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09.03.20

Trust vs. Liking vs. Helping vs. Working With vs. Accepting vs. Agreeing vs. Defending

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 11:36 pm by Guest Editorial Team

Article by figosdev

Firm handshake

Summary: One year after Richard Stallman (RMS) got ‘canceled’ we look back at the underlying methods used to achieve destruction of Free software, based on Microsoft’s own memos

I don’t trust Bruce Perens or Linus Torvalds, but I sort of like Perens. I accept that Torvalds is the best person to lead the Linux project of those available. I also think he is the best person to choose a successor, but now that will not happen. He would not have chosen GKH, but he will now — the choice is not really his own.

I like RMS; I trust him to make decisions without being corrupted, but not to always trust the right people — not after what happened. I agree with him on a long list of things, but certainly not everything.

“I accept that Torvalds is the best person to lead the Linux project of those available. I also think he is the best person to choose a successor, but now that will not happen.”The phrase “working with” has several slightly different uses, from having co-workers, to being on the same project, to two separate projects assisting each other, to communicating and sometimes cooperating with another person.

I don’t like, trust, accept, nor am I willing to work with Devuan. I used it for a significant amount of time, but compared to Debian the software is slightly better — the community is arguably worse. On the surface of both Debian and Devuan, both are absolutely no problem at all. I would warn anybody against relying on either of them, especially if they intend to have any significant involvement.

Funny then, that I like both Dyne.org and its founder. I think of the Free Software organisations out there, Dyne is one of the better ones. This simply does not extend to every project under their umbrella. Note that Dyne is one of the few organisations that came out immediately to defend rms — but there are other factors that play a significant role in my opinion of Dyne.

“Note that Dyne is one of the few organisations that came out immediately to defend rms — but there are other factors that play a significant role in my opinion of Dyne.”I agree with Perens on many things, and I will defend some things about people I don’t even like. The best reason to do this is because some of those things are more important than the person. Freedom of association is also pretty important stuff, but that does not mean you have to trust someone from a company that is bent on destroying or controlling your project.

Torvalds has generally shown a certain level of integrity when it comes to maintaining the kernel — this will not apply when his input into the project is entirely negated. He has less real say than he used to, and it shows. He is the fall guy for decisions made over his head, though I don’t merely dislike Torvalds as a person — I think he lacks integrity as a person, and when he talks, but I think he shows it when he reviews code.

This doesn’t mean I agree with every decision he’s ever made, just that I would put his decision-making for the kernel in a very high percentile — probably above any competitors. But as a person I think he’s a schmuck, and a shill — I don’t think it matters at all that he’s an asshole (I have no problem with that at all, really) but as a shill he does real damage.

“Linus is capable of making choices that will benefit the project he started — even if I think he is dishonest when he speaks.”Would I kick him out of maintaining the kernel? No, because there is no better person to replace him. Would I hope he chooses a successor? He would have to eventually, unless someone chooses for him. The latter will happen, and it won’t be as good as if Linus chose. Linus is capable of making choices that will benefit the project he started — even if I think he is dishonest when he speaks.

But just because I don’t like him or trust him in general, doesn’t mean I will like the choice he doesn’t get the opportunity to make. Some things are simply more important (even to me) than my general feelings about a person. So I think focusing too much on that to the exclusion of all else is a very big mistake — very likely (we aren’t just going on hunches here) even by design.

Has Torvalds been attacked unfairly? Some of the attacks are certainly unfair — and that makes some of them interesting and relevant. As a recent article pointed out, not every question people have asked Torvalds was an honest or fair question. Are there worse people? Absolutely — I like the people they want to replace him with even less.

“I agree with Linus that respect is something that is earned — I also think there is a base level of respect that everybody deserves to start out with.”Why care about whether someone is fair to Torvalds? Because the same tactics could be used against someone we actually trust and like. But then… we predicted exactly that weeks (and really months) before that actually happened. So does it matter that some of the attacks against Torvalds (schmuck that he is) were part of a larger and deliberately dishonest pattern designed to weaken Free Software? (Do we really even have to ask?)

In the big picture, all of these things actually matter to some degree. They don’t all matter equally, and all of them happen in a context that either mitigates or exacerbates one problem or another.

The goal of P.R. is to downplay problems that will hurt their client’s opponents, and exaggerate problems that (by exaggerating them) will help their clients; to overcomplicate (thus obfuscate) simple truths, and to oversimplify (thus gloss over) complex problems. Treating problems this way actually creates new problems, and the chaos that ensues can be exploited by those who are experienced at handling it deftly.

I agree with Linus that respect is something that is earned — I also think there is a base level of respect that everybody deserves to start out with. This is not always given, and there is probably room for improvement.

“To some people, the Linux kernel is nothing — they use a different kernel, they may have no use for “Linux” at all.”The idea of base level of respect that is given is something that manipulators are keen to exploit, and this is one of the dangers of thinking anybody is really owed respect. A base level of respect can really help everybody, including a project — it can also be used to subvert and decapitate a project, such as the GNU Project or sub-projects within Debian.

Trying to establish a base level of respect for volunteers may prove worthwhile, but doing so while ignoring the pitfalls will only put the project in the hands of those who benefit from its destruction — companies that do not want to compete fairly, but that can afford an army of P.R. people to gloss over any wrong they do — including exploiting and abusing workers.

I have no problem with the way Linus ran the kernel — I have a problem with his dishonest and double standard about what constitutes “hate”. I have a problem with him smearing people without which the Linux kernel would be next to nothing. To some people, the Linux kernel is nothing — they use a different kernel, they may have no use for “Linux” at all.

I would like to be one of those people. But I am still using his kernel sometimes.

“Maybe there is a baseline of trust we tend to give people, much like there is a baseline of respect.”There is nothing likely to improve the kernel at this point, but there are several things on the horizon that are likely to make it worse. At some point, a comparison of Linux and another kernel will likely yield no reason to favour it over something else — no reason at all. We aren’t there yet, but I would like to have immediate options when Linux becomes that poor of an option. I am exploring my options today, in hopes of being prepared for that event.

There are many people I like, trust and am happy to work with, who I do not agree with on the viability of GNU/Linux in the future. Some people will consider this an attack on GNU or an endorsement of non-free firmware. I find that very irritating.

I’m using GNU/Linux right now to type this, but unfortunately (after many years of using a kernel without non-free firmware, very resolutely at that) I have run out of distros that have any respect for freedom that also feature a kernel that removes non-free firmware. The reason for this is simple: there are very few kernels or distros that bother. My interest in a fully-free kernel has not waned, I have amply demonstrated it over many years, and I am still pursuing (and promoting) the use of such a kernel.

It may take time to catch up in that regard, but I refuse to fall much farther behind on other fronts — I refuse to use an OS we have no control over at all, for a kernel that respects my freedom, but only so long as I use an OS with no freedom in its future. To me that is perfectly sound, but it has not been “blessed” while the blessed alternative option continues to erode.

“Sometimes, that competition is us. And they will do whatever is in their power to make that difficult for us to sustain, even if that includes co-opting and destroying our work and our communities.”Some things are glossed over and simplified, others are made overly complicated to mislead. I do not have patience or tolerance for either. I have very little tolerance for any person who insists on being a shill — or for a decent person who is fooled by such nonsense and decides to question my choices based on being manipulated themselves.

Of course, the nice thing for me about my decisions is that they’re mine. That doesn’t mean I don’t care what anybody thinks. It means I don’t necessarily care what EVERYBODY thinks.

Trust, like respect, is earned. Maybe there is a baseline of trust we tend to give people, much like there is a baseline of respect.

But with enough abuse of that respect, and abuse of that trust, the baseline is sure to drop.

“Microsoft tries harder than any other company to kill free software this way.”I’m sure there is someone who can take advantage of that, but I don’t have a very high baseline of trust (or respect) for those people.

This is one thing that current baselines of respect do not take into account. How much lying, abuse and exploitation (of users, of volunteers) are you expected to tolerate before “assuming good faith” and a baseline of respect is null and void?

They gloss over that part. But for those who try to gloss over what I’m saying by insinuating that there is no point — I’ve already said it. Some things are more complicated, some things are simple.

But they like to frame those things in a way that helps their clients, and hurts their competition. Sometimes, that competition is us. And they will do whatever is in their power to make that difficult for us to sustain, even if that includes co-opting and destroying our work and our communities.

“I don’t think you should trust any company that adopts the tactics Microsoft uses.”“Capturing OSS benefits — Developer Mindshare”

“Put out parts of the source code — try to generate hacker interest in adding value to MS-sponsored code bases.”

“Monitor OSS news groups. Learn new ideas and hire the best/brightest individuals.”

“How can we recreate the OSS development environment internally?”

“There is no central set of servers to find, install, review the code from projects outside your immediate scope. Even simply providing a central repository for debug symbols would be a huge improvement.”

“MS has an opportunity to really exploit the web for developer evangelization.”

“But I remember in the late 80s and early 90s, when “Linux” was just getting started, and people didn’t want to pay attention to AIDS because it was considered just something that happened to homosexuals and drug users. You want a cure, they said? Don’t be gay, don’t do drugs.”Obviously none of these decades-old notes on how to co-opt free software are “relevant” to what’s happening now in 2020. They are from the same document, written first by Vinod Valloppillil in August of 1998, and filed as public evidence in January 2007.

Microsoft tries harder than any other company to kill free software this way. That doesn’t mean that other companies don’t adopt similar tactics, when they are shown to work. I don’t think you should trust any company that adopts the tactics Microsoft uses. Microsoft continues to use them, and people continue to work with both Microsoft and other companies making the same kind of efforts to destroy the decades of work Free software has done.

Why? Because some people would rather read an article like this and pretend not to get the point of it, than learn that such tactics were not only used, but planned and then carried out.

“But if you take the time (most people don’t) to get past that P.R. bullshit, you get at the real causes and real effects of the problem, and how to try to fix it.”This is why free software is dying. This is exactly what is killing or has killed it.

But I remember in the late 80s and early 90s, when “Linux” was just getting started, and people didn’t want to pay attention to AIDS because it was considered just something that happened to homosexuals and drug users. You want a cure, they said? Don’t be gay, don’t do drugs.

It sidestepped the reality of addiction, and the reality of AIDS (as science gained importance over from sheer rhetoric, people eventually focused on HIV, the actual cause rather than the symptomatic disease) but this made the public content that they didn’t need to worry about it. Not gay? Not doing drugs? No problem.

Why do more people think free software is dying?

1. It isn’t.

“Pretending AIDS wasn’t a problem for most people actually made HIV dangerous to more people.”2. It doesn’t matter, Free Software (Open Source) “already won anyway”.

3. It’s not dying, people are just complaining about neckbeards and bigots being “cancelled” (which isn’t a real thing either).

But if you take the time (most people don’t) to get past that P.R. bullshit, you get at the real causes and real effects of the problem, and how to try to fix it.

Pretending AIDS wasn’t a problem for most people actually made HIV dangerous to more people. Deciding the problem did exist and mattered to more (most) people, made it possible to get funding (read: “necessary attention from the public”) for finding real solutions and this (rather than blanket dismissal) is actually what brought HIV rates down around so much of the world. Where is the problem the worst even now? In places where there is still heavy denial (or beliefs in the way of a real solution — but also where people are too poor to fix it).

“But with regards to Tobacco, to Oil, the Environment and even the toxicity of substances like lead, there have long been shills that are very well paid and very well organised to lobby government and the public alike, to downplay problems, discredit workable solutions (as ineffective, overly costly, or otherwise undesirable) and even promote non-solutions.”This doesn’t mean I agree with every solution — some treatments are better than others. Lemon juice (used with a sponge) may actually kill HIV and act as a natural contraceptive.

Does that mean it is the best way to do either? Of course not! Whether it’s really even “better than nothing” is a matter for science, but as the page says, “Lemon juice is not recommended by any medical authority that we are aware of.

Not every solution approved by medical authorities is necessarily safe, either — some “cures” come with their own risks and costs, while others prove to be dangerous later, when better testing of those solutions are available.

“It is naive (most especially at this point) to think that the Free Software is immune to all this, or that this sort of thing is not happening to Free Software right now.”But with regards to Tobacco, to Oil, the Environment and even the toxicity of substances like lead, there have long been shills that are very well paid and very well organised to lobby government and the public alike, to downplay problems, discredit workable solutions (as ineffective, overly costly, or otherwise undesirable) and even promote non-solutions.

It is naive (most especially at this point) to think that the Free Software is immune to all this, or that this sort of thing is not happening to Free Software right now.

What’s more, is that one of the best ways you can help Free Software today (as it was with AIDS) is to fight the shills who insinuate that this is only about neckbeards and bigots, and help to bring sunlight to the truth of the matter — that is the route to saving the Free Software world.

Also from 1998: the Open Source Initiative

“What an incredible year that was — what an incredible year 1998 still is, today.”Also from 1998: the DMCA

Also from 1998: “How Microsoft Is Like Big Tobacco”

What an incredible year that was — what an incredible year 1998 still is, today. The big effects we see now, were like a butterfly flapping its wings more than 20 years ago.

The past is even more relevant today than it was at the time. What’s happening now that people could be talking about in 20 years? Probably not that “neckbeards and bigots” were the biggest problems the Free Software movement had in 2020.

“You can only use P.R. to control an IMAGE, or perception — but never a PROCESS! “But as with so many things, that depends who (and what) you put your trust in. Maybe that in turn, all depends on how you decide. But is that process something that can be controlled or manipulated? And how?

Not that it’s anybody’s job or anything. I mean that’s not what P.R. companies like the ones representing Big Tobacco do. You can only use P.R. to control an IMAGE, or perception — but never a PROCESS!

For that, you need lobbyists — they have nothing in common with P.R. people.

“To understand how to compete against OSS, we must target a process rather than a company.” –Microsoft

“The paper on ‘Open Source Software’ provides general process weaknesses. Here, we’ll try to list only the weaknesses that are unique to Linux.” –Microsoft

“A more generalized assessment of how to beat the Open Source Software process which begat Linux is contained in the ‘Open Source Software’ document.” –Microsoft

Long live rms, and Happy Hacking.

Licence: Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0)

An FSFE Fellowship Representative’s Dilemma

Posted in Free/Libre Software at 10:53 pm by Guest Editorial Team

Reprinted with permission from the Free Software Fellowship

The FSFE Fellowship representative role may appear trivial, but it is surprisingly complicated. What’s best for FSFE, what is best for the fellows and what is best for free software are not always the same thing.

As outlined in the blog Who are/were the FSFE Fellowship?, fellows have generously donated over EUR 1,000,000 to FSFE and one member of the community recently bequeathed EUR 150,000. Fellows want to know that this money is spent well, even beyond their death.

FSFE promised them an elected representative, which may have given them great reassurance about the checks and balances in the organization. In practice, FSFE hasn’t been sincere about this role and it is therefore a representative’s duty to make fellows aware of what representation means in practice right now.

This blog has been held back for some time in the hope that things at FSFE would improve. Alas, that is not the case and with the annual general meeting in Berlin only four weeks away, now is the time for the community to take an interest. As fellowship representative, I would like to invite members of the wider free software community to attend as guests of the fellowship and try to help FSFE regain legitimacy.

Born with a conflict of interest

According to the FSFE e.V. constitution, as it was before elections were abolished, the Fellows elected according to §6 become members of FSFE e.V.

Yet all the other fellows who voted, the people being represented, are not considered members of FSFE e.V. Sometimes it is possible to view all fellows together as a unit, a separate organization, The Fellowship. Sometimes not all fellows want the same thing and a representative has to view them each as individuals.

fsfe rep coi

Any representative of this organization, The Fellowship and the individual fellows, has a strong ethical obligation to do what is best for The Fellowship and each fellow.

Yet as the constitution recognizes the representative as a member of FSFE e.V., some people have also argued that he/she should do what is best for FSFE e.V.

What happens when what is best for The Fellowship is not in alignment with what is best for FSFE e.V.?

It is also possible to imagine situations where doing what is best for FSFE e.V. and doing what is best for free software in general is not the same thing. In such a case the representative and other members may want to resign.

Censorship of the Fellowship representatives by FSFE management

On several occasions management argued that communications to fellows need to be censored adapted to help make money. For example, when discussing an email to be sent to all fellows in February about the risk of abolishing elections, the president warned:

“people might even stop to support us financially”

if they found out about the constitutional changes. He subsequently subjected the email to censorship modification by other people.

This was not a new theme: in a similar discussion in August 2017 about communications from the representatives, another senior member of the executive team had commented:

“It would be beneficial if our PR team could support in this, who have the experience from shaping communication in ways which support retention of our donors.”

A few weeks later, on 20 March, FSFE’s management distributed a new censorship communications policy, requiring future emails to prioritize FSFE’s interests and mandating that all emails go through the censors PR team. As already explained, a representative has an ethical obligation to prioritize the interests of the people represented, The Fellowship, not FSFE’s interests. The censorship communications policy appears deliberately incompatible with that obligation.

As the elected representative of a 1500-strong fellowship, it seems obscene that communications to the people represented are subject to censorship by the very staff the representative scrutinizes. The situation is even more ludicrous when the organization concerned claims to be an advocate of freedom.

This gets to the core of our differences: FSFE appeared to be hoping a representative would be a stooge, puppet or cheerleader who’s existence might “support retention of … donors”. A committed representative would not see themself like that. Given the generosity of fellows and the large amounts of time and money contributed to FSFE, a representative is obliged to act as a genuine representative, ensuring money already donated is spent effectively on the desired objectives and ensuring that communications are accurate. FSFE management appear to hope their clever policy document will mute those ambitions.

Days later, on 25 March, FSFE management announced the extraordinary general meeting to be held in the staff office in Berlin, to confirm the constitutional change and as a bonus, try to abruptly terminate the last representative. Were these sudden changes happening by coincidence, or rather, a nasty reprisal for February’s email about constitutional changes? The representative had simply been trying to fulfill those ethical obligations to fellows and had suddenly become persona non grata.

When people first saw this termination proposal in March, it really made them feel quite horrible, especially the representative. They were basically holding a gun to the representatives head and planning a vote on whether to pull the trigger. For all purposes, it looked like gangster behavior happening right under my nose in a prominent free software organization.

Both the absurdity and hostility of these tactics was further underlined by taking this vote on the representative’s role behind his back on 26 May, while he was on a 10 day trip to the Balkans pursuing real free software activities in Albania and Kosovo, starting with OSCAL.

In the end, while the motion to abolish elections was passed and fellows may never get to vote again, only four of the official members of the association backed the abusive motion to knife the last representative and that motion failed. Nonetheless, it left some people feeling they would be reluctant to trust FSFE again. An organization that relies so heavily on the contributions of volunteers shouldn’t even contemplate treating them, or their representatives, with such contempt. The motion should never have been on the agenda in the first place.

FSF backstabbers

Bullet or boomerang?

