Thanks to the popularity of set-top and smart TV boxes as well as the revival of the Mac Mini, we’re back to being fascinated with small boxes that act as full-blown desktops, sans the discrete graphics card. Comparing Purism’s latest product to the Apple Mac Mini probably isn’t too far-fetched but the Librem Mini does have the advantage not only in power but in the promise of control, security, and privacy.

      • Forget the Apple Mac Mini, the Purism Librem Mini Linux Mini-PC Is Now Official

        The Librem Mini is first and foremost a device that’s supposed to come with all the benefits of the Librem lineup of computers in a smaller form factor, so it still runs PureOS with Pureboot and Librem Key support.

        It can be used as a stand-alone desktop computers “to protect your family and business,” as the parent company itself says, but it can also play the role of a media center as it offers smooth 4K video at 60 fps. And of course, it can also be a mini server with full disk encryption and tamper detection.

      • Purism Librem Mini Linux mini PC launches from $699

        Purism has launched the new Linux mini PC this week with prices starting from $699 for a system equipped with an 8th-gen Intel Core i7-8565U Whiskey Lake processor. Immediate PC measures approximately 5 x 5 x 1.5 inches in size and comes preloaded with a GNU/Linux-based PureOS software, Pureboot bootloader, and support for the company’s Librem Key security key.

        Connectivity on the Linux PC include HDMI 2.0, DisplayPort 1.2, 4 x USB 3.0 Type-A, 2 x USB 2.0 Type-A, 1 x USB 3.1 Type-C, 3.5mm audio combo jack, Gigabit Ethernet and optional wireless module (802.11n + Bluetooth 4.0).

      • Purism Librem Mini: A Privacy-First Linux-Based Mini PC

        Purism flaunts itself as “Social Purpose Company” aiming to do good for society and they have several services and products to offer in this regard.

        While you might be aware of its Librem series of Linux laptops, Librem One (encrypted services), PureOS Linux, and the Librem 5 Linux smartphone. Now, they have come up with a small-factor mini PC targeted at the users who want to take control of their privacy and security.

      • The Purism Librem Mini is a FOSS-Focused Linux PC

        The Purism Librem Mini is a small form factor PC powered by an 8th Gen Intel Core i7 processor. And, as you’d expect from this company, the uni runs Linux out of the box.

        “Smaller than a Mac Mini, slightly bigger than a Raspberry Pi. More freedom, more privacy, more security,” Purism says of the device.

        The minimal footprint of the fan-cooled Librem Mini should mean it works well as a desktop PC, but also as a media centre and entertainment hub or even a home server.

      • Purism Unveils Librem Mini, Its First Linux-Powered Mini PC

        Built with the same security and privacy standards Purism is known for, the Librem Mini promises a smaller and versatile alternative to a desktop computer, but you can also use it as a set-top TV box or powerful home server.

        Featuring a beautiful and modern design, the device uses Purism’s PureBoot secured boot process, PureOS Linux-based operating system, Heads secure BIOS replacement, and support for the Librem Key security key to detect, disable and prevent device tampering.

      • Purism Mini Linux Mini PC is Powered by an Intel Core i7-8565U Whiskey Lake Processor

        Purism has been known for its Linux-based secure and privacy-focused laptops for years, and more recently they developed Librem 5 Linux smartphone with the same philosophy in mind.

        But now the company has introduced Purism Mini based on an Intel Core i7 Whiskey Lake processor with up to 64GB DDR4 RAM and running PureOS Linux distribution, and Coreboot based PureBoot bootloader that disables and neutralizes Intel Management Engine (IME).

      • Purism Librem Mini is a tiny Linux desktop

        Desktops have largely fallen out of favor with home consumers, as they instead opt for laptops. Really, it isn’t hard to see why this is — a desktop PC often takes up a lot of room in a home, as it usually requires its own dedicated desk. Not to mention, you then have to add a keyboard, mouse, and monitor. You are then tethered to one place, unable to realistically work outdoors or at a coffee shop.

        And yet, despite all the benefits a notebook has over a desktop, many people — including yours truly — prefers them. If you like the idea of a desktop, but prefer one that is very small (and won’t take up a lot of space), there are plenty of options such as Intel NUC and Apple Mac mini. Today, we get another diminutive desktop option, but this one is designed for Linux and privacy. Yes, Purism is finally launching a tiny desktop, and it will come pre-installed with the Debian-based PureOS. Called “Librem Mini,” the cute bugger has 4 USB-A ports on the front, along with a 3.5mm audio jack, and the power button. On the rear, there are two more USB-A ports, a single USB-C port, Ethernet, HDMI, DisplayPort, and the power port.

      • Privacy-focused Linux vendor Purism announces the stylish Librem Mini

        Purism aren’t a company we cover here often, as their devices aren’t usually gaming related. However, they did just announce a mini-PC that looks and sounds rather lovely called the Librem Mini.

        Sized at 12.8cm (5.0 inches) x 12.8cm (5.0 inches) x 3.8cm (1.5 inches) they say it’s smaller than a Mac Mini and not that much bigger than a Raspberry Pi. Powerful too with an 8th Gen Intel Core i7-8565U processor, up to 64 GB DDR4 RAM, Intel UHD Graphics 620, HDMI 2.0 and DisplayPort 1.2 which will both support 60Hz 4K, Gigabit Ethernet LAN and plenty of ports it’s a mighty sounding machine.

      • Linux PC Company System76 Is Pulling An Apple And Designing Its Own Keyboard

        The keyboard: it’s a daily tool that’s become ingrained in our work, our gaming and our communication. But the basic fundamentals of a PC keyboard haven’t changed substantially. Ergonomics have improved, the locations of specialty keys have been slightly tweaked, but for the most part PC users have adapted to the traditional layout of a keyboard, rather than the keyboard adapting to our workflows and various needs. Fresh off the announcement that it will design its own laptops in-house, Pop!_OS developer System76 is take the same approach with keyboards.

      • Linux hardware vendor System76 will have their own Keyboard out this year

        System76 do a lot of things, they’ve steadily grown to a point where they make their own desktops and now they’re expanding further into making more hardware.

        Now they’re going to have a go at making a keyboard. Not the fanciest of tech, sure, however it’s something we use constantly when at a PC and it’s obviously essential. It also hasn’t really changed much over the years, which System76 think they can do better.

        Since they’re a Linux hardware vendor, and they also make their own Linux distribution with Pop!_OS, it will of course all fit together nicely.

      • Meet The Innovative Linux OS That’s Easier To Use Than Windows 10 and MacOS

        As I approach my third year using it as my daily driver for working and playing, I’m still amazed at how frequently Linux surprises me. I approach Linux as an endless rabbit hole of new discoveries. Endless OS, then, is like an oversized amusement park full of intersecting rabbit holes and winding mazes of knowledge you’re happy to get lost in. I never envisioned having this much fun with a Linux operating system — any operating system — while completely disconnected from the lifeline we’ve become addicted to: internet connectivity.

      • Top 11 beautiful Linux Distros with best UI (User interface)

        Linux is the open platform, and you can choose the best distro by considering every single element of the distribution. Furthermore, you can also change a number of useful elements within your Linux distribution, which is yet another cool aspect of using a Linux distro. But, if your first priority of getting a Linux distribution with best and beautiful UI (user interface), there are a handful of Linux distributions that you can choose from. Depending upon what exactly you are looking for, you can get a Linux distribution that resembles the user interface of Windows and Mac, the two most popular proprietary operating systems in the market.

        But, there are also a number of Linux distributions that sport a completely different user interface, which most people also love. But at the core, every single distribution is running the Linux kernel, and thus, even if you switch from one distro to the other, you will always feel at home, as everything else, other than the user interface is the same. Instead of switching to a new distro altogether, you can also install another desktop environment and start enjoying a different flavour of Linux. But, I will talk about the top Linux distributions with the best user interfaces that you can start using now.

    • Server

      • The Linux Setup (Again) – Charles Profitt, System Administrator

        Charles reached out to me about doing another interview, which is something I’ve thought about for a while. You do an interview about your setup and it’s locked in time, when really your Linux set-up evolves. So I was happy to hear from him again, after our 2014 interview. He’s using Fedora and GNOME now, rather than Ubuntu and Unity, but as he mentions, his workflow hasn’t changed. Which is the beauty of Linux. The desktop and distro can change, but your workflow doesn’t have to.

      • Join SIG Scalability and Learn Kubernetes the Hard Way

        Contributing to SIG Scalability is a great way to learn Kubernetes in all its depth and breadth, and the team would love to have you join as a contributor. I took a look at the value of learning the hard way and interviewed the current SIG chairs to give you an idea of what contribution feels like.

      • Kong Ingress Controller and Service Mesh: Setting up Ingress to Istio on Kubernetes

        Kubernetes has become the de facto way to orchestrate containers and the services within services. But how do we give services outside our cluster access to what is within? Kubernetes comes with the Ingress API object that manages external access to services within a cluster.

        Ingress is a group of rules that will proxy inbound connections to endpoints defined by a backend. However, Kubernetes does not know what to do with Ingress resources without an Ingress controller, which is where an open source controller can come into play. In this post, we are going to use one option for this: the Kong Ingress Controller. The Kong Ingress Controller was open-sourced a year ago and recently reached one million downloads. In the recent 0.7 release, service mesh support was also added.

      • Kubernetes 1.18 release candidate available for testing

        The latest release of Kubernetes is now available for download and experimentation, with the MicroK8s Kubernetes 1.18 release candidate.

        The easiest, fastest way to get the latest Kubernetes is to install MicroK8s on your machine.

      • High Performance Computing in the Age of Coronavirus

        2020 has suddenly become the year of the coronavirus. In order to slow transmissions, save lives and dampen the economic impact of this frightful virus – governments, medical professionals, research institutes are racing around the clock to transform plans into action. Speed is key – that’s where high performance computing comes in.

        Here are a few profiles of organizations that are stepping up to the front lines of this new bio-war:

      • Stacking Up Arm Server Chips Against X86

        It is pretty clear at this point that there is going to be a global recession thanks to the coronavirus outbreak. Maybe it will be a V-shaped recession that falls fast and recovers almost as fast, and maybe it will be a sharp drop and a much more prolonged climb back to normalcy. As we have pointed out before, we think that IT technology transitions are accelerated by such trying times, and this could happen starting soon. There is no doubt that companies are going to be even more aggressive in measuring the performance per dollar and performance per watt on every piece of hardware that will still need to go into datacenters in the coming days, weeks, and months.

        As far as servers go, AMD, with its Epyc processors, is going to perhaps be the biggest beneficiary because it is the easiest drop-in replacement for the much more expensive Xeon SP processors from Intel. And while the Arm server chip upstarts, Ampere Computing and Marvell, were not planning for a global pandemic when they timed the launches of their chips on their roadmaps, they may be among the beneficiaries of the budget tightening that will no doubt start at most companies – if it hasn’t already. They would do well to get their chip samples ramped and products into the field as soon as possible.

        We have reviewed the upcoming “Quicksilver” Altra processor from Ampere Computing and its future roadmap two weeks ago and also reviewed the upcoming “Triton” ThunderX3 processor from Marvell and its future roadmap this week. And now we are going to go through the performance and price/performance competitive analysis that these two chip makers have done as they talk about their impending server chips.

    • Audiocasts/Shows

      • The Linux Link Tech Show Episode 849
      • Play Any PC Game on Any Device | Moonlight Project

        Play Any PC Game on Any Device | Moonlight Project Let’s go over how to play any PC Game (Fortnite, CoD:Warzone, PUBG, RDR2, etc.) on Linux, Mac, or even your TV. I am talking about GameStreaming with the Moonlight project and an nVidia based machine as the host. Here is the setup and sample gameplay.

      • 2020-03-18 | Linux Headlines

        GitHub goes mobile with new apps for Android and iOS, Vulkan has new ray tracing extensions, RiskSense reports on the most vulnerable web and application frameworks, System76 enters the keyboard market, and Google starts rolling out new labels for Chromebook-compatible accessories.

      • Layout the DVA | BSD Now 342

        OpenBSD Full disk encryption with coreboot and tianocore, FreeBSD 12.0 EOL, ZFS DVA layout, OpenBSD’s Go situation, AD updates requires changes in TrueNAS and FreeNAS, full name of FreeBSD’s root account, and more.

      • Solus + Visual Studio Code | Choose Linux 31

        We try out Solus and are all impressed by this independent distro. Then Ell and Drew sing the praises of Visual Studio Code – a text editor that’s packed full of features.

    • Kernel Space

      • Linux 5.5.10

        I’m announcing the release of the 5.5.10 kernel.

        All users of the 5.5 kernel series must upgrade.

        The updated 5.5.y git tree can be found at:
        git://git.kernel.org/pub/scm/linux/kernel/git/stable/linux-stable.git linux-5.5.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 5.4.26
      • Linux 4.19.111
      • Two new ways to read a file quickly

        System calls on Linux are relatively cheap, though the mitigations for speculative-execution vulnerabilities have made them more expensive than they once were. But even cheap system calls add up if one has to make a large number of them. Thus, developers have been working on ways to avoid system calls for a long time. Currently under discussion is a pair of ways to reduce the number of system calls required to read a file’s contents, one of which is rather simpler than the other.

      • Introducing b4 and patch attestation

        The tool started out as get-lore-mbox, but has now graduated into its own project called b4 — you can find it on git.kernel.org and pypi.

        To use it, all you need to know is the message-id of one of the patches in the thread you want to grab.

      • IO_uring Is Maturing Well On Linux For Faster & More Flexible I/O – Benchmarks On Linux 5.6

        Since its introduction in Linux 5.1, IO_uring has been coming together quite nicely and getting better with each new kernel release. IO_uring is the effort for delivering faster and more efficient I/O by avoiding excess copies and other efficiency improvements over the existing Linux AIO code. Here are some comparison benchmarks off Linux 5.6 Git.

        IO_uring has been maturing well with each new kernel release for new features, fixes, and further optimizations. Linux 5.6 seems to be in very good shape for IO_uring and we should see more adoption of this new Linux kernel interface this year. Particularly once Ubuntu 20.04 LTS ships with being a major long-term support release on a now-supported kernel that will hopefully spur the adoption. But there’s been work by RocksDB and other projects in exploring IO_uring for faster I/O potential.

      • NVMe SSD Systems May Boot Slightly Quicker With Linux 5.7

        Systems making use of NVMe solid-state storage may see slightly faster boot times with the Linux 5.7 kernel this summer.

        Intel’s Josh Triplett has been working recently on optimizing the Linux kernel boot performance. Earlier this month he posted a simple patch for Amazon’s EC2 cloud Linux network driver so it could then start ~90x faster.

        [...]

        Intel’s Clear Linux team has achieved boot times in as little as 300ms. Among the motivation for ensuring such speedy boot times are not only for desktop/laptop users but also use-cases like needing to have automobile cameras operational in a defined period of time or also for booting up new VMs in the cloud as quickly as possible in responding to changes in load.

      • Linux 5.7 Getting Driver To Deal With More Buggy & Funky Looking Mice

        Linux 5.7 continues the trend of the community taking up new drivers being created to support different peripherals under Linux that amount to dealing with quirky/buggy behavior of the hardware.

        Having new drivers mainly to deal with hardware quirks is particularly prevalent among HID devices and with time we’ve only been seeing more drivers come about, especially among gaming input devices as more gamers try out the likes of Steam on Linux.

      • MHI: Linux 5.7 Getting A New Bus From Qualcomm

        Linux 5.7 will support the MHI protocol developed by Qualcomm as part of the new kernel bus being introduced.

        Greg Kroah-Hartman has queued the MHI bus code into the char-misc’s “-next” Git branch ahead of the Linux 5.7 merge window opening up around the start of April.

      • Graphics Stack

        • mesa 20.0.2
          Hi list,
          
          I'd like to announce the availability of mesa 20.0.2. We've had a fairly busy
          cycle (outside of the release management metadata), and there's fixes all over
          the code base, but for the most part it was all no-fuss sort of fixes.
          
          Just a reminder that Eric Engestrom will be handling the release of 20.0.3.
          
          Dylan
          
          
          Git Short Log
          =============
          
          Andreas Baierl (1):
                gitlab-ci: Add add a set of lima flakes
          
          Bas Nieuwenhuizen (2):
                amd/llvm: Fix divergent descriptor indexing. (v3)
                amd/llvm: Fix divergent descriptor regressions with radeonsi.
          
          Danylo Piliaiev (2):
                glsl: do not crash if string literal is used outside of #include/#line
                st/mesa: Fix signed integer overflow when using util_throttle_memory_usage
          
          Dave Airlie (1):
                gallium: fix build with latest meson and gcc10
          
          Dylan Baker (11):
                docs: Add sha256sums for 20.0.1
                .pick_status.json: Update to 07f1ef5656e0721282d01a8421eaca056348137d
                .pick_status.json: Update to 70341d7746c177a4cd7377ef633e9f85afd11d54
                .pick_status.json: Update to 625d8705f02e211e2733c3fe12845505725c37d4
                .pick_status.json: Mark b83c9aca4a5fd02d920c90c1799137fed52dc1d9 as backported
                .pick_status.json: Update to ee9e0d1ecae307fa48200d2604d3114070253299
                .pick_status.json: Update to 3dd0d12aa5fefa94123269a541c94cdf57599e34
                .pick_status.json: Update to 94e37859a96cc56cf0c5418a5af00a3e9f5a1bf5
                Docs: Add release notes for 20.0.2
                VERSION: bump for 20.0.2 release
                docs/relnotes: Add sha256 sums for 20.0.2
          
          Eric Anholt (1):
                glsl/tests: Fix waiting for disk_cache_put() to finish.
          
          Eric Engestrom (7):
                bin/gen_release_notes.py: fix commit list command
                .pick_status.json: Update to 24db276d11976905b2e8a44965c684bb48c3d49f
                gen_release_notes: fix vulkan version reported
                docs/relnotes/20.0: fix vulkan version reported
                .pick_status.json: Update to ba03e308b66b0b88f60b99d9d47851a5e1522e6e
                vulkan/wsi: fix cleanup when dup() fails
                gen_release_notes: fix version in "you should wait" message
          
          Francisco Jerez (1):
                intel/fs: Fix workaround for VxH indirect addressing bug under control flow.
          
          Jason Ekstrand (9):
                isl: Set 3DSTATE_DEPTH_BUFFER::Depth correctly for 3D surfaces
                iris: Don't skip fast depth clears if the color changed
                anv: Parse VkPhysicalDeviceFeatures2 in CreateDevice
                vulkan/wsi: Don't leak the FD when GetImageDrmFormatModifierProperties fails
                vulkan/wsi: Return an error if dup() fails
                anv: Use the PIPE_CONTROL instead of bits for the CS stall W/A
                anv: Use a proper end-of-pipe sync instead of just CS stall
                anv: Do end-of-pipe sync around MCS/CCS ops instead of CS stall
                anv: Do an end-of-pipe sync before updating AUX table entries
          
          José Fonseca (1):
                meson: Avoid duplicate symbols.
          
          Kristian Høgsberg (2):
                Revert "glsl: Use a simpler formula for tanh"
                Revert "spirv: Use a simpler and more correct implementaiton of tanh()"
          
          Marek Olšák (4):
                Revert "mesa: check for z=0 in _mesa_Vertex3dv()"
                radeonsi: add a bug workaround for NGG - LATE_ALLOC_GS
                ac: add a bug workaround for the 100% NGG culling case
                gallium/cso_context: remove cso_delete_xxx_shader helpers to fix the live cache
          
          Martin Fuzzey (3):
                freedreno: android: fix build failure on android due to python version
                freedreno: android: add a6xx-pack.xml.h generation to android build
                freedreno: android: fix build of perfcounters.
          
          Michel Dänzer (1):
                llvmpipe: Use uintptr_t for pointer values
          
          Rafael Antognolli (3):
                anv: Wait for the GPU to be idle before invalidating the aux table.
                iris: Split aux map initialization from invalidation.
                iris: Wait for the GPU to be idle before invalidating the aux table.
          
          Rob Clark (1):
                freedreno: fix FD_MESA_DEBUG=inorder
          
          Samuel Pitoiset (5):
                aco: fix image load/store with lod and 1D images
                nir/lower_input_attachments: remove bogus assert in try_lower_input_texop()
                ac/llvm: add missing optimization barrier for 64-bit readlanes
                radv: only inject implicit subpass dependencies if necessary
                radv: fix random depth range unrestricted failures due to a cache issue
          
          Timur Kristóf (2):
                nir: Add ability to lower non-const quad broadcasts to const ones.
                radv: Enable lowering dynamic quad broadcasts.
          
          Vinson Lee (1):
                st/nine: Fix incompatible-pointer-types-discards-qualifiers errors.
          
          
          
          git tag: mesa-20.0.2
          
        • Mesa 20.0.2 Released With The Latest Fixes, Principally Helping Intel + Radeon Graphics

          Mesa 20.0.2 is out this evening as the latest stable bug-fix update for the Mesa Q1’2020 driver series.

          Mesa 20.0.2 has a good number of fixes present but basically amounts to the usual assortment of different driver fixes throughout with no over-arching theme besides as usual most of the driver activity surrounding the Intel and AMD Radeon OpenGL/Vulkan drivers.

        • Mesa 20.1 Sees Big Optimizations To Its Soft FP64 Implementation

          For the past year Mesa has offered a “soft” implementation of FP64 capabilities for GPUs lacking FP64 hardware capabilities in order to support ARB_gpu_shader_fp64 as required by OpenGL 4.0. Optimizations were merged today to significantly enhance the “soft FP64″ capabilities of Mesa.

          Longtime Intel Linux graphics driver developer Ian Romanick merged his set of 30 patches today to improve the compilation performance of FP64-based tests for platforms relying upon this software fallback. Mesa’s existing soft FP64 implementation had a lot of control flow to deal with on the GPUs and this new revision seeks to reduce that in making it more GPU-friendly. Various micro-optimizations were also carried out around the NIR portion.

    • Applications

      • Integrated translations in Linux desktop – doable?

        I was quite perked up going into this adventure and somewhat rather dejected coming out of it. I am quite dismayed that neither my Gnome nor my KDE experiment worked out. Both failed, in slightly different ways. Moreover, even if the actual steps had taken me to success, the Plasma Krunner plugin setup is difficult in particular. Although for Gnome users, if you don’t have Gnome Tweak Tool and aren’t that savvy, you won’t get far either. But as it turns out, these endeavors are still not ready for general use, and I guess there’s a reason why.

        There are other problems still in the implementation, hurdles that make instant usage quite difficult. Perhaps there’s no real need for this, and it’s a nice-to-have academic usecase, and I’m entirely mistaken in the value of something like an integrated desktop translator. And academic it remains for sure, because you probably won’t have more success than I did getting the plugins running. I’m not happy to end an article on a negative note, but then, this failure is a valuable lesson, too. The Linux desktop has never quite made it when it comes to online presence, and this is a good example. Maybe one day. Maybe. For now, if you want to play with foreignese, it will have to the old methods. Or the new ones. Hey Tux, how do you say Cheers in Linux?

      • Cockpit 215

        Cockpit is the modern Linux admin interface. We release regularly. Here are the release notes from version 215.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Games

      • Linux gaming overlay MangoHud and the GOverlay app for managing it both have new releases up

        MangoHud, the awesome Linux overlay for OpenGL and Vulkan games has another new release. GOverlay, the FOSS application designed to make configuring MangoHud easy has also been refreshed.

        Firstly, MangoHud’s release this time with v0.3.1 is quite a small one. It includes the ability to display Vulkan and OpenGL versions and the configuration now auto reloads when modified. There’s also a few very helpful bug fixes to make using it smoother.

        The latest release to GOverlay is quite a big one, which brings support for many of the new options released in MangoHud 0.3.0. This includes the ability to globally enable MangoHud (only for Vulkan currently), an overhaul to the user interface, dark theme adjustments and more.

      • Fast-paced arcade combat-racing with RC cars ‘PocketCars’ adds Linux support

        Car racing of a miniature sort with RC cars is what’s on the track in PocketCars, and it just recently enabled Linux support in their Early Access release.

      • Cities: Skylines Sunset Harbor expansion announced for March 26

        Paradox Interactive and developer Colossal Order have announced Cities: Skylines Sunset Harbor, a brand new expansion for the massively popular city-builder to release on March 26.

        Cities: Skylines Sunset Harbor brings with it quite a lot of content and features requested by the player community. This includes the fishing industry, new mass transit options, important city services and some new maps to build cities and your new fishing infrastructure across.

      • ASCII art + permadeath: The history of roguelike games
      • Half-Life: Alyx support for Linux aiming to arrive with Vulkan support post-release

        Today, Valve replied to our message asking about the situation with Half-Life: Alyx and Linux support and we got our answer.

      • Steam Game Festival live with demos and the Interactive Recommender is up for all

        Two bits of Steam store news today: firstly there’s a Steam Game Festival “Spring Edition” going on to highlight some good looking games, a few of which will come to Linux and there’s some demos.

        Similar in style to how they did it during The Game Awards, you just go to the special linked page above and see what’s been picked.

      • How to Stream Steam Games with Raspberry Pi 4 and Steam Link

        Want to enjoy the latest Steam games on the biggest screen in your house? Valve may have discontinued their physical Steam Link product, but you can still use the software that powered this now-defunct set-top box. Here we will show you how to stream Steam games with Raspberry Pi 4 and Steam Link.

        [...]

        In this article we will go through the steps to set up Stream Link on your Raspberry Pi 4 and then use it to stream your favorite game onto any compatible screen – whether that’s the spare monitor that you haven’t used for years or your brand-new ultra HD TV.

      • OBS Studio 25.0 Released with Vulkan-based Games Capture Support + More

        OBS (which stands for ‘Open Broadcaster Software’) is a popular open source streaming and recording program for Windows, macOS and Linux and is built in Qt.

        Many popular YouTubers and Twitch.tv streamers make use of the software for recording, live streaming, and sharing gameplay. The app even has a bunch of built-in presets that tailor footage for popular social networks and online services.

        OBS Studio 25.0 is the latest stable release — but what’s new?

        Well, aside from the aforementioned ability to directly capture Vulkan-based game playback — a big feature for many, though alas limited to Windows — the app also adds the following new features and improvements…

      • OBS Studio 25.0 Released! How to Install it via PPA in ubuntu
      • OBS Studio 25.0 is Here With Vulkan-based Game Capture Feature and More

        Open source screen recording and streaming software OBS Studio 25.0 has just been released and it brings the ability to capture Vulkan-based games with game capture among other new features.

