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02.18.19

Links 18/2/2019: Linux 5.0 RC7, RISC-V Spreading Fast

Posted in News Roundup at 11:04 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Linux Vs. Unix: What’s the Difference?

    Linux and Unix are often compared to each other. If the similarity in their names wasn’t enough, Linux is technically a descendant of Unix, and they share a number of similarities in tool kits and overall structure. They aren’t exactly the same, though, and the approaches and philosophies behind them are radically different.

  • Desktop

    • How I got my job in Linux: from Newbie to Pro

      I was peeved, because I’d spent my own money on building a computer and buying Microsoft Windows to put on it. Money that I really needed to pay the rent and put food in my belly. I also felt sorry for all the people that I’d end up re-installing Windows on their PC to fix their problem. I knew that most of them would probably be back in the store six or so months later with the same complaint.

      Almost by accident, I found Linux. I was in the magazine section of the PC shop I worked in one day in late 1999. I saw a magazine called ‘Linux Answers’. On the cover was a copy of Red Hat Linux 6.0. Before long, I had done the unthinkable: I had deleted Windows in a rage of fury because it had completely crashed and wouldn’t start up. All of my MP3s, photos and documents, all but gone save for a few backups on CDs I had lying around. Back in those days I had no idea that I would have been able to salvage those files with Linux; I just blithely reformatted my hard disk and went cold-turkey, believing everything that the magazine said, I forced myself into the abyss of the unknown! These were exciting times!

      I remember the blue text-mode installer, the glare of the many lines of text flying by when the machine started up for the first time. It looked really un-user friendly. Eventually, the screen flipped into what I’d later know to be called ‘runlevel 5’ and I could see a graphical login screen. Little did I know it, but that flashing cursor was the beginning to a whole new world of computing for me.

  • Server

    • What is Knative, and What Can It Do for You?

      Kubernetes is great, as it is. But with Knative, a new, open source platform spearheaded by Google, Kubernetes can be even better.

      If you haven’t yet taken a look at what Knative is or how it can save developers time and headaches, you could be missing out on some powerful features that help you get more out of Kubernetes (and containers in general) with less effort.

      Keep reading for an overview of what Knative is and how it can help you double down on microservices and containers.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • Linux Action News 93

      Google scrambles to repurpose Android Things, Microsoft wants to protect your Linux install really bad, and the first bank backed Crypto-coin makes a splash.

      Plus Void Linux issues a warning, running Linux on ARM laptops built for Windows, and more.

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux 5.0-rc7

      A nice and calm week, with statistics looking normal. Just under half
      drivers (gpu, networking, input, md, block, sound, …), with the rest
      being architecture fixes (arm64, arm, x86, kvm), networking and misc
      (filesystem etc).

      Nothing particularly odd stands out, and everything is pretty small.
      Just the way I like it. Shortlog appended,

      Linus

    • Linux 5.0-rc7 Kernel Released

      Linus Torvalds announced the release of the Linux 5.0-rc7 kernel on Sunday night.

      This seventh weekly release candidate to the Linux 5.0 kernel is now available for testing. This past week has been quite light on bug/regression fixing, which is good for this stage of development.

    • The Many Changes Lining Up So Far For The Linux 5.1 Kernel

      While Linux 5.0 isn’t even out yet, there are a lot of changes building up for the Linux 5.1 cycle that have us excited.

    • Nouveau Changes Sent In To DRM-Next For Linux 5.1 – Biggest Update In Several Releases

      Ben Skeggs, the Nouveau DRM maintainer employed by Red Hat, has sent in the big batch of open-source NVIDIA driver changes slates for the upcoming Linux 5.1 kernel.

      While the Nouveau changes for Linux 5.1 didn’t start off being too exciting but just another cycle of mostly mundane changes, in recent days the work has been more eventful with the merging of the HMM bits for Heterogeneous Memory Management.

    • Linux Foundation

      • ETSI MEC Creates Its First Working Group

        The group will be led by Walter Featherstone, a principal research engineer at Viavi.

        ETSI formed the MEC industry specification group (ISG) with 24 companies in December 2014. The group now boasts around 85 members. It set out to create a standardized, open environment for the integration of applications across multi-vendor MEC platforms.

        MEC will enable operators and vendors to provide cloud computing as well as an IT service environment at the edge of the network, which is characterized by low latency and high bandwidth. The technology is a rapidly developing application for 5G and IoT use cases.

        [...]

        The Linux Foundation, earlier this year, launched an edge computing initiative called LF Edge. The initiative will serve as an umbrella organization for five edge projects. The group has set out to build an open, interoperable framework for edge computing that is independent of hardware, silicon, cloud, or operating systems.

      • Open Mainframe Project: Zowe Ready for Prime Time

        There is a lot of interest in updating mainframe technology/interfaces across traditional enterprises. As development environments and toolsets have evolved outside the mainframe, there is a struggle to keep up—partially because backward compatibility requirements make wild changes difficult and partly because the very architecture of mainframes is different.