In May, people thought the representative missed the bullet but it appears to be making another pass.

Some senior members of FSFE e.V. remain frustrated that a representative’s ethical obligations can’t be hacked with policy documents and other juvenile antics. They complain that telling fellows the truth is an act of treason and speaking up for fellows in a discussion is a form of obstruction. Both of these crimes are apparently grounds for reprisals, threats, character assassination and potentially expulsion.

In the most outrageous act of scapegoating, the president has even tried to suggest that the fellowship representative is responsible for the massive exodus from the fellowship examined in a previous blog. The chart clearly shows the exodus coincides with the attempt to force-migrate fellows to the supporter program, long after the date when the representative took office.

Senior members have sent the representative threats, throwing him out of office, most recently the president himself, simply for observing the basic ethical responsibilities of a representative.

Leave your conscience at the door

With the annual general meeting in Berlin only four weeks away, the president is apparently trying to assemble a list of people to throw the last remaining representative out of the association completely. It feels like something out of a gangster movie. After all, altering and suppressing the results of elections and controlling the behavior of the candidates are the modus operandi of dictators and gangsters everywhere.

Will other members of the association exercise their own conscience and respect the commitment of representation that was made to the community? Or will they leave their conscience at the door and be the president’s puppets, voting in block like in many previous general meetings?

The free software ecosystem depends on the goodwill of volunteers and donors, a community that can trust our leaders and each other. If every free software organization behaved like this, free software wouldn’t exist.

A president who conspires to surround himself with people who agree with him, appointing all his staff to be voting members of the FSFE e.V. and expelling people with more diverse views appears unlikely to get far promoting the organization’s mission when he first encounters adults in the real world.

The conflict of interest in this role is not of the representative’s own making, it is inherent in FSFE’s structure. If they do finally kill off the last representative, it will be worn like a badge of honor, for putting the community first. After all, isn’t that a representative’s role?

As the essayist John Gardner wrote

“The citizen can bring our political and governmental institutions back to life, make them responsive and accountable, and keep them honest. No one else can.”

Links 3/9/2020: More GNU/Linux Laptops and Mesa 20.1.7

Posted in News Roundup at 2:02 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • GNU/Linux

    • Linux Vs. Windows: 10 Key Differences to Know

      Merely going by statistics, it is most likely that you are a Windows user. After all, around 87.70% of all PCs around the world run on Windows with Linux, only accounting for 2.32%.

      These numbers are understandable when you consider that Linux has always been positioned as the “serious” Operating System. Throughout the decades, it has been mostly used in servers, and by programmers for technical workflow.

      It was never able to appeal to regular PC users (which makes up the majority of the market) because it demands considerably more technical know-how compared to Windows.

      However, Linux is slowly evolving and making itself more user-friendly. The OS installation process is now as simple, if not simpler, than installing Windows. Furthermore, the most popular Linux distros are coming with excellent desktop environments with a sleek and intuitive GUI, so users don’t have to rely on the command-line for all the basic tasks.

    • Top 15 XKCD comics for Linux and Unix fans

      Linux is a free and open-source kernel developed by Linus Torvalds, a Unix-like operating system clone. XKCD comic has a long tradition for including humorous geeky cartoons. In this post, I pick my favorite XKCD comics for Linux and Unix fans.

      XKCD comic often deals with tech humor, programming, maths, science, Linux/Unix, human relationships in humorous ways. Hence I find them useful especially XKCD comics related to Linux.

    • Desktop/Laptop

      • Tuxedo Polaris is a Linux laptop for game

        Linux laptop maker Tuxedo Computers has introduced a new 4.2 pound gaming laptop with a 15.6 inch display, NVIDIA graphics, and a choice of AMD Ryzen or Intel Comet Lake processors.

        The Tuxedo Polaris 15 is available for 1,125 Euros ($1330) and up, although it’s worth noting that the price includes value added tax.

      • TUXEDO Computers Announces 2 Monstrous Linux Gaming Laptops

        TUXEDO Computers is one of the best places to get a Linux laptop. They’re also a great option if you’re looking for one of the best Linux based mini PCs.

        And, recently, they just unveiled two monstrous Linux laptops perfectly tailored for games. Here, let’s take a look at what they offer.

        [...]

        The Polaris 15 comes in with a Matt black aluminum chassis and a thin bezel for the display. It looks pretty cool (I love Matt color finishes!).

        The Polaris 17 comes in with a soft-touch finish and a little on the heavier side weighing 2.5 kg. The 17.3-inch screens should be an attractive variant for users comfortable with a desktop-like experience on their laptop.

        With all the clever decisions for its design and build, it offers the choice of both Ryzen 4000 series of processors (Ryzen 5 4600H and Ryzen 7 4800H) and Intel 10th gen processor (i7-10750H).

        That’s great for buyers looking for powerful Linux notebooks with the choice of Intel/Ryzen configuration.

        In addition to the choice of chipsets, both laptops comes baked in with 62 Wh battery for a good battery life, a 144Hz display, supports up to 64 GB 3200 MHz RAM, M.2 SSD, and a slot for PCIe NVMe SSD (up to 1 TB).

        All of this is powered up by either GTX 1650ti or the RTX 2060 — which is great for a Linux laptop enthusiast.

      • HP ZBook Fury G7 15 & ZBook Fury G7 17 powerful laptops are certified for Ubuntu

        The HP ZBook Fury G7 15 & ZBook Fury G7 17 powerful laptops are certified for Ubuntu 20.04 LTS. This combination of advanced HP hardware and Ubuntu creates an ideal platform for AI developers and data scientists to use these devices. In fact, this configuration means that the hardware works out of the box without any manual configuration needed. The HP ZBook Fury G7 laptop is available in two sizes: 15 and 17 inches. Both sport similar features including thin bezels and better screen-to-body ratios than preceding generations. They also come with 10th-Generation Intel Core or Xeon W processors, making them great for professionals. Finally, the laptops feature up to 4K resolution as well as up to 600 nits brightness. This results in vibrant color accuracy along with excellent contrast.

      • HP’s Powerful New Laptops Are Certified for Ubuntu 20.04 LTS

        If you’re in the market for a new Ubuntu laptop be sure to check out HP’s refreshed ZBook series, which were formally unveiled today.

        I’ll warn you up front that these portable powerhouses aren’t cheap — prices start from $1,989 — but these machines are now available to buy full certified for Ubuntu 20.04 LTS across a mesmerisingly mammoth range of configurations.

        While I’m not familiar with HP workstations their marketing reliably informs me that the Z-series Fury line is built to shoulder workloads from data scientists, engineers, and creative professionals.

        I.e. these notebooks are designed to do more than 😉help you just couch-stalk old crushes on Facebook .

      • HP Z series on Ubuntu – AI development on enterprise workstations, now in your remote office

        Today, HP announced the launch of its Z series of laptops and workstations certified with Ubuntu 20.04 LTS, the latest additions to their popular professional workstation line. Made to drive AI and machine learning and with hardware that is also suited to 3D and virtual reality development, the Z series is an ideal enterprise workstation for developers.

        Ubuntu 20.04 LTS is certified on several of HP’s new portfolio, including the ZBook Fury G7 15 and 17. The 17″ model is the world’s smallest mobile workstation with an NVIDIA RTX 5000 for unthrottled performance but the benefit of a large canvas. Compared to the previous generation, the ZBook Fury 15 G7 provides 1.7x faster rendering and visualisation. Users can now multitask power-demanding tasks side by side with the latest Intel CPUs and NVIDIA Quadro RTX GPUs. Also available with Ubuntu are the HP Z4, Z6 and Z8 G4 models, the Z Central 4R and the HP Studio and Create G7.

      • Best 5 Linux-based laptops you can buy | 2020

        In this buying guide, you will get to know about the best 5 Linux-based laptops that are available in the market right now.

        Linux is growing day=by-day and many users are shifting towards it. This has led to the popularity of many companies that specifically sell Linux-based laptops.

        Apart from that many big companies like Dell, Lenovo, HP, Huawei, etc are providing Linux alternatives to their customers. Here is my list of the top Linux-based laptops that you can buy right now.

    • Server

      • Bottlerocket: Amazon’s Open Source Container Linux Distribution Now Available

        In March this year, Amazon Web Services (AWS) teased the first public release of its brand new Linux-based OS, Bottlerocket. Following the same, AWS Product Manager Samartha Chandrashekar has now unveiled the general availability of Bottlerocket.

        This means you can use this open-source Linux distribution to host and run containers on virtual machines or bare metal hosts. For those who don’t know, a container is just like a normal application that bundles all the codes and its dependencies together.

      • AWS launches new Linux distribution

        Amazon Web Services’ (AWS) new Linux distribution, Bottlerocket, has left the developer review phase and entered generally availability, according to an Amazon blog post.

        The second Linux distro developed by AWS, Bottlerocket is designed to run containers alongside a container orchestrator, such as Kubernetes.

        “As our customers increasingly adopt containers to run their workloads, we saw a need for a Linux distribution designed from the ground up to run containers with a focus on security, operations, and manageability at scale,” the company said.

        “Customers needed an operating system that would give them the ability to manage thousands of hosts running containers with automation.”

      • The Next Database Platform (Full Recording Available)

        Last week we brought you The Next Database Platform live event and now we are providing most sessions from the full recording below. Use the timestamps at the bottom of the article to jump to sessions/interviews of particular interest and to skip around breaks and bumper material. We’ll be providing more in-depth analysis from select sessions over the next couple of weeks as well. Thanks again for all who attended last week; great conversations all around. Thanks as well to our sponsors (see below) for making this event free, open, and possible.

      • Compare Docker vs. Podman for container management

        Docker has become the de facto standard for many IT administrators and does have the lion’s share of developer interest today. Yet, Podman offers admins some security advantages over basic Docker due to its ability to run as a nonprivileged user and without a daemon.

        Docker and Podman both offer many of the same features, such as their support for Open Container Initiative’s (OCI) runtime and image specifications, as well as their ability to map commands to create and manage containers. Yet, there are several differences between Docker and Podman, including security concerns and reliance on daemon programs.

        Considering Podman does not use a daemon to develop, manage and run OCI containers, it must run on top of a Linux OS. Containers can either be run as root or in rootless mode. Docker utilizes a daemon, which is a persistent background process that handles all container management duties on the host. Docker relies on both a client and server architecture where the daemon fulfills the role of a server while clients communicate via the command-line interface (CLI).

      • Get acquainted with Netezza Performance Server

        Netezza® has always been synonymous with speed and simplicity. Netezza Performance Server for IBM Cloud Pak® for Data is the next-generation advanced data warehouse and analytics platform available both on-premises and on cloud.

        To understand why Netezza Performance Server for IBM Cloud Pak for Data is important for application developers, it is first important to understand the journey to AI and how to get there. Many developers want to infuse AI into the companies they work for, but don’t really know how. IBM Cloud Pak for Data is a complete Data and AI platform that modernizes how businesses collect, organize, and analyze data to infuse AI throughout their organizations. If you look under the hood of IBM Cloud Pak for Data, you will see that it is built with the streamlined hybrid cloud foundation of Red Hat® OpenShift®. This solution supports multicloud environments, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud, IBM Cloud, and private cloud deployments.

        The Netezza Performance Server part of IBM Cloud Pak for Data is responsible for the “collect” piece of the data lifecycle. Netezza Performance Server can take data from many sources and store current and historical data in an enterprise data warehouse so it can be used for reporting, analysis, and better decision-making. What makes the Netezza Performance Server so powerful is the fact that it can process huge amounts of data and run large jobs that can return results in seconds, rather than hours or days. Netezza has always been known for speed and simplicity, so the fact that the new generation of Netezza Performance Server is built onto the same engine means that you don’t need to waste all your time on migration to the new platform, especially if you are coming form an older Netezza form factor. It is a simple nz_migrate command, then just point your applications to the new server. It doesn’t get much easier than that.

    • Audiocasts/Shows

      • Unfettered Freedom, Ep. 5 – Blender, Thunderbird, 2FA, Linux Apps, Hurricane Laura

        Unfettered Freedom is a video podcast that focuses on news and topics about GNU/Linux, free software and open source software. On this freedom-packed episode: 0:00 – Intro 2:00 – Blender 2.90 is an impressive release.

      • The Linux Link Tech Show Episode 873

        chrome books and linux, opensuse, 3d printing, uefi

      • FLOSS Weekly 594: PIP and the Python Package Index – Open Source Language, Package Installer, Programming Python

        PIP is the package installer for Python. You can use pip to install packages from the Python Package Index and other indexes. It is the most downloaded package on the Python Package Index. Doc Searls and Aaron Newcomb talk with the project manager of PIP, Sumana Harihareswara who is also a comedian and owner of Changest Consulting. Changest Consulting is a short-term project management services for free and open source software projects. They also talk with software developer, and release manager of pip, Pradyun Gedam. They discuss the new changes that are coming to pip in the future and why those changes are important. Including changes to the pip dependency resolver.

      • Destination Linux 189: Why You Should Care About Default Settings

        On this week’s episode of Destination Linux, the #1 video-centric Linux podcast on the planet. We’re going to talk about the subject of the best Unix Shell is it time to switch away from BASH? We have a new Kali Linux out with some surprising changes. A new games just dropped for Linux and it has a very dark premise. Later in the show we’ll give you our popular tips/tricks and software picks. Plus so much more, coming up right now on Destination Linux.

      • Bad Voltage 3×12: Staring at Potatoes

        Stuart Langridge, Jono Bacon, and Jeremy Garcia present Bad Voltage, in which I buy your product but I still have virus, there are apparently cellphone pedestrian lanes all over the world…

      • BSD Now 366: Bootloader zpool checkpoints

        OpenZFS with ZSTD lands in FreeBSD 13, LibreSSL doc status update, FreeBSD on SPARC64 (is dead), Bringing zpool checkpoints to a FreeBSD bootloader, and more

    • Kernel Space

      • Linux 5.8.6

        I’m announcing the release of the 5.8.6 kernel.

        All users of the 5.8 kernel series must upgrade.

        The updated 5.8.y git tree can be found at:
        git://git.kernel.org/pub/scm/linux/kernel/git/stable/linux-stable.git linux-5.8.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 5.4.62
      • Linux 4.19.143
      • Linux 4.14.196
      • Linux 4.9.235
      • Linux 4.4.235
      • Linux: 29 Years and Counting as a Powerhouse OS

        When Linux was born on Aug. 25, 1991, it was little more than a hobby for then 21-year old Linus Torvalds. Today the Linux community is estimated to be more than 86 million users strong.

        Awareness of Linux in the enterprise was nonexistent 29 years ago. Since then Linux has become the backbone of many large and small enterprises. It’s installed in government systems and embedded in devices worldwide; and is a viable alternative to the expensive hardware wrapped around macOS and the trouble-laden Windows OS.

        Software developers have ported Linux to more hardware platforms than any other operating system. That results in no small part from the popularity of the Linux-based Android operating system.

    • Graphics

      • A Deep Dive Into The AMD/Intel CPU + NVIDIA GPU Performance With Blender 2.90

        Following the debut of the big Blender 2.90 release and subsequently updating it for the Phoronix Test Suite / OpenBenchmarking.org, here is a deep dive into the Blender 2.90 performance… A number of areas are being looked at with the initial Blender 2.90 benchmarks from how the performance is on various CPUs and GPUs to the performance of the Blender 2.82 vs. 2.90 to looking at the Windows vs. Linux performance for Blender 2.90 with various means of acceleration.

        Over the past several days it’s been busy benchmarking in evaluating the performance of Blender 2.90 on many different systems and configurations. Among the areas being looked at in this article are…

      • mesa 20.1.7
        Hi all,
        
        I'd like to announce Mesa 20.1.7, the seventh bugfix release for the 20.1 branch.
        
        The next bugfix release is planned for 2 weeks from now, on 2020-09-16.
        
        Cheers,
        Eric
        
      • Mesa 20.1.7 Brings OpenBSD Fixes, New RadeonSI Workaround

        While Mesa 20.2 will hopefully be out next week, Mesa 20.1.7 is out today as the newest stable release for this collection of open-source Linux graphics drivers.

        With Mesa 20.1.7 there still are a fair number of changes even with being quite late in the cycle for this Q2’2020 driver series. Among the highlights with Mesa 20.1.7 are:

        - A new option for clamping division by zero and through the RadeonSI Gallium3D driver exposing it as the “clamp_div_by_zero” option. This clamp_div_by_zero option in turn is being enabled by default for RadeonSI when running SPECViewPerf 13 and Road Redemption for corrected rendering.

      • SHADERed 1.4 Brings Shader Writing/Debugging To The Browser

        SHADERed has been available for a while now as a cross-platform, open-source shader editor and for debugging and writing of graphics shaders. SHADERed not only runs on Linux and Windows now but through any modern web browser as of the new v1.4 release.

        SHADERed 1.4 released today and comes with a web browser port for those wanting to work on shaders within the confines of your web browser.

        SHADERed supports working on vertex/pixel shaders as well as the likes of compute and geometry shaders. The support is quite comprehensive not only for OpenGL/GLES GLSL but also HLSL. There is also integration support around the likes of the Godot Engine.

      • FNA 20.09 is out with the new FNA3D, brings experimental Vulkan support

        A big day for the FNA project, as they’ve released a massive new release which pulls in FNA3D, the new modern and much more advanced 3D graphics library for FNA.

      • Intel launches nine 10nm Tiger Lake processors

        Intel unveiled its 11th Gen, 10nm fabricated Tiger Lake U- and Y-series processors with greatly improved Intel Iris Xe graphics and Thunderbolt 4 and PCIe 4.0 support, split into 12-28W UP3 and 7-15W UP4 models.

      • Intel 11th Gen Core “Tiger Lake” Launches

        Intel Tiger Lake will soon begin appearing in laptops with an upgraded CPU architecture, the all new Iris Xe (Gen12) graphics, new AI capabilities, Thunderbolt 4, PCI Express 4.0, WiFi 6, and other new functionality.

      • Intel Launches 11th Gen Intel Core “Tiger Lake” Processors with Intel Iris Xe graphics

        Intel has officially launched Tiger Lake processors for thin-and-light Laptops. The new 11th generation processors come with either Intel Iris Xe graphics or the older Intel UHD graphics, and nine processors are currently available divided into two families: UP3 with 12W to 28W configurable TDP, and UP4 with 7W to 15W configurable TDP.

      • Intel launches 11th Gen Intel Core ‘Tiger Lake’ processors with Xe graphics

        Intel has now revealed properly and launched ‘Tiger Lake’, their 11th Gen Intel Core processors with ‘Willow Cove’ cores backed up by their new Xe graphics architecture. As posted about previously if you missed it, we went over Intel’s dedicated GPU info here.

    • Applications

      • Heaptrack Version 1.2.0 Released

        The Heaptrack fast heap memory profiler allows you to track all heap memory allocations at run-time. Afterwards, you can use the accompanying GUI tool to find optimization opportunities in your code by analyzing the recorded profiling data.

