12.30.20

Links 30/12/2020: Withdrawing GitHub-Backup From Debian, Dragonbox Pyra Shipping

Posted in News Roundup at 7:10 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • GNU/Linux

    • Server

      • 10 Linux Hardening Tips for Beginner SysAdmins

        Taking your first steps as a Linux sysadmin? Here are the OS hardening tricks you need to secure your systems.

        Linux systems are secure by design and provide robust administration tools. But no matter how well-designed a system is, its security depends on the user.

        Beginners often take years to find the best security policies for their machines. That’s why we are sharing these essential Linux hardening tips for new users like you. Give them a try.

    • Audiocasts/Shows

      • Every Linux User Should Know Regex and Awk – YouTube

        Regex is a fundamental skill for anyone working with text streams, whether professionally or just for managing your Linux system but a lot of regex examples are needlessly complex and it doesn’t have to be like that. Regex is actually quite easy once you understand the components.

      • Vim Can Save You Hours Of Work

        I sometimes get people asking “Is learning Vim worth it?” The answer to that question is a resounding “YES!” Vim can save you so much time editing text once you learn some of the advanced features available within it.

      • mintCast 351 – Greasy Joysticks – mintCast

        First up, in our Wanderings, I nuke an SSD on accident, Joe gets buff…er, Tony fills a doggy bag, Moss is grateful, and Erik Linuxes all the things!

        Then in the news, Mint’s 20.1 Beta is available, Kentucky Fried Chicken reduces, reuses and recycles, XFCE sees an upgrade, and Gnome not far behind.

      • Perilously Precocious Predictions | LINUX Unplugged 386

        Friends join us for a special edition of the show to review last year’s predictions, and forecast the future.

        Special Guests: Alan Pope, Alex Kretzschmar, Brent Gervais, Drew DeVore, Joe Ressington, and Neal Gompa.

    • Kernel Space

      • Graphics Stack

        • Mike Blumenkrantz: poll()ing For WSI

          Any swapchain master is already well acquainted with the mechanism by which images are displayed on the screen, but the gist of it for anyone unfamiliar is that there’s N image resources that are swapped back and forth (2 for double-buffered, 3 for triple-buffered, …). An image being rendered to is a backbuffer, and an image being displayed is a frontbuffer.

          Ideally, a frontbuffer shouldn’t be drawn to while it’s in the process of being presented since such an action obliterates the app’s usefulness. The knowledge of exactly when a resource is done presenting is gained through WSI. On Xorg, however, it’s a bit tricky, to say the least. DRI3 is intended to address the underlying problems there with the XPresent extension, and the Mesa DRI frontend utilizes this to determine when an image is safe to use.

          All this is great, and I’m sure it works terrifically in other cases, but zink is not like other cases. Zink lacks direct WSI integration. Under Xorg, this means it relies entirely on the DRI frontend to determine when it’s safe to start rendering onto an image resource.

          But what if the DRI frontend gets it wrong?

          Indeed, due to quirks in the protocol/xserver, XPresent idle events can be received for a “presented” image immediately, even if it’s still in use and has not finished presenting.

        • Proposed Patches Would Enable FP16 Pixel Format Support For Older AMD GPUs – Phoronix

          Patches posted on Monday by independent open-source contributor Mario Kleiner would enable FP16 pixel format support for older generations of AMD Radeon GPUs.

          These latest patches from Kleiner would enable FP16 pixel format support for DCE8 through DCE11 display hardware, or basically Kaveri / Hawaii through Polaris.

        • Mesa’s Freedreno Gallium3D Now Exposes OpenGL 3.2 Support – Phoronix

          Mesa 21.0 has flipped on support for allowing OpenGL 3.2 contexts with the Freedreno Gallium3D driver that provides open-source GL support for Qualcomm Adreno hardware.

          OpenGL 3.1 support was advertised while all OpenGL 3.2 functionality was since wired up. Eric Anholt as a result has now exposed the OpenGL 3.2 support by flipping on GLSL 150 for Adreno 600 series and newer Qualcomm GPUs.

        • 56 Patches Volleyed For Improving Intel Linux Graphics Driver Scheduling – Phoronix

          Longtime Intel open-source graphics driver developer Chris Wilson sent out a set of 56 patches today working to improve their kernel graphics driver’s scheduling performance.

          Among the 56 patches out today include implementing support for fair low-latency scheduling based in part on BFS/MuQSS kernel scheduler concepts. There is also new infrastructure for ring scheduling and other work helping with latency reductions and support going back to Gen6 graphics.

    • Applications

      • 7 Linux Port Scanners for Admins and Enthusiasts

        Port scanners are tools that help users identify open ports on a computer network. Admins can use them for reviewing security policies and monitoring network services. Plus, an abundance of Linux port scanners makes it easy to discover sensitive network information. In this guide, we look at some of the best port scanners available for Linux users. Users just starting out can use them to gain hands-on experience with network security.

      • [Older] Best Ubuntu Screen Recorders – LinuxConfig.org

        If you ever need to record your screen on Ubuntu Linux, there are a lot of tools you can use to accomplish the task. Not all Linux screen recording software is created equal, and you may find that one tool suits your scenario better than others.

        In this guide, we’re counting down our top 5 favorite screen recorders for Ubuntu. We’ll also cover their highlighted features and show you how to install and get started using each one via apt package manager on command line.

      • App Showcase: Backups – Purism

        Déjà Dup is the recommended way to backup your data on all Librem hardware. It allows you to schedule backups or restore past backups.

      • Experience alternate computing with the Pe text editor

        The Haiku operating system is a bold but successful attempt at reviving an old OS called BeOS. In the 1990s, BeOS was positioned to become the foundation for the next evolution of the Apple Mac line of computers. Back in the 1990s, Apple Inc. was poised to acquire BeOS as its next generation operating system. At the last minute, however, Apple decided the price was too steep and acquired the UNIX-based NeXT operating system instead (and so Mac OS X was born). BeOS, however, had made some remarkable progress in multi-threading, file systems and attributes, and interface design. When the company finally folded, its userbase persisted.

    • Instructionals/Technical

      • What is Kubernetes?

        Kubernetes is an open source platform originally developed by Google. Today it is supported and developed by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation. With Kubernetes, containers can be orchestrated. The platform enables the simplification and the automated setup, provision, operation, scaling and maintenance of the containers. It is the basis for many cloud-native applications that consist of microservices.

        The platform works on a master-slave basis with a structure consisting of pods, nodes and clusters. Containers can be operated on physical or virtual computers. Kubernetes provides a technical basis for modern cloud-native applications consisting of many individual microservices.

        Kubernetes was originally developed by Google. The software appeared for the first time in 2014. A year later, in 2015, Google donated the software to the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF). Today it is responsible for the further development of the platform. In addition to Kubernetes, the CNCF is responsible for many other software solutions in the field of cloud native computing.

      • Top 5 OpenShift and Kubernetes guides | Enable Sysadmin

        Cloud-native applications consist of four different pillars: containerization, microservices, DevOps, and Continuous Integration/Continuous Development (CI/CD). The Kubernetes platform is the de facto orchestration platform for containers while the other three components are deeply integrated into the platform itself. Red Hat OpenShift is a popular Kubernetes enterprise solution.

        As we enter 2021, we will observe more industries start to adopt container and digital transformation strategies. According to Brian Gracely, Senior Director of Product Strategy at Red Hat, adoption of Kubernetes-based strategies can help to scale and develop applications faster, and support hybrid and multi-cloud strategy.

        Here at Enable Sysadmin, we want to inform our readers about best practices for adopting and succeeding with Kubernetes. Check out our top Kubernetes and OpenShift articles of the past year. You may find a bit of practical information that you can put into your best practices today.

      • Openstack RDO && KVM Hypervisor: Deployment Java CRUD App to Tomcat 9.0.40 (MySQL 8.0.22)

        Encapsulate JDBC setup into public DBConnection.java and afterwards in any JSP working with database we should be able import this class and invoke :-

      • Adding comments to your static blog with Mastodon

        One of the biggest disadvantages of static site generators is that they are static and can’t include comments.

        There are multiples solutions to solve this problem. You could add a third party blog engine like Disqus, but this has the drawback of including a third-party tool with a bad privacy record in your website. Another solution would be to host an open-source alternative but this comes at the cost of a higher maintenance burden. Having to host a database was something we wanted to avoid with a static site generator.

        In my opinion, a better solution is to leverage the Mastodon and Fediverse platform. Mastodon is a decentralized social network and it allows people to communicate with each other without being on the same server. It is inspired by Twitter, but instead of tweeting, you write toot.

      • How to Enable Timestamp in Linux Ping Command Output

        Learn how to enable timestamp in ping command output on Linux and UNIX systems.

      • Printing From The Raspberry PI Using CUPS

        In this guide you will be shown how to setup a printer using the Raspberry PI.

      • How To Connect To A Raspberry PI Using VNC
      • How To Connect To A Raspberry PI Using SSH
      • Create an SD-Card Using Raspberry PI Imager
      • How to enable Minimize button on Elementary OS distro

        Developers of Elementary OS has really done a good job with its Patheon desktop environment. It is really beautiful, sleek, and modern just like macOS. However, most of the time, the users of Elementary OS would face a problem when it comes to minimizing the active windows. Because there is no icon or button available to minimize.