      • Dodge Roll confirm ‘Exit the Gungeon’ is coming to Linux once the launch has settled

        Exit the Gungeon from Dodge Roll/Singlecore and Devolver Digital is a small, spin-off ‘dungeon climber’ immediately following the adventures in the excellent Enter the Gungeon. Still focused on making you dodge, roll and deal with bullet hell it mixes the gameplay up with an ever-changing weapon as you travel through increasingly perilous elevators. It looks wild and a lot of fun.

      • Death and Taxes goes open source after selling ‘pretty well’ to help others

        Death and Taxes, a narrative game about choosing who lives and who dies as the Grim Reaper is now officially open source. In an announcement on Steam written by their coder, they said their wish when joining the team was to eventually open it up and so now they have.

        It’s only been out since February (and I quite liked it!), since then they’ve gone on to sell “pretty well” at twenty-six thousand copies so they’re not afraid people will copy it. Only the code is open source though, you still need the assets which is a good example of how to do it that others have also done. The game code can live on, be ported elsewhere and fixed up, while the original developer can still earn from it.

      • Imperator: Rome gets more religious in the 1.4 “Archimedes” update due on March 31

        Imperator: Rome, the grand strategy game from Paradox Development Studios about the classical world will soon have a little more depth to the religion features in the 1.4 “Archimedes” update now due on March 31.

        This is the start of Paradox’s new plan to focus on smaller and more frequent updates to Imperator, as they’ve really turned the game around now from the rough launch. With Archimedes focusing on the Religion side, the next update named Menander will focus on Culture which will be due sometime around the Summer and will also be a free update.

      • OBS Studio 25.0 is out with lots of new features for video creators

        The free and open source video livestreaming and capture software, OBS Studio, has a brand new release now available with lots of new goodies to play with.

        Wonderful software, we use it all the time here for our livestreams on Twitch and for all videos we record onto our YouTube Channel.

        OBS Studio 25.0 arrived yesterday and one of the highlights for Linux users is the inclusion of a proper browser plugin by default now. No more hunting around for an external plugin. Thanks to the inclusion of this, another new feature added works in the Linux version, allowing you to drag and drop from a website into OBS Studio to create browser sources. Quite a clever feature, allowing people to setup all sorts of additions that others can just drop right into their OBS scene.

      • The Division 2 live on Stadia, DOOM Eternal this week and more

        Stadia now has more games available with the release of The Division 2 and the latest expansion, plus DOOM Eternal arrives on it this week. A quick look round-up of Stadia game streaming news.

        With The Division 2, the Stadia version comes with built-in support for Stadia’s unique Stream Connect feature. This is where when you team up with others, you can all see each others screen in real-time, which does open up multiplayer games in an interesting way. It’s also cross-platform against Windows and cross-progression with all platforms.

      • Unity 2020.1 beta is out and they’re offering a GeForce RTX 2080 GPU for bug reports

        The Unity team have put out the first Beta for Unity 2020.1 which will form the first of two “TECH stream” releases for this year. As part of their new release cycle, each year will have two of these TECH releases for people who want the latest and greatest with 2020.1 and 2020.2 which will lead into a 2020 LTS (Long term support) release early next year.

        On the Linux side there’s quite a lot of bug fixes, and Vulkan especially seems to have been given quite a bit of attention with this release and not just for bug fixes. With the Vulkan API developers can now select number of swapchains when using Vulkan, they added stencil binding support for Vulkan, stripping of unused shader constants from Vulkan compute shaders, improved Vulkan device selection, improved Vulkan performance and more.

      • No Plan B is a tactical strategy game coming from the creator of Gladiabots

        No Plan B needed here apparently, as your first idea always works right? You better hope so. No Plan B is a tactical strategy game from GFX47, the creator of the AI combat arena Gladiabots.

        Looking a little like Door Kickers, No Plan B has you plan how your team will storm various buildings using a special timeline system. This unique way to plan looks brilliant, as you keep dragging around your combatants as you hop between different time points to get them all synced up.

      • Cyanide & Happiness – Freakpocalypse Part 1 will arrive on Steam this Summer

        Cyanide & Happiness – Freakpocalypse, the crowdfunded dark comedy adventure is now going to have the first part released on Steam this Summer.

      • X4: Split Vendetta expansion and a huge free 3.0 update announced for release on March 31

        Get your space legs ready for X4: Foundations to expand into a much bigger game. Egosoft have now announced the X4: Split Vendetta expansion and a huge free 3.0 update will release on March 31.

        Egosoft say this is going to be the biggest update to their open-world space sim since release, pulling in lots of new goodies for everyone. The 3.0 update will add in a whole new storyline with special diplomatic missions, new systems to discover, French voice-over, 3 new tutorials, new ships, a new unlockable game start, a configurable alert system, new weapons, an improved graphics engine and improved sound effects are just some of what to expect from it.

      • Albion Online getting a new focus on Solo and small-group play in the next updates

        Albion Online is getting a few more systems overhauled in the next few updates, plus some welcome changes and additions for Solo players and small groups.

        The game already has a lot of things to do, much of which is geared towards high-level play and big groups, especially so with all the faction and guild warfare. Sandbox Interactive are going to introduce special Corrupted Solo Dungeons, for people who enjoy the PvE side with a risk of some PvP as well. These will be non-linear dungeons where you face possesed creatures, with one other player able to invade to hunt you down which actually sounds like a huge amount of fun.

      • BStone, a source port for Blake Stone: Aliens of Gold and Planet Strike adds a new OpenGL renderer

        Blake Stone: Aliens of Gold and Blake Stone: Planet Strike, two classics from the 90s have been revived thanks to the BStone open source game engine that continue seeing big updates.

        BStone adds in features like high resolution vanilla rendering, 3D-rendering,customizable controls and separate volume controls for sound effects and music. This is thanks to Apogee Software releasing the source code to Planet Strike in 2013.

        Yesterday, build v1.2.0-beta.1 (and a quick fix with beta.2) went up and the major addition here is a new 3D renderer which uses OpenGL on the backend keeping it nicely Linux compatible. Plus, the developer also added some actual Linux instructions to the GitHub page now too.

    • Desktop Environments/WMs

      • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

        • Qt Creator 4.12 Beta2 released

          We are happy to announce the release of Qt Creator 4.12 Beta2 !

          For an overview of the improvements in Qt Creator 4.12, please head over to the first Beta blog post.

          The opensource version is available on the Qt download page under “Pre-releases”, and you find commercially licensed packages on the Qt Account Portal. Qt Creator 4.12 Beta2 is also available under Preview > Qt Creator 4.12.0-beta2 in the online installer. Please post issues in our bug tracker. You can also find us on IRC on #qt-creator on chat.freenode.net, and on the Qt Creator mailing list.

    • Distributions

      • Is Clear Linux Just A Toy Distribution By Intel?

        A user experimenting with Clear Linux had an opinion to share on their mailing list and referred to it as a “toy” distribution and some of our readers have expressed similar opinions on it. Here is the response by one of the Intel developers central to Clear Linux’s development.

        The user referred to it as a toy project over not supporting as much hardware as some distributions, supporting too much GNOME “bloatware”, and not easily supporting as much closed-source software.

      • Intel P-State Driver Preparing To Migrate From “Powersave” To Passive Schedutil Default

        It looks like in the next one or two kernel releases we could see Intel transitioning their CPU frequency scaling governor default from the long-standing powersave to the modern schedutil governor. It’s now believed schedutil should be at least as good as powersave.

        Schedutil is the modern Linux CPU frequency scaling governor that makes use of scheduler utilization data (hence its name) in making decisions about ramping up or down the CPU clock frequencies. Schedutil has been around for a while now and continues to receive improvements. It’s been looked at as the future of CPUfreq governors.

      • New Releases

        • Qubes Architecture Next Steps: The GUI Domain

          It has been some time since the last design post about Qubes. There have been some big changes happened, and it took us a little while to find people best suited to write these articles. But, as you can see, the victims volunteers have been found. The team has been hard at work on the changes that are coming in 4.1, and we want to tell you more about them.

          One of the Big Things coming soon, in Qubes 4.1, is the first public version of the GUI domain: the next step in decoupling the graphical hardware, the display and management, and the host system. Very briefly, the GUI domain is a qube separate from dom0 that handles all the display-related tasks and some system management.

        • IPFire 2.25 – Core Update 142 released

          Only days after finally releasing our new DNS stack in IPFire 2.25 – Core Update 141, we are ready to publish the next update for testing: IPFire 2.25 – Core Update 142.

          This update comes with many features that massively improve the security and hardening of the IPFire operating system. We have also removed some more components of the systems that are no longer needed to shrink the size of the operating system on disk.

          We have a huge backlog of changes that are ready for testing in a wider audience. Hopefully we will be able to deliver those to you in a swift series of Core Updates. Please help us testing, or if you prefer, send us a donation so that we can keep working on these things.

        • IPFire Firewall Using Cryptography To Secure Linux Kernel Against RootKit

          In the latest release of test v2.25 – Core update 142, IPFire has introduced a new method to sign the Linux kernel module cryptographically. As a result of this, the attacker cannot execute an illegal action using a deployed third-party module into the IPFire kernel.

          This new approach of kernel rootkit protection can completely restrict the activities of hidden rootkits on the system. Any modification to the kernel code now requires validation using a cryptographic signature to check its authenticity and integrity.

        • Whonix VirtualBox 15.0.0.9.4 – Point Release!

          Whonix is being used by Edward Snowden, journalists such as Micah Lee, used by the Freedom of the Press Foundation and Qubes OS. It has a 7 years history of keeping its users safe from real world attacks. [1]

          The split architecture of Whonix relies on leveraging virtualization technology as a sandbox for vulnerable user applications on endpoints. This is a widely known weakness exploited by entities that want to circumvent cryptography and system integrity. Our Linux distribution come with a wide selection of data protection tools and hardened applications for document/image publishing and communications. We are the first to deploy tirdad, which addresses the long known problem of CPU activity affecting TCP traffic properties in visible ways on the network and vanguards, an enhancement for Tor produced by the developers of Tor, which protects against guard discovery and related traffic analysis attacks. Live Mode was recently added. We deliver the first ever solutions for user behavior masking privacy protections such as Kloak. Kloak prevents websites from recognizing who the typist is by altering keystroke timing signatures that are unique to everyone.

      • Screenshots/Screencasts

      • SUSE/OpenSUSE

        • openSUSE’s board turmoil

          Like many larger free-software projects, openSUSE has an elected board that is charged with handling various non-technical tasks: organizing events, dealing with conduct issues, managing the project’s money, etc. Sitting on such a board is usually a relatively low-profile activity; development communities tend to pay more attention to technical contributions than other types of service. Every now and then, though, board-related issues burst into prominence; that is the case now in the openSUSE project, which will be holding a special election after the abrupt resignation of one-third of its board.

          The openSUSE project has, in fact, just held a board election that closed on January 31. There were four candidates for the two available seats; in the end, Simon Lees was returned to the board for another term and Sarah Julia Kriesch won the other seat. The discussion over the course of the election was perhaps a bit more contentious than usual, with Kriesch in particular stirring things up by claiming to be the driving force behind the in-progress openSUSE foundation effort and seemingly overlooking the existence of openSUSE contributors in China (something she later apologized for). That all settled down, though, and it appeared that the new board was set to get to work after the announcement of the results on February 1.

      • IBM/Red Hat/Fedora

        • Fedora 32 Beta Is Out: Upgrade Your Fedora Linux With GNOME Desktop

          Red Hat-sponsored community project, Fedora, has announced the beta version of the upcoming Fedora 32. This release includes various minor bug fixes and package updates along with the latest GNOME 3.36 desktop.

          According to the blog post, Fedora 32 Beta will also introduce a new image in its Fedora Lab initiative for computational neuroscientists. Currently, Fedora Labs already contains six dedicated images named Astronomer, Designer, Gamer, Musician, Developer, and Security tester.

        • Fedora 32 Release Date, New Features and Everything Else

          Fedora 32 should be releasing at the end of April, around the same time as the Ubuntu 20.04 LTS release.

          Since we are covering the Ubuntu 20.04 release in detail, we thought of doing the same for our Fedora fans here.

          In this article, I am going to highlight the new features coming to Fedora 32. I’ll update this article as the development progresses further.

        • Simplifying deployments of accelerated AI workloads on Red Hat OpenShift with NVIDIA GPU Operator

          The new GPU operator enables OpenShift to schedule workloads that require use of GPGPUs as easily as one would schedule CPU or memory for more traditional not accelerated workloads. Start by creating a container that has a GPU workload inside it and request the GPU resource when creating the pod and OpenShift will take care of the rest. This makes deployment of GPU workloads to OpenShift clusters straightforward for users and administrators as it is all managed at the cluster level and not on the host machines. The GPU operator for OpenShift will help to simplify and accelerate the compute-intensive ML/DL modeling tasks for data scientists, as well as help running inferencing tasks across data centers, public clouds, and at the edge. Typical workloads that can benefit from GPU acceleration include image and speech recognition, visual search and several others.

        • OpenShift Commons Briefing: JupyterHub on-demand (and other tools) with Red Hat’s Guillaume Moutier and Landon LaSmith

          Welcome to the first briefing of the “All Things Data” series of OpenShift Commons briefings. We’ll be holding future briefings on Tuesdays at 8:00am PST, so reach out with any topics you’re interested in and remember to bookmark the OpenShift Commons Briefing calendar!

          In this first briefing for the “All Things Data” OpenShift Commons series, Red Hat’s Guillaume Moutier and Landon LaSmith demo’d how to easily integrate Open Data Hub and OpenShift Container Storage to build your own data science platform. When working on data science projects, it’s a guarantee that you will need different kinds of storage for your data: block, file, object.

          Open Data Hub (ODH) is an open source project that provides open source AI tools for running large and distributed AI workloads on OpenShift Container Platform.

          OpenShift Container Storage (OCS) is software-defined storage for containers that provides you with every type of storage you need, from a simple, single source.

        • Awards roll call: November 2019 to February 2020

          Just a few months into 2020 and we are already celebrating our successes over here at Red Hat! In fact, we are pleased to announce that we have been honored with 31 new award wins and honorable mentions. Our latest award roll call includes recognition in categories ranging from Red Hat’s unique workplace culture, our talented individuals who make Red Hat so special, our incredibly talented design and creative teams and the depth and experience of our business portfolio.

        • Ansible DevOps comes to the mainframe

          I cut my teeth on mainframe computers. My first system administration language wasn’t — as you might guess from my Unix/Linux background — Borrne or C shell, but rather, IBM 360 mainframe Job Control Language (JCL). So, the notion that a DevOps system, such as Red Hat Ansible, could ever control a mainframe is a little mind-blowing. Sure, IBM mainframes have been using Linux for 20 years now, but DevOps on a mainframe? Really?

        • The 20 Best Red Hat Linux Certifications and Courses in 2020

          Linux has come a long way since its inception and now powers a majority of the web infrastructure. Linux admins are already in high-demand while new lucrative computer science jobs are opening every day. There are many well-reputed Linux certifications that will help you land your dream job in no time. Red Hat Linux certifications are one of the most prominent in this regard. You can easily prove your Linux credentials to employers if you have completed any Red Hat courses. Moreover, you don’t necessarily need to obtain certifications if you’re just sharpening skills. Simply complete some online courses that validate your knowledge in some way.

        • Creating an upstream to downstream pipeline

          When an engineer I work closely with first suggested we work on the Service Telemetry Framework docs upstream and then synchronize downstream, I was excited and enthusiastic but pretty clueless as to how to even begin.

          There are lots of advantages to single-sourcing your content: you and the engineers save time on working on one set of docs, quality of upstream docs should improve, and if a change occurs, you only have to update it in one place.

        • Customers realize Multi-Cloud benefits of OpenShift

          IDC further predicted that, “Through 2024, 75% of CIOs will reshape all IT resources, including budgets, assets, and talent, to support real-time resource allocation and enterprise agility, dramatically reducing fixed costs.”

          The key to unlocking these business innovations is the open hybrid cloud model. Incorporating multiple hardware providers, hardware types, locations, devices, developers, services and billing models, the hybrid cloud model of application delivery enables developers to innovate around the globe, at the edge, with AI, at scale and with reliability.

        • OpenShift Commons Briefing: Workload Consistency During Ceph Updates and Adding New Storage Devices with Red Hat’s Sagy Volkovb

          This is the second briefing of the “All Things Data” series of OpenShift Commons briefings. Future briefings are Tuesdays at 8:00am PST, so reach out with any topics you’re interested in and remember to bookmark the OpenShift Commons Briefing calendar!

          In this second briefing for the “All Things Data” OpenShift Commons series, Red Hat’s Sagy Volkov gave a live demonstration of an OpenShift workload remaining online and running while Ceph storage updates and additions were being performed. This workload resilience and consistency during storage updates and additions is crucial to maintaining highly available applications in your OpenShift clusters.

        • Red Hat OpenShift Installation Process Experiences on IBM Z/LinuxONE

          OpenShift stands out as a leader with a security-focused, supported Kubernetes platform—including a foundation based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

          But we already knew all that, the game changer for OpenShift, is the release of OCP version 4.x: OpenShift 4 is powered by Kubernetes Operators and Red Hat’s commitment to full-stack security, so you can develop and scale big ideas for the enterprise.

          OpenShift started with distributed systems. It was eventually extended to IBM Power Systems, and now it is available on IBM Z. This creates a seamless user experience across major architectures such as x86, PPC and s390x!

        • Connect PHP 7 to Oracle Database using packages from Oracle Linux Yum Server

          We recently added PHP 7.4 to our repos on Oracle Linux yum server. These repos include also include the PHP OCI8 extenstion to connect your PHP applications to Oracle database.

          In this post I describe the steps to install PHP 7.4, PHP OCI8 and Oracle Instant Client on Oracle Linux to connect PHP to Oracle Database. For this blog post, I used a free Autonomous Database included in Oracle Cloud Free Tier.

        • Fedora Community Blog: Fedora 32 Cloud Test Day March 20th

          Now that the Fedora Beta is officially released, the Fedora Cloud SIG would like to get the community together this week to find and squash some bugs. We are organizing a test day for Friday, March 20th.

          For this event we’ll test Fedora Cloud Base content. See the Alternative Downloads Beta Page for links to the Beta Cloud Base Images. We have qcow, AMI, and ISO images ready for testing.

      • Devuan Family

        • Devuan 3.0 “Beowulf” Reaches Beta For Debian 10 Without Systemd

          Devuan 3.0 “Beowulf” has finally reached beta as a spin of Debian 10 “Buster” created without a dependence on systemd.

          This fork of Debian without systemd tries to ensure init system freedom. With Devuan 3.0 the focus is on re-basing against the Debian 10 package set.

          Besides pulling in the Buster packages, the Devuan 3.0 beta also brings behavioral changes to the su command, PulseAudio changes, and other tweaks.

          More details on the Devuan 3.0 beta via the release announcement and download images available from Devuan.org.

      • Debian Family

        • Handling attacks on a community

          A recent message to the debian-project mailing list by Debian project leader (DPL) Sam Hartman is about a proposal to moderate the mailing list. There have been repeated attacks on various project members and the distribution itself posted to the list over the last few years, many from sock-puppet, throwaway email accounts, which spawned a recent discussion on the debian-private mailing list; Hartman was summarizing that discussion for those who are not on the private list. But the problems on debian-project (and other Debian public lists) are kind of just the tip of the iceberg; there is an ongoing, persistent effort to roil the distribution and its community.

          The discussion on debian-private happened while Hartman was taking a vacation; his summary was partly from catching up with his email and also a continuation of the consensus building work he has done during his DPL term. The debian-private discussion led to a bug report that asked for debian-project to become a moderated list “for the time being”, which is where Hartman suggested the technical discussion on how to do the moderation should go. In parallel with the private discussion, there was also a thread on the project list about how distributed moderation of a mailing list might work. The idea is that multiple moderators could help filter out messages from new subscribers to the list.

      • Canonical/Ubuntu Family

        • Ubuntu 20.04 LTS A Nice Upgrade For AMD Ryzen Owners From 18.04 LTS

          Particularly for those on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS or derivative distributions based on the current long-term support base, moving to Ubuntu 20.04 LTS due out next month will yield some nice improvements particularly for those on newer platforms like the AMD Ryzen 3000 series. Here are some benchmarks at how the Ryzen 9 3900X performance is looking between Ubuntu 18.04.4 LTS, Ubuntu 19.10, and the current Ubuntu 20.04 LTS development snapshot.

          Ubuntu 20.04 LTS is launching in April with the Linux 5.4 kernel, GNOME Shell 3.36, Mesa 20.0, GCC 9.3.0, and other updated software packages. It’s a bit unfortunate they didn’t go for Linux 5.5 (or even Linux 5.6 albeit that would have been a very tight fit with their schedule) but opted for Linux 5.4 given its an LTS kernel. But moving to Linux 5.4 compared to 5.3 on 19.10 or 18.04.4 LTS has some advantages, more so if you are still on an older hardware enablement stack of Ubuntu 18.04.

    • Devices/Embedded

    • Free, Libre, and Open Source Software

      • Top 10 open source tools for working from home

        If you work from home, you know how important it is to have a great set of tools that stay out of your way and let you focus on what matters. The harder you work during work hours, the more easily you can relax once the workday is through.

        I’ve been working from home for years, and here are my top picks for the best tools open source has to offer the remote worker.

      • How I connect with non-English speakers about open source

        One of the wonderful things about open source is the large community of writers contributing to our shared knowledge base. Not surprisingly, much of this is written in English; but there is also a well-served demand for open source-related information in other languages.

        I first encountered Victorhck through his kind and thoughtful comments on Opensource.com, then learned that he has translated some of our content into Spanish and published it on his blog, Victorhck in the Free World. I find a lot of really useful info on his blog, such as articles about Vim and openSUSE and a lot of excellent reference material. I particularly like his overviews of topics, like this article about open source/libre technical materials.

      • Open Source Tech Rushes to Front Lines of COVID-19 War

        Open Source software, once the scorn of Microsoft and profit-seeking software developers, is playing an active role in efforts to combat COVID-19′s spread. Several open source projects are assisting health providers and helping people mitigate some of the hardships associated with the pandemic.

        Often, open source accomplishments in the public health and government services fields go unreported. This time, however, in response to COVID-19′s worldwide assault, open source technologies are ramping up to pursue potentially world-saving results.

        “Open Source software is the platform that virtually all mitigation efforts are built on top of. These current efforts use the foundational software that we use every day,” said Thomas Hatch, CTO of SaltStack.

      • My top 6 open source frameworks for web development

        There are a lot of backend frameworks that are open source and easily available, but not all of them offer great features. Backend frameworks are an essential part of website development, as they work as the nuts and bolts of a website. Basically, they handle everything behind the scenes of a website.

        Backend frameworks have extensive libraries, APIs, web servers, and a lot more. They are responsible for the database, ensuring it makes proper communication with the front end and generates backend functionality.

      • 4 Markdown tools for the Linux command line

        When it comes to working with files formatted with Markdown, command-line tools rule the roost. They’re light, fast, powerful, and flexible, and most of them follow the Unix philosophy of doing one thing well.

        Take a look at four utilities that can help you work more efficiently with Markdown files at the command line.

      • Events

        • The short and long-term future of community conferences

          The Linux development community is spread out over the planet and interacts primarily through email and online systems. It is widely felt, though, that there is great value in getting people together in person occasionally to talk about current issues and get to know each other as people. This year, though, the coronavirus pandemic is disrupting the conference schedule to an extent that won’t be known for some time. But there are longer-term concerns as well, to the point that the head organizer for one of the kernel community’s most successful events is questioning whether it should continue to exist.

          Short-term disruption

          While some conferences scheduled in March have proceeded as planned — SCaLE 18x being one example — many others have been canceled or postponed to a later date. There are two obvious reasons for this: gathering large numbers of people together into close quarters while a pandemic is growing is ill-advised in general, and many of the participants and speakers have decided not to participate in any case. This is creating some short-term economic pain for conference organizers, and it hurts the communities that have been deprived of their gatherings. But, by most accounts, canceling these events is the only right thing to do.

          It will be interesting to see what will happen in the near future. Many of the canceled events are attempting to reschedule during the (northern hemisphere) summer months when, it is hoped, there will be a respite from the pandemic, company travel bans will be rescinded, and the mood will be generally better. It is worth noting that the authorities have been clear that this respite may or may not happen; if things do not get better, a lot of organizers and attendees are going to be disappointed a second time. In that case, regular events may not return for some time.

          If the situation does improve in the coming months, then conference-goers can expect a rather busy summer as all of the postponed events land on top of the other conferences that were already scheduled during that time. That, too, may affect the success of some events; there are only so many conferences one can go to over a short period of time. Trust us, here at LWN we’ve explored those limits fully.

        • foss-north 2020 virtual lightning talks

          On Sunday March 22 foss-north 2020 will go virtual with a set of lightning talks. This will be the dress rehersal before the big virtual event March 29 – April 1. Join us and enjoy the fun!

        • KDE Community Day at FOSS-North Canceled

          FOSS-North has been canceled this year, like so many events, due to COVID19. There will be a virtual conference instead, live-streamed on YouTube.

          The KDE Community Day which was going to happen before / in parallel to the conference, is also canceled. It is not responsible to be getting together right now. We will be looking at other ways to build the community and maintain the ties we have during the lockdown period.

        • ChefConf 2020 Moving to a Digital Experience

          The COVID-19 pandemic is having a tragic and widespread impact around the globe, and creating unprecedented disruption in all areas of our lives.

          For the safety of our community, speakers, staff, and sponsors, and in alignment with local, regional and federal guidance and mandates, we have decided to combine both ChefConf 2020 Seattle and ChefConf 2020 London into a single online experience to be held on June 2, 2020.

        • Daniel Stenberg: curl up 2020 goes online only

          curl up 2020 will not take place in Berlin as previously planned. The corona times are desperate times and we don’t expect things to have improved soon enough to make a physical conference possible at this date.

          curl up 2020 will still take place, and at the same date as planned (May 9-10), but we will change the event to a pure online and video-heavy occasion. This way we can of course also even easier welcome audience and participants from even furher away who previously would have had a hard time to participate.

      • Web Browsers

        • Mozilla

          • Extension Spotlight: Worldwide Radio

            Before Oleksandr Popov had the idea to build a browser extension that could broadcast thousands of global radio stations, his initial motivation was as abstract as it was aspirational. “I wanted to create something that was simple for people to use,” explains Popov, while adding his creation sought to also “bring together users from different countries.”