        If you’d like to read a bit more about Heaptrack, you can do so here.

        The heaptrack version 1.2.0 release is a maintenance release and brings a couple of important bug fixes and improvements. As a result of these bugfixes and improvements, heaptrack is more stable and error resistant while recording data.

        Additionally, due to some minor tweaks to the graphical analysis tool, it is more efficient to use. You’ll find that the performance of the analysis step is slightly improved too.

      • FrostWire – A Cloud Downloader, BitTorrent Client and Media Player

        FrostWire (formerly known as Gnutella) is a free and open-source BitTorrent client and a fork of LimeWire. It was originally very similar to LimeWire in appearance and performance, but later developers added more rich features such as including BitTorrent protocol, Magnet Link, Wi-Fi sharing, Internet Radio, iTunes, Video/Audio Player support. It is written in Java language so it is compatible with all operating systems like Linux, Windows and Mac.

        The FrostWire client is used to search, download and share large files and folders such as, Songs, Movies, Games, eBooks, Softwares, etc. across millions of people right from your computer from a peer-to-peer network.

      • Vem Text Editor – An Alternative Command Layout for Vim

        Vem is a free and open-source command-line text editor with an alternative command layout designed to provide full keyboard support over the Vim text editor and to make it as intuitive as possible.

        At its root, it is a set of configuration files that changes how Vim acts by reducing/simplifying the set of commands that are bonded to single keypresses and maps them across the keyboard to optimize their position according to their frequency.

      • Hotspot Version 1.3.0 Released

        We are pleased to announce a new release of our Hotspot Linux perf performance analysis GUI, Hotspot version 1.3.0!

        Hotspot is a replacement for perf reportthat takes a perf.data file, parses and evaluates its contents, and then displays the result in a graphical form.

      • KDAB Releases Hotspot 1.3 For Visualizing Linux Perf Reports

        Open-source consulting firm KDAB has released Hotspot 1.3 as their GUI utility for visualizing Linux perf reports.

        Hotspot is a utility for consuming data generated by Linux’s perf subsystem and serves as a replacement to the command-line perf report functionality.

        Hotspot 1.3 brings improvements for dealing with large and complex perf.data files, it is much faster than previous releases, and also properly supports perf analysis data that has been compressed using Zstd. On the user-interface side the Qt application has improved timeline handling, support for demangling rustc symbols, and a variety of smaller improvements.

      • System Cleaner BleachBit 4.1.0 Released with Pale Moon / Zoom Support

        System cleaning software BleachBit 4.1.0 was released a few days ago with support for cleaning Pale Moon and Zoom.

      • Best Free Internet Radio Software

        Internet radio (also known as web radio, net radio, streaming radio, and online radio) is a digital audio service transmitted via the Internet.

        Why do we like internet radio? There’s no sign-up or subscription charges. There’s a huge range of stations available from around the world. If you like classical music, pop music, folk music, news, talk radio, and much more, internet radio has something for everyone wherever you live (providing you have a net connection). Internet radio offers every format that is available on traditional broadcast radio stations.

        There’s a wide range of free and open source software that lets you listen to internet radio. With so many different possibilities available it’s easy to get lost trying to find the right one for you.

        Here’s our verdict on internet radio software. Features that are highly desirable include, but are not limited to, access to the community radio browser API or similar, recording streams, the ability to import/export a list of radio stations, good search functionality, station logos, reordering stations, as well as an attractive and easy-to-use interface. Other factors that help to determine our rating include things like the program’s stability, speed, memory usage, and more.

        Only open source software is eligible for inclusion.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Games

      • FMV mystery thriller ‘Jessika’ has released with Linux PC support

        Tritrie Games and Assemble Entertainment have released Jessika, a full-motion video (FMV) thriller mystery with Linux PC support and it looks very interesting.

        Dealing with mature themes like suicide, it puts you in the position of a special investigator hired by the family of Jessika looking through the digital footprints of the deceased to find out what happened. What at first seems to be a job like any other quickly develops into a dark drama with twists and turns. You need to dig through video files, audio clips, notes, and more to piece the real story together.

      • 2020′s Open Source Summit Europe will have an important Linux gaming session

        Taking place during October 26 – 29, the 2020 Open Source Summit has gone virtual and it looks like there’s going to be a session you won’t want to miss.

        With Linux gaming going to new and different places with the likes of Valve, Collabora, CodeWeavers and more putting resources into making it easier to run Windows-only games the interest has definitely increased in Linux gaming. So much so, that more people are speaking up about it at important Linux and open source events.

      • Spiritfarer for Linux is now live on itch.io, dev apologises for ableist writing

        Thunder Lotus have been doing well with Spiritfarer, with it going on to receiving very warm reviews and it’s now available on even more stores for additional choice but it’s not without issues.

        Spiritfarer is an absolutely gorgeous game, that truly hits the right mark in many ways from how it tells the stories of the dead and how you deal with death to the amazing art and audio. However, Thunder Lotus seemed to completely miss the mark in one of the stories it told. It involves a character with a wheelchair, with the character mentioning how in death they would be “free from my dreaded wheelchair” which it has been said is ableist writing.

      • Oneons: Prisoners is a short, experimental sci-fi rogue-lite out now for Linux PC

        Enjoy your coffee break games? Oneons: Prisoners looks like it could keep you busy, with an experimental take on tactical rogue-lite combat.

        “Oneons is a short, experimental sci-fi broughlike (coffee-break roguelike/roguelite) with 12 floors of tactical combat, dangerous enemies, and useful items. Strategize your limited health and energy as you descend through the increasingly difficult floors. Survive. Die. Fight again.”

      • Build a maze to escape limbo in the card battler A Long Way Down – out now for Linux PC

        Seenapsis Studio and Goblinz Studio recently released A Long Way Down, a game following the trend of deck-building and card battling. A Long Way Down is quite unique though, thanks to the maze building world.

        A Long Way Down is set in Limbo, you’re dead. Well something like that anyway. You’re trying to get to the other side, wherever that may be. However, you’re stuck in a maze with an evil dungeon master trying to block you and take you out with all sorts of nasty otherworldly creatures. You have to use floor tiles you’re given wisely, to force your own path through the maze, while also building up a good deck of ability cards to use during battles.

      • The absolutely stunning Children of Morta now has Linux PC support on GOG

        After finally releasing the Linux version of Children of Morta in late August, you can now also find it on GOG too.

        Children of Morta is a story-driven action RPG game about an extraordinary family of heroes. Lead the Bergsons, with all their flaws and virtues, against the forthcoming Corruption. Will you be able to sacrifice everything to save the ones you care for?

      • Think you’re a good bridge builder? Poly Bridge 2 gets Weekly Challenges

        After only recently adding in a large amount of new and free content to Poly Bridge 2, the developer Dry Cactus has now giving you another reason to keep building.

        A new Weekly Challenge mode is live, with a new challenging bridge-building map going up every Monday at midnight UTC. Seems like they will stick around too but only scores submitted during the initial week will be added to the leaderboard. So Poly Bridge 2 is going to get a new challenge every week and build up a backlog of them to play through—nice!

      • Jumpala: Tryouts Edition offers free competitive fast-paced platform-hopping fun

        Jumpala: Tryouts Edition, the free edition of the upcoming competitive platform-hopping game is out now and allows you to get a proper taste of what to expect from it.

        Acting as a sort-of demo / prologue for the full game, Jumpala: Tryouts Edition is still quite generous in that it lets you play against AI, local multiplayer and online play too although the content overall is obviously limited in this edition. The core mechanic is that you hop between platforms, changing them to your colour and when they fall off the screen whatever colour they are that matches a player gets the points noted on it.

      • Steam On Linux Is Ending Summer 2020 At Just Under 0.9% Marketshare

        After a small dip in July, how did the Steam on Linux gaming marketshare end out for August prior to many gamers returning to school and others still being isolated at home? A small uptick but still under the 1% threshold.

        Valve just updated their Steam Survey with the August 2020 numbers. From July’s 0.86% marketshare, Valve’s survey is reporting a 0.03% increase for Linux gaming putting the overall percentage now at 0.89%.

      • Werewolf: The Apocalypse — Heart of the Forest has a limited-time demo up

        Up for trying out a new immersive narrative choice-based novel? Werewolf: The Apocalypse — Heart of the Forest has a demo available right now.

        Mixing in the style and mechanics Different Tales created with their previous Wanderlust series, Werewolf: The Apocalypse — Heart of the Forest throws you deep into a primeval wilderness in the centre of modern Europe. It’s where the protectors of nature wage their ancient, never-ending war against the forces of destruction. It’s designed much like a visual novel, so if you love a good book this could be for you. Beautiful, distinctive collage art that combines hand-illustrated characters with pictures of real places to inspire your imagination.

      • After an impressive demo and many teasers, art of rally releases September 23

        Ready for a new kind of rally experience? Unlike the harshness of the likes in DiRT Rally, Funselektor Labs seem to have crafted a more accessible game with art of rally.

        With a top-down viewing so you know what’s coming and easy controls, you get to dive right in and just have fun right away. art of rally is a stylized experience inspired by the golden era of rally from the creator of Absolute Drift and going by the demo, there’s a lot to look forward to.

      • Frick, Inc. is an upcoming game about driving tiny trucks with on-screen controls

        Currently in development by Kenney, Frick, Inc. looks pretty hilarious making you drive little trucks across various courses but this comes with a big twist on the controls.

        Instead of using a gamepad or a wheel, you’re using in-game on-screen controls. Kenney mentioned that “each truck has a different control method and it’s all made to be Frick, Inc. frustrating until you master it.”—Frick, Inc. frustrating, hah, at least it’s an honest description.

      • Theme park sim Parkitect gets flashy with the 1.6 update and Booms & Blooms DLC

        Can a game as completely charming as Parkitect get any sweeter? Well they’ve sure tried with the 1.6 update and Booms & Blooms DLC now available.

        Playing a business simulation game doesn’t need to be all business, sometimes it needs a little pizzazz. You’re building a theme park after all, it needs plenty to show off to customers so they can empty their wallets in your direction. That’s what the update and DLC are all about. For everyone it gives an automatic day/night cycle (an option), mowed grass terrain type, new decorative objects, German guest names are in, alternative font styles for 3D signs, leaf movement animation to trees, an Italian translations, a depth visualization to the blueprint builder and a bunch of juicy sounding performance improvements.

    • Desktop Environments/WMs

      • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

        • KDE Releases September 2020 Apps Update with New Color Contrast Checker Tool

          The KDE Project announced today KDE Applications 20.08.1, which is dubbed as the September 2020 Apps Update for the Plasma desktop environment.

          Coming three weeks after the release of KDE Application 20.08 as the latest and most advanced version of the popular open-source and free software suite for the KDE Plasma desktop environment and GNU/Linux distributions, KDE Applications 20.08.1 is now available as the first of three point releases.

          This update introduces a total of 85 changes by my count across numerous of the included apps and core components. The star of this release is a new accessibility app called Kontrast, which lets you check the color contrast of your projects. The app shows color combinations that are accessible for people with color vision deficiencies.

    • Distributions

      • Debian Family

        • SparkyLinux 2020.09 Released with Latest Debian Bullseye Updates

          SparkyLinux 2020.09 has been released today as the September snapshot of the semi-rolling SparkyLinux 2020 series based on the upcoming Debian GNU/Linux 11 “Bullseye” operating system.

          Coming about two weeks after the SparkyLinux 2020.08 update and only one week after the release of the Special Editions (GamvOver, Multimedia, and Rescue), SparkyLinux 2020.09 is here as an up-to-date media synced with the Debian Testing repositories as of August 31st, 2020.

          But don’t expect any major updates or changes. Compared to August’s snapshot, the September release includes updates the Linux kernel to version 5.7.17 from 5.7.10, but keep in mind that the Linux 5.7 kernel series has now reached end of life and it will no longer receive security updates.

        • Norbert Preining: KDE/Plasma Status Update 2020-09-03

          Yesterday I have updated my builds of Plasma for Debian to Plasma 5.19.5, which are now available from the usual sources, nothing has changed.

          On a different front, there are good news concerning updates in Debian proper: Together with Scarlett Moore and Patrick Franz we are in the process of updating the official Debian packages. The first bunch of packages has been uploaded to experimental, and after NEW processing the next group will go there, too. This is still 5.19.4, but a great step forward. I expect that all of Plasma 5.19.4 will be available in experimental in the next weeks, and soon after also in Debian/unstable.

        • Utkarsh Gupta: FOSS Activites in August 2020

          Here’s my (eleventh) monthly update about the activities I’ve done in the F/L/OSS world.

      • Canonical/Ubuntu Family

        • Canonical Releases Important Ubuntu Kernel Updates to Patch 17 Vulnerabilities

          Canonical has released important Ubuntu kernel updates for all supported releases to address several security vulnerabilities discovered lately by various security researchers.

          Available for Ubuntu 20.04 LTS, Ubuntu 18.04 LTS, and Ubuntu 16.04 LTS systems, these major kernel updates fix a total of 17 security issues. As such, I recommend that you patch your installations as soon as possible by running the sudo apt update && sudo apt full-upgrade commands in the Terminal app.

          Among the most important security issues fixed in this update, there’s CVE-2020-10766, CVE-2020-10767 and CVE-2020-10768, flaws that made the Linux kernel to not correctly apply the mitigations for the SSBD (Speculative Store Bypass Disable) and IBPB (Indirect Branch Predictor Barrier) vulnerabilities affecting certain Intel processors, as well as to incorrectly enable Indirect Branch Speculation after it’s been disabled for a process via a prctl() call.

          These flaws could allow a local attacker to expose sensitive information.

        • Ubuntu Blog: Design and Web team summary – 2nd September 2020

          The web team here at Canonical run two week iterations. Here are some of the highlights of our completed work from this iteration.

          [...]

          We experimented some more with solid pictograms but came to the conclusion that the line versions were cleaner and easier to consume, so this will be the chosen route we begin to roll out.

          [...]

          Gradients have been an integral part of our desktop work and website, so we have begun to look at expanding the system so that we can potentially include them in our product set too, creating a more cohesive experience from website to product.

    • Devices/Embedded

    • Free, Libre, and Open Source Software

      • Why your open source project needs more than just coders

        Why do open source projects fail?

        Lack of funding is a major factor, of course, but it’s far from the only reason that open source projects fail to achieve sustainability. Sometimes there’s a lack of understanding of how to create a product for a broad market, or some fundamental misstep with intellectual property rights (IPR)—such as failing to properly license your code.

        It’s hard for any open source project to sustain if it doesn’t get these types of basics right. Collaboration across boundaries and the ability to iterate and expand are hindered, and innovation is stifled. I see these fatal flaws especially in a lot of humanitarian projects—passion projects—and it is heartbreaking.

      • theCUBE interview with Dave Van Everen about Mirantis Launchpad 2020 conference
      • Elana Hashman: My term at the Open Source Initiative thus far

        I have served as our Membership Committee Chair since the May 2019 board meeting, tasked with devising and supervising strategy to increase membership and deliver value to members.

        As part of my election campaign last year, I signed up over 50 new individual members. Since May 2019, we’ve seen strong 33% growth of individual members, to reach a new all-time high over 600 (638 when I last checked).

        I see the OSI as a relatively neutral organization that occupies a unique position to build bridges among organizations within the FOSS ecosystem. In order to facilitate this, we need a representative membership, and we need to engage those members and provide forums for cross-pollination. As Membership Committee Chair, I have been running quarterly video calls on Jitsi for our affiliate members, where we can share updates between many global organizations and discuss challenges we all face.

      • Academic Study Says Open Source Has Peaked: But Why?

        Open source runs the world. That’s for supercomputers, where Linux powers all of the top 500 machines in the world, for smartphones, where Android has a global market share of around 75%, and for everything in between, as Wired points out:

      • Productivity Software/LibreOffice/Calligra

        • LibreOffice 7.0.1 available for download

          LibreOffice 7.0.1, the first minor release of the LibreOffice 7.0 family, targeted at technology enthusiasts and power users, is now available for download from https://www.libreoffice.org/download/. LibreOffice 7.0.1 includes around 80 bug fixes and improvements to document compatibility.

          The most significant new features of the LibreOffice 7.0 family are: support for OpenDocument Format (ODF) 1.3; Skia graphics engine and Vulkan GPU-based acceleration for better performance; and carefully improved compatibility with DOCX, XLSX and PPTX files.

        • LibreOffice 7.0 Gets First Point Release, 79 Bugs Squashed

          The Document Foundation released today LibreOffice 7.0.1 as the first point release in the latest LibreOffice 7.0 series of this very popular, free, open source and multi-platform office suite.

          LibreOffice 7.0.1 is here to address a total of 79 bugs across various core components, improving document compatibility, as well as the overall stability and reliability of the LibreOffice 7.0 office suite series.

          You can download LibreOffice 7.0.1 right now from the official website. But, for now, The Document Foundation doesn’t recommend LibreOffice 7.0 for enterprise deployments. This release is currently targeted at technology enthusiasts and power users who want to experiment with the new features and changes.

        • Hispanic LibreOffice Community: Fourth virtual meeting

          On Saturday August 22, in the Ibero-American afternoon/evening, the Hispanic Community met for the fourth consecutive month with panelists who covered several topics related to the office suite par-excellence in the FLOSS world.

          The event was broadcast live on YouTube and Facebook. The activity began at 16:00 UTC, extended for almost 4 hours and presented speakers of 6 nationalities recognized for their participation and collaboration in the project. All the talks are available on the LibreOffice Hispano channel.

        • Build your skills – join our online hackfest during the LibreOffice conference!

          Who makes LibreOffice? How can you – as a user – get involved in the community? And what can you contribute to the project? Well, we’ll answer all of these questions, and more, in an upcoming online “hackfest” during the LibreOffice conference (date to be announced). This is a virtual event where the world’s foremost LibreOffice experts will be at hand, to answer your questions about contributing to the project. You can see how they work and “how the sausage is made”, as they say!

      • FSF

      • Programming/Development

        • A practical guide to learning awk

          Of all the Linux commands out there (and there are many), the three most quintessential seem to be sed, awk, and grep. Maybe it’s the arcane sound of their names, or the breadth of their potential use, or just their age, but when someone’s giving an example of a “Linuxy” command, it’s usually one of those three. And while sed and grep have several simple one-line standards, the less prestigious awk remains persistently prominent for being particularly puzzling.

          You’re likely to use sed for a quick string replacement or grep to filter for a pattern on a daily basis. You’re far less likely to compose an awk command. I often wonder why this is, and I attribute it to a few things.

        • Remi Collet: PHP version 7.3.22 and 7.4.10

          RPMs of PHP version 7.4.10 are available in remi repository for Fedora 32-33 and remi-php74 repository for Fedora 31 and Enterprise Linux ≥ 7 (RHEL, CentOS).