        Well, we can get it using the elementary tweak tool, however, before that, we should know that really there is no way to minimize windows on this Linux distro.

      • How do I apply package updates to my Ubuntu system?
      • How to write FreeBSD image to USB disk for installation – nixCraft

        Explains how to write FreeBSD installer image to USB disk for installation purpose on Linux or FreeBSD system using dd command.

      • How To Prevent A Package From Upgrade In Debian, Ubuntu

        As you already know, we can upgrade all installed packages using apt upgrade command in Debian, Ubuntu and other Debian-based systems. During this upgrade process, all installed packages will be upgraded, some additional packages (i.e. dependencies) will be installed, and some unnecessary packages will be deleted. Apt package manager does all these things automatically to help the users to maintain a clean system. Apt also has an option to prevent a package from being automatically installed, upgraded or removed in Debian, Ubuntu and its variants. In this guide, we will discuss various methods to hold or prevent a package from upgrade in Debian, Ubuntu and its derivatives such as Linux Mint and Pop!_OS.

      • Running Classic MS-DOS games on the Pi 400 with RetroPie and DOSBox – YouTube

        The Raspberry Pi 400 is a complete computer with a built-in keyboard, so why not turn it into a classic PC game system? In this video, I talk about a recent project I worked on for fun where I configured RetroPie to run various MS-DOS games via DOSBox.

      • Fedora 33 : Install wordpress on Fedora distro.

        For those who are celebrating the winter holidays with the Linux operating system, I have created this little tutorial…
        First step – update and upgrade the Fedora 33 Linux distro.

      • Fedora 33 : Fixes and changes for wordpress – part 001.

        If you have the latest version of WordPress installed, then you may encounter this error when trying to add a new page or post.

      • The Linux Schools Project: System Information Page

        A new page has been added to the Web Management to show system information for the servers. This information was previously shown on other pages but moving it to one page makes it easier for administrators to see a summary for the server.

      • aria2 – A Command Line Multi-Protocol Download Tool for Linux

        aria2 is a free, open source, lightweight multi-protocol and multi-source command-line download application.

        It supports HTTP/HTTPS, FTP, SFTP, BitTorrent and Metalink.

        aria2 can be manipulated via built-in JSON-RPC and XML-RPC interfaces.

        aria2 automatically checks chunks of the data when downloading a file.

    • Games

      • Bloody Service is an 80’s slasher inspired FMV and a visual novel, expect lots of death | GamingOnLinux

        Developer CASE has given us the very latest in interactive entertainment with Bloody Service, a throwback to classic 80′s slasher movies and it’s worth a look.

        Blending together a visual novel with a dark horror theme, along with FMV (full motion video), it’s an experience you’re not likely to forget any time soon. The developer said to “think of Carrie as if Carrie had a conjoined twin and loved to play tennis” so you know you’re in for something weird and dark.

    • Distributions

      • Puppy is still the mascot for EasyOS and EasyPup

        There is a security question for registration at the Easy Forum, that asks what is the mascot for EasyOS. The answer is that it is still the same little guy.

        [...]

        EasyOS is a fork-of-a-fork of Puppy Linux, however, I don’t want to change the mascot. He remains the mascot forever!

      • Proposal: enhance xrandrshell to replace Zarfy

        As mentioned in that post, changing the screen after the desktop has started, is a sub-optimal way of doing it. The post mentioned using QuickSetup|xrandrshell to change the screen resolution — which uses xrandr, but if you choose to make it permanent, modifies /etc/X11/xorg.conf, so the desktop starts up first time in the desired resolution.

      • Zarfy fixed in OE

        Zarfy is a GUI for libxrandr, in particular for handling multiple monitors. Easy Buster has version 0.1.0, which works, however, Easy Dunfell has version 0.1.1, which is broken. In 0.1.1, the “-l” option, to load a configuration file, doesn’t work.
        Version 0.1.1 is not an official release, it is a fork of of the “official” project.

      • EasyOS Dunfell 0.104 released

        Ah, yes, that is due to the ‘dc’ applet in busybox being broken. After version 1.28.4, busybox ‘dc’ works differently, in conformance with the full ‘dc’ utility.
        Dunfell 0.103 and earlier has busybox 1.28.4. I have bumped it to the same as Buster, 1.32.0, and the problem has gone away.
        Actually, I had modified the scripts so they detect the old or new ‘dc’, and behave accordingly, however, that is not working for the old ‘dc’.

      • New Releases

        • Ultra-Lightweight Distribution 4MLinux 35.0 Released! Check Out What’s New

          The miniature Linux distribution 4MLinux sees a new release with stable version 35.0 that comes with updated packages and some new additions.

          4MLinux is an independent lightweight Linux distribution that focuses on Maintenance, Multimedia, Miniserver, and Mystery (a collection of classic Linux games).

          Recently the team behind 4MLinux team has announced the change of 4MLinux 35.0 series into a stable release version. As a result, the distribution underwent some changes that include updated packages and new features.

      • BSD

      • Screenshots/Screencasts

        • Deepin 20.1

          Today we are looking at Deepin 20.1. It comes with Linux Kernel 5.4 and uses about 1GB of ram when idling. Enjoy!

        • Deepin 20.1 Run Through

          In this video, we are looking at Deepin 20.1

      • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandriva/OpenMandriva Family

        • Bluemail email client updated to 1.1.54

          BlueMail by Blix a free, beautifully designed, universal email app, capable of managing an unlimited number of mail accounts from various providers, allowing for smart push notifications and group emailing while enabling personalization across multiple email accounts. The BlueMail app connects directly to your mail server and is the perfect replacement for your stock email app.

      • IBM/Red Hat/Fedora

        • New Free & Community Distribution To Replace CentOS

          Red Hat recently announced that its turning the stable trusted CentOS distribution, which was a community clone of Red Hat Enterprise Linux, acquired by Red Hat a few years ago into a rolling release distribution called CentOS Stream.

        • Rocky Linux

          As a desktop Linux user, I haven’t been supper attentive to the CentOS drama.

      • Debian Family

        • Joey Hess: Withdrawing github-backup

          If the farce of youtube-dl being removed from github, thus losing access to all its issues and pull requests, taught us anything, it’s that having that happen does not make many people reconsider their dependence on github.

          [...]

          That seems like something it might be worth building some software to manage. But it’s also just another case of Github’s mass bending reality around it; the average Github user doesn’t care about this and still gets archived; the average self-hosting git user may care about this slightly more, but most won’t get archived, even if that software did get built.

        • Debian vs Ubuntu in 2021- The Ultimate Showdown

          When it comes to Debian vs Ubuntu on the grounds of software, Ubuntu gives less importance to software licensing and cares much about usability. There are numerous differences in software policies, for example, Ubuntu has everything included in its default repository; sufficiently user-friendly. Debian has proprietary software as the least favorite as the separate repository of instructions is to be manually enabled by the user.

          Debian lacks a lot of firmware due to its kernel containing no proprietary binary large object (Blobs). And so, Debian is troublesome for firmware and drivers. Ubuntu works closely with hardware manufacturers to fix installation problems and so it possesses maximum firmware for increased usability. The reason behind the automatic installation and driver configuration of Ubuntu.

          Debian doesn’t have any PPAs while Personal Package Archives are available in Ubuntu, making it superior-easy for developers to activate with a single Linux Command. It is much easier than importing the GPG or GNU Privacy Guard and adding the repository address to the concerned configuration file.
          Everyone working for Debian is a volunteer, a set of community developers with their own set of structure and internal laws. A board of chosen developers runs the Debian atmosphere. While a company called Canonical is behind the development of Ubuntu and they have complete authority over their project. They have the potential to safely ship machines using Dell, negotiate with hardware manufacturers for better stability, and backup at times of disaster. If you run Ubuntu in a productive environment, you have Canonical on your back.

      • Canonical/Ubuntu Family

        • Xavier NX based edge AI system eyes large deployments

          Axiomtek’s “AIE100-903-FL-NX” is an edge AI system built around Nvida’s 6-core Carmel Arm v8.2 64-bit processor and 384-core Volta GPU. The system integrates Allxon’s device management solution.

          Axiomtek has announced its AIE100-903-FL-NX edge AI system. The box-level system is powered by the Nvidia’s Jetson Xavier NX module. The Xavier module sports a a 6-core Nvidia Carmel Arm v8.2 64-bit processor and 384-core Nvidia Volta GPU architecture with 48 Tensor cores. The system is designed for AI computing and deep learning applications, such as behavior analytics, face recognition and vehicle analysis. The box supports Linux Ubuntu 18.04, and features an operating temperature of -30°C to +50°C.

        • Contributing without Code

          Users of launchpad who contributed to Ubuntu would get karma – basically Internet Points. By early 2007 I’d amassed more karma – even more than core Ubuntu developers – by simply answering a lot of support questions, and having those answers marked as the solution. Karma on launchpad ages over time, so my ‘rank’ as shown on the ‘top contributors’ page is no longer evident. But at the time it was enough for me to be pointed out and thanked at an in person Ubuntu Developer Summit in Seville, which was nice. I wasn’t in it for the money, but a “Thank you” in front of my peers went a long way ;).

