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09.09.20

The FSFE’s Behaviour Standards

Posted in Free/Libre Software at 9:31 pm by Guest Editorial Team

Reprinted with permission from the Free Software Fellowship

A number of extraordinarily defamatory emails have been circulated in the free software community recently. One plots to control the behavior of a representative democratically elected by the FSFE community by coordinating (colluding? conspiring?) with other free software communities. Is it appropriate that two organizations simultaneously threaten a developer who volunteered for and was elected as a community representative?

What, then, is the standard of behavior expected in FSFEland?

Put your clients first

Most people come to FSFE through the fellowship, volunteering and events. If you look closely at the FSFE web site you’ll find a small link at the bottom for the Legal Network. Many of the volunteers are oblivious to it. FSFE’s largest annual event is the Legal and Licensing Workshop (LLW), with a six figure budget. A significant amount of staff time is spent supporting the Legal Network and LLW.

At LLW 2018, one FSFE member’s client submitted a speech proposal and it was rejected. The member in question lobbied to have this decision overturned. Using various other people in the organization, they succeeded in getting their client on the agenda and were subsequently found out. An incestuous web of business connections was exposed [beware: confidential email, names redacted].

It is amusing that the email concludes “what we ended up is a potential conflict of interest”, a huge understatement given the predatory behavior described.

In 2017, the fellowship representative had proposed a motion at the annual general meeting calling for an update of the conflict of interest policy. The policy was never updated, other members fought tooth and nail to remove him in 2018. Now we know why. As the only one without a conflict-of-interest, he just didn’t fit.

FSFE is effectively two organizations in one: the Legal Network and the fellowship/volunteer base. Those in the former benefit from the work of the volunteers yet the fellows/volunteers are not able to join the Legal Network and participate in their discussions.

Decrypting Cryptie

A close look at the FSFE General Assembly reveals at least one member, Cryptie, not using their real name.

In fact, Cryptie has been implicated in multiple incidents of bullying against volunteers, including this attack:

You didn’t stayed at the booth enough at Fosdem, never showed up at the booth at the RMLL and never joined at the FSFE community events in the evening at neither of the conferences.

When FSFE censored the fellowship representative in September 2018, anybody speaking up in support of the representative was branded a sock puppet or troll. Why, then, is Cryptie free to hide her identity?

As it turns out, Cryptie’s real name or real identity (Amandine L.) probably doesn’t matter as much as the fact that she works for an agency of the French state. Is it right that a Government employee can be a fly on the wall when FSFE is undertaking legal action against the French state? Is it right that in FSFE’s obfuscated legal structure, somebody not using their real name can have privileges over those who do, bullying and even threatening them?

Using the name of another organization to get into events

When FSFE was founded, they entered into a sister agreement with the FSF. The written agreement hasn’t been published on FSFE’s transparency page.

As it turns out, a senior member of FSFE’s council admitted that FSFE has abandoned that deal long ago [email, names redacted]. Yet they continue using the name because it attracts donations and helps them get booths and speaking slots at events. Does a community representative have a responsibility to report something so significant to the donors he represents?

Renting out volunteers who are oblivious to the deal

In 2017, FSFE studied an opportunity to accept paid work from other organizations and slip it into the workflow of volunteer translators. FSFE would net EUR 75 per page for the effort of volunteers. Eventually the plan was rejected on the basis that the volunteers were already too busy. Is this the type of deal that a community representative should be there to stop?

volunteers

Define behavior

This is all just the tip of the iceberg.

Are the defamatory accusations about the behavior of the fellowship representative simply conjured up to disguise the bad behavior of others?

One Year Ago: ‘Nerd on the Street’ on Richard Stallman Getting ‘Canceled’

Posted in FSF, GNU/Linux, Videos at 9:27 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: After an MIT-Epstein scandal implicating Bill Gates Richard Stallman came under many attacks, causing him to forcibly ‘resign’; the above video remarks on what happened

Google’s Influence Over the Free Software Communities: a Culture of Threats, Sanctions and Bullying

Posted in Debian, Deception, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Google at 7:31 pm by Guest Editorial Team

Reprinted with permission from Debian Community News

People have been asking victims about this on a daily basis, leaving little choice but to write down the details about what really happened. The increasing public scrutiny of these issues is one of the sad consequences of leaders in various organizations failing to talk to people and failing to resolve sensitive issues fairly and privately.

In January 2018, the last FSFE Fellowship representative elected by the community before elections were abolished, who is also a Debian Developer, heard a story about a Fellow who had asked questions about Google’s donations to FSFE. The Fellow distributed a leaflet at the FSFE table at the 34C3 event questioning the relationship between FSFE and Google. An FSFE staff member, who is also in the FSFE “CARE” team, ordered him to remove the leaflet from the booth. He complied and started distributing the leaflet from another location in the event. Even though he was a volunteer, not staff, this was seen as insubordination. FSFE staff, their salaries are partly paid with Google money, forcibly excluded him from his local FSFE Fellowship group. An email came out of Berlin with the rather sinister title Konsequenzen and was discussed vigorously in the FSFE members private list (the “GA” in FSFE-speak).

That email announcing the “CARE” team told us that reports can be sent encrypted and would be handled confidentially, yet the email thread below shows how all the members of FSFE were invited to comment on the Fellow in question. How would you feel in this Fellow’s position?

fsfe konsequenzen

Google’s funding to FSFE is a non-trivial sum. It is more than a staff member’s annual salary. The implication is clear: if Google withdrew funding, one of the staff would have to leave or be sacked. FSFE staff know which side their bread is buttered on. This is the taste of corporate influence.

It may be acceptable for a free software organization to accept money from Google, FSFE’s mistake may simply be that they have kept hiring people every time revenues increase. Maintaining a lower ratio of salary-to-revenue would preserve the organization’s resilience to influence from the larger sponsors. A debate about budgeting could never take place because the budgets are hidden and discussions like this are shut down.

This incident and the severe punishment demonstrates the real nature of the “safety” teams and “codes of conduct” being established in many free software organizations: protecting the incumbent management and protecting the heavyweight corporate sponsors from being held to account. Silencing dissent. Creating an illusion of happiness rather than talking openly about the truth.

The elected representative of the community had a clear mandate to question what was going on and stand up for the rights of the Fellow concerned. FSFE management immediately turned against the representative and started plotting the fastest way to get rid of him.

So started a bumper year for Google influence in free software organizations.

Control and obedience

The trailer for Das Experiment makes it really clear what is going on in some free software communities today when a volunteer puts on a uniform or badge and starts talking about enforcing the so-called code of conduct:

Enforcement is rarely the right way to resolve a dispute. Even when it is, the arbitrary volunteers who step up for these roles don’t have the training or experience to do any of what they claim to be doing. In the end, they simply end up hurting people, like the randomly selected guards in the real-life Stanford prison experiment.

Yet the people volunteering for these vigilante roles in free software organizations are not always random. Some are quite political and militant with their own agendas. They don’t wear a uniform to maintain order, they wear a uniform because they see it as a way to get what they want.

The safety mission is an important one: by using their powers for political agendas, these teams lose people’s trust and undermine the real mission.

Google and Outreachy

Shortly after FSFE’s Konsequenzen scandal, a discussion started on the Outreachy mentors private mailing list. One of the administrators was concerned that important announcements were not reaching many interns because of mail filters, for example, the infamous Google “Promotions Tab”. To work around this Gmail flaw, they wanted to implement a completely new web-based Outreachy discussion forum. It would become mandatory for all Outreachy interns and mentors to log in regularly. Some mentors were concerned that this would undermine efforts to integrate interns with the communications platforms used by the host communities. One mentor raised another possibility: why not simply insist that interns provide a non-gmail address when registering, rejecting gmail addresses?

outreachy

The discussion went off the rails. A member of the Outreachy team complained that interns couldn’t be expected to run their own mail servers, although nobody had actually asked for them to do so. Extrapolating from non-gmail addresses to running your own mail server is a hideous misrepresentation of the original idea. Twisting somebody’s words like that to discredit their opinion is just another form of bullying, most commonly used when the bully’s own position lacks credibility and can’t be defended by any logical argument.

This was incredibly disappointing for those who believed that we were all on the same team and that diversity was the goal of Outreachy. Mentors said little about this storm-in-a-teacup but sadly other people raised it again many months later, blowing it out of all proportion.

Many interns successfully use alternative email accounts with providers like Protonmail and Riseup. What, then, is the real reason for the outrage that erupted? Well, Google is also an Outreachy donor and the two work closely together. Some Google funds trickle down into the paycheques of Outreachy and Conservancy staff. Even if blocking gmail addresses would be the easiest technical solution to solve Outreachy’s problem with the Promotions tab, it was unthinkable. Further discussion was shut down and heavy-handed intimidating emails were sent.

Let me make that clear: the person speaking up about Google was bullied and belittled by a member of the Outreachy organizing team. This is not an incident that involved an intern, it was bullying of a volunteer.

At the same time, and completely by coincidence, one of Debian’s internwrote an amazing blog about how she feels about Google. Meeting people like Renata has been one of the highlights of Debian participation in Outreachy.

Outreachy does a lot to raise awareness about diversity issues in technology. But how will women ever be empowered if seventy-six percent of applicants to this illustrious program are fully dependent on a company run by men, Google? How will Outreachy fulfill its mission if they argue that women can’t survive without Gmail?

The volunteer concerned completed mentoring his last intern right up to the end of her internship and then he didn’t volunteer for Outreachy mentoring again, amongst other things, because Google Summer of Code (GSoC) was about to start. The Outreachy mentors page starts with a nice photo of two former interns from Outreachy and GSoC: Urvika and Pranav were both mentored by the same mentor referred to in this post.

Debian and GSoC

Debian and GSoC

Debian’s GSoC delegation is long out of date. Three out of four admins had retired after putting in a huge effort over many years. The only remaining member of the delegation is Molly de Blanc.

We would have preferred to publish this report without including people’s names. The fact that Debian’s admin team experienced a number of controversies in GSoC would not alone be enough for us to put the name of any admin here. Even the fact that de Blanc was the only admin team member to ever be subject to a complaint from an intern would not have motivated us to name her publicly. What brings her name into the spotlight is that after all this, she has side-stepped into the “anti-harassment” team where she appears to now have immunity. That team has been hurting other members of the community with their vigilante tactics.

The ongoing harm that “anti-harassment” causes to other volunteers through their tactics and political agendas means they deserve an extra level of scrutiny, just as the police are subject to scrutiny from internal affairs and external watchdogs.

I have never personally received a complaint or reprimand from Debian’s “anti-harassment” team. My concern about their misconduct is based entirely on the reports I’ve heard from other victims of such teams in Debian and other communities. A number of these people confided in me personally after I spoke up about bullying in Debian.

In 2017, Debian wasn’t accepted in GSoC.

In 2018, de Blanc tried to organize it at the last minute.

I mmissed this on the application before! We need 2-5 administrators for the application. Who else wants to be one?

As the code of conduct tells us, we should assume good faith. So better late than never. But maybe we just weren’t ready.

Another experienced mentor wanted to be helpful. But he couldn’t fully commit to the role. So he replied to de Blanc privately, telling her:

You can use my name temporarily while looking for other people to help you in this role… However, I can’t officially commit to help with the duties of an administrator right now.

What none of us knew at the time, but only found out later, is that de Blanc wasn’t going to be fully committed to the team either. This is disturbing given that other mentors were also telling de Blanc that they couldn’t fully commit. At least others had been up front about their status.

On 14 February, the same Debian Developer had written to Chris Lamb, the Debian Project Leader (DPL), asking if he could fund anybody else to go to the Tirana BSP. For various reasons, he didn’t feel he could go but he also knew that all our Albanian friends put a huge effort into organizing events and he felt it would be really bad if their BSP went ahead without a developer. Lamb’s response was negative and appears highly unsympathetic.

On 16 February, the same Debian Developer sent another email reminding the other members of the GSoC admin team and Lamb that he was not fully available for the admin role.

On 19 February, another member of the admin team wrote that they were only participating as an admin so that their own project would go ahead.

24 February, he advised Lamb and the FOSSASIA team that he would be unable to attend due to serious reasons outside the project. He didn’t give any reasons but he wanted to make sure the previously authorized travel funds would be available for another developer if they wanted to go.

March 1, the Developer was in Tirana, Albania for the very successful Bug Squashing Party (BSP). Several people went to him personally about challenges they were facing. He wrote to Lamb about some things and Lamb sent back a sharp reply accusing him of being a gatekeeper. Lamb appeared to be insisting that every tiny little query has to be submitted to him directly by email, even if another volunteer is out in the field dealing with people face to face. The reality is, many people are far more likely to contact the volunteer who is present rather than some stranger like Lamb in a remote country. That isn’t gatekeepering, it is just human nature.

March 4, the day after the BSP and participants from outside Tirana were leaving their accommodation. Lamb had sent them emails authorizing their travel and accommodation but given them no instructions about payment. On a Sunday morning, many of them were nervously contacting the local organizers and the sole Debian Developer in the city asking how to pay the hostel. The Developer volunteered to go over there, gathered up all the documents for FFIS and settled the bill with cash. In all his history of doing things with Debian, this is the first time that a reimbursement had not been paid to him. It wasn’t even his own expenditure, it was money that Lamb authorized for other people and the volunteer paid it to help them out and ensure a smooth experience for Debian’s partners. It is in RT ticket #7180 and there has been radio silence from Martin “Joey” Schulze at FFIS for almost a year now.

March 5, he sent a thank-you email to one of the local team, CC to Lamb. Lamb appeared to resent the relationships the developer was establishing with people in the Balkans and moaned about this email:

I’m writing to thank you personally for the tremendous effort you have put in to making the Bug Squashing Party a success in Tirana over the
weekend.

You have only recently joined Open Labs and if I understand correctly, this was the first event you were involved in organizing. People are already talking about it around the world. The high ratio of female participation was an outstanding feature of the event and your ongoing contact with the women from Kosovo was a major factor in that.

Without your decision to initiate this and your persistence in contacting people locally and in the wider Debian community it may never have happened. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to give you an earlier confirmation of my own participation, you did everything as well as you possibly could.

Do you know if anybody from the team will write a blog about the event? —– already put the photos online, I would write something myself but I would prefer to let somebody in Albania or Kosovo be first.

Since when is the Debian Project Leader the only person with a right to send thank-you emails? Since when does he have the power to prevent other developers sending thank-you emails?

The developer wrote an email suggesting to Lamb that maybe they should meet in person to talk through whatever issues were at play, breaking out of the cycle of unhelpful emails:

It seems we are both sometimes disappointed with the communications between ourselves. We both believe in the same things and we both believe in the integrity and reputation of the Debian project.

Maybe the mode of communications isn’t ideal. Could it be better for us to find an opportunity to discuss things in person perhaps? I am usually in the UK once per month, usually around Herts, currently I’m here until Thursday

Lamb refused.

During March and April, Debian Developers who volunteered for GSoC mentoring received hundreds of emails, some privately, some on public lists, about GSoC participation. The most well known mentors have been a victim of their own success, each year, their projects have become more popular and the number of applicants has snowballed. This is a situation that is difficult for any mentor to handle, especially with everything else going on in life.

One former intern had also seen de Blanc’s call for new admins and replied to de Blanc privately. de Blanc had accepted them into the admin team too, the former intern’s mentor hadn’t personally been aware of the process de Blanc followed onboarding the admins for GSoC.

Given the way the team had come together, even though one of the admins had expressed strong reservations about participating, he decided to try and continue, hoping that the larger group would be able to share the workload. He also felt that as some of his former students were keen to participate again in various ways it would be helpful for him to be around and support them. He did this entirely in good faith.

In April, one of the admins expressed concern about Debian being an “umbrella” organization, but Google explicitly permits that and some other members of the team were in favour. What’s more, many potential mentors and students had already put in significant effort believing Debian, being a Linux distribution, would perform the umbrella organization role as Debian had in previous years. It wasn’t something we could radically overhaul at the last minute. Nobody in the admin team had put up any constructive proposal for selecting or prioritizing projects, in fact, none of them had even remembered to send an official email calling for mentors because everybody thought Molly de Blanc was in charge.

On 10 April, admins received the email from Google advising that Debian had been granted funding for 29 students in GSoC 2018. This reflects the enormous amount of work some volunteers had put into building up a mentoring team and Google’s confidence in them.

Despite hundreds of emails, an enormous flow of information, one particular fact stood out. When admins had a team IRC meeting on 16 April to confirm selections, one admin made a point of explicitly reminding fellow admins about it. As it had come up several times, he believed they were already well aware anyway. (One of those Debian conflicts of interest, which became public after this report on bullying). Molly de Blanc, who was the only remaining member of that delegation, immediately acknowledged it with the comment:

<mollydb> nice responsibile decision making
<mollydb> thanks for being so consciencious

On the admin’s part, nothing was ever hidden from the rest of the team. If they got things wrong, it was a team mistake, no one member should be used and abused as a scapegoat.

For the most experienced mentors, thousands of GSoC-related emails come through their inboxes each year. One that stood out was a comment from a student who wasn’t selected: he told us this was his last chance to participate in GSoC as he is about to graduate. This got him thinking: “when I was a student, there was no GSoC. In fact, when I started my undergraduate studies, Google didn’t even exist. We set up a community network and successfully applied for a $100,000 grant to run Debian.” Is there a danger that programs like GSoC are preventing students from aiming higher? Another example of corporate benevolence having side effects.

Lamb’s gatekeepering anxieties continued to grow. In May, once again, the same volunteer was the one out in the field with some of Debian’s new GSoC interns and he submitted a single request for a group of expenses. He wasn’t being a gatekeeper, he was simply being expedient given that Developers only have a finite amount of time to contribute to the project and would prefer to spend it on development rather than bureaucracy. Lamb snapped back:

Can I ask why they do not contact me myself?

After this incident in May, the volunteer decided not to make any further requests to Lamb. It just didn’t feel like Lamb was being respectful at all.

At the same time, while he was the one out in the field, the FSFE High Command in Berlin was having an extraordinary general meeting behind his back to cancel elections and try to pass an obfuscated motion expelling the current representative, the same Debian Developer, without any due process:

The chair asks the members to vote on how to deal with existing Fellowship representatives and puts the following options to a vote:

  1. The current Fellowship representatives’ membership ends as soon as the constitutional change is successfully registered, or 2 years after their election, whichever comes later.
  2. The current Fellowship representatives’ membership ends immediately after the next ordinary General Assembly.
  3. The current Fellowship representatives’ membership ends as soon as the constitutional change is successfully registered.