            That impulse eventually led Popov to create Worldwide Radio for Firefox, a browser extension that lets you choose from nearly 50,000 radio stations from more than a hundred countries. Once installed on Firefox, the extension displays a “radio” button on your browser toolbar—giving you easy one-click access to real-time international broadcasts.

          • Firefox Nightly: These Weeks in Firefox: Issue 71
          • Mike Hoye: Notice

            As far as I can tell, 100% of the google results for “burnout” or “recognizing burnout” boil down to victim-blaming; they’re all about you, and your symptoms, and how to recognize when you’re burning out. Are you frustrated, overwhelmed, irritable, tired? Don’t ask for help, here’s how to self-diagnose! And then presumably do something.

            What follows is always the most uselessly vague advice, like “listen to yourself” or “build resiliency” or whatever, which all sounds great and reinforces that the burden of recovery is entirely on the person burning out. And if you ask about the empirical evidence supporting it, this advice is mostly on par with leaving your healing crystals in the sun, getting your chakras greased or having your horoscope fixed by changing your birthday.

            Resiliency and self-awareness definitely sound nice enough, and if your crystals are getting enough sun good for them, but just about all of this avoiding-burnout advice amounts to lighting scented candles downwind of a tire fire. If this was advice about a broken leg or anaphylaxis we’d see it for the trash it is, but because it’s about mental health somehow we don’t call it out. Is that a shattered femur? Start by believing in yourself, and believing that change is possible. Bee stings are just part of life; maybe you should take the time to rethink your breathing strategy. This might be a sign that breathing just isn’t right for you.

          • Review Feedback: a response to the Feedback Ladder

            Last week I read Feedback Ladders: How We Encode Code Reviews at Netlify and also shared that with my team at Mozilla. In this post I want to summarize how we organize our reviews and compare that to Netlify’s Feedback Ladder.

            My team is mainly responsible for all work on Firefox Telemetry and our other projects. (Nearly) everything we do is first tracked in Bugs on Bugzilla. No code change (nor doc change) will land without review. For changes to land in Firefox the developer is responsible for picking the right reviewer, though right now that’s mostly shared work between chutten and me. Sometimes we need to involve experts from other components of Firefox.

            On Glean we rely on an auto-assign bot to pick a reviewer after opening a pull request. Sometimes the submitter also actively picks one from the team as a reviewer, e.g. if it’s a followup to previous work or if some niche expertise is needed.

            When reviewing we use a system not too dissimilar to the Feedback ladder. However it is much more informal.

            [...]

            In Mozilla speak that would be an “r-” – “Rejected”. In my team this rarely (never?) happens on code changes.

          • The reckless, infinite scope of web browsers

            Since the first browser war between Netscape and Internet Explorer, web browsers have been using features as their primary means of competing with each other. This strategy of unlimited scope and perpetual feature creep is reckless, and has been allowed to go on for far too long.

            I used wget to download all 1,217 of the W3C specifications which have been published at the time of writing1, of which web browsers need to implement a substantial subset in order to provide a modern web experience. I ran a word count on all of these specifications. How complex would you guess the web is?

            The total word count of the W3C specification catalogue is 114 million words at the time of writing. If you added the combined word counts of the C11, C++17, UEFI, USB 3.2, and POSIX specifications, all 8,754 published RFCs, and the combined word counts of everything on Wikipedia’s list of longest novels, you would be 12 million words short of the W3C specifications.2

            I conclude that it is impossible to build a new web browser. The complexity of the web is obscene. The creation of a new web browser would be comparable in effort to the Apollo program or the Manhattan project.

            [...]

            The major projects are open source, and usually when an open-source project misbehaves, we’re able to to fork them to offer an alternative. But even this is an impossible task where web browsers are concerned. The number of W3C specifications grows at an average rate of 200 new specs per year, or about 4 million words, or about one POSIX every 4 to 6 months. How can a new team possibly keep up with this on top of implementing the outrageous scope web browsers already have now?

            The browser wars have been allowed to continue for far too long. They should have long ago focused on competing in terms of performance and stability, not in adding new web “features”. This is absolutely ridiculous, and it has to stop.

          • Firefox 76 Enabling VA-API Wayland Acceleration For All Video Codecs

            With the upcoming Firefox 75 there is VA-API GPU-based video acceleration working on Wayland. While this built off FFmpeg, the initial code was limited to supporting H.264 while for Firefox 76 that is being extended.

            There has been the bug report to track VP9 decode support using VA-API. That was done by Red Hat’s Martin Stránský who has been leading this Wayland and VA-API work.

            As of Wednesday, support was merged so VA-API on Wayland uses all video formats available. Up until now (and for Firefox 75) there was code limiting the support to the H.264 codec while for Firefox 76 those limitations are set to be cleared.

      • Productivity Software/LibreOffice/Calligra

        • LibreOffice 6.4.2 available for download

          The Document Foundation announces the availability of LibreOffice 6.4.2, the 2nd minor release of the LibreOffice 6.4 family, targeted at technology enthusiasts and power users. LibreOffice 6.4.2 includes several bug fixes and improvements to document compatibility.

          Mac users will be happy to know that the issue of blurry fonts on Retina displays has been resolved.

          LibreOffice 6.4.2 represents the bleeding edge in term of features for open source office suites, and as such is not optimized for enterprise class deployments, where features are less important than robustness. Users wanting a more mature version can download LibreOffice 6.3.5, which includes some months of back-ported fixes.

          LibreOffice 6.4.2’s change log pages are available on TDF’s wiki: https://wiki.documentfoundation.org/Releases/6.4.2/RC1 (changed in RC1) and https://wiki.documentfoundation.org/Releases/6.4.2/RC2 (changed in RC2).

          LibreOffice’s individual users are helped by a global community of volunteers: https://www.libreoffice.org/get-help/community-support/. On the website and the wiki there are guides, manuals, tutorials and HowTos. Donations help us to make all of these resources available.

        • LibreOffice 6.4.2 Released with More Than 90 Fixes

          Available for GNU/Linux, macOS, and Windows platforms, the LibreOffice 6.4.2 release is here three weeks after the first point release to address more than 90 bug fixes across various of its core components as detailed here and here.

          This update is recommended to everyone who has the latest LibreOffice 6.4 office suite installed on their personal computers as it will probably improve the stability and reliability of the software.

          However, The Document Foundation doesn’t recommend the deployment of the LibreOffice 6.4 series on enterprise environments as it represents the bleeding edge in term of features.

        • LibreOffice 7.0 Git Adds Skia-Based Text Rendering Support

          The Skia-driven text rendering still is to be tweaked and at the moment may appear slightly lighter than the Cairo-based rendering.

          Following that text rendering plumbing for X11 and Windows, the Skia code was updated against the latest code found in Chrome 82 development state.

      • Public Services/Government

      • Programming/Development

        • Cross-language link-time optimization using Red Hat Developer Tools

          Several months ago, the LLVM project blog published an article, Closing the gap: cross-language LTO between Rust and C/C++. In it, they explained that link-time optimization can improve performance by optimizing throughout the whole program, such as inlining function calls between different objects. Since Rust and Clang both use LLVM for code generation, we can even achieve this benefit across different programming languages.

        • An Open Letter to Web Developers

          Why is this important?

          For several reasons, but primarily because it completely goes against the traditional structure of the web being an open and accessible place that isn’t inherently locked down to opaque structures or a single client. WebComponents used “in full” (i.e. dynamically) inherently creates complex web page structures that cannot be saved, archived or even displayed outside of the designated targeted browsers (primarily Google Chrome).

          One could even say that this is setting the web up for becoming fully content-controlled.

          The more additional “features” are tacked on to these components, the less likely it is for non-Google clients to be able to display sites in full or properly. It creates problems for people who are in limited environments, need special web clients for e.g. limited physical accessibility, or need to strictly protect their privacy. What of people on older hardware who don’t have the computing power to basically run all these JavaScript applications fully off-loaded in their browser just to be able to render a page? Not to mention other software that needs to be able to parse web pages as a whole like alternative search engines (another thing one could consider unfair competition from Google).

        • Excellent Free Tutorials to Learn VimL

          VimL is a powerful scripting language of the Vim editor. You can use this dynamic, imperative language to design new tools, automate tasks, and redefine existing features of Vim. At an entry level, writing VimL consists of editing the vimrc file. Users can mould Vim to their personal preferences. But the language offers so much more; writing complete plugins that transform the editor. Learning VimL also helps improve your efficiency in every day editing.

          VimL supports many common language features: variables, control structures, built-in functions, user-defined functions, expressions first-class strings, high-level data structures (lists and dictionaries), terminal and file I/O, regex pattern matching, exceptions, as well as an integrated debugger. Vim’s runtime features are written in VimL.

          VimL is often known as Vimscript or Vim script.

        • RcppCCTZ 0.2.7

          RcppCCTZ uses Rcpp to bring CCTZ to R. CCTZ is a C++ library for translating between absolute and civil times using the rules of a time zone. In fact, it is two libraries. One for dealing with civil time: human-readable dates and times, and one for converting between between absolute and civil times via time zones. And while CCTZ is made by Google(rs), it is not an official Google product. The RcppCCTZ page has a few usage examples and details. This package was the first CRAN package to use CCTZ; by now at least three others do—using copies in their packages which remains less than ideal.

        • JavaFX 14 enhances API, mobile support

          JavaFX 14, the latest version of the open source, Java-based, rich client application platform, has arrived. The new version features improvements related to the top-level API as well as mobile development.

          For the API, functionality was added to make it easier for developers to build custom controls. In the mobile vein, JavaFX for mobile SDKs are now built from OpenJFX, the same source as for desktop JavaFX. Combined with the GraalVM native image AOT (ahead-of-time) compiler, JavaFX now achieves high performance on mobile, while developers can use the same JavaFX APIs for mobile as for the desktop.

        • How I Optimise My Website Performance

          WordPress is not slow. This website uses WordPress and is pretty darn quick, I think you will agree? In this post I want to talk a little bit about how I’ve optimised the performance of this website so that it loads in less than 2 seconds.

        • Advices for working remotely from home

          A few days ago, as someone working remotely since 3 years I published some tips to help new remote workers to feel more confident into their new workplace: home

          I’ve been told I should publish it on my blog so it’s easier to share the information, so here it is.

        • Join Our Second Documentation Hackathon March 22-30

          Documentation is extremely valuable to the health of open source software projects, but it is often overlooked. We are a small team at Tor, and as a nonprofit organization with a big mission, we rely on volunteer contributions around the world to keep up with an ever-changing [Internet] freedom landscape with the appropriate tools to navigate it. Keeping Tor’s documentation up-to-date, organized, and accessible is a way to potentially help millions of people access a private, secure, and uncensored [Internet] by using our tools.

          Between 22 and 30 March, the Tor Project will host the second edition of our user documentation hackathon, the DocsHackathon. The DocsHackathon is a totally remote and online event.

        • Python

          • Share data between C and Python with this messaging library

            I’ve had moments as a software engineer when I’m asked to do a task that sends shivers down my spine. One such moment was when I had to write an interface between some new hardware infrastructure that requires C and a cloud infrastructure, which is primarily Python.

            One strategy could be to write an extension in C, which Python supports by design. A quick glance at the documentation shows this would mean writing a good amount of C. That can be good in some cases, but it’s not what I prefer to do. Another strategy is to put the two tasks in separate processes and exchange messages between the two with the ZeroMQ messaging library.

            When I experienced this type of scenario before discovering ZeroMQ, I went through the extension-writing path. It was not that bad, but it is very time-consuming and convoluted. Nowadays, to avoid that, I subdivide a system into independent processes that exchange information through messages sent over communication sockets. With this approach, several programming languages can coexist, and each process is simpler and thus easier to debug.

          • Learn Data Science by Analyzing COVID-19

            COVID-19 has hit hard in the past couple of weeks and its impact has been notorious both from a sanitary perspective and an economic one. Plenty has been written about it, especially statistical reports on its exponential growth and the importance of “flattening the curve”.

            At RMOTR, we wanted to help raise awareness of the issues associated with the spread of COVID-19 by making a dynamic and interactive analysis of the situation using Python and Data Science.

            We’ve made an interactive project that you can fork and follow step by step. You can see the process that Data Scientists follow to analyze the situation and make predictions. Here is a quick summary.

          • CudaText

            CudaText is a free, open-source, cross-platform (runs on Microsoft Windows, Linux, macOS or FreeBSD) code editor written in Lazarus. It evolved from the previous editor named SynWrite which is no longer developed. It is extensible by Python add-ons (plugins, linters, code tree parsers, external tools). Syntax parser is feature-rich, based on EControl engine (though not as fast as in some competitors).

          • PyCharm 2019.3.4

            We’ve fixed a couple of issues in PyCharm 2019.3. You can get it from within PyCharm (Help | Check for Updates), using JetBrains Toolbox, or by downloading the new version from our website.

          • How to use Pandas Scatter Matrix (Pair Plot) to Visualize Trends in Data

            In this Python data visualization tutorial, we will work with Pandas scatter_matrix method to explore trends in data. Previously, we have learned how to create scatter plots with Seaborn and histograms with Pandas, for instance. In this post, we’ll focus on scatter matrices (pair plots) using Pandas. Now, Pandas is using Matplotlib to make the scatter matrix.

          • How We’re Responding to COVID-19

            We are all facing a dynamic and difficult situation in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our families, friends, customers, employees, and communities are all dramatically affected by the impact of the virus and its impact on the global economy. During this time, I wanted to reach out and tell you how Anaconda is responding to the situation.

            Most importantly, our hearts go out to anyone impacted by the virus, especially those who are sick. We are also incredibly grateful to the healthcare workers, first responders, and other people who work to ensure we have healthcare, food, safety, shelter, and sanitation.

            Along with so many others, we are prioritizing the safety of our employees, customers, and the communities in which we operate. Our teams have been working from home since March 9, and we have eliminated all travel for the time being. This means that our touchpoints with you will be entirely digital for the foreseeable future; in today’s world this is a minor adjustment and we plan to make every effort to minimize disruption.

          • Python Scope & the LEGB Rule: Resolving Names in Your Code

            The concept of scope rules how variables and names are looked up in your code. It determines the visibility of a variable within the code. The scope of a name or variable depends on the place in your code where you create that variable. The Python scope concept is generally presented using a rule known as the LEGB rule.

            The letters in the acronym LEGB stand for Local, Enclosing, Global, and Built-in scopes. This summarizes not only the Python scope levels but also the sequence of steps that Python follows when resolving names in a program.

          • How is frame evaluation used in pydevd?

            Since Python 3.6, CPython has a mechanism which allows clients to override how it evaluates frames. This is done by changing PyThreadState.interp.eval_frame to a different C-function (the default being _PyEval_EvalFrameDefault). See: pydevd_frame_evaluator.pyx#L370 in pydevd (note that Cython is used there).

            Note that this affects the Python runtime globally, whereas the regular Python tracing function — set through sys.settrace() — affects only the current thread (so, some of the caches for frame evaluation in pydevd are thread-local due to that).

          • How to Debug a Hanging Test Using pytest

            Today a wanted to share a neat trick that might save you some headache: debugging a hanging test.

        • Java

    • Standards/Consortia

      • The Unicode Standard Now Includes CC License Symbols

        The latest Unicode Standard adds 5,930 characters, including 4 new scripts, 55 new emoji characters, and the following CC license symbols:

      • African WhatsApp Modders are the Masters of Worldwide Adversarial Interoperability

        Since the earliest days of consumer computing, computer users have asserted their right to have a say in how their tools worked: whether it was Gopher delivering easy new ways to access services that had originally been designed for power users who could memorize obscure addresses and arcane commands; or toolkits like Hypercard and Visual Basic, which let everyday people automate their work; or Scratch, which lets kids design games and apps that come from their imaginations, rather than an app store.

        This ability to adapt your tools is especially urgent when those tools are designed by people who live very different lives from your own. The disability rights movement’s rallying cry of “Nothing about us without us,” crystallizes generations of discontent with the high-handed attitude of distant “experts” who built systems and tools without truly working together with those who use and are affected by them. Technologists are especially notorious for this high-handedness: —like the Honeywell 316, a $10,600 “kitchen computer” for storing recipes that was offered for sale in the 1969 Nieman Marcus catalog. It was designed for women by men, but no women wanted or needed a kitchen computer, and they didn’t sell a single one. Despite this ghastly failure, early computer vendors continued to market their wares to women by advertising the ability to store and retrieve recipes.

  • Leftovers

    • Cicero’s Lessons for Life

      My high school Latin teacher, Mr. McPherson, passed away recently, before his time.  Joe’s death brought back memories of our class more than forty years ago translating Cicero, Ovid, Catullus and other Roman writers.

    • Maybe Stop Talking…
    • We Have Met the Enemy: It May Turn Out to be Us and Not a Virus
    • Science

      • Coronavirus lockdown forces tough choices on Italian scientists

        In Milan, one of the epicentres of Italy’s coronavirus outbreak, this has meant that researchers have had to make agonising choices, such as whether to stay away from the lab or risk jeopardising months of work on experiments that require regular attention.

        “We want to save experiments that have been running for months or years” – on mice, for example – but at the same time “shut off everything that is not needed”, said Marco Foiani, scientific director of the FIRC Institute of Molecular Oncology.

    • Education

      • Will the coronavirus make online education go viral?

        Although 63 per cent expected established, prestigious universities to be offering full degrees online by 2030, only 24 per cent thought that the electronic versions would be more popular than traditional campus-based degrees (“How will technology reshape the university by 2030”, Features, 27 September 2018).

        Lino Guzzella, president of ETH Zurich, asserted that “meeting people, interacting with peers, students and supervisors – in short, a real university environment – is the key to deep understanding”.

    • Health/Nutrition

      • Biden’s Health Care Plan Abandons Older Americans

        Joe Biden has surged since the South Carolina primary, and the received wisdom is that this was mainly because of the perception by his voters that he was the most electable candidate against President Donald Trump. But there are some potential pitfalls that have not yet surfaced, and some of them concern voters who are currently among Biden’s strongest base of support: Americans over 65 years old.

      • Letter Carriers Say the Postal Service Pressured Them to Deliver Mail Despite Coronavirus Symptoms — and Often Without Hand Sanitizer

        Postal carriers say they are being pressed into service against medical advice and with insufficient protection against the novel coronavirus. Two mail carriers told ProPublica they have been pressured to stay on their routes despite showing symptoms of COVID-19.

        One of the workers, in Denver, says he had to keep delivering mail for days while he awaited a doctor’s note. He says the route includes many locations where there are elderly and immunocompromised residents.

      • Citing coronavirus concerns, Russia’s State Duma bars all foreign journalists

        Russia’s State Duma is no longer admitting members of the foreign press, according to BBC Moscow correspondent Pyotr Kozlov, whose camera crew was denied permission to report from the Russian Parliament’s lower house on Thursday, March 19. “This is a temporary measure due to the unusual situation,” a spokesperson for the State Duma told Kozlov, referring to the coronavirus pandemic. 

      • During Tuesday’s Illinois Primary, Chicago Alderman and Former Firefighter Nicholas Sposato Delivered Pizzas at the Polls as His Ward Office Remained Open

        On Tuesday, as Illinois voters went to the polls amid growing concerns about the coronavirus, Chicago Alderman Nicholas Sposato was determined to deliver several dozen pizzas in his Northwest Side ward.

        Gov. J.B. Pritzker had already ordered schools and bars shut down and limited restaurants to takeout and delivery service. But polling places were open and so was Sposato’s 38th Ward office. As he saw it, his job was to keep delivering constituent services — which in this case also meant delivering “the pies.” Sposato had a tradition of using campaign funds to buy pizza for election volunteers around his ward, and he was intent on continuing it. So, as Chicago election officials traded blame with Pritzker over struggles to staff and sanitize polling places, Sposato embarked on his usual rounds.

      • Internal Govt. Document Warns of 18-Month Emergency, ‘Significant Shortages’ as Trump Boasts of ‘Fantastic’ Response

        The report also foresees a “straining” of the national healthcare system due to increased hospitalizations.

      • Spencer’s Pressured Employees to Come to Work, Selling Gag Gifts and Sex Toys, Until We Called

        As epidemiologists urged the public to avoid nonessential shopping in hopes of controlling the spread of the novel coronavirus and suppressing its death toll, Spencer’s, as of Wednesday morning, was still asking employees to come into its stores to sell lava lamps, rubber chickens and fake poop.

        The gag and gift shop that prides itself on being “the best place to work” remained open in malls across the country and beyond, five days after President Donald Trump declared a national emergency, and as employees and their families begged store leadership to close, calling its headquarters, speaking up during conference calls and peppering its social media accounts.

      • Italians Found Way to 3-D Print Key Ventilator Piece for $1 to Help Battle Coronavirus—So the Company With the Patent Is Threatening to Sue

        “There were people whose lives were in danger, and we acted. Period.”

      • Using surveillance cameras, Moscow police count more than 200 people at risk of carrying coronavirus who have violated home-quarantine

        More than 200 people in Russia’s capital who are at risk of having contracted coronavirus and now quarantined at home have reportedly disobeyed the terms of their self-quarantine. Moscow Chief of Police Oleg Baranov says the authorities have used street surveillance cameras in the so-called “Safe City” system to track violators.

      • As Coronavirus Cases Rise, Members of Some Ultra-Orthodox Jewish Communities Continue to Congregate

        In spite of public health directives limiting public gatherings and a spike in coronavirus cases, some members of ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities in Brooklyn were continuing to congregate in large groups Wednesday afternoon.

        Chabad-Lubavitch headquarters at 770 Eastern Parkway in the Crown Heights neighborhood closed on Tuesday night for the first time ever. That news was followed by a final prayer service in which worshippers stood shoulder to shoulder, according to Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

      • In Coronavirus Fight, Workers Are Forging an Emergency Green New Deal

        If government won’t mobilize the people to fight for our lives and health, healthcare workers can take the lead. 

      • Chicago Public Libraries Are Staying Open Even Though Librarians Say It Is Not Safe

        The Chicago Public Library system plans to keep 20 of the city’s 81 libraries open, with fewer services, despite pleas from workers that all sites be closed as the novel coronavirus continues to spread.

        “Mayor Lightfoot considers libraries an essential part of the life, health and vibrancy of our city. As such we will not be shutting down CPL completely, but enacting a plan for drastically reduced services,” Chicago Public Library Commissioner Andrea Telli wrote in an email to library workers Wednesday afternoon.

      • Corona, Corona

        Sung to the tune of Bobby Dylan’s “Corrina, Corrina”

      • Progressive Lawmakers Demand Nationwide Moratorium on ‘Cruel and Dangerous’ Evictions Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

        “Evicting families puts their health at risk, imposes trauma on and disrupts the education of their children, and exacerbates the risk of outbreak in their communities,” said Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and other lawmakers.

      • Common Decency Lives

        As we slide inexorably into the tunnel of coronavirus fear and despair, here are some candles of hope.

      • Life in the California COVID-19 Lockdown

        How’s life under quarantine? I bust out daily (unless my wife strenuously objects) to try to get supplies. This is supposedly officially allowed by the Shelter In Place Order, to wit:

      • Under COVID-19 Lockdown in Coleman Prison

        We were notified this afternoon, that we are going on a lockdown, the whole institution, and the lockdown will be for at least 30 days. We were told we would be given 500 minutes for the phone, which is 200 minutes more than usual, so it doesn’t sound like we will be in our cells. I don’t know if we will be able to write letters or receive mail. I will not be visiting anyone if I survive that is for at least 30 days and the virus doesn’t get into Coleman I.

      • Russia confirms 33 new coronavirus cases, bringing total number of known infections to 147

        On March 18, Russian health officials announced that they recorded 33 new cases of coronavirus in the previous 24 hours, bringing the country’s number of confirmed COVID-19 infections to 147.

      • Racist President Trump Refuses to Accept How Racist It Is to Keep Calling COVID-19 the ‘Chinese Virus’

        “This pattern of conflating race with a specific disease is a constant thread in American history.”

      • Coronavirus and the ‘Shock Doctrine’

        Powerful interests used the Great Recession to hardwire more inequality into our system. This time, let’s do the opposite.

      • Big 3 Automakers Shut Down as Coronavirus Outbreak Grinds US Industry to a Halt

        “Today’s action is the prudent thing to do.”

      • Bernie Sanders Proposes a $2 Trillion Coronavirus Emergency Plan

        Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders put forth a far-reaching plan Tuesday night that calls for at least $2 trillion in emergency funding — including for free healthcare and direct cash payments of $2,000 per month to every American — as a way to “mobilize on a scale not seen since the New Deal and World War II to prevent deaths, job losses, and economic ruin” caused by the deadly and growing threat of the coronavirus outbreak now sweeping the United States and much of the world.

      • The cases for optimism and pessimism Can Russia’s healthcare system handle the coronavirus outbreak?

        As the Russian authorities continue to report relatively low numbers of confirmed coronavirus cases, state officials have already started enacting emergency measures, such as closing schools nationwide and asking senior citizens to stay at home. COVID-19 has already killed thousands of people in Europe — mostly in Italy, where the disease has infected more than 30,000 people and claimed more than 2,500 lives. To find out if Russia’s healthcare system can be expected to handle the pandemic any better, Meduza turned to Russian healthcare scholar Larisa Popivich and Russian healthcare union leader Andrey Konoval.

      • Stop Tightening the Screws: a Humanitarian Message on Sanctions

        U.S. sanctions against Iran, cruelly strengthened in March of 2018, continue a collective punishment of extremely vulnerable people. Presently, the U.S. “maximum pressure” policy severely undermines Iranian efforts to cope with the ravages of COVID-19, causing hardship and tragedy while contributing to the global spread of the pandemic. On March 12, 2020, Iran’s Foreign Minister Jawad Zarif urged member states of the UN to end the United States’ unconscionable and lethal economic warfare.

      • ‘Literally Weaponizing Coronavirus’: Despite One of World’s Worst Outbreaks of Deadly Virus, US Hits Iran With ‘Brutal’ New Sanctions

        “As Iranians are ravaged by the coronavirus, the U.S. is complicit in their death. This is a crime against humanity.”

