12.31.21

Links 31/12/2021: Libadwaita 1.0 and Hugin 2021 Released

Posted in News Roundup at 5:25 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • GNU/Linux

    • Desktop/Laptop

      • Tired of Windows? It’s time to give Linux a try. | Windows Central

        I’m a fan of what Microsoft finally brought to the desktop with Windows 11. Our resident Windows expert Zac Bowden gave the OS a positive score in his incredible in-depth review and I agree with the majority of what was written. Where Windows 11 falls flat for me, however, is with the installation process. It’s an absolute mess.

        I have a few test rigs configured for various PC components we review here at Windows Central and installing fresh copies of Windows for Intel’s 12th Gen launch was riddled with issues from the get-go. The installer would either refuse to load or fail to see drives. In fact, one install required a 2.5-inch SATA SSD to be connected to the board in order for Windows 11 to successfully boot from the M.2 NVMe drive.

        Interestingly, I never had an issue with the latest security measures that require trusted platform modules (or TPM) since most motherboards and processors released in the past few years support it out of the box. It was more Windows having trouble with SSDs, sometimes even outright refusing to install Windows on specific drives.

        For a laugh, I installed Linux Mint on all the machines and didn’t see a single problem. Not one. This is a billion-dollar company going up against average Joe and losing in my anecdotal experiences.

        But Windows isn’t completely out of my life. I still use it regularly to remain in the loop with all the latest news and because we continue to benchmark products using the OS. For my main PC, Windows isn’t even installed on a secondary drive anymore.

    • Audiocasts/Shows

    • Kernel Space

      • Intel Alder Lake’s Thread Director Support Coming to Linux | Tom’s Hardware

        Intel has published a new patch series for its Linux drivers that promise to improve the performance of its hybrid Alder Lake processors by optimizing usage of (P)erformance and (E)fficiency cores.

        When Intel released its 12th Generation Core ‘Alder Lake’ processors earlier this year, it quickly turned out that the new CPUs perform better under Windows rather than under Linux. Unlike Windows 11, Linux does not have proper support for Intel’s Thread Director technology based on the Enhanced Hardware Feedback Interface (HFI), which enables the OS to utilize high-performance Golden Cove and energy-efficient Gracemont cores properly.

        At present, the Linux kernel decides when to use P or E cores using the ITMT/Turbo Boost Max 3.0 driver that relies on the information exposed by the firmware, reports Phoronix. Essentially, this means that under Linux, the OS in many cases prefers the fastest cores (i.e., Golden Coves at high clocks) and underutilizes energy-efficient cores.

      • ThinkPad ACPI Driver Picking Up New Features With Linux 5.17 – Phoronix

        For those running Linux on Lenovo ThinkPad laptops, the upcoming Linux 5.17 cycle is set to bring a few improvements to the “thinkpad_acpi” driver.

        Thanks to developers Ognjen Galic and Thomas Weißschuh, the ThinkPad ACPI driver is adding support for inhibit charge behavior if wanting to temporarily disable charging support for ThinkPads allowing this behavior through the system’s embedded controller (EC).

        Similarly, there is also now force discharge support if wanting to force the battery to change and again contingent upon EC support from the ThinkPad.

      • Graphics Stack

        • Mesa’s Radeon Vulkan Driver Lands Experimental Mesh Shaders – Phoronix

          Thanks to Valve engineer Timur Kristóf and other open-source developers involved, Mesa’s Radeon Vulkan driver “RADV” is ending 2021 on a high note: mesh shaders was just merged!

          As noted back in October, RADV has been working on mesh shaders at least in experimental form and making use of NVIDIA’s NV_mesh_shader extension.

          Mesh shaders provide a compute-like shader stage to replace the conventional vertex/geometry pipeline. This work though is expected to remain “experimental” until there is a proper Vulkan cross-vendor extension around mesh shaders as NV_mesh_shader is known to perform poorly on AMD hardware for which the extension was not designed.

          Mesh shaders support requires Radeon RX 6000 “RDNA2″ GPUs and newer for support. This experimental mesh shaders support will be part of Mesa 22.0 that will debut as stable by March. This may prove beneficial for VKD3D-Proton in mapping Direct3D 12 mesh shaders atop Vulkan but, again, the performance isn’t expected to be optimal.

    • Applications

      • Best Free and Open Source Alternatives to Intuit Mint

        Intuit Inc. is an American corporation that specializes in financial software. Specfically, the company develops personal finance, accounting, and tax return software.

        The company is headquartered in Mountain View, California. It has more than 10,000 employees.

        While Intuit has a GitHub presence with over 100 repositories for numerous open source projects, none of these repositories offer any substantial desktop software. Instead, the repositories focus on tools and libraries for developers. None of these projects appear to have attracted significant interest from the open source community.

      • Best Free and Open Source Alternatives to Intuit’s Products

        Intuit Inc. is an American corporation that specializes in financial software. Specifically, the company develops personal finance, accounting, and tax return software.

        The company is headquartered in Mountain View, California. It has more than 10,000 employees.

        While Intuit has a GitHub presence with over 100 repositories for numerous open source projects, none of these repositories offer any substantial desktop software. Instead, the repositories focus on tools and libraries for developers. None of these projects appear to have attracted significant interest from the open source community.

      • Hugin 2021 Released! How to Install via PPA in Ubuntu 20.04, 21.10 | UbuntuHandbook

        Hugin panorama stitcher finally released version 2021. Here’s how to install it via PPA in Ubuntu 18.04, Ubuntu 20.04, Ubuntu 21.04, Ubuntu 21.10, and Linux Mint 20.

      • Hugin-2021.0.0 Release Notes
      • 10 Selfhosting Ideas You Can Build with Yunohost Server

        This article is a collection of ideas to practice selfhosting with Yunohost for beginners who are learning system administration. Yunohost is like magic, this server OS allows us to deploy a full, working email server in one click and that works for other kinds of server too. Now, let’s see the ideas!

      • Anklang takes over | Timj’s bits and tests

        The Anklang project is a digital audio synthesis application for live creation and composition of music or other audio material. It merges several new developments and (Beast) rewriting efforts by Stefan Westerfeld and me.

        Starting a new project from scratch was the easier and quicker approach, with all the changes involved in moving to a modern file format, recreating the UI in a new language plus new technologies, using a new IPC layer and reinventing the synthesis engine in modern C++.

        This brought much quicker results, compared to continued work on the aging Beast code base and a conversion tool is being worked on to carry over what is possible from old files. The tool is set to be integrated when the Anklang features set is ripe.

        This pre-release show cases some of the new technologies, although the code still has alpha quality, others are still in the queue to be integrated soon and unpolished areas are also to be addressed. Currently, it may be an interesting piece for the adventurous to play around with, so feedback or contributions will be very welcome.

    • Instructionals/Technical

      • How to convert (and flatten) PDF documents to images

        Say you have a PDF document in your hands. Say this documents needs editing and redacting. You may want to add some bits of information and obscure some other bits of information. Various PDF programs can do this job for you. However, quite often, the new changes are added as layers on top of the original, so people with the right kind of expertise can glean the data from under the redaction markers.

        Some time ago, I published a tutorial showing how to flatten PDF files, which basically means putting all of the changes into a single layer. Now, I want to show you another trick, and this is how to convert PDF files into images. This will create a similar effect – flattening, plus the ability to use (only) parts of information contained in the PDF documents. Our tool of the trade will be pdftocairo. In Linux. Let’s commence.

      • How to install the latest version of Blender on a Chromebook

        Linux is a buffet for different tools and utilities, some last longer, and others are deprecated with better alternatives.

      • How to install the latest version of Blender on a Chromebook

        Today we are looking at how to install the latest version of Blender on a Chromebook. Please follow the video/audio guide as a tutorial where we explain the process step by step and use the commands below.

      • How to spin up virtual machines fast on Ubuntu with Quickemu

        Virtualization on Ubuntu is one of its strengths. However, setting up a VM as a new user can be tedious and confusing. That’s where Quickemu comes in. It harnesses the power of QEMU in the Linux kernel and automatically spins up virtual machines fast. Here’s how to use it on your Ubuntu system.

      • How To Install Nginx on CentOS 9 Stream – idroot

        In this tutorial, we will show you how to install Nginx on CentOS 9 Stream. For those of you who didn’t know, Nginx (Engine X) is the most popular, powerful web server software that can be used on your server. It is also known for its high performance and low memory usage. In addition to its HTTP server capabilities, NGINX can also function as a proxy server for e-mail (IMAP, POP3, and SMTP) and a reverse proxy and load balancer for HTTP, TCP, and UDP servers.

        This article assumes you have at least basic knowledge of Linux, know how to use the shell, and most importantly, you host your site on your own VPS. The installation is quite simple and assumes you are running in the root account, if not you may need to add ‘sudo‘ to the commands to get root privileges. I will show you the step-by-step installation of the Nginx web server on CentOS 9 Stream.

      • How to install and uninstall Discord on Linux | FOSS Linux

        We have come to a point in history where at-a-distance communication has become an essential part of our daily lives. This applies to jobs and all kinds of areas of day-to-day activities. We require a communication program that works smoothly and has impressive features to go well. Enter, Discord.

        Discord has made quite a name for itself even among the vast competition in the category that it belongs to. It has excellent features, works without a hassle, is available on various platforms, and gives the users a great experience. Today, we will check how to install and use Discord on Linux.

      • Full Circle Magazine #176
      • How To Install PyCharm on Fedora 35 – idroot

        In this tutorial, we will show you how to install PyCharm on Fedora 35. For those of you who didn’t know, PyCharm is a cross-platform editor developed by JetBrains. Pycharm provides all the tools you need for productive Python development. Many Python programmers enjoy using PyCharm because it can be used to analyze code, debug programs, and is integrated with Git and other version control systems. Pycharm comes with two variants, Professional (Paid) and Community (Free). The professional edition comes with additional web development support.

        This article assumes you have at least basic knowledge of Linux, know how to use the shell, and most importantly, you host your site on your own VPS. The installation is quite simple and assumes you are running in the root account, if not you may need to add ‘sudo‘ to the commands to get root privileges. I will show you the step-by-step installation of the PyCharm IDE on a Fedora 35.

      • Install Plex Media Server on Debian 11 Bullseye with Nginx Reverse Proxy

        Learn the simple commands to install Plex Media Server on Debian 11 Bullseye Linux for creating your streaming server.

        Plex was started as a hobby project but with time, it developed into a professional streaming server software to manage various types of media files. Users can install and use it to access their videos, music, and images remotely using the internet or locally over a local network; even you can share them with friends while on the move.

        You will have the same feel as Netflix, as Plex creates matching thumbnails and loads information from film databases. However, Plex can’t keep up with major streaming providers like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV +, and Disney +. Nevertheless, it has not been developed to compete with them. The main goal of its developers is to provide an easy-to-use piece of software to general users or businesses who want to manage their database of films, photos, and songs either on NAS, Cloud, or any PC.

    • Games

      • AMD’s FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR) should be a huge deal for Steam Deck based on its Linux performance | Windows Central

        When they were first announced, I, like many others, had hoped to be holding a Steam Deck this Christmas. But it’s a hard time to manufacture tech right now, and so we’re going to have to wait a little longer.

        But in that time I’ve been spending more energy experiencing PC gaming on Linux, the base for the Steam Deck. Much has been said already about Proton and much more will be said in the months to come, but there’s one bit of ‘special sauce’ that deserves more attention because it should be a huge deal on Valve’s portable gaming PC.

        AMD FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR) is, in simple terms, like NVIDIA’s DLSS. It uses witchcraft to intelligently upscale games while preserving as much detail as possible so as to enable higher frame rates thanks to having been rendered initially at a lower resolution. One big difference is that FSR works on both AMD and NVIDIA hardware, and the other is that it’s open-source. This means the Linux gang has been all over it.

      • 2021 Brought A Convenient Installer For Arch Linux, Powering The Steam Deck – Phoronix

        Arch Linux had a pretty great year with introducing “Archinstall” as part of the official install media as a new, optional installer for conveniently installing the distribution to Valve choosing Arch Linux as their new SteamOS 3.0 base that will power their forthcoming Steam Deck handheld game console.

        By nearly any indicator, Arch Linux had a pretty great 2021. Arguably most exciting is the Steam Deck / SteamOS switching to Arch Linux where as previously Valve relied upon Debian that fell stale too quickly. Using Arch Linux will allow for more fast-paced updates and ensuring the newest, most optimal experience for their Linux-based handheld slated to start shipping next quarter. Until getting out new SteamOS images, Valve has been encouraging developers to test on the Arch-based Manjaro Linux distribution that is desktop-oriented and easy to use.

    • Desktop Environments/WMs

      • Xfce’s Apps Update for December 2021: New Releases of Xfce Terminal, Whisker Menu, and More

        December has been a slow month for Xfce apps development, but we got a new update of the Xfce Terminal modern terminal emulator app to version 0.9.1, which adds an overlay-scrolling preference, support for the new Shortcuts editor widget, and a new preference to select the right-click action.

        In addition, the Xfce Terminal 0.9.1 release improved the scrolling-on-output behavior and the Paste dialog, and addressed several regressions and updated multiple language translations.

      • GNOME Desktop/GTK

        • Using GNOME Screenshot Tool in Linux Like a Pro

          There are several screenshot tools available for Linux. I prefer using Flameshot for screenshots and Shutter for editing the existing screenshots.

          But Flameshot doesn’t work with 4K screens, unfortunately. And hence I had to resort back to the default GNOME screenshot tool which works perfectly on my Dell XPS with Ultra HD screen.

        • Libadwaita 1.0 Arrives to Kickstart a New Era of GTK App Development – OMG! Ubuntu!

          Libadwaita 1.0 has been released, kickstarting a new era in GTK app development.