Ulrike Sliwinski (staff) requests a secret vote. The Chair asks who else is in favor of a secret vote. 3 members voted for a secret vote. This does not meet the threshold of 1/3 for having a secret vote.

This isn’t the first time that a dictator in Berlin decided he was above democracy and due process. It isn’t the first time that a group of Germans in Berlin felt they were entitled to speak for all of Europe. Despite the “E” in the name, FSFE is predominantly a German organization. Despite the “FSF” in “FSFE”, they also broke their deal with FSF.

By removing elections from the FSFE constitution, Kirschner demoted 1500 volunteers, including the Debian Developer who was elected as a representative, from being Fellows to unpaid interns.

Any trust the Fellows had in FSFE and Kirschner was vaporized by that meeting. For the Fellowship representative, resigning as fellowship representative became a question of when, not if.

In June, with GSoC now getting into full swing, mentors suddenly find themselves in a position where they are trying to work out how to apply Google’s rules. Numerous queries are sent privately to admin teams like Debian’s and also on the mentors private mailing list, where over 1,000 volunteer mentors are subscribed. Each year mentors witness some examples of bullying and discrimination. In one of the more outstanding examples, an intern had confided in their mentor about a mental health problem. The mentor circulated the details to the full GSoC mentors mailing list:

We have a student who was doing good work, passed the mid-term review, then disappeared shortly after.

Following up, one of the org admins had a discussion with the student
and discovered he was being treated for (suppressed).

(Personally identifying details withheld)

Mentors from various other organizations started speculating about whether the illness was real or how to deal with it:

For example, giving health advice:

send the poor kid a copy of …

and attacks on the intern’s integrity:

The rule of thumb is: students always tends to have serious accidents
and hardware malfunction just on the day of their exams. It might be
harmful for some cases, but statistics don’t lie.

Not all mentors are like this. Several others were quick to point out the discussion was inappropriate. Some took their time to write about more constructive attitudes to mental health challenges.

Regardless of what support the student received, would Google allow their own employees’ medical histories to be debated by 1,000 random strangers like this?

How can interns trust their mentors and program administrators when this type of thing is going on?

Google management eventually replied that the mentor didn’t have to pay the intern for work already done, or in GSoC-speak, they could “fail” the intern.

Then there was this…

mad-students

In several cases each year, we’ve either seen mentors threaten interns or seen mentors recount stories about how they threatened their interns. One mentor shared this strategy for keeping students motivated:

I’d recommend hangout with the student, get exactly what their commitments are and when and then manage tightly with the threat of midterm fail.

and another mentor appeared to be implementing that with an email like this:

Subject: Final Warning Mail

I didn’t want to write this and tried my best to avoid writing such
kind of mail from long. …

Treat this as a final warning, that if you’re not able to show
considerable progress in the coming weeks, and complete the project
according to scope decided earlier, within the GSoC duration, we’ll be
*FAILING YOU*.

The email did nothing to help the interns understand where they were going astray or how to get back on track. It was sent on the weekend when many people would probably prefer to be resting. Is Google encouraging a 24×7 culture that is harmful to both mentors and students?

Having seen this so many times, it isn’t fair to blame any individual mentor for this type of communication. It is a cultural problem in the program and in some free software organizations.

Once again, this shines a light on the effects of corporate influence. Mentors are clearly concerned with appeasing Google and each year some go too far. The culture of the organization contaminates the community.

When some of us were students ourselves, developing our own solutions with Linux and free software in the nineties or earlier, there was no Google and we never saw threats like this.

The Debian Developers who volunteer as admins become mentors to the mentors and try to help them find more effective ways to motivate their interns. This can be both tiring and rewarding and as it is usually done through private communication channels, there is rarely any recognition or thanks for this effort.

In July, the same admin/mentor/Debian Developer who withdrew from FOSSASIA also informed Stephanie Taylor, head of GSoC at Google, Chris Lamb and the rest of the GSoC admin team that there had been extraordinary personal circumstances that had an impact on his role as a mentor. Given the utter lack of privacy and respect in the community, he didn’t give any more details than that. Taylor replied, only to Lamb and the mentor, suggesting he take a rest from mentoring. That was hardly an unusual response in the circumstances. This private exchange never should have gone any further, let alone used opportunistically for political purposes, bullying and harassment.

Nobody bothered to ask what was wrong or how Debian could deal with that as a team. People only expressed frustration and blame, much like the first-time mentors expressing frustration with their students.

At the same time, Molly de Blanc admitted what had become increasingly obvious to other team members:

I generally check my email once a week.

In other words, given that GSoC and Outreachy generate such a huge volume of email, most of it deserving prompt attention, de Blanc was avoiding it. de Blanc had signed up other volunteers to participate and then quietly stepped back in the hope that other people would do the work.

While admins had sensed de Blanc was a bit flippant about her responsibilities, none had ever said anything publicly. Nonetheless, one of the Outreachy interns wrote a damning email to de Blanc on 5 August, before the payments had even been made. Incredibly brave.

The main thing I want to note is that
you do your work not so good. You haven’t responded to me and also
during the last round of Outreachy you have provide almost to no
response to applicants of Outreachy FSF project. I asked some of them
and they said that you haven’t helped them:

https://lists.fsf.org/archive/html/esd-translators/2018-03/index.html

. Though, you were a mentor of this project. At the same time, I can’t
see where you were useful for me. You haven’t answered to me, you
haven’t answered to applicants. So, it would be great if you can improve
your usefulness.

Incredible stuff. de Blanc replied to the intern:

My work with the FSF and my work with
Debian are two different things, and ideally need to be kept separate
from one another. They use different parts of my time, come with
different responsibilities, and are managed by different people.

Other members of the admin team didn’t find de Blanc’s reply helpful.

A number of mentors and students reported feeling unwelcome in the Debian community or at Debian events. Some stalwarts seemed to be trying to belittle those who were not “real” Debian Developers working on their “real” Debian tools. It is remarkably similar to the “us v them” phenomenon described in Amnesty’s bullying crisis.

Nobody saw fit to make these issues public at the time. The admin who had earlier reduced his role for personal reasons simply wrote an email thanking the team and advising he wouldn’t volunteer again in 2019. There is an expression that comes to mind: let sleeping dogs lie.

A number of things have changed in GSoC and Outreachy over the years and it is not the same thing any more. For example, both programs have become more and more like jobs, where interns have fixed working hours and response times for answering emails, yet they are not being paid like a job and they don’t have basic benefits that everybody else has like sick pay and accident insurance. Some mentors are no longer comfortable encouraging students to engage in that.

On 30 August, de Blanc went even further, telling admins:

Filling out the GSoC paperwork and writing a call for participation was a response to community desire and no one else stepping up to get that started.

As de Blanc is named in the delegation, most people thought she was responsible for a lot more than simply filling out the GSoC paperwork at the beginning.

In September, Matthias Kirschner at FSFE started sending fresh threats and accusations to try and extinguish the last trace of an elected representative, the same Debian Developer who had just withdrawn from his GSoC responsibilities for personal reasons. Kirschner’s menacing emails set a deadline on 20 September for him to respond to an accusation that he had “broken the bond of trust” in FSFE. That accusation is easily refuted: Kirschner had broken the bond of trust himself in May when the representative was out in Kosovo doing real free software activities and Kirschner tried the backstabbing vote, holding that extraordinary general meeting in Berlin. Therefore, how can Kirschner accuse the volunteer of breaking something that was already broken by Kirschner’s own actions five months earlier?

The FSFE constitution requires a reason to be given for terminating a member and it also gives the member a right of reply. No reason had been given and due process had not been followed when Kirschner had people vote on the representative’s membership in May. The original vote had failed and Kirschner had made up this false accusation so he could have a second vote to try and remove the last representative. Forcing a member to go through two votes on their status is harassment by a sore loser who didn’t get what he wanted the first time.

Note to Kirschner: harassing the developers doesn’t help free software.

On September 18, SPI sent an email announcing that Google would shortly send $17,200 to Debian.

There was never any team de-briefing or review of problems Debian’s admin team faced.

On September 20, just hours before the deadline set by Kirschner at FSFE and just as the Google money was hitting SPI’s bank account (which is not under the control of the entire Debian membership, because only a small number of volunteers are also SPI members), another member of the Debian community started sending abusive emails to the same volunteer. It was an extraordinary act of bullying and intimidation. A particular point to note about that email is that rather than making any reference to FSFE, they callously whinged about the inconvenience when he reduced his involvement in GSoC in July, complaining how others “had to step in to provide them support”. Nobody made any attempt to inquire about his welfare or the circumstances that had also forced him to withdraw from FOSSASIA and reduce his involvement in so many other things throughout 2018. Had Lamb hidden these details when he encouraged other developers to harass the volunteer?

When the volunteer replied to that abusive email asking if they knew about those circumstances, they dismissed it as “minutiae”. A truly hideous response.

The emails had the distinctive feeling of a veiled threat: that the Debian conspirators behind them wanted to exercise influence over his elected role in FSFE. That he either does as they expected or they would drag his name through the mud, as Debian has done to various other volunteers in recent history.

It was absolutely clear that Chris Lamb was involved in constructing those abusive emails and running roughshod over the volunteer’s privacy and the privacy of other people in various ways.

What victims didn’t know at the time was that Lamb was simultaneously sending nasty emails to other people outside Debian to try and hurt this volunteer. Can you imagine the leader of a highly respected organization like Debian trying to force out a volunteer and then immediately sending a “kill confirmed” email to overlords at Google? Did Google order a hit on a Debian Developer, was it a condition of that $17,200 payment, the DPL making a deal with the devil? Or did Lamb simply feel he needed to serve up a scapegoat to save face with the paymasters? Or was Google’s name simply being used out of convenience, to add to the pressure on this volunteer at the time when FSFE was fighting tooth-and-nail to extinguish democratic representation?

Every significant discussion and decision during GSoC 2018 was escalated to the entire admin team. There were a few times when people contacted admins personally about sensitive issues and in each case the volunteer concerned told them they needed to send their email to the whole team. If there was any problem in the GSoC land, the whole team was equally responsible for it, especially the absent-minded Molly de Blanc.

If Lamb really felt that Debian needed to appease Google, he should have simply offered his own resignation. In February, the volunteer had personally told Lamb and the rest of the team that there were limits on his availability in 2018 so the buck stops with Lamb. Given the disclosure the volunteer had made in July, it was unthinkable for Lamb to try and play dirty tricks like this, at least if he was serious about being a leader.

The volunteer decided to resign from his role at FSFE. The bullying and veiled threats from Lamb had an impact on that decision. It is important to remember that the volunteer is not really the victim of that resignation: the victims are the 1,500 fellows who no longer have a representative or vote. Now FSFE can do whatever they want without scrutiny.

Even after resigning from FSFE, Kirschner continued to send him abusive and threatening emails.

The volunteer wrote to Lamb and simply requested a meeting to talk about whatever was bothering him. Lamb refused and sent a series of inflammatory emails. Lamb was the first one to start sending emails to volunteers telling them they were demoted: in doing so, he simply demoted himself from being a leader to a being a cyberbully. He also demonstrated that he was making things up as he goes along, the Debian constitution does not give him authority to demote volunteers.

third-class-men

Around the same time, the volunteer was still following up on his responsibilities from GSoC, adding some of the students to Planet Debian. Looking at the commit log, he noticed another long standing developer’s blog being censored by Chris Lamb over a grammatical error. It occurred to him that the DPL may be burned out. This is a sign that the problems in Debian right now are not down to any one individual, the failures of individual relationships may be a symptom of an organization structure that isn’t working.

In October, de Blanc, an FSF employee, attended a five-star all-expenses-paid trip to Google’s GSoC mentor summit in California.

de Blanc was also promoted to become a Debian Developer and joined Debian’s anti-harassment team.

During the last years, many of Debian’s leading mentors and admins have personally had to assist in several stressful incidents that required a cool-headed approach to mediate and de-escalate. This type of thing is always a strain on people but leaders accept that is part of being in a leadership role in any community organization. There were some occasions where the volunteer in question witnessed things that bothered him and privately asked other members of the community for advice. In Debian, none was forthcoming.

Given recent events, several people confided in us about their interactions with the “anti-harassment” team. When we look at the reports that have been shared, we find that various patterns emerge:

  • People don’t always contact the team looking for somebody to be sanctioned, most people are looking for a peaceful resolution, advice or support.
  • The team doesn’t even acknowledge all the reports, failing to give the person making a report any support.
  • Various people who have been subject to complaints have been regular participants in events, yet project leaders and “anti-harassment” volunteers never speak to the people in person at events.
  • Instead, if there is any communication, it is usually by email, sent after face-to-face communication opportunities have been missed.
  • The nature of these emails is usually quite heavy handed, jumping to conclusions or making threats without asking the recipient for their side of the story.

The overall impression is that the “anti-harassment” team is basically taking sides and harassing people. The very name of the team creates an adversarial posture, although they have already acknowledged that. One Debian Developer previously suggested some new names for the team and made comments on the risks.

Yet what is obvious now is that the anti-harassment team is not about stopping real harassment, it is stifling any attempts to hold power to account and building up dossiers on people for future ambushes. When people talk about creating a “safe space”, they appear to be creating a safe space for corporations like Google to exert influence.

What is more astounding is that given de Blanc’s own shortcomings as an administrator in GSoC and Outreachy, she has somehow maneuvered herself into the anti-harassment team where she can enjoy immunity while the people who did do some work are abused and used as convenient scapegoats.

Coincidentally with de Blanc’s appointment to the team, people have noticed a range of gloating emails using the title “bits from the Anti-harassment team” as well as a variety of blogs and comments from the DPL trolling victims of this team. It is extraordinary that de Blanc has been absent from her basic responsibilities in the Debian Outreach team but she attends free software events to preach about imposing a regime of enforcement upon developers.

By its nature, this type of work is normally done in complete confidence. By gloating about their actions and rubbing salt in the wounds of their victims, they demonstrate that they are more concerned with bastardization than respect and harmony. Many of these references to the anti-harassment team have a triggering effect for victims of bastardization and bullying. This is harmful for anti-harassment’s victims and the community as a whole.

At Christmas, things become even more difficult for the community. The Debian Account Managers attacked another developer, trying to snuff him out under the radar just days before Christmas. At the same time, the volunteer who had been attacked after GSoC went down to the Balkans to see some of his friends there and started getting hints about nasty emails Lamb had been sending behind his back. Lamb smugly sent a public email denying he had compromised anybody’s privacy:

I have been nothing but scrupulous and gentlemanly with regards to your personal privacy

yet when challenged with evidence, Lamb has gone into hiding.

This lie started an avalanche, with other developers speaking up about harassment from Debian’s leadership. On Christmas day, Martin Krafft wrote:

I know that there’s been at least another case, in which DAM and AH
have acted outside their mandate, threatening with project
expulsion, and choosing very selectively with whom they communicate.
I know, because I was being targeted.

As another developer wrote, this snowballed further into “monster threads” on expulsions on the debian-private mailing list. If that isn’t cyberbullying, what is?

While it has been an extraordinarily difficult experience for many people in the free software community, it has also been helpful in demonstrating the flawed nature of the “anti-harassment” team and just about every other equivalent in other free software organizations. Trying to invent our own solutions is part of Debian mythology. Yet for something as serious as welfare and harassment, none of us have the competence to deal with certain situations. Debian has basically built a vigilante group that runs around looking for witches to burn. It simply isn’t fit for purpose and it is hurting people. It is time to disband it and get outside advice from people with professional experience.

Observing Google’s influence in three different organizations, FSFE, Outreachy and Debian, with similar hostility arising in all of them, it is clear that these unpleasant outcomes are more than a simple coincidence.

chain-gang

Microsoft-Controlled ‘Linux’ Bricked Remotely, Without Users’ Authorisation

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 6:08 pm by Guest Editorial Team

WSL fun

Summary: Microsoft is kindly reminding the very few people who use WSL2 to move away from Windows and use a real distribution of GNU/Linux

THE number of WSL2 users is very small (few people ever bothered with it) and incidents like the one above show what happens when combining the technical ‘excellence’ of Microsoft with the Free software world. Why would anyone even bother? Why not just use GNU/Linux? Or dual-boot? Or consider running a ‘proper’ distro in a virtual machine using something like VirtualBox, which is Free software?

“People who wish to really explore GNU/Linux would use a real distro, not Microsoft’s bastardisation of the system (to keep Microsoft in control — to the point where Microsoft can remotely access and brick it).”There was never a compelling reason to bother with WSL or with WSL2; it’s like a Cygwin clone, 2 decades late at the scene. People who wish to really explore GNU/Linux would use a real distro, not Microsoft’s bastardisation of the system (to keep Microsoft in control — to the point where Microsoft can remotely access and brick it). Live and learn…

Links 9/9/2020: MidnightBSD 1.2.8, Zorin OS 15.3, Hikari 2.2

Posted in News Roundup at 11:23 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • GNU/Linux

    • Desktop/Laptop

    • Audiocasts/Shows

      • Ubuntu 20.10 Daily Builds with Gnome 3.38 Beta Run Through

        In this video, we are looking at Ubuntu 20.10 Daily Builds with Gnome 3.38 Beta.

      • PipeWire Progress | LINUX Unplugged 370

        We get an update from PipeWire developer Wim Taymans on the status of Linux’s new audio and video subsystem.

        Plus Alexi Pol joins us for two big updates from the KDE community.

      • mintCast 343 – Tinfoil Not Included

        First up, in our Wanderings, I recorded some how-to’s, Moss has computers raining on him, Joe reads and repairs, Tony Watts jams and tinkers, and Bo and Tony Hughes will be back next episode.

        Then, in the news, we have news from Mint, Debian, and MX Linux. We also say goodbye to a team member.

        In security, we take a break from the doom and gloom and just talk tinfoil.

    • Kernel Space

      • Lortu launches Lache: An SDK to transfer files three times faster.

        Lache is a patent-pending lightweight file system that runs on top of Ext4 on Linux, to improve browsing and copying files and folders from Windows.

      • Preserving data integrity

        When we are storing data, we typically assume that our storage system of choice returns that data later just as we put it in. However what guarantees do we have that this is actually the case? The case made here is the case of bitrot, the silent degradation of the physical charges that physically make up today’s storage devices.