      • US Economic Sanctions Exacerbate Toll of Coronavirus in Iran

        U.S. sanctions against Iran, cruelly strengthened in March of 2018, continue a collective punishment of extremely vulnerable people. Presently, the U.S. “maximum pressure” policy severely undermines Iranian efforts to cope with the ravages of COVID-19, causing hardship and tragedy while contributing to the global spread of the pandemic. On March 12, 2020, Iran’s Foreign Minister Jawad Zarif urged member states of the UN to end the United States’ unconscionable and lethal economic warfare.

      • Why Sanctions During a Pandemic are Cruel

        Swiftly moves the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), dashing across continents, skipping over oceans, terrifying populations in every country. The numbers of those infected rises, as do the numbers of those who have died. Hands are being washed, tests are being done, and social distance has become a new phrase. It is unclear how devastating this pandemic will be.

      • Medical Conferences Didn’t Cancel, Exposing Doctors Who Treat High-Risk Patients to Coronavirus

        By the beginning of March, organizers of large conferences and meetings were canceling events because of worries about the coronavirus.

        The American Physical Society on Feb. 29 canceled its upcoming meeting of about 10,000 physicists in Denver because of “rapidly escalating health concerns relating to the spread of the coronavirus disease.” On March 2, thousands of people expected to attend Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim, California, the next day were told not to come because of concern about COVID-19.

      • Congress Passed $8.3 Billion in Emergency Coronavirus Funding, but First Responders Still Can’t Buy Masks

        This month, Congress passed an $8.3 billion emergency bill to respond to the coronavirus crisis. The money goes toward developing vaccines, disease surveillance, disaster loans and much more. But none of it goes directly to first responders for the protective gear and supplies they need to safely combat the novel coronavirus.

        Last week, ProPublica reported that firefighters, paramedics and emergency medical technicians on the front lines are desperate for such equipment. Some EMTs are begging for masks at local hospitals. Others are rationing gowns and face shields.

      • Refusal by Pelosi to Consider Universal Cash Payments in Response to Coronavirus Pandemic ‘Maddening,’ Say Progressives

        “This is a total failure of Democratic Party leadership.”

      • Corona Chronicles: Telegrams from Gotham

        Sitting in the East Village, drinking a coffee and trying to read a book, it was hard to ignore the rollicking conversation of liberal Boomers sitting an empty table or two behind me. What surprised me, but shouldn’t have, was the pedestrian character of the conversation. You might have scripted it for a Broadway show, had not the theater district been shuttered out of “an overabundance of caution.” We may soon find abundance wanting. Still the unceasing conversation roars ahead, unstoppable even as a malign pathogen thunders its way across the heartland.

      • Spreading the Word of God and Coronavirus: Outrage Over Evangelical Group Trying to Contact Isolated Amazon Tribes Amid Pandemic

        As the coronavirus spreads around the globe—with more than 300 known cases already in Brazil and members of President Bolsonaro’s staff infected—an evangelical Christian organization has purchased a helicopter with plans to contact and convert isolated indigenous groups in the remote Western Amazon.

      • Facing Mass Layoffs, Restaurant Workers Demand Living Wage and Paid Sick Leave

        Mass shutdowns and layoffs due to the spread of COVID-19 are affecting millions of restaurant workers across the U.S., with bars and restaurants closing for the foreseeable future. Servers, bartenders, kitchen staff and more have been left in the lurch, many without paid sick leave, paid time off or benefits. One study estimated 4 million restaurant workers in the U.S. are at risk of losing their jobs in a matter of weeks. For more on the impacts on service workers, we speak with Saru Jayaraman, the co-founder of the Food Labor Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley, and president of One Fair Wage, which has launched an emergency fund to support workers during this time. We also speak with Damani Varnado, a restaurant worker who has worked in catering, fine dining and cocktailing for the past 20 years in New York City. He was working at the restaurant Tiny’s & The Bar Upstairs when the whole staff was let go during the coronavirus pandemic. The coronavirus outbreak is a “devastating” blow to an industry that had “severe structural inequality problems that existed long before this crisis,” Saru Jayaraman says.

      • Here’s Why Americans Need a Basic Income During the Coronavirus Outbreak

        As the economic toll of the coronavirus pandemic escalates, support is growing for immediate economic relief for the millions of Americans whose lives have been upended. Utah Senator Mitt Romney has proposed sending a one-time infusion of $1,000 to every American adult during the crisis, while Trump Administration officials are also weighing the idea of direct cash payments to Americans.

      • Coronavirus Reminds Americans That Pursuit of Happiness Is Tied to the Collective Good

        At its core, the United States Declaration of Independence argues that all human beings have “unalienable rights.” These include right to “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

      • How Many Americans Are Really Infected With the Coronavirus?

        There’s a pandemic spreading across the U.S., and amid ongoing struggles to scale up testing, it’s still unclear how many people are actually infected.

        In the absence of real numbers, projections have filled the void, and I’ve been struggling as a reporter to know which forecasts to trust. Last week, the Ohio Department of Health said that over 100,000 people were infected, at a time when there were five confirmed cases in the state. Some epidemiology experts critiqued that estimate as too high, and the department’s director later said she was “guesstimating.”

      • The Trump Administration Drove Him Back to China, Where He Invented a Fast Coronavirus Test

        On the fourth floor of the University of Florida cancer research building, the once-bustling laboratory overseen by professor Weihong Tan is in disarray. White lab coats are strewn over workbenches. Storage drums and boxes, including some marked with biohazard warnings, are scattered across the floor. A pink note stuck to a machine that makes copies of DNA samples indicates the device is broken.

        No one is here on this weekday afternoon in February. On a shelf, wedged next to instruction manuals and binders of lab records, is a reminder of bygone glory: a group photo of Tan surrounded by more than two dozen smiling students and employees.

      • Spanish Flu: A Warning from History
      • Fox News, Still a Danger to Public Health

        Rupert Murdoch’s Fox cable networks, amid this crisis, have not been diverted from their primary mission, even if misinformation is the price. Apologia and advocacy for both Donald Trump and the Republican Party has typically taken precedence at Fox News and Fox Business. Even at a time when such a collective public effort is required to combat a global pandemic, the danger wasn’t a deterrent. Some anchors and guests likened COVID-19 to the flu, which is patently false. Fox Business’ Trish Regan theorized that media alarm about COVID-19 was “yet another attempt to impeach the president.” They encouraged Americans to congregate and travel, ignoring safety advice from medical experts and even government officials.

      • In Historic First, Peace Corps to Evacuate Volunteers Worldwide Amid Pandemic

        The Peace Corps, a government-run volunteer program established in 1961, has about 7,000 volunteers serving in over 60 countries. They will be evacuated to head off a scenario in which volunteers are trapped in their host countries due to international travel restrictions. “We are not closing posts, and we will be ready to return to normal operations when conditions permit,” Olsen stressed. She added that host country staff will remain in their current positions, and the Washington-based headquarters will remain open under its continuity of operations plan.

        The Peace Corps hasn’t specified when it would resume operations. “The safety of our volunteers is our highest priority. We will temporarily suspend our operations as long as it takes to keep them safe,” Marjorie Wass, a Peace Corps press officer, told Foreign Policy.

      • First COVID-19 cases in Mauritius

        One person having recently visited the United Kingdom and two others who worked on a cruise ship. The person coming from UK was not in quarantine and was only tested positive after being ill and visited the Candos hospital. The other two persons were quarantined upon their arrival to Mauritius and later they were tested positive for COVID-19.

        Public reaction on the social networks was undoubtedly bitter towards the government. The past few weeks it was a general feeling among Mauritians that the government should take strict measures, restrict access to the island, and that all inbound passengers be on mandatory quarantine. Such calls went to deaf ears. Even opposition’s pressure was ineffective.

      • Illinois Hospitals Lack the Beds Needed to Care for the Number of Residents Projected to Get Coronavirus

        Illinois hospitals face the possibility of widespread bed shortages if the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 continues to spread through the state, according to several scenarios analyzed by Harvard’s Global Health Institute.

        Perhaps 1.7 million adults living in Illinois are projected to get the virus over the course of the pandemic, with thousands expected to become sick enough to need a hospital bed, the analysis found. Yet across the state, from metropolitan Chicago to southern Illinois, hospitals lack enough beds, including intensive care unit beds, to meet that rising need.

      • Chicago Shuts Down, but Its Public Libraries Are Open. Librarians Want Them Closed.

        In Chicago, bars and restaurants are closed for business. Schools are shut down.

        But the city’s library system of about 80 branches is still open, even as librarians are calling in sick in protest and pleading with city officials to close as the novel coronavirus spreads in Chicago and throughout the country. An online petition demanding that libraries close had more than 4,300 signatures by Tuesday morning.

      • From The Plague Doctor to Plague Culture

        In Italy and France during the 17th century, the plague doctor was a physician who treated victims of the bubonic plague. He would dawn a plague mask which usually resembled the face of a white bird to include a curved beak and glass, goggle-like eye holes. Inside the beak or nose-case were placed various aromas—often lavender—and the two holes under the beak allowed the doctor to take in air which was believed to be purified thus protecting him. The widely-held belief at this time was that the plague was transmitted through smells caused by a miasma (μίασμα, ancient Greek for “pollution”), a noxious form of “bad air.” This was the dominant medical theory of contagion transmission that persisted at the time until the late 19th century when germ theory came into prominence and adopted by the scientific community. Attributed to Charles de Lorme, the chief physician of Louis XIII, the plague mask became a symbol of impending death, of fear and in years long after the plague, a symbol used during carnival, especially that of Venice.

      • Russia suspends all professional soccer, hockey, and basketball competitions until April 10

        To slow the spread of coronavirus, all professional-league soccer, hockey, and basketball competitions in Russia have been suspended until at least April 10, following reported decisions by the Russian Premier League, Kontinental Hockey League, and VTB United League. According to journalist Nikolai Konov, the decision to postpone games and tournaments until next month was made jointly by the leagues’ leaders and was not even discussed with individual team owners. 

      • Love and Nonviolence in the Time of Coronavirus

        The stark choice for a nonviolent future is here.

      • Letter from America: March 16, 2020

        Belfast, Maine, USA. Monday, March 16, 2020. Life has taken on a surreal quality, like living on a set of a zombie apocalypse movie. In my midcoast Maine town of 6,700, shelves in the Hannaford supermarket are three quarters empty. If your company’s product is still on the shelf, you might want to think about what you’re doing wrong.

      • ‘Appallingly Irresponsible’: Though Ohio Shuts Down Primary Election Over Coronavirus, Other States Go Forward

        “Officials who promised that they had extremely serious plans to make voting in person in the middle of a pandemic safe were not telling the truth.”

      • Coronavirus Outbreak Proves There Is No Public Health System in the US

        There is no public health system in the US, in short, because the richest nation in the world has no capacity to protect the public as a whole, apart from national defense. 

      • The CDC Recommends Americans Stay at Home — Unless They Work for the CDC

        As the president urged Americans on Monday to keep gatherings to fewer than 10 people, his administration left many federal workers still confused: Should they show up for work or not?

        This follows a yearslong push by the Trump administration to sharply reduce telework across federal agencies, a shift that has hindered efforts to protect the nation’s largest workforce without slowing critical government functions.

      • Coronavirus, Colonization, and Capitalism

        What the global outbreak reminds us about inequality.

      • The Detroit Organizers Long Demanding Water Justice

        As cities and states grapple with the spread of coronavirus, activists remind government why water is a human right and not a commodity.

      • ‘Cannot Go On Like This’: Ordered to Work Despite Coronavirus Outbreak, Spanish Autoworkers Shut Down Mercedes Factory

        The employees demanded that “the health of workers be prioritized over production in the face of the coronavirus health crisis.”

      • ‘Terrifying’ New Research Warns 2.2 Million Could Die From Coronavirus in US Without Drastic Action

        “Only now is the White House coming out of denial and heading straight into saying it could not have been foreseen.”

      • Russia confirms 21 new coronavirus cases, bringing total number of known infections to 114

        On March 17, Russian health officials announced that they recorded 21 new cases of coronavirus in the previous 24 hours, bringing the country’s number of confirmed COVID-19 infections to 114.

      • Quarantined: On Penguins, Memes, Songs and Non-Social-Distancing Cats
      • The Kremlin scans journalists with thermal readers three times before they get anywhere near Putin

        In connection with the coronavirus pandemic, the Kremlin imposed new restrictions on media access this week. According to the newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets, all journalists and news crews attending events that include President Putin will now have their temperatures measured at least three times in a single visit: first at the Kremlin’s security checkpoint near the Spasskaya Tower, then when entering the compound, and again before entering the Kremlin’s press center. 

      • Coronavirus Shock Will Likely Claim 3 Million Jobs By Summer

        Policy is needed now to curb further losses.

      • With Many Lawmakers Out of Town, Democratic House Quietly Weakens Paid Leave Provisions in Coronavirus Relief Bill

        “This is not getting enough attention.”

      • Insurance Industry Ramps Up Propaganda Against Medicare for All Amid Pandemic

        As the coronavirus pandemic spreads across the United States, laying bare the myriad dysfunctions and inefficiencies of America’s for-profit healthcare system, a powerful insurance industry front group is openly ramping up its campaign against systemic healthcare reforms that experts say would help mitigate the outbreak and guarantee essential care for all.

      • Social Distancing? Peace and Social Justice Demand More Coming Together, Not More Distancing

        Let’s get all US troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan, make peace with Iran, and address the real threats to human security like pandemics and the climate crisis.

      • ‘Just the Beginning’: Nearly 1 in 5 Americans Say They or Someone in Their Household Already Lost Hours or Jobs From Coronavirus

        “There is no *good* coronavirus plan unless it includes compensation for these 18% of workers. Full stop.”

      • If You Think Coronavirus Profiteering Is Bad, Wait Till the Climate Heats Up

        From testing for coronavirus to treating the health impacts of climate change, universal healthcare and publicly owned medicine production are critical components for adapting to the coming crisis.

      • Years of Austerity Weakened the Public Health Response to Coronavirus

        Years of austerity at all levels of government, combined with profiteering in the health care sector and the Trump administration’s bungled response, have severely weakened the nation’s ability to combat the coronavirus outbreak and is putting public health workers on the front lines of the crisis in danger, according to experts and labor advocates.

      • How to Talk to Someone You Believe Is Misinformed About the Coronavirus

        The medical evidence is clear: The coronavirus global health threat is not an elaborate hoax. Bill Gates did not create the coronavirus to sell more vaccines. Essential oils are not effective at protecting you from coronavirus.

      • The Senate Must Pass the Families First Coronavirus Response Act

        The coronavirus pandemic has laid bare how ill-prepared the U.S. is to address basic human needs. Unlike every other wealthy nation, the U.S. fails to provide access to health care for everyone, paid time off for workers who are sick, safety standards to protect health workers, adequate payment to caregivers for people with disabilities, or financial support for businesses in times of natural disasters or widespread illness.

      • As Politicians Are Still Looking To Destroy The Internet, Covid-19 Reminds Us Why Social Media Is Not Just Good, But Saving Lives

        For all the fears and freak-outs over “disinformation” on social media, over the past few weeks Twitter, especially, has been an amazing source for getting accurate, thoughtful information regarding the Covid-19 pandemic and how to deal with it. It’s a pretty stark contrast, in fact, between people who seemed to be paying attention to credible voices on social media, and who began “social distancing” sooner, and those who were getting their information from politicians and television (especially cable news) who seemed to wave off the dangers for way too long. That’s not to say there hasn’t been disinformation about Covid-19 online — including some spread by politicians and crackpots. However, on the whole, social media has done what it does best: allowed credible, knowledgeable voices to rise to the top for many.

      • Amid Coronavirus Pandemic, Global Digital Mobilization to Mark 50th Anniversary of Earth Day

        “Whether it be coronavirus or our global climate crisis, we cannot shut down. Instead, we must shift our energies and efforts to new ways to mobilize the world to action.”

      • No, Italy is Not Consigning 80-Year Olds to Death

        Fake News Alert.

      • Russia to close all federal theaters, museums, symphonies, and circuses

        All cultural institutions operated under the Russian federal government’s umbrella will be closed temporarily amid the COVID-19 pandemic. TASS reported that the country’s Culture Ministry introduced the closures on March 17. It is not yet clear how long they will last.

      • Russian Orthodox Church imposes new rules to fight coronavirus spread, but only in Moscow

        The Russian Orthodox Church has developed new rules to curb the spread of coronavirus during church services. The precautions have been approved by Patriarch Kirill, but they apply only to the Moscow diocese.

      • Coronavirus as a Way of Life

        A crew of gathered customers were busying themselves this Friday evening at the BWS (Beer, Wine and Spirits for the uninitiated) along Elizabeth Street in Melbourne, sporting shirts heavy with sponsorship. Some were surly; others were trying to keep their spirits up. “Things to do in Melbourne when you are not going to the Formula One,” a sprightly one chirped, looking at his phone with mild amusement. “Go to the zoo; or you may use the famous tram network. Do observe the wonderful left-hook turn on the road.” Another customer was keen to get back to her home stomping ground – Sydney. It was seeing cars racing, or nothing. “If I cannot get a flight out tonight, I will simply drive.” Appropriate for a Formula One fan, perhaps. “And why don’t they close the tram network anyway?” she blurted. “So many people, close and cramped.”

      • Longtime head of Moscow Election Commission steps down, citing health reasons

        Valentin Gorbunov, the longtime chairman of the Moscow Election Commission, is stepping down due to health reasons, he told the news agency TASS on Tuesday. Gorbunov revealed that he is currently hospitalized, though he didn’t share any details about why.

      • On the Front Lines of the Coronavirus Pandemic: A Doctor’s View

        The virus is exposing inadequacies in health systems all over the world, especially the U.S.’s abysmal health infrastructure. Health workers on the ground continue to provide care during the pandemic despite the severe lack of resources and dangers to their personal health.

      • Stop Tightening the Thumb Screws, A Humanitarian Message

        We need to jointly confront the coronavirus while constructing a humane future for the world without wasting time or resources on the continuation of brutal wars.

      • Treating Coronavirus Like Active Shooter, NYC Mayor Warns of ‘Shelter in Place Order’ for Entire City

        The mayor’s comments come as Gov. Cuomo says peak of infectious outbreak could still be 45 days away.

      • With PAID Leave Act, Democrats Aim to Close Loopholes in Coronavirus Bill That Left Out Millions of Workers

        “This is good for workers, businesses, and critically, it will help slow the spread of the coronavirus.”

      • Plagues, Pandemics, Paintings, and Personal Gain

        After a lot of Trump Administration obfuscation, dillydallying, denial, sloppy planning, incompetence, inaction, and indecision about the spread and the combatting of the Coronavirus in the United States, and, after much criticism by Democrat politicians and the “liberal” media, the White House apprised the nation that at 9:00 p.m. EDT, March 11, 2020, President Donald Trump was going to address the nation.

      • Trump Minimizing and Sugarcoating Coronavirus Perils

        Donald Trump can’t fake his way through the coronavirus. It’s spreading and doesn’t respond to his delusions. Donald is flailing, failing, fibbing, stumbling, and scapegoating. With the stock market collapsing and the economy shaking, Donald fears defeat in November. Trump is a daily clear and present danger and he is the worst person to handle the COVID-19 crisis.

      • American Unexceptionalism & COVID-19

        During the SARS-1 epidemic scare in 2002-4, America invaded Iraq. If you followed science, you would know that SARS-1, was a coronavirus that caused an acute respiratory disease that killed on average about 11 out of every 100 infected (but sometimes more depending on health care infrastructure), and was a pandemic bullet the world barely missed. Due to heroic work of doctors, nurses and scientists, it was contained. Had it not been contained…. Next time you see a doctor or nurse or scientist, you should thank them for their service.

      • Cuba’s Contribution to Combatting COVID-19

        COVID-19 surged in the Chinese city of Wuhan in late December 2019 and by January 2020 it had hit Hubei province like a tidal wave, swirling over China and rippling out overseas. The Chinese state rolled into action to combat the spread and care for those infected. Among the 30 medicines the Chinese National Health Commission selected to fight the virus was a Cuban anti-viral drug Interferon Alpha 2b. This drug has been produced in China since 2003, by the enterprise ChangHeber, a Cuban-Chinese joint venture.

      • As Coronavirus Death Toll Continues to Rise in Iran, Global Calls Mount for US to Lift ‘Immoral’ Sanctions

        “Actively denying an entire country medicine and humanitarian goods and continuing to pummel their economy in midst of global pandemic is the height of ‘malign behavior’ in my book.”

      • To Help Stem Coronavirus, Lift Sanctions on Iran

        The COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic is far from the first proof of how intertwined we are as a global community. The climate crisis and the refugee crisis have long been glaring examples that the wars or CO2 emissions on one continent risk the lives and well-being of people on another continent. What coronavirus is providing, however, is a unique opportunity to look specifically at how the intentional damage caused to one country’s healthcare system can make it harder for the entire world to address a pandemic.

      • Hospitals reach capacity in St. Petersburg as promised free coronavirus tests fail to materialize

        Officials in St. Petersburg have offered free coronavirus testing to everyone in the city. On March 16, St. Petersburg’s Health Committee released a list of clinics where anyone who wanted could supposedly get tested without charge for COVID-19. Based on the list, the tests would be available to adults and children at clinics in the city’s Vasileostrovsky, Kolpinsky, Moskovsky, Nevsky, Primorsky, Pushkinsky, Frunzensky, and Central districts. Officials assured the public that at least one hospital in the city’s other districts would also offer coronavirus tests. According to an official government announcement, a mandatory medical insurance policy number would be the only requirement for getting the test. Individuals who test positive for the disease will be hospitalized and their results will be sent for confirmation to the “Vektor” Novosibirsk virology center.

      • Russia stops issuing visas amid coronavirus pandemic

        Russia’s consulates and diplomatic missions have suspended the processing of documents as well as the issuance of all visa categories, the country’s Foreign Affairs Ministry announced.

      • Moscow reportedly preparing for complete COVID-19 quarantine, including closed city borders; city officials deny reports

        The city of Moscow may soon enter a state of emergency that will include a complete transport shutdown and a ban on entering or exiting the city, Vedomosti reported. Several sources close to Moscow City Hall and the Russian federal government spoke with journalists about the planned shutdown, saying it may be instituted within the next two weeks or as soon as the end of this week.

      • Why America Can’t Respond to the Current Crisis

        Dr. Anthony S Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and just about the only official in the Trump administration trusted to tell the truth about the coronavirus, said last Thursday: “The system does not, is not really geared to what we need right now … It is a failing, let’s admit it.”

      • Insane: China Expels American Journalists In Ridiculous, Unhelpful Spat About Covid-19

        There has been some absolutely ridiculous sniping between the Chinese government and the US government over “blame” for Covid-19. For idiotic reasons, President Trump and his sycophantic followers started referring to Covid-19 as “The Chinese Virus,” a racist term that hints at putting blame on Chinese people for the virus or even implying that those of Chinese ancestry are more risky than others. The administration also stupidly limited the number of Chinese staffers allowed at the US bureaus of Chinese news organizations, partly in response to China expelling three Wall Street Journal reporters over a headline it didn’t like.

      • Does the COVID-19 Crisis Have to Result in a Wealthier Wealthy?
      • How Quickly Hospitals Could Fill Up if We Don’t Slow Coronavirus Down
      • With US Hospitals Unprepared for COVID-19, European Students Urged Home

        The biggest college in Norway urged students to return from countries with “poorly developed” health systems — such as the United States! — as experts warned that the American hospital system would be overwhelmed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

      • Incarcerated Journalist Says Millions Behind Bars Are at Risk Amid Pandemic

        As San Francisco takes the most severe measures in the country in response to COVID-19, telling 7 million people to shelter in place, we go inside the Bay Area’s San Quentin State Prison, where two prison blocks are under partial quarantine, to speak with incarcerated journalist Juan Moreno Haines. We look at how the coronavirus pandemic is a growing threat to the 2.3 million people locked up in U.S. prisons and jails, as prisons across the country have been shut down in response to the spreading virus and calls grow for mass prison releases around the United States.

      • Spain Nationalizes Health Care as Its Coronavirus Cases Double

        Europe is the epicenter of coronavirus, and Spain now has the second most cases in Europe, with more than 2,000 new cases in 24 hours and the number of deaths doubled. We’ll go to Madrid for an update, where more than half of the country’s cases have been reported. This comes as the Spanish government announced it is nationalizing hospitals and private healthcare companies to better manage the pandemic. We are joined by María Carrión, a freelance journalist and former Democracy Now! producer who is also executive director of FiSahara and co-founder of Nomads HRC, which focus on human rights in Western Sahara.

      • Methodology: How ProPublica Mapped Hospital Capacity for Coronavirus

        Descriptions of emergency rooms and intensive care units in China and Italy paint a grim picture: Doctors forced to treat patients in hallways instead of intensive care units, military helicopters ferrying patients to hospitals with available beds, and entirely new facilities constructed within days to handle the massive overflow of infected residents.

        But even in these countries, there’s a higher number of hospital beds per capita than in the United States. America lags behind with 2.8 hospital beds per 1,000 people, compared with Italy (3.2), China (4.3) and South Korea (12.3), according to recent data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, an intergovernmental institution that tracks societal indicators. When it comes to intensive care beds, the United States compares more favorably, several studies have suggested. Still, the impending shortage of overall hospital beds puts regional systems at risk of breakdown.

      • It’s Taken a Pandemic to Make Politicians Take Note of Our Basic Needs

        The COVID-19 public health emergency is unleashing something most out of the ordinary in U.S. politics.

      • As Ohio Postpones Its Primary, COVID-19 Pandemic Wreaks Election Havoc

        After covering presidential elections, primaries and politics for the last 20 years, I’ve gotten used to days when the story changes before I can finish typing a sentence. The days after this year’s South Carolina primary are a perfect example. Super Tuesday preview done, think I’ll make a sandwich, wait, Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg just dropped out and endorsed Joe Biden, oh well, NO SANDWICH FOR ME.

      • Despite coronavirus pandemic, Putin sticks to original April 22 date for plebiscite on constitutional amendments that could prolong his presidency to 2036

        Vladimir Putin has signed an executive order calling for a nationwide vote on proposed constitutional amendments, including revisions that would allow him to run for another two terms in office, potentially extending his presidency to 2036.

      • Moscow’s COVID visionaries Russia’s coronavirus PSA efforts will be led by two former Kremlin Internet czars, including one known for making Putin an erotic calendar

        Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin has ordered the creation of a state-run center charged with informing citizens about the COVID-19 pandemic. The center will be built around an existing autonomous nonprofit called Dialogue. That group is directed by Alexey Goreslavsky, the former deputy director of the presidential administration’s public projects team. Goreslavsky essentially served as the Kremlin’s Internet policy curator.