          In 2010 it was proposed that Ubuntu should create a “Stack Exchange” Q&A site to provide support for new users. Within a short period, AskUbuntu was successfully launched, and now, 10 years later, is my preferred way to provide new Ubuntu users with technical help. I’ve clocked up some 17K Internet points over on AskUbuntu for which I’m rewarded with additional site features. It’s a really effecive and friendly place to get and give support, so I’ll likely continue dipping in when I have time.

    • Devices/Embedded

      • Dragonbox Pyra begins shipping to customers (open hardware handheld gaming PC)

        The DragonBox Pyra is a handheld computer with a 5 inch display, a TI OMAP 5 processor, a QWERTY keyboard and built-in game controllers. Designed to be a hackable, open hardware device, the little PC ships with Debian Linux but supports alternate operating systems, and you can use the Pyra as a general purpose computer or a portable gaming machine.

        After years of development, the first DragonBox Pyra handheld computers are now being assembled and shipped to the first customers who placed pre-orders… although it might take a little while before all pre-orders are filled and the team behind the Pyra is ready to begin shipping units to customers who place new orders today.

      • Dragonbox Pyra open source hardware handheld Linux PC is finally shipping

        We first covered the Dragonbox Pyra in 2014 when it was described as an open-source handheld game console powered by Texas Instruments OMAP5432 SoC, or maybe AllWinner A80, Intel Bay Trail, or Qualcomm Snapdragon processors since the exact specifications were still in the works for the Pandora successor. Michael Mrozek (EvilDragon) finally decided to keep going with the OMAP5 processor due to the good documentation and software support, and pre-orders started in 2016 with a 330 to 400 Euros downpayment and no clear timeline about shipping.

      • The HSA Foundation Has Been Eerily Quiet As We Roll Into 2021 – Phoronix

        Much of the Heterogeneous System Architecture (HSA) steam was lost when AMD began focusing on its Radeon Open eCosystem (ROCm) software stack. While AMD was just one of several founding members, there doesn’t seem to be much going on for the HSA effort as we roll into 2021 and in fact their website has been down for an extended period of time.

        There hasn’t been any real HSA news in a while since AMD began focusing on ROCm as its open-source compute stack, which recently reached version 4.0. AMD in the process of acquiring Xilinx has also been working on ROCm support for Xilinx FPGAs with AMD putting all their cards on this compute stack. Meanwhile Intel has been pushing oneAPI everywhere they can even on competitor hardware/platforms and NVIDIA remains all-in on CUDA.

      • Pumpkin i500 SBC uses MediaTek i500 AIoT SoC for computer vision and AI Edge computing

        MediaTek Rich IoT SDK v20.0 was released at the beginning of the year together with the announcement of Pumpkin i500 SBC with very few details except it would be powered by MediaTek i500 octa-core Cortex-A73/A55 processor and designed to support computer vision and AI Edge Computing.

        Pumpkin i500 hardware evaluation kit was initially scheduled to launch in February 2020, but it took much longer, and Seeed Studio has only just listed the board for $299.00.

      • IoT development board comes with AVR or PIC MCU, WiFi module
      • The official Raspberry Pi accessory distributor conundrum

        Why isn’t the Norwegian keyboard layout variant of the official Raspberry Pi keyboard accessory available for sale in Norway? Norway is the primary, if not the only, market for it. I went up the distribution chain to figure out why it isn’t available.

        I’ve been ogling the new Raspberry Pi 400: a single-board computer built into an 80s-style computer-in-a-keyboard case. It’s not currently available with a Norwegian keyboard layout. However, the top chassis of the Raspberry Pi 400, including the keyboard, is interchangeable with the official Raspberry Pi keyboard accessory. You can pop off the keyboard of a Pi 400 and swap it out with any other Raspberry Pi brand keyboard. According to the Raspberry Pi Foundation, the official keyboard accessory should be available in a Norwegian layout variant.

        What does “available” mean anyway? The official keyboard’s product page on the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s website doesn’t list any resellers for the Norwegian layout variant in either of the available color options (red/white and black/gray). None of the companies that sell the Raspberry Pi in Norway sells any layout variant of the keyboard accessory. Neither Google Shopping nor any of the Norwegian price comparison websites can find it listed in any store. Bing and Google can’t find any Norwegian website that sells it either. The product doesn’t seem to exist.

      • 4 of the Best IoT Boards for Children – IoT Tech Trends

        Is your child interested in IoT? The best way to give them a proper introduction is through hands-on skills related to IoT boards, along with LCD displays, sensors, relays, LEDs, and other components. What you’re looking for is a child-friendly IoT board that can teach important IoT skills without requiring any prior electronics experience. Check out some of the best IoT boards for children below.

        Whether you need to acquaint your child with a single-board computer or an Arduino-based microcontroller, the following are some of the best IoT boards available for younger people. None of them require soldering, jumper wires, or any programming knowledge, so they may be a good fit even for adults who are curious about IoT.

      • 10 Things You Should Do With Your New Raspberry PI 400

        If you are reading this page then you have either just purchased or been given the Raspberry PI 400 or you are about to buy or receive the Raspberry PI 400.

        Built on the same technology as the Raspberry PI 4, the Raspberry PI 400 is a fully fledged desktop computer built into the casing of a nicely designed keyboard.

        This list highlights the first 10 things you should do when you use the Raspberry PI 400. The points below will help you get a better experience and enable you to get to know your Raspberry PI 400 and it’s capabilities.

        This guide assumes you have all the hardware you need such as a mouse, power cable, micro-hdmi to hdmi cable, a monitor and an sd-card and you have everything connected.

        [...]

        It is possible to safely overclock the Raspberry PI 400 to give it a boost for some of the more resource intensive tasks.

        To overclock your PI open a terminal window by pressing ctrl, alt and t at the same time.

      • The Raspberry PI 400

        The Raspberry PI 400 is a low cost but fully functional desktop computer costing less than £100. You can perform most of your daily computing tasks with the Raspberry PI 400 and it is perfect as a first computer for younger family members although I use it as my main computer.

        The Raspberry PI 400 essentially has the same computing power as the Raspberry PI 4 which includes a Broadcom BCM2711 quad-core Cortex-A72 (ARM) processor running at 1.8 ghz. There are 4 gigabytes of RAM, bluetooth, dual-band wifi, gigabit ethernet, 3 USB ports, 2 micro-HDMI out ports and OpenGL graphics.

      • 10 Must Have Applications For The Raspberry PI 400

        This guide lists the 10 must have applications to complete the Raspberry PI 400.

        Some of the applications in this list are installed by default, and others you will need to install from the repositories.

        It is assumed that you are using Raspberry PI OS

      • Open Hardware/Modding

        • Automating an electric standing desk with Arduino

          IKEA sells – among many, many, other items – a motorized sit/stand desk called the BEKANT. Although it seems like a nice item, creator “Hardware Unknown” found having to hold a button down the entire time that it goes from one position to another to be a bit inconvenient.

          To remedy this situation, he cannibalized the stock PCB out of a spare control panel, then hooked up an Arduino Nano to emulate button presses to the board via a pair of MOSFETs. Four user input buttons were added, along with a 3D-printed enclosure for a custom controller.

        • Unused blackboard becomes vertical plotter

          The project uses a pair of NEMA 17 motors to dictate the lengths of timing belt that suspend the drawing instrument, with counterweights help keep it in position. An Arduino Mega running Makelangelo firmware controls the device, using a RAMPS 1.4 board and two A4988 stepper drivers.

        • Arduino Blog » The RoboTrombo is a MIDI-controlled robotic trombone

          Inspired by Wintergatan’s Martin Molin, iSax set out to create a MIDi-controlled robotic trombone of his own. Although the aptly named RoboTrombo may not replace professional trombone players any time soon, it’s nonetheless an impressive musical hack.

          The instrument is controlled by an Arduino Nano running Firmata, along with a host computer, and employs a variety of pneumatic and electrical actuators to produce the tunes.

      • Mobile Systems/Mobile Applications

    • Free, Libre, and Open Source Software

      • Web Browsers

        • Brave adds support for IPFS distributed P2P websites

          The Brave browser recently added support for the InterPlanetary File System (IPFS) protocol in its beta release channel (desktop only). IPFS is a peer-to-peer (P2P) protocol that can be used in web browsers to visit websites that are hosted by the website’s visitors instead of a central web server. This is called the distributed web. For the last two decades, the open web has been on a steady course into the hands of a few behemoth multinational companies. The distributed web is a tool that can wrangle back control from the few and hand it back to the many.

          The distributed web still hasn’t gone mainstream, and Brave’s one percent market share won’t drastically change the web’s architecture overnight. Brave’s adoption of IPFS is notable because it’s the first time an externally developed P2P protocol makes it into a web browser. Previous attempts at a P2P web browser, such as BitTorrent Maelstrom, has always been lead by the developers of the protocol. No P2P protocol has convinced a web browser vendor to integrate their protocol before.

          Previously, you’ve only been able to use IPFS in web browsers by installing a separate program and a companion extension in your web browser. Brave now comes with native built-in IPFS support. Its support isn’t quite equivalent to HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP) yet, but it’s a huge leap forward for IPFS. When you open an IPFS link (ipfs://example/) in Brave, it will open it using a public web-gateway server by default. Gateways are public web servers that proxy content from the IPFS network via a traditional web server. Brave will also prompt you to enable native IPFS support, and warns you about IPFS privacy issues. More on the IPFS privacy issues later.