          Now, there’s been a fair bit of controversy and misunderstanding over what libadwaita is and isn’t. It’s pitched as a library that implements the (new) GNOME HIG, and is a GTK4-based successor to the GTK3-based libhandy library that has, over the past few years, given GTK apps lots of cool adaptive capabilities.

          Libadwaita is set to become tightly intwined with GNOME as, in a break with the past, this library comes with a stylesheet —what we think of as GTK themes are actually just stylesheets— baked in. This means anything built using libadwaita (i.e., like a lot of GNOME 42) should look virtually the same wherever it runs regardless of what GTK theme is set.

        • Alexander Mikhaylenko: Libadwaita 1.0

          Libadwaita 1.0 has been released, just at the end of the year.

          Libadwaita is a library implementing the GNOME HIG, complementing GTK. For GTK 3 this role has increasingly been played by Libhandy, and so Libadwaita is a direct Libhandy successor.

          You can read more in Adrien’s announcement.

          [...]

          Ever since Adwaita started using SCSS, it couldn’t really be recolored at all without recompiling it. This created big problems for applications that wanted to do that.

          For example, GNOME Web makes its header bar blue in incognito mode. This may sound simple, but involves copy-pasting large chunks of Adwaita into the app itself and making many small changes everywhere to adjust it, as well as using SCSS for it because the original style is SCSS. More recently, GNOME Console and Apostrophe started doing the same thing – copy-pasted from Web, as a matter of fact. This approach means the style is messy and extremely hard to keep up to date with Adwaita changes – I have updated this style for the 3.32 style refresh and never want to do this again.

          Another approach applications like Contrast are using (were using with GTK 3, anyway), is copying the whole stylesheet from GTK, and using libsass to recompile it in runtime. This worked – it’s much more maintainable than the first approach, but fell apart when libsass got deprecated.

          Meanwhile, the elementary OS stylesheet has been doing recoloring just fine with nothing but @define-color – and so Libadwaita does exactly that, it exposes all of the colors it uses (31 as of the moment of writing) as named colors. The new colors are also documented and will be treated as a proper API.

          It also drops all of the formerly used PNG assets, so the colors can affect the elements that used them.

          It also reworks the high contrast variant to use the same colors when possible to make sure that changing color for the regular style also works with high contrast.

        • Libadwaita 1.0 Released For Kicking Off A New Year Of GNOME App Development

          GNOME’s libadwaita 1.0 has been released for this library implementing the GNOME Human Interface Guidelines (HIG) and complementary to the GTK toolkit.

          Libadwaita 1.0 is the successor to libhandy that complemented GTK3. Libadwaita 1.0 offers a reworked stylesheet now that the Adwaita style has become part of the library rather than within GTK. This new libadwaita style is designed to be more modern, supports runtime recoloring, a more proper dark variant contrast, style classes updates, API to support the new cross-desktop dark style preference, improved notifications, and much more.

        • GNOME libadwaita 1.0 released

          Version 1.0 of the GNOME libadwaita library is out; this will be of interest to GNOME application developers. “Libadwaita is a library implementing the GNOME HIG, complementing GTK. For GTK 3 this role has increasingly been played by Libhandy, and so Libadwaita is a direct Libhandy successor.”

    • Distributions

      • New Releases

        • Linux Lite 5.8 Is Slated for Release on February 1st, 2022, Now Available for Testing

          Still based on the Ubuntu 20.04.3 LTS release of the long-term supported Ubuntu 20.04 LTS (Focal Fossa) operating system series from Canonical, the Linux Lite 5.8 distribution release promises updated components, bug fixes, and many other tweaks and changes.

          Don’t get too excited because Linux Lite 5.8 is an incremental update to the previous releases in the Linux Lite 5 series. As such, it would appear that the major changes of this upcoming update are an updated Papirus icon theme and nine new wallpapers to make your Linux Lite desktop experience more enjoyable.

        • Celebrate New Year 2022 by switching from Windows 11 to Linux Lite 5.8 RC1

          Windows 11 is a great operating system. In fact, I can confidently say it is the best desktop operating system Microsoft has ever created. Seriously, folks, it is wonderful. If your computer is compatible with it, and you like Windows 10, you should enjoy Windows 11 even more.

          With all of that said, Windows 11 can be a bit polarizing. It features radical changes to the user interface (such as a centered task bar) which I adore, but some users may dislike. Not to mention, the system requirements will leave many still-capable computers unable to upgrade without using unofficial hacks. Even worse, computers deemed incompatible could eventually stop getting updates! These unfortunate computer owners will have to decide whether to continue using Windows 10 or buy a new Windows 11-compatible PC.

      • SUSE/OpenSUSE

        • openSUSE Tumbleweed – Review of the week 2021/52 – Dominique a.k.a. DimStar (Dim*)

          Dear Tumbleweed users and hackers,

          The last week of the year, and the last day of the year, are coming to an end. Tumbleweed had a small dip, as the last two snapshots that moved to openQA had to be stopped from being published. Nevertheless, we still managed to publish 6 snapshots before heading out to the new-year celebrations (1223…1228).

      • IBM/Red Hat/Fedora

        • Looking back on 2021 and ahead to an amazing new year

          We’ve made it to the end of 2021, and I’m filled with so many emotions. On the one hand, I’m extremely proud of the work we have done this year. But on the other hand… when I wrote last year’s love letter, I thought we’d surely be able to celebrate our successes in person this year. Unfortunately, the global situation doesn’t seem to be getting any better. Our usual European winter events — DevConf.CZ and FOSDEM — are both virtual again. While I continue to hold out hope that we’ll be able to share a meal together soon, there are no clear dates in sight.

          So, as we close out 2021 and approach the two-year mark of the pandemic, I’d like us all to take a moment to reflect on how we’ve continued to be a thriving community this year. Nest With Fedora brought together over 700 Fedorans—nearly twice the size of Nest 2020. We expanded our annual Fedora Women’s Day to Fedora Week of Diversity, celebrating the rich diversity that makes Fedora a great community. And we upgraded the way we communicate, bringing more conversation to Discussion and adding a new chat server using the open Matrix protocol. And all of that featured our new logo, introduced this spring.

          Of course, as much as we love the Friends foundation, this community is about more than just having fun together. We also produce an excellent operating system. Fedora Workstation 34 led the way among major desktop distributions by featuring GNOME 40—a significant improvement to the widely-used desktop environment. We also changed the default audio system to PipeWire. And even though we broke our on-time streak with Fedora Linux 35, that just shows how seriously we take quality — we want to be leading edge, not “bleeding edge”, and we continue to demonstrate that in what we deliver to users.

        • 15 ways to advance your Kubernetes journey in 2022

          2021 has been an exciting year for Kubernetes, and these articles prove it. From fun interfaces to homelabs to development environments, check out my favorite articles from 2021, K8s style.

          If you are interested in the fundamentals, this article about containers on Linux clarifies how Linux containers work from the inside out. Are you more interested in having some fun? Install minikube and start managing it using the DOOM video game as an interface. An alternative to DOOM is kubectl, a more traditional Kubernetes control CLI.
          Even if you only run Kubernetes on your Linux homelab, you can use tools like Terraform and Helm to automate day-to-day operations. This creates an opportunity to get better at Terraform.

          One of the few things that are certain in life is that computers will fail in weird and interesting ways. Monitor your Kubernetes cluster with Prometheus and Grafana to see how it fails. Monitor the applications running inside it with distributed tracing using Grafana Tempo. Monitor how strong your monitoring is by introducing Chaos Mesh to cause intentional chaos in Kubernetes.

        • Top 21 sysadmin guides and tutorials of 2021 | Enable Sysadmin

          This was an amazing year for the Enable Sysadmin community. In 2021, our site traffic grew to more than 600,000 page views per month, 100,000 per month over 2020. We generated more than 7.2 million page views and 4.2 million unique visitors in 2021.

        • IT leadership: 3 ways to show gratitude to teams

          When I discussed these challenges with the instructors on our platform, one solution kept coming up again and again: Gratitude.

          Showing gratitude doesn’t just mean being nice for the sake of being nice. Gratitude has real business value. A ten-year, 200,000-person study by O.C. Tanner found that 79 percent of respondents who’d quit their jobs cited lack of appreciation as a key factor in their departure. In addition, 65 percent of North Americans surveyed felt that they had not been recognized even once in the prior year. That’s a dangerous position for any company to be in.

          This is why CIOs and IT leaders, in particular, must be cognizant of team morale and keep the gratitude flowing. It’s not always easy under pressure, but here are three elements to keep in mind.

        • Irving Wladawsky-Berger: The World Ahead 2022: Adjusting to New Realities

          A few weeks ago The Economist published The World Ahead 2022, its 36th annual look at the economic, political, social and cultural trends that will likely shape the coming year. “If 2021 was the year the world turned the tide against the pandemic, 2022 will be dominated by the need to adjust to new realities, both in areas reshaped by the crisis (the new world of work, the future of travel) and as deeper trends reassert themselves (the rise of China, accelerating climate change),” wrote the issue’s editor Tom Sandage.

        • CentOS Linux 8 Reaches End-Of-Life

          Today is the unfortunate day marking CentOS Linux 8 reaching end-of-life status as a free alternative to Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8.

          It was a year ago CentOS / Red Hat announced their shift in focus on CentOS Stream as being the new upstream of Red Hat Enterprise Linux moving forward. CentOS Stream has been taking shape this year while unfortunately it means the EOL’ing of CentOS Linux 8.

        • CentOS Linux 8 EOL

          In December 2020, the CentOS Project announced a series of changes. The three most important are: the creation of CentOS Stream and the consequent rename of CentOS (the classic Linux distribution the project is known for) in CentOS Linux the anticipation to today (31/12/2021) of the End Of Life for CentOS Linux 8 the fact that CentOS Linux 8 is going to be the last and that from now on, only CentOS Stream will have new releases That announcement created a lot of different sentiments in the community and even more among the CentOS Linux users.

        • An Official Way To Migrate To AlmaLinux 8 From CentOS 8 – OSTechNix

          This step by step tutorial explains how to migrate to AlmaLinux 8 from CentOS 8 using Almalinux-deploy script. Using Almalinux-deploy script, we can easily convert CentOS machines (hopefully other Enterprise Linux systems) to AlmaLinux.

          It is written in Bash and the source code is available in GitHub. Now let us go ahead and migrate from CentOS to AlmaLinux with almalinux-deploy script.

        • Install NVIDIA Drivers [495.46 / 470.94 / 390.147 / 340.108] on CentOS Stream, RHEL, Rocky Linux – If Not True Then False

          This is guide, howto install NVIDIA proprietary drivers (manually using .run files) on CentOS Stream 9/8, Red Hat (RHEL) 9.0/8.5, Rocky Linux 8.5 and disable Nouveau driver. This guide works with GeForce 8/9/200/300/400/500/600/700/800/900/10/20/30 series cards.

      • Canonical/Ubuntu Family

    • Devices/Embedded

    • Free, Libre, and Open Source Software

      • Intel To Ring In 2022 With New, Faster AV1 Encoder Release – Phoronix

        Intel in cooperation with the Alliance for Open Media continues developing SVT-AV1 as the flagship CPU-based AV1 video encoder. With the next SVT-AV1 update there are performance optimizations as well as several new preset levels allowing for even greater performance. Here are some early benchmarks of that updated SVT-AV1.

      • Open Source Trends for 2022 and Beyond

        “There’s nothing magical about open-source methodology and security,” Vaughan-Nichols notes. “Linus’s law is that given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow. But, if not enough developers are looking, security vulnerabilities will still go unnoticed.” And, according to what he is calling Schneier’s law, “Security is a process, not a product,” and “constant vigilance is needed to secure all software.”

      • Events

        • Will Anyone Actually Show Up at CES on Wednesday?

          A given at the first of each year is CES. Formally called the Consumer Electronic Show, the event practically takes over Las Vegas for a few days every January, and every company that even dabbles in electronics is on hand to show off their latest offerings.

          How big is it? In 2019, more than 182,000 people attended and more than 4,400 vendors exhibited their wares. How important is being there to vendors? In 2020, Apple made its first appearance at the event in 27 years, if that tells you anything.

          In 2021, when there was no in-person event due to COVID, organizers pulled out all the stops to create an engaging virtual event, featuring a live digital performance by Billie Eilish as a lead-in to a discussion session on digital performances in whic Ryan Seacrest spoke with Billie Eilish and Dua Lipa.

        • CES Rolls the Dice and Gambles on Becoming a Superspreader Event
      • Productivity Software/LibreOffice/Calligra

        • LibreOffice Working On A New Cairo Graphics Back-End – Phoronix

          Merged yesterday into the LibreOffice code-base was introducing yet another graphics drawing back-end for this open-source office suite.

          SvpGraphicsBackend is this new VCL (Visual Class Library) back-end for LibreOffice. SvpGraphicsBackend is being used as a new back-end around Cairo. There is already SvpSalGraphics for LibreOffice that uses Cairo for drawing while SvpGraphicsBackend is being worked into the new implementation alongside the various other VCL graphics/drawing back-ends for the cross-platform office suite.

          Tomaž Vajngerl of Collabora has been working on this new Cairo back-end that was merged on Thursday. So far there have been a few more follow-up commits beginning to move more functionality into SvpGraphicsBackend.

      • FSF

        • GNU Projects

          • 2021 annual report – GIMP

            With 4 development versions released already, you know that we are working very hard on the future: GIMP 3.0.

            Some features took a lot of time, mostly when we changed core logics. I am thinking in particular about the code for multi-selection of layers. It’s not that selecting multiple items in a list is hard to implement, it’s that any feature in the whole application has been forever expecting just one layer or one channel selected. So what happens when there are 2, 3 or any number of items selected? Every feature, every tool, every plug-in and filter has to be rethought for this new use case. This is a huge work and it has been 2 years I have been on and off on this one in between porting or developing other code and reviewing contributors’ code. Fortunately this change is nearing the end lately (not completely finished though). So that’s a great progress.