      • These Are Not The Containers You’re Looking For

        It is a well-documented fact that the rise of cloud and open-source has been connected, which also brings some interesting tensions, as I explored in my previous article. In containers, this synergy seems stronger than ever. The juggernaut behind Kubernetes and many related open source projects, the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF), is part of the Linux Foundation. The CNCF charter is clear about the intentions of the foundation: it seeks to foster and sustain an ecosystem of open source, vendor-neutral projects. Consequentially, since the CNCF’s inception in 2014, it has become increasingly feasible to manage a complex cloud-native stack with a large mix of these open source projects (some interesting data in the foundation’s annual report). The more you get into container-native methodologies, the more open source you will use.

      • Zowe now at Version 1.0

        About six months ago, there was a lot of excitement with the announcement of Zowe (usually pronounced like Zoë). It provided a way for the mainframe to be treated like any other server by people whose computing skill set had been developed using open source tools rather than on the mainframe itself.

        As I’ve mentioned before, one of the biggest problems facing mainframe sites these days is their ageing population of experts. Many of their mainframe geeks, gurus, and mavens are starting to think about their pensions and their retirement. Some sites are looking to solve the issue of losing their human-based expertise by automating as much as possible – by incorporating into software as much of that expertise as they can. However, that doesn’t address the problem of how to create new applications or update existing applications to work in new ways, such as cloud, mobile working, or incorporating public APIs to create some completely new app. The big question for organizations that want to forge ahead in business is how do they ensure that they can digitally transform so that they can still operate successfully in the fast-evolving digital world? How do they make sure that any digitally disruptive technologies are included the way their company works in the future? The answer is to come up with a way of making everything on Z available to people who are used to working in other ways on other platforms. And that, in a nutshell, is where Zowe comes in.

      • Sony Makes Into the Spider-Verse Software Free and Open Source

        Sony Pictures Imageworks has made the color management tool OpenColorIO—which was used to create the recent hit animated film Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse—available to the open source community. The tool has now become the second software project of the Academy Software Foundation (ASWF), a Linux Foundation-owned open source association.

        In addition to Into the Spider-Verse, OpenColorIO has been used in the production of such other films as Hotel Transylvania 3, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and Alice and Wonderland.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Intel Preps For Discrete Graphics Cards With Linux Patches

        Intel has confirmed that recent patches to its Linux graphics driver were related to its continued work on preparing the ecosystem for its new line of discrete graphics cards.

        Phoronix reported that Intel released 42 such patches with more than 4,000 lines of code between them on February 14. The main purpose of the patches was to introduce the concept of memory regions in “preparation for upcoming devices with device local memory.” (Such as, you know, discrete graphics cards.)

        [...]

        Still, any information about Intel’s graphics plans is welcome. Right now the graphics market is dominated by AMD and Nvidia, and as we noted in December, Intel is probably the only company that even has a possibility of successfully introducing a new discrete graphics architecture. Why not enjoy the occasional glimpse behind the curtain as that architecture’s being built?

      • Intel begins talking up their open source efforts for their upcoming dedicated GPU

        With Intel’s brand new dedicated GPU due next year, they’ve begun talking up their efforts of getting Linux support in early.

      • SVT-VP9 Is Intel’s Latest Open-Source Video Encoder Yielding High Performance VP9

        At the start of the month Intel open-sourced SVT-AV1 aiming for high-performance AV1 video encoding on CPUs. That complemented their existing SVT-HEVC encoder for H.265 content and already SVT-AV1 has been seeing nice performance improvements. Intel now has released SVT-VP9 as a speedy open-source VP9 video encoder.

        Uploaded on Friday was the initial public open-source commit of SVT-VP9, the Intel Scalable Video Technology VP9 encoder. With this encoder they are focusing on being able to provide real-time encoding of up to two 4Kp60 streams on an Intel Xeon Gold 6140 processor. SVT-VP9 is under a BSD-style license and currently runs on Windows and Linux.

  • Applications

    • FocusWriter An App For Distraction-Free Writing

      FocusWriter is a distraction-free word processor program that hides all the interfaces: menu bar, toolbar, status bar, etc and starts in fullscreen mode to enable the user fully immersed in their work. The program’s primary feature is to focus only on user’s writing productivity and not provide another full-fledged word processor like LibreOffice Writer or Calligra Word Processor.

    • 7 Best Weather Apps for Ubuntu & Linux Mint

      Weather awareness is important to a lot of people, especially those who are always commuting, event planners, etc. And while we have covered several weather applications for Linux in the past but we never compiled a list that puts the best together.

      Today, we bring you a list of the best weather applications you can install on your Ubuntu and Linux Mint set up.

    • 5 Best Free Linux Typing Tutors

      Being able to touch type is the ability of typing without looking at the keyboard. When touch-typing, the individual uses all fingers instead of just a few fingers. Consequently, typing speed increases dramatically.

      It’s not only transcriptionists and secretaries that benefit from being able to type without looking at the keyboard. By concentrating on their thoughts and creative processes rather than the keyboard, all users will focus more on the content of the text, thereby increasing its quality. Moreover, touch-typing is less tiring, and less demanding on the brain. It also reduces the risk of Repetitive strain injury and Carpal tunnel syndrome.