      • Bernie Sanders Proposal for $2 Trillion Coronavirus Emergency Plan Includes $2,000 Direct Monthly Payments to Every American

        As Democratic primary turns surreal amid infectious outbreak, Sanders lays out “Coronavirus Crisis Principles” for people-centered response and a national mobilization on “a scale not seen since the New Deal and World War II.”

      • Inside the Pro-Trump Facebook Group Where First Responders Call Coronavirus a Hoax

        In a 27,000-member private Facebook group for first responders who support President Donald Trump, firefighters and paramedics have posted thousands of comments in recent weeks downplaying the coronavirus pandemic that they are responsible for helping to handle.

      • Inside the Pro-Trump Facebook Group Where First Responders Call Coronavirus a Hoax

        Posts in the group, which is called IAFF Union Firefighters for Trump and has been endorsed by Trump, scoffed at the seriousness of the virus, echoing false assertions by Trump and his allies comparing it to the seasonal flu. “Every election year has a disease,” read one meme, purporting to be written on a doctor’s office whiteboard. “This is a viral-pneumonia being hyped as The Black Plague before an election.”

      • The Five Questions Reporters Need to Ask Hospitals and Local Officials About Coronavirus

        As hospitals around the country fear running out of beds and equipment to treat patients, many of us want to know: How will our local hospitals deal with this crisis? ProPublica launched a tool that allows you to look up how patients with COVID-19 could affect hospitals in your area under various scenarios.

        For local reporters, this data can be a helpful starting point for writing important stories about the challenges facing your health care system. Here’s our advice on how to use it.

      • Volunteers 3D-Print Unobtainable $11,000 Valve For $1 To Keep Covid-19 Patients Alive; Original Manufacturer Threatens To Sue

        Techdirt has just written about the extraordinary legal action taken against a company producing Covid-19 tests. Sadly, it’s not the only example of some individuals putting profits before people. Here’s a story from Italy, which is currently seeing more new coronavirus cases and deaths than anywhere else in the world. Last Thursday, a hospital in Brescia, in the north of Italy, needed supplies of special valves in order to use breathing equipment to help keep Covid-19 patients alive in intensive care (original in Italian). The manufacturer was unable to provide them because of the demand for this particular valve.

      • The Corona Virus, Trump, and Friday the 13th Press Conference

        On Friday 13 March,  listening to the President’s speech on the state of emergency provoked by the Coronavirus, I was thinking that the litany of interdictions enumerated had all the features of a crisis heterotopia. I reveled at all the “measures” he recalled: banning assemblies of people, canceling performances and sporting events, in short “social distancing” (better qualified as “physical distancing”) and cutting off an entire continent, with the (temporary) exception of one chosen Anglo-Saxon one from which you can still return to the USA, unless you are an alien trying to sneak into the American dreamland through Great Britain, after having sojourned in a suspicious European country. And if someone dares such a deviousness, they will be repelled.

      • Coronavirus for All

        OK, maybe it’s not the end of the world – but it’s the end of the world as we know it – and it will be upon us within the next few days. The author heads up coursehero.com. Still, I believe that he’s right. Michael Moore says that the public health-types in government tell him that he’s right.

      • To Defeat Coronavirus, Media Need to Look at Real-World Examples, Not Play ‘Simulitis’

        Every news outlet ought to have a chart like this one, from the Financial Times, featured prominently on their home page—because there is no more important question in the coronavirus crisis right now than how to get off the path led by Italy and onto the track of countries like Singapore.

      • Russia says it’s ready to expedite the construction of new infectious diseases centers nationwide ‘if necessary’

        Russia’s federal government says it’s prepared to expedite the construction of new infectious diseases centers across the country, if necessary to contain the spread of coronavirus. On Tuesday, March 17, Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin said, “We have indeed considered this option. If necessary, we’re ready to implement these options.” Khusnullin added that the government would draw on officials’ experience in Moscow, where several infectious diseases centers are currently being built.

      • ‘Despicable’: Insurance Industry Front Group Ramps Up Propaganda Against Medicare for All Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

        “The healthcare industry will fight any threat to its profits with force and gobs of cash, even in the midst of a global pandemic. They cannot be bargained with. And they must be defeated.”

      • What’s Missing From the Coronavirus Bill

        Each of us is only as healthy as the least-healthy among us.

      • EU Shuts Its Borders to Foreign Visitors for 30 Days

        The European Union is shutting its borders to foreign visitors for the next 30 days to try to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

        With just one new case reported Tuesday in Wuhan, China, Europe — especially Italy — has become ground zero for the pandemic.

      • Trump Isn’t In Charge—So Who the Hell Is?

        The four authority figures in my life cannot even coordinate their press conferences, much less their responses. On Sunday, my wife listened to the Trump press conference while I tuned in to Cuomo, who was on at the same time; I also kept the radio on in case de Blasio decided to say anything while the other two were speaking. I’ve got Latimer telling me to support local businesses, de Blasio telling me not to go to the bar, Cuomo telling me he’s going to make it so bars can deliver drinks to my house (I think), and Trump telling me there’s nothing to worry about—but, if there is, it’s not his “responsibility.”

        What’s wild is that this confusion is, more or less, the direct consequence of our system of government. States of emergency give executive officers all sorts of powers, yet those officials are still limited by the statutes authorizing the state of emergency and the constitutions of their states and the federal government. Each official has different, overlapping yet not redundant powers, depending on the office they hold and the way the emergency statutes are written. Figuring out who’s in charge is almost impossible. If you don’t have a law degree, good luck figuring out if you’re even allowed to go to a bar to grab a drink.

      • Coronavirus: How Fake News Affects the COVID-19 Spread

        The COVID-19 pandemic has been difficult to contain worldwide. Governments have been slow to respond in some countries, while in others people have not taken the virus as seriously as they should have. The virus continues to spread even in places where both people and government alike have been proactive.

        One of the major problems in dealing with the virus has been information; it was slow to come from major health institutes and governments, and in that time plenty of misinformation spread quickly. For some reason, this information not only tends to circulate more but it also tends to be more believable even though it is essentially fake news.

      • Charter staff told to report to offices despite positive coronavirus tests
      • Crowdsourcing App Takes Aim at COVID-19

        Researchers into the COVID-19 virus have a new source of distributed computing power: crowdsourcing.

        Usually crowdsourcing involves information or opinion gathering, but in this case it involves computing power.

        By installing the Folding@home software program, anyone with a computer, gaming console, or even some phones and some compute cycles to spare can contribute to the work of coronavirus researchers around the world.

        Folding@home is a distributed computing project from Stanford University’s Pande Lab in Palo Alto, California, directed by Vijay Pande, PhD.

        Participants can configure the Folding@home application to run in the background all the time or just when a machine is idle.

      • A is for Absentee Ballot

        In this time of social distancing, you don’t want to be at a crowded polling place touching the same screens or pens that everyone else has touched before you; and it would be better if poll workers weren’t required to be there either. It would be so much better if we all voted by mail.

        When Dave and I lived in California, the state had just switched to what they called “permanent absentee ballots”: at least in the bay area, ballots were automatically sent to all voters. You could fill the ballot out at home, and then you had the choice of mailing them in or dropping them off at the nearest polling place. (This was thanks to our excellent then-Secretary of State Debra Bowen, who also fought against no-paper-trail voting machines and for increased ballot access.)

        New Mexico still uses in-person voting, though I’m happy to say we use paper ballots and allow absentee voting without requiring any excuse. But this year, it looks like New Mexico will be encouraging voting by mail; our Secretary of State has a FAQ | ABSENTEE VOTING FOR THE 2020 PRIMARY ELECTION. page with details on how to sign up, and you must request your ballot for the primary by May 28.

        Check the rules for your state (assuming you’re in the US). If you haven’t voted in the primary yet, check now, since time may be running out! For the November general election, you probably have plenty of time.

      • An International Virus Needs an International Response

        On the 75th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations, with critics bemoaning a profound crisis of multilateralism, the COVID-19 pandemic poses a crucial moment for the international system. Newton’s third law of motion says that for every action there is a reaction. While many of the 17th century English physicist’s laws have been replaced by modern science, his third law has important implications for today’s coronavirus outbreak. We know the virus exists. It has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO). What we don’t know is how to react to the virus.

      • Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resources

        A new strain of coronavirus causing pneumonia-like symptoms was recently identified in Wuhan, China, marking the beginning of the spread of the virus across the globe. Coronaviruses (CoV), so named for their “crown-like” appearance, are a large family of viruses that spread from animals to humans and include diseases like Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). Researchers have now confirmed that the virus can spread via human-to-human transmission, though the original source of the virus has not been identified. Unlike other coronaviruses, COVID-19 has a much larger global spread and has infected more individuals than SARS and MERS combined.

      • Coronavirus spreading more rapidly in London, PM says

        Transmission of Covid-19 is happening more rapidly in London, the Prime Minister has said.

        Addressing the UK, Boris Johnson said London is weeks ahead of other regions in terms of the virus curve, meaning transmission is happening more rapidly.

        He told Londoners to pay special attention to the advice to work from home and to avoid unnecessary social contact.

        Pubs, clubs and theatres should no longer be visited, he added.

        As of 16 March, London has 480 confirmed coronavirus cases. A total of 55 people have died in the UK due to Covid-19 – 14 of those were from London.

      • As Trump Limits Guest Workers From Mexico Amid Coronavirus, Farmers Warn of Labor and Food Shortages

        “There won’t be anyone to harvest the crops… It will be devastating to growers and ultimately to the supply chain and consumers.”

      • Lessons from coronavirus and climate change: Don’t be deceived by small numbers

        Comparing the coronavirus pandemic to climate change is a fraught endeavor. Using one crisis to illustrate the dangers of another typically doesn’t work. For the most part, people only have the mental bandwidth for one life-threatening, world-altering crisis at a time. (Even one’s a stretch, if personal experience is any indication.)

        But there is at least one major way in which coronavirus is similar to the climate crisis, and it’s worth talking about now, while the world’s collective missteps in containing COVID-19 are fresh in our minds: Small differences in numbers matter a lot.

        When the coronavirus first began to spread beyond Wuhan, China, a misinformed bit of conventional wisdom started getting passed around: COVID-19 is just like the flu, and Americans survive flu epidemics on a regular basis. President Trump regurgitated this tidbit as recently as last week, tweeting, “So last year 37,000 Americans died from the common Flu. It averages between 27,000 and 70,000 per year. At this moment there are 546 confirmed cases of CoronaVirus, with 22 deaths. Think about that!” (Trump’s tweet was almost right — the flu killed 34,000 Americans last year.)

      • ‘At the peak, we could be talking about millions of tests’ An interview with the CEO of Russia’s largest medical equipment company on the country’s coronavirus prospects and his own struggle to get a test approved

        On March 16, Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova announced plans to multiply the number of coronavirus tests available in Russia and start free testing throughout the country. So far, however, the only test system in use in Russia is a kit developed by the Novosibirsk state-owned research center “Vektor.” Conducted in two stages, these tests are not highly sensitive, making them prone to false negatives. The Russian company “DNA Technologies,” which specializes in medical equipment and producing reagents for analytical tests, has designed its own coronavirus test, but regulations imposed by the Federal Service for Consumer Rights Protection and Human Welfare (Rospotrebnadzor) have made trial studies impossible. Meduza spoke to DNA Technologies CEO Vladimir Kolin to find out more about testing in Russia, its accuracy, and what to expect as COVID-19 spreads further.

      • Russian lawmaker proposes legislation that would surrender legislative oversight on federal reserve-fund spending to fight coronavirus

        Andrey Makarov, the head of the State Duma’s Budget and Taxes Committee, has drafted legislation that would enable the federal government to increase its reserve fund without budget amendments that currently require the Duma’s approval. According to the bill’s explanatory note, the reform would allow officials to allocate money more rapidly to the fight against the spread of coronavirus. 

      • A New York Doctor’s Coronavirus Warning: The Sky Is Falling
      • We Are Facing Economic Collapse on Top of a Pandemic. What We Do Now Matters.

        As the COVID-19 virus spreads, the U.S. economy has begun to crumble like a house of cards.

    • Integrity/Availability

      • Proprietary

        • Pseudo-Open Source

          • Openwashing

            • Uber open-sources Piranha, a tool that automatically deletes stale code

              Uber today made available in open source Piranha, a tool that automatically deletes stale and unused code from app codebases. The company says it eliminates the need for engineers to engage in the task of code removal themselves, which often prevents them from working on newer features.

            • Amazon is looking to bring Target and Walmart into an open source technology group

              The e-tailer, which formed an open source organization called Dent last year, is now looking to bring Target and Walmart into the fold, per The Wall Street Journal.

              But Target and Walmart reportedly don’t plan to participate at this point. Dent has access to some of the technologies that enable Amazon to operate its Go stores, which feature autonomous checkout, and already works with technology solutions firm Marvell Technology Group and networking software provider Cumulus Networks. The open source nature of Dent means that firms that download Amazon’s software can use it as they like without collaborating directly with Amazon.

          • Privatisation/Privateering

            • Linux Foundation

              • Linux is the number one in-demand skill: Open source career trends

                The trends of the open-source world are constantly changing and so are the open-source skills. According to a report shown by the open-source foundation in the year 2018, there is an increasing demand for employees that are open-source savvy. It also reported that around 87 percent of managers are finding difficulty in hiring talent with open source technology and within this, 83% of employers give priority to the open-source employees.

                Today, Linux is the highest-ranked skill in software development and in the job market. According to Jim Zemlin, the executive director of the Linux Foundation, it is made sure that everyone can get access to training and certification of open-source skills with ease. In this modern era, every business is recognizing the need for open source skill and thus the trend of getting Linux certifications is increasing. Today, companies are not hungry for employees with a Linux certification but they are starving for it. This is the reason why companies are ready to pay for the Linux certification if the employees have some primary skills.

                This article will shed light on the importance of this skill and its growing demand in the open-source industry.

        • Security

          • Health groups vulnerable to cyberattacks as coronavirus crisis ramps up [iophk: Windows TCO]

            [Attackers] are zeroing in on government health agencies and hospitals, who are already struggling to keep pace with the coronavirus pandemic, as a way to make money and cause disruptions in the midst of a global crisis.

            These concerns were highlighted Monday when Bloomberg News reported that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), one of the agencies on the front lines of the outbreak, had been breached by [attackers].

          • Security updates for Wednesday

            Security updates have been issued by Debian (libvncserver and twisted), Fedora (libxslt), Red Hat (kernel, kernel-rt, python-flask, python-pip, python-virtualenv, slirp4netns, tomcat, and zsh), Scientific Linux (kernel, python-pip, python-virtualenv, tomcat, and zsh), SUSE (apache2-mod_auth_openidc and skopeo), and Ubuntu (apport and dino-im).

          • NordPass – A Powerful Password Manager for Linux [Ed: "FOSS"Mint again pushing proprietary software instead of FOSS]

            NordPass is a password manager that exists to enable users to remember all their complex login credentials, to autofill forms online, and to generate strong passwords. It offers a free account no credit card required and the ability to store data across multiple devices.

          • GrSecurity Linux Kernel To Focus More On Performance This Year

            The GrSecurity patches to the Linux kernel have long focused on security enhancements but this year they are said to be taking on a larger focus of performance optimizations.

            GrSecurity patches include PaX and various other security-based features, some of which items have ended up in the mainline Linux kernel years later in varying forms. In recent years, however, GrSecurity has just made their kernel patches and binaries only available to paying customers.

          • Security updates for Thursday

            Security updates have been issued by Debian (gdal), Fedora (nethack), Mageia (okular, sleuthkit, and webkit2), openSUSE (salt), Oracle (icu, kernel, python-pip, python-virtualenv, and zsh), Red Hat (icu, python-imaging, thunderbird, and zsh), Scientific Linux (icu, python-imaging, and zsh), SUSE (postgresql10), and Ubuntu (apache2).

          • Eset expands protection for businesses with Endpoint Antivirus for Linux

            Eset Endpoint Antivirus for Linux is designed to provide advanced protection from threats to organisations’ general desktops. Powered by the advanced Eset LiveGrid technology, the platform combines speed, accuracy and minimal system impact, leaving more system resources for the desktop’s vital tasks in order to maintain business continuity, the company said.

          • The Let’s Encrypt certificate revocation scare

            The Let’s Encrypt project has made real strides in helping to ensure that every web site can use the encrypted HTTPS protocol; it has provided TLS certificates at no charge that are accepted by most or all web browsers. Free certificates accepted by the browsers are something that was difficult to find prior to the advent of the project in 2014; as of the end of February, the project has issued over a billion certificates. But a bug that was recently found in the handling of Certificate Authority Authorization (CAA) by the project put roughly 2.6% of the active certificates—roughly three million—at risk of immediate revocation. As might be expected, that caused a bit of panic in some quarters, but it turned out that the worst outcome was largely averted.

            Let’s Encrypt allows web-site operators to sign up for its service to sign their TLS certificates, so that browsers will recognize the certificate as valid. Let’s Encrypt acts as a Certificate Authority (CA) and its keys are signed by a CA (IdenTrust) that is carried in the root certificate store for the browsers. That means a browser can follow the signature chain from a root certificate it trusts all the way to the certificate of the site, thus establishing the validity of the keys contained in the certificate.

            In order for a site to get a certificate from Let’s Encrypt, its administrator needs to show that they control the domain in question. That’s typically done by adding a challenge value provided by Let’s Encrypt to either the DNS information for the domain or via a URL that can be retrieved from the domain’s web server. The administrator proves that they have the needed access, thus show that the domain is under their control.

            Administrators who wish to restrict the kinds of certificates that can be issued for their domains can add CAA records to their DNS configuration. Those can be used to disallow certain providers, such as Let’s Encrypt, from issuing certificates for a domain or portion of one. For example, the web site administrator at “subdomain.example.com” could not receive a certificate from Let’s Encrypt or some other CA simply by adding a web page to the server they control if the administrator of the top-level “example.com” domain disallowed that with CAA records. Some sites may also want to restrict the CAs that can be used; some CAs offer services beyond just signing, which may be required for security or regulatory compliance.

          • Privacy/Surveillance

            • Texas Court Says State’s Constitution Protects Cell Site Location Info

              The Texas Criminal Court of Appeals has looked at the Supreme Court’s Carpenter decision and decided it applies to cell site location info, even when that information was obtained by law enforcement years before the Supreme Court came to this conclusion. (via Courthouse News)

            • Since The FBI Can’t Be Bothered To Do It, Motherboard Has Compiled A Database Of Attempts To Access Encrypted IPhones

              The FBI continues to avoid playing its hand honestly in the “going dark” debate. It continues to do things like call strong encryption “warrant-proof” encryption, damning it by associating its very existence with unlawfulness. FBI Director Chris Wray continues to claim he’s not asking for encryption backdoors while calling for encryption backdoors. And for nearly two years, the FBI has refused to update its erroneous count of uncracked devices in its possession.

            • Enough is Enough—Let it Expire

              On March 15, 2020, Section 215—a provision of FISA with a rich history of government overreach and abuse—expired. That provision, along with two other provisions of FISA, lapsed after lawmakers failed to reach an agreement on a broader set of FISA reforms.

              Late last week, before the law expired, the House of Representatives passed the USA FREEDOM Reauthorization Act, which would have extended Section 215 for three more years, along with some modest reforms.  After the House passed the bill without a committee markup or floor amendments, EFF, along with other civil society groups and Senators Lee, Daines, Leahy and Wyden, worked to convince the Senate that the USA FREEDOM Reauthorization Act needed real debate and the opportunity to consider amendments. Our letter to the Senate is here.

            • Unchecked Smart Cities are Surveillance Cities. What We Need are Smart Enough Cities.

              We can have beautiful cities without turning our cities into surveillance cities.

              Cities across the U.S. are forcing operators of shared bikes and scooters to use dangerous and privacy invasive APIs developed by the Los Angeles Department of Transportation. These APIs—collectively called the “mobility data specification,” or MDS—require that operators share granular location data on every trip taken. The location data that cities are demanding is incredibly sensitive and relates to the movements of real people. And some cities, like Los Angeles and soon Santa Monica and Washington, D.C., even require that the data be shared with a five-second delay—essentially in real-time.

            • Exposing a Biden Staffer’s Connections to Troubled Israeli Spyware Firm

              After Sunday night’s Democratic presidential debate, Anita Dunn, senior adviser to Joe Biden’s campaign, defended the vice president’s performance in a briefing with reporters.

            • Microsoft Edge Shares Privacy-Busting Telemetry, Research Alleges

              According to the analysis, from Douglas Leith with the School of Computer Science and Statistics at Trinity College in Ireland, Edge sends privacy-invasive telemetry to Microsoft’s back-end servers — including “persistent” device identifiers and URLs typed into browsing pages.

            • EPIC Offers Its Support Of The EARN IT Act; Thinks It Can Separate Undermining Section 230 From Undermining Encryption

              As the EARN IT Act moves forward — with all of its Section 230 and encryption-threatening appendages still intact — we’re getting some very interesting responses from tech companies that have benefitted from Section 230 and/or rely on strong encryption.

            • Senate Punts FISA Reform Bill For At Least 77 Days

              Last week, we were perplexed as to why House Democrats had agreed to an extension of NSA/FBI surveillance powers for a President they keep insisting is incompetent and vindictive against anyone he dislikes. At the same time, we couldn’t figure out why Republicans were so keen to support it at the same time they were insisting that those same powers were used by the “deep state” to spy on the President’s own campaign. After it passed, President Trump hinted that he might veto it anyway, and now with the Covid-19 pandemic in full swing, the Senate has agreed to punt on the issue for the time being, extending the FISA authorities for 77 days, with a promise of debating real reform in the interim:

            • Tattoo Recognition Score Card: How Institutions Handled Unethical Biometric Surveillance Dataset

              In response to an EFF campaign started last year, roughly a third  of institutions that we believe requested problematic and exploitive data as part of a government automated tattoo recognition challenge deleted the data or reported that they had never received or used it.

              EFF has long been concerned with the many problems associated with efforts to use automated tattoo recognition, a form of biometric surveillance similar to face recognition that can use your body art to reveal your identity or personal information about you, such as your political, religious, familial, or cultural affiliations. We  have particular ethical concerns about an effort known as Tatt-C (also known as the Tattoo Recognition Challenge) that was managed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. NIST launched this tattoo recognition program in 2014 by creating an “open tattoo database” that institutions could use to test, train, and improve software that could recognize tattoos.

            • The NYC subway’s new tap-to-pay system has a hidden cost — rider data

              However, experts say the OMNY payment scheme is rife with problems, based on the limited information about the system made public in its terms of service and privacy policy. The collection of significant amounts of information from users, including smartphone device identifiers and location, which, coupled with payment and transportation data, could be used to map out riders’ patterns of life in minute detail and create a privacy nightmare.

              Created for the MTA by Cubic Corporation, OMNY uses near-field communication (NFC) technology to enable tap payment at turnstiles via debit cards, smartphone payment apps, and eventually a loadable card such as those used by transit riders in London, Sidney, San Francisco, and Washington, DC. Cubic has created NFC card payment systems for transit systems in San Diego, Sydney, Vancouver, and the Bay Area in recent years, and is also expected to debut mobile payment apps on the Chicago Transit Authority later this year.

            • Private Internet Access announces Wireguard VPN Beta

              Private Internet Access is happy to announce that the beta client and apps now feature WireGuard VPN support. WireGuard on our desktop clients and mobile apps are currently being rolled out to PIA beta testers. Note that this is still a beta version of PIA WireGuard support, there are still some features such as per-app connections on our Android VPN app that don’t yet work with WireGuard – but rest assured that we’re working on it! Also note that PIA will be closing signups for its mobile beta program during this WireGuard beta phase, meaning that the WireGuard beta is only available to existing beta testers.

            • WireGuide: All about the WireGuard VPN protocol

              WireGuard is a relatively new VPN protocol when compared with the decades old OpenVPN and approaches software development with a different philosophy – do one thing simple and do it well (efficiently). This is known as the UNIX philosophy. WireGuard is licensed under GPLv2 – which is the same open source license that the Linux kernel uses. As such, it should be no surprise that WireGuard will be added to the Linux kernel itself – which means WireGuard will eventually be available “preinstalled” on all Linux distributions.

              [...]

              Jason Donenfeld first started working on WireGuard around 2016 with the first release being on December 9th, 2016. At its core, WireGuard is a kernel virtual network interface for Linux that is meant to replace the current default networking interface on Linux, IPSEC. In fact, IPSEC has largely fallen out of use in favor of the current industry standard, OpenVPN – which operates in user space. WireGuard can also work as a replacement for OpenVPN. WireGuard, in Jason’s own words, is a “solid engineering solution that is both more practical and more secure.” With that in mind, it is still important to note that WireGuard has not yet been released as a stable v1.0.

              [...]

              At this point in time, to start using WireGuard with Private Internet Access, you’ll need to be part of the PIA beta program which is currently in closed beta mode. Once you have the Private Internet Access beta client installed, simply navigate to the Connections tab in the Settings window of your Private Internet Access app or client and switch from OpenVPN to WireGuard. Personally, I found up to 40% faster speeds using WireGuard when compared with OpenVPN. Additionally, the simplicity of using WireGuard instead of OpenVPN leads to much less option paralysis. WireGuard just works – and beneath the hood it is using better encryption.

    • Defence/Aggression

      • Bashing Probe of US War Crimes, Pompeo Threatens Family of ICC Staff With Consequences

        “If there remained any doubt that the Trump administration’s hostility towards the court is fundamentally punitive and callous in nature, these doubts have now been dispelled.”

      • Turkey’s mercenaries cut down 200 trees in Afrin

        Reports say that the Turkish-backed mercenaries are transporting these trees to Turkey to sell them as firewood to be used in winter.

        According to Afrin Human Rights Organization, the occupation forces have cut down more than 200,000 olive trees in the Afrin region since it was invaded.

        According to the recorded data, 3 to 5 million trees were plundered by the invaders who also set fire to an agricultural land of 11 thousand hectares.

      • 12 Ways the US Invasion of Iraq Lives On in Infamy

        The most serious consequences of the disastrous invasion and occupation of Iraq confirm what millions of people around the world warned about 17 years ago.