            By the way, a part of this work has been to get rid of the “link” (chain ⛓ icon in the Layers dockable) concept in favor of multi-selection (and layer search and storage as a replacement concept for the ability to save layer links). This part is also done now. I’ll talk more about this in the GIMP 2.99.10 release news.

      • Programming/Development

        • The Kate Text Editor in 2021 – Kate

          From Kate’s development perspective this year looks fantastic. If you track a bit the development via our merge requests overview page or even better participate yourself in our projects, you might have already noticed it ;=)

        • Simple test if audio muted

          I am working out how to do things in /usr/sbin/mscw (Multiple Sound Card Wizard). A huge issue for me has been moving from alsa to pulseaudio. Here is a link to earlier work:

          https://bkhome.org/news/202111/how-pulseaudio-is-implemented-in-easyos.html

          I am still very uncertain about aspects of the interaction between alsa and pa. The single most important feature is /etc/alsa/conf.d/99-pulseaudio-default.conf, that essentially directs alsa output to the pa server.

          In mscw, I want a quick check of output volume and muted/unmuted status for a particular card. It can be done using ‘pactl’ or ‘pacmd’, pa utilities, however, I wanted to do it at the “alsa level”, with an alsa utility…

        • New front-page on cross-compiling

          I am gradually working toward putting information from blog posts onto the easyos.org front page.

        • Mold 1.0.1 Released As Newest Version Of This High-Speed Linker – Phoronix

          It was just this month that Mold 1.0 premiered as a very promising, high performance linker alternative to GNU’s Gold and LLVM’s LLD linkers. GCC 12 added support for Mold this week and now for ending out the year Mold 1.0.1 has been released.

          Mold 1.0.1 is just a maintenance release but given the young age of the project there are a number of fixes as well as new features squeezed in. Mold 1.0.1 now optionally includes its own xxHash library for building but can still use a system-wide xxHash library if desired, support for the “–color-diagnostics” option, the “–threads=” option is now supported as an alias of its existing “–thread-count=” option, and support for a number of other options.

  • Leftovers

    • Strategies To Make 2022 Better: Embrace the Folks Around Us

      So, 2021 was no 2020, even if it borrowed many of the same contours of that wretched year. But it was still the calendar equivalent of me walking down the street after I rolled my ankle, pretending that everything is OK, even though my ankle was telling me otherwise. (I often wince when reading descriptions of people rolling their ankles, so if that describes you, I apologize in advance.) Many folks got vaccinated this year. Some even got boosters. But COVID-19 remains an extremely dynamic part of the way that we live and experience the world. But even if optimism was in short supply (and less so after learning that as I was posting this, Betty White died just three weeks before her 100th birthday), tedium was in ample supply. And with that, let’s do another one of these year-end issues (the eighth one!) where we try to look forward and back all at once.

    • Hardware

    • Integrity/Availability

      • Proprietary

        • Security

          • Security updates for Friday [LWN.net]

            Security updates have been issued by Debian (agg, aria2, fort-validator, and lxml), Fedora (libgda, pgbouncer, and xorg-x11-server-Xwayland), Mageia (calibre, e2guardian, eclipse, libtpms/swtpm, nodejs, python-lxml, and toxcore), openSUSE (c-toxcore, gegl, getdata, kernel-firmware, log4j, postrsd, and privoxy), and SUSE (gegl).

          • Reproducible Builds (diffoscope): diffoscope 198 released

            The diffoscope maintainers are pleased to announce the release of diffoscope version 198. This version includes the following changes:

            [ Chris Lamb ]
            * Support showing "Ordering differences only" within .dsc field values.
              (Closes: #1002002, reproducible-builds/diffoscope#297)
            * Support OCaml versions 4.11, 4.12 and 4.13. (Closes: #1002678)
            * Add support for XMLb files. (Closes: reproducible-builds/diffoscope#295)
            * Also add, for example, /usr/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu to our internal PATH.
            
            [ Mattia Rizzolo ]
            * Also recognize "GnuCash file" files as XML.
            

          • This Week In Security: The Log4j That Won’t Go Away, WebOS, And More | Hackaday

            In the past two weeks, Log4j has continued to drive security news, with more vulnerable platforms being found, and additional CVEs coming out. First up is work done by TrendMicro, looking at electric vehicles and chargers. They found a log4j attack in one of the published charger frameworks, and also managed to observe evidence of vulnerability in the Tesla In-Vehicle Infotainment system. It isn’t a stretch to imagine a piece of malware that could run on both a charger, and an EV. And since those systems talk to each other, they could spread the virus through cars moving from charger to charger.

            Log4j is now up to 2.17.1, as there is yet another RCE to fix, CVE-2021-44832. This one is only scored a 6.6 on the CVSS scale, as opposed to the original, which weighed in at a 10. 44832 requires the attacker to first exert control over the Log4j configuration, making exploitation much more difficult. This string of follow-on vulnerabilities demonstrates a well-known pattern, where a high profile vulnerability attracts the attention of researchers, who find other problems in the same code.

            There are now reports of Log4j being used in Conti ransomware campaigns. Additionally, a Marai-based worm has been observed. This self-propagating attack seems to be targeting Tomcat servers, among others.

          • Privacy/Surveillance

            • Apple AirTags Are Being Used to Track People and Cars
            • Are Apple AirTags Being Used to Track People and Steal Cars?

              On a Sunday night in September, Ashley Estrada was at a friend’s home in Los Angeles when she received a strange notification on her iPhone: “AirTag Detected Near You.”

              An AirTag is a 1.26-inch disc with location-tracking capabilities that Apple started selling earlier this year as a way “to keep track of your stuff.” Ms. Estrada, 24, didn’t own one, nor did the friends she was with. The notification on her phone said the AirTag had first been spotted with her four hours earlier. A map of the AirTag’s history showed the zigzag path Ms. Estrada had driven across the city while running errands.

              [...]

              The New York Times spoke with seven women who believe they were tracked with AirTags, including a 17-year-old whose mother surreptitiously placed one on her car to stay apprised of her whereabouts.

              Some authorities have begun to take a closer look at the threat posed by AirTags. The West Seneca Police Department in New York recently warned its community of the tracking potential of the devices after an AirTag was found on a car bumper. Apple complied with a subpoena for information about the AirTag in the case, which may lead to charges, West Seneca police said.

              And in Canada, a local police department said that it had investigated five incidents of thieves placing AirTags on “high-end vehicles so they can later locate and steal them.”

              Researchers now believe AirTags, which are equipped with Bluetooth technology, could be revealing a more widespread problem of tech-enabled tracking. They emit a digital signal that can be detected by devices running Apple’s mobile operating system. Those devices then report where an AirTag has last been seen. Unlike similar tracking products from competitors such as Tile, Apple added features to prevent abuse, including notifications like the one Ms. Estrada received and automatic beeping. (Tile plans to release a feature to prevent the tracking of people next year, a spokeswoman for that company said.)

Why the Open Source Initiative Cannot be Saved (It’s Too Heavily Controlled by Monopolies)

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft, OSI at 2:55 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link | md5sum 1491d3d203261f185fc762fac719b488

Summary: The Open Source Initiative (OSI) is a floundering institution whose real budget is decreasing (Microsoft is just ‘laundering’ money through the OSI) and it doesn’t want people — especially paying members — to understand what’s really going on

COMMUNITIES can see that the Open Source Initiative (OSI) does not represent them. The OSI cannot be salvaged. Throwing money at “membership” won’t help either because members' contributions are only 4% of the budget. Most of the OSI’s spending is a redirection of Microsoft to Microsoft and the OSI’s Board of Directors is basically a bunch of “tech giants”, with the odd pair that is not (still a minority/small part of the whole).

“OSI isn’t pressured to rename itself; but we need to recognise that today’s OSI isn’t the same OSI we knew over a decade ago.”Techrights used to be an ally and a friend of OSI; heck, management figures from the OSI used to speak to us, send us material, and read us regularly. But today’s OSI is an entirely different institution, mostly riding the reputation of its past self (as the Southern Poverty Law Center does). We need to move on and focus on more legitimate institutions, not misleadingly named. Incidentally, the FSFE, which also tries to censor Techrights (but fails) is in violation of its agreement with the FSF and it needs to rename. OSI isn’t pressured to rename itself; but we need to recognise that today’s OSI isn’t the same OSI we knew over a decade ago.

My Year as a Digital Vegan — Part VII — Staying the Course and Fake It Till You Make It?

Posted in Free/Libre Software at 1:31 pm by Guest Editorial Team

By Dr. Andy Farnell

Series parts:

  1. My Year as a Digital Vegan — Part I — 2021 in Review
  2. My Year as a Digital Vegan — Part II — Impact of a ‘COVID Year’
  3. My Year as a Digital Vegan — Part III — Lost and Found; Losing the Mobile Phone (Cellphone)
  4. My Year as a Digital Vegan — Part IV — Science or Scientism?
  5. My Year as a Digital Vegan — Part V — Change in Societal Norms and Attitudes
  6. My Year as a Digital Vegan — Part VI — The Right Words
  7. YOU ARE HERE ☞ Staying the Course and Fake It Till You Make It?

Fake Tech VeganSummary: Dr. Andy Farnell continues sharing his ‘Tech Vegan’ experiences from this past year; this series will carry on well into the new year (2022)

Staying the course

Another theme I have dealt with this year is “tenacity versus resignation”. People have different coping mechanisms to technological
stressors, some get mad, some get even, some get the hell out of there. I began the year helping a student edit an inspiring story of how he graduated without non-free software. I was very impressed with this individual’s ability to unerringly act with firm politeness and perseverance against the kind of institutional steamroller that crushes other students.

“I began the year helping a student edit an inspiring story of how he graduated without non-free software. I was very impressed with this individual’s ability to unerringly act with firm politeness and perseverance against the kind of institutional steamroller that crushes other students.”Elsewhere I have encountered learned helplessness (see Seligman et al. Hiroto75). Defeatism is one of the greatest enemies we face in seeking digital rights, as people seldom feel able to confront what they do not understand. A disappointing number of people (wrongly) said to me “What’s the point boycotting your supermarket Andy? They’re all just doing the same”. Despite there being absolutely no evidence that other British supermarkets were violating privacy rights there’s a pervading sense around tech that a possibility once is a necessity forever, which feeds into a nihilistic refusal to resist even the most tepid incursions by technological abusers.

What I’ve learned is that small, polite but resolute gestures make big changes. Standing up for principles as a single voice does make a difference. Sometimes you need to start as an army of one and remember that all progress “depends upon the unreasonable man“. Despite every armchair theorist’s wisdom on the intractability of ‘network effects’ we successfully flipped our whole family communication circle from Whatsapp to Signal in a few weeks.

But this raises a troubling question. By what right am I an evangelist? What prophet made me an influencer and missionary charged with saving the souls of technological sinners? None whatsoever. And wouldn’t it be grandiose and egotistical to take on such a role?

How the world has changed since the ’90s when I had a T-shirt that said, “No. I will not fix your computer”, because like every other geek I was inundated with requests for help. “Help me install a new hard drive”. “Help me connect to the Internet”. “Help me build this web page”… I have yet to hear an honest request – “Please, help me get off social media”.

“Like many of the most insidious harms, technological harms are invisible, delayed, accumulative and tolerance building. All you can do is stand back and hope others see the harm and abuse they are bringing upon themselves.”I wrote several chapters in Digital Vegan, about addiction, cults, entrenched behaviour and the impossibility of proselytising others to a crazy cause. I advise against it – and indeed the book title is an ironic take on that problem. Anyone who has dealt with alcohol or drug problems knows the pain of seeing those you love harm themselves and knowing that, generally, any interventions only make things worse. Like many of the most insidious harms, technological harms are invisible, delayed, accumulative and tolerance building. All you can do is stand back and hope others see the harm and abuse they are bringing upon themselves.

Fake it till you make it?

Being a Vegan “impostor” myself I’ve developed a sharp nose for “Fake Digital Vegans” – those who say “Oh yes, how ghastly it all is”, while messaging on Facebook. They care deeply about everything, so long as changing would not inconvenience them. I’ve also noticed a slew of click-bait stories in the popular press that tease us with “I quit my smartphone for a month and you’ll never guess what happened to me next!”. Actually, I can guess… you got paid a big bag of money for lying about it. Celebrities making grand public theatre of their few weeks without Alexa (the horror) actually subtract from responsible, moderate use.

“All platforms encourage token dissenters, because that legitimises them as “democratic”.”Only this week another latecomer joined the party. Comedian David Baddiel made his own apologies on the BBC for correctly naming everything wrong with social media, including his own daughter’s distress, before admitting his hopeless addiction and crawling back to it. The point is that Baddiel is a courageous intellectual, but ultimately seemed defeated in his bid to extricate. What does that bode for us lesser beings?

All platforms encourage token dissenters, because that legitimises them as “democratic”. One cannot wholly burn-down ones own platform in protest. How did this public spectacle of failure help? And if he had been successful, who would have ever heard of David Baddiel again? So, here lies the paradox of celebrities attempting to set an example regarding social media.

I’ve come to think that fetishism of “tech-fasting” only cements addict-like behaviour. It’s flip-side is Cyber Monday bingeing on IoT junk to “reward yourself”. Do or do not, there is no try. Like Baddiel’s, these accounts are generally pessimistic in their conclusion that it’s “impossible” to stand up against Big-Tech. They are coded messages from the establishment saying, “Don’t be so silly, nobody can really live without a smartphone and social media”. Of course that’s not true. But you won’t ever hear that on social media.

“When I made video lectures criticising Google, it felt awful that the most likely outlet would be YouTube.”Thus I am ambivalent towards those conflicted pragmatists “changing the system from the inside”. I decline joining their “Overthrow The Empire” Facebook groups. Yet I have respect for their courage. It takes something to fully embrace hypocrisy, or dualism. When I made video lectures criticising Google, it felt awful that the most likely outlet would be YouTube.