        To counter this type of problem, one can employ data checksumming, as it is done by both btrfs and ZFS. However, while in the long run btrfs might be the tool of choice for this, it is fairly complex and not yet too mature, whereas ZFS, the most prominent candidate for this type of features, is not without hassle and it must be recompiled for every kernel update (although automation exists).

        In this blogpost, we’ll therefore take a look into a storage design that actually checks whether the returned data is actually valid and not silently corrupted inside our storage system and is completely designed with components available in Linux itself without the need to recompile and test your storage layer on every kernel upgrade. We find that this storage design, while fulfilling the same purpose as ZFS, does not only yield comparable performance, but actually in some cases even able to significantly outperform it, as the benchmarks at the end indicate.

      • Paragon ‘optimistic’ that its NTFS driver will be accepted into the Linux Kernel
      • New Linux kernel gets Amiga Fast File System (AFFS) improvements

        The Amiga Fast File System (AFFS) is making a minor comeback in the new version of the Linux kernel.

        IT’s Mr Sweary, Linus Torvalds, noted a a change to AFFS popped up among what he described as a collection of “the usual suspects” in new submissions to the kernel over the last week.

        The Amiga was ahead of its time, but is now largely a curiosity. However Suse developer David Sterba has noticed that “The basic permission bits (protection bits in AmigaOS) have been broken in Linux’ AFFS – it would only set bits, but never delete them. Also, contrary to the documentation, the Archived bit was not handled”.

        “Let’s fix this for good, and set the bits such that Linux and classic AmigaOS can coexist in the most peaceful manner”, he added.

      • Amiga Fast File System Makes Comeback in Linux Kernel
      • Amiga Quick File System Makes Minor Comeback In New Linux Kernel
      • Graphics Stack

        • Zink OpenGL-Over-Vulkan Driver – Performance Is Turning Out Better Than Expected

          When looking at the performance of Zink’s OpenGL over Vulkan implementation just about one year ago the performance had a lot to be desired. But since then they have patches bringing it all the way to OpenGL 4.6 compared to the OpenGL 2.1 days and there has also been a lot of work on the performance. The performance at least for select operations is now turning out better than even the developers were expecting.

        • New Intel Linux Graphics Driver Patches Aim For Better vGPU Performance

          Proposed last year were a set of patches aiming to improve the Intel virtual GPU “vGPU” performance in para-virtualized cases by having optimizations around the shared memory region between the guest and Intel GVTg code. With optimizing the workload PV submission and PPGTT PV updates, the glxgears performance could improve by 30~50% while for large media/3D workloads was more around a 4% average improvement.

        • Intel Lands Adaptive-Sync/VRR Into Modesetting X.Org Driver

          With Intel Gen11 graphics and newer supporting Adaptive-Sync / Variable Refresh Rate for minimizing tearing and stuttering, their open-source developers have now added the necessary bits to the generic xf86-video-modesetting X.Org driver for supporting the VRR functionality.

          Months ago they posted the VRR patches for xf86-video-modesetting while now the patches have been merged to X.Org Server Git. These patches in turn are based on AMD’s FreeSync/VRR support they added to the xf86-video-amdgpu driver.

        • Mesa 20.3 Will Let You Fake Having Less Video Memory To Help In Debugging

          Wired up in Mesa 20.3-devel is a new DriConf option override_vram_size for overriding a smaller amount of video memory to report to the program/game being run. This is intended for development/debug purposes.

          RADV co-founder Bas Nieuwenhuizen added the “override_vram_size” DriConf tunable for the RADV Vulkan driver as well as Gallium3D drivers.

        • hikari 2.2.0 is out
          Hi everyone,
                          
          
          I'm happy to announce version 2.2.0 of the `hikari` wayland compositor. Thanks
          to everyone helping with testing, fixing issues and providing new features such
          as adding support for `wayvnc`.
          
          https://hikari.acmelabs.space/releases/hikari-2.2.0.tar.gz
          
          CHANGELOG
          
          * add support for virtual input (`wayvnc` support)
          * add middle click emulation
          * add fallback layouts
          * add child view configuration for native Wayland views
          * add output relative view positioning actions
          * add `WITH_ALL` compile option
          * improved handling of maximized views
          * add graceful shutdown
          * multi monitor improvements for Xwayland and locking
          * Fix assert fail with layout select and invisible views
          * Indicate focus view on layout select
          * clear focus on mark select
          * Fix indicator bar coloring bug
          
          Kind regards,
          raichoo
          
        • Hikari 2.2 Wayland Compositor Adds Support For WayVNC, Other Features

          Hikari, the FreeBSD-focused Wayland compositor that also works on Linux systems, is out with a new feature release.

          Hikari is a stacking Wayland compositor focused on offering a minimalistic look and feel with modal interface, keyboard oriented commands, and is based on the WLROOTS library.

    • Applications

      • HardInfo – Check Hardware Information in Linux

        HardInfo (in short for “hardware information“) is a system profiler and benchmark graphical tool for Linux systems, that is able to gather information from both hardware and some software and organize it in an easy to use GUI tool.

        HardInfo can show information about these components: CPU, GPU, Motherboard, RAM, Storage, Hard Disk, Printers, Benchmarks, Sound, Network, and USB as well as some system information like the distribution name, version, and Linux Kernel info.

        Besides being able to print hardware information, HardInfo can also create an advanced report from the command-line or by clicking the “Generate Report” button in the GUI and saved in either HTML or plain text formats.

      • Linux Candy – Free and Open Source Software that’s Fun

        Linux Candy is a series of articles covering interesting eye candy software. We only feature open source software in this series.

        Some of the programs in this series are purely cosmetic, frivolous pieces of fun. Candy at their finest. But we also include some programs that aren’t purely decorative.

        There’s a diverse range of programs included in this series. Programs such as eDEX-UI and Variety are actually highly practical programs. ASCIIQuarium has soothing and relaxing qualities for your desktop. Other programs included in this series (such as lolcat, cacafire) are included purely for their decorative qualities. And then there’s some really fun software that just raises a smile or two.

      • GTK+ Twitter App Cawbird 1.2.0 Released (PPA)

        Cawbird, an open-source fork of Corebird Twitter client, released version 1.2.0 a few days ago with many improvements and bug-fixes.

      • Best Text Editors for Linux Mint 20

        Text editors play an important role in the Linux environment. When editing a file or developing an application in the Linux system, you will need a text editor to complete certain tasks. This article will explore some best text editors for the Linux Mint 20 distribution.

      • GStreamer 1.18 Released With Better Windows Support, Intel SVT-HEVC

        GStreamer 1.18 is now available for this widely-used, cross-platform multimedia framework.

        There is a lot of new material in GStreamer 1.18 from much better Microsoft Windows support to including Intel’s SVT-HEVC H.265 encoder.

      • GStreamer 1.18.0 released

        The GStreamer team has announced a major feature release of GStreamer.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Games

      • Virtual tabletop app ‘Fantasy Grounds Unity’ appears on Steam with Linux support

        Enjoy traditional tabletop games and RPGs? SmiteWorks have release Fantasy Grounds Unity into Early Access recently along with Linux support.

        A much expanded and improved version of Fantasy Grounds, which originally released in 2004 and does not support Linux. This new version does, built (as the name might suggest) with the Unity game engine giving them a lot more tools to work with.

      • POSTAL: Brain Damaged should be on Linux at release

        POSTAL: Brain Damaged, another new POSTAL game has been announced although this time a new developer is taking charge and it’s going in a different and weird direction.

        Running With Scissors are publishing this time, while teaming up with developers from Hyperstrange / CreativeForge Games to bring it all to life. It’s also going to be another retro themed boomer shooter, so expect plenty of action and lots of body parts flying.

      • Mixing tower defense and dungeon crawling, Dwerve looks to be a big success on Kickstarter

        After starting a Kickstarter campaign with an impressive demo, it appears Dwerve is easily going to be a success with the goal achieved and loads of time to spare.

        Inspired by SNES RPGs like A Link to the Past, Dwerve takes all the mechanics you know and love: dungeon crawling, questing, exploring, and storytelling; and presents it with a new style of tactical turret-based combat where strategic turret and trap placement decide the outcome of each battle!

        With their initial $10,000 goal, they were able to pull in enough backers to get fully funded within the first day of their campaign. Not really surprising though. Mixing two genres in such a way that we don’t often see, along with a demo supporting Linux, macOS and Windows for people to actually get a feel for it. They did a lot of things right.

      • Check out the relaxing new trailer for the zen-puzzle game Unpacking

        Unpacking, an upcoming ‘zen’ puzzle experience from Witch Beam (prev Assault Android Cactus) gains a proper trailer to show some gameplay.

        Due to release sometime next year for PC platforms, including Linux, it’s all about the satisfying feeling of getting everything unpacked and in the right place. They say it’s part “item Tetris” and part home decoration, and as you’re doing so it you learn clues about the life you’re unpacking. You do this across eight house moves too, although having to move eight times sounds anything but zen to me.

      • Become a dodgy-dealing dice trader in Cubic Currency

        Originally made for the Ludum Dare 46 Game Jam, Cubic Currency has been expanded and overhauled for a full release to have you deal a crazy new currency: dice.

        The idea is that at some point in a dystopian future, a huge mega-corp named DiceCorp came along and invented a new currency with dice. You become a dice vendor, as you attempt to turn a profit in a vast, volatile, and violent market. With rent to pay, you need to make ends meet and this is how you plan to keep on going. From aliens, to tech, to cultish corporate leaders — Cubic Currency “has it all!” the developer says.

      • Release candidate: Godot 3.2.3 RC 6

        Godot 3.2.2 was released on June 26 with over 3 months’ worth of development, including many bugfixes and a handful of features. Some regressions were noticed after the release though, so we decided that Godot 3.2.3 would focus mainly on fixing those new bugs to ensure that all Godot users can have the most stable experience possible.

        Here’s a sixth Release Candidate for the upcoming Godot 3.2.3 release. Please help us test it to ensure that no new regressions have slipped through code review and testing.

      • The upcoming Left 4 Dead 2 free update ‘The Last Stand’ has a new teaser

        With the surprise announcement in August that Left 4 Dead 2 would be getting a brand new update many years after release, we now know a little more.

        A few days ago, a second teaser trailer went up. In the description it mentioned that it will feature a brand new campaign based on the original “The Last Stand” survival map from Left 4 Dead, designed by community modders including “NF, Roku, and Wolphin” who worked on the Steam Workshop campaigns Hard Rain: Downpour and Dark Carnival: Remix. There’s more coming, as they are just a few of the names who have been working on it with more yet to be revealed.

      • Tux the Linux Penguin in its first video game, better DNS and firewall on Android, Gitops IDE goes open source, and more open source news

        Matthias Müller and Vladlen Koltun, two engineers at Intel, have shared their new robot to tackle computer vision tasks. The robot, called “OpenBot”, is powered by a smartphone, which acts as a camera and computing unit.

        The OpenBot prototype components cost $50. It’s intended to be a low-cost alternative to commercially available radio-controlled models, with more computing power than educational models.

        To use OpenBot, users can connect their smartphones to an electromechanical body. They can also use Bluetooth to connect their smartphone to a video game controller like an Xbox or PlayStation.

        [...]

        Born in the early aughts as a project called TuxKart, Joerg Henrichs renamed it “Super Tux Kart” in 2006. Lux is the latest open source mascot to feature in the project: Blender and GIMP’s mascots are represented as well.

        Along with adding Tux to the mix, Super Tux Kart Version 1.2 includes lots of updates. iOS users can create racing servers in-game, while all official tracks are now included in the release built on Android. And since the game is open source on four platforms, all players can make their own changes to submit for review.

      • Singled Out is an amusing little game about picking a target from a small crowd

        Singled Out looks like an amusing time-waster, giving you a short description of a target and you need to quickly pick them out from a small crowd.

        A short, simple and yet slightly addictive arcade game that offers up plenty of challenge on how fast you can think and react. Ideal for short breaks or to test yourself. You get 10 seconds to find your target and shoot the ‘GALACTIC SUPERCRIMINAL’, with only one person in the crowd having all three of the traits you’re shown. Originally made for the GMTK 2019 game jam, it was a popular entry that’s been made into a more full experience.

      • In the Early Access sim DevLife, you progress through life in the IT industry

        When do games just become work? It’s a question in my mind as I look over and try out DevLife, a new Early Access sim from Roman Studio and Mesote Games.

        I’m being a bit playful of course as we have such a huge variety of games from all sorts of weird and wonderful genres, and business sims have been done many times before. DevLife is trying to offer a fresh take, not limiting you to being a game developer like other similar games have done. Instead, you pick your computing industry across many different fields.

        “DevLife will allow you to take on the shoes of a beginner programmer who is starting an adventure in the IT industry just before hitting 18. You will be challenged not only by incoming contracts and fierce clients, but also elapsing time – your character will get older and it is up to you how your career and life will go.”

    • Desktop Environments/WMs

      • 8 Best Linux Graphical Environment (GUI) to install on Ubuntu 20.04/18.04

        Without the Linux desktop environment or GUI, any Linux operating systems including Ubuntu 20.04, 18.04 LTS, or older versions are difficult to operate, especially for beginners. And above that choosing right and the best GUI for the Linux system will not only enhance the experience but also makes it quite friendly to operate with various functions and applications of Linux.

        Although Ubuntu has its own easy to use custom Graphical user interface based on Gnome, however, you are not limited to that only. Yes, the Linux is another name for possibilities, we can customize and create our own User interface, of course for that one should have the knowledge of coding. Whereas, we don’t have to take a pain of coding thousand of lines when there are a handful of Linux Desktop environments available to install on Ubuntu with just a few commands. Here we will not only see the list of best Linux Desktop environments for Ubuntu but also the commands to install them quickly…

      • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

        • Neat IDEa: KDevelop 5.6 points devs to root of their problems inline

          The team behind cross-platform IDE KDevelop has pushed version 5.6 of the tool into the wild, featuring improvements to CMake support as well as a way of nudging devs about code problems inline.

          Inline notes are meant to help developers get a better overview of what’s still to be done, displaying a short description of found issues – such as compiler warnings and errors – next to where they have been discovered in the code, with additional information on the problems at hand available via mouse-over.

          In the last six months, KDevelop also learned to work with Python 3.9 and understand the syntax for catching multiple exceptions used in PHP 7.1. Most of the changes, however, are related to CMake project support. The IDE team started working on ways to use the cmake-file-api, as its predecessor cmake-server was deprecated last year and is about to be removed.

        • Akademy 2020 – Monday BoF Wrap-up

          Monday was the first day of Akademy 2020 BoFs, group sessions and hacking. There is a wrap-up session at the end of the day so that what happened in the different rooms can be shared with everyone including those not present.

        • Akademy 2020 – Tuesday BoF Wrap-up

          Tuesday continued the Akademy 2020 BoFs, meetings, group sessions and hacking. There is a wrap-up session at the end of the day so that what happened in the different rooms can be shared with everyone including those not present.

        • [Krita] Pencils down! Or what our Summer of Code students have achieved

          The final evaluations of the Google Summer of Code projects are open now; it’s pencils down time for the students. In 2020, four students have worked really hard on four really exciting projects, of course, so let’s take a look at their achievements!

          [...]

          Amy Spark implemented a new type of fill layers. Fill layers are dynamically generated layers in Krita. SeExpr is a library created by Disney to generate patterns, with a set of UI elements written in Qt.

          As part of this project, Amyspark has made it possible to translate SeExpr, as well as improving the provided the widgets and usability of the expression editor.

          But the main work was, of course, creating the new fill layer type, making Krita preview your SeExpr script and making it possible to save scripts as resources, so you can share your scripts with others!

        • Hello World ²
        • KDE Kirigami on FreeBSD

          There’s a new port in the FreeBSD ports tree: kirigami-gallery.

          This “gallery” application is one that provides examples, showing off a specific technology: Kirigami! Check out those documentation pages to see what Kirigami can do, for convergent, reponsive and elegant applications. The gallery application shows it off Kirigami “live”, although the application page on KDE.org gives only a very quick overview, and the source code repository just tells you how to build it.

      • GNOME Desktop/GTK

        • Matthias Clasen: On list models

          In the previous post, I promised to take a deeper look at list models and what GTK 4 offers in this area. Lets start be taking a look at the GListModel interface…

        • GNOME Power-Profiles-Daemon Taking Shape For Better System/Laptop Power Controls

          The GNOME Power Profiles Daemon (power-profiles-daemon) has begun taking shape over the past few weeks for ultimately allowing better controls over system power preferences with different profiles.

          Longtime GNOME developer Bastien Nocera has been developing power-profiles-daemon this summer for supporting power profiles handling and exposing it via D-Bus. The intended power profiles at this point are “balanced”, “power-saver”, and “performance” but the performance profile ultimately will only have any bearing on systems with hardware capable of being set to be optimized for performance.

        • Bastien Nocera: Videos in GNOME 3.38

          This is going to be a short post, as changes to Videos have been few and far between in the past couple of releases.

          The major change to the latest release is that we’ve gained Tracker 3 support through a grilo plugin (which meant very few changes to our own code). But the Tracker 3 libraries are incompatible with the Tracker 2 daemon that’s usually shipped in distributions, including on this author’s development system.

        • Felipe Borges: Summertime sadness

          Another summer is about to end and with it comes the autumn* with its typical leaf loss. There’s beauty to the leaves falling and turning yellow/orange, but there’s also an association with melancholia. The possibilities and opportunities of the summer are perceived to be gone, and the chill of the winter is on the horizon.

          The weather changes set in at the same time our Google Summer of Code season comes to an end this year. For a couple of years, I have planned to write this blog post to our GSoC alumni, and considering the exceptional quality of our projects this year, I feel that another GSoC can’t go without me finally taking a shot at writing this.

          Outreachy and GSoC have been critical to various free and open source communities such as ours. By empowering contributors to spend a few months working fulltime in our projects we are not only benefiting from the features that interns are implementing but also having a chance to recruit talent that will continue pushing our project forward as generations pass.

        • Looking for a Modern GTK MPD Client for Linux? Try Ymuse

          As an MPD frontend the app provides you with clean, straightforward window through which to browse, manage, and stream music. Both responsive and lightweight Ymuse can apparently handle a 12,000+ track playlist with greater ease than Sonata, another popular GTK MPD client.