      • 12 Ways the U.S. Invasion of Iraq Lives on in Infamy

        While the world is consumed with the terrifying coronavirus pandemic, on March 19 the Trump administration will be marking the 17th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq by ramping up the conflict there. After an Iran-aligned militia allegedly struck a U.S. base near Baghdad on March 11, the U.S. military carried out retaliatory strikes against five of the militia’s weapons factories and announced it is sending two more aircraft carriers to the region, as well as new Patriot missile systems and hundreds more troops to operate them. This contradicts the January vote of the Iraqi Parliament that called for U.S. troops to leave the country. It also goes against the sentiment of most Americans, who think the Iraq war was not worth fighting, and against the campaign promise of Donald Trump to end the endless wars.

      • How the OAS Revived the Cold War in the Americas

        The OAS has never been a neutral forum. Since its founding in 1948, the United States government has always wielded power far beyond its vote. Each member state’s contribution is based on the relative size of its national economy and the US contributed 60% ($51 million) of the $81million 2019 OAS operating budget. As a result, the U.S. has historically had disproportionate power over the organization.

      • Bombing of Government Office in Yala Injures 20

        It was crowded with hundreds of people at the time because many local officials had been invited to a meeting about COVID-19, he said.

      • Bombing of government office in southern Thailand injures 20

        Thailand’s three southernmost provinces have been the scene of a Muslim separatist insurgency since 2004. About 7,000 people are estimated to have been killed in the violence.

      • Nigerian Christian community faces peril, White House is told

        Some human rights and religious freedom organizations are ready to declare the killings in Nigeria a genocide. Over the last five years an estimated 7,000 Nigerian Christians have been murdered in a country where just under half of the population of 200 million is Christian.

        Christians are not the only or even the primary victims of the Islamist extremists’ war in northeast Nigeria. Over the decade that Boko Haram has terrorized the region, more than 50,000 Nigerians, mostly Muslims refusing the terror group’s version of their faith, have been murdered, with more than 2 million displaced. Still, as in the case of Darfur, it is primarily the killings of Christians that is raising alarms in Washington.

    • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

      • Local Government Employee Fined For Illegally Deleting Item Requested Under Freedom Of Information Act

        Techdirt writes about freedom of information matters often enough. Sadly, many of the stories are about governments and other official bodies refusing to comply with local Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) laws for various reasons, and using a variety of tricks. In other words, rights to FOI may exist in theory, but the practice falls woefully short. That makes the following story from the UK a welcome exception.

      • Expert asks Piers Morgan to provide ‘his masters in public health’ over coronavirus claims

        Morgan insisted he was a “master of common sense” before co-presenter Susanna Reid told him to “listen to the clinical director”.

        She added: “You’re asking for information, allow him to tell you what the information is”.

      • Jared Kushner advised Trump that “the media’s coverage exaggerated the threat” of COVID-19: report

        Kushner told Trump that the “media’s coverage exaggerated the threat,” The Times reported. He sought to take on a “more expansive role for himself despite his lack of knowledge on the topic and without talking to most of the task force members or public health experts.”

        Trump repeatedly sought to downplay the threat, leading many conservatives to ignore public health warnings. But the president struck a different tone in a Monday press briefing, acknowledging that he told his family the situation was “bad.”

      • Inside the Coronavirus Response: A Case Study in the White House Under Trump

        Mr. Trump has refused repeated warnings to rely on experts, or to neutralize some of the power held by his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, in favor of a traditional staff structure. He has rarely fully empowered people in the jobs they hold.

        John F. Kelly, the second White House chief of staff under Mr. Trump, tried to change the president’s habits, limiting who could reach him and how many people he could solicit fringe information from. But Mr. Trump found ways to get around Mr. Kelly’s edicts, calling people on his cellphone and issuing orders he did not tell Mr. Kelly about.

    • Environment

      • High Speed Rail

        I was prompted to write this blog post after learning about the airlines screaming for a bail out when the industry had a 45 billion dollar stock buy back. Let’s let the airline industry go the way of the coal industry: ashes to ashes and dust to dust. The amount of pollution a jet airliner produces is pretty bad and one of the byproducts of burnt jet fuel is Benzine. So the industrial whining has me convinced that our future lies in high speed rail. I might be slightly biased because I love trains and have since I was a kid. The state of rail travel in America has been pretty much in precipitous decline for decades. But it does not have to be.

      • Coronavirus Response Should Be a Model for How We Address Climate Change

        The way the world has been able to mobilize itself and shut down in the blink of an eye to properly respond to the coronavirus is proof that political leaders actually do have the ability to make rapid change happen if they want. So where is that rapid response for the climate crisis?

      • Up-to-date weekly average CO2 at Mauna Loa

        The graph, updated weekly, shows as individual points daily mean CO2 up to and including the week (Sunday through Saturday) previous to today. The daily means are based on hours during which CO2 was likely representative of “background” conditions, defined as times when the measurement is representative of air at mid-altitudes over the Pacific Ocean. That air has had several days time or more to mix, smoothing out most of the CO2 variability encountered elsewhere, making the measurements representative of CO2 over hundreds of km or more.

      • The Human Environment Includes Orbital Space

        First, we argue that the understanding of the ‘human environment’ in NEPA should be extended to consider the orbital space around the Earth.

        Second, NEPA was constructed 50 years ago in such a way as to be inclusive of future technologies and activities that Congress couldn’t imagine back then. And it left regulatory decision making up to CEQ. The rapid rise or commercial space operations is a perfect example of this, so we argued that earth-orbiting satellites should be explicitly considered under NEPA regulations

        Third, while the current CEQ Implementing Regulations don’t address whether near-Earth space is within the scope of environmental review under NEPA, they also don’t expressly preclude it. We argued that NEPA should apply to activities in space. In support of this assertion, we provided evidence in the value of dark skies, the importance to ground-based astronomy, and concerns about the threats posed by space debris.

        Our comments are admittedly a long-shot. But it introduces the argument that the human environment extends to space. It also puts a stake in the ground that existing U.S. environmental policy covers concerns related to astronomy and the night sky.

      • India finally takes climate crisis seriously

        With financial losses and a heavy death toll from climate-related disasters constantly rising, India is at last focusing on the dangers of global warming.

      • Global Green New Deal Supporters Urge World Leaders to Learn From Coronavirus to Tackle Climate Crisis

        “This is a moment when we can implement measures to help boost the economy, create jobs, and build climate resilience.”

      • The IPCC’s Worst Case Scenario

        A recent landmark study of massive ice loss in Antarctica and Greenland fulfills the “worst case” prognosis, as outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). It’s a nightmare come true, as the impact of global warming on the planet’s most significant/biggest masses of ice multiplied six-fold in only 30 years. It wasn’t supposed to happen so unexpectedly, so suddenly.

      • The Supreme Court is Set to Strike a Major Blow Against Social and Environmental Protections
      • Energy

        • Saudi Arabia Doubles Down On Production As Prices Crash

          WTI Crude had plunged 9 percent to $24.83 a barrel at 9:15 a.m. EDT—the lowest level in more than 17 years, while Brent Crude was down 5 percent to $28.84.

          By noon, WTI had slumped by 13.79% to $23.56.

        • A Faltering Fracking Industry, on the Verge of a Bailout, Mixes Patriotism and Oil in the Permian

          There, the messages on billboards, trucks, and the sides of rest stops suggest that supporting the industry that’s one of the largest contributors to the climate crisis is a matter of American pride.  

        • “A Seller’s Market for Bankruptcy Talent:” The Beginning of the End of Methane-Producing Fracking?

          On Monday, the price of West Texas Intermediate petroleum fell below $30 a barrel for the first time in four years. Elliot Smith at CNBC reports that BP CFO Brian Gilvary is braced for petroleum demand actually to contract in 2020.

        • New Report Reveals Global Banks Funneled $2.7 Trillion into Fossil Fuels Since Paris Agreement

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          For data you give voluntarily, we will always allow you to withdraw consent to use your data for future purposes, but we will maintain your data absent your revocation of consent.

          We do not sell or rent web-generated mailing lists or other personally identifiable information outside Oil Change International. This data is stored by Oil Change International in the United States and will not be transferred to other countries. People may have privacy rights in their home countries in addition to those they have in the United States.

          Oil Change International does not share or otherwise disclose its files to other organizations.

      • Wildlife/Nature

      • Overpopulation

        • My Natalism Conspiracy Theory

          Society, particularly in wealthy circles, want to foster the image of cuteness that is children and babies. They want Americans to go hog wild and pop out children like rabbits. When birthrates decline, so does profit and so does the economic surplus labor pool. When the economic surplus labor pool goes down, the wealthy are forced to shell out larger amounts of money in labor compensation. So they panic when birthrates decline Ironically, post-2008 recession birthrates are declining and the wealthy are actually blaming millennials. Millennials have become wise to the game and understand that the wealthy just want to extract blood from a stone.

          Millennials and GenZers are starting to understand that the world’s population is exploding and the net effect is incredibly taxing on the environment. The newer generations are environmentally conscious in a way that Baby Boomers and GenXers are not. The wealthy make money off of natalism and promote it at the expense of the environment.

    • Finance

    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

      • In effort to hold constitutional plebiscite amid pandemic, Putin openly considers widespread at-home voting

        In a March 18 meeting with residents of Sevastopol, Crimea, Russian President Vladimir Putin addressed concerns that holding a nationwide vote on his proposed constitutional changes amid the COVD-19 pandemic would pose risks to voters’ health. The vote, which would set the stage for Putin to hold the presidency until 2036, is currently scheduled for April 22.

      • Putin acknowledges that coronavirus might still postpone Russia’s constitutional plebiscite

        At a meeting with Central Election Commissioner Ella Pamfilova on March 17, hours after issuing an executive order that schedules a nationwide vote on constitutional amendments for April 22, Vladimir Putin acknowledged that the plebiscite could be postponed, if the spread of coronavirus presents a serious enough threat to the general public.

      • ‘No Sugar Coating It’: Sanders to Converse With Supporters and ‘Assess’ Campaign Following Latest Primary Losses

        “While our campaign has won the battle of ideas, we are losing the battle over electability to Joe Biden.”

      • The UK’s Part-Time Prime Minister

        The UK media are starting to refer to Boris “BoJo” Johnson as the “part-time prime minister” or “invisible man”.

      • Left Behind

        Bernie Sanders presumptive loss of the Democratic Party nomination for president demonstrates the limits of electoral politics for the left. I have already seen some pre-postmortems speculating that Sanders simply arrived to soon, that his staggering margins among young voters presage a socialist wave of the future, perhaps a decade or two from now, when the rising left-leaning generations become a majority of the electorate.

      • Second Term
      • Trump Thinks He Can Use COVID-19 to Win Reelection. The Media May Help Him.

        President Trump’s Oval Office speech last week was a massive dud and the stock market took a huge dive last Thursday. So Trump decided to take the bull by the horns and held a press conference in the Rose Garden with a group of CEOs just before closing time the next day. The market made a sharp upward turn as he spoke and the president was extremely pleased with himself. Numerous reports about the deliberations within the dysfunctional White House over the past week, however, have made it clear that was the only thing that pleased him.

      • ‘Critical Victory for the Progressive Movement’: Marie Newman Ousts Right-Wing Democrat Dan Lipinski

        “This isn’t just a loss for one incumbent. It’s a defeat for machine politics and big corporate donors who want to stop our movement for Medicare for All, a Green New Deal, and reproductive rights.”

      • Bernie Sanders Proposal for $2 Trillion Coronavirus Emergency Plan Includes $2,000 Direct Monthly Payments to Every American

        As Democratic primary turns surreal amid infectious outbreak, Sanders lays out “Coronavirus Crisis Principles” for people-centered response and a national mobilization on “a scale not seen since the New Deal and World War II.”

      • The Coronavirus Primaries Were Illegitimate Elections

        The United States is in the middle of the acceleration phase of the coronavirus pandemic. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), this is the period, where the virus infects people and social distancing is crucial to slow the outbreak.Yet, in a reckless move that defied the concerns of medical professionals, state officials in Arizona, Florida, and Illinois listened to politicians and proceeded with previously scheduled in-person voting in their primaries.

        Over 2500 people, including more than 150 medical professionals, signed on to a petition that was sent to state officials. It strongly urged them to extend mail-in voting and reschedule primaries. (Disclosure: I co-organized the petition, which was sent to state officials.)Multiple states postponed their primaries before in-person voting took place on March 17. Rather than respect the fact that states were trying to protect the health of voters and poll workers, the Democratic National Committee threatened states with the loss of delegates if they did not hold their primaries before June 9. On March 16, Ohio Republican Governor Mike DeWine and Dr. Amy Acton, the state’s health department director, showed leadership and declared polling places a health emergency risk. They postponed in-person voting until June. The Ohio Democratic Party sued the state the following day. The sociopathic nature of the Democratic Party establishment, as a health crisis plunged the country into a recession, demonstrated how reprehensible party operatives are willing to be in order to shepherd their preferred candidate closer to a presidential nomination. Dysfunction that officials knew would occur resulted in voter suppression that made it impossible for numerous citizens to cast their ballot. Conditions stopped many other citizens from participating in the primaries. Altogether, the results of the Arizona, Florida, and Illinois primaries were the product of an illegitimate electoral process carried out during a national state of emergency. Once the news networks reported former Vice President Joe Biden was the winner of all three primaries, Biden appeared via livestream from his home in Wilmington, Delaware. “This is a moment, where we need our leaders to lead.”  “It’s also a moment where the choices and decisions we make as individuals are going to collectively impact on what happens, make a big difference in the severity of this outbreak and the ability of our medical hospital systems to handle it,” Biden added. What he declared was rather hypocritical. Biden likely secured an insurmountable delegate lead over his opponent, Senator Bernie Sanders. But he also showed zero leadership, put his base of elderly voters, who have overwhelmingly supported him, at risk, and his campaign disregarded CDC guidance to a degree that likely resulted in dozens of people becoming infected with the coronavirus because they believed what they claimed about how “safe” it was to vote.

      • Joe Biden Lied in Last Night’s Debate — Italy’s Public Health Care Is Saving It From Collapse

        In last night’s debate, Joe Biden claimed that Italy shows public health care doesn’t help the response to coronavirus. But the Italian health service is providing a vital defense against mass infection — ensuring that any ill person can get proper treatment, regardless of their ability to pay.

      • ‘We don’t need a show’ What Vladimir Putin thinks about the Russian opposition and state-supported ‘political competition’

        In the latest episode of the series 20 Questions for Vladimir Putin produced by the state news outlet TASS, Russia’s president was asked to discuss the opposition and its rights. Specifically, his conversation with journalist Andrey Vandenko touched on the contrast between the so-called “systemic” and “non-systemic” opposition. The former term describes parties that are legally registered and politically established — the Russian Communist Party, for example — as well as candidates who receive official recognition but ostensibly provide competition for the ruling party, United Russia. Non-systemic opposition politicians or parties, on the other hand, are explicitly anti-Kremlin as a rule and may never be recognized by government officials.

      • ‘Willfully Choosing Not to Listen to Scientists’: DNC Chair Tom Perez Under Fire for Urging States to Hold Primaries Despite Coronavirus Crisis

        “That Tom Perez is encouraging this, and threatening states who postpone in-person voting, is criminal.”

      • ‘Vedomosti,’ one of Russia’s top business newspapers, is getting new owners

        Demyan Kudryavtsev, Vladimir Voronov, and Martin Pomnadur have reached a preliminary agreement to sell off 100 percent of the stock company “BNM,” which publishes one of Russia’s leading business newspaper, Vedomosti, and the Russian edition of The Harvard Business Review. Kudryavtsev has confirmed the sale to Vedomosti. 

      • Open Letter from Truthdig’s Publisher & CEO: Breaking My Silence

        I am proud of what Truthdig has accomplished. Truthdig has received wide acclaim and many awards. We are a voice for progressive politics, social justice, humanitarian issues, the environment, women’s rights and more. We created our Global Voices initiative to encourage progressive female journalists around the world. We fight violence against women and strive to empower them.

      • Striking Truthdig Staffers Respond to the Publisher

        On March 16, those participating in Truthdig’s work stoppage wrote directly to publisher Zuade Kaufman and Editor-in-Chief Robert Scheer. We invited them to participate in a conference call on March 17 to begin negotiations to restore Robert Scheer as Editor-in-Chief and to address unfair labor practices, opening a potential path that would allow us to return to work. Mr. Scheer, as co-owner of Truthdig, agreed to speak with us. We received no reply from Ms. Kaufman. She has also not attempted to communicate with the copy desk staff, who joined in the work stoppage.

      • Who Wants a Revolution? No One Who Owns a Major Corporate Media Outlet

        The pundits appear willfully ignorant of their own role in shaping electability narratives.

      • Bernie Didn’t Lose the Last Debate, But We May Have

        Biden repudiated his long-standing record on all issues (for real?) and advocated the Bernie Sanders’ program, reduced by at least 55% to protect the wealth of his billionaire contributors and patrons, and protect the status quo, all in hopes of conning Latinos and the numerous American underclasses to vote for his prospective administration, which like the 2008-2016 Obama-Biden Administration would be a protect-the-Wall-Street-Banksters-and-the-high-end-and-the-status-quo administration. Bernie delivered his unchanged and continuing message, which Elizabeth Warren and now Joseph Biden have been poaching on to the minimum extent they think would boost their bids to power in the eyes of the public, while protecting their sponsors.

      • The Saudi Royal Family Appear Unaware of the Dangers of Settling Scores Among Themselves

        Purges, interrogation, claims of torture, accusations of treason, suspicion of murder, an insane war in Yemen and ruinous plans for a “reformed” kingdom, all supported by the US and the west and an often fawning media. So what’s new?

      • Justice Department Dropping Case Against 2 Russian Companies Charged in Mueller Probe

        The Justice Department is moving to drop charges against two Russian companies that were accused of funding a social media campaign to sway American public opinion during the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

        Prosecutors said they concluded that a trial, against a corporate defendant with no presence in the United States and no prospect of meaningful punishment even if convicted, would likely expose sensitive law enforcement tools and techniques, “potentially undermining their effectiveness.”

        Concord Management and Consulting LLC and Concord Catering were among three companies and 13 individuals charged in 2018 by special counsel Robert Mueller in a conspiracy to spread disinformation on social media during the 2016 presidential race. The effort was aimed at dividing American public opinion and sowing discord in the electorate, officials said.

    • Censorship/Free Speech

      • YouTube Warns That, Thanks To Covid-19, It’s Handing Over More Content Moderation To The Machines And They Might Suck

        Content moderation at scale is impossible to do well in the best of times, but the solutions that seem to at least keep it from devolving into a total mess almost always use a combination of humans and technology working together. But what do you do when the humans are sick, self-isolating, quarantined, etc? While I imagine some may be able to work from home, it’s a difficult time to expect anyone to be at full productivity. So YouTube has made it clear that it’s turning over more content moderation decisions to the machines knowing full well that some of those decisions are going to be bad…

      • Social Media Promised To Block Covid-19 Misinformation; But They’re Also Blocking Legit Info Too

        Sing it with me, folks: content moderation is impossible to do well at scale. Over the last few weeks, all of the big social media platforms have talked about their intense efforts to block misinformation about Covid-19. It appeared to be something of an all hands on deck situation for employees (mostly working from home) at these companies. Indeed, earlier this week, Facebook, Google, Linkedin, Microsoft, Reddit, Twitter, and YouTube all released a joint statement about how they’re working together to fight Covid-19 misinformation, and hoping other platforms would join in.

      • People In Kashmir Can’t Access Coronavirus Information Because The Government Is Crippling The Internet

        As we’ve been discussing for a while, India’s government has blacked out internet access in Kashmir since around August, setting records for one of the longest government-mandated internet blackouts in history. India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has tried to argue that the blackout is a necessary security precaution in the face of growing unrest in the region stemming from its loss of autonomy earlier this year. Granted, like most government internet censorship efforts, the move has a lot more to do with cowardice and fear of an informed public than any genuine concern about public welfare.

      • Coronavirus Disrupts Social Media’s First Line of Defense

        But researchers say problems like Tuesday night’s could become more common in the absence of a robust team of human moderators. YouTube and Twitter announced Monday that their contractors would be sent home as well, and that they too would be relying more heavily on automated flagging tools and AI-powered review systems. Leigh Ann Benicewicz, a spokesperson for Reddit, told WIRED on Tuesday that the company had “enacted mandatory work-from-home for all of its employees,” which also applies to contractors. She declined to elaborate about how the policy was impacting content moderation specifically. Twitch did not immediately return a request for comment.

      • When “Fake News” Was Banned: An America Trump Might Have Loved

        Our country under censorship.

      • Facebook Says Bug Mistook Legitimate News Stories for Spam

        In response, Guy Rosen, Facebook’s vice president of integrity, said in a Twitter post that it was a bug in an anti-spam system. Later he tweeted that all content that was incorrectly removed had been restored, including “posts on all topics — not just those related to Covid-19. This was an issue with an automated system that removes links to abusive websites, but incorrectly removed a lot of other posts too.”

    • Facebook was marking legitimate news articles about the coronavirus as spam due to a software bug

      Facebook started marking some posts linking to information and articles about the coronavirus and COVID-19 as spam, as observed by one Verge reporter and many users on Twitter on Tuesday evening.

      The issue was due to a “bug in an anti-spam system,” according to Guy Rosen, Facebook’s vice president of integrity. Rosen said the company began working on a fix as soon as discovering the issue.

    • Influential Somali academic in hiding after ‘blasphemy’ death threats Open in fullscreen

      An influential Somali academic and social reformer is in hiding due to threats to his life, after one of the country’s leading Muslim scholars called for his killing over allegations of blasphemy.

      Prof. Mahmoud Jama Ahmed was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in jail in 2019 for “blasphemy” but was released in January after a presidential pardon.

      Activists say Ahmed was forced into hiding after prominent imam, Adam Sunna, threatened his life during Friday prayers on 6 March.

      “Killing this apostate is bad for him in this life but he will benefit from it in the afterlife,” he said, according to Humanists International.

    • Social media giants warn of AI moderation errors as coronavirus empties offices

      Alphabet Inc’s YouTube, Facebook Inc and Twitter Inc warned on Monday that more videos and other content could be erroneously removed for policy violations, as the companies empty offices and rely on automated takedown software during the coronavirus pandemic.

    • A Librarian’s Timeless Mission: Supporting Social Justice Through Freedom of Speech

      Certainly, the role of the public library has grown and evolved. And we are no longer just places for quiet study and reading, but also vital community hubs. We provide access to the latest technologies, from digital innovation with virtual reality headsets, to studio spaces that host e-learning and self-directed courses. We connect people with diverse cultural and leisure experiences, from indigenous programs to our sewing-fabrication studios.

      Throughout this transformation, there is one thing that has not changed, and that is our focus on our core values and our fundamental commitment, as outlined in the library’s mission statement: to provide, preserve and promote universal access to a broad range of human knowledge, experience, information and ideas in a welcoming and supportive environment. Being a public institution and a government body, one of our core responsibilities is to uphold the fundamental freedoms of thought, belief, opinion and expression enshrined in our Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

    • Freedom of Information / Freedom of the Press

      • Terrorism Charge Brought Against Russian Journalist Prokopyeva

        The case against Prokopyeva has been criticized by international media-freedom watchdogs such as Reporters Without Borders (RSF), the Committee to Protect Journalists, and the European Federation of Journalists.

      • China revokes press credentials of US reporters at three major outlets

        “The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns this senseless but entirely predictable retaliation by the Chinese government, which threatens to sharply curtail the reporting operations of major U.S. publications in China,” said Steven Butler, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator. “Beijing and Washington should negotiate to solve their differences and stop taking measures that cripple news reporting during a global pandemic, when the public’s need for accurate information is greater than ever.”

    • Civil Rights/Policing

      • Former top cop in Moscow is sentenced to 12 years in prison for accepting a mobster bribe

        The Moscow City Court has sentenced Alexander Drymanov, the former director of the capital’s Investigative Committee branch, to 12 years in prison and fined him 196 million rubles ($2.5 million) for receiving $200,000 of a $1-million bribe from the gangster Zakhary Kalashov (better known as “Young Shakro”). Prosecutors had requested 16 years.

      • Your Man Finally in the Public Gallery. The Alex Salmond Trial Day 7

        With the defence opening its case, the Alex Salmond trial finally had a public gallery open all day, and accordingly I was in court with my trusty notebook. I should start by saying that the contrast with the soul-crushing experience of Woolwich Crown Court and the Julian Assange hearing was extreme. Edinburgh High Court is built for public access, not for public exclusion like Woolwich. You walk in straight off the High Street and the entire design of the building is intended to let the public flow through freely. There are literally no fences, no locked doors, no armoured glass, no enclosed glass cage for the accused. The court itself was impressive; Lady Dorrian presided with exemplary fairness, dealing quickly and sensibly with points that arose on admissibility of evidence. The jury of 15 citizens looked engaged and earnest throughout. The impression of my first day is that it is a process that deserves respect and trust, something I never felt at an Assange hearing.

      • Your Man Finally in the Public Gallery. The Alex Salmond Trial Day 8

        After Day 8, there is a change in the balance of evidence. Previously a popular meme has been that either Alex Salmond must be lying, or 9 separate women must be lying. After today’s evidence we can say that either several of those women must be lying, or a variety of other direct witnesses, female and male, must be lying. There is of course an element of false dichotomy even in this statement of the case, as in a number of instances there is a fair degree of commonality from both prosecution and defence as to actions, but differences as to interpretation or to intent. I can also say without any fear of contradiction that many of the allegations would not meet the definition of a sexual assault as commonly understood by the person in the street. That is not to say they cannot meet a legal definition. There I will bow to the judge – who I continue to find very fair.

      • Tiktok Tried to Suppress Videos by Users it Deemed Ugly, Poor

        Chinese video-sharing app TikTok told its moderators to suppress videos created by “ugly,” poor, or disabled people to be posted on the platform’s main video section, according to internal documents obtained by The Intercept.

        Other documents showed that anything harming “national honor” or streams about “state organs such as police” would also be banned banned outright. Users that showed “disreputable decorations” in their homes, including cracked walls, would also get banned — an attempt, according to The Intercept‘s interpretation, to punish TikTok’s poorer audiences.

      • Saudi’s Brave Women Pull Back the Curtain on Crown Prince MBS

        Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MBS), Saudi Arabia’s 34-year-old de facto ruler, has been on a tear recently. He arrested members of his own royal family and initiated an oil price war with Russia that has sent the price of oil—and the world’s stock markets—plummeting. Behind the headlines, however, another critical event will take place in Saudi Arabia starting March 18: women’s rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul, who was arrested almost two years ago for advocating the right to drive, is due in court. The diabolical MBS wants the world to believe he is the Arab world’s liberal reformer and took credit for eventually granting women the right to drive, but he is also the one who had al-Hathloul and nine other women thrown in prison, charging them as foreign agents and spies. The imprisonment of these peaceful women activists exposes the brutal nature of MBS’s regime and the duplicity of the Western democracies that continue to support him.