          RPMs of PHP version 7.3.22 are available in remi repository for Fedora 31 and remi-php73 repository for Enterprise Linux ≥ 6 (RHEL, CentOS).

        • What is your take on checking return values?

          Around this time, I think I said something about how that’s basically the job. That is, my job, their job, anyone’s job… is to check for things that could go wrong and deal with it when it does. It’s never been optional, and certainly not because of some kind of “avoid messiness” mandate (where the heck did that come from, anyway).

        • IAR Build Tools for Linux improves integration from development to building and testing

          IAR Systems, a supplier of software tools and services for embedded development, has announced a significant update of its build tools supporting implementation in Linux-based frameworks for automated application build and test processes.

          [...]

          With the addition of the static analysis tool C-STAT, developers will be able ensure code quality throughout the development and testing process, according to IAR. C-STAT proves code alignment with industry standards like MISRA C:2012, MISRA C++:2008 and MISRA C:2004, and also detects defects, bugs, and security vulnerabilities as defined by CERT C and the Common Weakness Enumeration (CWE).

          “This latest version of our build tools for Linux enable our customers to make their testing and building processes more efficient as well as achieve code quality all the way,” said Anders Holmberg, General Manager Embedded Development Tools, IAR Systems. “IAR Embedded Workbench and IAR Build Tools improves performance and ease of use for more efficient workflows. Our broad offering enables companies to standardize on our tools and gain flexible workflows, and through this enhance productivity and collaboration between different teams in the organiSation.”

          The build tools for Linux includes the highly optimising IAR C/C++ Compiler, IAR Assembler, Linker and library tools, IARBuild and runtime libraries. The tools also support the integrated static code analysis tool C-STAT.

        • Qt Automotive Suite 5.15.0 released

          Qt Automotive Suite 5.15.0 has been released. It is now available for Qt Automotive Suite licenses holders via the Qt Online Installer / Qt Maintenance tool.

          Qt Automotive Suite is a spiced up version of Qt for Device Creation, with additional automotive supportive features. Qt Automotive Suite 5.15 is a special release as it is the last feature release of the Qt 5 series. Next up in the pipeline is Qt 6.

        • Python

          • wxPython by Example: How to Reset the Background Color (Video)

            In this tutorial, you will learn how to reset the background color of your application to the default color.

          • Python Software Foundation End-of-the-Year Fundraiser

            We’re excited to announce that plans are underway for our end-of-the-year 2020 fundraising campaign launching on November 23rd and ending on December 31st!

            In the past, we’ve worked successfully with organizations such as JetBrains who donated 100% of the profits from the sale of PyCharm to the PSF. The theme this year is geared toward education. We’ll be actively supporting Python educators by collaborating with authors, trainers, and education companies that offer their services all over the world. The goal for the campaign is $30,000 and the funds raised will help benefit the PSF, our community, and those who educate Pythonistas worldwide.

          • PyTorch vs Tensorflow for Your Python Deep Learning Project

            PyTorch vs TensorFlow: What’s the difference? Both are open source Python libraries that use graphs to perform numerical computation on data. Both are used extensively in academic research and commercial code. Both are extended by a variety of APIs, cloud computing platforms, and model repositories.

            If they’re so similar, then which one is best for your project?

          • Easy Speedup Wins With Numba

            If you have functions that do a lot of mathematical operations, use NumPy or rely heavily on loops, then there is a way to speed them up significantly with one line of code. Ok, two lines if you count the import.

          • reno 3.2.0

            reno is a release notes manager designed with high throughput in mind, supporting fast distributed development teams without introducing additional development processes. The goal is to encourage detailed and accurate release notes for every release.

          • Tutorial: Web Scraping with Python Using Beautiful Soup

            The internet is an absolutely massive source of data. Unfortunately, the vast majority if it isn’t available in conveniently organized CSV files for download and analysis. If you want to capture data from many websites, you’ll need to try web scraping.

            Don’t worry if you’re still a total beginner — in this tutorial we’re going to cover how to do web scraping with Python from scratch, starting with some answers to frequently-asked questions about web scraping.

            If you’re already familiar with the concept, feel free to scroll past these and jump right into the tutorial!

  • Leftovers

    • High on life Former ‘gray cardinal’ of Russian politics pens poem about paradise without cocaine

      Former presidential adviser Vladislav Surkov — at one point considered to be the “gray cardinal” responsible for managing Russia’s domestic politics — has authored a poem published in the September issue of Russian Pioneer. The poem is about freedom without cocaine. For a rough (non-rhyming) English translation:

    • New Engineering Report Finds Privately Built Border Wall Will Fail

      It’s not a matter of if a privately built border fence along the shores of the Rio Grande will fail, it’s a matter of when, according to a new engineering report on the troubled project.

      The report is one of two new studies set to be filed in federal court this week that found numerous deficiencies in the 3-mile border fence, built this year by North Dakota-based Fisher Sand and Gravel. The reports confirm earlier reporting from ProPublica and The Texas Tribune, which found that segments of the structure were in danger of overturning due to extensive erosion if not fixed and properly maintained. Fisher dismissed the concerns as normal post-construction issues.

    • The Savaging of Detlev Helmig, Citizen

      If you were a university president, watching his university slowly sink back into the earth from the weight of administrative overhead, compounded by a mismanaged national health crisis, wouldn’t you welcome any light?  Wouldn’t you treasure a faculty member who was not only a valued mentor and teacher, but a renowned atmospheric scientist who had published over 200 peer reviewed papers, and had served on many national and international scientific panels, including the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC)?

    • I Had a Knife and a Record, Too

      A friend and I were sitting at a picnic table behind a pizza joint in Berkeley, CA. The year was 1980 and it was evening. We were each eating a slice of pepperoni, talking and joking. After we finished, my buddy lit up the rest of a joint (pot was illegal in California then). While we were smoking it, four cops snuck up on us, surrounding us with their guns drawn and pointed at us. The closest gun barrel was about four feet from my head. I swallowed what remained of the joint and waited. Two cops grabbed us and threw us up against a wall, searching us and telling us not to move. The other two cops remained where they were, their guns still pointing at us and their fingers on the triggers. I was wondering what the hell was going on. I had run-ins with the police before, but never had they kept their guns on me for this long. A couple cop cars showed up. We were cuffed and thrown in the back of the cruisers. They took us to the police substation on the University of California campus. In the station, they fingerprinted us and threw us each in a holding cell. My friend kept asking what we were being arrested for and the cops kept telling him to shut up. Eventually, we were told we were being held on suspicion of armed robbery.

    • The Disturbing Story Behind the Beirut Port Explosion

      Hidden behind the tragedy of the deadly explosion earlier this month in the port of Beirut is a dark and pervasive travesty that began in 2013 and explains how the 2,750 tons of explosive ammonium nitrate ended up in a portside warehouse.

    • Thoughts on the Fall of the Falwells

      Baptist minister Jerry Falwell Sr., leader of a megachurch in Lynchburg, Va. since the 1960s, founded Liberty University in 1971. In 1979 he founded the Moral Majority as a political movement opposed to abortion, homosexuality, feminism, and liberal, socialist thought; it was dissolved within a decade due to competition, infighting and mounting irrelevance. But the university became maybe the world’s largest Christian academic institution, with tens of thousands of resident and online students.

    • What’s Harmful Must Be Destroyed
    • Education

      • The UK’s High School Examinations Fiasco

        The highest qualification for high-school students in England, Wales, and the north of Ireland, is the A-level. Scotland has a different system called the Highers.

      • “We Feel Betrayed”: NYC Reaches Deal with Teachers to Reopen Schools & Avert Strike, But Is It Safe?

        New York unions representing teachers and principals have reached a deal with the city over how to reopen the largest public school system in the United States, averting a planned strike by educators. “We feel betrayed, and we feel as if it’s an inadequate plan,” says Aixa Rodriguez, a Bronx-based high school teacher. We also speak with education writer Eric Blanc, who says New York has failed to learn the lessons of other school districts that reopened too quickly without adequate safety measures in place against COVID-19. “When educators in New York are saying it’s not safe to go back, that’s not just born out of paranoia; that’s born out of looking at what happens when you open schools,” says Blanc.

    • Health/Nutrition

      • Is This the First Great Quarantine Novel?
      • Get in line Kids across Russia start the school day with temperature checks, but without social distancing

        School is back in session for kids in Russia, but the coronavirus pandemic is still a concern. These days, school children begin their mornings waiting in long lines at entrances to schools, to have their temperatures checked before heading to class. And judging by the photos and videos popping up on social media, Russia’s students — and parents, and teachers — could use a lesson in social distancing.

      • ‘Absolutely History’ in the Making: Advocates Applaud House Democrats for Scheduled Vote on Federal Marijuana Legalization

        “This bill meets the political moment, and it also happens to be an incredibly bipartisan opportunity.”

      • ‘Cruel, Crass, and Illegal’: Democrats Slam Inclusion of Trump-Signed Letters in Federal Food Boxes

        “Trump and his minions have been trying to yank food from hungry children and families and he is now putting notes in pandemic food boxes to claim credit.”

      • Sent Home to Die

        Sarah Johnson spent her entire life taking care of people — the six children she raised, mostly alone, and the hospital patients she served in her 25 years as a nurse. But at 86, she was the one who needed care. She was thin and frail and had COVID-19.

        Her son Rodney Lavalais anguished over the fact that she was all by herself; he’d moved in with her four years ago after he saw her struggling to open a jar. But when the ambulance took her to Ochsner West Bank, a hospital in the New Orleans suburbs, he couldn’t come with her.

      • Wasting the Elderly: Coronavirus and the Calculus of Death

        The director of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has welled-up because of it. In March, he feared that the world’s elderly citizens risked being marginalised in any pandemic policy. “If anything is going to hurt the world, it is moral decay. And not taking the death of the elderly or the senior citizens as a serious issue is moral decay.”

      • Covid Country Diary

        Sullivan County, N.Y.—It’s a myth that people in small-town America know one another. I’ve had a cabin in this place for 30 years and never knew that a foie gras factory sits high above Ferndale, a hamlet I’ve driven through hundreds of times. I found out one sunny Sunday this spring, when 40 flag-festooned cars filed up to La Belle Farm past blooming forsythia and a white-picket-fenced farmhouse, part of an appreciation drive for farm and factory workers.

      • Spending on Prescription Drugs: Lies My President Told Me #3,475,652

        Donald Trump’s re-election campaign has been touting that he is tough on the drug companies, unlike the wimpy Joe Biden. Perhaps in Trumpland this is true, but not in the real world. Spending on prescription drugs has actually increased somewhat more rapidly under Trump than Obama-Biden, rising at a 6.3 percent annual rate under Trump compared to a 5.5 percent rate under Obama-Biden.

      • What Can We Learn From Cuba? Medicare-for-All is a Beginning, Not the End Point

        As a coup de grâce to the Bernie Sanders campaign Joe Biden declared that he would veto Medicare-for-All. This could drive a dedicated health care advocate to relentlessly pursue Med-4-All as a final goal. However, it is not the final goal. It should be the first step in a complete transformation of medicine which includes combining community medicine with natural medicine and health-care-for-the-world.

      • Fauci Says We Have an “Unacceptably High” Rate of Daily COVID Cases

        As we enter the Labor Day weekend, Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious diseases expert, has some dire words regarding the spread of coronavirus: new daily infection numbers are still much too high.

      • You Think Things Couldn’t Get Any Worse With the Pandemic?

        Just two weeks ago, Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn got up in front of a podium with Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar and President Donald Trump to announce an Emergency Use Authorization for convalescent plasma to treat Covid-19. Each crowed in succession about how this pooled blood product could reduce deaths by a third. Within seconds of the announcement, scientists and clinicians were pointing out that this was a rookie statistical error. The study in question actually showed a far more modest 35 percent relative risk reduction in hospitalized patients less than 80 years old not on ventilators and who received plasma with high levels of antibodies within three days of diagnosis, compared with those who received plasma with low levels of antibodies.

      • Moderna’s Patent Filings, Applications Under Defense Department Review: Report [Ed: So the taxpayers are paying for something, which then becomes private monopoly of profiteers -- in patent form]

        The Department of Defense has initiated a probe on the patents after patient advocacy group Knowledge Ecology International said in a post Friday it has found that Moderna has not reported government funding in its 126 patents and 154 patent applications.

        KEI said in the post that it made a request to the DoD and Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to remedy this.

        Moderna has secured $25 million in grants from the DARPA to develop the technology for its coronavirus vaccine.

    • Integrity/Availability

      • Proprietary

        • Australian firm Tandem Corp hit by Windows NetWalker ransomware [iophk: Windows TCO]

          “We continue to work with our external data security providers and, if any personally identifiable information has been accessed, we will notify those who may have been impacted as well as the appropriate authorities as required, including the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner.

        • Zoom’s market value surges past General Motors and Boeing

          Zoom projected a total revenue of $2.4 billion dollars ( for its fiscal year ending in January. This is up from the 1.8 billion dollars (1.5 billion euros) it forecast back in June, and takes into account the users that will not renew the monthly subscriptions they signed up for in the first quarter.

        • Cisco says it will issue patch ‘as soon as possible’ for bugs [attackers] are trying to exploit

          Justin Elze, a principal security consultant at security company TrustedSec, pointed out that in order for the vulnerability to be exploited, a protocol known as IGMP needs to be enabled. That protocol is less common in enterprise networks and tends to be used by cable TV networks to do video streaming, he said.

        • Audible Unveils ‘Sesame Street’ Podcast

          Last year, the beloved children’s series announced a move to HBO Max for its 51st season, a deal that includes five new seasons of the show.

        • Animal Crossing Continues To Be An Innovative Playground As Biden Campaign Begins Advertising On It

          For nearly half a year now, especially when this damned pandemic really took off, we’ve been bringing you the occasional story of how Nintendo’s Animal Crossing keeps popping up with folks finding innovative ways to use the game as a platform. Protesters advocating for freedom in Hong Kong gathered in the game. Sidelined reality show stars took to the game to ply their trade. Very real people enduring very real layoffs used the game’s currency as a method for making very real money. As someone who has never played the game, the picture I’m left with is of a game that is both inherently malleable to what you want to do within it and immensely social in nature.

        • Pseudo-Open Source

          • Privatisation/Privateering

            • Linux Foundation

              • Linux Foundation commits to addressing climate change with data and analytics

                The Linux Foundation (LF) announced Tuesday a new initiative to provide investors, banks, insurers, companies, governments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and academia with an AI-enhanced open source analytics and open data platform. The plan is to boost financing for climate-related initiatives, address climate risks, and assess climate-related opportunities, the organization said.

        • Security

          • 700,000 WordPress Sites Affected By Zero-day Vulnerability in File Manager Plugin

            Yesterday a zero-day vulnerability was discovered in a popular WordPress plugin, File Manager. The vulnerability allows arbitrary file upload and remote code execution.

            File Manager plugin is a useful plugin that allows users to browse site files in an easy way. The plugin has over 700,000 active installations that make it a desired target for attackers.

            Yesterday the vulnerability was discovered by Seravo as part of their WordPress upkeep service. They noticed unusual activity on several of their customers’ websites and further investigation revealed the severe vulnerability in the File Manager plugin.

          • Kees Cook: security things in Linux v5.6

            Linux v5.6 was released back in March. Here’s my quick summary of various features that caught my attention:

          • Privacy/Surveillance

            • Court Tosses Surreptitious Video Recordings Holding Together Sketchy ‘Human Trafficking’ Investigation

              In early 2019, law enforcement in Florida wrapped up a supposed “human trafficking” sting centering on Florida spas and massage parlors. By the time prosecutors and cops were done congratulating themselves for helping purge Florida of human trafficking, they appeared to have little more than about 150 bog-standard solicitation and prostitution arrests.

            • Federal appeals court finds the NSA’s mass surveillance of American phone records was illegal

              The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has just ruled that the “NSA’s bulk collection of Americans’ phone records was illegal.” For years, the NSA has conducted a domestic mass surveillance program on Americans’ phone records with little to no resistance from other arms of the government but lots of resistance from civil liberties and privacy advocates within the States. In the same tweet announcing the breaking news, the ACLU commented:

            • Federal courts rule that reverse location requests by police violate the Fourth Amendment

              The Fourth Amendment has been interpreted to mean that law enforcement can’t serve a warrant on tech companies like Google to try and find out what devices were near the scene of a crime. Federal courts have started to rule that police can’t ask for information on every device near the scene of a crime, otherwise known as a geofencing warrant or reverse location request. These reverse location requests have increased in use around the country over the last few years and have resulted in some high profile cases of wrongful accusations. After Arizona police served a reverse location request on Google following a murder back in 2018, they ended up wrongfully accusing Jorge Molina. Molina is now suing Google for $1.5 million dollars.

            • The privacy perils of using a mesh network – and why we urgently need one that is robust and open source

              One of the reasons why protecting privacy is so hard is that our data is vulnerable in so many ways as it flows across the Internet. Threats can come from the companies that run online services, ISPs, telecom companies and governments. That’s bad enough for everyday situations, but in extreme ones, those weaknesses can have serious consequences.

            • Facebook removes network of accounts, pages ‘operated from Pakistan’

              In its detailed report of the takedown, Stanford found that the network engaged in mass reporting: the coordinated reporting of accounts ostensibly for violating a platform’s terms of service.

              The network, it said, encouraged users to mass-report accounts that were critical of Islam and the Pakistani government, and in some cases accounts that were part of the Ahmadi religious community.

            • Uber to demand passengers to take face mask selfies

              The new policy mirrors a requirement imposed in May — if drivers are reported for not wearing a face mask, they must verify that their face is covered before making their next pick up.

              The company referred to a “a two-way street” of accountability. They also reported that since implementing the rule regarding drivers, 3.5 million drivers had completed over 100 million verifications.

              Uber’s photo recognition system would automatically detect whether the customer was wearing a mask, according to the company. However, the system “does not process biometric information,” they said.

    • Defence/Aggression

      • The Age of Synthetic Biology: Start the War Games!

        It was bad enough when, beginning in March, US President Donald J. Trump repeatedly referred to Covid-19 as “the Chinese virus” in speeches, insulting Asian-Americans, and stirring up xenophobic remembrances of Yellow Perils Past, backpedaling and vacillating over his semiotic intentions, but then he left less doubt when he began to infer that China had let the spread of the virus happen “for whatever reason,” and began locating the epicenter of the outbreak, not with pangolins at the Wuhan wet market, which the MSM was initially feeding news consumers, but the up the road at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), site of pandemic studies, where research was being conducted on Coronavirus-laden bats. Problem is, as with Trump’s many assertions of “fake news” reports, there’s some truth; there’s some plausibility regarding the laboratory origins of the virus.