          Because Ymuse is a frontend to MPD and not a music player itself you do need to have MPD set up and configured correctly in order to use this app — or to put another way: this isn’t a ‘user friendly MPD set-up wizard’.

        • The Road to Mutter & GNOME Shell 3.38

          The past two months were hectic, and many changes and new features landed just in time for the 3.37.90 release. As the release freezes approached (user interface freeze, API freeze, etc), part of the queue of merge requests needed a final decision on whether or not they were ready for the upcoming GNOME 3.38 release.

          These two months were also punctuated by not one, but two conference talks related to Mutter and GNOME Shell.

          As this is the final development summary before the 3.38 release, we decided to change the format a bit and cover the biggest changes that happened throughout this cycle.

        • GNOME 3.38 Desktop Promises Better Multi-Monitor Support, Customizable App Grid

          With just a week ahead of the final release of the highly anticipated GNOME 3.38 desktop environment, we finally have a look at some of the hottest new features and enhancements of the upcoming release.

          GNOME 3.38 entered beta stages of development a few weeks ago, along with the Feature Freeze stage, which means that no new features will be added. But we didn’t actually know much about these new features anyway, until now.

          Developer Georges Basile Stavracas Neto shares today a first look at the new features coming to the GNOME Shell interface and Mutter window and composite manager in the upcoming GNOME 3.38 release, and boy they are big.

        • The Many Mutter + Shell Improvements Coming With GNOME 3.38

          With GNOME 3.38 due to be released next week, the GNOME Shell and Mutter development blog has put out their overview of all the improvements and new features to expect.

          - Compositor bypass support for full-screen applications to avoid bypassing of the desktop compositing work when only displaying a full-screen game, media player, or other full-screen software. For GNOME 3.38, this only works with Mutter on Wayland.

          - Split frame clock support for improving the multi-monitor experience where the displays have different refresh rates.

    • Distributions

      • New Releases

        • Zorin OS 15.3 Released with Latest LibreOffice, New Software

          The next version of Zorin OS 15.3 is here as the latest point release in the Zorin 15.x series.

        • Zorin OS 15.3 Released Based on Ubuntu 18.04.5 LTS

          The team behind the user-friendly Linux distro say this update is “…focused on strengthening the core essentials of the operating system to bring you the features and reliability that help you work, play, and use your computer better.”

          Zorin OS 15.3 is based on the Ubuntu 18.04.5 LTS release made in August. This comes with a new Linux kernel (courtesy of Ubuntu’s Hardware Enablement stack) that gives users better system performance, greater security, and improved hardware compatibility.

          The latest Firefox is present, as is the recent LibreOffice 6.4.6 point release (but alas not the newest LibreOffice 7.0), and there’s an updated version of phone-integration suite Zorin Connect included for good measure.

        • Zorin OS 15.3 Officially Released, Based on Ubuntu 18.04.5 LTS

          Zorin OS 15.3 comes six months after the release of Zorin OS 15.2 to offer those who want to deploy the Ubuntu-based operating system on new computers an up-to-date installation media, based on the latest Ubuntu 18.04.5 LTS (Bionic Beaver) release.

          This means that Zorin OS 15.3 is powered by a new kernel, namely Linux 5.4 LTS, from the Ubuntu 20.04 LTS (Focal Fossa) operating system series, which is also shipping with the Ubuntu 18.04.5 LTS release by default.

          Of course, Zorin OS 15.3 also inherits all of Ubuntu 18.04.5 LTS’s updated components, such as the latest LibreOffice 6.4.6 office suite, Mozilla Firefox 80.0.1 web browser, and many others.

        • Zorin OS 15.3 Linux distro can replace buggy Microsoft Windows 10 on your PC

          So, here we are in September, six months removed from the release of Zorin OS 15.2. A lot has happened since March — a pandemic, civil unrest, and out-of-control wildfires are just a few of the things that have made this year quite stressful. Not all is bad, however, as we have football starting up this week — a great distraction to life’s stresses.

          Today we also get some big news on the Linux front — Zorin OS 15.3 is finally here. True, it is just a point release, but once again, it should be the best version of Zorin yet. While great for Linux experts, I highly recommend it to those looking to switch from the buggy and much-maligned Windows 10. Zorin OS is a stable and well-designed operating system that is reminiscent of Windows. And so, its familiarity is a great way for Windows users to comfortably experience Linux. Version 15.3 comes with LibreOffice 6.4.6, which is a great alternative to Microsoft Office.

        • Zorin OS 15.3 is here: Our most advanced OS gets even better

          We’re excited to launch the new, upgraded, and enhanced version of Zorin OS 15 – our most advanced and popular release ever.

          Since the Zorin OS 15 was first launched in June 2019, it has been downloaded over 1.7 million times. Over 65% of these downloads came from proprietary platforms like Windows and macOS, reflecting our mission to bring the power of Linux to new people and to grow the community for the benefit of all. We’ve been working ever since to make Zorin OS 15 even more powerful, accessible, and user-friendly with updates and point releases.

      • BSD

        • MidnightBSD 1.2.8

          There was a security issue in dhclient. We’ve created new ISOs for 1.2.8 for those installing from scratch.

          If you are on 1.2.7, you can simply update the source from git for stable/1.2 branch and rebuild dhclient.

      • SUSE/OpenSUSE

        • The new SUSE One Partner Program – The Power of Many. Together as One.

          Today, we are launching the new SUSE One Partner Program on day one of the Digital SUSE Partner Summit 2020. Why do this, and why now?
          Our ecosystem is changing. Many of our partners are transforming to meet customers where they are. This transformation is being driven by the cloud, and partners who were traditionally resellers or Independent Hardware Providers or Independent Software Providers are looking for ways to wrap hardware, software, cloud infrastructure and services together to create customer-centric solutions.
          So we need to meet our partners where they are. That means we have simplified our many siloed programs into one, encompassing programs with a new partner relationship platform and learning system that is easier to navigate. We are modernizing the program to be organized to support customers’ digital transformations and to provide benefits to partners to drive value into their businesses. And we are evolving our co-sell programs to help accelerate value and revenue.

        • Lufthansa AirPlus Servicekarten GmbH (AirPlus): Boosting Competitiveness by Transforming into a Digital Enterprise

          The leading international provider of business travel management solutions Lufthansa AirPlus Servicekarten GmbH (AirPlus) is a subsidiary of Lufthansa operating under the brand AirPlus International who participated in the SAP Innovation Awards 2020 with its enterprise-wide digital transformation project. With SAP and SUSE, AirPlus was able to become an intelligent enterprise with a completely new, modern, and cloud-based IT infrastructure and a process-oriented, agile organization.

      • IBM/Red Hat/Fedora

        • Fedora 34 KDE Spin Planning Switch To Wayland

          For four years now since Fedora 25 the default GNOME Shell desktop environment has been using Wayland by default. Next spring with Fedora 34, the KDE Spin is finally planning a similar migration to use Wayland by default with the KDE Plasma desktop.

          The Wayland support with Plasma and related KDE components has improved in recent times with many bugs being ironed out and other improvements now that they have a Wayland-first mentality to X11. In early 2021 with Fedora 34 the plan is to switch from using an X.Org based session by default for the Fedora KDE Spin to now using the modern Wayland session.

        • Relive summer of OSCON: Building reactive apps for a modern infrastructure

          If you’re a developer who’s heard the phrase reactive programming, watch our video to see how you can use its guiding principles to make your application more responsive, resilient, and elastic, watc.

          With the advances over the past decade in hardware, containerization, and virtualization technologies, architecture patterns like reactive systems are becoming increasingly popular for taking advantage of this improving infrastructure. Join Mary Grygleski and Grace Jansen to get hands-on as you learn how to build your own simple reactive systems.

        • Simplify the development process with Red Hat Marketplace

          Today Red Hat and IBM announced the launch of Red Hat Marketplace, a one-stop-shop to find, try, buy, deploy, and manage enterprise applications across an organization’s hybrid IT infrastructure, including on-premises and multicloud environments. Red Hat Marketplace gives developers a streamlined view of software that is certified to work in Kubernetes container environments and minimizes red tape for developer managers.

          I’m excited for how this helps lift the burden for enterprise developers who are being asked to develop strong, secure, compliant apps in hybrid cloud environments. Being able to choose from selected products that reliably run on Red Hat OpenShift frees developers up to worry less about their guard-rails, and focus on delivering more innovative solutions.

          Let’s look at some of the benefits that Red Hat Marketplace offers to developers and to partners who offer their products on the marketplace.

        • Global developer relations with empathy and compassion

          Johanna Koester is Director of Worldwide Developer Advocacy for IBM, where she oversees a team of dozens of developer advocates around the world. Their mission is to promote open source and cloud services. I sat down with Johanna to discuss developer relations in enterprise companies and the value of open source and empathy to developers, to developer advocates and to managers and executives.

        • Red Hat Academy launches user platform for improved learning experience

          In order to better serve our Red Hat Academy educational institutions around the world, the Red Hat Academy team has launched an enhanced learning environment on Sept. 1, 2020. With a new interface and improved user experience, students and instructors will be able to more easily navigate their courses, access supplemental learning materials, track course progress, and interact and engage with one another more effectively.

          The Red Hat Academy program partners with academic institutions to offer education programs on Red Hat technologies to help students reach their academic and career potential. Red Hat Academy’s curriculum involves hands-on instruction across platform, middleware, and cloud technologies built with input from Red Hat development, support, and field consulting teams.

        • Deploy a deep learning model on Kubernetes

          As enterprises increase their use of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and deep learning (DL), a critical question arises: How can they scale and industrialize ML development? These conversations often focus on the ML model; however, this is only one step along the way to a complete solution. To achieve in-production application and scale, model development must include a repeatable process that accounts for the critical activities that precede and follow development, including getting the model into a public-facing deployment.

          This article demonstrates how to deploy, scale, and manage a deep learning model that serves up image recognition predictions using Kubermatic Kubernetes Platform.

        • GitOps: Stop, collaborate and deploy

          DevNation Tech Talks are hosted by the Red Hat technologists who create our products. These sessions include real solutions plus code and sample projects to help you get started. In this talk, you’ll learn about GitOps from Ryan Cook and Burr Sutter.

          The barrier to using Kubernetes and OpenShift has never been lower, but how do we manage the applications that run on these clusters? During this presentation, we provide a live demonstration of deploying a GitOps tool and then using it to manage both your applications as well as cluster resources. We will also migrate an application live across the United States on multiple clusters with zero downtime, all managed through git.

        • New report finds automation paves the way for business and technical benefits alike

          Today’s businesses are challenged with moving faster than ever before and often with less resources, both in terms of budget and personnel. The tumultuous landscape and shifting global dynamics that organizations currently face with more workforces moving remote is leading many IT departments to evaluate how they can continue to support their customers and grow their business in uncertain times.

          To continue to scale, automation needs to be made a priority investment. Automation allows organizations to get the most “bang for their buck” when it comes to IT investments, and not because it will eliminate jobs, but because it will free IT staff to focus on more important business initiatives. It also can be a make or break for companies as they move to smaller in-office teams managing vast networks and infrastructure.

          According to a new Forrester report commissioned by Red Hat, organizations are taking note of this, prioritizing automation initiatives over competing goals. The report, “Automation based in open source drives innovation,”1 looks at how organizations are turning to automation, where they are looking to go from here with the technology and how leadership and implementers can align their goals when it comes to implementing automation.

        • OpenShift 101: Web console and CLI

          In the first blog post in this introductory series on RedHat OpenShift, you learned about its architecture and components. In this blog post, you will explore the OpenShift web console and command-line interface (CLI) and learn about the capabilities of the Developer and Administrator perspectives on the platform.

          The new web console UI is one of the major improvements in OpenShift 4. If you used OpenShift 3, you will notice this improvement. When you first log in to the cluster, the navigation list is on the left. If you click on Administrator, that’s where you can switch the view to Developer, and you will notice how different the listed tabs are.

          There are mainly two perspectives on the web console: Administrator and Developer. You can have different accounts with different permissions that are managed by the Administrator using cluster role binding or project role binding. For now, I will stick to introducing the roles of Administrator and Developer on the web console.

        • The evolution of Red Hat Summit 2021: Announcing a hybrid approach

          As poet Tuli Kupferberg said, “when patterns are broken, new worlds emerge.” If there is one thing we can say for 2020, it’s that it shattered many of our old patterns and shook up how we do things. When we moved this year’s Red Hat Summit from an in-person event to an all-virtual experience, we had no idea what the outcome would be. It was brand new territory. But it’s safe to say that it was a success!

          We could take the same approach with Red Hat Summit next year, it would certainly be the safer and simpler option. But that’s not Red Hat. Instead of repeating what we’ve already done we’ve decided this is a good time to explore new worlds and build on our successes while also trying new things.

          We’re pleased to announce that Red Hat Summit 2021 will be a three-part experience that includes two virtual components in the spring and summer and a series of in-person events later in the year!

        • Getting started with the Red Hat Insights patch capability

          One of the most important aspects of system security is keeping systems up to date with patches. Many organizations have hundreds or thousands of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) servers in their environments, so keeping track of patches on servers can be challenging. If critical patches are missed on systems, it could result in the systems being compromised, having unscheduled downtime, or other issues.

          Red Hat Insights is a software-as-a-service (SaaS) offering that is included with your Red Hat Enterprise Linux subscription. It includes several capabilities to help with various aspects of management. The Patch capability can help customers understand which advisories are applicable in their environments, and can help automate the process of patching via Ansible playbooks.

        • Red Hat on Red Hat: How collaboration can transform configuration management in IT

          As in most IT organizations, configuration management can be complex and crosses both infrastructure and software development disciplines. Red Hat IT worked to remove much of that complexity and drive consistency by directly involving infrastructure, software, information security engineers, and enterprise architects across the organization to create a set of clearly defined standards and best practices.

          But, before we get into our successes with this collaboration, it’s important to begin with a clear description of the business problems we faced, and what specific challenges we needed to address. For starters, our then-current configuration management solution, Puppet, was not what most of our team wanted to use, nor what we were recommending to customers.

        • Systemd 247 Still Aiming To Integrate systemd-oomd

          Systemd developers are still hoping to introduce systemd-oomd as part of the next release.

          Systemd-oomd is the effort to provide better Linux out-of-memory / low-memory handling. Systemd-oomd is being spun from Facebook’s out-of-memory daemon and adapted to not only work on Linux servers but desktops as well.

          The systemd-oomd daemon polls for OOMD-enabled cgroups to monitor and will kill based on memory pressure or swap usage. The systemd-oomd behavior is configurable via a new oomd.conf file. This daemon will only kill groups if EnableOomdKill is set as obviously not wanting to kill random processes over memory use.

        • Installing latest syslog-ng on openSUSE, RHEL and other RPM distributions

          The syslog-ng application is included in all major Linux distributions, and you can usually install syslog-ng from the official repositories. If the core functionality of syslog-ng meets your needs, use the package in your distribution repository (yum install syslog-ng), and you can stop reading here. However, if you want to use the features of newer syslog-ng versions (for example, sending log messages to Elasticsearch or Apache Kafka), you have to either compile syslog-ng from source, or install it from unofficial repositories. This post explains you how to do that.

          For information on all platforms that could be relevant to you, check out all my blog posts about installing syslog-ng on major Linux distributions, collected in one place.

          In addition, syslog-ng is also available as a Docker image. To learn more, read our tutorial about logging in Docker using syslog-ng.

        • IBM/Red Hat open hybrid cloud application market

          IBM and its Red Hat company have opened up what they call a one-stop-shop for customers looking to build, deploy and manage hybrid-cloud applications on-premises or in multicloud environments.

          With Red Hat Marketplace, enterprise customers can find and buy the tools and services they need to build cloud-native applications across public and private cloud environments through one curated repository, Red Hat executives said.

        • Red Hat Marketplace: The open hybrid cloud game changer

          Hybrid and multicloud environments are quickly becoming a standard for global enterprises, as flexibility, freedom of choice and workload portability become necessities in successfully building and deploying applications. When public cloud providers first entered the market, many insisted that all workloads be deployed on a single public cloud. At Red Hat, we recognized early on that users wanted and needed the flexibility to operate across many different environments, from public and private clouds to virtual systems and bare metal.

          Over the past eight years, Red Hat has been defining and building hybrid clouds with Red Hat OpenShift to provide operational consistency and portability across any environment. By leveraging the enterprise-grade Kubernetes and cloud-native capabilities of OpenShift, organizations can more seamlessly follow a hybrid cloud strategy and achieve the agility they need to generate impactful business results.

      • Debian Family

        • Call for testing: 4.11~rc1

          Tails 4.11, scheduled for September 22, will be the first version of Tails to include Tor Browser 10.0 and to support persistent settings on the Welcome Screen!

      • Canonical/Ubuntu Family

        • Q&A with Canonical’s Alex Chalkias about Kubernetes 1.19 Enterprise Support and KubeCon

          Canonical recently announced enterprise support for Kubernetes 1.19 as a precusor to the just concluded Kubecon + CloudNativeCon 2020.
          InfoQ caught up with Alex Chalkias, Product Manager at Canonical at KubeCon + CloudNativeCon EU 2020 regarding the announcement, future of Kubernetes and how Canonical is enabling it’s adoption in the enterprise.
          Alex Chalkias talks about the long association of Canonical with Linux, Kubernetes and the cloud and how that has enabled enterprises to move from a traditional monolith in the Data Center to a more modern Cloud Native environment.

    • Devices/Embedded

    • Free, Libre, and Open Source Software

      • The 10 Best Open Source VPN Apps

        As of late, internet privacy has fallen into jeopardy since most of the websites are giving their best shot to get your data legally. VPN apps are in high demand since they not only make it possible for you to browse the Internet anonymously but also visit the websites that are restricted in your region. With that being said, you could still question the legitimacy of the commercial VPN apps since they might even be leaking some of your data without your knowledge.

        In case you also happen to think that the commercial VPN apps might not be that secure, you should know that there are a plethora of VPN apps that you can find in the open-source world. Now, unlike commercial software, these open-source VPN have all their code for the world to see. Accordingly, if you know a thing or two about coding, you’ll easily be able to tell whether the application is entirely secure or not.

      • Open source multi-vendor RGB lighting control app ‘OpenRGB’ sees a new release

        Originally made for the Ludum Dare 46 Game Jam, Cubic Currency has been expanded and overhauled for a full release to have you deal a crazy new currency: dice.