          Brave hasn’t developed a new implementation of IPFS. Instead, Brave ships the IPFS reference client and runs it as a helper process. I had wrongly assumed that js-ipfs, an almost fully-featured IPFS client written in JavaScript, would be the foundation of the first browser to ship with IPFS integration. Brave launches the IPFS daemon on demand when you access IPFS content. It doesn’t launch it with the browser when it’s not needed.

      • FSF

      • Programming/Development

        • z^7 Hexagonal Mandelbrot Fractal

          Every Christmas, I like to publish a fun program. Previous efforts include a brute force Sudoku solver, quaternion Mandelbrot animation and toroid animation. It is more fun if it includes fractals, spheres, toroids or hexagons. Or spherical cows or spherical reindeer. This year, I learned that there are variants of a Mandelbrot fractal which involve exponents larger than two. The result has a pleasing symmetry despite the off-by-one nature of the exponent. Specifically, zn+1 = znp + z0 has p-1 rotational symmetry and z7 has a pleasing six-way symmetry which looks like a snowflake.

        • node.example.com Is An IP Address

          Python 3 knows that’s not an IPv6 address, so why doesn’t Python 2? The answer is in how differently the two Python versions handle text.

  • Leftovers

    • Apples

      The townspeople paste wax apples on the trees, glow shyly out their windows as the Dictator struts past the monument of his father strutting past nothing at all. Yesterday, the Dictator dressed the Butcher’s boy in the uniform of his own son. Today, at the orders of the Dictator, guards shot the boy.

      In the town of his childhood, the Curator is a tourist. He touches his mother with the language with which he does not touch his work. In the painting, bored bored Eve chomps on an apple. In the tongue of his work, he acquires her.

    • Random Assignment

      It seems to want to rain but can’t. It fades to pink, an argument. Relinquish the dream.

      You can’t ever get what you want, You can’t please any of the people Any of the time.

    • Opinion | On Wounded Knee: We Fight To Mend the Hoop
    • 2020: The Year Sports Should Have Stopped

      This cursed year of 2020 should be remembered as the time when sports was put in a meat grinder, mixed with all manner of offal and served to us as hope.

    • 125 years after cinema was born: Does it have a future?

      On November 1, 1895, a couple of weeks before the Lumieres, the German brothers Max and Emil Skladanowsky presented their projector. However, their device was technically inferior to the one presented by the Lumiere brothers, and it was thanks to technical superiority and commercial marketing that December 28, 1895 went down in history as the day when cinema was born.

      The age of streaming

      A century and a quarter later, that would actually be a reason to celebrate. But because of the coronavirus pandemic this year, no workshops or events have been organized — in stark comparison to events that took place five years ago when cinema turned 120. At the time, the Grand Palais in Paris recognized the achievements of the Lumiere brothers with a comprehensive exhibition.

    • Education

      • Trump Executive Order on Private School Vouchers Denounced as ‘Last-Ditch Effort to Claim Victory’ in War on Public Education

        “Trump fought against funding for public education for months, then does this as he begrudgingly signs [the] Covid relief bill.”

      • Higher Education Risks No Longer Being Worth It – Here’s How to Change Course

        Nearly all the revenue increases in higher education over the past few decades have been driven by growth in tuition, according to Fitch Ratings. And yet, the value of a bachelor’s degree has declined over these same years, manifested in the flattening of the college wage premium and rise in grade inflation.

        While one scenario is for higher education to emerge out of the pandemic with the same underlying strategy, but with some new bells and whistles, we should hope for more. Higher education should be an arena that inspires and creates. And yet, it often becomes a play pen, resource drain, and source of propaganda. Reforming higher education will require a fundamental change in incentives.

      • Inequality in Indian Education

        There was a recent article on scroll which shared how Indian education can’t go online as only a few have computers with decent netlink speeds as well as other factors which are needed for online education. But there are also many things that the article doesn’t take into account which actually make the task more difficult and raise the boundary more.

        Now in most schools and colleges, the number of students to teacher ratio could be anywhere between 70-150 or even more. In the last few years, a lot of schools have been closed down by various Governments, including and not limited to the ruling Govt. They have in fact intensified closures of public schools wherever their Govt. has been in power. Closing to 5000+ schools in one state in a year is a dramatic shift and such has been happening time and again. In fact, the rising costs of Indian education has made many to leave Indian shores and do studies abroad. And once they do their masters or whatever, the chances of them coming back to India become more and more remote. In India the costs have been becoming so bad that NBFC’s have started products targeting the same. How NBFC and Banks have (both public and private) have fared with respect to Indian consumers needs its own blog post but one word to describe it is ‘bad’. But as shared above, needs its own blog post.

        Coming to the Indian context though, what has not been captured in that article is that the responsibility of making new content also raises huge barriers for teachers. My own experience in teacher’s trainings for ICT usage has shown that most teachers do not know and use internet effectively both to sustain their own curiosity as well as their students. Part of which is whether you are private employee or a public school teacher, the teacher is not paid enough. I have had multiple conversations with friends over the years who are teachers who shared that they get 50% salary in-hand while they sign for 100%. This is more in the case or private schools though. In Govt. schools, the teachers apart from their regular administrative duties apart from teaching duties are also unpaid labor for Govt. policy. Take the recent covid crisis, it was the teachers who for months together went from door-to-door asking if they had a covid patient. This was all over India. Even for voter registration, census, polio and various other immunization efforts, the teachers are roped in. So apart from that, they somehow have to figure out how to make ends meet and also boost student morale. Hence the attention is only limited to the first couple of benches rather than the whole as a 45-minute to an hr. session is just not enough to go through a class of 70-150 school students giving individual attention. And this is when for most teachers, teaching is a means to an end and not the end itself.

    • Health/Nutrition

      • In ‘Monumental Win for Reproductive Freedom,’ Mass. Lawmakers Override Governor’s Veto to Affirm and Expand Abortion Rights

        A coalition of supporters celebrated the development as “an important step in removing medically unnecessary barriers to abortion care.”

      • Mangal and Mirabai: Sisters in Farmers’ Struggle

        But one seat next to Mangal Ghadge is conspicuously empty. She does not allow anyone to sit there – it’s ‘reserved’. Then Mirabai Lange walks up to the van, sits in that empty space and adjusts her saree, while Mangal puts her arm around her shoulders. The door shuts, and Mangal tells the driver, “Chal re [Let’s go].”

        Both Mangal, 53, and Mirabai, 65, are from Shindwad village in Nashik’s Dindori taluka. However, it’s not their decades in the same village but the last few years that have cemented their bond. “We are busy with work and home in the village,” says Mangal. “At protests, we have more time to chat.”

      • Trump Administration Rejects Scientists’ Advice on Nutrition, Maintaining Guidelines for Sugar and Alcohol

        “Again going against scientific advice, again failing the people they serve.”

      • Fauci Describes Vaccine Rollout as “Below Where We Want to Be” Right Now
      • Covid-19 and the Nightmare of Food Insecurity

        As autumn fades and winter looms, the dire predictions public health experts made about Covid-19 have, unfortunately, proven all too accurate. On October 27, 74,379 people were infected in the United States; less than a month and a half later, on December 9, that number had soared to 218,677, while the 2020 total has just surpassed 15 million, a number no other country, not even India, which has a population three times that of the United States, has surpassed.

      • Opinion | Biden to Invoke Defense Production Act for Vaccine Manufacture. Trump? Playing Golf at Mar-a-Lago

        Trump really just doesn’t care.

      • Getting COVID Vaccines to Rural Areas Is Harder Than It Looks
      • Trump’s Covid Aid Shenanigans Were All About Me Me Me
      • COVID-19 Learns From Experience, Unlike Boris Johnson and His Crew
      • Advocates Call for Medical Parole to Avoid ‘Unintentional Death Sentences’ as Covid-19 Ravages US Prisons

        “The bottom line is, there are still thousands of people who are at very high risk of death trapped in a prison system where there’s no way that they can avoid the virus.”

      • Calling Covid-19 Crisis a ‘Wake-Up Call,’ WHO Experts Warn Next Pandemic Could Be Even Worse

        “This pandemic has been very severe… it has affected every corner of this planet. But this is not necessarily the big one.”

      • 2020

        We’ve had a year, you must admit, Whose misery would just not quit. At last, we offer this obit: We’re glad to see the back of it.

      • Spread Far and Fast

        The new disease, public officials said as people began to fall ill with unfamiliar symptoms, was “trifling” and “nothing to worry about provided ordinary precautions were taken.” It was just the flu. In Spain, one newspaper said all that people needed to overcome it was “three days’ bed rest and a medicine cabinet.” In the United States, as cases began to multiply, people were told that their government was working “to confine this disease to its present limits, and in this we are sure to be successful.” But that did not happen. Instead, it spread with astonishing rapidity from country to country, continent to continent. Medical

      • Chinese Government Sentences Journalist To Four Years In Jail For Reporting On The Spread Of The Coronavirus

        Shortly after the coronavirus started showing up everywhere uninvited, President Trump decided to amplify his China-centric trade war with a war of words, referring to the new virus as the “China virus.” The Chinese state media responded by suggesting the United States was actually the source of the virus, and then everything just kind of went to hell for awhile. Both countries took turns throwing each other’s journalists out — something that made a lot of noise but didn’t really accomplish anything.