      • The Twilight of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization

        It is time for the United States to debate the downsizing, if not the dissolution, of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).  U.S. national security would be strengthened by the demise of NATO because Washington would no longer have to guarantee the security of 14 Central and East European nations, including the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.  European defense coordination and integration would be more manageable without the participation of authoritarian governments in Poland and Hungary.  Key West European nations presumably would favor getting out from under the use of U.S. military power in the Balkans, the Middle East, and Southwest Asia, which has made them feel as if they were “tins of shoe polish for American boots.”

      • Russia’s foreign minister blames Ukrainian ‘extremist training camps’ for inciting protests in Belarus

        Roughly 200 “trained extremists” are responsible for provoking “radical actions” at opposition protests in Minsk and other Belarusian cities, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov claimed at a press conference on Wednesday in Moscow, where he discussed the results of negotiations with his Belarusian counterpart, Vladimir Makei.

      • Latest US Military Report on Somalia Airstrikes Makes No Mention of Civilians Killed

        AFRICOM acknowledges 46 bombings of claimed militant targets this year, while critics warn that harm to innocent civilians continues to fuel the very terrorism such strikes are purportedly meant to destroy. 

      • The NRA’s Thrill Killers

        Recently, New York Attorney General Letitia James sued four current or former NRA executives for “illegal financial conduct,” according to NBC. Among the charges were that Wayne LaPierre, CEO and executive vice president of the NRA, received “hundreds of thousands of dollars” of complimentary safaris in Africa.

      • US Punishes International Criminal Court for Investigating Potential War Crimes in Afghanistan

        The Trump administration is taking aim at yet another international agency. 

      • Seven Shots in the Back: a Chant for Our Time

        Seven shots in the back. Seven shots in the back. THAT’LL TEACH THE S.O.B. TO TURN HIS F***’N BACK ON ME Seven shots in the back.

      • The Sentencing of Brenton Tarrant: Jailing the Man, not the Great Replacement

        Brenton Tarrant was sentenced last week.  The Australian national who butchered, with relish, 51 individuals in Christchurch at Al Noor Mosque and the Linwood Islamic Centre, found himself facing something unique in New Zealand: jail for life without parole.  He pleaded guilty to 51 charges of murder, 40 counts of attempted murder and one of terrorism.  He also faced a tsunami of victim impact statements – over 200 in all.

      • The Authorities Are Still Gunning for Breonna Taylor

        Authorities in Kentucky have still not arrested the police officers who murdered Breonna Taylor on March 13. Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, who is now in charge of the case, had time to speak at the Republican National Convention last week, but he has not found the time to bring to justice the three cops who shot Taylor in her own apartment.

      • Germany confirms that Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny was poisoned with substance from ‘Novichok’ group of nerve agents

        German officials have confirmed that Russian opposition figure and anti-corruption activist Alexey Navalny was poisoned with a substance from the “Novichok” group of nerve agents — the same poison reportedly used in the attack against ex-spy Sergey Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, in England in March 2018. Traces of the poison were found during tests conducted by a German military toxicology lab at the request of doctors from the Charité Hospital in Berlin, where Navalny is currently being treated. “Alexey Navalny was the victim of a chemical attack in Russia,” the German government underscored in its statement. 

      • As Alexei Navalny’s Life Hangs in the Balance, So Does the Fate of the Russian Opposition

        Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny addresses demonstrators during a rally to support opposition and independent candidates after authorities refused to register them for September elections to the Moscow City Duma on July 20, 2019. (Maxim Zmeyev / AFP via Getty Images)

        As the life of Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny hangs in the balance, so does the fate of the movement he leads. For many years, the anti-corruption crusader has offered the only serious challenge to President Vladimir Putin’s 20-year rule. According to the German government, Navalny was poisoned with Novichok, the same deadly nerve agent used in the UK against Russian double agent Sergey Skripal in 2018. With doctors predicting a long and difficult recovery, will the temporary loss of its lodestar cripple Russia’s already embattled opposition or set it free from the shadow of a brilliant but flawed leader?

      • Novichok, Navalny, Nordstream, Nonsense

        Once Navalny was in Berlin it was only a matter of time before it was declared that he was poisoned with Novichok. The Russophobes are delighted. This of course eliminates all vestiges of doubt about what happened to the Skripals, and proves that Russia must be isolated and sanctioned to death and we must spend untold billions on weapons and security services. We must also increase domestic surveillance, crack down on dissenting online opinion. It also proves that Donald Trump is a Russian puppet and Brexit is a Russian plot.

      • Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny was poisoned with a substance from the ‘Novichok’ group of nerve agents, says Germany

        In an announcement on Wednesday, September 2, the German government cited “unequivocal evidence” that Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny was poisoned with a substance from the ‘Novichok’ group of nerve agents — the same poison reportedly used in the attack against ex-spy Sergey Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, in England in March 2018.

      • ‘There are better poisons if you really want to kill someone’ The chemical weapons expert who led the OPCW’s mission to Salisbury after the Novichok attack on the Skripals explains Alexey Navalny’s situation

        Russia’s most prominent opposition figure, Alexey Navalny, has been in a coma for more than two weeks. On August 20, his flight home to Moscow was forced to make an emergency landing in Omsk after he became violently ill. Russian doctors treated Navalny for roughly two days before he was transferred abroad in an air ambulance to the Charité Clinic in Berlin, where specialists found evidence that he’d been poisoned with cholinesterase inhibitors. Physicians have been unable to identify the exact substance responsible for Navalny’s condition, but German officials announced on September 2 that experts have collected “unequivocal evidence” that he was poisoned with a substance similar in composition to the nerve agent Novichok. To understand more about Navalny’s poisoning, Meduza science editor Alexander Ershov spoke to Marc-Michael Blum, a biochemist who studies decontamination, countermeasures, and mitigation of chemical warfare agents. In 2018, following the Novichok poisoning of Sergey and Yulia Skirpal in England, Dr. Blum led the team sent by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to Salisbury and Amesbury.

      • Why Putin cannot allow democracy to win in Belarus

        Putin’s preparations to deploy the Russian security services are only part of the Kremlin’s ongoing intervention in neighboring Belarus. As protests expanded in the days following the August 9 presidential vote, Moscow reportedly sent planeloads of Russian TV workers to replace striking staff at Belarus state TV and lead the Lukashenka regime’s propaganda efforts. The impact of this apparent takeover is now all too evident in government messaging, with Belarusian officials including Lukashenka echoing Kremlin language and referring to pro-democracy protesters as paid foreign agents, social misfits, and Nazis.

      • Mothers, sisters, wives: Kenyan women lead fight against police violence

        The confrontation was caught on film. As three armed policemen try to pull Wanjira Wanjiru away, she clings to the wing-mirror of a parked car and refuses to move.
        “Don’t touch me!” she yells. “Why are you arresting me?”
        “Why are you protesting?” one of the steel-helmeted policemen asks.
        “I’m protesting because you’re killing us,” replies the 25-year-old anti-police brutality campaigner.
        “Who is killing you?”
        “You police! You’re killing us in our communities!”
        Then, as the policemen back off, Wanjira, fist in the air, defiantly chants what has now become an iconic line: “When we lose our fear, they lose their power!”
        Her resistance during the “Saba Saba” protests that day, held annually on 7 July to commemorate Kenya’s pro-democracy movement that emerged in the 1990s, resonated as a symbolic moment in Kenyans’ fight against police violence – an issue now in the global spotlight after a string of police shootings of Black Americans in the United States.

    • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

      • Leaked document warns of ‘serious errors’ in census data under fast-tracked timeline

        An internal Census Bureau document sent to members of Congress and obtained by NBC News warned that the new truncated deadline set by the agency’s director last month has the potential to undermine the integrity of the count and lead to “serious errors.”

        The document was sent to the House Oversight Committee, which has been investigating the Census Bureau for several years since its failed attempt to add a citizenship question to the decennial count.

      • Fact Check: Did Muslims in Switzerland demand removal of Swiss cross from the flag?

        The Swedish city of Malmo witnessed raging violence on August 28 after a copy of the Quran was burned by members of a far-right Danish party. A day after, reports of clashes in Norway breaking out during an anti-Islam rally also surfaced.

        Amid this, an image purportedly showing Muslim refugees in Switzerland burning the Swiss flag went viral on social media. According to the claim, Muslim men burnt the Swiss flag in 2019, demanding the removal of the Cross from the flag.

        [...]

        On further search, we found that the image is part of a 2006 outrage that hit several Muslim countries following the publication of cartoons featuring prophet Mohammed in a Danish newspaper.

      • The Russian Election [Attack] That Wasn’t (This Time)

        The only problem: The story was almost entirely false.

        Four years after Russia’s infamous [astroturfer] factory unleashed a disinformation campaign in the United States, the incident underscores how vulnerable many Americans still are to fake news, especially with much of the populace primed for a repeat of Russia’s use of hacks, online ads, and outright lies to sway U.S. voters to advance its own agenda.

    • Environment

    • Finance

      • Congress Urged to Enact ‘Emergency Charity Stimulus’ to Unlock Profits of the Rich to Serve Common Good

        “The world of philanthropy must step up and do more, faster. Congress must insist on it.”

      • ‘A Band-Aid, Not a Solution’: Critics Warn Trump Eviction Moratorium Only Delays—Doesn’t Prevent—Housing Crisis

        “While an eviction moratorium is essential, it is a half-measure that extends a financial cliff for renters to fall off when the moratorium expires and back rent is owed.” 

      • “We Don’t Have a Home to Stay at Home:” the Plight of Nomadic Families During the Pandemic

        “It’s 350 rupees. Don’t reduce the price, we are already not earning anything due to corona,” said Prakash Kokre, while a buyer tried to bargain. He picked up a white male lamb and put it on a weighing scale placed on the ground. “Teen kilo [three kilos],” he announced to the two customers who insisted on Rs. 200 per kilogram. “That’s too low, but I need the money,” said Prakash, as he gave the animal to its new owners.

      • The Number of Homeless People is About to Skyrocket

        The Covid-19 pandemic will cause the number of homeless people and homeless families to skyrocket. This is not so much a prediction as a certainty. With government subsidies to people to help pay rent and mortgages at an end, and with unemployment benefits reduced, the number of adults and children on the streets will grow exponentially. Why is this?

      • In the Worst of Times, the Billionaire Elite Plunder Working Class America

        In the midst of a global pandemic, unprecedented economic collapse, mass unemployment, hunger and desperation, the stock market is booming and the richest of the rich are richer than ever before.

      • For Tara Raghuveer, ‘Every Eviction Is an Act of Violence’

        “If you think about it one way, we’re in the midst of the biggest rent strike in national history,” Tara Raghuveer, director of the KC Tenants union, told me over Zoom: “There’s massive noncompliance from inability to pay the rent, and hundreds of thousands of people are politicizing that inability, as they should.” In Jackson County, where Kansas City is located, the eviction moratorium expired at the end of May. The following months have mirrored the rest of the country: nonstop organizing, mutual aid efforts, and crushed hopes of state intervention.

      • Eviction Moratorium Delays Crisis Until January, When Tenants Will Owe Back Rent

        The nationwide eviction moratorium announced Tuesday by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will provide immediate and welcome relief through the end of the year for certain renters, but housing rights advocates say the move is woefully inadequate because it fails to provide any payment assistance to renters.

      • It’s Past Time for Coinbase to Issue Transparency Reports

        EFF has become increasingly concerned that payment processors are being asked to turn over information on their customers, without any mechanism for the public to know who is making those requests, or how often. That’s why we are calling on Coinbase—one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges in the country—to start releasing regular transparency reports that provide insight into how many government requests for information it receives, and how it deals with them. These are difficult decisions with serious consequences, and they should not be made in the dark.

        Cryptocurrency exchanges should especially understand the importance of the privacy of this information

    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

      • ‘Trying to Get Free’

        The looter, like most American figures, exists in a state of mythical distortion. When looters emerge from social movements, the press depicts them as opportunists and outsiders; when looters destroy property in response to police violence or the silent horrors of capitalism, they are deemed lawless aggressors. Talking heads and commentators cast looters as mindless and apolitical, as if looting were not a risky, calculated act. Vicky Osterweil’s In Defense of Looting corrects those misconceptions, reclaiming looters as conscious actors and heirs of a radical tradition stretching back to chattel slavery.

      • ‘Vote against everyone’ Ahead of city council elections, Russia’s Ulyanovsk sees provocative campaigning harking back to the 1990s

        The authorities in Russia’s Ulyanovsk Region are sponsoring a controversial new movement called “Protiv Vsekh” (Against Everyone), which has nominated several candidates to run in the upcoming city council elections in Ulyanovsk. The movement’s leader, Anna Karvaleiru, is trying to win over local voters using performance art and provocative campaign ads — appearing on billboards in blackface under the slogan “We’re all ‘negroes’! Vote against everyone!” This “anti” campaign is directing its efforts against everyone from governing officials to the ruling United Russia party, but it targets the nominally opposition Communist Party (KPRF) in particular. As it turns out, the KPRF would have been posed to take power in the city’s parliament, but half of its candidates were banned from competing in the elections. In protest, the KPRF has set up a tent city on one of Ulyanovsk’s main squares. Meduza special correspondent Andrey Pertsev travelled to Ulyanovsk to meet the people behind this absurd campaign and uncover what’s actually at stake in the elections.

      • The Currency of Absurdity

        When is the last time you had a guest inside your home, you gave them a cup of tea and a biscuit, perhaps watched some TV together, and then when they left you thought “Oh, they were nice. I wonder who that was?”.

      • Barr’s Abrupt Removal of National Security Official Sparks Concerns

        Attorney General Bill Barr’s decision to abruptly replace a career official who led a Justice Department office that oversees the legality of national security policy with a political appointee sparked concerns among national security officials, according to ABC News.

      • Craig Murray Defence Appeal Renewed

        I have today received a bill from my legal team for £60,563.40 in fees to date in defending the contempt of court charge against me for my reporting of the Alex Salmond trial.

      • The Politics of Good Vs. Evil

        Unlike former years, the election of 2020 is not just about Republican versus Democrat, the economy versus public health or fiscal conservative versus liberal and progressive. It’s not about policy differences where reasonable minds may differ.  Rather, this year’s election is a contest of values.  It pits American citizens against an administration that daily practices human disregard and cruelty.

      • American Workers Have Been Given a Raw Deal Throughout the Trump Era

        Although Donald Trump has repeatedly claimed that American workers are “thriving” during his presidency, this contention rings hollow. The mishandled coronavirus pandemic, of course, has created levels of unemployment, hunger, and misery in the United States not seen since the Great Depression. But even in the years before the pandemic, when Trump claimed he had created “the greatest economy in history,” American workers were left far behind.

      • We Need to Prepare for an Election Crisis By Proactively Seeking Assurances from Responsible Local Authorities That They Will Protect Our Constitutional Rights

        The time for analysis has passed, and in the next few months what is needed is relentless action, and careful preparation for the crisis to come.

      • Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib Join Calls for Joy Reid Apology After ‘Hurtful and Dangerous’ Comment Comparing Trump to ‘Violent’ Muslim Leaders

        The MSNBC host, who asked guests whether the president is “radicalizing” his followers like “leaders in the Muslim world,” says her remarks have been taken out of context. 

      • As Trump Twists Warning of Delayed Election Results to Suit His Narrative, Advocacy Groups Vow to Make Sure Every Vote Counts

        “Donald Trump is not running a re-election campaign. He’s running a power grab.”

      • Post. Election.
      • ‘Full Frontal Attack on Rule of Law’: Trump Sanctions Top ICC Officials Probing US War Crimes in Afghanistan

        Human rights advocates blasted the move as “another brazen attack against international justice” that “is designed to do what this administration does best—bully and intimidate.”

      • Voters Can’t Get MAD Enough to Get Happy

        Larry Penner vouches that “the Democrats could run Mad magazine’s ‘What, Me Worry?’ Alfred E. Neuman for president and still carry the Empire State by a wide margin” (“True blue New York,” Queens Chronicle, August 27). That’s a harsh assessment … of Neuman. Unlike Democratic politicians in solidly blue states, or Republicans in their red-state counterparts, he had real rivals to contend with.

      • Bad Medicine: Weaponizing Government Resources for Partisan Politics

        It doesn’t matter who you vote for or what political party you do or don’t belong to, when it comes to funding government it’s taxpayers of all stripes who pick up the tab. Now, at both the national and state level, the new, nefarious, and open weaponization of government resources for partisan political purposes has emerged in full force. If we want to end democracy in the U.S. — this will do it.

      • “Now,” Says AOC, “Where’s His Unaltered Calendar?” House Dems Subpoena Postmaster General Louis DeJoy

        “If the USPS is surprised we are issuing a subpoena,” said the New York Democrat, “it’s because they weren’t listening.”

      • ‘A Fiasco Is Clearly Foreseeable’: USPS Watchdog Probe Found 1 Million Primary Ballots Likely Delivered Too Late to Count

        Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) called the findings “more powerful proof that resources and reform are vital right away to prevent serious election mail delays and voting suppression.”

      • All the Latest About Trump’s War on Our Public Postal Service

        Less than two months after Trump ally and GOP megadonor Louis DeJoy took the helm of the U.S. Postal Service, the House of Representatives met in an emergency session to address widespread fears about potential sabotage of this vital public agency at a time when it is needed more than ever to deliver medicine and other essentials and to facilitate mail-in voting.

      • State Department Awarded Haiti Contract to Politically Connected Security Firm

        In November, 2019, as part of its support for the Haitian National Police (HNP), the State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) awarded a $73,000 contract for the provision of “riot gear kit[s]” for the police’s crowd control unit, CIMO, according to information contained in the US government’s contracting database.

      • Authoritarian Anarchism Meets Autocratic Soul Searching

        “A Letter on Justice and Open Debate,” published by Harper’s Magazine (7/7/20), lauds the recent climate of protest for spurring calls for police reform as well as greater inclusion and equality, but laments what came with it: a new set of “moral attitudes and political commitments that tend to weaken our social norms of open debate and toleration of differences in favor of ideological conformity.”

      • Tinpot Administration Is Apparently ‘Building Dossiers’ On Journalists Who Criticize Trump

        President Trump openly admires authoritarians. It appears he believes he was being elected dictator rather than president, and has been openly bitter about his perceived lack of power ever since. The world leaders he enjoys talking to most — Vladimir Putin, Mohammad bin Salman, Recep Erdogan — are all notorious thugs who punish critics, dissidents, and anyone else who steps a little out of line.

      • The Leprechaun Anti-BLM Meme: Irish Americans, Drop This Inanity and Support BLM

        Fear not, white people. Black people won’t eat you.

      • Conventional Wisdom: Shame America First

        After four nights, the reality show” Shouting with the Tsars,” a.k.a. the Republican National Convention, is finally over. Convened to con America and nominate Donald John Trump as its incumbent president, the RNC engaged in nightly rounds of racial poker – I’ll see your black former president, first lady and former secretary of state and raise you my black senator, football player, self-avowed Democratic Party “mental plantation”-escapee, and former prison felon – all the while bluffing that the party is a colorblind meritocracy with nary a white supremacist in sight, a utopian model of and for an America that never was and under them never will be.