Successful projects I have encountered seem advocate modest and gradual change and are not too Puritan to use the platforms they denounce to spread their message. However, many projects that attempt to address subjects like social media dependency disorder and have been active since around 2015 have not found traction. They’ve achieved only modest success despite the growing prevalence and visibility of the problem. Why is this?

“If token dissent is no longer being tolerated and disaffection swept under the rug, it means the big platforms are scared.”Amidst mounting scientific evidence and whistleblower reports, widespread sentiment on the need for society to back away from collective smartphone and social media delirium is booming. However, critical discussion now encounters suppression across all corporate mass communications systems like Twitter, Facebook, TikTok, etc.

Active censorship of social technology critique is a good thing (and quite inevitable). It marks a vital advance in the sequence “first they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win.” If token dissent is no longer being tolerated and disaffection swept under the rug, it means the big platforms are scared.

_______

Bibliography

  • [Hiroto75] “Hiroto & Seligman, Generality of learned helplessness in man, “Journal of Personality and Social Psychology”, 31, 311-327 (1975).

[Meme] EPO ‘Social Dialogue’: Blah Blah Blah Blah (But Nothing Gets Changed for the Better)

Posted in Europe, Patents at 9:43 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A deep gap in understanding

Antonio-Campinos-cartoon

Summary: “I appreciate that for some of you, things may not be changing as quickly as you would like,” António Campinos said, but 2022 will be his fifth year in the Office (he was parachuted into the Office as President despite a lack of experience or an understanding of this institution) and like Biden relies on being “not Trump” (while dragging his heels) Campinos still relies on being “not Battistelli” and the Administrative Council hopes to buy time while many valuable workers leave the Office, causing a talent crisis — the subject of an impending Techrights post

2018, 2019, 2020, 2021: 4 Years of António Campinos Failing and EPO Granting Loads of Invalid Patents

Posted in Europe, Patents at 9:19 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link | md5sum 640866be4f6461a68485cdf7ca904c88

Summary: According to an internal (February 2021) publication from elected leaders of EPO examiners, António Campinos has failed to enchant the staff and has performed “far below expectations”

THE report below was published in February 2021 by people who had suffered the wrath of Team Battistelli. The EPO has been largely the same under António Campinos, who just needed to obey ILO rulings and could therefore not engage in some of the same witch-hunts (though he continued to try to find some dirt on Elizabeth Hardon, based on the text below).

“Well, the rule of law was abandoned a long time ago and we have a couple more installments about mis-governance and mismanagement of the EPO.”The growing issue of European software patents (disguised as “Hey Hi” and other buzzwords) is made apparent by the part which speaks of patent “quality issues with 1 out of 4 grants not being compliant”. The law/litigation firms profit from these and these patent maximalists want to impose this non-compliance on courts too, using the UPC. Incidentally, Miquel Montañá (Clifford Chance) pretends everything will be OK as “EPO will be responsible for granting the forthcoming European patents with unitary effect,” (not really, this makes the false assumption that UPC is inevitable and impending) and that “it is only natural to wonder whether, in view of this responsibility and the fact that these patents will be scrutinized by the Unified Patent Court, the organs of the European Patent Organisation will go the extra mile to ensure the utmost respect for the rule of law.”

Well, the rule of law was abandoned a long time ago and we have a couple more installments about mis-governance and mismanagement of the EPO. There’s lots more (in terms of examples) in the publication below, which I’ve commented on in the video above.

01 February 2021
su21002mp – 0.2.1

SUEPO Chairman’s report 2019 – 2020

The SUEPO Munich committee election for the period 2019-2020 took place in November/December 2018. The Election results were announced on 19 December 2018, and the committee constituted on 14 January 2019. Presently the committee is composed of seven members and two deputy members. A much needed and welcomed improvement for the SUEPO committee, since the previous committee was only composed of three members (Malika Weaver, Tom De Backer and Ion Brumme).

Operational

In January 2019 the office mandated Willis Towers Watson to perform an office-wide “Staff Engagement Survey” (the first since 2011). In a publication to staff on 30 January 2019, the Munich SUEPO committee encouraged EPO staff members to take part in the survey and to voice their opinion “unhindered and without fear of reprisals”.

Indeed, the survey showed, as expected, a particularly deep mistrust in higher management of the Office. Over 85% of staff members answered the survey and thousands of free-text comments were added. Despite the fact that the President wants everyone to know that he considers transparency to be of paramount importance, he never allowed these comments to be published (not even in anonymized form).

In February 2019 an audit of IT infrastructure at the EPO, performed by the Boston Consulting Group, painted a very negative picture. This was in stark contrast to the IT Roadmap Final Report, made under the Battistelli administration just 6 months previously. This latter report mentioned that the EPO had “state of the art” IT infrastructure and that after 8 years of work 90% of the IT programs were almost finished. The new audit, however, criticized that the lauded IT programs were in fact 90% not future-ready, meaning that the 223 million euro invested in the EPO IT infrastructure under Battistelli had been completely wasted.

A few months later, and without questioning the loss of 223 million euro, the Administrative Council (AC) decided that an even greater budget of 300 million euro would bring the IT infrastructure back on track. This new investment and the introduction of new staff in the IT area, now known as BIT and led by the new VP4, Nellie Simon, showed its value during the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic. More on this later.

Nine months after Mr. Campinos’ inauguration, SUEPO published a paper revealing all the urgent issues which Mr. Campinos failed to deal with in this time (unchanged production pressure, quality issues with 1 out of 4 grants not being compliant, no improvement in social dialogue, 26 million euro wasted for renting a building in Haar for the Boards of Appeal when half of BT8 has been kept empty for years, etc.).

In June 2019, following a very disappointing meeting on 16 May 2019 when it became abundantly clear that the President had no intention in making any progress with union issues, SUEPO informed the President that it would call for a strike.

For his first year in office SUEPO reviewed the President’s performance as “far below expectations”.

In October 2019 EPO General Assemblies (GA) were held in all places of employment to inform staff of the bias in the freshly-published Financial Study which had been mandated by the President and carried out by Mercer and Oliver Wyman.

SUEPO published a four-part publication entitled “Financial Study – Yet Another Hoax”. The Financial Study was indeed so severely flawed that it became obvious to all EPO staff that it was merely a pretext for further cuts in the employment package, including pay.

A demonstration, the first to be held during Mr. Campinos’ presidency, took place on 23 October 2019 in front of the Isar building and at the same time as an Administrative Council meeting.

In November 2019, EPO management presented staff with 17 measures, aimed at covering an alleged financial gap of 3.8 billion euro. The President, of his own volition and without providing any evidence, demanded another 2 billion euro from staff as a so-called financial buffer. It is obvious that this Financial Study cannot be taken seriously. Not even the Administration trusted the outcome, which is why a more than 50% (2 billion euro) buffer was added to take any error into account. It is quite interesting that for other EPO-financed projects within the Office the financial margin of error is always assumed to be in lower single digits. However, when staff must pay, the outcome is so detached from reality that the President finds a 50% error buffer necessary.

It was abundantly clear that EPO staff was going to be the only stakeholder paying for the alleged financial gap. SUEPO therefore informed the President that it would organize a strike ballot to see how high the support for a strike would be. Participation was high, with thousands of staff members voting across all places of employment and with a massive 84% of votes in favour of a strike.

2019 ended in turmoil, with a General Assembly on 11 December 2019 and a resolution demanding that the President conduct a new independent assessment of the EPO financial situation.

2020 started in the same way that 2019 ended – with the EPO in total disarray.

Despite numerous interventions, suggestions, proposals, and explanations by Staff Representatives in the Working Group concerned with the new Salary Adjustment Procedure (SAP), Elodie Bergot (PD4.3) forced a new and faulty SAP through the AC without the support of either Staff Representation or staff members.

Meanwhile, SUEPO Munich developed an online salary simulator where every staff member could calculate the detrimental effect this new SAP would have on his/her salary for the years to come. The salary simulator provided an exceptionally good visual aid to clearly see the loss of purchasing power which every one of us will have to endure in the coming years and for the rest of our active and retired lives.

Since the Office was not inclined to carry out a real independent financial study, SUEPO took over this task.

In May 2020, SUEPO subsequently published the analysis of Ernst & Young, in the form of a new independent Financial Study. The Office was stunned to see that one of the big four consultant companies had confirmed the position expressed by SUEPO and by the Pensioners Association. During the next Administrative Council meeting the President threatened to open an investigation into the ethical policy of Ernst & Young, wondering how the authors of a Financial Study could have possibly complied with it. Of course, nothing happened because the President has no jurisdiction over other companies. Furthermore, all ethical and conflict-of-interest aspects had been properly assessed and considered at the time the Financial Study had been carried out.

In their report, Ernst & Young identified a series of ‘conservative’ (read totally wrong) assumptions made by Mercer and Oliver Wyman. Ernst & Young identified further technical mistakes, such as non-compliance with the general principles of discounting financial positions, as stipulated by the IDW (Institute der Wirtschaftsprüfer).

The 2019 Financial study by Mercer and Oliver Wyman can only be viewed as excessively overcautious. It also reflects the clearly malicious intention of the EPO Administration to find an artificial financial gap for the sole purpose of degrading the conditions of staff. SUEPO will support its members in their legal battle against this unjust and unilateral cut in EPO staff’s purchasing power. The ILOAT will not be happy to see the number of EPO complaints rise again, but the Administration has left the staff with no other choice.

A link to the entire Ernst & Young Financial Study with more explanations can be found on the SUEPO Munich and SUEPO Central webpages.

In April 2020 SUEPO helped coordinate the filling of a Request for Management Review against the reduced possibility of contributing towards the Salary Savings Plan (SSP). This possibility had been promised to young colleagues when they entered the EPO. It should be noted that the injection of cash into the SSP has been 16 times higher for Senior Management than for staff members in lower grades.

Following the disastrous implementation of the SAP, SUEPO and Staff Representation called an online General Assembly (GA) to discuss next steps. The GA was attended by over 1300 staff in Munich, the highest ever GA attendance. The outcome was that staff mandated SUEPO to draft a petition demanding renegotiation of the SAP and also mandated SUEPO to call for a strike. A strike took place on 15 December 2020 to coincide with the last Administrative Council meeting of 2020. Thousands of staff have also signed the petition – the closing date was 31 January 2021.

During December 2020, staff representation in cooperation with SUEPO initiated a so-called floor meeting action. Seven virtual meetings were held in Munich, with hundreds of staff attending every meeting. This information campaign had the additional effect that staff rallied in great numbers in support of striking. 1448 staff members went on strike. It was the highest number of staff members that had taken part in industrial action since 2016 and a clear signal to the President that there cannot be social peace in the EPO if staff is not heard.

As such, the year 2020 ended as it started – in total disarray. Not a pretty picture for a President who likes to boost about his negotiation skills, his transparency and his fairness to all (“nobody should be left behind”).

Political cases

In July 2018 the EPO was found guilty by the ILOAT in interfering in SUEPO affairs and for unlawfully dismissing its Chair, Elizabeth Hardon. Not only was the decision to dismiss her set aside but the EPO was also ordered to pay her moral damages. One would think that a new President would be keen to distance himself from the managers responsible for this abuse, and to close the worst chapter in the 40 years’ history of the EPO. We were thus surprised when instead of swiftly complying with the judgement (Judgement 4047) the office thought it would be better to only partly follow it and instead initiate yet another disciplinary action against Ms. Hardon (the third one) trying to still somehow find her guilty of something.

It took the Office more than a year to finally come to its senses and settle the case. In November 2019, more than 4 years after she had been unlawfully dismissed because of her job in Staff Representation and as SUEPO Chair, the EPO finally found a way to settle with Ms. Hardon, fearing, of course, another embarrassment in front of the Tribunal.

In July 2020, the Office also reached a settlement with yet another high ranking SUEPO official, Laurent Prunier from The Hague. His ordeal, being unlawfully dismissed for being a Staff Representative and Vice Chair of SUEPO The Hague, also lasted more than four years.

We are very happy for both of them that they can finally put this nightmare behind them.

Nevertheless, there are still two unresolved cases: Aurelien Petiaud (MU) and Michael Lund (TH). Both have been unfairly prosecuted and downgraded just for having done their jobs as Staff Representatives nominated in the Appeals Committee. The President has no interest in settling these cases. We will continue to support them in the pursuit of justice because they have been unfairly punished and unjustly downgraded.

All of the above are not ‘one off cases’ but have resulted from a coordinated campaign of Union bashing, championed by Ms. Bergot as head of the Human Resources (HR) department (P.D. 4.3) and with the full support and knowledge of both the previous and present Presidents. The Employment Law department, working directly under the supervision of Ms. Bergot, prides itself as being bold in pushing the interpretation of the law to the extreme, irrespective of the damage done to staff. For instance, Mr. Laurent Germond, head of the Employment Law department, wrote in the report on ILOAT judgements published in the EPO intranet on 09.07.2018 that ‘the EPO was aware that it is highly sensitive to impose such disciplinary measures’ against staff representatives and Union representatives or against persons appointed by these bodies. Nevertheless, the Office decided to try it anyway just to see how far it can go. It is appalling that the Employment Law department is more focused on trying to push extreme legal interpretations to favor the wish of a manager rather than protecting its staff from harm. The mantra in the Employment Law department seems to be that as long as the ILOAT does not impose a judgement one way or another, every interpretation of the Service Regulations favouring the Office is fair play. Arguing in favour of common sense and applying the law as it was meant to be is pointless when confronted with EPO lawyers supporting this vision.

Throughout all this ordeal and at an immense cost to the Office, not only financially but also reputationally, the person responsible for attacking SUEPO officials remains in office and unsanctioned. This shows that incompetence and nepotism thrives at the EPO, at least at higher levels. As long as you are the President’s friend you can abuse anyone in the Office with impunity. We still hope that when leaving his post this President won’t leave behind a similar legacy to that of his predecessor.