      • After Over 40 Years of Campaigning, New Zealand Parliament ‘At Last’ Votes to Decriminalize Abortion Care

        “From now on abortions will be rightly treated as a health issue.”

      • Germany: Women earn 20% less than men

        Women in Germany earned 20% less than men in 2019, according to a study published on Monday. The difference in earnings was lower than in 2018 — by 1%.

        On average, women earned €17.72 ($19.76) per hour, while men earned €22.16 per hour. This meant a difference of €4.44, down very slightly from €4.51 in 2018.

        The German Federal Statistics Office destatis used the so-called unadjusted gender pay gap to determine the figures. It does not take into account employees’ age, education status or work experience in comparing wages — only their gender.

        The figures were published ahead of Equal Pay Day on March 17. The date is determined by how far into the year the average woman will have to work to earn as much as a man did in the previous year.

      • Everything You Know About Mass Incarceration Is Wrong

        With an incarceration rate exceeding 700 people for every 100,000, Americans have built a monstrosity that has few parallels in history — destroying untold millions of lives and families in just a few decades. Future generations will no doubt wonder how the wealthiest, most developed country in the world ever tolerated such barbarism.

      • You Can be Free to Vote, Even Behind Bars

        Birmingham, Alabama is a landmark city for the American civil rights movement. Even today, it’s ground zero for a vital fight over voting rights.

      • Remembering a Panther

        The last time I saw former Black Panther, incarcerated activist and poet, Wopashitwe Mondo Eyen we Langa, he asked me a question I didn’t fully understand. “Here’s a riddle for you,” he began, gap-toothed and grinning from his hospice bed. “If the speed of light is 186,000 miles per second and there are 5,180 feet in a mile and if the speed of sound is 1,100 feet per second, how long would it take you to see that you’ve heard something?”

      • DEA Returns Money It Stole From An Innocent Woman, Gets Court To Let It Walk Away From Paying Her Legal Fees

        Just another reminder the Drug Enforcement Agency doesn’t care all that much about drugs and/or enforcement. If there’s money to be made, the DEA is all in. If it can score easy wins by engaging in entrapment, it will. But the drugs will flow and the damage will be done. And the DEA will be there to hoover up the cash… even when the cash has nothing to do with drugs.

      • Prisoner in controversial terrorism case says interrogators threatened to beat a murder confession out of him

        Konstantin Kartashov, the attorney defending Penza Network case prisoner Maxim Ivankin, says officials have tried to pressure his client into confessing to involvement in the death of Artyom Dorofeyev and Ekaterina Levchenko. “They started scaring him and hinting at physical violence. They said it would look like a suicide and [investigators] wouldn’t consider other explanations since he’s being held at a federal detention center as a suicide risk,” Kartashov told Novaya Gazeta.

      • Bristol sisters aim to raise awareness of ‘honour hate’

        The sisters, who have a Pakistani mother and English father, said they were “slut-shamed” for not upholding cultural norms of women’s behaviour.

        They are now working with a charity to educate young people about the issue.

        So-called honour crimes are acts that have been committed to protect or defend the supposed honour or reputation of a family and extended community.

      • Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe released from Iran prison

        The 41-year-old from London was jailed for five years in 2016 after being convicted of espionage charges that she has always denied. The UK has also insisted she is innocent.

      • Russia’s prime minister wants to put prisoners to work manufacturing medical masks to fight coronavirus

        Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin has reportedly ordered Russia’s National Guard and ministries of trade and industry, defense, and education to start providing students and the military with materials needed to produce personal protective gear, according to a report by the website RBC, which says its sources in the federal cabinet and in the National Guard verify this information. 

    • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

      • Data From Italy, China Suggests The US Internet Isn’t Likely To Choke On COVID-19 Broadband Usage Spike

        As millions of Americans begin to work and learn from home in a bid to slow the spread of COVID-19, America’s patchy and expensive broadband networks are likely to get a workout. To be clear, the shift will certainly highlight the broken US telecom market, at least in terms of patchy availability, limited competition, and high prices. But most experts say US networks should be able to shoulder the load without too much difficulty.

      • Weird IP networks: Internet via birds and ham radios

        When disaster strikes and internet access is knocked out, how can you communicate? Ham radios and IP over Avian Carriers are two options. If you’re reading this, you have internet access. You probably have it either through a local cable or fiber ISP – or through your cell phone provider. We all have one (usually more than one) of these. Speedy. Reliable (mostly). Boring. What happens when that infrastructure goes down?

      • US ISPs Drop Usage Caps, Pledge To Avoid Kicking Users Offline During Coronavirus

        While it required some nudging, several of the nation’s biggest ISPs this week announced they would be suspending their usage caps and overage fees as millions of Americans prepare to hunker down to slow the spread of COVID-19. Comcast, AT&T, and Centurylink all stopped imposing such limits for at least the next 90 days. Critics (and even leaked Comcast memos) have long made it clear such restrictions (particularly on fixed line networks) aren’t technically useful in managing congestion as the industry once claimed, and are little more than glorified price hikes on captive customers.

      • Union, consumer advocacy groups call for telecom giants to ensure internet access as coronavirus spreads

        The Communications Workers of America (CWA) and a group of consumer advocacy groups sent letters to the country’s largest providers on Tuesday asking them to do more to ensure internet access as the coronavirus spreads.

        The letters sent to Altice, AT&T, CenturyLink, Charter Communications, Comcast, Cox Communications, Frontier Communications, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon ask for data caps to be lifted and for fees for crossing caps to be waived, among other things.

      • Which Internet providers are lifting data caps during the coronavirus, and which aren’t

        Think of it: you’re working from home, videoconferencing over Skype or Zoom, while your kids are playing games and chatting with friends. There’s streamed movies to watch in the evenings. Disney+ and Netflix may be in constant rotation, adding to the bandwidth strain. That’s a lot of data!

        In response, some ISPs and cellular service providers are providing relief for customers. Some are merely adhering to the FCC’s Keep Americans Connected Pledge (PDF), which asks the signees not to terminate a customer’s service for non-payment. Others are removing data caps and lowering bills in response to COVID-19.

        And others, as you will see in our list below, are doing nothing at all.

    • Monopolies

      • Softbank-Owned Patent Troll Now Promises To Grant Royalty-Free License For Covid-19 Tests; Details Lacking

        Yesterday I wrote up a fairly insane story about how a Softbank-owned patent troll, Fortress Investment Group, through a shell company subsidiary, Labrador Diagnostics (which, despite its name, does not seem to do any diagnostics), using patents that it had bought up from the sham medical testing company Theranos during its fire sale, had sued BioFire Diagnostics/BioMerieux, one of the few companies making a Covid-19 diagnostics test, claiming patent infringement. The patent infringement claims were on all of its diagnostics created using BioFire’s FilmArray 2.0, FilmArray EZ, and FilmArray Torch devices — and the company’s Covid-19 tests were based on that technology. Even worse, the company asked the court to issue an injunction, blocking BioFire from using the tests. As we pointed out, this was not just tone deaf, but destructive and dangerous.

      • Patents

        • Huawei’s Mate Xs shows why Huawei is deemed as the innovation leader in digital and mobile technology

          Foraying into the foldable mobile phones category, the launch of the Huawei Mate Xs by Huawei Consumer Business Group (BG) has a greater story involved on how Huawei has been so successful in becoming a leader in technological innovation.

          Packed with Huawei’s newest technology, the Huawei Mate Xs is the most high-end device from the brand till date, featuring the Kirin 990 5G SoC and an improved Falcon Wing Design, powerful performance and a seamless user experience across smartphone and tablet modes.

        • Innovation: Number of Patents Filed in Italy Grew in 2019

          According to the 2019 patent index, last year Italian applications submitted to the EPO grew by 1.2%, compared to +1% the previous year, and above the +0.9% EU average. Overall, there were 4,456 Italian patent applications. In 2019 confirmed the positive trajectory of recent years: from 2014 to 2019 patent applications to the EPO were up 22%. Lombardy is one of the most innovative regions of Europe and in 2019 saw a 6.2% increase in patent applications. The data also shows that Lombardy, Veneto and Emilia Romagna together represent 60% of all Italian applications. The sector in which the country has applied for the most patents is transport and the Italian company submitting the most applications was G.D. (47), followed by Pirelli and Prysmian (both 46). “Patent applications from Italy show a clear and stable upward trend, demonstrating that Italian companies continue to recognize the importance – for innovation – of investment in research and development,” commented EPO president Antonio Campinos.

        • EPO and EUIPO announce new measures as Covid-19 spreads

          In light of the COVID-19 pandemic in Europe, the EUIPO (European Union Intellectual Property Office) have announced that all deadlines between 9 March 2020 and 30 April 2020 are extended until 1 May 2020 (in fact, all limits are extended until Monday 4 May, given that Friday 1 May is Labor Day).

          Until further notice, all EUIPO staff will work from home but will continue to send communications, set deadlines or receive queries by phone or email, but all public events scheduled during this period are postponed. Trademark and design applications will continue to be received, examined and published, says EUIPO.

      • Copyrights

        • Cox Maintains That $1 Billion in Piracy Damages is Excessive

          Cox Communications has responded to the scathing opposition of several record labels, which asked the court not to lower the $1 billion piracy liability verdict a Virginia jury issued late last year. According to the ISP, the damages are disproportional and excessive, especially since its policies were not so different from the music industry sanctioned Copyright Alert System.

        • Cyber Police Raid Advertising Agency For Working With Pirate Sites

          Authorities in Ukraine report that officers from the cybercrime unit have raided an advertising agency in the capital Kiev for doing business with sites offering pirated movies and TV shows. Images released by the government show masked and armed officers targeting a building and herding out large numbers of employees.

        • Popcorn Time Isn’t “Back From The Dead” But the New Version is Borked

          This morning several news articles celebrated the “return” of Popcorn Time after it apparently went offline a few years ago. This claim simply isn’t true, neither is the assertion that the just released version of the app works as well as the previous one. In fact, Popcorn Time is facing a wave of complaints from users experiencing a wide range of problems that simply didn’t exist before.

        • Copyright Holders Want to ‘Quietly’ Expand Canada’s Pirate Site Blocklist

          Bell, Rogers, and Groupe TVA have asked Canada’s federal court for an update of its blocking order to ban additional domains that provide access to the pirate IPTV service GoldTV. Internet providers have been asked to keep quiet about the new domains until the order is granted. Internet provider TekSavvy is honoring this request but remains determined to overturn the initial order at the appeals court.

        • Show Support for Digital Rights During Video Calls with EFF Virtual Backgrounds

          Want to show your support for EFF while you spend more and more time in video conferences and chats? Here’s one fun way: virtual backgrounds! 

          We’ve collected some of our favorite EFF designs that promote issues like transparency, creativity, innovation, and privacy, for users to protect their own privacy (and add some joy to their conference calls) by replacing their usual backgrounds. These images are available under the Creative Commons CC BY license.

Keep Busy, Prosper at Home

Posted in Site News at 5:27 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Collective safety, societal solidarity

Better sedentary than sick

Summary: A word to the wise and advice to the kind; please don’t put those around you, especially vulnerable citizens, at risk; on a brighter note, we’ll likely become more productive because of the COVID-19/Coronavirus epidemic-turned-pandemic

THOSE who read this article likely live somewhere like the Americas, Europe, Australia or some other “developed” place. Some of us are forced to stay home, some are advised to stay home, and many choose to stay home.

Stay home. Don’t feel ashamed or embarrassed. Social distancing if not self-isolation are “cool” now. They’re an act not of selfishness but of responsibility.

As somebody who has worked from home since 2007, remote working isn’t unusual for me. It’s actually going to the office — something which happens for day or few every several years — that is unusual (and yes, we have a physical office where I’ve worked; several years ago it was universities).

To me, personally, the main reason to go out is buying stuff (mostly food) and the gym. But yesterday we learned that the gym is closing for at least a month. Buying stuff probably won’t be easy either (or safe). So starting next week I’ll definitely spend more time at home and I shall take advantage of that to write more, read more, respond more.

The pandemic has certainly slowed down the flow of news (and number of significant announcements made), but under the radar many bad things continue to happen, often uncovered, and the spare breathing space (unless running short of it) gives us more time to prepare and publish analyses (as in analytical articles).

Bear with us as we’re likely to become more active in the month to come (or months to come, depending on when the curve gets flattened and the epidemic is contained).

We have deep sympathy and empathy for those who will suffer profoundly in months to come. But we cannot let such an unprecedented pandemic bring our lives to a stop/halt.

Against All Superficiality — Cancel Culture is About Assassination, Not Empathy or Love

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Kernel, Microsoft, OSI at 4:27 am by Guest Editorial Team

Article by figosdev

Assassination: Founder ousted

Summary: “Everybody wants this to be treated like a small picture and minor details when it’s actually very similar across the board, and the latter is something even Stallman needs to wake up to (if he hasn’t already.)”

IF I write an autobiography, some people will say that it’s all about me. When I’ve read biographies, it’s usually about lots more than the person on the cover. Reading a biography, you can learn about relationships, ideas, philosophy, events — biography is a window into history, and history is a window to the world around us. History often tells us something about the future.

“History often tells us something about the future.”If people read about my life, I want them to share in the lessons and experiences I’ve encountered. But it is simply easier (and more personal) to do this in the first person. Some people find that loathsome — they could probably train a machine-learning algorithm to reword everything in the 3rd person if they want to. But autobiographies are awkward in the 3rd person, as is pretending that my experiences have nothing to do with me.

I am the person that ties my experiences together — just as you are the person that is among many things, a collection of your experiences. People are thus not only books, but they are volumes in the story of humankind. Each person is a window into the human experience, and society is increasingly obsessed with shuttering those windows. I find that very interesting, and I spend a good deal of time thinking about it and exploring ideas around it. I love to code, I’ve managed to find various ways of still enjoying it decades later — but sometimes I can’t sit down to code because there are other things I feel the need to write.

“A more likely scenario, from personal experience and from the experiences of other people that this story is about, is that people will quote things out of context and try to do exactly the sort of thing that this story warns against.”In the early days of the Web, the solution to that was simple — if you wanted to write, you would write. For a glimpse into those days, I recommend “Code” by Lawrence Lessig, one of my favourite people on Earth. Of course there are many quick bios on textfiles.com as well, though for this purpose more people might find Lessig’s writings easier to relate to.

I grew up as an Atheist in the Bible Belt. I fell in love with science, and while that relationship has grown more complex and nuanced, I don’t think I’ve ever walked away. My dreams were to become a scientist (turns out, it’s got more math than I could ever fall in love with — but I was 4 at the time) and then an engineer (nope, still loads of math there).

If you want to know the pinnacle of my math abilities, anybody who made it through 4 years of college will find it sad. You can iterate through a range of numbers from -pi to pi (I use 3.14159, it’s easy to remember and works acceptably up to a certain resolution) and the cosine of your set times the radius will let you plot the x coordinates of a circle, while the sine of that set times the radius will give you the y coordinates. You can do wonderful and amazing things with circles. You can use this to plot other equilateral polygons, with 3 vertices to a thousand. You can plot spheres.

I’ve never used (or written) a shading algorithm. There are 12-year-olds who can outcode my fun geometric designs. But I’m okay with that. For 5 minutes, I might have known how to solve a quadratic equation. Plenty of highschoolers know more about math than I do. I did make it to college at least. I left shortly after that, and have no college debts.

“People who hate corporations always talk about greed, cults, sociopaths, dictators, destruction, slavemasters, as well as cattle and sheep.”I’m agnostic now, and sometimes even theist. But I don’t believe in religion per se, because I think the lines between religions are misleading. I learned in primary school that the continents were once part of a landmass called Pangaea. It wasn’t for many years though, that I realised how the present shapes of the continents actually fit together like a puzzle. I feel the same way about religion — and philosophy.

Of course you want to talk about experience with religion if you’re going to delve into cults. Here’s a fun fact that I’ll remain vague about — do you know there was an organisation designed to help people recover from cults, which was systematically infiltrated and taken over by one of the more famous cults known about today? They obtained the personal information of everyone that had joined the anti-cult organisation, and the name of that organisation is Github–

I’m only kidding about the name, but the rest of the paragraph is factual. Fortunately I don’t need to name the organisation and draw harassment from the cult in question, because Wikipedia is a thing. But I do really think of Github when I think of that takeover.

There are lots of points to tie together here, and lots of impatient people who will complain that I’m taking too long to get to them. I hope they stop reading on this line, and go learn how to skim text and assess what they’ve read with integrity. Skimming is okay — bullshit a bit less okay. I’ve dealt with plenty of complaints in that regard, but this is my story, nonetheless — you’re free to tell your own.

What I lack in brevity, I’ll make up for in my own way. But remember that you don’t have to read this. This is a journey, not a tweet designed to whisk you teleport-like to a single point. A best scenario would be for someone to take something useful away from it, and retell it in their own voice and style of prose. But you are also free to take the entire thing.

“Not everyone who uses religious cults as a metaphor has actually joined one, or left one — they may not realise when they make the comparison how right they are.”A more likely scenario, from personal experience and from the experiences of other people that this story is about, is that people will quote things out of context and try to do exactly the sort of thing that this story warns against. But that sort of response is pretty obvious and commonplace these days. One of the reasons I’m taking you on the scenic route, is to let some people know how familiar an experience that really is.

I know a lot of people play fast and loose with metaphors, and they’re easy to find fault with. People who hate corporations always talk about greed, cults, sociopaths, dictators, destruction, slavemasters, as well as cattle and sheep. We are encouraged to treat these as tired cliches, and I don’t deny that sometimes this imagery is overused, in a way.

To a certain point, I’ll defend those critics, simply because they happen to be right. Not everyone who uses religious cults as a metaphor has actually joined one, or left one — they may not realise when they make the comparison how right they are. They may only assume. What’s funny is how little that changes just how apt the comparison is.

I did actually join a cult. I was cancelled from it — the old-fashioned way. I can tell you a bit about it. My first experience in an actual cult, my first experience with shunning in that cult, was not for being an asshole, but for being open-minded. I’ve seen this happen many times since then in the Free software world, but there are plenty of people to tell that story if you just listen.

My learning didn’t stop with my personal experience. Being interested, I’ve spent countless hours reading about cult tactics and corporate tactics, I joined and identified with “open source” before I left that for the Free software movement — I’ve watched open source proponents project their own behaviour onto Free software (Microsoft literally calls their salespeople “evangelists,” for crying out loud) and I can tell you that Free software isn’t a cult. But that could change, if it loses any further ground to open source.

I thought of several titles for this very long article, which I’ve encouraged Roy to split into a series. One of the titles was a warning about the danger of Free software becoming a cult if open source wins. We keep inching closer to that reality.

“My learning didn’t stop with my personal experience. Being interested, I’ve spent countless hours reading about cult tactics and corporate tactics, I joined and identified with “open source” before I left that for the Free software movement — I’ve watched open source proponents project their own behaviour onto Free software (Microsoft literally calls their salespeople “evangelists,” for crying out loud) and I can tell you that Free software isn’t a cult.”I won’t present you with a formal definition of a cult, for one because there are several definitions and criteria that will vie for your approval. I will tell you, in a roundabout way — how I arrive at the label of “cult” — a cult relies heavily on cult tactics. This is an important distinction, because it is far easier to talk about what cult tactics are than what cults are.

Once you have an organisation with hundreds of thousands of people in it, or even more, it gets more challenging to separate religions from cults. A handful of people from your church may try to interfere with your family or attack you in some way. How those individuals behave may actually be more cult-like than the larger organisation itself. And I’m happy to let other people worry about sorting out those details.

I’m actually okay with religion. I don’t equate religious beliefs with cult tactics, but I am aware of the fact that they are common bedfellows. That much certainly is a problem. The thing is, not everybody with a belief system supports those tactics — or belongs to an organisation that uses them.

So let’s start with the most likely reason someone will get drawn into a cult, because from the beginning, this is where the similarities begin. Who gets sucked into these things?

My teen years were difficult. I was living in a great deal of isolation, only a fraction of which was self-imposed. I had no family to speak of, but I did live with a complete tyrant. What’s really, really nice about this monster is that he’s dead. I mean this is someone who systematically led me through my entire childhood at metaphorical and emotional gunpoint, and wouldn’t you know? One day he just got cancer and started dying.

I talked to him on the phone a couple times, and it was like trying to have a conversation about universal healthcare with Donald Trump — a conversation with a narcissist and a sociopath. A person who is void of compassion and understanding. And I know that cancer is a terrible thing that takes lots of wonderful people from us. God forbid, it could take you or me or someone we love. But in this single instance if none other, it really did the world a favour.

“I’d spent my life rejecting religion, so without anything better to do, I made lots of inquiries.”Somewhere, rotting in the ground is the body of half a human — someone who I gave hundreds and hundreds of chances to — someone who used to violently kick in the door when we were kids, yanking me off the ground and into the air, regularly behaving in a way that would literally give some people a heart attack. Over what? We tried, you know — we tried our damnedest. But we weren’t perfect, and he knew it, and so we were tortured for year after year until we got it right.

The first cult I experienced was living at home, with God and the Devil. It was God that demanded we live without any fault or sin — the details of the law to be announced upon sentencing. It was the Devil that we knew could show himself at any time, to drag us into Hell for our sins. Of course this was all the same person — everything was about this person, literally nothing else mattered or was supposed to matter.

Of course I was Atheist. I knew God and the Devil were both full of shit, because I lived with them. It was a joy that he traveled so often, because even with our scars we sometimes had peace.

When I was a teenager, living alone with this tribute to absolute tyranny, some nice people came by. At first they didn’t have anything special to offer, but if I found a way to believe in their fantasies, they offered a caring, surrogate family — themselves.

I’d spent my life rejecting religion, so without anything better to do, I made lots of inquiries. I wanted to make certain they had nothing vehemently against science. They made their justifications and exceptions along the way, but it turned out that as long as I believed their overarching narrative, I could cling to practically any science I wanted. Evolution? Not a problem! After all, Darwin had a theistic bent himself. Evolution was the scientific perspective on how God created everything.

“Evolution was the scientific perspective on how God created everything.”As time would prove, my real salvation was that I had grown up among gay men. Unlike these new people, gays never tried to convert me. Not even once! Obviously a lot of it is that I was a kid, but even as an adult practically nobody has tried to get me to stray from any sort of heterosexuality that I may have — almost to the point where it’s a little insulting. But growing up around gay men was thoroughly unthreatening and sometimes fun, and the open-mindedness about homosexuality doomed my most highly-religious phase from the beginning (my heartfelt thanks to the most fabulous people that I knew back then.)

Of course I’d made inquiries about that as well. During our introductions, I was assured that I did not have to hate gay people to be part of this new surrogate family. Even if I was gay (I wasn’t), God would totally forgive me and still love me. Okay, sure, I guess.

It turns out (so to speak) that I really didn’t have to hate gay people, which is nice, but I did have to be uncomfortable with them. And I wasn’t. And I didn’t understand why anybody would need to be. And the moment I failed to understand that, was the first time someone slid in their seat away from me. C’mon, that’s very funny — what? Guys?

(Hello?)

I mean that could be an isolated incident, a stupid joke from another teenager. I wasn’t going to judge my entire religion on that. After all, the primary goal of these people was to become forgiving, understanding — and love and care about each other. Oh, yes! I’ve heard that one before!

Eventually the veneer of bullshit wore away, the truth began to shine through, and it became clear that yes — being open-minded really is a problem for a cult. The only way to be forgiven is to not screw up in the first place, the brand for life is as often as subtle as it is explicit, and people will swear to you that you’ll be forgiven if you just learn to do things their way.

Give up your identity, your personality, your philosophy, your personal morals — and these people will love you — just like they promised all along.

Spend your life pleasing them, and they will control you until you’re the best person they can make you into. I’d heard that one before as well…

“Spend your life pleasing them, and they will control you until you’re the best person they can make you into.”I spent years being very gently shunned everywhere I went — it continued when I moved to other cities, other states, when I moved other regions, where my religion didn’t change and the the so-called love they gave didn’t improve. The pattern was universal. The “brand” on my head was me — who I am as a person; not a complete lack of conformity, but still my lack of complete conformity. They weren’t looking up my name in a database, they were simply judging me as “this one is obviously different” everywhere I went. That behaviour was already ingrained and enforced in this “family.” They were doing the “right thing” by enforcing their expectations.

I went directly from being violently abused to being systematically shunned, but I was lucky in one regard — they had made plenty of promises to be my family, they had said the words, but they never did follow through.

I wasn’t trying to pretend to be anything, so I really never made it past the hurdles to where I had a real family. Instead of stealing my surrogate family from me, they only stole years of my time, a fair bit of missed opportunities for happiness, and a fantasy based on false promises. (Yes, that’s all.) There was one other thing, of course.

When you spend years being conditioned into a belief system, it does make it harder to leave. Even after you’ve left, you can be nagged (by your own thoughts) for years into thinking maybe you made the wrong choice. It’s silly and on an intellectual, scientific level — you already know better! But the back of your brain takes priority on these matters, and it takes years — decades, to tell that part of your brain “All is well, all is well — it’s okay, it’s okay.”

Cults exploit fear and loneliness, and they enslave people who have no family (or not much family).

“Aha!” the backstabber exclaims! “So that’s why you’re such an asshole — you’ve never had a nurturing relationship! Raised by sociopaths, you have no empathy!”

Oh, boy… Where to start?

“Cults exploit fear and loneliness, and they enslave people who have no family (or not much family).”As a philosopher, I’ve spent my entire life thinking about humanity and how to improve life on Earth. As someone who would have died (several times now) without fighting depression and crippling PTSD, and as someone with a deep love of science and truth, I’ve tried my utmost to understand humanity and its foibles. And yes — as someone who spent their youth being systematically tortured and terrorised for being imperfect, I’ve met few people who know more about the words “anger management.”

I know that Steve Ballmer knows what anger is like, because he throws chairs at Google. I know that Steve Jobs knew what anger is like, because of the way he treated people at Apple. And I know what autistic tantrums look like as well — when they’re similar, and when they’re different. And I would much rather be surrounded by panicked autists than narcissists and sociopaths. Autists aren’t sociopaths, and psychologists worth their salt already know this and have written the papers that provide evidence.