      • Student Privacy and the Fight to Keep Spying Out of Schools: Year in Review 2020

        With millions of students studying from home to stay safe from COVID-19, new threats have popped up.

        Before the pandemic, the school panopticon toolkit was already wide-ranging. Many schools relied on cameras and microphones installed in buildings to watch students go about their day. The cameras might be equipped with facial recognition; the microphones might have “aggression detection” capabilities. Facial recognition is a biased technology, and cities have started banning government use of face surveillance because of this issue. Aggression detection technology simply doesn’t work.

        Some software scans students’ social media posts, both during and after school hours. Schools can even track students’ personal devices (as opposed to school-issued), by requiring the use of a certain kind of security certificate to use the school Internet, thus giving administrators the ability to monitor browser history and messages students send. These technologies cause real harm, including disproportionately impacting students of color and causing mental health issues. And knowing they might be punished for speaking up— like the Georgia student suspended for posting about inadequate coronavirus mitigation measures—is inherently chilling to students’ freedom of expression.

      • Taiwanese have 3,400 times lower chance of dying from Covid than Americans

        In order to highlight the stark difference in the handling of the coronavirus pandemic between Taiwan and the U.S., Dr. Tom Frieden, the former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), on Monday posted a tweet in which he compared the odds of death if an American had moved to one of the many countries that had better managed their domestic coronavirus outbreaks since the start of the pandemic in January. Frieden started by stating that if a person had moved to Denmark, Norway, or Finland in January, their chances of dying would have been five to 10 times lower than the U.S. for this year.

        If an American had moved to South Korea, Liberia, or Hong Kong, their odds of dying would have been 50 to 60 times less. If they had opted for New Zealand, the likelihood of them dying would be 200 times lower.

      • Operation Warp Speed at a crawl: Adequately vaccinating Americans will take 10 years at current pace

        The Trump administration’s Covid-19 vaccine distribution program needs a major shot in the arm because at the current rate, it would take almost 10 years to inoculate enough Americans to get the pandemic under control, a jarring new NBC News analysis showed Tuesday.

        The goal of Operation Warp Speed, a private-public partnership led by Vice President Mike Pence to produce and deliver safe and effective Covid-19 vaccines to the public, is to ensure that 80 percent of the country’s 330.7 million people get the shots by late June.

      • Dietary guidelines urge no added sugar for babies, toddlers under age 2

        The guidelines stop short of two key recommendations from scientists advising the government. The advisers said in July that everyone should limit their added sugar intake to less than 6 percent of calories and that men should limit alcohol to one drink a day.

      • California nurse tests positive over a week after receiving Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine
    • Integrity/Availability

      • Proprietary

        • VMware Sues Former Executive Who Left for CEO Job at Nutanix

          VMware’s lawsuit against Ramaswami, who was named CEO on Dec. 9, was filed Monday in California state court in San Jose. The company accused its former chief operating officer of products and cloud services of meeting with Nutanix executives and board members while helping VMware craft a strategy and acquisitions road map. VMware, majority owned by Dell Technologies Inc., said the executive’s actions and knowledge of its plans has caused “irreparable injury.” Nutanix, which wasn’t named as a defendant in the suit, called the case “misguided” and said it’s an attempt by VMware to hurt a competitor.

        • He spent 10 days in jail after facial recognition software led to the arrest of the wrong man, lawsuit says

          Investigators relied on facial recognition software to identify Parks as a suspect in crimes that occurred the afternoon of Jan. 26, 2019, at the Hampton Inn hotel on Route 9 North in Woodbridge.

          This kind of software has been criticized for its heavy reliance on billions of social media photos to identify criminal suspects. The use of such software has now been banned by the state of New Jersey.

          [...]

          The Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office offered Parks a deal: In exchange for a guilty plea, he would serve six years in prison with no early release until he’d served 85 percent of his sentence. He would also be on parole for three years after his release.

          If he went to trial, the prosecutor intended to seek a sentence of 20 years or more based on his previous criminal history, Parks said.

          [...]

          Sexton said the software clearly led to his client’s false arrest.

        • Security

          • Jo Christian Oterhals: What did we learn from an astronomer’s hacker hunt in the 80′s? Apparently, not too much

            Computer security has seen its share of mind-boggling news lately. None more mind boggling than the news about how alleged Russian hackers installed a backdoor into the IT monitoring product Solarwind Orion. Through this they got got entrance into the computer systems of several US agencies and departments — ironically even into the systems of a cyber security company (Fireeye) and Microsoft itself . The news made me think of my own history with computer security, and down memory lane I went.

            One particular day in late July or early August 1989 my parents, sister and me were driving home from a short summer vacation. At a short stop in a largish city, I had found a newsstand carrying foreign magazines. There I’d bought a copy of PC/Computing’s September issue (to this day I don’t understand why American magazines are on sale a couple of months before the cover date) so that I had something to make time in the backseat pass faster.

            [...]

            But my guess is that the IT department assessed the digital competence of the parliament members and concluded that it was too low for them to handle strong passwords and managing two-factor authentication.

          • Kali Linux + Mr. Robot ARG Society

            Many of you may have known about the show Mr Robot and its unique connection to Kali Linux. But there is a little bit more that we have not talked about due to NDAs. But it appears the mystery is over, the red tape has been removed, and we now wanted to take a moment to share it with everyone.

            We had a relationship with Mr Robot, which started during the filming of the 2nd season. While the 1st season was running, we were approached at BlackHat 2015 to give our permission to use Kali in the show. We worked out the legal parts of things (it’s legal to use Kali in media, we don’t care, but studios want that in writing), and starting in the 2nd season from time to time the production staff would reach out to us to ask us questions, have us provide them graphics, provide them with specific versions of Kali that were public on specific dates, and similar to keep the show accurate. We were very impressed with the efforts to keep the show grounded while still carrying on a strong hacking focused narrative.

            [...]

            Any show would be nothing without an audience to watch it. Mr Robot is no exception, and after millions of people watched it, communities started to formed (either online or in person). People would discuss previous episodes, predict theories of where the show was going to go, and have watching parties. Its not un-common for shows to have “Easter eggs” embedded in them (these can be are little gems hidden in plain sight, which may give a “head nod” to something, or a spoiler for a up coming event). They are hunted after by people, and adds another level of excitement to re-watch a show. Mr Robot has plenty of them. But where Mr Robot is unique to any other show out, there is (for the time being) an various online elements which links beautifully back into the show. In a sense, these are mini “spin offs” to the show, allowing for people to go further, get interactive and solve challenges in the Mr Robot universe. One (of a few) domains is “Who Is Mr Robot“, which is where there was a lot of focus to solve its challenge(s). This was made up of a collection of virtual terminals all from the show, which has a series of technical challenges to solve.

          • AES-NI XTS To See 2~3x Performance Recovery After Regressing Hard From Retpolines

            It turns out the Intel/AMD AES-NI implementation of XTS regressed hard from the Retpolines functionality merged nearly three years ago for mitigating Spectre… But now the crypto performance with the AES-NI XTS implementation is set to recover from that regression with a huge improvement thanks to a new set of patches.

            It seems AES-NI XTS performance regressing hard from Retpolines went unnoticed when mitigating Spectre. This happened due to extensive use of indirect calls when processing small quantities of data. But thankfully Ard Biesheuvel investigated it and worked out a backport-friendly fix to address most of the regression. But then for future kernel releases is also a rewritten XTS implementation that is more flexible and avoids the nasty issues that led to the poor performance in the first place under Retpolines.

          • Finnish Parliament targeted in hacking, e-mails of lawmakers possibly compromised

            Muurman told Helsingin Sanomat that the identify of the attacker or attackers has yet been determined and that it remains premature to speculate whether or not they can be brought to justice.

          • How A Cybersecurity Firm Uncovered The Massive Computer [Attack]

            Multiple U.S. agencies were successfully [cracked], including the departments of State, Treasury, Commerce, Energy and Homeland Security as well as the National Institutes of Health.

            The [attackers] attached their malware to a software update from Austin, Texas-based company SolarWinds, which makes software used by many federal agencies and thousands of private companies to monitor their computer networks.

          • Microsoft: SolarWinds hackers’ goal was the victims’ cloud data [Ed: Damage limitation efforts by Microsoft, with their PR amplified by friendly sites]

            As the Microsoft 365 Defender Team explains, after infiltrating a target’s network with the help of the Sunburst backdoor, the attackers’ goal is to gain access to the victims’ cloud assets.

            [...]

            The threat actors behind the SolarWinds hack first had to compromise the SolarWinds Orion Platform build system and abuse it to deliver a backdoor injected as a legitimate DLL via the software update system.

            Once the DLL is loaded after the application is started, the backdoor would reach out to its command-and-control server and allow the threat actors to infiltrate the network.

          • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Defence/Aggression

      • Western Sahara Remains a Crucial Legitimizing Crutch for the Moroccan Monarchy

        As the protesters neared Rabat’s central boulevards they were halted and corralled by armored personnel carriers, water cannons, and phalanxes of riot police. After blocking access to the entire area, the diminutive protest was, as is fairly common, declared “unauthorized” and the assembled protestors brusquely expelled. Needless to say, these events went unmentioned in the state-aligned media, which has remained hushed on the deal since its announcement. Long anxious about publicly advertising its intimate alliance with Tel Aviv, the Moroccan government is certainly sighing in relief at the muted and managable anger its decision has occasioned. It will be unsurprising if it moves, like the UAE, to criminalize criticism of its relations with Israel.

        But as little popular contestation as there is about the abandonment of Palestine in the kingdom, there is none whatsoever about the ancillary reward the monarchy has accepted for normalizing relations with Israel – Washington’s recognition of Morocco’s sovereignty over the Western Sahara. For as few of the brave demonstrators as there were in Rabat on Monday to oppose the normalization of Israel’s occupation, there were no expressions of solidarity with the other denial of self-determination enshrined in the deal. And there essentially never have been, for the Sahrawi cause finds even fewer vocal sympathizers in Morocco than the Palestinian one does inside the self-styled Jewish State.

      • UN Human Rights Expert Urges US to Lift Sanctions That ‘May Exacerbate the Already Dire Humanitarian Situation in Syria’

        After nearly a decade of war, the special rapporteur noted, Syrians are living with “extensively damaged houses, medical units, schools, and other facilities.”

      • An Open Letter to Biden: Selecting a CIA Director

        I’m assuming that you and your team are still debating the selection of a director for the Central Intelligence Agency.  I hope that you don’t think me presumptuous for making some suggestions.  I’m doing this on the basis of my 24 years of experience as a CIA intelligence analyst as well as my candid testimony before the Senate intelligence committee several decades ago regarding the confirmation process.

        I believe that CIA leadership is particularly important at this juncture if the agency is to regain its credibility.  Donald Trump’s efforts to politicize the intelligence community combined with the unfortunate appointment as director of Gina Haspel, who was heavily involved in the torture and abuse program, have undermined that credibility.  Haspel’s confirmation created cynicism toward the process among many CIA officials—both active and retired.  I’m also concerned that the media rumors point to the possible appointment of Mike Morell, who has been actively campaigning for the assignment, to succeed Haspel.  This would be particularly unfortunate given Morell’s active denial of the illegality and immorality of the torture program as well as his defense of the destruction of the torture tapes.

      • Ignoring the Church’s calls Defrocked Orthodox priest Sergii Romanov arrested during raid on monastery

        In the early hours of December 29, a SWAT team stormed the Sredneuralsk Women’s Monastery outside of Yekaterinburg and arrested Sergii Romanov — one of the region’s most well-known priests, who was excommunicated from the Russian Orthodox Church earlier this year. Romanov was taken to Moscow where a district court remanded him in custody for the next two months on charges of inciting minors to suicide, violating freedom of conscience and religion, and arbitrariness. Following Romanov’s arrest, his supporters have been gathering outside of the monastery and refusing to allow anyone to enter the grounds, for fear that the Yekaterinburg diocese will take back control of the convent.

      • In Like Flynn
      • Recidivist Criminal and Constitutional Outlaw Trump Rushes to Pardon Criminal Lawbreakers

        Trump thrills at what he considers his absolute power to pardon, including family members and himself. He is wrong. No constitutional right or power is pursued at all costs. All have limits. The power to pardon is limited at least by prohibitions on bribery, witness tampering, obstruction of justice, and the 400-year honored maxim that “no man can be a judge in his own case.” Further, the Constitution’s framers specifically described corruptly motivated pardons as impeachable high crimes and misdemeanors and specifically authorized criminal prosecution of the President after impeachment and removal from office. The latter would become an overthrow of lawful orders with presidential self-pardons.

        No president has displayed the audacity or depravity to self-pardon. In 1974, the Office of Legal Counsel in the Justice Department concluded that the president cannot self-pardon.

      • 9-Year-Old Ali Kinani Was Among Victims of Killers Pardoned by Trump
      • “Blackwater’s Youngest Victim”: 9-Year-Old Ali Kinani Was Among Victims of Trump’s Pardoned Killers

        President Trump’s pardon of four former Blackwater contractors convicted for their role in a massacre in Baghdad has sparked outrage in Iraq. The Blackwater guards include Nicholas Slatten, who was sentenced to life in prison after being convicted of first-degree murder for his role in the 2007 Nisoor Square massacre, when he and other Blackwater mercenaries opened fire with machine guns and grenades on a crowded public space in Baghdad, killing 17 unarmed civilians, including women and children. The youngest victim was a 9-year-old named Ali Kinani. We re-broadcast clips from a short documentary, “Blackwater’s Youngest Victim,” by The Intercept’s Jeremy Scahill and filmmaker Rick Rowley, that first aired on Democracy Now! in 2010.

      • Lawyer Paul Dickinson: The U.S. Promised Iraqis Justice. Trump’s Blackwater Pardons Took It Away.

        President Trump’s pardon of four former Blackwater contractors has sparked outrage in Iraq and in the United States. Nicholas Slatten, Paul Slough, Evan Liberty and Dustin Heard were convicted in the killing of 14 Iraqis in 2007, when contractors for the mercenary firm opened fire on civilians in Baghdad’s Nisoor Square. The four Blackwater guards were convicted in 2014 after years of painstaking work by investigators and prosecutors to address one of the most infamous chapters of the U.S. occupation of Iraq. Paul Dickinson, who was the lawyer for several victims of the Blackwater massacre, says Trump’s pardons are a fresh insult to Iraqis who lost loved ones and who were promised justice would be served. “Now, after the promises that we made to each one of these victims that we were going to hold people accountable for their criminal actions abroad, that has been taken away from them,” he says.

      • Bernie Sanders Vows to Filibuster Military Budget to Force Vote on $2,000 Checks
      • ‘This Is No Bluff’: Sanders Vows to Filibuster Military Budget to Force Senate Vote on $2,000 Checks

        “It would be unconscionable, especially after the House did the right thing, for the Senate to simply leave Washington without voting on this.”

      • 19 House Democrats Join Ro Khanna in Voting Against Bloated Military Budget
      • Ro Khanna Applauds 19 House Democrats Who Joined Him in Voting No on ‘Bloated’ $740 Billion Military Budget

        “They are changing the culture of endless war and calling for more investment instead in the American people.”

      • Russian Investigative Committee launches case against Navalny for large-scale fraud

        The Russian Investigative Committee has launched a criminal case for large-scale fraud against opposition figure Alexey Navalny, RIA Novosti reported on Tuesday, December 29. 

      • Russian advocacy group for victims of domestic violence declared a ‘foreign agent’

        The anti-domestic violence advocacy group “Nasiliu.net” (No to Violence) has been officially recognized as a “foreign agent,” the Russian Justice Ministry announced in a press release on Tuesday, December 29.

      • Boston Dynamics robots take over the dance floor in latest video

        Boston Dynamics was recently purchased by Hyundai, which bought the robotics firm from SoftBank in a $1.1 billion deal. The company was originally founded in 1992 as a spin-off from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where it became known for its dog-like quadrupedal robots (most notably, the DARPA-funded BigDog, a precursor to the company’s first commercial robot, Spot.) It was bought by Alphabet’s X division in 2013, and then by Softbank in 2017.

      • The International Criminal Court: Now Simply Indefensible

        Support for the rule of international law, and for the institutions which uphold it, is one of the principles of this blog. I have therefore always been extremely keen to defend and support the International Criminal Court, despite widespread criticism that it is simply a tool for use against leaders in the developing world and other opponents of the neo-con world order. I maintained that the standard of justice and investigation in the cases it did consider was generally good, and the need was to widen its ambit.

      • Why Senators Must Reject Avril Haines for Intelligence

        Even before President-elect Joe Biden sets foot in the White House, the Senate Intelligence Committee may start hearings on his nomination of Avril Haines as Director of National Intelligence.

      • Opinion | Why Senators Must Reject Avril Haines for Intelligence

        Haines is the proverbial wolf in sheep’s clothing.

    • Environment

    • Finance

      • Opinion | The Seven Secrets of 2020

        This year has resembled a rapidly receding tide, forcing us to confront submerged truths. One lesson we learned in 2020 is that national governments had been choosing not to exercise their enormous powers so that those whom globalization had enriched could exercise their own.

      • The Wealth Inequality Virus is Surging

        Below is a table based on the Federal Reserve Board Figures. The quarters selected represent the height of the wealth of the 1% during the Bush regime (2007Quarter 3) which was before the Great Recession, their wealth at the start of Obama’s presidency (2009Q1), at the end of his first term (2016Q4), at its high point, (2016Q3), and in his last quarter in 2016. For Trump, the numbers are for his first quarter in 2017, the high point which was just before the pandemic (2019Q4), the first quarter of 2020 that covers the onset of the pandemic, and the most recent figures that cover the third quarter of 2020.

        What the Fed figures show is just how well the top 1%, as a group, have been doing. The recovery of their nominal wealth from the negative impact of the great recession took about five years to exceed the high point achieved before the great recession. By contrast, under Trump, despite both the pandemic and economic decline, the recovery of the wealth of the 1% from its decline in the first quarter of 2020 back to its high point at the end of 2019, was not only reached in less than a year, but is even 4% greater.