Final words

To make matters worse, the Covid-19 pandemic has caused unforeseen additional problems to add to our already-brimming basket of EPO political and social problems. However, following their initial shock at working mostly from home using different methods, staff members have shown tremendous flexibility in quickly adjusting to their new environment. Presently, they appear to be able to do their jobs relatively well with no notable production drop and the 300 million euro investment in the new IT infrastructure seems to have been money well spent. For this, praise should be given to the hard-working BIT staff in DG4 as well as to Nellie Simon, the present VP4. We thank her for her leading role in the IT area. That said, we wish she would pay just as much attention to the HR area, which she is also responsible for.

SUEPO had great hopes that with a new President social dialogue at the EPO would improve. However, after two-and-a-half years “Social Dialogue” is still an empty phrase. This is not surprising, since the same managers are in charge of social dialogue now as were during the Battistelli era. As such, a quote usually attributed to Albert Einstein comes to mind: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” So, it is not surprising that until these managers are removed no substantial advance in social dialogue nor an improvement in trust of management will be seen.

Nellie Simon once wondered aloud what it would take for staff members to change their views, become more optimistic, and start to trust senior management again. Well, Ms. Simon, if the thousands of free-text comments left in the Staff Survey did not spell out the problem clearly enough then the previous paragraph surely will.

Malika Weaver
Chairman SUEPO Munich (2019)

Ion Brumme
Chairman SUEPO Munich (2020)

Happy new year, EPO staff.

Links 31/12/2021: 7-Zip 21.07 and Goodbye to CentOS 8

Posted in News Roundup at 5:33 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • GNU/Linux

    • Audiocasts/Shows

    • Kernel Space

      • Intel HFI Code Revised For Improving Alder Lake’s Hybrid Support On Linux – Phoronix

        Back in late 2020 Intel’s programming manuals detailed the Enhanced Hardware Feedback Interface for the CPU to provide guidance to the kernel’s scheduler on optimal task placement of workloads. While marketed as Thread Director with the new 12th Gen Alder Lake processors, that hardware feedback interface support is getting squared away for the Linux kernel to improve the support for these newest processors.

        Microsoft Windows 11 already supports the Intel Hardware Feedback Interface as part of its Alder Lake / Thread Director optimizations while only recently has the Linux kernel support been in the works. In November there were some early “intel_hfi” patches published while right before Christmas Intel dropped a second version of the patches with many changes and improvements stemming from the early code review.

      • Linux 5.17 To Replace SHA1 With BLAKE2s For Faster & More Secure “Random” – Phoronix

        Queued today within the Linux’s random.git repository for the /dev/random and /dev/urandom code is support for using BLAKE2s rather than SHA1 when hashing the entropy pool. This in turn is a big performance speed-up in addition to being more secure.

        For Linux 5.17 there are some nice “random” improvements. Jason Donenfeld who is best known for his work on creating WireGuard is also the Linux kernel’s random maintainer. Queued today was the change to remove SHA1 usage from the random.c code and to instead use BLAKE2s.

    • Instructionals/Technical

      • How to install Guilded on a Chromebook

        Today we are looking at how to install Guilded on a Chromebook. Please follow the video/audio guide as a tutorial where we explain the process step by step and use the commands below.

      • How To Install WildFly on Debian 11 – idroot

        In this tutorial, we will show you how to install WildFly on Debian 11. For those of you who didn’t know, WildFly formerly known as JBoss is an application server written in Java and developed by Red Hat. WildFly is a flexible, lightweight, managed application runtime that helps you build amazing applications.

        This article assumes you have at least basic knowledge of Linux, know how to use the shell, and most importantly, you host your site on your own VPS. The installation is quite simple and assumes you are running in the root account, if not you may need to add ‘sudo‘ to the commands to get root privileges. I will show you through the step-by-step installation of the WildFly (JBoss) on a Debian 11 (Bullseye).

      • Update on Linux hibernation support when lockdown is enabled
      • How to listen to YouTube Music on Linux with Ytmdesktop

        We’ve covered how to listen to YouTube Music on the Linux desktop before using the unofficial YouTube Music app developed by Th-Ch. However, this program isn’t the only way to listen to the service on the Linux platform.

        If you’ve tried out Th-Ch’s unofficial YouTube Music app and found that it didn’t do what you wanted, a great alternative is Ytmdesktop. It has a very similar UI. However, Ytmdesktop integrates with Discord, Last.fm, and more. Here’s how to use it on your system.

      • How to Use Ubuntu Disk Utility for Better HDD/SSD Management

        When using Linux, there are times when you may need to manage hard drives, removable media such as USB drives and SD cards, and more. This is especially true if you plan on dual-booting Ubuntu with Windows or a second Linux installation.

        Therefore, it’s important to know how you can manage your drives and the partitions that are on them. Resizing a partition, reformatting your hard drive, or checking its health are some of the things that you can do with Ubuntu’s built-in disk management tool known as “Disks.”

      • How to Install Tripwire IDS on Debian 11 Bullseye – LinuxCapable

        Tripwire IDS is a reliable intrusion detection system that identifies changes made to specified files and directories. Tripwire IDS Detects intrusions by analyzing operating systems and applications, resource utilization, and other system activity.

        In the following tutorial, you will learn how to install Tripwire IDS on your Debian 11 Bullseye operating system.

      • How to Install PHP 8.1 on CentOS 9 Stream – LinuxCapable

        PHP 8.1 is a significant update of the PHP language that was “officially” released on November 25, 2021. As we advance from the existing PHP 8.0 release, this is a standard upgrade. The new PHP 8.1 brings enums, fibers, never return type, final class constants, intersection types, read-only properties, and a long list of new features and changes.

        In the following tutorial, you will learn how to import the REMI Module and install PHP 8.1 on CentOS 9 Stream.

      • How to Install Side-Scroller SuperTux 0.6.3 via PPA in Ubuntu 20.04/18.04/21.10 | UbuntuHandbook

        Many free open-source apps got new releases before new year 2022. The side-scrolling game SuperTux 0.6.3 is one of them!

    • Desktop Environments/WMs

      • GNOME Desktop/GTK

        • Arc Menu Extension Adds a New Layout & Standalone Runner Mode – OMG! Ubuntu!

          I already think Arc Menu is one of the best GNOME extensions out there, and seeing the change-log for its latest release I’m reminded why.

          Arc Menu v20 is chock-full of enhancements that span the full gamut of development, from bug fixes and code refactoring through to brand menu layouts and even more customisation options.

          The star attraction in the latest release is the the new “A.Z.” menu layout.

    • Distributions

      • IBM/Red Hat/Fedora

        • Goodbye CentOS 8 and Thanks for Everything!

          The day has finally arrived! Today, December 31, 2021 CentOS Linux 8 reaches End-of-Life (EOL).

          For years, a lot of Linux system administrators have been using CentOS for their Linux servers. The majority of web and server hosting companies also offered CentOS as their default operating system. In other words, CentOS has been dominant on the Linux server field in recent years.

          Back in December 2020, Red Hat announced that it will be discontinuing CentOS based on RedHat releases. This was come as quite a shock for the CentOS community. And this is where history repeats itself. Let me remind you. Back in 2004, Red Hat did the same thing by EOL’ing all versions of Red Hat Linux and forced users to Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

          Although the news was announced as early as December last year, many Linux system administrators and developers still feel at a loss. Of course, the system running CentOS 8 will not crash overnight, but security and other updates will no longer continue from the beginning of next year.

        • Red Hat donates $10,000 and the Flatpak package will be official [Ed: IBM uses deep pockets to push itself as the 'standard']

          OBS Studio is one of the most successful projects of the free software However, it carries an important but, and that is that for many years it has not offered symmetric support between the platforms it supports, so the version for Linux has fewer features than the Windows version. Added to that is the fact that Ubuntu and Linux Mint are the only officially supported distributions, which will thankfully change shortly thanks to Flatpak.

          There seems to be interest in improving OBS Studio support for Linux, especially when it comes to covering the spectrum that goes beyond Ubuntu, since Red hat has donated $10,000 to the project in charge of the development and maintenance of the popular video recording and streaming software, which is used not only by free software enthusiasts, but also by professionals who publish on platforms such as Twitch and YouTube.

          In parallel with the Red Hat donation, the ground is being prepared for the Flatpak build of OBS Studio is official, something that should finish materializing with the release of version 27.2 of the application. What’s more, the beta version of OBS Studio 27.2 already ships the Flatpak version as an official build.

    • Devices/Embedded

      • Mico – A USB microphone based on Raspberry Pi RP2040 MCU – CNX Software

        Raspberry Pi RP2040 dual-core Cortex-M0+ microcontroller has found its way into Mico, a compact USB microphone with a PDM microphone providing better quality than cheap USB microphones going for one or two dollars or even 5 cents shipped for new Aliexpress users.

        The project started when Mahesh Venkitachalam (Elecronut Labs) was doing audio experiments with Machine Learning on the Raspberry Pi, and found out USB microphone dongles were extremely noisy with poor (distance) sensitivity, so he completed the project with a high-quality I2S microphone instead. He then had the idea of making his own USB microphone and found out Sandeep Mistry had already developed a Microphone Library for Pico, so he mostly had to work on the hardware that’s how Mico Raspberry Pi RP2040 USB microphone came to be.

      • Open Hardware/Modding

        • CD Player Powered 555 Piano Goes Accordion To Plan | Hackaday

          Acordeonador, an 555 accordion powered by a CD player based genrator
          Ah yes, the 555 piano project. Be it the Atari Punk Console, or some other 555 based synthesizer, Hackers just love to hear what the 555 can do when attached to a few passives and a speaker. It’s a sound to behold. But for [Berna], that wasn’t quite enough! Below the break, you can see his creation, called the Acordeonador.

          A portmanteau of the Spanish words for “Accordion” and Generator”, the Acordeonador does what no project we’ve seen so far can do: It turns a CD drive into a generator for a 555 based synthesizer.

        • This gear turns only once every 346 quintillion years

          Mechanical advantage is the single most important principle in mechanical engineering. Archimedes is quoted as saying “Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world.” We could say the same of gear reductions, but they have the added advantage of fitting into a very compact space. To prove that point, Sunday Robotics’ INFINITY GEARS has a final gear that will only make a single revolution once every 346 quintillion years.

          To put that time frame into perspective, consider that our universe is roughly 13.8 billion years old. You would have to exceed 25 billion similar spans of time before the final gear in this device made a full revolution. Thanks to the power of gear ratios, this device achieves that using only 41 individual spur gears (plus the motor’s input gear). The input motor spins at 250RPM and each stage has a gear ratio of 1:5. The final gear ratio, from input to output, is 1:5^41. Not only does that mean the output is spinning extremely slow, it also means that it has an incredible amount of torque — though friction losses keep it from reaching insane levels.

        • OpenBikeSensor: Build your own distance meter for cyclists – Market Research Telecast

          The road traffic regulations stipulate a minimum distance of 1.5 meters for drivers when overtaking cyclists, and out of town it is even 2 meters. With the OpenBikeSensor, every overtaking maneuver including the distance can be logged at specific GPS coordinates. With enough data, traffic planners have a concrete basis to identify potential accident black spots and perhaps even to eliminate them.

          The principle in short: If you are overtaken by a car, the handlebar display shows the distance to the left or right of overtaking vehicles. In addition, the sensor saves distances and associated GPS data permanently on the SD card. If you press the record button within five seconds, the sensor saves the information that this button was pressed for the data record; only such data sets are then currently used for the subsequent evaluation.

        • Remoticon 2021: Uri Shaked Reverses The ESP32 WiFi | Hackaday

          You know how when you’re working on a project, other side quests pop up left and right? You can choose to handle them briefly and summarily, or you can dive into them as projects in their own right. Well, Uri Shaked is the author of Wokwi, an online Arduino simulator that allows you to test our your code on emulated hardware. (It’s very, very cool.) Back in the day, Arduino meant AVR, and he put in some awesome effort on reverse engineering that chip in order to emulate it successfully. But then “Arduino” means so much more than just AVR these days, so Uri had to tackle the STM32 ARM chips and even the recent RP2040.

          Arduino runs on the ESP32, too, so Uri put on his reverse engineering hat (literally) and took aim at that chip as well. But the ESP32 is a ton more complicated than any of these other microcontrollers, being based not only on the slightly niche Xtensa chip, but also having onboard WiFi and its associated binary firmware. Reverse engineering the ESP32’s WiFi is the side-quest that Uri embarks on, totally crushes, and documents for us in this standout Remoticon 2021 talk.

      • Mobile Systems/Mobile Applications

        • postmarketOS 21.12 improves Firefox UI and support – itsfoss.net

          Has recently appeared postmarketOS 21.12, which is based on Alpine Linux 3.15 and comes to expand the number of supported devices and with improvements to the user interface, the support of virtual consoles and the adaptation of Firefox.

          We have not dedicated an entry to postmarketOS for a long time, that Linux operating system that aims to greatly extend the useful life of smarpthones, a type of device that has ended up in a high percentage crushed by the aggressive policies of programmed obsolescence of the corporations .

          The first thing that stands out from postmarketOS 21.12 is the addition of support for new devices, among which are the PineBook Pro by PINE64, the tablets Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8.0 and Samsung Galaxy Tab A 9.7, in addition to the smarpthone Xiaomi Pocophone F1. However, there is also one loss to be regretted, that of the Nokia N900, which has been dropped from the list of officially supported devices because most of the people who contribute to postmarketOS are focused on other newer devices.

          Regarding user interfaces, first of all we find Sxmo 1.6, the latest version of a simple graphical environment that works on mobiles with Linux. It offers sessions on Xorg and Wayland and it seems that since the last version was released it has received major improvements.