        The idea is that at some point in a dystopian future, a huge mega-corp named DiceCorp came along and invented a new currency with dice. You become a dice vendor, as you attempt to turn a profit in a vast, volatile, and violent market. With rent to pay, you need to make ends meet and this is how you plan to keep on going. From aliens, to tech, to cultish corporate leaders — Cubic Currency “has it all!” the developer says.

      • Progress Announces Acquisition of Chef

        Progress (NASDAQ: PRGS), the leading provider of application development and digital experience technologies, today announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Chef, a global leader in DevOps and DevSecOps, providing complete infrastructure automation to build, deploy, manage and secure applications in modern multi-cloud and hybrid environments, as well as on-premises.

      • PeaZip 7.4.1

        PeaZip is an open source file and archive manager. It’s freeware and free of charge for any use. PeaZip can extract most of archive formats both from Windows and Unix worlds, ranging from mainstream 7Z, RAR, TAR and ZIP to experimental ones like PAQ/LPAQ family, currently the most powerful compressor available.

      • How to build a scalable BigBlueButton video conference solution on AWS

        BigBlueButton is an open source video conference system that supports various audio and video formats and allows the use of integrated video-, screen- and document-sharing functions. BigBlueButton has features for multi-user whiteboards, breakout rooms, public and private chats, polling, moderation, emojis, and raise-hands. In this post, we will explain how AWS customers who are looking for a self-managed and open source software-based video conference solution can leverage AWS to build and deploy a scalable BigBlueButton setup. We’ll briefly explore the AWS services, features, and open source components integrated into the architecture, and we will explain how to use the necessary scripts and stack templates.

        BigBlueButton integrates with a variety of third-party tools, such as Moodle, Sakai, Drupal, Joomla, or WordPress; however, we will stick to BigBlueButton’s native integration this post.

      • Web Browsers

        • Mozilla

          • What happened to Mozilla?

            The Covid-19 pandemic has had many ramifications, even in the online world. Cliqz, the privacy focused search engine, shut down, and now Mozilla is the latest victim. They are laying off roughly a quarter of their workforce (250 people), having previously laid off 70 employees in January. The new focus will on more profitable services, such as Pocket, their VPN and other ventures such as their ‘VR hubs’.

            Specifically, Mozilla are getting rid of Servo, Mozilla’s research team, their security team and their Developer Network (MDN), described as the ‘essential bible for web devs’ by one publication; all of these being core teams within Mozilla. Servo is practically the next generation of their flagship product.

          • Mozilla offers a vision for how the EU Digital Services Act can build a better internet

            Later this year the European Commission is expected to publish the Digital Services Act (DSA). These new draft laws will aim at radically transforming the regulatory environment for tech companies operating in Europe. The DSA will deal with everything from content moderation, to online advertising, to competition issues in digital markets. Today, Mozilla filed extensive comments with the Commission, to outline Mozilla’s vision for how the DSA can address structural issues facing the internet while safeguarding openness and fundamental rights.

            The stakes at play for consumers and the internet ecosystem could not be higher. If developed carefully and with broad input from the internet health movement, the DSA could help create an internet experience for consumers that is defined by civil discourse, human dignity, and individual expression. In addition, it could unlock more consumer choice and consumer-facing innovation, by creating new market opportunities for small, medium, and independent companies in Europe.

      • FSF

        • GNU Projects

          • SETI Institute And GNU Radio Join Forces

            GNU Radio is free and open-source software (sometimes called “libre software”), and is licensed under the GNU Public License version 3 (GPLv3). The GPL ensures that everyone has the freedom to use, modify, share, and contribute to GNU Radio.

            Scientific research at the SETI Institute encompasses everything from the Big Bang and formation of stars, to planets and habitability to life and complexity — and it is in the area of SETI science (search for extraterrestrial intelligence), or technosignature searches, that it is perhaps best known. The SETI Institute operates the ATA, a 42-dish radio telescope array designed to search for radio emissions from extraterrestrial technologies. Upgrades currently underway at the ATA will significantly increase the ATA’s receivers’ sensitivity and permit the development of a new digital signal processing system that will bring enhanced capabilities. GNU Radio on the ATA is providing a much easier path to entry for experts from industry to engage with radio telescopes without needing to learn specialized software systems.

            Derek Kozel, the initial Principal Investigator for the GNU Radio project within SETI said, “The advanced hardware and complex signal processing challenges that the SETI Institute is working with present an ideal platform for GNU Radio to develop and test new features for taking advantage of cutting-edge heterogeneous computing environments.”

            This collaboration between the SETI Institute and GNU Radio will enable the development of a common infrastructure for software at the ATA and possibly allow for software sharing among additional sites. Techniques from the RF industry for identifying and classifying signals have great promise in sifting through the “haystack” of human-generated radio frequency interference in search of the technosignature “needle.”

          • 7 Photoshop Alternatives For Basic and Advanced Photo Editing

            GIMP is a free image editor and paint tool. This tool is available for GNU/Linux, OS X, Windows, and other operating systems. GIMP can be used for high-quality image manipulation and for producing icons, UI components, and design mockups.

      • Programming/Development

        • Your First Programming Language

          There has to be a first for everything. You may want to learn computer programming for personal reasons. Or, like many colleagues I’ve worked with, you might have gotten hired by a tech firm and realized that learning to program could help you better understand the customers and your environment.

          In any case, programming is one of the great disciplines. It can improve the rigor of your thinking and help you appreciate the good and bad points of the software that is increasingly entwined with our everyday lives.

          This article briefly lays out some possible first languages to learn, as well some other choices that I would recommend as a second language.

        • Perl/Raku

          • game code challenge

            hi, as already indicated in that reddit post, a new bot contest was planned for next fall: it has now a planned starting date.

            it would be nice to see more than ten perl lovers to join the fun, which will also permit to be seen in the loop back stats, unlike the previous contest.

        • Python

          • Python’s @classmethod and @staticmethod Explained

            For beginners who are learning object-oriented programming in Python, it is very essential to have a good grasp over class method and static method for writing more optimized and reusable code.

            Also, it is very common for even experienced programmers coming from different languages to get confused between these two.

            In this article, we will develop a better understanding of the class method and static methods in Python.

          • Create a slide deck using Jupyter Notebooks

            There are many options when it comes to creating slides for a presentation. There are straightforward ways, and generating slides directly from Jupyter is not one of them. But I was never one to do things the easy way. I also have high expectations that no other slide-generation software quite meets.

          • Patents and molecular similarity

            I work in what I’ll call algorithmic molecular similarity, where people use an algorithm to characterize if two molecules are similar. There are many such algorithms: 2D and 3D fingerprints, maximum common substructure, edit distance, LINGO, and shape similarity are the first ones that come to mind.

            There is almost no overlap between those methods and legal molecular similarity, which includes patent law and drug control law. I know little about the topic, so don’t trust what I write here in a court of law! In this essay I’ll mostly copy&paste some quotes regarding patent law.

          • Python Errors: Nameerror name is not defined and more

            Errors are inevitable when you are programming. As you write code, errors will start raising. The better you understand these errors, the easier it will be to avoid them. In this article you will learn the main python errors, how to interpret them and how they arise. For example, python nameerror name is not defined, what does this mean? You will find out by the end of this tutorial.

            The goal of an error, or exception, is flagging something unexpected happened while running the code. Some of these situation arise frequently. Therefore python contains some built-in exceptions that capture the more frequent unexpected situation. Below we will go through each of those exception types and see what’s the meaning behind.

          • Breaking Release Bottlenecks — What Changeset Can Do

            I did some volunteer work earlier this year, helping rejuvenate pipenv (a command-line tool that some people use to help handle Python packages they make and use). Here’s what I did, how long it took, and how you can do the same.

            Pipenv’s maintainers had not released a new version since November 2018, and users were concerned (in many cases switching to competitors). In early March of this year, someone suggested that perhaps the official Python Packaging User Guide should stop recommending it. I saw that suggestion and went into the relevant Internet Relay Chat (IRC) channel to nudge one of pipenv’s maintainers and to ask: what do you need? What’s blocking you?

          • From Concept To Live In Two Weeks With Django

            My team had two weeks to make a viable product. We were a random group of people pulled together with a desire to help our local community in Frederick, Maryland. We were a student, a web designer, a former realtor turned IT support person, and a software developer.

            Our mission, which was put forth by the virtual hackathon that brought us together, was to try to make a tool to help the local homeless.

          • How to Convert a numpy Array to Pandas Dataframe: 3 Examples

            In this Pandas tutorial, we are going to learn how to convert a NumPy array to a DataFrame object. Now, you may already know that it is possible to create a dataframe in a range of different ways. For example, it is possible to create a Pandas dataframe from a dictionary.

            As Pandas dataframe objects already are 2-dimensional data structures, it is of course quite easy to create a dataframe from a 2-dimensional array.

          • wxPython by Example: Creating Flashing Text (Video)

            In this wxPython tutorial, you will learn how to make your label flash. This is a useful way to get a user’s attention when something goes wrong.

          • Digging Into Dagster: An Opinionated Open Source Framework For Data Orchestration

            Data applications are complex and continually evolving, often requiring collaboration across multiple teams. In order to keep everyone on the same page a high level abstraction is needed to facilitate a cross-cutting view of the data orchestration across integration, transformation, analytics, and machine learning. Dagster is an innovative new framework that leans on the power and flexibility of Python to provide an extensible interface to the complete lifecycle of data projects. In this episode Nick Schrock explains how he designed the Dagster project to allow for integration with the entire data ecosystem while providing an opinionated structure for connecting the different stages of computation. He also discusses how he is working to grow an open ecosystem around the Dagster project, and his thoughts on building a sustainable business on top of it without compromising the integrity of the community. This was a great conversation about playing the long game when building a business while providing a valuable utility to a complex problem domain.

          • Exploring HTTPS and Cryptography in Python

            Have you ever wondered why it’s okay for you to send your credit card information over the Internet? You may have noticed the https:// on URLs in your browser, but what is it, and how does it keep your information safe? Or perhaps you want to create a Python HTTPS application, but you’re not exactly sure what that means.

            In this course, you’ll get a working knowledge of the various factors that combine to keep communications over the Internet safe. You’ll see concrete examples of how a Python HTTPS application keeps information secure.

          • py3status v3.29

            Almost 5 months after the latest release (thank you COVID) I’m pleased and relieved to have finally packaged and pushed py3status v3.29 to PyPi and Gentoo portage!

            This release comes with a lot of interesting contributions from quite a bunch of first-time contributors so I thought that I’d thank them first for a change!

          • PyCoder’s Weekly: Issue #437 (Sept. 8, 2020)
        • Shell/Bash/Zsh/Ksh

          • Awk Command in Linux

            AWK is one of the most powerful command in Linux. You can manage data and generate reports using the awk command. It also allows us to use logical operation, variables, print functions and many more. AWK stands for “Aho, Weinberger and Kernighan” and is mostly used for pattern scanning and processing. It searches one or more files to see if they contain lines that matches the specified pattern and then perform associated actions. It reads from a file or from its standard input and outputs to its standard output. For each line, it matches with given pattern in the given order, if matches perform the corresponding action.

        • Java

          • Cloud-native Java applications made easy: Eclipse JKube 1.0.0 now available

            After nine months of incubation with the Eclipse Foundation, Eclipse JKube 1.0.0 is finally here. This release marks the final deprecation of the great Fabric8 Maven Plugin (FMP) project. JKube is a complete replacement of FMP and includes all of the major features. Projects relying on FMP to create Apache Maven Java containers should migrate to Eclipse JKube to take full advantage of the new features, bug fixes, and upstream project maintenance described in this article.

            JKube is a collection of plugins plus a standalone Java library that fit into your Maven project. If you have a Java project that needs to get deployed into Kubernetes or Red Hat OpenShift, this is the right tool for you. JKube takes care of everything related to the cluster deployment while you, as a developer, get to concentrate on implementing your application without worrying about where it needs to be deployed.

    • Standards/Consortia

      • BitTorrent v2

        BitTorrent v2 kick-started with an effort to transition away from SHA-1 as the hash function for pieces, shortly after google announced having produced a collision. Given a new hash function would not be backwards compatible, a few other changes were proposed as well, while we were taking the compatibility hit anyway. This post describes the new features of the BitTorrent v2 protocol.

      • European Union must impose interoperability on Web giants

        The European Commission is about to start a new legislative debate regarding Internet hosting providers – services that are hosting and make information available online. These providers have been protected since 2000 by the E-Commerce Directive, when the Internet was maybe a less complex thing to address through legislation. The rules were simple: hosting services are not liable for information they store if they stay “passive” – if they do nothing more than storing information provided by their users.

  • Leftovers

    • Someone Give Us the Gift of Time Travel
    • Duck & Groundcover

      Meadows petaled turquoise.They shiver like glacial lakesEven when the sun shines.A duck could be forgiven,Then, the lack of graceIn a dry landing. The ooofff!We each to Heaven sendAt every bounce, a plea:How about a little mercy,For ducks’ sake? What the duckMust think the moment the lakeReveals itself a field of blueFlowers & a few sharp stones—.O God, where did I go wrong—

    • Tom Terrific Passes On

      Tom Seaver is dead. Another leaf of my youth falls away. I grew up as a Yankees fan because my uncle was an announcer for the team. But I always harbored a fondness for the Mets, both in their early sixties incarnation of lovable ineptitude and their surge to an improbable world championship in 1969.

    • A New Study Exposes Just How Racist College Sports Have Become

      There are certain facts that critics of the college sports model have been pointing out for eons. One is that two sports—football and men’s basketball—generate most of the revenue that underwrites athletic departments and pays for coaches’ multimillion-dollar salaries. These two sports in particular are dependent on Black players and the physical punishment of Black bodies. And while these athletes produce billions of dollars in wealth, they not only do not receive any income but also have no collective bargaining rights, long-term medical care, a guaranteed scholarship, or even a seat at the table to discuss these issues.

    • Lessons Learned from SSH Credential Honeypots

      For the past few months, I’ve been running a handful of SSH Honeypots on some cloud providers, including Google Cloud, DigitalOcean, and NameCheap. As opposed to more complicated honeypots looking at attacker behavior, I decided to do something simple and was only interested in where they were coming from, what tools might be in use, and what credentials they are attempting to use to authenticate. My dataset includes 929,554 attempted logins over a period of a little more than 3 months.

      If you’re looking for a big surprise, I’ll go ahead and let you down easy: my analysis hasn’t located any new botnets or clusters of attackers. But it’s been a fascinating project nonetheless.

    • Science

      • Astronomers Say Space X Astronomy Pollution Can’t Be Fixed

        We recently noted how the Space X launch of low orbit broadband satellites is not only creating light pollution for astronomers and scientists, but captured U.S. regulators, eager to try and justify rampant deregulation, haven’t been willing to do anything about it. While Space X’s Starlink platform will create some much needed broadband competition for rural users, the usual capacity constraints of satellite broadband mean it won’t be a major disruption to incumbent broadband providers. Experts say it will be painfully disruptive to scientific study and research, however:

      • Should I run my desktop 24/7?

        Many factors affect the longevity of electronic equipment. One of the most ubiquitous sources of failure is heat. In fact, the heat generated by devices as they perform their assigned tasks is the very heat that shortens their electronic lives.

        When I worked at IBM in Boca Raton at the dawn of the PC era, I was part of a group that was responsible for the maintainability of computers and other hardware of all types. One task was to ensure that equipment broke very infrequently and that, when it did, it was easy to repair. I learned some interesting things about the effects of heat on the life of computers while I was there.

        Let’s go back to the light bulb because it is an easily visible, if somewhat infrequent example.

        Every time a light bulb is turned on, an electric current surges into the filament and heats its surface very rapidly from room temperature to about 4,600° F (the exact temperature depends upon the wattage of the bulb and the ambient temperature). This thermal shock causes stress by vaporizing the filament’s metal and the rapid expansion of the metal caused by the heating. When a light bulb is turned off, the thermal shock is repeated, though less severely, during the cooling phase as the filament shrinks. The more times a bulb is cycled on and off, the more the effects of this thermal shock accumulate.

        The primary effect of thermal shock is that some small parts of the filament—usually due to minute manufacturing variances—tend to become hotter than other parts. This causes the metal at those points to vaporize faster, making the filament even weaker at that point and more susceptible to rapid overheating in subsequent power-on cycles. Eventually, the last of the metal vaporizes when the bulb is turned on, and the filament dies in a very bright flash.
        The electrical circuitry in computers is much like the filament in a light bulb. Repeated heating and cooling cycles damage the computer’s internal electronic components just as the light bulb’s filament was damaged over time. Over many years of testing, researchers have discovered that more damage is done by repeated power on and off cycles than by leaving the devices on all the time.

    • Education

    • Health/Nutrition

    • Integrity/Availability

      • [Old] Leveraging Digital Certificates to secure cellular communication networks

        For over 10 years I have been identifying and testing a number of exploits in cellular protocols that leverage what I refer to as “pre-authentication message”. In parallel, I have been witnessing the rise of a number of excellent academic teams doing outstanding research in this area and identifying further security issues in cellular protocols, mst of which are root-caused by pre-authentication messages.

      • Proprietary

        • Cybercriminals Are Using Legit Cloud Monitoring Tools As Backdoor [Ed: Mostly proprietary software as a 'backdoor']
        • The FTC Is Investigating Intuit Over TurboTax Practices

          The Federal Trade Commission has been investigating Intuit and its marketing of TurboTax products, following ProPublica’s reporting that the Silicon Valley company deceived tax filers into paying when they could have filed for free.

          The FTC probe, run out of the commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, centers on whether Intuit violated the law against unfair and deceptive practices in commerce. One focus of the investigation is whether TurboTax marketing misdirected customers who were eligible to file their taxes for free into paid products.

        • Mullvad vs. NordVPN: Two popular VPNs do battle

          Before plunking down your cold hard credit card number, however, there are many questions to ask. Can you trust the company? What are the speeds like? Is there a desktop app and is it easy to use? How many country locations are there, and can you still watch Netflix while connected?

        • Magecart’s Success Paves Way For Cybercriminal Credit Card ‘Sniffer’ Market

          The Magecart threat group has dominated headlines for its use of malicious JavaScript code, which is injected into e-commerce websites to exfiltrate customer payment card data. But new research points to a growing industry on underground forums where so-called “sniffers” are being advertised, sold and regularly updated.