      • Nine Predictions for Trump’s Second Term

        I don’t know why criticisms of electoral politics are so often interpreted to mean that elections don’t have consequences. Of course they do, not least in the ways that elections – even as they legitimize the vast areas of agreement between the parties – shape our culture. On that note, here are some predictions for what we will see should Trump win reelection this fall:

      • The Sycophants at Fox News

        Donald Trump has a few things in common with Joseph Stalin. In some ways, the comparison is an injustice to both men: Stalin was not a moron, grifter, or alleged rapist; Trump is not (as of this writing) a world-historical mass murderer. But both men were addicted to lies. They also smeared anyone who told the truth—or might one day tell the truth—as enemies of the people. A third, related similarity is that they listen to sycophants who praise their bravery and genius, even when the sudden, unpredictable shifts in their beliefs make it nearly impossible for these toadies to remain in good standing. Pity, therefore, the million-dollar babies at Fox News whose careers depend on this complicated skill.

      • Trump’s Paranoia Commands the Government

        Donald Trump’s penchant for conspiracy theories has become a familiar part of his political persona. Fulminations against the “deep state” that once were shocking are now routine. But in becoming inured to Trump, we risk losing sight of how dangerous it is that the most powerful man in the world regularly voices lurid tales of intrigue that have no mooring in reality.

      • How Big Money Corrupts Our Politics (And How to Fix It)

        It’s difficult to do anything when big money controls our politics and dictates what policies are and aren’t enacted.

      • ‘The Age of Incrementalism Is Over,’ Declares Green New Deal Champion Ed Markey After Defeating Joe Kennedy III

        “Before tonight, a Kennedy had never lost an election in Massachusetts. But even a 100-year dynasty cannot overcome the Green New Deal,” said the youth-led Sunrise Movement.

      • Ed Markey Has a Message for Democrats: ‘The Age of Incrementalism Is Over’

        No Kennedy had ever lost a Democratic primary, or a general election, in Massachusetts. From June 18, 1946, when a young World War II vet named John Fitzgerald Kennedy won the Democratic nomination to fill a congressional seat representing Cambridge and parts of Boston and Somerville, Kennedys had won every race they entered in the state.

      • ‘Coordinated Homophobic Attack’ on Alex Morse Denounced as Progressive Challenger Falls Short of Ousting Corporate Rep. Richard Neal

        “We’re not done yet,” said Morse, who slammed Neal for raking in money from corporations that are “exploiting the working class people of this community and of this country.”

      • Trump Is Placing Letters in Food Aid Boxes to Boost His Reelection Campaign

        Millions of Americans who are struggling to put food on the table may discover a new item in government-funded relief packages of fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy and meat: a letter signed by President Donald Trump.

      • ‘The Whole Voting Universe Has Been Turned Upside Down by Covid’

        Janine Jackson interviewed Voting Booth’s Steven Rosenfeld about how to vote, for the August 21, 2020, episode of CounterSpin. This is a lightly edited transcript.

      • ‘The President Just Committed a Felony’: Trump Tells NC Residents to Vote Twice, Openly Encouraging Voter Fraud

        “Voter fraud is nearly nonexistent. And the only one encouraging it is Donald Trump, in a desperate attempt to create chaos and sow doubt.”

      • Ramzan Kadyrov appoints daughter as Chechnya’s first deputy culture minister

        Ramzan Kadyrov, the head of Chechnya, has issued an executive order making his own 21-year-old daughter, Aishat Kadyrova, the republic’s first deputy culture minister. On his Telegram channel, Kadyrov described his decision as “firmly prudent,” despite his daughter’s youth. “She has extensive experience in managing highly complex and large-scale projects, including in the field of culture,” the Chechen leader explained.

    • Censorship/Free Speech

      • Content Moderation Case Study: Amazon Alters Publishing Rules To Deter Kindle Unlimited Scammers (April 2016)

        Summary: In July 2014, Amazon announced its “Netflix, but for ebooks” service, Kindle Unlimited. Kindle Unlimited allowed readers access to hundreds of thousands of ebooks for a flat rate of $9.99/month.

      • Content Moderation Best Practices for Startups

        To say content moderation has become a hot topic over the past few years would be an understatement. The conversation has quickly shifted from how to best deal with pesky trolls and spammers  —  straight into the world of intensely serious topics like genocide and destabilization of democracies.

      • Trump Wants To Replace FTC Chair Whom He Can’t Replace, Because The FTC Is Reluctant To Go After Trump’s Social Media Enemies

        A few weeks back we wrote about how FTC chair Joe Simons — while bizarrely complaining about Section 230 blocking his investigations, despite it never actually doing that — was actually willing to say that Trump’s executive order on social media was nonsense (though not in those words). While the FCC caved and moved forward with its nonsense exploration of Section 230, the FTC has done nothing, because there’s nothing for it to actually do.

      • GOP Rep Proposes Stripping Unemployment Benefits from ‘Jobless Rioters,’ Forcing Restitution Payments to Police

        Banks on Monday demanded the FBI investigate “antifa” as a “domestic terrorist organization” responsible for violent protest acts across the country. But federal arrest records do not indicate any cohesive group tied together among those apprehended for violent acts at protests.

      • Iran Proposes Bill For Tighter Online Censorship, ‘Military Control’ Of Internet

        A group of 40 Iranian lawmakers has submitted a controversial draft bill to the parliament that could result in harsher online censorship by giving control of the country’s Internet gateways to the armed forces, including the notorious Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).

        The bill also calls for the creation of a board that will oversee social-media platforms and deal with any violations. The board will include representatives from the judiciary and the government, as well as from the IRGC’s feared Intelligence Unit, which has, in recent years, arrested scores of activists, journalists, environmentalists, dual nationals, and others — including a Facebook engineer who recently spoke about his arrest and the pressure he faced from guards.

      • Academics Are Really, Really Worried About Their Freedom

        However, hard evidence points to a different reality. This year, the Heterodox Academy conducted an internal member survey of 445 academics. “Imagine expressing your views about a controversial issue while at work, at a time when faculty, staff, and/or other colleagues were present. To what extent would you worry about the following consequences?” To the hypothetical “My reputation would be tarnished,” 32.68 percent answered “very concerned” and 27.27 percent answered “extremely concerned.” To the hypothetical “My career would be hurt,” 24.75 percent answered “very concerned” and 28.68 percent answered “extremely concerned.” In other words, more than half the respondents consider expressing views beyond a certain consensus in an academic setting quite dangerous to their career trajectory.

        So no one should feign surprise or disbelief that academics write to me with great frequency to share their anxieties. In a three-week period early this summer, I counted some 150 of these messages. And what they reveal is a very rational culture of fear among those who dissent, even slightly, with the tenets of the woke left.

    • Freedom of Information/Freedom of the Press

      • The U.S. is Determined to Make Julian Assange Pay for Exposing the Cruelty of Its War on Iraq

        On September 7, 2020, Julian Assange will leave his cell in Belmarsh Prison in London and attend a hearing that will determine his fate. After a long period of isolation, he was finally able to meet his partner—Stella Moris—and see their two sons—Gabriel (age three) and Max (age one)—on August 25. After the visit, Moris said that he looked to be in “a lot of pain.”

      • Kenosha Journalist Quits Over Misleading Coverage of Jacob Blake Protests

        The mainstream media’s role in perpetuating racism has come under increased scrutiny during the nationwide uprisings against injustice, leading to resignations and firings at news outlets across the country and calls for more diverse newsrooms. Daniel Thompson, the former digital editor at Kenosha News, says that’s what led him to quit his job after his news outlet ran a misleading headline and article about a peaceful Jacob Blake protest that focused almost exclusively on one speaker’s threat of violence. “Now more than ever for the media, it’s important to try to give a full, accurate picture.” says Thompson. “I don’t think the situation happened out of any malicious intent. I think it was simply ignorance and a lack of diversity or diverse voices that were part of the decision.”

      • Kenosha Journalist Quits over Coverage of Jacob Blake Protests, Citing Ignorance, Lack of Diversity

        The mainstream media’s role in perpetuating racism has come under increased scrutiny during the nationwide uprisings against injustice, leading to resignations and firings at news outlets across the country and calls for more diverse newsrooms. Daniel Thompson, the former digital editor at Kenosha News, says that’s what led him to quit his job after his news outlet ran a misleading headline and article about a peaceful Jacob Blake protest that focused almost exclusively on one speaker’s threat of violence. “Now more than ever for the media, it’s important to try to give a full, accurate picture.” says Thompson. “I don’t think the situation happened out of any malicious intent. I think it was simply ignorance and a lack of diversity or diverse voices that were part of the decision.”

      • Former ITV News journalist facing trial in Zimbabwe forced to appear in court despite suffering coronavirus symptoms

        A prominent anti-corruption journalist is to appear in court in Zimbabwe despite showing coronavirus symptoms.

        Hopewell Chin’ono, who has worked with ITV News in the past, was arrested in July after exposing government corruption.

        His lawyers ware waiting for the results of a Covid-19 test after his health worsened in the past few days.

        Mr Chin’ono arrived at the court building on Tuesday, despite not knowing the results of his test.

        He arrived in chains.

      • Iranian [Attackers] Target Academic Researcher via WhatsApp, LinkedIn

        Active since at least 2011, the adversary is also tracked as Ajax Security Team, APT35, ITG18, NewsBeef, Newscaster, and Phosphorus, and was previously observed targeting a U.S. presidential candidate, media organizations, government officials, and prominent expatriate Iranians, using an updated spear phishing technique.

        In July, only a couple of months after Google revealed that the Iranian hackers targeted the WHO, the threat actor accidentally leaked 40Gb of data. In early 2020, the hackers were observed posing as journalists in a phishing campaign that targeted at least five individuals around the world.

        Now, security firm Clearsky reveals that the adversary continues phishing attacks in which they impersonate journalists, this time from ‘DeutscheWelle’ and the ‘Jewish Journal’, and it employed both email and WhatsApp to approach the target and trick them into clicking on a malicious link. Fake LinkedIn profiles were used to gain victims’ trust.

    • Civil Rights/Policing

      • Former Russian prison guards reportedly murder 100-year-old WWII veteran

        State investigators in Bashkiria have announced the arrest of two men suspected of murdering a 100-year-old World War II veteran named Ivan Nesmeyanov.

      • Wallerstein Expanded the South African Independent Left’s Horizons

        (World-systems sociologist Immanuel Wallerstein was born in 1930 and died on August 31 last year. As part of the Hong Kong-based Global University for Sustainability’s tribute, several South Africans remembered his role here.)

      • Systemic Change Starts with Us

        The first World Peace Flame in North America was installed in the lobby of the Civil Rights Museum, at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee in 2002.

      • Antifah’s Big Bags of Murder Soup: It’s Incredible!
      • Trump’s Fascist Signaling Is Going to Create More Kyle Rittenhouses

        The president’s re-election depends on fence-sitting Americans in swing states excusing fascist-inspired violence in order to feel safe. That’s a strategy straight out of the fascist playbook.

      • ‘Disgusting,’ Says Bernie Sanders of Amazon Job Post Seeking Anti-Union Psy-Ops Expert

        Observers at VICE said the ads show the retail tech giant sees “labor organizing as one of the biggest threats to its existence.”

      • 200,000 in Georgia Wrongly Purged From Voting Rolls, Investigation Finds

        An independent investigation looking into the removal of citizen names from voter registration rolls in Georgia last year found that the vast majority of those names were wrongfully purged.

      • Trump Used Stand-In for Kenosha Business Owner Who Refused Photo Op With Him

        A business in Kenosha, Wisconsin, which had fire damage after uprisings in the city following the police-perpetrated shooting of Jacob Blake in August, was featured by President Trump to the media as he toured damage in the city on Tuesday.

      • Donald Trump Came to Kenosha to Make the Most Vile Campaign Commercial in American Political History

        Donald Trump and his partisan wrecking crew jetted into Kenosha Tuesday on a political mission. That was no secret. The president spelled everything out in his acceptance speech at last week’s Republican National Convention, when he refused to mention the name of Jacob Blake—the 29-year-old Black man who was shot seven times in the back by a Kenosha police officer—but instead made the Wisconsin city a touchstone for a “law-and-order” rant about “mayhem in Democrat-run cities” and his fall campaign theme that “No one will be safe in Biden’s America.”

      • Trump’s Kenosha Tour Was Another Crude Appeal to White Grievance

        “We’re gonna help you rebuild,” President Trump said to the former owners of Rode’s Camera Store. The 109-year-old shop was burned down in Kenosha, Wisconsin, during protests against the police shooting of Jacob Blake. The current owner, Tom Gram, declined to appear with Trump, and told local station TMJ4, “I think everything he does turns into a circus, and I just didn’t want to be involved in it.” 

      • The NFL Is Desperately Trying to Avoid a Players’ Strike

        I can’t say it’s not a satisfying sight. Roger Goodell and the National Football League are tap-dancing as fast as they can, desperate to avoid a players’ strike against racism one week out from the start of the season. The league has seen every major sports federation—the NBA, the WNBA, MLB, MLS, even the NHL—cancel games because of player outrage after yet another police shooting, this time of Jacob Blake in Kenosha. Goodell and his fraternity of NFL owners are working overtime to show that they understand players’ concerns and want the league to be a force for racial justice.

      • America’s Greatest Athletes are Standing Up, Calling This Country to Change

        The greatest athletes in America are standing up for justice at a critical time.

      • What Can Mayors Do When the Police Stop Doing Their Jobs?

        Across the United States, cities are experiencing turbulence and a rise in gun violence following the protests of abusive policing sparked by the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. More than 110 people were shot in that city in the month following Floyd’s death, eight fatally. In Atlanta, 106 people were shot over a 28-day period ending July 11, up from 40 over the same period last year.

        This isn’t the first time in recent years that America has seen such protests followed by a spike in violence. In the spring of 2015, the death of Freddie Gray, 25, from injuries sustained in police custody brought demonstrators into the streets of Baltimore. The protests flared into rioting and looting. Soon afterward, the city’s chief prosecutor announced criminal charges against the officers involved in the arrest. The officers’ colleagues responded by pulling back on the job, doing only the bare minimum in the following weeks. In the resulting void, crews seized new drug corners and settled old scores. Homicides surged to record levels and case-closure rates plunged. “The police stopped doing their jobs, and let people fuck up other people,” Carl Stokes, a former Democratic city councilor in Baltimore, told me last year. “Period. End of story.”

      • Reporting Recipe: How to Report on Voting by Mail

        In the midst of the pandemic, mail-in voting is expected to play a bigger role in this presidential election than ever before. As part of our Electionland project, we work with U.S. journalists to cover the voting process, so we’re offering some tips for local reporters to tackle coverage of voting by mail.

        This article is part of Electionland, ProPublica’s collaborative reporting project covering problems that prevent eligible voters from casting their ballots during the 2020 elections. Learn more

      • Pelosi claims she was ‘set up’ by San Francisco salon

        The owner of eSalon, Erica Kious, told Fox News that she has independent stylists working for her who rent chairs in her salon and claimed that she “can’t control” what they do if they rent the chairs from her.

      • 105-Year-Old Woman Seeks Reparations for the 1921 Tulsa Massacre

        Lessie Beningfield Randle, 105, is the lead plaintiff and one of two known survivors still alive; she joins the great-granddaughter of JB Straford—the owner of the Stradford Hotel in Greenwood, the largest Black-owned hotel in the United States at the time—along with the grandchildren of many of those killed in the massacre.

        The lawsuit alleges that the massacre, one of the worst acts of racial violence in U.S. history, still overshadows the Greenwood neighborhood and that Tulsa’s racial inequality today can be traced back to the events of almost 100 years ago.

      • Joe Rogan Podcast Comes to Spotify, but It’s Missing His Episodes With Far-Right Figures

        Spotify announced the arrival of Rogan’s podcast in a tweet Tuesday, calling him a “stand-up comic,” “mixed martial arts fanatic” and “psychedelic adventurer,” avoiding one of the big elements of his brand — political provocateur.

        Also not available on Spotify are Rogan’s podcast episodes with comedians Chris D’Elia (recently accused of sexual misconduct involving, in some cases, teenage girls), as well as Joey Diaz and Tommy Chong.

        Reps for Spotify and Rogan didn’t respond to requests for comment.

      • Nicaragua picks a bad time to sideline humanitarian groups

        President Daniel Ortega is making life increasingly hard for aid and human rights groups in Nicaragua even as poverty, malnutrition, and emigration due to political strife are on the rise, and as he is criticised for a dismissive and reckless response to the coronavirus outbreak.

        “In Nicaragua, simply existing as a person carries a risk,” Ana Quirós, director of the Center for Information and Advisory Services in Health, or CISAS, told The New Humanitarian. “You do not need a particular reason to become a victim of violence, of repression, kidnapping or assassination. It is a general risk.”

        Quirós was deported and stripped of citizenship in November 2018 after the government accused CISAS, which had been working on health education and HIV prevention in Nicaragua with the support of several international aid groups and actors – including Medico International, Medicus Mundi, and the EU – of “participating in destabilising activities”.

    • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

      • My Comment To The FCC Regarding The Ridiculous NTIA Petition To Reinterpret Section 230

        Today is the due date for the first round of submissions to the FCC’s comment period on the NTIA’s laughable petition, which asks the agency to reinterpret Section 230 in response to the President’s temper tantrum about Twitter fact checking him. This is clearly outside of its regulatory authority, but it has caved and pandered to the President by calling for comments anyway.

      • Researchers set a new world-record Internet speed

        Researchers at University College London claim they’ve obtained a new top internet speed of 178Tbps – a fifth quicker than the prior record and fast enough to download the entire Netflix catalog in under a second, they say.

        [...]

        The amplifiers that they’ve been working with are called hybrid discrete Raman & rare-earth doped fiber amplifiers, and they used the S-, C—and L-bands simultaneously, according to an abstract of a paper published in IEEE Photonics Technology Letters.

        “We are working with new technologies that utilize, more efficiently, the existing infrastructure, making better use of optical fiber bandwidth,” said Dr Lidia Galdino, a lecturer at UCL and lead author of the paper.

        The researchers say their findings could be put into practice by upgrading the amplifiers in existing optical networks that are typically placed at 40-100km intervals along fiber runs. Upgrading by replacing the fiber infrastructure can cost up to 28 times more than the amplifier upgrades, they say.

        The UCL research was carried out over a 40km span.

    • Digital Restrictions (DRM)

      • Netflix partners with ‘National Media Group’ to localize service and expand programming in Russia

        Netflix will completely localize its streaming service in Russia before the end of the year, the company’s press service told the newspaper Vedomosti on Wednesday. According to the new deal, the National Media Group — one of Russia’s biggest media holding companies — will manage Netflix streaming in Russia.