    • Free, Libre, and Open Source Software

      • 7-Zip 21.07

        You can use 7-Zip on any computer, including a computer in a commercial organization. You don’t need to register or pay for 7-Zip.

      • 2021: A year in open source [Ed: Very corporate-leaning slant, full of junk, FUD, and deliberate revisionism]
      • Web Browsers

      • Content Management Systems (CMS)

        • People of WordPress: Collins Agbonghama

          In this series, we share some of the inspiring stories of how WordPress and its global network of contributors can change people’s lives for the better. This month we feature a website builder from Nigeria, who uses the open source WordPress platform to support his family and to share learning with others in his home country and beyond.

          [...]

          A friend at the school had a simple mobile phone which could browse the internet. Collins had his first introduction to the World Wide Web through access to this device. He became hooked by reading headlines on a sports site about a famous English Premier League Football Club, Chelsea, a soccer team which he has long supported.

          “Being a very inquisitive person, I wanted to learn how the web works as well as have my own website. I was able to buy a classic mobile phone through the menial jobs I did after school,” he said.

          His first website was a wapsite or Wireless Application Protocol site optimized for mobile devices.

      • FSF

        • A message from FSF president Geoff Knauth: Will you support user freedom by helping to reach our membership goal before December 31? — Free Software Foundation — Working together for free software

          Since its founding, the Free Software Foundation (FSF) and thousands of volunteers have worked hard to make computing safe for users, liberating them to learn the best of the arts of computer science from each other and to share freely their creations, while protecting users from exploitative licenses and intrusions of governments and corporations that put their interests ahead of your computing freedom.

          In 2021, it became very clear that people in the free software community care deeply about the values enshrined in the FSF mission and the four freedoms. And this level of engagement requires improved governance from the Board of Directors in the form of visibility in our decision-making, and mechanisms that encourage members to discuss and advance candidates for selection to the board. The structure up to now has been too opaque. Consequently, the board has worked very hard this year with outside experts to bring FSF associate members more transparency and give them a voice in governance going forward. Besides what we’ve already announced, more details will be coming soon.

          [...]

          As 2021 comes to a close, please also consider supporting the FSF, so that our hard-working and dedicated staff may continue the work they do behind the scenes to secure freedom-preserving infrastructure, develop and promote advocacy, and deliver services to you. Along with the developers of free software, our staff are often the unsung heroes. They are dedicated, smart, wise and considerate. I wish them a free and Happy New Year just as much as I do you.

      • Programming/Development

        • Perl/Raku

          • Do-It-Yourself Lexical Pragmas | Tom Wyant [blogs.perl.org]

            The phrase “Lexical Pragmas” is probably both redundant and ungrammatical (the correct plural of “pragma” being “pragmata”, I believe). But the use of “pragma” to mean “Perl module with an all-lower-case name” is fairly common, and I wanted to make clear that this was not what I was talking about. This blog entry is about writing Perl code whose configuration changes are limited to a lexical scope, just like built-in pragmata such as strict or warnings.

        • Shell/Bash/Zsh/Ksh

          • Literate Korn Shell

            This is the first draft of Literate Korn Shell, the unix shell ‘ksh’ written with all of its innards exposed and explained.

            The goal of Literate Programming is to compile source code into two objects—the executable program with which we are familiar and in additional a document presenting the source code in a format suitable for reading in order to, hopefully, understand it.

            One advantage in particular offered by literate programming is to break up and re-order the code so that its parts can be introduced to the reader in an order and manner which is focussed on the needs of a human reader who may be unfamiliar with the code without the need to bow to the esoteric demands of a compiler.

            This draft of literate ksh has concentrated mostly on this feature, to order the code so that a narrative can be threaded from start to finish which, piece by piece, introduces all of the components which go towards making ksh work.

        • Java

  • Leftovers

    • Crimes Against Culture

      “Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community.” Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Crimes against culture include the suppression of language, literature, humor, songs, cuisine, clothing styles, and social traditions. Colonialism, occupation, and alien domination suppress native cultures, denigrating local languages, arts, and habits. Proselytization disparages native creeds. The French steal the Wedding Feast at Cana, and the English take away the Rosetta Stone from Egypt and Kohi-Noor from the Mughals. After decades of delay, Yale University finally agrees to return the artifacts it has misappropriated from Machu Picchu. The Taliban destroy the Buddhas of Bamiyan. Wars, decay, and poverty damage the monuments and structures that constitute world heritage. Minority cultures face suppression in majoritarian regimes. Even democracies apply legal pressure on minorities to speak the language of the majority and adopt the culture of the dominant population. English-only laws perpetuate cultural suppression requiring millions of Spanish-speaking citizens to favor English over their mother tongue in their ancestral lands taken through wars. Cultures are more durable than nationalities.

    • Remembering Harry Reid, 1939–2021

      The most awkward job interview I ever had was with Harry Reid.

    • Revenge of the Nerds

      Zafo Ypi was having the hardest day of his life, but the 30 laid-off Romani workers camped out on his lawn were having an even rougher one. They begged their boss to save their jobs, appealing to his conscience and his politics: “I told them you’re a man of the people.…  You won’t let these children go hungry,” one man pleaded with him. But they were barking up the wrong tree. There were new rules, and Mr. Ypi didn’t make them.

    • Remembering Techdirt Contributors Sherwin And Elliot

      It’s been a rough year for our community of tech policy advocates, with us losing two of our own, Sherwin Siy in July and then Elliot Harmon in October. We remembered Sherwin here, and the EFF wrote about Elliott over there.

    • In Botswana, heavy metal bands’ fame and fortune grow online in pandemic

      Mosaka and his band have helped organise an annual heavy metal concert in Ghanzi, a town in the west of Botswana, called the Overthrust Winter Metal Mania Charity Fest since 2010, with 40% of profits donated to local charities.

    • Science

      • Combination of tucatinib and neural stem cells secreting anti-HER2 antibody prolongs survival of mice with metastatic brain cancer

        Brain metastases are among the most severe complications of systemic breast cancer, and overexpression of the human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) in breast cancer cells increases the incidence of brain metastases in patients. In this study, we engineered the human-derived, tumor cell tropic neural stem cells LM-NSC008 (LM008) to continuously secrete antibodies against HER2. These anti-HER2 antibodies impaired tumor cell proliferation by inhibiting the PI3K-Akt signaling pathway in HER2+ breast cancer cells in vitro. Importantly, our results demonstrate that the therapeutic combinatorial regimen consisting of LM-NSC008 anti-HER2 antibody-secreting cells and the HER2 kinase inhibitor tucatinib provide therapeutic benefit and prolong survival in preclinical models of HER2+ breast cancer brain metastases.

    • Hardware

      • Taking A Close Look At Hawkeye’s Workbench | Hackaday

        We don’t have to tell you that the representation hackers and makers get in popular media is usually pretty poor. At this point, we’ve all come to accept that Hollywood is only interested in perpetuating negative stereotypes about hackers. But in scenes were there plot calls for a character to be working on an electronic device, it often seems like the prop department just sticks a soldering iron in the actor’s hand and calls it a day.

      • Electric Wheelchair Dump Truck Hack Really Hauls | Hackaday

        Have you ever looked at a derelict electric wheelchair and thought “I bet I could make something great with that!” Of course you have- this is Hackaday, after all! And so did [Made in Poland], who managed to get a hold of a broken down electric wheelchair and put the full utility of his well equipped metalworking shop to work. The results? Lets just say it hauls.

        What we really enjoyed about the build was that there wasn’t much that couldn’t be done by an average garage hacker with a drill press, angle grinder, and a stick welder. While it’s definitely nicer to have a lathe and a high quality welding table, plasma cutter, and everything in between, nothing that [Made in Poland] did in the video is such high precision that it would require those extensive tools. There may be some parts that would be a lot more difficult, or lower precision, but still functional.

    • Health/Nutrition/Agriculture

      • Union Head Rejects CDC Covid Guidelines That Put ‘Corporate Interests’ Over Pilot Safety

        The head of North America’s largest pilots union said Thursday that its members would “follow the science” regarding Covid-19 safety precautions as opposed to new guidance released by the CDC earlier this week which critics say put the needs of corporate profits over worker safety.

        “We’ve followed the science throughout the pandemic and will not allow corporate interests to replace the good judgment pilots show daily in making decisions about whether they are healthy to fly,” said Capt. Joe DePete, president of the Air Line Pilots Association, which represents pilots at 38 airlines in the U.S. and Canada.

      • A (very) close-knit circle Russia’s Circle of Kindness Foundation helps critically ill children by purchasing expensive drugs from providers with personal connections to top officials (including Putin himself)

        The Circle of Kindness Foundation, which helps children with rare illnesses, was created in early 2021 at Vladimir Putin’s own initiative. It’s funded by a two percent tax on the income of Russia’s wealthiest citizens. The organization pays for expensive medications — but competition is rare at the auctions where these drugs are procured. One of the foundation’s main suppliers is a company called Irvin — and it’s connected to both the foundation’s head and to the family of Alexey Dyumin, Putin’s former bodyguard. In addition, the husband of the woman responsible for purchasing medications on behalf of the Circle of Kindness works for the owner of the company that supplies the foundation with Zolgensma — the most expensive drug in the world. Meduza correspondents Svetlana Reiter and Maria Zholobova break down how the Circle of Kindness Foundation’s procurement system works and why its board of trustees (which includes well-known actors and philanthropists) believes it lacks transparency.

      • Pressure Grows on Biden to Shut Down Trump-Era Medicare Privatization Scheme

        Calls are mounting for President Joe Biden to terminate an under-the-radar Trump-era pilot program that—if allowed to run its course—could result in the complete privatization of traditional Medicare by the end of the decade.

        “The Biden administration is moving the DCE program forward, threatening the future of Medicare as we know it.”

      • Unwelcome changes Russia’s Health Ministry plans to overhaul its cancer care system. Despite criticism, the new regulations take effect in January.

        On December 20, 2021, Russia’s Health Ministry proposed a series of changes to adult cancer care practices. These new procedures will take effect in the new year. The previous plan to overhaul cancer treatment was received poorly by the medical community, prompting Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova to order revisions. However, experts say that none of the Health Ministry’s proposed changes address physician’s most substantive criticisms.

      • FDA Expected to Authorize COVID Booster Shots for 12- to 15-Year-Olds
      • Opinion | Vaccine Apartheid Shows Global Injustice Is Very Bad for Public Health

        The reaction by governments in the Global North to the discovery of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 in South Africa has provided further proof—as if any more were needed—of the deeply inequitable response to the coronavirus pandemic. The backlash against African countries was swift and severe, as if barring travelers from the region could somehow keep the rest of the world safe.

      • DeSantis Accused of Going ‘Missing in Action’ as Florida Faces Omicron Explosion

        Local officials and public health experts are accusing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis of abdicating his leadership responsibilities as the state faces a record-shattering spike in coronavirus cases, an increase believed to be fueled by the highly contagious Omicron variant.

        “As Covid surges in Florida again, our governor is absent.”

      • After Years of Complaints, Florida Improves Pollution Monitoring Near Burning Sugar Cane Fields

        For the first time in nearly a decade, Florida regulators have upgraded their air-monitoring system in the state’s sugar-growing region, where farmers burn crops to harvest more than half the nation’s cane sugar.

        The move follows an investigation by The Palm Beach Post and ProPublica that found shortcomings in the way authorities police air pollution in Florida’s heartland, including their use of an air monitor that was unfit to enforce the Clean Air Act, the landmark law aimed at protecting the public from harmful pollutants.

      • Delta Cuts Paid Sick Leave for Workers With COVID After Lobbying for CDC Change
      • After CDC Change It Lobbied For, Delta Slashes Paid Sick Leave for Workers With Covid

        Just a day after the CDC delivered updated Covid-19 isolation guidelines that the company’s CEO lobbied for, Delta Air Lines moved to take advantage of the new recommendations by slashing paid sick leave for infected workers, prompting immediate backlash from union leaders and public health experts who warned of such an outcome.

        “Dear CEOs—your ‘business needs’ are not worth the life of a single worker.”

      • TikTok moderator sues over ‘psychological trauma’

        A former TikTok moderator is suing the company, claiming it failed to protect her mental health after “constant” exposure to traumatic video content.

        Candie Frazier says she reviewed videos that featured “extreme and graphic violence” for up to 12 hours a day.

      • More than a million Americans have died from overdoses during the opioid epidemic

        Deaths due to drug overdose have topped a million for the first time since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began collecting data on the problem more than two decades ago.

        A study released Thursday by the National Center for Health Statistics, a division of the CDC, found that 932,364 people died in the U.S. from fatal overdoses from 1999 through 2020.

    • Integrity/Availability

      • Proprietary

        • Shining a Light on Black Box Technology Used to Send People to Jail: 2021 Year in Review

          One of the most common forms of forensic programs is probabilistic genotyping software. It is used by the prosecution to examine DNA mixtures, where an analyst doesn’t know how many people contributed to the sample (such as a swab taken from a weapon). These programs are designed to make choices about how to interpret the data, what information to disregard as likely irrelevant, and compute statistics based on how often the different genes appear in different populations—and all of the different programs do it differently. These assumptions and processes are subject to challenge by the person accused of a crime. For that challenge to be meaningful, the defense team must have access to source code and other materials used in developing the software.

          The software vendors claim both that the software contains valuable secrets that must not be disclosed and that their methods are so well-vetted that there’s no point letting a defendant question them. Obviously, both can’t be true, and in fact it’s likely that neither is true.

          When a was finally able to access one of these programs, the Forensic Statistical Tool (FST), they discovered an undisclosed function and shoddy programming practices that could lead the software to implicate an innocent person. The makers of FST submitted sworn declarations about how they thought it worked, it had been subject to ‘validation’ studies where labs test some set of inputs to see if the results seem right, and so on. But any programmer knows that programs don’t always do what you think you programmed them to do, and so it was with FST: in trying to fix one bug, they unwittingly introduced another serious error.