      • ‘Err on the Side of Helping People’: AOC Slams Blue Dog Democrat for Opposing $2,000 Relief Checks

        “Is this really a good reason to block aid for millions?” the congresswoman asked, after Rep. Kurt Schrader claimed direct payments would provide too much support to people “making six figure incomes.”

      • McConnell Rejects Initial Moves to Pass $2,000 Stimulus Bill
      • Joseph Stiglitz on the Pandemic Economy & Why He Backs Sanders’ Filibuster for $2000 Stimulus Checks

        The House of Representatives has voted to approve a measure that would increase stimulus checks from $600 to $2,000, sending the bill to the Senate, where its fate is uncertain. Independent Senator Bernie Sanders has said he will filibuster to delay an override on President Trump’s veto of this year’s $740 billion defense spending bill unless the Senate also holds a vote on the $2,000 checks. At least 12 Republicans would need to join with the Senate’s 48 Democrats to reach the necessary 60 votes to approve the increased payments. Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz says Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is standing in the way of not just expanded stimulus payments, but a whole range of policies he has refused to bring to the floor of the Senate. “We think of ourselves as a democracy, but this one person has blocked the ability of the Senate to go on record of saying whether they’re for or against a whole variety of measures that large numbers of Americans think are important,” Stiglitz says. He also discusses the global economic crisis.

    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

      • Opinion | The Union Members Who Voted for Trump Have to Be Organized—Not Ignored

        If the Left is to win progressive policies (and the next presidential election), it needs a militant labor movement.

      • Why Not Take Congressional Proxy Voting All the Way?

        US Representative Paul Mitchell (R-MI) gave his proxy to US Representative Abigail Spanberger (D-VA)  in early December, declaring by tweet that “I will not risk my family’s health in order to vote on key items.”

        Fast food cooks and grocery store cashiers don’t get to assign their work to proxies. They show up each day or lose their jobs, risking their health with every shift. Apparently Mitchell doesn’t consider his job as important as flipping burgers or bagging beer and bagels. But he still wants to collect that paycheck while someone else covers for him.

      • Kelly Loeffler’s Sacrilegious Campaign

        Kelly Loeffler’s relentless assault on the religious faith of the Rev. Raphael Warnock, her challenger in the January 5 Georgia runoff that could decide control of the US Senate, has been characterized by deliberate mischaracterizations of the pastor’s sermons and the Christian Scriptures on which they are based. At rallies, in media appearances and in their only runoff campaign debate, the appointed Republican incumbent has attacked her Democratic rival for preaching a social gospel rooted in New Testament teaching,

      • Opinion | Donald John Trump’s “Seditious Abuse”

        As we come to the end of four rotten years, the child king spends his final days throwing an extra ton of trauma-inducing tantrums.

      • Opinion | Hey, America, You Want a True Conservative Party?

        We’ve already got one: it’s called the Democrats.

      • Endings for Beginnings: Reaching a Brexit Deal

        Johnson’s lectern mood was stubbornly confident.  On December 24, he reiterated the reclaiming of British sovereignty, making the dubious assertion that “we left on Jan 31 with that oven-ready deal.”  (The ingredients for the meal still had yet to be gathered.)  Now, he could boast that, “we have completed the biggest trade deal yet, worth £660 billion,” likening it to a “Canada style free trade deal between the UK and the EU” that would preserve jobs in the country.

        UK goods and components could continue being sold without tariffs and quotas within the EU market.  There would “be no palisade of tariffs on Jan 1.  And there will be no non-tariff barriers to trade.”  But even better, praised Johnson, the deal “should allow our companies and our exporters to do even more business with our European friends.”  Keeping in mind his Brexit audience, he insisted that Britain had “taken back control of laws” and “of every jot and tittle of our regulation.”  British laws would not be subjected to EU scrutiny; the European Court of Justice would no longer be an irritating final arbiter of UK cases.  British standards – from the biosciences to financial services – would be British and British alone.

        [...]

        In reality, this means that the spirited message of taking back control of the seas has failed, at least for the period when adjustments will have to be made. This caused considerable displeasure to Nigel Farage, leader of the Brexit Party, who accused British diplomats of dropping “the ball before the line” in a “fisheries sell-out”.

        While the deal is unlikely to be sabotaged when Parliament is reconvened, members will only have the shortest of time to consider a bulky document. As one MP told Fraser Nelson of The Spectator, the UK’s chief negotiator David Frost “might have missed something. He’s a good negotiator but he’s not Einstein.” The EU also had the better legal eagles; those from the UK had never wanted Britain to leave the EU in the first place.

        Staunch remainers such as Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon see little to merit the arrangements, positioning her nation for the spring. “Before the spin starts, it’s worth remembering that Brexit is happening against Scotland’s will.” No deal would be able to “ever make up for what Brexit takes away from us. It’s time to chart our own future as an independent, European nation.”

      • Trump’s Stimulus and Defense Shenanigans Are Having Ripple Effects in Georgia
      • Civil Rights Groups Fight Back Against Georgia’s Voter Purges
      • Citing Violation of Federal Law, Judge Halts Voter Purges in Rural Georgia Counties Ahead of Senate Runoffs

        Officials in Muscogee and Ben Hill Counties used little concrete evidence to defend their purge of more than 4,000 voters, a U.S. district judge found. 

      • Purge of 4,000 Georgia Voters Violated Federal Law, Judge Rules
      • The ‘Moderate’ Rot at the Top of the Democratic Party

        For OMB director, Biden selected corporate centrist Neera Tanden, whose Center for American Progress thrives on the largesse of wealthy donors representing powerful corporate interests. Tanden has been a notably scornful foe of the Democratic Party’s progressive wing; former Sanders speechwriter David Sirota calls her “the single biggest, most aggressive Bernie Sanders critic in the United States.” Who better to oversee the budget of the U.S. government?

        For Secretary of State, Biden chose his longtime top foreign-policy adviser, whose frequent support for U.S. warfare included pushing for the disastrous 2011 military intervention in Libya. Antony Blinken is a revolving-door pro who has combined his record of war boosterism with entrepreneurial zeal to personally profit from influence-peddling for weapons sales to the Pentagon. Who better to oversee diplomacy for the U.S. government?

    • Censorship/Free Speech

      • Section 230 Isn’t A Subsidy; It’s A Rule Of Civil Procedure

        The other day Senator Schatz tweeted, “Ask every Senator what Section 230 is. Don’t ask them if they want to repeal it. Ask them to describe it.”

      • When You Can’t Innovate, You Litigate: Oracle Gleefully Takes Credit For Attacks On Section 230 And Google

        A few weeks ago, Oracle announced that it was moving its headquarters out of Redwood Shores, in the middle of Silicon Valley, to Austin, Texas. The move is more symbolic than anything else. The company told employees they can continue working from wherever they want and founder Larry Ellison sent an email to all employees saying he’ll be working from the island of Lanai, which he purchased a few years ago. But the symbolism of the move works in multiple ways. Despite being founded and headquartered in Silicon Valley for almost half a century, Oracle has long represented the anti-Silicon Valley approach to innovation.

      • McConnell ties full repeal of Section 230 to push for $2,000 stimulus checks

        Democratic party leaders criticized the inclusion of Section 230 repeal as an effort to scuttle stimulus talks. “Senator McConnell knows how to make $2,000 survival checks reality and he knows how to kill them,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said in a statement Tuesday. “Will Senate Republicans go along with Sen. McConnell’s cynical gambit or will they push him to give a vote on the standalone [bill]?”

        McConnell’s bid for a full repeal of Section 230 comes amid increasingly chaotic negotiating over the level of direct payments to be included as part of stimulus efforts. On Sunday, President Trump signed into law Congress’ $900 billion COVID-19 relief and government spending package that would provide $600 in stimulus payments to most Americans. In a public statement after signing the bill, Trump urged congressional leaders to hold a standalone vote on increasing direct payments to $2,000.

      • Mitch McConnell Using Section 230 Repeal As A Poison Pill To Avoid $2k Stimulus Checks

        As you likely know by now, President Trump is trying to use his last few weeks in office to use various levers of power remaining to him to make sure he fucks up the open internet. However, he also threw a wrench in the works of the long-overdue and way too small COVID relief package by saying that the checks to individuals should be $2,000 rather than $600. He’s not wrong, but it was bizarre that his own White House was part of the negotiations that made sure the checks were smaller. It’s almost as if the President and his own administration don’t communicate very much.

      • McConnell Objects as Sanders, Senate Democrats Attempt to Force Vote on $2,000 Checks

        “Working families need help now. Not next year, now,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders.

    • Freedom of Information/Freedom of the Press

      • UN independent expert asks outgoing US president: Pardon Wikileaks’ Assange

        He made the case that Mr. Assange had never hacked, stolen or published false information, nor caused reputational harm through any personal misconduct, pointing out that whether one agrees or disagrees with their publications, “they clearly cannot be regarded as crimes”.

        The Special Rapporteur upheld that Mr. Assange had obtained his information from “authentic documents and sources in the same way as any other serious and independent investigative journalists conduct their work”.

        Don’t shoot the messenger

        The independent expert explained his request, saying that prosecuting Mr. Assange for publishing true information about serious official misconduct would amount to “shooting the messenger” rather than correcting the problem he exposed.