People who don’t know the difference between sociopathic, narcissistic rage, an autistic meltdown which is the physio-emotional equivalent of having a seizure, and simply yelling at a crowd full of bullies don’t know shit about anger. PTSD is also in there somewhere, but to my informal experience, it seems more complicated.

After being raised by a violent and terrifying overt narcissist, and a covert narcissist who relied on years of lying, projection and dragging me into one dangerous and damaging relationship after another, what do I know about healing?

For one, you need role models. You need inspiration from upstanding people. I don’t know anybody who was ever more greatly blessed than I was in this regard.

“Martin Luther King though — anti-war, awesome. Anti-racism. Anti-prejudice. But all built on true love — patience, understanding, and yes — anger about injustice.”Early on, I had the geniuses, Einstein, Edison; I thought highly of Thomas Edison, read books about him, turns out he was kind of an asshole — basically the Steve Jobs of his day. Take half-baked gizmos, make them marketable, claim to have invented them. I’m not saying he was useless, but like so many of today’s “luminaries” in technology, they got where they are by exploiting legitimate geniuses — like Tesla, who I knew nothing about except some big coil of wire, until I was in high school.

Also Tesla was a bigot and supposedly hated Einstein, but I’m not mad at him. I don’t think Tesla was an asshole. He was a bit weird though, and certainly wrong about some things.

I’ve actually always admired Martin Luther King. I’m mostly over Gandhi, but he has his moments. I like his style, at least. Martin Luther King though — anti-war, awesome. Anti-racism. Anti-prejudice. But all built on true love — patience, understanding, and yes — anger about injustice.

It really is okay to use your anger against true injustice. But it isn’t free — you can be angry without any right, and lots of people are — but to earn the right to be angry and use your anger, you absolutely must devote yourself to introspection, a fierce and endless quest for the whole truth, and a broad and fair perspective. This is a lifelong effort, and nobody in the world is so enlightened that they can shirk this. Many claim to be!

But Martin Luther King proclaimed things loudly, he shook his fist, he decried the true slavery that is War For Profit. And he told people — and this is the best part — to judge people “by the content of [their] character.”

Not by skin, not by words, not by religious membership, not by wealth, not by their dress, not by political party — but by character. Are you righteous enough to judge someone’s true character without being superficial? Only by devoting your life to getting past the superficial crap about a person can you even begin to try. Of course if you care about justice — and King most certainly did — then such an effort is not easy to avoid.

“Are you righteous enough to judge someone’s true character without being superficial?”We judge. We categorise. We protest. And if King was a good example, then we probably ought to do so. But King was a religious preacher, as well as a political activist. Growing up atheist, I only cared about (and deeply admired) his politics. His religion wasn’t important to me at all — only his character. Still when he preached, it was with a love of mankind, and a firm religious background to judge not superficially, but fairly and mercifully. His mercy was towards humanity, and individuals. But he didn’t suffer liars and warmongers and corporate thuggery — he fought those with his life.

I’m just as inspired by George Carlin as Martin Luther King. I’m still inspired by Einstein: “Great spirits have always encountered opposition from mediocre minds.”

That’s pretty self-explanatory, but let’s just make this perfectly clear: he’s saying that even if you’re a great person — because you’re a great person — you’re likely to be attacked for it. This is not presented as an anecdote, but a universal and (“always”) unchanging truth about humanity. That sucks!

So being attacked proves — absolutely nothing. But there is a survival bias at work — it’s one of our cognitive foibles as a society proven in various psychological experiments, that if you encounter someone who is being attacked, there’s a good chance you probably deserve it. Uh-oh. That makes it a hell of a lot harder to fight for people that need our help and probably deserve our help. It’s a cognitive foible that lends itself to authoritarianism, sadly.

I’ve really never paid attention to the rest of the quote before, but it’s actually a gem:

“The mediocre mind is incapable of understanding the man who refuses to bow blindly to conventional prejudices and chooses instead to express his opinions courageously and honestly.”

I’ve pretty much always thought it was more courageous for a single person to stand up to a vicious mob than the other way around, but perhaps I’m sentimental.

“In their own lifetimes, and sometimes for a while thereafter, we are encouraged to give our tyrants more credit than is due.”There’s a theme here that just won’t go away. And it lies at the root of authoritarianism, at the root of empire, the root of monopoly, the root of narcissism — the-cult like enslavement of too many of humanity’s individuals. You have to understand that some people — George Carlin included — are going to devote their entire lives to standing up to such nonsense.

Carlin isn’t alone. John Cleese, Dave Chappelle, Russell Peters, Stephen Fry — all have stood against the madness. All have my admiration and respect — and laughter. The joke of the narcissist, at the expense of whomever and for whatever reason, cannot compete with the pure irony torn asunder and exposed as bullshit by the genius of frank and honest comedy. Real artists suffer for their art, comedians for their jokes, and narcissists for their cramped and stunted psyche that never grows, never learns and never strives for true betterness — only status and the trappings of success, but not personal growth.

I love comedy, and I love the stories of imperfect people who struggled to do things not for fame but for a legacy of honest goodness — Saint Nicholas, Oskar Schindler, Akiva ben Yosef, and as mentioned — Martin Luther King, Jr. These were all people who bowed to something greater than mere authority — but to the greatest sort of authority: that which does more to encourage personal greatness by example and by deed, than by all the words and notions and false promises in the world. Those who follow the authority of the magnification of the human spirit.

Survival bias, again — encourage people to look upon the giving, the generous but undemanding, the gentle, and above all, the honest — as suckers, amateurs, as naive — as overly idealistic. But if you compare the legacies of true sages with those of most megalomaniacs, history usually reveals the foolishness of the latter. In their own lifetimes, and sometimes for a while thereafter, we are encouraged to give our tyrants more credit than is due. When we entrust history to librarians and unfettered research, not to small groups acting on self-serving agendas, we learn more about tyrants and their failures than we would otherwise be allowed.

“It’s actually very telling that the cliche about lonely reformers is in fact a cliche — because it represents the wishful thinking of controlling and abusive people.”But you’ll see the theme of the lonely, miserable giver — the sucker, the martyr, the simple fool. If they only had the good sense to look out for themselves, they would be happy. They would have nothing to whinge about!

Not all reformers are lonely. Many have known love, and among the fight for freedom have experienced being understood — being held, cherished, caressed, needed in someone’s life. All without needing to hold their loved ones captive in a system of control, fear and manipulation. But there is a stereotype you are warned against — do not be loud, or people will know that you’re bitter and miserable. Do not be rude, or people will know you have no morals and lack empathy. Don’t learn the difference — just let us sort it all out for you!

It’s actually very telling that the cliche about lonely reformers is in fact a cliche — because it represents the wishful thinking of controlling and abusive people. To a narcissist, every person that doesn’t kowtow deserves to be lonely, and the way this is enforced in an abusive, narcissistic relationship is by something called “poisoning the well.” Some cults do it, really bad aunties do it, and controlling abusers will go around and tell lies about you to make you sorry and further isolated so they can abuse you further. And while I think cancel culture is probably different than this in some ways, sometimes — the two have a lot in common.

Have these conventional prejudices, and do not choose instead to express your opinions courageously and honestly. Be afraid of your anger, and let us control you. You will flourish only when we say you have flourished, and only when we decide we are pleased with your growth as a person — and other stuff that great people never said.

There are too many similarities between narcissistic abuse and cult tactics and the behaviour of corporate monopolies to mention — but you have conversations with top salesmen where they tell you to do favours so people “owe you” — to make people feel loved so that they “owe you”. And when they are always owed, they’re really talking about ownership. They’re talking about owning people, they’re talking about emotional and practical slavery.

“There are too many similarities between narcissistic abuse and cult tactics and the behaviour of corporate monopolies to mention — but you have conversations with top salesmen where they tell you to do favours so people “owe you” — to make people feel loved so that they “owe you”.”Ponzi schemes do this as well — you move higher up by getting people under you, doing the same thing you were doing. But they will never get anywhere doing what you tell them directly. The business itself is absolutely worthless — and even irrelevant. The real business is getting people into the business. Don’t think it’s lost on me that religion often works this way: first you convert people — then what? Then you get them to convert people. Then what? Salvation, of course!

I think that’s false religion, and I’m well aware that it’s common. So what’s true? For Hillel and many people after him — it was love and nothing else (except learning more) that he strove for in life. The learning more was key though, because in life you are always encouraged to become superficial — to become careless, greedy, afraid. To love is natural, to build a life on that requires a commitment to truth, which is a commitment to move past the limited knowledge that each person has — by building on it, by growing, by questioning what you know and finding the bigger picture — a lifelong journey.

You can’t do that when your judgement is superficial, when it’s final, when it’s excessive and overly punitive. You can’t lead people to have a better life when everyone is sentenced to death for shoplifting, or to lifelong exile for the first sin someone can throw a stone at you for. It’s incredible to me how many people are against the death penalty, but in favour of cancel culture. They’re the same thing for different aspects of the human condition, and I’m against both.

And today you have people throwing stones at you just because you call them out for throwing stones without a proper look at the person they’re stoning. It’s happening more, and we said it would happen, and now they’re throwing stones at us for it. You know who else predicted that? Besides Einstein, Bob Dylan and John Lennon made it perfectly clear that sort of thing will happen. This is not a new problem, though it’s still getting worse.

“It’s incredible to me how many people are against the death penalty, but in favour of cancel culture. They’re the same thing for different aspects of the human condition, and I’m against both.”Narcissists idolise, lack true love of self (despite appearances) and project every fault and aspiration onto an idol, which they then destroy. In every instance of this there is monopoly — there is one possible truth, one possible way to do things, only one real solution to a problem — there is no room for science or rebellion or “playful cleverness” or even joking around, when too many things (that is, whatever the leader or abuser says) become ever-increasingly sacred. And all else becomes profane. Soon the pedestal becomes a stake to burn someone on.

What nuance, what introspection, what accountability (because nobody loves to talk about accountability and consequences more than authoritarians) leads to such grave error and terrible (and unnecessary) fates? How can simply disappointing a community lead people to build an entire Ministry of Truth and a Ministry of Love? To be propped up by for-profit media that cheers on the destruction like the Salem trials never ended?

But I’ve watched these people for my entire life, and I didn’t stop there. I read 1984, where the government was built on such behaviour. I watched Babylon 5 and the rise of interstellar fascism under total surveillance. I’ve spent years arguing against censorship in the form of extreme copyright, and watched as librarians — more than Free software advocates who say “Free as in Speech” fought tooth and nail against creeping surveillance and censorship. (Babylon 5 is fictional of course, as is 1984 — but I’m not sure it’s that much a lesser work than Orwell’s most notable fiction. It’s certainly relevant to modern life.)

Which isn’t to say that Free software isn’t just as important as libraries. The American Library Association largely get censorship and surveillance right, but the Free software movement largely gets computing right. These two wonderful things are both lacking in certain areas and need each other; or libraries will fall further prey to non-free software and DRM, which poses an existential threat to libraries — while Free software will fall further prey to censorship, authoritarianism and a crowdsourced social inquisition, that poses a completely existential threat to the Free software movement. Techrights has talked about this for years — what do you suppose Roy’s reward is? (I’ll give you a hint…)

I don’t think you really understand the lengths that I’ve gone to in this exploration of life and and the human condition. I’ve traveled and talked to people about their experiences in different countries, in different time periods (young and old, that is) and in different industries. I don’t just take Daniel Pocock’s exposure of corruption simply at his word — nor Roy’s. With every new bit of information that seems important, I’ve gone everywhere I can and talked with people, gotten second, third and fourth opinions when possible.

“Cancel culture is Careless culture, but I’m interested in the truth, not just what someone says is so.”When I found the Free Software Fellowship and Debian community, I read all of it. A little bit was skimmed, and I eventually stopped paying attention to “ahilter” and “garfield” when a clear pattern established itself at length. But I paid close attention to the replies, the accusations, the rebuttals, the official narrative. I talked to people I know, people I trust, I talked to strangers who might know something the rest do not — finding leads and following up. And it’s still possible that I’m wrong, but there is further evidence to the contrary.

Cancel culture is Careless culture, but I’m interested in the truth, not just what someone says is so. Thus before I decided that most likely, Pocock is telling the truth about FSFE; which certainly brings a lot of other parallel things into perspective — that was around the time Bruce Perens left OSI (again) and its other co-founder was cancelled (here’s a fun fact — supposedly he was cancelled from a list he just recently started participating in.)

Everybody wants this to be treated like a small picture and minor details when it’s actually very similar across the board, and the latter is something even Stallman needs to wake up to (if he hasn’t already.)

Still, open source is clearly one of the cults I joined and got out of. And since I shared one cult story, I’ll share that one as well. This is what I actually hate, Linus: people who bully other people with lies and fake agendas.

Being old-fashioned, I have a concept that my physical property is my physical property — upon purchase, ownership changes hands. That’s what “purchase” means. It does not mean “lease”. I also started with computers that didn’t have a hard drive. Software goes on the floppy, hardware runs the stuff on the floppy. I knew the BIOS existed, but it was part of the machine — it wasn’t software and I didn’t have any means to copy it anyway.

“Still, open source is clearly one of the cults I joined and got out of.”I would probably still be using DOS if USB hadn’t been invented. (Yes, I know about the Panasonic driver.)

But before FreeDOS was a thing, I sometimes dreamed of making my own DOS-like operating system that people could share freely. Fortunately someone else did this, although you still need non-free software to compile it. Darn you, 16-bit compilation. I don’t do lower-level coding anyway, so this really was just a dream.

I did become quite intrigued with what I commonly heard of as “Linux” and eventually got a floppy with tomsrtbt on it. I would gradually learn the commands and — oh, too many differences. Look at these lucky bastards running xwindows and I cant even copy this thing, because it isn’t a standard format. I didn’t know fsck or dd yet. I still don’t know if I could copy tomsrtbt, though I only have one floppy drive and I don’t have any media for it.

I bought Red Hat for $30, with a box and a CD in a jewel case — and a manual! And surely this thing will help (What the hell is this?) I tried installing it, I don’t think I had the right CPU for it. (Or the right graphics hardware. I know more about installing these things now.)

I got Mandrake for $5 and it came with a case — no big friendly cardboard box or manual, just shrinkwrap. And it installed! But a lot of good it did me; I didn’t understand user accounts, root or permissions, and I couldn’t do anything with it except open and close applications. It had IceWM and I still use that today.

A couple of years later, I got Ubuntu for free, but I didn’t have any hardware that would boot it at a reasonable speed. It took something like 5 to 10 minutes to start up. It’s okay if you don’t believe that, I didn’t either. But I was finally making progress and it was only a couple of years after this that I was installing my 12th or 15th distro and removing my last copy of Windows.

“It seems a lot of this was started by a guy called Richard Stallman, who a lot of people were speaking of as an unreasonable has-been (sigh) and blah blah blah…”I’d grown tired of Windows — I actually resisted Windows 95 until about 1999, and 98 until 2002 when everybody was using XP. 95 was useless and fugly, 98 was unstable, but XP was simply customer abuse. Call us and activate your copy of Windows? Piss off! I’m done with Microsoft, I’ve always hated Apple and their condescension towards everyone who can actually use a computer, but what are my options? I know, I’ll run OpenDOS and do everything from there. (I did this for a while.)

But by 2007 I was Windows-free at last, and I’d spent a long time replacing 98 piecemeal with free (as in freedom) alternatives. Not until 2005 did I have a real alternative, so here I was in the beginning of my journey with “open source.” I was running my DOS programs in DosBox and dosemu, I was experimenting with Windows programs in Wine, I was trying new programming languages — eventually JavaScript and Python, and of course I wanted to share all this stuff with other people — how do you do that?

It seems a lot of this was started by a guy called Richard Stallman, who a lot of people were speaking of as an unreasonable has-been (sigh) and blah blah blah, he made a bunch of utilities but like Eddie Izzard explains about World War II history, open source came along and said “Hey, need a kernel?” and Free software said “Where the f- — have you guys been?” “Having breakfast!” “Oh, alright then, here, just take all the credit for everything we’ve done!” Like you do…

Being the incredible sucker that I am, I fell for it. And I should have known better by now, but the truth is that even by 2007, I hadn’t read as much about cults or looked at as much of that part of my life yet. I’d certainly looked a lot at my childhood, though the tools I had for that were still pretty crude. I didn’t have names for most of the experiences I’d had or behaviours I’d encountered. But I had some idea about them.

“Being the incredible sucker that I am, I fell for it. And I should have known better by now, but the truth is that even by 2007, I hadn’t read as much about cults or looked at as much of that part of my life yet.”I hadn’t even learned nearly enough about the history of Microsoft. I did know about making it so early versions of Windows were tied to Microsoft DOS only. I knew about the Internet Explorer bundling. I knew I hated Microsoft as a company for the way it screws over customers, but mainly I wanted to help people get this new operating system — if I could only figure enough of it out myself.

For years now, there was this new version of Free software called “open source”. Open source is just like Free software — but it’s more reasonable (haha… good one guys) and unlike Richard Stallman, who is a pedantic, sanctimonious old fart, Linus Torvalds is like “Buddy Christ” in Dogma and he’s cool and doesn’t care if you use Free software or “open source” or whatever — and so on…

I did learn, not through trial and error so much as daily life, what open source did hold sacred though.

First, people started treating me like crap if I put a dollar sign in Micro$oft. (And Heaven Forbid that you call it Microsuck or Microshit!) I thought that was a bit of an overreaction — you have a problem with me poking fun at monopoly and greed? Just as with the guy who slid away from me in his seat because I’m not a big homophobe, I put it down to “some people just don’t get it” and continued to not associate the movement with this peculiar reaction.

The best was yet to come, of course. And it was long ago that I decided I’d have enough of GNOME spewing bloat into my operating system (to clarify: the operating system on my computer — which GNOME was a guest on, not the boss of me…) though it was also early that I heard developers and fanboys gloating that I would “have no choice” or way to get rid of GNOME, while other people bragged that everything was optional in the Linux world.

The bullshit was getting thicker and harder to ignore, and the fact that it’s bullshit (sustained campaigns of lying and conditioning are bullying) is half the problem. If these are isolated incidents — if you think of GNOME as a project or software group entirely separate from everybody else (if only, eh?) then it’s natural to dismiss this. Not until you meet countless people with this attitude does it become truly worrisome — merely annoying and obnoxious and arrogant.

“It turns out that Torvalds (PBUH) is the very final word on Earth between what we can like and dislike after all.”Enter his holiness the Dalai Torvalds. (Sorry Mr. Gyatso, I really do find you likeable.)

It turns out that Torvalds (PBUH) is the very final word on Earth between what we can like and dislike after all. NVidia? F- — You! Facebook and Twitter? Hateful and horrible, perhaps. (I wouldn’t disagree with that…)

Microsoft? Hold the phone!

You don’t just go around bashing Microsoft, you little terrorist snots! This is why Free software is about hate, and open source is about loooooove! Just like Microsoft loooooooves Linux.

Here we go again…

So Torvalds spends years getting (and begrudgingly of course, accepting) the unofficial title of god of open source, don’t call it GNU, don’t put dollar signs in Micro$oft, if you criticise a giant corporation that’s “hate” and oh ho ho, I found the Sacred Cow!

After watching Torvalds smear the very movement he spent years dishonestly co-opting, I gave Free software a more thorough examination. I stopped listening to open source rewrite history. I’d actually already grown curious about the two distinct narratives — only one of which claims to be “The same, but better than the original” while the other claims to be about things that are “Free, as in speech.”

“Differences aside, I’ve believed in Free software ever since that revelation. And I’ve watched people try to paint Free software as a cult, just because it’s built on actual principles which it strongly recommends adhering to.”And I realised I’d been had. I can tell you from experience, when you leave a cult or an abusive relationship, one of the first things you might be tempted to do is hold a press conference, warning everybody to “Stay The F- — Away from these people!” It doesn’t work, because people who are inclined to be taken advantage of are going to be taken advantage of — sometimes. I didn’t know the first thing about how open source had managed to bullshit everybody, only that they’d done it. And that history was an important subject after all. (Thanks, Linus!)

I stopped reflexively ignoring people who “added” the word “GNU” to the name, as suddenly it seemed they had a pretty good reason for doing so (not being entirely co-opted and spoken over) and I started learning more about Richard Stallman — not just the sort of stuff you get from first impressions, you know. Turns out, he’s a lot more admirable when you judge him on the content of his character, rather than trusting opportunistic corporate assholes.

I started giving money to Free software supporters instead of open source people, and I started getting FSF newsletters in the mail, which I still hate even though I no longer get them (only because I don’t agree with Stallman on what licence they should have.)

You might think that’s unreasonable, but I had years of open source telling me it was foolish to judge a program by its license. “Same thing, only better” indeed! (What? A newsletter isn’t a computer program? Who knew?)

Differences aside, I’ve believed in Free software ever since that revelation. And I’ve watched people try to paint Free software as a cult, just because it’s built on actual principles which it strongly recommends adhering to. Sorry guys, principles and cults are two different things. Most of Stallman’s faults are a straw man, and compromise doesn’t always make you more reasonable. At a certain point, it becomes synonymous with loss of integrity or security.

In fact, if you’re in a narcissistic abusive relationship, your “owner” will frequently say you’re being “unreasonable” and “uncompromising” if you don’t yield to them on every single thing they want.

“In fact, if you’re in a narcissistic abusive relationship, your “owner” will frequently say you’re being “unreasonable” and “uncompromising” if you don’t yield to them on every single thing they want.”It’s not that unreasonable and uncompromising aren’t things that actually exist — they exist, but the idea is being exploited to gaslight, manipulate you and enforce double standards, which is why I’ve said that Torvalds is a schmuck ever since he unfairly smeared Free software. And I’ve also defended him practically every time I’ve said that with “at least he’s better than the guy that will take over for him.” That’s also true. It doesn’t make him great, but it’s an important point for the future.

I note with amusement that Torvalds is never shown except from the waist up, so anybody’s hand could be up there to make him talk — Gates, Ballmer, Nadella — even Raymond! Only joking guys, we know that Torvalds was outsmarted and outschmucked by Zemlin. Though I find it extraordinary that Raymond (who as I’ve said, should not be cancelled because that serves these corporations more than it hurts Raymond) claims to be a friend of Stallman’s when he planned to cancel him so many years ago. Instead, he just completely co-opted Free software.

Bruce Perens himself says that open source overshadowed it — and that “this was never fair.” I agree! When I talk about how corrupt open source has been for years, note that Perens said the worst of what I’m saying all the way back in 1999 (he’s also the person that revealed the plan to cancel Stallman years earlier.) And he said it on the now-heavily-censored Debian mailing lists of all places, only a snail’s hop away from where the Open Source Definition itself was invented!

So you know, fine — steal the Free software movement and then say “it’s about hate” when you’ve lied to literally millions of people about it for decades. Whatever, asshole.

“And you can tell from his face that the abuse he has been through as a pawn (convinced he’s a star) amounts to torture, and torture is f—ed up.”But do I agree with cancelling Torvalds? No, I think it’s too bad we no longer live in a world where it’s safe to pie Bill Gates (is the guy that did that still alive?) because Torvalds deserves such honour. I do note, and not with actual glee (because the truth is it’s seriously f—ed up even if it’s karma) that he is now in a controlling, narcissistic relationship with the foundation named after the kernel named after his own freaking name! (Even for karma, that’s pretty wicked. I don’t think he’s that bad…)

And you can tell from his face that the abuse he has been through as a pawn (convinced he’s a star) amounts to torture, and torture is f—ed up. When they talk about what Assange has gone through and they show Torvalds’ face, you can tell there are similarities (in the intent, not the degree.) Every time I’ve mentioned this, I’ve pointed out that I don’t support Torvalds’ torture by the corporations exploiting him. Not even if he exploited us. Why? Because it’s always wrong! You aren’t going to save the human race by doing that. In fact that’s the whole point of this (so far) 227-paragraph story!

Yes Torvalds, you’re a schmuck. What your owners are doing is even worse, and you don’t deserve it, nor does anybody else.

Torture is like the death penalty. The risk of doing it to the wrong person is too unacceptable, so you can’t do it to even to those who almost certainly deserve it because what if you’re wrong?

“You think it’s unhelpful to call for a stop to crucifying basically innocent people and to start looking at the actual terrible people, who are trying to control us and ruin the lives of people we respect and admire?”But do you really still think it’s unhelpful? To put history back in context? To expose corruption, to call out liars, to defend good people, to tell people to be less superficial, to insist they use their skills and perspective and freedom to obtain information from multiple sources, over some dubious Grand-Inquisitor-like authority?

You think it’s unhelpful to call for a stop to crucifying basically innocent people and to start looking at the actual terrible people, who are trying to control us and ruin the lives of people we respect and admire? — So you can be in charge of who we choose to be led by instead? You think it’s unhelpful to criticise the worst sorts of hypocrisy?

Who are you helping then?

Who do you want us to believe you’re helping? Narcissism and cult tactics are all about worlds full of promises, mountains of lies, and endless excuses why those promises weren’t delivered — when they were all just a carrot to make people do something they didn’t ever need to do.

When in doubt, just rewrite history. And don’t be surprised when your regime falls down under the weight of its own bullshit.

Until then, false authority under false pretense gets parodied. Thank you Mr. Carlin, thank you Mr. Peters, thank you Mr. Cleese, thank you Mr. Chappelle.

“…shall we continue to throw out the old rulebooks, along with more of our own founders, and continue to rewrite history to serve the all-benevolent, all-powerful corporation?”And thank you, Your Holiness. You went on F–x News and made a joke at the clueless fraud trying to get one over on you. It wasn’t even a mean joke — but it was absolutely and elegantly fair play.

The rest of us are just human, though some people are begging you to give that up and do things their way instead. Politeness is hardly a cause worth enslaving people for. Why do we choose to entertain these people? Harsher control is not really justice, but leaders (the ones calling for harsher control that looks a lot like good old cult tactics) serving as good examples would help far more.

Can they set a good example? Or shall we continue to throw out the old rulebooks, along with more of our own founders, and continue to rewrite history to serve the all-benevolent, all-powerful corporation?

You’ve Changed — Billie Holiday

You Got It — Roy Orbison

Long Train Running — Doobie Brothers

Licence: Creative Commons CC0 1.0 (public domain)

IRC Proceedings: Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Posted in IRC Logs at 2:01 am by Needs Sunlight

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