        • Fortnite servers were down for five hours, but now the game is back online

          A follow-up tweet at 3:10PM ET from the team said they were “continuing to work on a fix that will bring Fortnite back online and appreciate everyone’s patience.” As of 6PM ET, we hadn’t heard anything since, but at around 6:30PM ET players reported the game was working again, which we have been able to confirm.

          The Fortnite Status Twitter eventually tweeted to confirm the game is back up, promising that next week (or, next year) there will be details on “what we’re doing to help you make up for lost time.” It also noted some people might see an extra in-game present to open, but said the team is working on that.

        • Security

    • Defence/Aggression

      • Recovering Conscience: A Conversation with Carole Sargent

        The following edited Zoom conversation took place on December 27, 2021.

        John Hawkins: I read your article recently, “Nuns Against Nuclear Weapons: Plowshares Protesters have Fought for Disarmament for Over 40 Years, Going to Prison for Peace.” It brought back memories of my Catholic youth in and around Boston in the ‘60s when Jesuits were turning activist and priests were getting excommunicated for leading public protests of outrageous government policies of day, especially against the Vietnam War, as well as opening up concept halfway houses and drop-in centers for drug addicts.

      • Why Trump May Face Criminal Charges

        Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., an avowed Never Trumper who is vice chair of the House committee investigating the siege of the icon of American freedom, first broached such a possibility publicly. The panel’s chair, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson, D-Miss., confirmed it to The Washington Post.

        The committee, which The Guardian reported has evidence gathered from more than 30,000 records and interviews from more than 300 people, has homed in on how Trump spent his time on Jan. 6. It wants to know why it took three hours and seven minutes before he called off his mob charging the Capitol to halt the certification of Joe Biden as president-elect, as if Biden were the enemy.

      • Trump Sues January 6 House Committee Because It Might Find Trump Wrongdoing
      • Opinion | Humanity’s Final Arms Race: UN Fails to Agree on ‘Killer Robot’ Ban

        Autonomous weapon systems—commonly known as killer robots—may have killed human beings for the first time ever last year, according to a recent United Nations Security Council report on the Libyan civil war. History could well identify this as the starting point of the next major arms race, one that has the potential to be humanity’s final one.

      • ‘Anti-Democratic and Cowardly’: US Building New Secret Courtroom at Guantánamo

        Human rights advocates and attorneys representing Guantánamo Bay detainees on Thursday decried a secret new courtroom reportedly being built by the Pentagon at the notorious offshore U.S. prison.

        “I’ve observed trials in Mongolia that were more transparent than this.”

      • Biden’s “Diplomacy Is Back” Falls Flat as 2021 Middle East Policy a Miserable Flop

        Despite President Joe Biden having claimed earlier this year that “diplomacy is back” and that he would end the war in Yemen, revive the Iran Nuclear Deal and settle several other issues, in reality his Middle East foreign policy has been just as detrimental to the region as was that of his predecessor.

      • The Real Meaning of January 6

        But even now, almost a year later, Americans remain confused and divided about the significance of what occurred. 

      • With fascism coming, America responds: LOL who cares? Let’s Netflix and chill

        In other ways, the Trump regime’s coup attempt was not so unusual. As in other places and times in history, Trump’s loyalists are continuing with their efforts, both through more or less legal means and otherwise. When a coup fails the first time, the second attempt is usually successful. All of this is happening in real time and in plain sight, with minimal attempt at deception. For the American people and their responsible leaders to ignore such threats is a willful choice.

        What warnings should we be heeding now? In a recent op-ed for the Washington Post, retired U.S. Army generals Paul D. Eaton, Antonio M. Taguba and Steven M. Anderson are sounding the alarm about the possibility of a second civil war in the aftermath of a future presidential election, if Donald Trump or another Republican refuses to accept the results: [...]

    • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Environment

      • Encampment Near Biden’s Delaware Home Calls for Declaration of Climate Emergency
      • Chomsky: Rising Anti-Science Rhetoric Feeds the Pandemic and Climate Crisis
      • They Don’t Want Us Looking Up…

        It’s being lauded as a metaphor for how we’re dealing with climate change in the face of petrobillionaire- and corporate-funded disinformation campaigns, but it’s so much more than that:

        “Conservatives” on the Supreme Court don’t want Americans to look up at how they legalized political bribery with their 1970s Buckley and Bellotti and 2010 Citizens United decisions that have turned politicians into shills for the same billionaires and giant industries that spent millions putting them on the Court.

      • Look Up, Down and Everywhere

        The many de rigueur comparisons to Kubrick’s masterpiece Dr. Strangelove are just criminal! Not even close. The Ron Perlman character is a pathetic attempt at mimicking a composite Gen. Buck Turgidson, Brigadier General Jack D. Ripper and Maj. T.J. “King” Kong!

        My main takeaway – now we need something similar with a clearly Democratic President and a Democratic Party pimping endless growth with all the same lies, etc. I think making Meryl Streep’s president an obvious Trumpist narcissist (with Jackson’s and Nixon’s Portraits on the Oval Office wall and her own Donald “Uday” Trump, Jr., son, as Chief of Staff, no less) gives smug Pius-driving liberals the chance to, well, be smug and ignore the message just as much as the 90% stupid people the film seems to think is the ignore ratio. I guarantee there will be little in the way of the film instigating lifestyle corrections from the film’s loudest liberal supporters. They’ll be (and are) jetting around the planet spewing carbon, as usual. (Uday, however, does utter some of the film’s best lines.)

      • “Don’t Look Up” at that Movie;  At Least Not to Fight Climate Change!

        As an angry, anti-war, combat veteran of Vietnam, I quit teaching at MIT’s business school in 1982 to work full-time in the movement for peace and social justice. Over the last 40 years, I have helped found, fund ($30 million worth) and lead local, state and national organizations, mostly pretty radical. We have had some successes, among them, helpng 13,000 people get arrested to stop US nuclear weapons testing, making all state elections in AZ publicly funded and getting my new home County outside DC to declare the first climate emergency in the world.

        Over those years, like many others, I have come to believe that reversing the already awful climate catastrophe—or making any other significant social change–will require at least four things:

      • Near President’s Delaware Home, Encampment Calls on Biden to ‘Declare a Climate Emergency’

        A small group of climate activists has established an encampment near President Joe Biden’s private home in Delaware where they are demanding he declare a national climate emergency and immediately order the end to fossil fuel development in the United States.

        Establishing the camp on Christmas Day and sleeping overnight in tents or cars on a roadside area not far from the family’s Wilmington residence, the campaigners operating under the “Occupy Biden” banner say if the president truly recognizes that the world is in a “code red” situation when it comes to soaring global temperatures then he must act accordingly.

      • Within Decade, Planet’s Natural World Facing Largest Mass Extinction Event Since Dinosaurs

        Increasingly dire ecological damage and severe impacts of the climate crisis are pushing the natural world towards a mass extinction event unparalleled since the age of the dinosaurs, conservationists in Germany warned this week, with humanity possibly facing self-annihilation if behaviors do not change.

        Releasing its annual “Winners and Losers” list on Wednesday, the World Wildlife Fund’s German branch said 40,000 of the 142,500 species listed on the Red List of Threatened Species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) are “threatened with extinction.”

      • Energy

        • ‘A mix of schadenfreude and fear’ The arrest of one of Russia’s richest men following a deadly mine explosion has pleased locals but raised worries about regional stability

          In mid-December, Siberian Business Union (SDS) head Mikhail Fedyayev, one of the richest people in Russia, was arrested. After the Listvyazhnaya mine disaster in November resulted in 51 deaths, Fedyaev was charged with abusing his authority and violating safety standards. Before his arrest, however, Fedyaev enjoyed near-limitless power in the Kemerovo region: the government is full of his former employees, his holding company received state contracts worth millions of dollars, and presidents and federal ministers routinely paid visits to the SDS headquarters. Now, the prospect of Fedyayev’s property going to a new owner has Kemerovo residents worried, although many are pleased that the region’s “shadow governor” has finally been arrested. Meduza special correspondent Andrey Pertsev tells the story of one of Russia’s last regional businessmen whose influence went all the way to the top.

        • Optimising public transport: A data-driven bike-sharing study in Marburg

          Imagine you are running late for your bus and decide to grab a bike-sharing bike to get there in time. More often than not I found myself standing at an empty station only to miss my bus. Here, I present you my data-driven approach to avoid walking to empty bike-sharing stations.

          I started collecting Nextbike data in Marburg many months back in order to solve my personal issue of facing empty Nextbike stations in Marburg. After collecting more than 1,000,000 data points, I turned towards the analysis to figure out which stations in Marburg to avoid when desperately needing a bike.

          After finding the data-driven solution to that question, I expanded my study to not only answer questions for Nextbike users but also from the perspective of the city council to make the lives of all of us easier, healthier and eco-friendlier. After those statistical statements, I conclude my study with a more precise machine-learning based prediction of parked bikes to motivate data-driven optimisations in public transport.

      • Wildlife/Nature

      • Overpopulation

        • Crocodiles turn on humans amid Iran water crisis

          The attacks have come at a time when Iran has been suffering acute water shortages and, consequentially, fast-shrinking natural habitats have seen the gandos’ food supplies dry up. The starving animals treat humans approaching their territory either as prey or a menace to their evaporating resources.

    • Finance

      • The Cruel Failure of Welfare Reform in the Southwest

        As the 1960s came to their tumultuous end, California Gov. Ronald Reagan convened a summit on the topic of welfare. He was hoping to try out one of his new ideas: that poor single mothers were, in the wake of the civil rights movement, increasingly living idly and defrauding government assistance programs.

        George Miller, then the welfare director in neighboring Nevada, volunteered to do a dry run for Reagan, proposing to purge his smaller state’s welfare rolls of alleged welfare cheats. It would be the first effort of its kind in the nation, he said.

      • ‘That’s Just Wrong’: Sanders Slams Buffett for Refusing to Side With Striking Steelworkers

        Sen. Bernie Sanders on Thursday slammed billionaire Warren Buffett for refusing to intervene on the side of West Virginia steelworkers who are striking to demand better pay and benefits from Precision Castparts, a company owned by Buffett’s multinational holding conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway.

        “When you have an extremely profitable, well-financed corporation owned by one of the wealthiest guys in the world, you know what? You should not be demanding wage cuts from your workers and cuts in their healthcare benefits,” Sanders (I-Vt.) wrote on Twitter. “That’s just wrong.”

      • A Perfect Storm Has Elon Musk Paying $11 Billion in Tax
      • Opinion | Elon Musk Only Paid $11 Billion in Taxes Because He Had No Other Rational Choice

        Elon Musk has had a field day trolling advocates for a fairer tax system on Twitter. They’ve been attacking him for not paying much at all in taxes over recent years. But Musk knew what they didn’t: that in 2021 he was going to be paying plenty in taxes.

      • Join a Union—but Also Join a DAO

        In late November 2021, the writer and venture capital investor Li Jin tweeted, “DAOs (decentralized autonomous organizations) represent the next step forward in the labor movement.” In her 20-tweet thread, Jin gave a brief history of the American labor movement, including issues with declining membership, bureaucracy, and bloat, before pivoting to DAOs as a new paradigm for worker ownership: “Versus unions, transparency of DAOs’ governance and on-chain flows of capital lessens risk of embezzlement and corruption, since there is visibility into how funds are flowing into & out of the treasury. And open rules for member admission mitigate institutional discrimination.” The response from many leftists on Twitter was swift and negative, reacting to the perceived implication that technology—cryptocurrency especially—could be a substitute for political and social change.

    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

      • Bette Midler’s Contempt Fuels Right-Wing Populism

        Last week, Bette Midler tweeted that the people of West Virginia are “poor, illiterate and strung out.” Donald Trump should send her a thank-you note.

      • Michigan’s Nonpartisan-Drawn Maps Give Dems Chance to Win State Legislature
      • Greene Suggests Blue State Residents Moving to Red Ones Shouldn’t Get to Vote
      • On Foreign Policy, Biden Should Have Taken Golf Lessons

        The  biggest issue for both was the 20-year US war in Afghanistan, for which Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, had negotiated a long-overdue US surrender.

        Would Biden fulfill the US end of the Afghanistan peace agreement by completing the withdrawal of US troops? We hoped, but doubted, as he hemmed, hawed, and violated the agreed deadline despite ample time to meet it.

      • A Thorn in Biden’s Side: the Revolving Door Project

        The revolving door may not have been closed over the last year, but it’s spinning much less quickly than it was. Roles that once would have gone almost exclusively to Wall Street bankers and corporate defense attorneys are now in the hands of committed public servants. Those revolvers who have secured roles must now contend with a previously unimaginable level of scrutiny. Figures from White House coronavirus response coordinator, Jeffrey Zients, to Federal Energy Regulatory Commissioner, Willie Phillips, can expect to have their every move that benefits corporate America at the expense of the public interest pilloried. Perversely, this certain backlash has led some within the Biden administration to try to hide their revolving door hires. RDP, however, has consistently foiled these efforts, making not only the appointees but also the astounding lack of transparency the subject of significant public anger.

        RDP has also been unyielding in its efforts to push this administration to contend with Trump’s enduring influence throughout the executive branch. Almost as soon as Biden was elected, RDP called on his administration to commit to removing all Trump holdovers whom it was legally empowered to fire. Over a year later, only a small handful remain and critical roles like the Director of Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Commissioner for the Social Security Administration, and the General Counsel for the National Labor Relations Board are in the hands of officials committed to advancing this administration’s priorities. But RDP is not letting up anytime soon; it continues to push for the remaining political holdovers to be fired and to uncover additional evidence of Trump’s lasting influence over executive branch personnel. It is also calling out those Biden administration officials, most notably within the Department of Justice, who are keeping Trump’s horrifying legacy alive by defending the previous administration’s policies in court.