      • Serious Encrypted Media Extensions on GStreamer based WebKit ports

        Encrypted Media Extensions (a.k.a. EME) is the W3C standard for encrypted media in the web. This way, media providers such as Hulu, Netflix, HBO, Disney+, Prime Video, etc. can provide their contents with a reasonable amount of confidence that it will make it very complicated for people to “save” their assets without their permission. Why do I use the word “serious” in the title? In WebKit there is already support for Clear Key, which is the W3C EME reference implementation but EME supports more encryption systems, even privative ones (I have my opinion about this, you can ask me privately). No service provider (that I know) supports Clear Key, they usually rely on Widevine, PlayReady or some other.

        Three years ago, my colleague Žan Doberšek finished the implementation of what was going to be the shell of WebKit’s modern EME implementation, following latest W3C proposal. We implemented that downstream (at Web Platform for Embedded) as well using Thunder, which includes as a plugin a fork of what was Open Content Decryption Module (a.k.a. OpenCDM). The OpenCDM API changed quite a lot during this journey. It works well and there are millions of set-top-boxes using it currently.

        The delta between downstream and the upstream GStreamer based WebKit ports was quite big, testing was difficult and syncing was not always easy, so we decided reverse the situation.

    • Monopolies

      • “Break Glass in Case of Emergency”: We Must Break Pharma Monopolies to Lower Drug Prices

        Existing law is crystal clear that the government can step in to lower drug prices in order to serve the public interest. 

      • Facebook’s Business Model Thrives on the Virality of Hate

        A recent Wall Street Journal (WSJ) article, “Facebook’s Hate-Speech Rules Collide With Indian Politics,” has blown the lid off Facebook’s unholy alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the right-wing ruling party in India.

      • Patent Exceptions in the Time of a Pandemic

        The blistering race and competition to find a COVID-19 vaccine is ongoing at a very fast pace. Pharmaceutical companies are scurrying to secure a legal monopoly for the treatment, to control the largest market share, and to ensure a considerable return on their investment, since the demand thereon would be immediate, global, and possibly extending for years and decades to come.

        Whether it is Gilead’s Remdesivir or any other treatment or vaccine that is ultimately found to have a proven curative or preventive outcome, researchers are ramping up their efforts, all while anticipating that a second wave of coronavirus is expected to swipe the globe again, as the Spanish flu did a century ago.

      • Patents

        • Apple Must Pay Over $506 Million in 4G LTE Patent Dispute

          A federal jury in East Texas Tuesday ordered Apple to pay over $506 million for infringing on 4G LTE patents controlled by intellectual property owner PanOptis in the country’s first patent jury trial since the Covid-19 shutdown in March.

          The jury concluded five of Plano-based PanOptis’ patents were infringed by Apple’s wireless products and ordered $506.2 million in damages as a royalty for past sales. U.S. District Judge Rodney Gilstrap held the trial in person with social distancing and face mask use being enforced in the courtroom. He now has the option to increase damages by up to triple since the jury concluded the infringement was willful.

          PanOptis sued in February 2019, claiming Apple refused to pay licensing fees for the use of the technology in its iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch products. Apple argued at trial that the patents were invalid but the jury concluded the company failed to prove “by clear and convincing evidence” that any of PanOptis’ claims were invalid.

          Attorneys for Apple and PanOptis did not immediately respond to requests for comment Tuesday evening. Apple is expected to appeal.

        • U.S. trade panel launches patent infringement probe into Apple devices

          The U.S. International Trade Commission said it has launched a Section 337 investigation into whether certain Apple Inc mobile devices and laptop computers infringed patents held by Japan’s Maxell Holdings.

          In seeking the probe, Maxell has alleged Apple devices violate patents covering technology including an unlocking feature and video transmission processes. Maxell has asked the commission to prohibit the importation and sale of the devices into the United States.

        • Guest Post: Silicon Valley’s APA Challenge to PTAB Discretion

          This week, four iconic Silicon Valley technology companies—Apple, Cisco, Google, and Intel—sued the USPTO under the Administrative Procedure Act.

          [...]

          The policy was first articulated in NHK Spring Co. v. Intri-Plex Techs., No. IPR2018-00752, Paper 8 (Sept. 12, 2018). There, a panel of the PTAB declined to institute NHK Spring’s petition against an Intri-Plex patent where a parallel infringement suit was already pending between the same parties in the Northern District of California.

          In denying institution, the panel cited its discretion under 35 U.S.C. § 325(d) as well as under § 314(a). First came § 325(d), which empowers the Director to “determine the manner in which the post-grant review or other proceeding or matter may proceed, including providing for the stay, transfer, consolidation, or termination of any such matter or proceeding.” Here, the panel applied the nonexclusive factors of the PTAB’s prior informative opinion in Becton, Dickinson and concluded that the art and arguments now asserted in the PTAB were already considered (and overcome) during examination.

          Though it found this analysis sufficient on its own, the panel then also went on to exercise its discretion under § 314(a), which makes a “reasonable likelihood” of invalidating at least 1 of the challenged claims a necessary—but not sufficient—condition for instituting review. Where review is permissible, the Director may still decide in his discretion to deny review, and the NHK panel found it compelling that the parallel proceeding in U.S. district court was “nearing its final stages”—with a five-day jury trial already set for six months before the PTAB’s own proceeding would conclude.

          The principle of NHK—that the “the advanced state of the district court proceeding is an additional factor that weighs in favor of denying the Petition under § 314(a)”—forms the first part of the policy now being challenged.

          [...]

          The APA challenge to the NHK-Fintiv rule, like much of the USPTO’s own recent policymaking, balances a range of important considerations and reaches a position that is coherent and reasonable. The weakness—if it can be called that—of the challenge is that it represents merely one reasonable position among several, especially given the Supreme Court’s views on agency discretion in general and USPTO discretion in particular. If the challenge eventually fails to dislodge the disputed policy, then the reason will likely be that, like most agencies, the USPTO enjoys wide latitude that is difficult to paint as unreasonable.

        • Time To Reassess Your Patent Cooperation Treaty Strategy

          While the EPO remains the worldwide favorite, its relative popularity has been decreasing.

        • Software Patents

          • $2,500 for VoiceAge EVS ’073 Prior Art

            On September 2, 2020, Unified Patents added a new PATROLL contest, with a $2,500 cash prize, seeking prior art on at least claims 31 and 36 of U.S. Patent 8,990,073. This patent is owned by VoiceAge EVS, LLC, which is associated with Fortress Investment Group LLC, an NPE. The ’073 patent relates to concealment of frame erasure caused by frames of an encoded sound signal erased during transmission from an encoder to a decoder.

            [...]

            Traindex, a machine learning enabled search service, has provided an ordered list of most semantically similar patent documents where results are filtered to include only results with the publication date preceding that of the patent being challenged.

          • Lighthouse cancels patent as the result of Unified’s challenge

            On September 2, 2020, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) granted Lighthouse Consulting Group’s request for adverse judgment and cancellation of all instituted claims in IPR2020-00194 filed by Unified. This request comes after the PTAB’s decision to institute trial for U.S. Patent 8,590,940, directed to image-based check depositing technology. Lighthouse asserted this patent over 30 times. The defendants in these cases were primarily banks and financial services companies such as Wells Fargo, Citigroup, Charles Schwab, AMEX, Bank of America, Capital One, Morgan Stanley, Ally Financial, JP Morgan, and BB&T. Wells Fargo also filed an IPR petition challenging claims of this patent in April 2020.

          • The mirage of AI invention – nothing more than advanced trial and error?

            As previously reported on IPKat, two European patent applications naming an AI algorithm as an inventor are currently making their way through the EPO appeal process. The applications (EP 18275163 and EP 18275174) were unsurprisingly rejected by the EPO because the applicant refused to designate a human inventor (IPKat). The appeal includes extensive arguments on the legality and ethics of human-only inventorship. Surprisingly, in their preliminary arguments, the applicant claims that the EPO has conceded that the AI algorithm was the actual divisor of the inventions. However, the patent applications themselves do not disclose the processes by which the AI invented. To this Kat, the very fact of “AI invention” is still very much open to question.

            The algorithm allegedly behind the inventions in the patent application was devised by Dr Thaler. Dr Thaler is a curious character, who also claims that his algorithms (or “creativity machines”) are capable of dreaming, near-death experiences and sentience. However, we will leave aside Dr Thaler and his self-termed “AI child” for now. The broader argument has been made here on IPKat that more well-known AI algorithms, such as DeepMind’s AlphaGo, demonstrate that AI is now capable of invention. But is this the case?

            [...]

            In a similar way, the AlphaGo algorithm identifies the single moves in a game of Go which score highest in the searches it has run. A human observer may be able to extrapolate from a series of these results a broader inventive strategy for winning games of Go. However, this would necessitate inventive activity on behalf of the human observer to recognise and communicate any broader principles of Go strategy evident in the games played by AlphaGo. Once again, AlphaGo comes short of being an inventor itself.

            The argument about AI inventorship looks set to run and run. In the latest news, Dr Thaler is now suing the USPTO for not permitting an AI inventor to be designated on Dr Thaler’s US patent applications. However, whilst the thought experiment of AI inventorship is of potential academic interest, the discussion currently lacks practical relevance. Even the most advanced AI algorithms available today are more a testament to improvements in computing power than evidence of silicon-based inventive activity.

          • Will the U.S. Postal Service’s New Blockchain Patent Reinvent Voting and Elections?

            The system proposed by the USPS stores voter data on a blockchain. Each user receives a computer-readable code that is tied to their identity. Though voters receive their code by mail, they enter that code on a mobile or web application to cast their votes.

            This approach has several benefits: reliance on an immutable blockchain would ensure that nobody tampers with cast votes, while the code-based system would ensure that voters only cast votes in their own name. The fact that user identities are separated from cast ballots would also provide some degree of privacy.

            The patent mentions Ethereum as a possible blockchain on which the voting system might be built. However, this only applies to some “embodiments” of the plan, meaning that a real-word application of the patent could use a different blockchain.

      • Copyrights

        • AG Hogan advises CJEU to rule that disclosure of evidence containing protected content to a court is not a communication to the public

          Does the disclosure in court proceedings of a work protected by copyright or related rights amount to a ‘communication to the public’ and/or a ‘distribution to the public’ within the meaning of the InfoSoc Directive? Is the notion of ‘public’ in the right of communication/making available to the public in Article 3 therein to be intended in the same way as the notion of ‘public’ in the right of distribution in Article 4? How can copyright protection be reconciled with transparency obligations?

          These, in a nutshell, are the issues that the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) will have to address when it decides BY, C-637/19, a referral made by the Svea Court of Appeal, Patent and Market Court of Appeal, Stockholm, Sweden.

          This morning, Advocate General (AG) Hogan issued his Opinion, in which he advised the Court to rule that the electronic transmission by a litigant or a party to proceedings of protected materials as evidence to a court does neither constitute a communication nor a distribution to the public. In any case, the mere fact that a document qualifies as a public document does not entail that the underlying material is also in the public domain.

          Let’s see more in detail how the AG reasoned.

        • Download Shepard Fairey’s Creative Commons Logo Remix

          At the time, we released a t-shirt with Fairey’s remix as part of a fundraising campaign and later put it on a CC tote bag (there are still a few available).

        • High Court Grants Premier League IPTV Blocking Order, Fans Beg For More Legal Options

          The new Premier League season will begin without crowds due to the coronavirus yet 160 games will not be televised in the UK, a gap that pirate IPTV providers will fill using broadcasts from abroad. The Premier League has recently obtained a new ISP blocking injunction but the Football Supporters’ Association is begging for the obvious: Don’t give fans no other option than to turn to illegal services.

        • Anti-Piracy Lawyer Files Application to Register RARBG Trademark

          Anti-piracy lawyer Kerry Culpepper has filed an application to register the RARBG trademark. RARBG is one of the most popular torrent sites and, if the application is granted, the trademark can be used for enforcement purposes. The same happened with the Popcorn Time and YTS trademarks earlier this year.

        • Another Trump Tweet Removed But This One Has a $150,000 Copyright Lawsuit Attached

          Yet another President Trump tweet has been removed following a complaint. This one, however, is now part of a copyright lawsuit filed by British singer-songwriter Eddy Grant over the unlicensed use of his 1982 song ‘Electric Avenue’. According to the complaint, which demands up to $150,000 in damages, the video containing the track remained live on Twitter, despite demands it was taken down.

[Meme] Well-Meaning Censorship, Judging by One’s Own Beliefs

Posted in Humour at 11:22 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Reverend Ivan Stang: When I do this it's moderation and when others do that it's censorship

Summary: The old censorship/moderation debate

What’s the Difference Between Moderation and Censorship?

Posted in Deception, Europe, Free/Libre Software at 11:04 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Reprinted with permission from the Free Software Fellowship

THE FSFE fellows recently started discussing my blog posts about Who were the fellowship? and An FSFE Fellowship Representative’s dilemma.

Fellows making posts in support of reform have reported their emails were rejected. Some fellows had CC’d me on their posts to the list and these posts never appeared publicly. These are some examples of responses received by a fellow trying to post on the list:

The list moderation team decided now to put your email address on moderation for one month. This is not censorship.

One fellow forwarded me a rejected message to look at. It isn’t obscene, doesn’t attack anybody and doesn’t violate the code of conduct. The fellow writes:

+1 for somebody to answer the original questions with real answers
-1 for more character assassination

Censors moderators responded to that fellow:

This message is in constructive and unsuited for a public discussion list.

Why would moderators block something like that? In the same thread, they allowed some very personal attack messages in favour of existing management.

Moderation + Bias = Censorship

Even links to the public list archives are giving errors and people are joking that they will only work again after the censors PR team change all the previous emails to comply with the censorship communications policy exposed in my last blog.

Fellows have started noticing that the blog of their representative is not being syndicated on Planet FSFE any more.

Some people complained that my last blog didn’t provide evidence to justify my concerns about censorship. I’d like to thank FSFE management for helping me respond to that concern so conclusively with these heavy-handed actions against the community over the last 48 hours.

The collapse of the fellowship described in my earlier blog has been caused by FSFE management decisions. The solutions need to come from the grass roots. A totalitarian crackdown on all communications is a great way to make sure that never happens.

FSFE claims to be a representative of the free software community in Europe. Does this behaviour reflect how other communities operate? How successful would other communities be if they suffocated ideas in this manner?

fsfellowship image

This is what people see right now trying to follow links to the main FSFE Discussion list archive.

Linus Torvalds is Wrong on Some Technical and Legal Issues, Set Aside All the Political Correctness ‘Hooey’

Posted in GPL, Kernel, Videos at 6:38 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Some people would rather talk about words, not code; and the aim seems to be removing lots of people who actually do all the coding, not much of the talking

UNLIKE some people, I sympathise with Linus Torvalds and I mostly view him as ‘oppressed’ by the Linux Foundation (which he may find hard to leave because of his salary, now approaching 2 million dollars a year, including compensation/bonuses). Torvalds may not be a very likeable and amicable person (speak to people whom he blasted or rejected, such as Con Kolivas), but let’s face it — he gets the job done. Well, he used to anyway.

His job is being further complicated by people who push crappy code and then complain about the response to that crappy code. Can teachers be reprimanded by parents for grading their children’s exams to the point where these children cry? Omitted from the above video is the somewhat rudely framed question (given its context). It was a so-called ‘question’ (more like an attack) that feels a bit like an ambush, in effect inviting Torvalds for a long-winded Q&A in a Debian event only to greet him with grilling and rather impolite accusations ‘at the altar’ — within minutes of him stepping on the podium. Notice how Torvalds responds to the applause. What the heck was that? After this sort of ‘entrapment’ they tried to ‘cancel’ him, as this morning's leaks show. There’s no way to ‘win’ such ‘arguments’; it’s more like a ‘set-up’. Jono Bacon did this to me 11 years ago on live TV. I never forgot that; he tried to hold me accountable for things said by some person whom I merely exchanged a couple of E-mails with (and did so without even knowing that person!).

The Free software community is clearly under some form of sophisticated attack and we do, over time, improve our general understanding of it (more on that later, maybe a separate post some other day). A lot of that comes from moneyed interests, nothing idealistic or a legitimate difference in ideology (unless money itself is officially an “ideology” now).

What we’ve been seeing is a bunch of people whose technical skills boil down to removing a line from a “Planet” syndication list (i.e. censorship) or passing some “code of conflict” (censorship guidelines), which has nothing to do with code but social policing for the most part. Tinkering with people and gossip rather than something of a truly technical nature. Like arguing over which filesystem beats others, based on particular merits.

There’s much to be said about the diversion of discussion to shaming and patronising tones. We really should be talking about issues such as copyrights and patents, not some choice of words in a mailing list few people bother reading.

Several hours ago Ryan reminded us that with WSL, for example, Microsoft distributes Linux (or even through Novell in 2007 if not 2006; then there’s the whole Azure thing) the patent issue is being mostly removed, but Linux is GPLv2, not v3.

In Ryan’s words: “GPL 3 significantly interfered with more Microsoft-Novell style deals. Ironically, it dealt with one of the issues Torvalds called bullshit on. “We own everything and there’s 217 patents Linux infringes on, but we won’t show them to you.”. Putting a big chunk of the OS that would be difficult if not impossible to replace under the GPL 3 stopped one particularly nasty way that Microsoft was going to the sleazier “Linux” companies and entering into secretive deals. We don’t know what the deal with “Linspire” and “Xandros” were. They might have paid THEM to make it look like companies had settled.”

Microsoft paid Michael Robertson a lot of money to change the name of Lindows to Linspire, recognising that Windows was a weak trademark Microsoft would likely lose if a legal battle went ahead. We know this based on people close to Linspire and Robertson (former employees). They recently told us about it in the IRC channels.

“It was impossible for anyone to miss how corrupt Michael Robertson was,” Ryan noted. “I laughed that while he was putting that MP3 locker thing into bankruptcy he was still selling annual subscriptions and the site didn’t mention the bankruptcy. Unexpired subscriptions to a service that goes bankrupt is like HH Gregg gift cards.”

The name “Linspire” is still around, but not the same people. Linspire — like Novell — we used to fight fiercely after it had joined Microsoft patent/FUD attack on GNU/Linux in 2007. Those are the sorts of things we ought to be discussing, not some CoC enforcement nonsense (because some people feel hurt when other people dislike them or can’t stand their code/program). The Debian-Private mailing list archives from 1996-1997 contain many examples of banishment and expulsions, as well as a lot of apologies and cases of amicable reconciliation (we won’t cite examples because of people’s dignity/privacy, but we’ve already spotted about half a dozen, often boiling down to misunderstandings). Thought-policing in the Free software community is an impediment to Free speech rights; we cannot have software freedom if we cannot learn to tolerate opinions we strongly disagree with. Bombings and blackmail are a lot more objectionable (or “offensive”) than the F word in some mailing list (not even an article, just some E-mails few people read).