        Moreover, it would be incompatible with the core values of justice, rule of law and press freedom, as reflected in the American Constitution and US-ratified international human rights instruments.

      • Fifty journalists killed in 2020, targeted in ‘barbaric murders’, watchdog says

        Fifty journalists and media workers were killed in connection with their work in 2020, the majority in countries that are not at war, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said Tuesday.

      • UN rapporteur on Assange: ‘The US is trying to criminalize investigative journalism’

        Nils Melzer: The legal proceeding in itself is not respecting the basic standards of human rights, of due process and the rule of law. Already, the motivation behind the extradition request is not in compliance with basic legal standards, with the protections of freedom of the press and so on. Julian Assange is being prosecuted by the United States for espionage, just because he practiced investigative journalism.

    • Civil Rights/Policing

      • Opinion | A Deportation Moratorium, What Comes Next for Biden?

        A deportation moratorium is a critical step to repairing the harm that has been waged against our immigrant communities and reimagining our existing system.

      • Opinion | 2020 Has Shown Us the Way Forward

        A new kind of social justice movement has risen above the misery of 2020, and it has taken root in our common humanity.

      • U.S. activist ordered to leave Russia taken from her home by police

        On Tuesday, December 29, police officers in Moscow took American human rights lawyer Vanessa Kogan — the executive director of the rights group Justice Initiative, who was recently ordered to leave Russia — from her home and detained her at a police station, Justice Initiative spokesperson Ksenia Babich told Mediazona. 

      • Russian film director charged for underwear protest outside FSB headquarters

        Law enforcement officers have written up Russian film director Vitaly Mansky for the administrative offense of taking part in an unauthorized demonstration (under article 20.2, section 5 of the Administrative Code), lawyer Alena Borisova from the rights group Pravozashchity Otkrytki told MBX Media. 

      • Trump Signs Tibetan Policy And Support Act Into Law, Prompting Warnings From Beijing

        Formerly an independent nation, Tibet was invaded and incorporated into China by force nearly 70 years ago, following which the Dalai Lama and thousands of his followers fled into exile in in India and other countries around the world. Beijing has accused the Dalai Lama of fomenting separatism in Tibet.

      • Section 215 Expired: Year in Review 2020

        In the week before the law expired, the House of Representatives passed the USA FREEDOM Reauthorization Act, without committee markup or floor amendments, which would have extended Section 215 for three more years, along with some modest reforms. 

        As any cartoon viewer knows, in order for any bill to become law, the House and Senate must pass an identical bill, and the President must sign it. That didn’t happen with the USA FREEDOM Reauthorization Act. Knowing that House’s bill would fail in the Senate, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell brought a bill to the floor that would extend all the expiring provisions for another 77 days, without any reforms at all. Senator McConnell’s extension passed the Senate without debate.

        But the House of Representatives left town without passing Senator McConnell’s bill. That meant that Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act, along with the so-called lone wolf and the roving wiretap provisions expired. Section 215 is best known as the law the intelligence community relied on to conduct mass surveillance of Americans’ telephone records, a program held to be likely illegal by two federal courts of appeals. It has other, largely secret uses as well.

      • Black Lives Matter and the Future of Humanity

        If we view various forms of domination as forming a ball of twine, we can see how pulling on one string can start to unravel the whole thing. Approaching racism, patriarchy, and class exploitation, for example, as interlocking and mutually reinforcing, organizing against any one of these might begin to reveal connections and relationships to the whole. Each is a potential entryway to understanding the complexity and interconnection of contemporary hierarchies. Better comprehending these relationships offers the possibility of beginning to detangle them. In this way we can relate the movement for Black lives, for instance, to the movement for climate justice.

        As with police violence, pollution disproportionately impacts Black and poor communities. For instance, a recent study found that Black people are exposed to twice the particulate matter as white people, and that Hispanics had more exposure than non-Hispanic whites. The study also found that people in poverty had more exposure than people not in poverty. That the people of Flint, Michigan, almost half of whom live in poverty, were drinking lead contaminated water is only one of the more well-known recent examples.

      • ‘She’s very courageous’: Saudi women’s rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul appeals jail sentence

        Al-Hathloul made a name for herself as one of the few women to openly call for women’s right to drive in the deeply conservative kingdom, as well for an end to the country’s restrictive male guardianship system that had long limited women’s freedom of movement. She was arrested along with other female activists in May 2018, just weeks before the kingdom ended a decadeslong ban on women driving.

      • The New Humanitarian | Thank you for supporting our journalism in 2020

        Despite a pandemic that has been described as an “extinction event” for the news media, we have thrived in this difficult year: the doubling of our audience in 2020 reaffirms our belief that the pandemic has created an opening to bring our journalism to wider audiences.

        After all, independent journalism about crises has never been more important. As a survey of nearly 1,400 humanitarian policy-makers and practitioners found earlier this year, mainstream media coverage of humanitarian issues is inadequate in both quantity and quality, leaving a chasm in reporting that we aim to fill.

    • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

      • “Trumptalk’ may outlast Trump

        President Trump’s brash communication style — combined with a societal shift towards streaming, where there are no regulatory restrictions on speech — has forced the entire media industry to present information in a more candid and less polished way.

        Why it matters: It’s no longer uncommon to hear cable anchors use foul language or for TV or radio personalities to make indecent remarks on air. Now that the standard has been set, it’s hard to see how networks and news outlets could go back to their postured presentations of the past.

    • Monopolies

      • The DOJ’s Antitrust Lawsuit Against Google Is Gaining Ground
      • Patents

        • Patent Office Updates You Need to Know [Ed: The EPO is now breaking the law, the EPC, using "decision" by the executive branch]

          The European Patent Office (EPO) has decided, with effect from 4 January 2021, to hold oral proceedings in opposition by videoconference (VICO) in accordance with Article 2 of the Decision of the President of the European Patent Office dated 10 November 2020concerning the modification and extension of the pilot project for oral proceedings by VICO before opposition divisions. Where there are serious reasons preventing the use of VICO in opposition, oral proceedings will be postponed until after 15 September 2021. For further details, see the news item of 10 November 2020 Opposition hearings by VICO – changes in 2021.
          The Saudi Authority for Intellectual Property (SAIP) has launched a service of issuing business licenses to practice intellectual property activities. The strategic initiative aims to regulate and follow up licenses for intellectual property agents, in addition to developing existing cadres and providing new cadres qualified to practice intellectual property activities and services. The initiative contributes to enhancing investment opportunities.

        • Software Patents

          • Velos Media patent challenged

            On December 29, 2020, Unified Patents filed an ex parte reexamination proceeding against U.S. Patent 9,743,086, owned by Velos Media as part of Unified’s ongoing efforts in its SEP Video Codec Zone. The ‘086 patent and its corresponding extended patent family is the largest family known to be owned by Velos and represents approximately 5.3% of Velos’ known U.S. assets. Velos claims to have and seeks to license patents allegedly essential to the HEVC / H.265 standard.

          • First UK challenge filed by Unified against Velos Media

            As part of Unified’s ongoing efforts in its SEP Video Codec Zone, Unified filed its first UK challenge against EP 2 664 149, owned by Velos Media International Limited. The EP ‘149 patent is related to U.S. Patent 9,414,066, which Unified has also challenged in the U.S. (IPR2020-00352, instituted June 30, 2020). The EP ‘149 patent and its corresponding extended patent family is one of the largest families known to be owned by Velos. Velos claims to have and seeks to license patents allegedly essential to the HEVC / H.265 standard. EP’149 is directed to video decoding techniques and was originally assigned to Ericsson before being transferred to Velos.

          • Simio, LLC v. FlexSim Software Products, Inc. (Fed. Cir. 2020)

            Simio sued FlexSim in the District of Utah for alleged infringement of its U.S. Patent No. 8,156,468. FlexSim moved for dismissal on the pleadings under 35 U.S.C. § 101, on the grounds that the claims were directed to no more than an abstract idea. The District Court granted the motion, and Simio appealed.

      • Copyrights

        • Apple Loses Copyright Claims Against ‘Virtual iPhone’ Maker

          Corellium’s actions fell under an exception to copyright law because it “creates a new, virtual platform for iOS and adds capabilities not available on Apple’s iOS devices,” District Court Judge Rodney Smith in West Palm Beach ruled Tuesday. That Corellium sells its product “does not undermine its fair use defense, particularly considering the public benefit of the product.”

        • Undercover Cops Arrest Sellers of ‘Pirate’ Amazon Firesticks At Florida Flea Market

          The Polk County Sheriff’s Office held a press conference a few days ago to announce the results of an undercover operation stat started months ago. Detectives busted four sellers of ‘pirate’ Amazon Fire Sticks, including an 88-year-old suspect. According to the police, selling jailbroken devices is a crime.

        • Pirate Site Operators Facing Six Years Prison, Six Million Euros in Damages

          In 2015, authorities in Spain launched an investigation into pirate site Descargasmix.com and around 15 associated domains. At the time the sites were considered to be the most important platforms targeting Spanish-speaking audiences. Two men, alleged to be the sites’ operators will go on trial in 2021, with prosecutors demanding six-year prison sentences and damages in excess of six million euros.

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