        • Slack Tumbles After Quarterly Billings Miss Estimates

          In the fiscal second quarter, Slack reported revenue jumped 49% to $215.9 million, beating analysts’ projections of $209.2 million. Excluding some items, the company broke even, while analysts, on average, estimated a loss of 3 cents.

        • Apple will seek damages from Epic Games for breach of App Store contract

          Epic Games sued Apple in August, after the company’s hit game Fortnite was removed from the iOS App Store over the implementation of an unauthorized payment system. The complaint, filed August 13th, alleges that Apple is violating antitrust law, using its total control over iOS to extract a commission for all software that passes through the App Store.

          Apple’s filing comes in response to an exhaustive motion for a preliminary injunction, filed by Epic over the weekend. Tuesday’s filing lays out a range of defenses against that motion. Among other claims, Apple maintains there were legitimate business justifications for all of the actions it undertook, which would undercut a broader antitrust claim. “At all times, [Apple’s] conduct was reasonable and … its actions were undertaken in good faith to advance legitimate business interests and had the effect of promoting, encouraging, and increasing competition,” the complaint reads.

        • Pseudo-Open Source

          • Openwashing

            • Introducing TGPPL, a radically new type of open-source license

              Electric Coin Co.(ECC) is spearheading a new open source license, called Transitive Grace Period Public License (TGPPL), which allows anyone to commercially support and improve software while ensuring that all improvements are open source after a set period of time.

              [...]

              Open-source software licenses follow the Free Software Foundation’s “Four Freedoms of Free Software” and the Open Source Initiative’s “Open Source Definition.”

            • Linux Foundation Announces New Open Source Climate Project [Ed:
              Torvalds’ name ones again exploited for greenwashing and openwashing]

              The Linux Foundation has announced the intent to form the new LF Climate Finance Foundation (LFCF), a new initiative aimed at addressing climate risk and opportunity.

            • TODO Group: Why Open Source matters to your enterprise [Ed: Latest 'Linux' Foundation report is once again produced using proprietary software on a Mac. So a report that says "Open Source Matters to Your Enterprise" does the exact opposite.]

              There are many business reasons to use open source software. Many of today’s most significant business breakthroughs, including big data, machine learning, cloud computing, Internet of Things, and streaming analytics, sprang from open source software innovations. Open source software often comes into an organization as the backbone of many essential devices, programs, platforms, and tools such as robotics, sensors, the Internet of Things (IoT), automotive telematics, and autonomous driving, edge computing, and big data computing. Open source software code is working on many smartphones, laptops, servers, databases, and cloud infrastructures and services. Developers build most applications by leveraging frameworks like Node. js or pulling in libraries that have been tested and proven in many production use cases. To use almost any of these things is to use open source software in one form or another, and often in combination.

        • Security

          • Security updates for Wednesday

            Security updates have been issued by Debian (grunt), Fedora (ansible and geary), openSUSE (firefox, gettext-runtime, python-Flask-Cors, and thunderbird), Oracle (firefox and thunderbird), Red Hat (.NET Core 3.1), SUSE (kernel and libjpeg-turbo), and Ubuntu (gnutls28 and libx11).

          • RedCommander: Open source tool for red teaming exercises

            The RedCommander tool solves a major challenge for red teams around the installation and operationalization of infrastructure by combining automation scripts and other tools into a deployable package.

            RedCommander is a series of Ansible Playbooks that automate the tedious tasks required to stand up covert command and control channels during a red team exercise. This open source tool is intended to be a stepping stone for more advanced configurations during red team assessments.

            Once an operator spins up several servers and configures redirectors, they can leverage RedCommander to modify and monitor their command and control servers for blue team investigations by way of RedELK. The result provides the operator with a full-spectrum overview of a Red Team exercise while simultaneously centralizing logs for Indicators of Compromise (IOC) analysis.

          • Cloudflare Bot Management, MITM Boxes and TLS 1.3

            This is just a “warn your brothers” post for those who use Cloudflare Bot Management, and have customers which use MITM boxes to break up TLS 1.3 connections.

            Be aware that right now some heuristic rules in the Cloudflare Bot Management score TLS 1.3 requests made by some MITM boxes with 1 – which equals “we’re 99.99% sure that this is none human browser traffic”. While technically correct – the TLS connection hitting the Cloudflare Edge node is not established by a browser – that does not help your customer if you block those requests. If you do something like blocking requests with a BM score of 1 at the Cloudflare Edge, you might want to reconsider that at the moment and sent a captcha challenge instead. While that is not a lot nicer, and still pisses people off, you might find a balance there between protecting yourself and still having some customers.

          • Crylogger Finds Alarming Crypto Vulnerabilities in Android Apps

            Researchers at Columbia University have released Crylogger, an open source analysis tool for identifying cryptographic vulnerabilities in Android apps.

            According to the recent paper, titled “Crylogger: Detecting Crypto Misuses Dynamically,” the researchers analyzed “1780 popular Android apps downloaded from the Google Play Store to show that Crylogger can detect crypto misuses on thousands of apps dynamically and automatically.”

          • Security updates for Tuesday

            Security updates have been issued by Debian (imagemagick, lemonldap-ng, and zeromq3), Fedora (ark, cryptsetup, gnutls, kernel, kernel-headers, and kernel-tools), openSUSE (firefox, kernel, and thunderbird), Red Hat (cloud-init, go-toolset:rhel8, libcroco, librepo, php:7.3, postgresql:10, and thunderbird), SUSE (firefox and go1.14), and Ubuntu (linux, linux-aws, linux-aws-5.3, linux-aws-5.4, linux-aws-hwe, linux-azure, linux-azure-4.15, linux-azure-5.4, linux-gcp, linux-gcp-4.15, linux-gcp-5.4, linux-gke-4.15, linux-gke-5.0, linux-gke-5.3, linux-hwe, linux-hwe-5.4, linux-kvm, linux-oem, linux-oem-osp1, linux-oracle, linux-oracle-5.4, linux-raspi, linux-raspi-5.4, linux-raspi2, linux-raspi2-5.3, linux-snapdragon and xorg-server, xorg-server-hwe-16.04, xorg-server-hwe-18.04).

          • Keyfactor Expands End-to-End Crypto Capabilities with SSH Key Management

            Keyfactor, the leader in crypto-agility solutions, today announced the release of SSH Key Manager for Keyfactor Command, its complete certificate lifecycle automation and PKI as-a-Service platform. The solution replaces manual management methods, automating access and distribution of SSH (Secure Shell) keys across machines, applications and devices within the enterprise.

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

            • Hackers use legit tool to take over Docker, Kubernetes platforms [Ed: Bleeping FUD clearly does not understand what "hacker" means and is just eager to spread fear, not of proprietary software with back doors but software without back doors]

              In a recent attack, cybercrime group TeamTNT relied on a legitimate tool to avoid deploying malicious code on compromised cloud infrastructure and still have a good grip on it.

              They used an opensource tool specifically created to monitor and control cloud environments with Docker and Kubernetes installations, thus reducing their footprint on the breached server.

            • Hackers abusing legitimate cloud monitoring tool to infiltrate Linux environments [Ed: Deliberately misleading headline seeks to blame "LINUX" for some proprietary software on top of it acting like a back door]

              TeamTNT has been caught using the genuine Weave Scope Docker and Kubernetes tool as an effective backdoor to target servers

          • Privacy/Surveillance

            • Government’s ‘Reverse’ Warrant Rejected By Two Consecutive Federal Judges

              The government doesn’t always get what it wants. A novel twist on mass surveillance — the so-called “reverse” warrant — is becoming more popular now that law enforcement has realized Google maintains a stockpile of cell location data.

            • Exposure Notification Technology is Ready for Its Closeup

              Since this COVID-19 crisis began people have looked to technology to assist in contact tracing and notification. Technology will never be a silver bullet to solve a deeply human crisis, even if it might assist. No app will work absent widespread testing with human follow up. Smartphones are not in the hands of everyone, so app-based COVID-19 assistance can reinforce or exacerbate existing social inequalities. 

              De-centralized Bluetooth proximity tracking is the most promising approach so far to automated COVID-19 exposure notification. Most prominently, back in April, Apple and Google unveiled a Bluetooth exposure notification API for detecting whether you were in proximity to someone with COVID-19, and sending you a notice.  

            • FBI Horrified To Discover Ring Doorbells Can Tip Off Citizens To The Presence Of Federal Officers At Their Door

              Ring’s camera/doorbells may as well be branded with local law enforcement agency logos. Since Amazon acquired the company, Ring has cornered the law enforcement-adjacent market for home security products, partnering with hundreds of agencies to get Ring’s products into the hands of residents. A lot of this flows directly through police departments, which can get them almost for free as long as they push citizens towards using Ring’s snitch app, Neighbors, and allow Ring to handle the PR work.

            • Portland’s Fight Against Face Surveillance

              This Wednesday, the Portland City Council will hear from residents, businesses, and civil society as they consider banning government use of face recognition technology within the city.Over 150 Portland-area business owners, technologists, workers, and residents have signed our About Face petition calling for an end to government use of face surveillance. This week, a coalition of local and national civil society organizations led by Electronic Frontier Alliance (EFA) members PDX Privacy and Portland’s Techno-Activism Third Mondays delivered that petition to the council, noting that “even if the technology someday functions flawlessly, automated surveillance and collection of biometric data will still violate our personal privacy and conflict with the City’s own privacy principles.” 

            • White House Supposedly Blocked Walmart From Buying Tiktok Because It Would Prove Its Rationale For Forcing A Deal Was Bullshit

              Among the rumors of who might take over TikTok (which the Trump administration is forcing ByteDance to sell) was the surprise entrant of Walmart. While we’re still waiting for the official decision, a report last week noted that the White House stepped in to tell Walmart that couldn’t happen if Walmart was to be the lead buyer:

    • Defence/Aggression

      • “The Path of the Shadows” is a Chilling Reminder of El Salvador’s Dark Past

        ‘The Path of the Shadows’ tells the real-life story of Professor Carlos Mauricio and his harrowing experiences during the civil war in El Salvador. Having freshly returned to his home country after studying in Mexico, the film relates Professor Mauricio’s increasing harassment by Salvadoran government agents. Events rapidly escalate, culminating in his abduction in the middle of the afternoon by one of the infamous government death squads. The professor is ‘disappeared’, taken away for interrogation as the military attempt to get him to confess to being a Cuban-trained spy and Salvadoran FMLN rebel. If he refuses, torture awaits him and all those he cares about.

      • The US War on Terror Has Created as Many as 59 Million Refugees

        The ongoing U.S. “war on terror” has forcibly displaced as many as 59 million people from just eight countries in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia since 2001, according to a new report published Tuesday by Brown University’s Costs of War Project.

      • Trump’s “Law and Order” Rhetoric Is a Rallying Cry for State Violence

        Many politicians, media pundits and commentators, along with the mainstream cultural apparatuses, are decrying property destruction produced by protesters in the face of unrelenting police assaults on unarmed Black people. Their critical focus has been not only on the broken windows, burning cars and alleged “looting” of stores, but also on the so-called violent tendencies of the “left” and anarchists who serve as stand-ins for the thousands of peaceful protesters who have taken to the streets.

      • Despite Overseeing Soaring Civilian Casualties, Trump Points Finger at Pentagon Leaders as Warmongers

        Critics note the president has increased military spending to record levels while fulfilling his promise to “bomb the shit” out of militants—and their families. 

      • The Plot Against Libya

        The scorching desert sun streams through narrow slats in the tiny window. A mouse scurries across the cracked concrete floor, the scuttling of its tiny feet drowned out by the sound of distant voices speaking in Arabic. Their chatter is in a western Libyan dialect distinctive from the eastern dialect favored in Benghazi. Somewhere off in the distance, beyond the shimmering desert horizon, is Tripoli, the jewel of Africa now reduced to perpetual war.

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      • ‘Horrifically Catastrophic’: Report Finds So-Called US War on Terror Has Displaced as Many as 59 Million People

        “We need a reckoning. We can’t simply move on.”

      • ‘Foreign Policy of This Country Has to Reject US Exceptionalism’

        Janine Jackson interviewed IPS’s Phyllis Bennis about foreign policy visions for the August 28, 2020, episode of CounterSpin. This is a lightly edited transcript.

      • Charlie Hebdo attack survivor recalls ‘horror’ at trial

        “It took me a long time to understand that I am not the guilty one. The only culprits are the Islamist terrorists. The Kouachis and those who helped them,” she told the court.

      • Charlie Hebdo terror attack suspects go on trial in Paris

        Thirteen men and a woman went on trial Wednesday in the 2015 attacks against the Charlie Hebdo satirical newspaper and a kosher supermarket in Paris that marked the beginning of a wave of violence by the Islamic State group in Europe.

        Seventeen people and all three gunmen died during the three days of attacks in January 2015. Later that year, a separate network of French and Belgian fighters for Islamic State struck Paris again, this time killing 130 people in attacks at the Bataclan concert hall, the national stadium, and in bars and restaurants.

        Those on trial in France’s terrorism court are accused of buying weapons, cars, and helping with logistics in the January 2015 attacks. Most say they thought they were helping plan an ordinary crime. Three, including the only woman accused, are being tried in absentia after leaving to join Islamic State.

      • Trial Over January 2015 Attacks Opens in Paris

        Saïd and Chérif Kouachi, the two brothers who carried out the Charlie Hebdo attack, died in a shootout with the police north of Paris two days later. A third attacker, Amédy Coulibaly, killed a police officer in a Parisian suburb and four Jewish hostages at a kosher supermarket before dying himself when the police stormed the building.

        With all the central assailants dead, the current trial will be more cathartic than revelatory for a country forced by the events to reckon with the threat of homegrown terrorism, permanently altering its balance between security and civil liberty.

      • How to Run a Criminal Network in a Pandemic

        “The question of drug gangs enforcing curfews has gotten a lot of press, but I don’t necessarily feel that this is warranted,” said Edmund Ruge, editor of RioOnWatch, which organizes community-based reporting in the city’s favelas. The lack of state governance in these slum areas allows gangs to encroach, but “it’s really the civil society groups who are really taking the lead in spreading awareness campaigns and getting food and hygiene baskets out,” he said.

        Felia Allum was equally skeptical. “They are not Robin Hood. They are not charity cases,” she says. “I haven’t had any confirmation that’s been happening. They are interested in territorial control, they are interested in making money; power and profit are their main objectives. And, every little helps.”

        So why bother? Glenny suggested that, predatory as these groups are, they also “depend on a degree of support from the community.” A PR disaster is bad for business, after all, even if your business is already against the law.

    • Environment

    • Finance

      • The Face of British Trade: Tony Abbott Goes to Blighty

        The question was put by interviewer Kay Burley on Britain’s Sky News network to UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock. “Is Tony Abbott the right kind of person to represent us – even if he’s a homophobic misogynist?” Hancock, while preferring to focus on the former Australia Prime Minister’s expertise in trade, also performed something of a distancing act. “I think the best thing to say is that I am totally focused on the coronavirus crisis and the future of the NHS and social care.”

      • World Bank Must Permanently End Ideologically Driven Doing Business Rankings

        The world needs development policies that serve people and planet first, not policies that focus on economic growth at all costs. 

      • For the Ultra Rich, Those Short Putts Sure Can be Killers

        Trying to keep up with the stunningly inappropriate remarks of Donald Trump can sometimes seem a full-time job. Just this past week, for instance, we’ve seen the president seem to encourage voters in North Carolina to vote twice, once by mail and once by person, a felony under state law.

      • Zero-with-Dot (Oleg Żero): Is Financial Independence a product of fortune?

        This is the second part of the work that attempts to find a recipe towards financial independence – a stage where you no longer need to work to support yourself.

        In the previous article, we tried to formulate the problem of personal finance through a system of ordinary differential equations (ODE), which we later solved numerically using python. Given a set of input parameters, our numerical model was able to determine your financial condition – .

        In this article, we bring it to the next stage. We add randomness to the equation to account for life’s unpredictability. This time, we want to find out to what degree your financial success is really in your hands?

        We will begin this journey by revisiting the math and add some random contributions. Then, we move into simulating some hypothetical scenarios using the so-called Monte Carlo method. Finally, we will use our augmented model to predict your chances with the help of the world’s historical data.

      • Labor Day 2020: The Power Shift

        The solution is not found in mere redistribution of income. It is found in redistributing power. 

      • When Homelessness Hits the Wall

        Three days a week I give out free lunches to homeless people in Portland, Oregon. I have four locations I go to, three encampments, and the last one is located in Old Town Portland, which is home to several hundred  people. They set up their tents and makeshift shelters along the sidewalks and side streets.

      • Trump Moves to Take Leadership of Regional Development Bank Away From Latin American Nations

        Four Latin American countries have called to postpone the election of the president of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), scheduled for September 12 and 13. Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica and Mexico proposed suspending the election until March 2021 to prevent Donald Trump’s National Security Adviser for Latin America, the Cuban-American Mauricio Claver-Carone, from taking the powerful regional post.

      • The Long Trail to Socialism

        “Thru-hiking” long distances has exploded over the past decade. In addition to the millions of people who hike parts of the Appalachian Trail (AT) every year, those managing and surveying it report that the number of hikers heading north for the trail’s entirety (around 2,200 miles) increased 155 percent from 2010 to 2017. The two other premier long-distance trails in the United States, the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) and the Continental Divide Trail (CDT), have seen similar increases.

        [...]

        I witnessed this historical growth personally, as my family, from 2011 to 2015, dedicated our summers to completing as much as we could of the three trails. We were already experienced backpackers and wilderness travelers. We knew how to travel light and keep our base weight down, by sawing the handle off a toothbrush, for instance.
        Still, there were experiences that were unique to thru-hiking, the most obvious being tramping for longer distances than we were used to. We learned how to navigate through snow. We survived wicked storms, camped in “tree holes” (a circle at the base of a tree that had dry ground even after a blizzard), crossed snow-gorged creeks that came up to our waists, and glissaded down 400-foot pitches, controlling our speed as best as we could with ice axes. Even with all these challenges, or maybe because of them, we came to love long-distance hiking, exhilarated by the natural beauty we saw.