      • Cop Out
    • Censorship/Free Speech

      • Booked Up: Ban These Books, Please (the Writers Need the Money)

        Flummoxed, I stammered, “Uh. Uh.”

        “Out with it, Jeffrey. Choose somebody, at least.”

      • Oversight Board Overturning Instagram Takedown Of Ayahuasca Post Demonstrates The Impossibility Of Content Moderation

        Congress has been holding lots of “but think of the children online!” hearings over the past couple of months, and one prominent topic that comes up over and over again is the fact that people can find “drug” information online. Fears about kids and drugs goes back decades, but politicians love it, because it always works. And, of course, the media loves to run these overhyped stories. A quick search finds dozens of stories like the following in just the last month or so: Teens have easier access to drugs as illegal trade booms on social mediaInstagram pushes drug content to teensSocial media platforms becoming sites of illegal fentanyl drug sales targeting teens, L.A. officials warnWARNING: Dealers tempt kids with edible drugs via social mediaRecord number of drug overdose deaths brings new scrutiny to social media appsInstagram offers ‘drug pipeline’ to kids, tech advocacy group claims There are many more such stories, but you get the idea. The Instagram stories, in particular, were targeted by the recent Senate hearing which was focused on allowing Senators to grandstand on how bad Instagram supposedly is for kids. Instagram responded to the report by pointing out that it’s doing a ton of stuff to try to block such content:

      • Palestinians raise alarm over Facebook content ‘suppression’

        Allegations of pro-Israeli bias at Facebook have simmered for years and were renewed in October when Human Rights Watch, a vocal Israel critic, said the platform had “suppressed content posted by Palestinians and their supporters speaking out about human rights issues in Israel and Palestine”.

        Palestinian reporters have cited multiple incidents they describe as censorship.

        One popular online news outlet, Maydan Quds News, may even have to fire reporters after its main Facebook page with 1.2 million followers was deleted, a source who requested anonymity told AFP.

    • Freedom of Information/Freedom of the Press

    • Civil Rights/Policing

      • The Politics of Syntax and Poetry Beyond the Border

        “Some men are women too / the way a mountain is land and a harbor is land and a parking lot,”Ari Banias writes in “Oracle,” the opening poem in his new collection, A Symmetry. In Banias’s poems, binary oppositions—of men and women, land and sea, us and them—buckle, as the very idea of borders is made porous. Attending to the entanglements between the material and the metaphorical, Banias interrogates the terms of relation mapped by dominant systems and structures that underpin global capitalist orders. “What is the ‘we’ whiteness requires?” Banias’s poems encourage us to ask. What does “elsewhere” mean when immigration severs the material “here” of daily life from the imaginative “here” of home? How might transness point us toward other ways of being?1

      • Biden Administration Seeks to Overturn Trump-Era “Remain in Mexico” Policy
      • Sanders Pushes Workers to Organize as Advocates Celebrate “Year of the Worker”
      • DC Metro PD’s Powerful Review Panel Keeps Giving Bad Cops Their Jobs Back

        After bad cops do bad things, other cops will rush to the defense of the agency employing them, claiming most cops are good and these officers are outliers. These assertions might be more believable if law enforcement agencies (and their unions) didn’t regularly cover for bad officers or, in the case of police unions, work tirelessly to ensure bad cops get their jobs back.

      • Noam Chomsky on Rising Fascism in U.S., Class Warfare & the Climate Emergency

        Noam Chomsky warns the Republican Party is “marching” the world to destruction by ignoring the climate emergency while embracing proto-fascism at home. Chomsky talks about the January 6 insurrection, how neoliberalism is a form of class warfare and how President Biden’s climate plans fall short of what is needed.

      • Missouri Governor Still Expects Journalists To Be Prosecuted For Showing How His Admin Leaked Teacher Social Security Numbers

        Missouri Governor Mike Parson is nothing if not consistent in his desire to stifle free speech. As you’ll recall, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch discovered that the state’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) website was programming in such an incompetent fashion that it would reveal, to anyone who knew where to look, the social security numbers of every teacher and administrator in the system (including those no longer employed there). The reporting on the vulnerability was done exactly following ethical disclosure best practices — getting just enough evidence of the vulnerability, alerting the state to the problem and not publishing anything until the vulnerability was fixed. The FBI told Missouri officials early on “that this incident is not an actual network intrusion” and DESE initially wrote up a press release thanking the journalists for alerting them to this.

      • Opinion | Desmond Tutu, Rest in Power

        Archbishop Desmond Tutu died the day after Christmas at the age of 90. The Nobel Peace laureate was a leader in the movement to overthrow apartheid, South Africa’s brutal system of racial segregation. After that historic victory and the election of Nelson Mandela as South Africa’s first Black president in 1994, Tutu led the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, pursuing restorative justice rather than retribution. After that, Tutu continued demonstrating and speaking out around the world for justice, peace, women’s equality, gay rights, in solidarity with Palestinians, and more.

      • Desmond Tutu Spoke Truth in the Face of Oppression

        I first met Archbishop Desmond Tutu when I was a seminarian at Duke University in the 1980s, and I will never forget the question he asked us when he preached in the chapel that day: “Will you join God?” Bishop Tutu knew the power of God to bring justice in this world, but he also knew that we must choose to join God in that work. Neutrality in the face of evil, he always insisted, is a choice to stand against God’s love and justice.

      • New Documents Prove Tennessee County Disproportionately Jails Black Children, and It’s Getting Worse

        Tennessee’s Rutherford County, which has been widely criticized for its juvenile justice system, has been jailing Black children at a disproportionately high rate, according to newly obtained data. And, in a departure from national trends, the county’s racial disparity is getting worse, not better.

        In an earlier story, ProPublica and Nashville Public Radio chronicled a case in Rutherford County in which 11 Black children were arrested for a crime that does not exist. Four of the children were booked into the county’s juvenile jail.

      • Russia designates Pussy Riot activists, Holod Media chief editor, and others as ‘foreign agents’

        The Russian Justice Ministry made yet another round of additions to its “foreign-agent media” registry on Thursday, December 30, blacklisting a number of cultural figures, including two Pussy Riot activists and three journalists.

      • ACLU Files Suit to Block ‘Brazen’ Effort in Georgia to Thwart Black Voters

        Alleging that Georgia’s new GOP-drawn General Assembly district maps violate the Voting Rights Act and attempt to disenfranchise Black voters, civil rights groups on Thursday filed a federal lawsuit against the Republican secretary of state in a bid to block the maps. 

        “Politicians don’t get to choose their voters—voters get to choose their politicians.”

      • Metaverse is unsafe for women already! Reports of groping, harassment rising in VR games

        The world’s largest tech companies — Microsoft, Google, Apple and others — are hurtling headlong into creating the metaverse, a virtual reality world where people can have their avatars do everything from play video games and attend gym classes to participate in meetings. In October, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder and chief executive, said he believed so much in the metaverse that he would invest billions in the effort. He also renamed his company Meta.

        Yet even as tech giants bet big on the concept, questions about the metaverse’s safety have surfaced. Harassment, assaults, bullying and hate speech already run rampant in virtual reality games, which are part of the metaverse, and there are few mechanisms to easily report the misbehavior, researchers said. In one popular virtual reality game, VRChat, a violating incident occurs about once every seven minutes, according to the nonprofit Center for Countering Digital Hate.

      • Iran secretly executing dozens of children: Rights group | Arab News

        The Iranian regime is secretly executing dozens of children every year in violation of international law, according to a rights group.

        More than 85 people are currently on death row for crimes they are accused of having committed as children, according to Human Rights Activists of Iran.

        In its annual report, it found that 299 citizens were known to have been executed in the year to Oct. 9.

    • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

      • Dish’s Hyped 5G Network (And ‘Fix’ For T-Mobile/Sprint Merger) Is Looking Rather Skimpy

        Two years ago the Trump DOJ and FCC rubber stamped the Sprint T-Mobile merger without heeding experts warnings that the merger would likely erode competition, raise rates, and kill jobs. Then, working closely with T-Mobile and Dish, the FCC and DOJ unveiled what they claimed was a “fix” for the problematic nature of the deal: they’d try to cobble together a fourth major replacement wireless carrier in Dish Network.

      • Every State Has a Chance to Deliver a “Fiber for All” Broadband Future: 2021 in Review

        Now it’s up to elected officials in states, from governors to state legislators, to work to ensure the federal infrastructure program delivers 21st-century ready infrastructure to all people. Some states are ahead of the curve. In 2021, California embraced a fiber infrastructure for all effort with the legislature unanimously passing a historic investment in public fiber. State Senator Lena Gonzalez led this effort by introducing the first fiber broadband-for-all bill; EFF was a proud sponsor of this bill in Sacramento.

        Other states are behind the curve by overly restricting the ability for local governments and utilities to plug the gaps that private internet service providers (ISPs) have left for sixteen years and counting. (2005 was when private fiber-to-the home deployment really kicked off.) Maintaining those barriers, even as federal dollars are finally released, guarantees those states’ failures to deliver universal fiber; the federal law, while important, isn’t sufficient on its own.  Success requires maximum input from local efforts to make the most of this funding.

        Understanding what progress we’ve made this year—and what still needs to be done—requires understanding the IIJA itself. The basic structure of the law is a collaboration between the federal government’s National Telecommunication Information Administration (NTIA), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and the states and territories. Congress appropriated $65 billion in total. That includes $45 billion for construction funds and $20 billion for efforts promoting affordability and digital inclusion. This money can be paired with state money, which will be essential in many states facing significant broadband gaps.

    • Monopolies

      • AT&T Gets “Favorable” IRS Ruling on Discovery-WarnerMedia Merger

        AT&T has received a “favorable” IRS ruling on the planned tax-free mega-merger of its entertainment unit WarnerMedia with Discovery Inc., the telecom giant disclosed in a regulatory filing on Wednesday.

        The companies unveiled the big combination in May, saying it would use a rare multi-step structure known as a Reverse Morris Trust, which is designed to ensure deals are tax-free. In the transaction, AT&T will separate WarnerMedia, via one of two ways (a decision on which will be reached at a later stage), into the so-called “SpinCo,” followed by the merger with Discovery.

      • Patents

        • Yle News’ 15 most-read stories of 2021

          3. Yle News’ third-most viewed story was about a Turku firm that patented a [COVID] drug, in the form of a nasal spray, that delivers low, safe doses of hydroxychloroquine, ivermectin and aprotinin.

        • Germany sees significant rise in patent applications for air taxis [Ed: Patents for killing this planet, the only planet we have, a lot faster than otherwise, by burning up orders of magnitude more fuel for the same travel]

          The number of patents granted in Germany for inventions related to urban air mobility increased significantly in 2020, the country’s Patent and Trademark Office (DPMA) said.

          Including filings with the European Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), 583 patents were published for air taxis in Germany, 29 per cent more than in 2019, Xinhua news agency quoted the DPMA as saying.

          “A few years ago, air taxis were not taken very seriously by many,” DPMA President Cornelia Rudloff-Schaeffer said, adding that the considerable amount of venture capital pumped into this segment and the rapid pace of innovation showed that this was an “important future market”.

          In the past five years, more than 40 per cent of urban air mobility patents registered in Germany came from US companies.

        • Turkey: COVID-19 Vaccine Patent Discussions [Ed: No, Özge Özdemir. COVID-19 vaccines do not have "intellectual property rights", they have patents, and those need to be abolished. They're not property and not rights; it's the plunder from researchers funded by taxpayers, to rob the taxpayers two-fold]

          Discussions of world leaders about the abolishing of intellectual property rights of covid-19 vaccines have brought along differences of opinion on this issue. The world is currently debating whether removing vaccine patent rights will actually work in the fight against the corona pandemic or hinder the development and production of vaccines that are vital to humanity.

          While America and Russia are in favor of abolishing these rights, Europe argues that the problem of the unequal distribution of vaccines all over the world cannot be solved by abolishing the patent right of vaccines.

        • Noam Chomsky: Corporate Patents & Rising Anti-Science Rhetoric Will Prolong Pandemic

          Today, a special broadcast: an hour with Noam Chomsky, the world-renowned political dissident, linguist and author, who just turned 93 years old. Chomsky spoke to Democracy Now! prior to the discovery of the Omicron coronavirus variant, but he predicted new variants would emerge. “If you let the virus run rampant in poor countries, everyone understands that mutation is likely, the kind of mutation that led to the Delta variant, now the Delta Plus variant in India, and who knows what will develop,” Chomsky said.

        • Texas Team Applauded for Giving What Big Pharma Refuses: A Patent-Free Vaccine to the World

          A small team of Texas researchers is being hailed for developing an unpatented Covid-19 vaccine to share with the world without personal profit, with some advocates asking, if they can do it, why can’t Big Pharma?

          “If we had even a fraction of the support that Moderna had, who knows, maybe the world would be vaccinated by now.”

      • Copyrights

        • India Expands Piracy Blocklist to Tackle ‘Hydra Headed Rogue Websites’

          Pirate site blocking is a common practice in many countries and India is no exception. The language used in Indian courts tends to be more colorful though. This is exemplified by a blocking extension several major Hollywood studios requested recently. According to the High Court in Delhi, it targets an alphanumeric variation of a hydra-headed rogue website.

        • LaLiga Wins Dynamic Court Injunction to Block 40 Pirate IPTV Platforms

          Spanish football league LaLiga and telecoms company Telefónica have obtained a court judgment allowing them to block more than 40 pirate IPTV and card sharing platforms. The country’s leading ISPs are required to implement the blocks while accepting weekly updates designed to frustrate services that attempt to circumvent the measures.

2022, Our Sixteenth Year

Posted in Site News at 4:17 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Happy new year!

Summary: Greetings in advance, as in some parts of the world 2022 is only 6 hours away (Japan) or 3 hours away (New Zealand)

IRC Proceedings: Thursday, December 30, 2021

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