‘Linusgate’ Leaked: Over 250 Messages About Code of Conduct Complaints Against Linus Torvalds

Posted in Debian, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux at 4:12 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

One of many private messages on this subject (published today for the first time), as promised last month

Linus Torvalds canceled

Summary: Debian ‘canceling’ the founder of Linux is no “small potatoes”; and considering the reason (or what this is done for; an expression of an opinion) we probably should be alarmed about ramifications for free speech

THE opinions of Linus Torvalds on a lot of topics I agree with. This includes software patents, the GPL (except GPLv3) and a bunch of other stuff. On many topics I disagree, which is understandable because no pair of people will agree on everything. Torvalds does not like the FSF; this isn’t a secret and over 12 years ago I exchanged some E-mails with him (it was around the time GPLv3 was discussed). He has every right to express that opinion, even if someone felt ‘hurt’ or ‘uncomfortable’ with that opinion. This is what free speech is about, but not everyone shares that view; to some people, only ‘comfortable’ or 100% politically-correct messages are tolerable, acceptable and permissible. So it’s basically a trap, or a sort of ‘set-up’ for canceling or banishing people.

“This is what free speech is about, but not everyone shares that view; to some people, only ‘comfortable’ or 100% politically-correct messages are tolerable, acceptable and permissible. So it’s basically a trap, or a sort of ‘set-up’ for canceling or banishing people.”The above message is one of very many (253). That’s from private (high-level) mailing lists of Debian, highlighting what happened after Torvalds had given his talk at DebConf (we shared some videos from that talk last week). We don’t wish to remark on pertinent E-mails; readers can decide for themselves and we’ll remain objective, except for the part where we state free speech comes first and is essential for software freedom. This is a bit of a cautionary tale about Codes of Conduct, which are controlled by or enforced by large corporations inside the Linux Foundation.

Using IRC we’ve studied some of these pertinent E-mails, as a small group, prior to publication. Ryan spotted the part which said: “But a Code of Conduct is only any use if it is enforced, and it is only fair if it is enforced equally on everyone.”

Ryan, who recently witnessed Fedora banning longtime contributors (technical people who actually love and use GNU/Linux), said that the CoC “gets enforced by a lot of nasty trolls who somehow “develop” Fedora from Macs and Edge on Windows 10.” (The enforcers do not even use GNU/Linux themselves!)

“I wonder if the situation in Debian is getting that bad,” he added. “Ubuntu and a lot of distributions are downstream from Debian, and it would be tragic if Microsoft has managed to foist a Code of Conduct on them that is being carried out in the same fashion.”

Ryan then explained why he left Fedora: “I mean, the only point of those “developers” is to character assassinate valuable community members and disappear them. Then your project loses assets and gains trolls. These people have alarmingly been on the rise in Fedora and it was quite a bit of the reason I said, “screw this, I’m out.” It’s all people that we’ve never even seen before who have taken positions in the Fedora project, bowling over community members who have been active… sometimes going back to the Red Hat Linux days.”

Ryan quoted the E-mail which said: “Linus described the FSF as `bigots’. That is clearly beyond the pale.”

Ryan’s response: “So what? He’s allowed to have an opinion, even if it’s unpopular. That’s an accepted norm in civilized countries. You can have an unpopular opinion and, you know what… it doesn’t matter if other people agree. The Freedom of Speech that civilized countries have is specifically to protect controversial opinions to the point where it’s case law in the United States that it would be absurd to presume otherwise. Why do you need an amendment to protect speech that everyone agrees with or is only in line with community norms?

“It’s not like he popped in and said something egregious here. Just disagree and walk away. Unpopular opinions can carry their own punishment, obviously. But the government can’t get involved, and if it does, it’s unconstitutional. There’s a reason why the Communist Control Act has never been enforced against an American citizen. It would be struck down immediately. Even in the 50s.

“It’s ridiculous that people have had any kind of a war or an arms race over what sort of economic system to use, but that’s people for you. Insane. Bringing the world to the brink of annihilation because they use one economic system and you use one that ended up with Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates owning more money than 90% of Americans while our country has been hollowed out by Trump.”

Ryan then quoted from E-mails: “Debian should make a public statement that Linus will not be welcome at Debian events in future. [...] Also, Debian owes the FSF an apology. That apology should be at least as public as the offence. I’m unaware of any such public apology or statement. [...] If I’m understanding this correctly, you’re suggesting that Debian do its best to antagonize Linus Torvalds, much as it has already succeeded in seriously antagonizing Richard M. Stallman.”

“Yeah,” said Ryan, “they wanted to sideline RMS and Linus and mission accomplished. The GNU project isn’t in control of GNU and Linus has no real authority over Linux anymore. Open revolt against GNU was happening before RMS left. I remember that Nano left and then came back. Various projects defied the official statement that they wouldn’t use Github because it didn’t work without non-Free non-trivial JavaScript. Git was designed to be decentralized. The very idea of having to run any sort of JavaScript to get at a repository is offensive. It’s been known for many years that intelligent people can be quite insolent, honestly. It’s not necessarily that they don’t know there are boundaries, but they’re more likely to see them as stupid/trifling, and therefore an annoyance. You know, something to pick at. If it seems that stupid people get ahead it’s because they aren’t smart enough to know they aren’t smart enough, and they take more risks because they’re not thinking about their own limitations and how it could blow up on them. So there’s a lot of incompetent people who fail upwards in this world. President Trump, for example.”

Linux isn’t at GitHub (yet), but Microsoft is still working towards that. Speech and code are both policed by Microsoft at GitHub. Censorship is very commonplace there.

A Code of Conduct was later used against Theodore Ts’o, trying to somehow associate him with rape, based on a rather banal opinion expressed about a decade before the Code of Conduct even existed!

The input from Theodore Ts’o is shown below with some further context (it is also added below/above). We’ll express an opinion in a later article.

Theodore Ts'o on CoC

International Women’s Day 2020, Debian’s Cover-up of Harassment, Abuse and Exploitation

Posted in Debian, Finance, Free/Libre Software, Google at 3:51 am by Guest Editorial Team

Related: Arjen Kamphuis Spoke About Free Software Influence and Control Games Before His Disappearance

Reprinted with permission from Debian Community News

Sunday, March 8 is International Women’s Day. The challenges that women face in their professional lives are one of the core themes of the day.

In computer science education, approximately thirty percent of students are female. This drops to ten percent in the workforce. In free software organizations, the representation of women is far worse: a little bit over one percent of Debian Developers are female. With the recent concerns about Outreachy internships, harassment and abuse, there couldn’t be a better time to consider some of the hard facts and recent scandals that keep things this way.

Many free software organizations are now paying diversity bursaries to women to facilitate travel to free software events. Some organizations are also hosting female interns under programs like Outreachy. Debian funds are used to pay approximately four Outreachy interns each year, the overall cost being approximately $US25,000 per year. This has produced some odd side-effects. The Debian Social Contract, point 3, promises transparency yet attempts to question the problems of Outreachy on the debian-project mailing list have routinely been censored:

Debian Community News image

The missing messages have been captured elsewhere, here is one of them:

Subject: Re: Outreachy and smearing campaign

Date: Sat, 22 Feb 2020 16:31:41 +0000

From: Ken Starr <kenstarr@protonmail.com>

To: debian-project@lists.debian.org <debian-project@lists.debian.org>



‐‐‐‐‐‐‐ Original Message ‐‐‐‐‐‐‐

On Saturday, February 22, 2020 1:31 PM, Steffen Möller <steffen_moeller@gmx.de> wrote:



> @Debian, we should find ways to objectively discuss what has been

> brought up. For instance – Ken reporting on someone attending DebConf,

> finding a mentor and jointly sketching a project they want to work

> together – I mean, that is why we have DebConf in the first place -

> @Ken, this is a success story. I am not sure if Outreachy then needs to

> fund this any further, but from a Debian perspective – please do.





An Outreachy who was privileged to be in that discussion at DebConf has an unfair advantage over other candidates.



That is contrary to the values Outreachy claims to promote a level playing field.



Women suffer from these disadvantages and lack of networks. Outreachy promised to provide a fix for that. Debian has short-circuited the process. If posts are designed that way the Outreachy is redundant.



Nobody is claiming the woman did something bad. The candidates are not expected to understand everything about the integrity of this process. That is the mentors job. It must be the men. It’s always the men and their money.

These appear to be legitimate concerns but they are dismissed as a smearing campaign. The person who added smearing campaign to the subject line is Ulrike Uhlig, a former recipient of Outreachy money herself. Why can’t other volunteers ask questions about this money?

Up to 2017, the Google Summer of Code (GSoC) and Outreachy internships were paid at the same rate, $US5,500 per intern. Google cut the pay-out so that many students in developing countries get only half of the old rate. Outreachy payments are the same as before. This has created an arbitrage situation: as the work is done remotely, a talented male student may get more money if they help a female friend complete Outreachy. The male student usually completes all the work up to the mid-point payment. At this point, he can blackmail the woman: give me all of the mid-point payment or I don’t help you finish the second half of Outreachy. Some women have approached mentors to ask for help in situations like this.

This is only one of many ways in which women are finding themselves under uncomfortable influence. While organizations like Debian have no limit on the number of male developers who can join through the normal process, a program like Outreachy encourages women to compete against each other for just two places in each round.

Some of the censored emails have raised the risk of a casting couch culture. It is not clear if those posts were derogatory or if they were being made in good faith. While any reference to casting couches is awkward, it is worth contemplating the question: do the women at an early stage of an IT career feel the same pressures as women at the early stage of an acting career in Hollywood? Wikipedia documents the economics of the casting couch:

According to economists Thomas Borcherding and Darren Filson, the high risk and returns in Hollywood cinema encourage the casting couch phenomenon. The possibility of high returns incentivizes unestablished actors to accept minimal wages in exchange for roles. With the exception of a few extremely talented actors, producers are unable to evaluate the aptitude of the vast majority of qualified actors due to uncertainty. As a result, some actors give sexual favors to producers to obtain a perceived advantage in the casting; the casting couch functions as a counterpayment that effectively reduces their wages. This creates a conflict of interest in which corrupt producers substitute aptitude (an unquantifiable variable) with sexual activity in their decision-making.

Can you spot the similarities? Outreachy is a program with high risk: every candidate has to risk many hours doing unpaid code contributions and other voluntary work on open source projects yet only two interns selected each round. We also see high returns: an Outreachy salary is more than triple the salary of a local job for women in a developing country.

Anybody involved in the administration of diversity funds would be wise to contemplate the similarities and risks: the pressure women feel to get started in either acting or computing, the difficulties that hiring managers face discerning whether or not a beginner will be successful.

This is only one of many problems observed in diversity programs.

Some smaller free software organizations offer us the opportunity to study these challenges under the microscope, just as a scientist might study bacteria in a petri dish.

Debian Community News image

Consider one of the local free software groups in a developing country. The organization has been credited with attracting a large number of female members and volunteers at their events.

Yet Debian Developers who attended their events discovered irregularities. The number of women applying to outside events or participating in technical activities was far lower than the number of women who appeared at the original conference. After follow-up discussions with some women, a few patterns were discovered.

First of all, the salaries for young women in the region are incredibly low. A female student may only earn €10 per day in a part time job. When a tech conference receives thousands of euros from sponsors in rich countries, they can use €200 to pay twenty young women to show up. As a bonus, these volunteers are offered meals and other opportunities.

As these payments seem trivial, sponsors were blind to the effect their money had on women. The free software community has had the wool pulled over their eyes. Of course, organisers would happily spend even another €500 like this if it brought in another 50 women and €5,000 of diversity funds and sponsorship. That is a one thousand percent return on investment. Who wouldn’t take that bet?

Even worse, talented women who really did attend as volunteers, without any payment, were dismayed when they discovered that other volunteers were receiving payments.

This goes some of the way to explain why the women were not seen again. More observations were made by volunteers in Wikimedia Foundation and Debian: a very small group of three women applying for travel funding for external events. The same names repeated in grant applications submitted to multiple organizations. When a Debian Developer followed-up with other women from the region, he found that they were not being told about travel funds from larger organizations like Debian. Some had been ordered not to apply until the preferred women received a positive reply. In other words, local gatekeepers had created a power structure for themselves. The money from larger organizations like Debian was the enabler for this behaviour.

Further searches found that the women who were applying were listed on a company web site with the men. It appears they had been gathered together to submit cookie-cutter funding applications.

When one of the Debian Developers asked the Debian Project Leader, Chris Lamb, for support, he only encountered indifference and resentment. Absurdly, Lamb tried to replay the gatekeeper accusation against the very person who raised concerns. It turns out, the LibreOffice annual convention, LibOCon, was going to be hosted in the region and some developers didn’t want to rock the boat, challenge local gatekeepers or demotivate those “high performers” who had a “track record” of getting women to events.

Debian Community News image

Not so long ago, a major German financial company organised an event in eastern Europe with additional women who didn’t normally work there being invited to attend. The women had to wear colour-coded wrist bands. Women attending free software events on diversity bursaries are certainly not in the same profession: we include this extreme example to demonstrate men’s willingness to use money to coerce and control women, to keep women on a lower tier.

Debian’s constitution says we are volunteers, making us all equal. When women are offered a different pathway into Debian, as paid Outreachy interns, that is not equality: it places those women on a lower tier where men can control everything they do, for example, what they say and who they speak to. Rogue members of the Debian aristocracy are now actively using financial coercion, including the promise of Outreachy and travel grants, to force women to take sides in Debian politics.

When Susan Fowler blew the whistle on harassment at Uber, she described exactly the same phenomena in a blog post:

Over the course of her year at Uber, she was given negative performance reviews by another boss, who wanted to prevent her being promoted and thus keep her and other women on his team

Debian claims to be the Universal Operating System, however, there seems to be nothing more universal or timeless than the tendencies of men to control women.

Many organizations settle harassment claims from women by asking them to sign non-disclosure agreements. Several women violated those very agreements to blow the whistle on British fashion magnate Philip Green in 2018.

Yet the open source group in question took that a step further, imposing upon women to sign non-disclosure agreements at the moment of joining. These practices are conditioning women to be compliant and submissive, to maintain a code of silence, from the very first step in their professional lives. Once again, when this was raised with Lamb, the Debian Project Leader, he remained indifferent.

Women who received abuse through the private communication channels referred to by the NDA were afraid to seek help.

Lamb’s failures to respond are reminiscent of the repeated failures of Uber leadership to support Fowler and other women who tried to seek solutions through internal channels.

The Debian Developer working in the region had personally witnessed multiple cases of harassment and abuse, with female volunteers in tears. The volunteer never received any support.

Free software organisations talk endlessly about community building. Yet some people take one look and call it by a different name: exploitation.

In one case identified on debian-project, a woman had volunteered for six years before being offered one of those insecure three-month Outreachy internships. If you divide the $5,500 Outreachy payment over six years, what is the real hourly rate this woman achieved? There is a big difference between the noise Debian makes about diversity and what open source is really willing to pay a woman.

Yet when the LibOCon organizers started to engage, they found exactly the same problems that Debian had ignored and it was clear to them that the problems were entirely local in the group. The Debian Developer who had witnessed problems before wasn’t even there for LibOCon.

Lamb, on the other hand, had completely misread the problem or wanted to punish anybody who might speak up again, so together with the Debian Account Managers, Enrico Zini, Joerg Jaspert and Jonathan Wiltshire, he spread false accusations of harassment and abuse against the very volunteer who had asked for help. This was a sickening betrayal that continues to haunt Debian to this day.

Using a false accusation to smear a political opponent has all the ethical charm of Lance Armstrong winning the Tour de France seven times with doping.

It is particularly callous because real examples of harassment and abuse had taken place, yet those words were immediately stolen by Lamb and used as tools in his dirty political game, punishing somebody who queried the secret $300,000 from Google. By doing this, Lamb, and Debian, devalued the harrowing experiences of these women and the Debian Developer who had witnessed genuine abuse first-hand.

Lamb’s dishonesty is laid bare in an encrypted email sent to the same Debian Developer by Arjen Kamphuis before he disappeared in August 2018:

Debian Community News image

I don’t want to get caught up in internal politics but have noticed some strange events around [redacted/event]. Will have discusson about that with [redacted/group] and especially [redacted/name] who seems to put himself in positions of control in cases he should not.

Kamphuis names the same problem a Debian Developer had asked for support with, a local male organizer putting himself in positions of control over women.

If Wikimedia, LibreOffice (Document Foundation) and Kamphuis had all concluded the problem originated with the same person, how could Debian’s leader spread false accusations about one of his own volunteers?

None of these people wanted this attention, but Lamb’s decision to cultivate false accusations and roll it all up into a giant gaslighting experiment keeps forcing more and more details into the open. Out of respect, we’ve avoided including names wherever possible. Some of these people may well have changed their ways. Debian hasn’t.

Debian’s incumbent leader, Sam Hartman, has continued in much the same vein as Lamb. In another long, rambling email he attempts to blame a single volunteer for everything from harassment to climate change and the coronavirus. Nonetheless, the credibility of Hartman’s email is easily refuted by picking out contradictions like these:

I’ve been talking about trying to find better ways to resolve conflicts in Debian since at least 2014.



The primary thing I’m doing my last few months as DPL is dealing with lawyers.

Lamb and Hartman both have a history of stonewalling volunteers, forcing conflict to remain bottled up until something breaks. Lawyers have a track record of sustaining conflict until their clients have fully spent their legal budget. Volunteers who speak up about the oppression of women are not harassing anybody, they are simply being good citizens. They should not feel the least bit intimidated by Hartman and his lawyers.

To get to the root of the harassment problem and Debian’s appalling lack of women, we can learn a lot from the forced confession Dr Norbert Preining was blackmailed to write in 2019, in particular:

I also apologize for that fact that my communication style in the past has made others feel uncomfortable and was perceived as aggressive. I think that even during the heat of the systemd and coc discussions this was not appropriate, and I will do my best to use the same communication style I usually use on Debian TeX, that is friendly, open, and constructive.

If Dr Preining was observed using two different styles of communication for different communities, is that Dr Preining’s fault? Or does this indicate that each organization has a different culture, in other words, there is something bad in Debian’s culture that precipitates conflict and brings out the worst in people?

Women have a nose for this type of thing and it is no wonder they keep away from Debian. Observers may struggle to determine if the malicious accusations of harassment from rogue leaders have credibility or not (they don’t) but nobody should be fooled to believe that Debian’s long-standing failure to attract more than one percent women is due to any one person. This shocking statistic reflects a deep-rooted cultural problem. Asking women to fight over $5,500 Outreachy internships and blaming scapegoats are practices that only help preserve that culture and condemn Debian to being the type of organization where women will not take the risk of getting involved.

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