        As we trekked, we began to notice something of a subculture. We met fellow hikers with trail names like Wag Daddy, Hikes-a-lot, Hike-aholic, Optimist, Swami, Insane Dwayne, Mouse, and Cloud Walker. There was an ethic of providing one another information about trail conditions and sharing supplies. (Indeed, one guy saved us by giving us all of his chocolate-covered raisins when we ran out of food in the deep backcountry.) I’m more of a loner when it comes to backpacking. But I did enjoy the numerous encounters and conversations found on the trail, especially those that didn’t involve gear.

        What surprised me most was how many working-class adults we ran into. I was expecting an exclusively young and wealthy crowd. But some of our favorite hikers were an industrial painter, a truck driver, an alligator-farm worker, and a clerk at an outdoor store. It’s not that expensive to do a thru-hike—once you’ve got your equipment, you’re left with buying food, after you’ve hitchhiked to the nearest town.

        But there was a certain type we ran into over and over: middle-class white twentysomething male, confused about what he’s going to do with his life. I found myself listening to these young men confess their family problems and directionless drift—all of which was material for their forthcoming memoirs, or so they proclaimed. Sometimes but not too often, they might pull themselves out of their little world to ask me a question. Sometimes I’d tell them about the large books I had packed: Tolstoy, London, and Joyce (much to my wife’s chagrin, as she was a devoted weight-slasher). But more often, I’d stand up and put on my best mock-pandering tone and blurt, “I’m thinking about what you’re standing on right now: a quintessential work of democratic socialism!” I’d follow that up with an admonition to get out of their little universe and give glory to their predecessors who first imagined a long trail like the one we were standing on. I’d ask them to think about the politics of preserving long trails. If they engaged my spiel, I’d press them on the right to leisure (many of these young people never held a job) or the meaning of public lands or what’s really meant by socialism in today’s parlance. (This was the Obama years, when you still had to explain why Obamacare was not socialist.) Some drew back and I’d apologize, explaining that I’m a historian, I can’t help it. Or something to that effect, hopefully avoiding condescension.

    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

      • Losing Both Elections

        Losing one election to Trump is unlucky; losing two in a row may be saying something about the national character.

      • Memo to the Next President

        Thirteen years ago, in summer 2007, I wrote a memo for the future president of the United States.

      • Trump Claims Democratic States Have Shut Down Economies to Harm His Reelection

        President Donald Trump is alleging that Democratic Party leaders in a number of states across the country are purposely hurting their own economies in order to make him look bad on the issue in the months running up to the general election.

      • Trump Leads by Division, While Biden Leads by Multiplication

        Americans must choose whether they want a leader who promises only to drive us apart or one who offers the possibility of bringing us together.

      • More Than 550,000 Mail Ballots Have Already Been Rejected in 2020

        Election officials are working to make sure voters are not disenfranchised in November after an unprecedented number of mail-in ballots have been rejected in primary elections so far this year.

      • What’s the Matter with Trump?

        His transmission seems to be slipping, at least one of his cylinders is misfiring, the brakes are not grabbing and the stability of the “very stable genius” appears to be wobbling. Why? Did he really have “mini-strokes” in November?

      • Belarus on the Path to Civil War?

        It was conduced in Belarus, and 37% that were surveyed said Yes, and 18% stated Not Ready. The rest are undecided. The scope for the poll included over 500,000 people. It should be noted that the poll was completely anonymous. The population of Belarus is over 9 million people.

        These results signal the significance of how the people feel in the country. Clearly, Belarusian nationals are angry and fed up with what is going on in the country. The President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, managed to completely upset the people.

        Not only he did he falsify the presidential election results, he also jailed his opposing candidates. Hence, automatically making them ineligible to run in the election. Interestingly, during Maidan in Ukraine in 2014, the opposition groups also called themselves self-defense units.

      • Lukashenko reportedly admits to Russian TV journalist that ‘maybe’ he’s ‘overstayed his welcome’ as Belarusian president

        Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko reportedly confessed to a Russian state reporter that “maybe” he’s “overstayed his welcome” as the country’s leader, VGTRK correspondent Evgeny Rozhkov revealed in an appearance on the Rossiya 1  television network on Tuesday. 

      • ‘That’s why she’s one of our leaders’ Belarusian oppositionist Maria Kolesnikova rips up own passport to avoid being forced abroad

        Ivan Kravtsov, the executive secretary of the Belarusian opposition’s Coordination Council, and Anton Rodnenkov, the group’s press secretary, gave a press conference in Kyiv on Tuesday, where they accused the Belarusian authorities of trying to use them to help expel opposition leader Maria Kolesnikova (Maryia Kalesnikava) from the country.

      • ‘Not a voluntary exit’ After top Belarusian opposition leader disappears in Minsk, she’s arrested at border with Ukraine

        Maria Kolesnikova (Maryia Kalesnikava), one of the leaders of the Belarusian opposition, was arrested at the border with Ukraine on the morning of September 8, says the Belarusian State Border Committee. State officials say Kolesnikova and two other members of the Belarusian opposition’s Coordination Council, Anton Rodnenkov and Ivan Kravtsov, drove between Belarusian and Ukrainian border checkpoints. After noticing a border guard officer, claims the State Border Committee, the car sped up suddenly and left Belarusian territory after “shoving” Kolesnikova from the vehicle. Ukraine’s border service says Rodnenkov and Kravtsov arrived at the Ukrainian checkpoint, where border control officers started inspecting them. The Belarusian State Border Committee says these two men were arrested, but Ukrainian officials deny this.

      • George Washington and the Cherry Tree—Updated

        Young George could not deny he felled that tree. His moral code would certainly forbid it. In such a situation, Trump would say, “I cannot tell a lie: Obama did it.”

      • Election volunteers seek medical help after attack on Navalny’s Novosibirsk office

        Alexey Navalny’s branch in Novosibirsk has reported an attack on its office, which is also the campaign headquarters for the opposition coalition “Novosibirsk 2020.” 

      • ‘A clear picture of poisoning’ The Kremlin continues to deny that Navalny was poisoned, but Russian doctors suspected it all along

        On Monday, September 7, Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny was brought out of his medically induced coma. He remains in intensive care at the Charité Hospital in Berlin, where he is receiving treatment for poisoning from an organophosphate (OP) nerve agent from the “Novichok” group. Meanwhile, the Kremlin continues to deny the very fact that Navalny was poisoned, citing the results of tests conducted in Russia. On the other hand, “Meduza” has discovered that the doctors who treated Navalny in Omsk immediately suspected that his symptoms were from nerve agent poisoning — but establishing a diagnosis was made difficult because his range of symptoms was not fully consistent with the effects of organophosphate poisoning (some symptoms seemed to be missing, while others were atypical). Chemical weapons experts who spoke with Meduza believe that poisoning from Novichok-type nerve agents may well have blurred the clinical picture.

      • Becoming Michelle Obama
      • Quid Pro Quo: Did Trump Help Kill Anti-Corruption Probe in Guatemala to Aid Reelection Bid?

        Iván Velásquez is a Colombian prosecutor who headed the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala from 2013 to 2019, a powerful U.N.-backed commission formed to investigate corruption in the country and supported by the Obama administration. But Velásquez and other investigators were expelled from the country after the Trump administration agreed to withdraw support for the commission in apparent exchange for Guatemala’s support of Trump’s immigration and Middle East policies. The details of that quid pro quo between President Trump and Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales are detailed in a new investigation by Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting. We speak with reporters Aaron Glantz and Anayansi Diaz-Cortes.

      • What About the Chinese Red Army? A Reply to H. Bruce Franklin

        I don’t really know what to make of historian H. Bruce Franklin’s recent essay published in CounterPunch in early August, except to say that he’s rightly worked up about Trump and where he feels the USA is headed now. But to say, as Bruce says that “the fascists won World War II” is mind boggling. Yes, the U.S. saw to it that German corporations that thrived under the Nazis continued to thrive after 1945. This isn’t news. Books like The New Germany and the Old Nazis by Tet Harens Tetens made the point nearly 60 years ago, and my dear friend Cedric Belfrage, who co-founded The National Guardian in 1948, described precisely the alliance of American capitalism and German fascism after the end of WWII in Seeds of Destruction: the Truth about the U.S. Occupation of Germany (1954).

      • Politics and Violence Go Hand in Hand

        “[W]e currently have an inferno of political violence to which the president of the United States adds fuel,” Jennifer Rubin thunders from her bully pulpit at the Washington Post. “[I]t is time for bipartisan voices, local and state leaders, police and other first responders, civic and religious leaders, and all responsible media outlets to try to quench the flames of violence.”

      • Biden Urged to Adopt a Good Neighbor Policy Toward Latin America

        Progressive groups see the need to push a new administration to make a positive contribution to the well-being of people throughout the hemisphere.

      • America’s Ugly Flaw

        Sometimes it seems like we live in a huge loony bin where things make no sense.

      • The Party Formerly Known as Republican

        The GOP has officially embraced a continuation of Trump’s policies, reaffirming its support for a president whose idea of “law and order” is a recipe for more violence.

      • House to Investigate DeJoy for Perjury Over Illegal GOP Fundraising Scheme

        Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-New York), the chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, announced late on Monday that a formal investigation would commence into Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, after reports over the weekend detailed how he may have been involved in an illegal scheme to raise funds for Republican candidates for office.

      • Citing ‘Criminal Exposure’ in Straw-Donor Scheme and Possible Perjury, House Announces Investigation Into DeJoy

        House Oversight Committee Chairwoman Rep. Carolyn Maloney said the U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors should immediately suspend DeJoy as the probe moves forward.

      • ‘Liberal Diversity Is Not Racial Justice’: Black Progressives Denounce Claims They Want Wall Street Insiders in Biden Cabinet

        “We need less Wall Street in the next administration and more working class representation.”

      • With Executive Powers, Trump Can Legally Unleash Global Chaos

        If you need some low-cost entertainment, ask a person raised in the era of Google Maps to figure out how to get to somewhere without technology. It illustrates what we all know: Even those of us old enough to remember the world of paper atlases and “calling for directions” have become hopelessly dependent on those colored lines and disembodied voices to tell us where to go.

      • Comix Nation
      • ‘People Are Sick and Tired of the Ranting and the Ravings’: Sanders Rips Trump Effort to Rush Covid Vaccine for Political Gain

        “Everybody wants a vaccine, but we want to make sure that that vaccine is safe. We don’t want to see that vaccine put on the market for political reasons.”

      • Please Tell Us If You Have Any Trouble Voting This Year

        Electionland is a collaborative project to report on voting problems with local and national newsrooms around the country.

        We will be on the lookout for any problems that prevent people from voting — such as mail ballot delivery problems, changed voting locations, long lines, registration problems, purged voter rolls, broken machines and voter intimidation. You can help us. To let us know how your voting experience goes, here’s how to sign up and get in touch.

      • The Real Threat to Law and Order

        Trump knows he has to distract the nation from the pandemic he has failed to control – leaving more than 188,000 Americans dead as of September 8, tens of millions jobless, and at least 30 million reportedly hungry.So he’s mounting a tried-and-true law and order campaign.At the Republican National Convention, Trump said: “Your vote will decide whether we protect law-abiding Americans, or whether we give free rein to violent anarchists, agitators and criminals who threaten our citizens.”He’s right. But the anarchists, agitators, and criminals threatening Americans are not those protesting police violence. They are the highly armed and racist right-wing vigilantes, along with the conspiracy theorists and shady criminals Trump has repeatedly encouraged and surrounded himself with.Take for example, the white gun-toting 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse, who has been charged with killing two people and wounding a third during Black Lives Matter protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin – and who, perhaps not coincidentally, occupied a front-row seat at a Trump rally in Des Moines last January. Despite the fact Rittenhouse has been charged with murder, Trump defends him, claiming he was acting in self-defense, that “they very violently attacked him.”Or consider the pro-Trump caravan that drove into Portland, Oregon, including the neo-fascist Proud Boys – shooting Black Lives Matter protesters with pepper spray and paintballs and driving into crowds. Someone wearing the hat of a far-right group called Patriot Prayer was shot dead. Trump’s reaction? Rather than condemn the violence, he tweeted “GREAT PATRIOTS!” in support of the pro-Trump agitators, and “big backlash going on in Portland cannot be unexpected. The people of Portland won’t put up with no safety any longer.” He also retweeted a claim that “this coup attempt is led by a well funded network of anarchists trying to take down the President.”

      • India bans more than 100 Chinese apps, including Tencent’s video game ‘PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds,’ as tensions escalate on the border

        India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology said in a statement that the decision would ensure the safety, security, and sovereignty of Indian cyberspace. Some mobile apps on Android and iOS were stealing users’ data and transferring it outside India, it claimed.

        China’s commerce industry spokesman Gao Feng condemned the decision, and asked India to “correct their mistakes.”

      • How Jimmy Carter (Literally) Rocked the Presidency

        But another of his legacies is undeniable: Before the classic-rock- and jazz-loving Bill Clinton and the hip-hop-friendly Obama, Carter was the first American president with even a remote connection to rock and roll. Although he hadn’t grown up with the music, which didn’t exist during his teen years, the politician understood its impact and reach, as well as the big business it had become by the Seventies. (The topic is explored in director Mary Wharton’s Jimmy Carter: Rock & Roll President, which has its “virtual” premiere on Sept. 9th.) And in a manner that was both sincere and shrewd, he aligned himself with rock in ways no previous candidate or president had. Carter’s term paved the way for Oval Office visits by the likes of Beyoncé and Kid Rock, benefit concerts by indie and pop acts, and, for a fleeting moment, a White House record collection that would earn the begrudging admiration of even the biggest music snob.

      • “Jimmy Carter: Rock & Roll President”: A loving relationship to music that “cuts through politics”

        This may not be a groundbreaking concept, but Wharton’s film explores how music reflects society, and how Carter’s efforts as a civil rights leader made him an appealing candidate who used soft power — music — to win hearts and minds.

    • Censorship/Free Speech

      • Russian officials say YouTube is censoring a new documentary film released on state TV about the Beslan school siege

        Russia’s state censor, Roskomnadzor, has accused YouTube of censorship after the video-sharing service added a warning to Alexander Rogatkin’s new documentary film about the 2004 Beslan school siege. Viewers must now verify their age before watching the video and confirm that they wish to access content “identified by the YouTube community as inappropriate or offensive to some audiences.”

      • Game Creator Has His YouTube Video Of Game Demonetized Over Soundtrack He Also Created

        Content moderation, whether over social or intellectual property issues, is impossible to do well. It just is. The scale of content platforms means that automated systems have to do most of this work and those automated systems are always completely rife with avenues for error and abuse. While this goes for takedowns and copyright strikes, it is also the case for demonetization practices for the big players like YouTube.

      • Trump Gets Mad That Twitter Won’t Take Down A Parody Of Mitch McConnell; Demands Unconstitutional Laws

        I’m still perplexed by Trumpian folks insisting that the President is a supporter of free speech (or the Constitution). It’s quite clear that he’s been a huge supporter of censorship over the years. The latest example is, perhaps, the most bizarre (while also being totally par for the course with regards to this President). For unclear reasons, the President has retweeted someone with fewer than 200 followers, who posted a picture of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in traditional Russian soldier garb… while complaining that Twitter won’t take that image down, while it has “taken down” manipulated media from his supporters.

      • ‘We left the guest no choice’ Advertisers drop YouTube comedy show over offensive jokes about protests in Belarus and Khabarovsk

        The companies Unilever Russia, Mars, Inc., Magnit, and Yandex Lavka have all pulled their advertisements from the YouTube show “Comment Out” after a guest on the show was asked to make offensive social media posts about the ongoing protests in Belarus and Khabarovsk. 

      • GOP senators unveil new bill to update tech liability protections

        The Online Freedom and Viewpoint Diversity Act would modify Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act by conditioning the protection on whether content decisions are “objectively reasonable,” while also limiting the things platforms can act on.

        Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act, which has come under increased scrutiny since President Trump targeted it in an executive order in May, gives internet companies immunity from lawsuits for content posted on their sites by third parties and allows them to make “good faith” efforts to moderate content.

      • Macron: ‘To Be French Is to Defend the Right to Mock’

        French President Emmanuel Macron told an audience gathered to witness a naturalization ceremony that “To be French is to defend the right to laugh, jest, mock and caricature, of which Voltaire maintained that it is the source of all other rights.”

        There is not an American politician on the left who would dare utter such apostasy. There are many young people who think they should have the right not to allow anyone to hurt their feelings — First Amendment be damned. Some believe it should be illegal to mock anyone’s race or ethnic heritage, their sexual orientation, or the sex they’ve chosen for themselves. White males? Well, no one much cares if their feelings are hurt or not.

        Macron was speaking at the Pantheon, where, 150 years ago, the Third Republic was founded. Today, he used the occasion to blast Islamic extremism. The trial of more than a dozen accused accomplices in the bloody 2015 Charlie Hebo massacre began on Friday, so the contrast with a fundamentalist religion that will kill you for mocking the prophet was clear.

    • Freedom of Information/Freedom of the Press

      • In Extradition Hearing, Julian Assange’s Legal Team Focuses On US Torture And War Crimes Exposed By WikiLeaks

        WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s legal team spent the second morning of a major extradition hearing focusing a magistrate court judge’s attention on United States torture and war crimes that Assange helped to expose.Defense attorney Mark Summers called Clive Stafford Smith, a human rights attorney who has represented prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, to the witness stand. He was asked about human rights cases he pursued, which were bolstered by revelations in documents WikiLeaks published.For example, Stafford Smith told Judge Vanessa Baraitser that U.S. State Department cables helped those impacted by U.S. drone killings in Pakistan. It contributed to “court findings that US drone strikes are criminal offenses and that criminal proceedings should be initiated against senior U.S. officials involved in such strikes. ”A high court in Pakistan ruled “drone strikes carried out by the CIA and U.S. authorities were a ‘blatant violation of basic human rights’ including ‘a blatant breach of the absolute right to life’ and ‘a war crime,’” Stafford Smith declared in a statement to the court. Due to the decision, drone strikes that caused many “innocent deaths” stopped “very rapidly.” None were reported in 2019.The defense had Stafford Smith testify in order to persuade the court that Assange “disclosed U.S. involvement in criminal activity.” Specifically, these were “public interest disclosures” of war crimes and torture. Some of the publications are currently the subject of a criminal investigation into the CIA that is before the International Criminal Court (ICC).In other words, the prosecution against Assange is retaliation for bringing increased scrutiny to U.S. actions throughout the world. But James Lewis, the lawyer representing the Crown Prosecution Authority on behalf of the U.S. government, was irritated by the defense’s focus on documents that exposed torture and war crimes. Lewis insisted the U.S. government only charged Assange with documents that revealed the names of informants, and none of the materials Stafford Smith was asked about mattered in the extradition case.At one point, Stafford Smith contended Lewis was “wrong about the way in which cases are prosecuted” in the United States.

      • John Pilger Speaks Outside Old Bailey Court on the Trial of Julian Assange
      • Factbox: Foreign Journalists Forced to Leave China as Diplomatic Tensions Worsen

        Over the past year, numerous foreign reporters working for Western news organisations have been forced to leave China, mostly due to their work permits being revoked or not renewed.

        The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China said on Monday a record 17 foreign journalists were expelled from the country in the first half of 2020.

        The departures come amid worsening diplomatic ties between China and the United States and its allies over issues ranging from trade to technology and democratic rights in Hong Kong, with Washington and Beijing engaging in a tit-for-tat over journalist credentials.

      • Clive Stafford Smith Witness Statement
      • Day 2: September 8, 2020 #AssangeCase

        See our report from Day 1 of these proceedings here. Yesterday, the judge rejected the defense’s request to proceed without the new allegations in the U.S.’s extremely late superseding indictment, then rejected the defense’s request for more time to prepare to deal with these new allegations. Professor Mark Feldstein began his testimony on investigative journalism. Likely to testify today are journalists Patrick Cockburn and Nicolas Hager, and Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg.

    • Civil Rights/Policing

      • The Forking Paths

        Six hundred and ninety miles of the Transcontinental Railroad were laid by Chinese immigrants. Many of them were drawn to California by the gold rush of the late 1840s, but a scant decade later, the land had been depleted of riches, and they arrived instead to encounter unfriendly locals who distrusted foreign faces. The construction of the Central Pacific Railroad, the segment of the Transcontinental Railroad that stretched from Sacramento to Utah’s Promontory Summit, began in 1863, and white foremen quickly recruited Chinese immigrants looking for work to do the most physically demanding labor, compensating them at a fraction of the pay that whites received. By 1867, Chinese immigrants made up about 90 percent of the Central Pacific’s labor force. Historians estimate that at least 1,200 died in the construction of the railroad—approximately two Chinese men for every mile of track they laid.

      • Popular Russian actor gets eight years in prison for role in deadly DUI collision earlier this summer

        In a celebrity trial that has attracted major attention in Russia, the actor Mikhail Efremov was sentenced to eight years in prison on September 8 for his role in a deadly traffic collision earlier this summer.

      • The Raft of the Medusa

        Will European politics bury the human rights laws it once created?

      • Wisconsin’s Lieutenant Governor Talks About the Kenosha Protests and What Happens Next

        After a police officer in Kenosha, Wis., grabbed 29-year-old Jacob Blake’s T-shirt and fired seven shots into his back on August 23, Wisconsin Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes tweeted, “Last night, Jacob Blake was shot in the back seven times in front of his children. This wasn’t an accident. The officer’s deadly actions attempted to take a person’s life in broad daylight. Like many of you, the video is burned into my mind like all the past videos just like it.”

      • ‘A criminally punishable act’ Khabarovsk regional official loses job after posting ultimatum to Moscow in defense of ousted governor

        On August 21, Khabarovsk regional official Andrey Petrov uploaded a video to YouTube with an address to his neighbors throughout the region, suggesting that those protesting the arrest of former Governor Sergey Furgal abandon demonstrations in favor of an ultimatum to Moscow. The conditions Petrov proposed soon cost him his job: either the capital returns Furgal to Khabarovsk for trial, forgives the region’s debts, and allocates an additional 100 billion rubles ($1.3 billion) in “punitive damages,” or Khabarovsk declares the creation of the Khabarovsk Democratic Republic within the Russian Federation. “Sit there and manage whomever you want, if you’re not going to listen to the people,” Petrov said in his video. After it went up on YouTube, acting Governor Mikhail Degtyarev fired Petrov from his position as deputy head of the regional forestry management, calling him a “kook” and describing his comments as “pure extremism.” Meduza special correspondent Anastasia Yakoreva spoke to Petrov about his work in the government, the reasons he shared such a controversial video online, and what’s happened since.

      • The Whitelash Next Time

        Two months. That’s how long it took for white Americans’ support of Black Lives Matter—which climbed to an unprecedented peak in June after the brutal police murder of George Floyd—to tumble back toward preprotest levels. Over the same period, surveys show, declining numbers of white respondents cited anti-Black racism as a “big problem” in American society. An NPR/Ipsos poll from late August found white people are the racial group least likely to report taking even the most minor “actions to better understand racial issues in America” since protests began sweeping the country. Just half of white Americans concede “racism is built into the American economy, government, and educational systems.” And 49 percent believe America has already done enough “to give Black Americans equal rights with white Americans.”

      • As Pandemic Drags On, ‘Free Them All’ National Days of Action Demand Mass Decarceration

        Covid-19 turns “every cell and cage into a potential death chamber,” organizers say. 

      • Beyond Prisons Podcast: Prison By Any Other Name Feat. Maya Schenwar & Victoria Law

        Brian Sonenstein and Kim Wilson welcome back Maya Schenwar and Victoria Law to discuss their new book, Prison By Any Other Name: The Harmful Consequences Of Popular Reforms, on the Beyond Prisons podcast.

        The book provides a comprehensive and thought-provoking critical analysis of popular reforms to policing and incarceration, such as electronic monitoring, diversion courts, so-called sex worker rescue programs, and a lot more. Importantly, it explores not only how these reforms fail to promote safety, but how they actually increase the size and scope of policing and incarceration.

      • Trauma of Breonna Taylor’s Killing Remains for Community Six Months Later

        Filmmaker Yoruba Richen, director of The New York Times documentary The Killing of Breonna Taylor, says the 26-year-old EMT’s killing was not just a devastating blow to her friends and family, but a “loss of the entire community.” Police officers in Louisville, Kentucky, fatally shot Taylor during a raid on her home in March, part of a botched drug investigation. Richen says that in visiting Louisville and speaking with Taylor’s loved ones, she “personally felt the trauma that we endure as African American people” as a result of police killings.

      • “Loss of the Entire Community”: 6 Months Later, Trauma of Breonna Taylor’s Killing Remains

        Filmmaker Yoruba Richen, director of The New York Times documentary “The Killing of Breonna Taylor,” says the 26-year-old EMT’s killing was not just a devastating blow to her friends and family, but a “loss of the entire community.” Police officers in Louisville, Kentucky, fatally shot Taylor during a raid on her home in March, part of a botched drug investigation. Richen says that in visiting Louisville and speaking with Taylor’s loved ones, she “personally felt the trauma that we endure as African American people” as a result of police killings.

      • The Police Can’t Be Judge, Jury & Executioner: Filmmaker Yoruba Richen on Killing of Breonna Taylor

        Months after the police killing of Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky, new details have emerged about the final moments of the 26-year-old EMT’s life and the police raid that brought it to a violent end, as detailed in a New York Times documentary that includes dozens of interviews and a review of more than 1,200 new photos of the crime scene. Taylor, whom police shot five times in her own home on March 13, has since become a household name and rallying point in the national movement for racial justice. The police officers responsible for her death have not been charged. We speak with Yoruba Richen, director and producer of “The Killing of Breonna Taylor,” who says the case exposes the systemic violence at the heart of U.S. policing.

      • Trumpism Explained

        It is fascinating to watch commentators trying to explain the continuing solid support for Trump among a significant portion of the electorate. They cite an endless list of Trumpian sins, enumerating just about every possible policy and personal evil. Their outrage, but more significantly, their bafflement knows no bounds. They know they hate Trump with a passion but are at a loss to understand or explain how anyone could actually vote for Trump. They are truly at wit’s end.

      • Prosecutor Who Used Bite Mark Analysis Even The Analyst Called ‘Junk Science’ Can Be Sued For Wrongful Jailing Of Innocent Woman

        A lot of stuff that looks like science but hasn’t actually been subjected to the rigors of the scientific process has been used by the government to wrongly deprive people of their freedom. As time moves forward, more and more of the forensic science used by law enforcement has been exposed as junk — complicated-looking mumbo-jumbo that should have been laughed out of the crime lab years ago.

      • Black Christian Lives Apparently Do Not Matter

        In Nigeria, over the past 20 years, 100,000 Christians have been killed…. Nigeria is becoming the “biggest killing ground of Christians in the world”.

        Nigeria, already the most populous African country, could have a population of about 800 million people in the year 2100, according to a study by The Lancet, and could become the ninth-largest economy in the world.

      • Change in the humanitarian sector, in numbers

        Once a small collection of loosely organised groups, the humanitarian system has seen staggering expansion over the last couple of decades. Today, a multi-billion-dollar industry operates around the globe, employing hundreds of thousands of people and pumping out reams of reports and information.

        We ploughed through 25 years of data to show just how much the sector has changed. Here’s our breakdown of how things looked then and now.

    • Monopolies

      • Patents

        • Many Antagonisms, No Simple Solutions: International Enforcement of Standard Essential Patents

          As reported on Kluwer Patent Blog, the Supreme Court of England and Wales issued a key decision in the Case of Huawei and ZTE vs Conversant and Unwired Planet. Both lawsuits pertain to standard essential patents and seek to resolve how address international commercial activity from a legal perspective. The cases offer a wealth of insights on the complex interplay between standards and patents. Given the brevity of this opinion, I am unable to comment on all of these.

          Of interest to me is that the Supreme Court confirmed that the Courts of England and Wales are the appropriate Forum to deal with extraterritorial IP and are in a position to set corresponding FRAND rates. I leave all other issues unaddressed.

          The Court justified its position, among other factors, with reference to the Forum Non Conveniens Doctrine. This, in spite of the fact that in the Conversant case neither Huawei nor ZTE consented to having the English Courts decide on the matter. Their exposure to the British markets and IP system is minimal; an argument which the Court dismissed.

          [...]

          For me, both the Forum Conveniens doctrine and the subsequent anti-suit injunctions, remain a symbol of the difficulty a ‘United’ Kingdom is facing. I doubt that their application to SEPs will be of help.

          Last week’s decision risks that different Courts around the world could block each other. As anti-suit injunctions trigger anti-anti-suit injunctions and so on, this could result in quite some burden for the technology community. Perhaps, to circumvent this dilemma, an injured party may think it is best to race to Court, which does however also not present itself as a desirable solution. This could bring along fierce competition between various Courts.

          There is no easy fix to international economic integration. Perhaps it would be the least complicated, to continue the existing practice of enforcing SEPs in a few key jurisdictions. Going forward, one may want to think how to enhance the coordination mechanisms between the world’s Courts.

        • Software Patents

          • Another EPO challenge filed against Velos Media by Unified

            On September 3, 2020, Unified filed opposition proceedings against EP 3 113 493 B1, owned by Velos Media, LLC. The ‘493 patent is generally related to decoding image data to generate quantized transform coefficients using certain sized matrices. This filing is a part of Unified’s ongoing efforts in its SEP Video Codec Zone.

          • Racing Tribunals: The Judge, the Jury, and the PTAB

            Thousands of patents claims have been cancelled by the PTAB in inter partes review proceedings. These are cases where a third party was willing to pay hundreds-of-thousands-of-dollars to cancel a set of claims. A good number of those patents would have been enforced by a district court. In fact, a good number of those patents have been enforced in Federal Court.

            Personal Audio, LLC v. CBS Corporation (Supreme Court 2020) again builds a montage of competing patent tribunals — a district court that enforces and an administrative court that undermines. This case adds an important third tribunal to the story — the jury. The disappointing climax is usually the same — spent on the Federal Circuit who sides with the administration.

            In this case, the jury sided with Personal Audio — finding the asserted claims of its US8112504 both valid and infringed. (Verdict excerpt below from September 2014). The jury awarded $1.3 million.

            [...]

            Here, the patentee argues against estoppel because (1) the PTAB judges were unconstitionally appointed (via Arthrex); and (2) the PTAB determination overturns a prior jury’s finding of facts in a case protected by the 7th Amendment Right to Trial.

            The trouble – as usual – is that the claims are pretty bad: Personal Audio’s patent claims a system for distributing “a series of episodes represented by media files via the Internet.” The new portion appears to be updating a compilation file of currently available episodes. The list of new episodes (and their links) are downloaded by a client computer that can then use the links to request the actual media files.

      • Trademarks

      • Copyrights

        • Alleged SPARKS Member ‘Raid’ Pleads Not Guilty to Piracy Charges

          One of the alleged key members of piracy group SPARKS has pleaded not guilty to US Government charges that he was involved in a conspiracy that cost movie companies tens of millions of dollars. Jonatan Correa, aka ‘Raid’, has been granted bail on a $75,000 bond with a number of conditions attached.

        • Stream-Rippers, IPTV and Cryptocurrency Flagged as Growing Piracy Threats

          The latest IP Crime and Enforcement Report, published by the UK Government, signals a wide variety of ongoing and emerging piracy threats. Pirate IPTV services remain a growing problem that could become worse with the rollout of 5G, it reads. There are also concerns about the use of cryptocurrencies and the growth of stream-rippers.

        • Creative Commons Celebrates International Literacy Day

          Supporting the worldwide teaching of these vital skills will help build a more equal society, but the COVID-19 crisis has disrupted education in nearly every country.

        • Canadian Heritage Minister Guilbeault Says Social Media Sites Linking to News Content Without Payment is “Immoral”

          While Guilbeault is expected to hand new powers to the CRTC to establish new Internet regulations and mandated payments, there is a far better approach available to the government if it remains convinced that more financial support is needed for these sectors. Rather than adopt the Internet subsidy model that runs major policy and political risks, it should ensure that the technology companies pay their fair share of taxes that will go into general revenues. There needs to be an international consensus on how to do so, but there is considerable momentum behind a fairer allocation of the tax revenues from large technology company earnings. If the government wants to use some of those revenues in cultural or media support, it is free to do so without invoking the CRTC to establish cross-subsidies that will hurt both consumers and access to information and content online.

Who Really Exposed Amandine ‘cryptie’ Jambert of CNIL/FSFE?

Posted in Deception, Europe, Free/Libre Software at 9:28 am by Guest Editorial Team

Reprinted with permission from the Free Software Fellowship

There has been a lot of discussion this week about the ethics of revealing and discussing Amandine Jambert’s real identity and connection between her CNIL and FSFE roles. Just as with the Mollamby scandal in Debian, it has been necessary to consider both privacy and public interest in the same equation.

Some of the public interest factors in the Jambert case:

Matthias Kirschner famously made this comment at the end of 2018:

One general wish — which I agreed with — from Debian was to better share information about people

When he wrote that, did he anticipate sharing information about Jambert?

This photo of the FSFE e.V. members was taken outside LinuxHotel, Essen, when they decided to impose more conflict on the free software community. Two of the resignations occurred immediately after this photo. Do these people owe Jambert and the rest of the community an apology?

fsfe meeting

Amandine ‘Cryptie’ Jambert, CNIL (Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertés) and FSFE Privacy Scandals

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software at 3:11 am by Guest Editorial Team

Reprinted with permission from the Free Software Fellowship

There have recently been concerns raised on various mailing lists about the identity of Cryptie in FSFE.

For many years, Amandine Jambert has wandered around the free software world using a pseudonym, Cryptie. While anybody else using an alternative name has been accused of trolling, Jambert has had some immunity. Why? As concerns grow about the hidden conflicts of interests and corporate influence in free software organizations and as these organizations use the weight of their reputations to shame and humiliate people, it is more important than ever to identify the controllers of the organizations.

Thanks to Wright’s investigations, we can now search for information about Cryptie and search for information about Amandine Jambert @ CNIL and find they are the same person.

Amandine 'cryptie' JAMBERT, CNIL, FSFE

The Cryptie case is even more special than a regular conflict of interest. As Mr Wright pointed out in his explosive email, FSFE e.V. covered up the very type of privacy breach that Jambert’s employer, CNIL, would be expected to investigate.

CNIL is France’s Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertés. CNIL’s mission clearly includes investigating and sanctioning data privacy breaches.

Many parts of the world now have mandatory reporting of privacy breaches.

On 15 March 2018, Matthias Kirschner, president of FSFE e.V., wrote an email to the internal GA mailing list:

Subject: [GA] Report about privacy problem with financial data

From: Matthias Kirschner

Date: 15 March 2018



The archives of finance at lists.fsfe.org, and thereby all the information

including full names, amount, credit card and bank details, were public

from 18 December 2017 until 13 March 2018.

It is incredulous that such data is managed on a mailing list, especially when the list runs on the same public server as Internet-accessible public lists. All serious organizations keep such data on servers in isolated subnets, with mail allowed in through an intermediate box in the DMZ. There is never direct access from the Internet to the box where sensitive data is actually stored.

Germany, where FSFE e.V. is based, has a clear requirement for organizations to report privacy breaches to regulators and victims. Yet in Kirschner’s email, he writes that FSFE council chose not to report it: in other words, a cover-up.

It raises serious questions about how Amandine Jambert, an employee of one of the largest national regulatory bodies in Europe, can turn a blind eye. Jambert is a member of the internal FSFE GA mailing list and received the report and subsequent discussion there. Did she discuss FSFE e.V.’s privacy issues with her employer?

FSFE e.V. subsequently admitted further data breaches and used the minutes of their annual meeting to publish defamatory attacks against a former volunteer. This behaviour, deliberately naming and shaming somebody, is an assault on the principles of European data protection laws. It is not clear how Jambert or any CNIL employee can continue being a member of this organization.

This brings us to the question: why does Jambert use a pseudonym, Cryptie, in the FSFE? Why does she not want to use her real name? Is it because she knows that FSFE behaviour is so unprofessional and she wants to hide it from her workplace? Or is it the other way around, Jambert hiding her professional identity from the Free Software community so that they can make undercover investigations into the privacy practices of Free Software organizations?

Many people already feel that national privacy laws and the bodies enforcing them are toothless tigers, with companies like Google and Facebook running amok and doing as they please. With a CNIL employee moonlighting in a non-profit secretly bankrolled by Google, it will only add to the perception of incompetence.

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IRC Proceedings: Tuesday, September 08, 2020

Posted in IRC Logs at 2:31 am by Needs Sunlight

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