      Typing tutor software teaches fast and accurate typing through a system of informative lessons and progress tracking. We think it is important that learning should be fun, so we have included some typing games in this feature.

    • fd – A Simple and Fast Alternative to Find Command

      Most of the Linux users are well familiar with the find command and the many cases it can be used. Today we are going to review an alternative to find command, called fd.

      fd, is a simple, fast and user-friendly tool meant to simply perform faster compared to find. It is not meant to completely replace find, but rather give you an easy to use alternative that performs slightly faster.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Wine or Emulation

      • Wine Developers Release Hangover Alpha To Run Windows x86_64 Programs On 64-Bit ARM

        Wine developers André Hentschel and Stefan Dösinger have been working on “Hangover” as a means of running Windows x86/x86_64 applications on 64-bit ARM (AArch64) Linux and Android or even Windows for ARM. They are out today with the project’s first alpha release.

        Hangover 0.4 is the first (alpha) release from this project for running x86/x86_64 Windows programs now on 64-bit ARM Linux distributions. Besides GNU/Linux platforms, Hangover can also run on Android as well. This also lays the groundwork for supporting Windows games on AArch64 using Direct3D/WineD3D though due to upstream Wine limitations that doesn’t yet work on Android due to WineD3D not working off OpenGL ES at this time.

    • Games

      • Escape room puzzle game ‘Escape Legacy: Ancient Scrolls’ lands Linux support

        Escape Legacy: Ancient Scrolls from Storming Tech is an escape room puzzle game that landed Linux support back in December.

        A little late on covering it, sure, but this is due to the fact that the Linux version didn’t actually work. I reached out personally to the developer, both through email and on their Steam forum and they have just this month fixed it. I actually discovered it thanks to Steam’s Discovery Queue feature, something I’ve not used often but surprisingly it has shown me multiple games I’ve not seen before so it’s quite handy.

        It has a demo available and from the small slice it offers up, it was actually reasonably impressive. The demo isn’t long and it is a bit abrupt as it doesn’t even let you finish the first level with a barrier stopping you going further but it does seem interesting.

      • Action RPG ‘Moonlighter’ had a massive free update recently making it a much more interesting game

        Moonlighter was already quite interesting, with the mix of action-RPG dungeon crawling along with working in a shop to sell your goods, now with the free Friends & Foes update it’s even more fun.

        The first of the major new stuff is the companions system, so once you kill a particular enemy type at least 10 times a special egg will appear. After three days in-game, it will hatch giving you a new friend to take on your journey. They’ve also added 8 mini-bosses, inventory sorting, a better system to show when shop prices update, an improve item pick-up mechanic and so on. Quite a feature-packed update!

      • PlayStation 3 emulator RPCS3 shows off more great progress in their latest report

        When looking over it, at first glance it might seem like they’ve gone a little backwards in terms of supported titles. For example, they went from 1085 with a playable status in November to 1081 in December. However, this is due to a change in their compatibility list, which was revamped to bundle “multiple game IDs for the same game into one single entry”. On top of that, they’re also now bundling “IDs from the same region as well” so the compatibility list should be far more accurate going forward.

        Looking at the performance difference with the new “Approximate xfloat” feature, it’s quite impressive. They showed Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time going from 39FPS to 50FPS, God of War 3 saw a similar improvement going from 9FPS to 15FPS on AMD and 14FPS to 32FPS on Intel and they noted many other titles also seeing such improvements.

      • Top 20 Best Linux Terminal Console Games That You can Play Right Now

        Gaming on Linux has come a long way. There are thousands of amazing games available out there for you to play and enjoy. Today here, I will discuss some best games for the Linux terminal console. We all know that Linux users spend lots of time on Linux Terminal for doing the advance level task and sometimes it may be tiresome. And it will be great if you play some quick games on Linux terminal to remove the tiredness and boredom. So today I will only concentrate on making an amazing list of best Linux Terminal console games for you.

        I have already covered some write up on best Linux games, cheap steam games, top-rated steam games, and of course, best free steam games for Linux users. If you have not checked it yet, go there and choose your best one. So, guys, I am stopping further ado and jumping right to the point. Hence, let us head over to our topic.

      • Adventure Land, an MMO where you do a little coding is available on Linux with plans to go open source

        This is a bit of an odd one, Adventure Land is an MMO where you code characters using either the provided code or do a little of your own to help you progress. They plan to go open source too.

        Adventure Land sounds like quite a sandbox MMO, one with no specific quest-line to follow, no guides you have to follow and so on. They say you can “trade, gamble in tavern, party with friends, pvp solo with your rouge or go after rare loot”.

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Interview with Noemie Scherer

        Hi! I’m a European Krita user.

        [...]

        That was more than ten years ago. I was something like ten, maybe twelve at most. A friend of mine had a photographer father, so I went to their house and could try his drawing tablet, and it was really cool; some time later my parents got me one (one of those small A6 ones), and my brother downloaded Gimp, probably for a birthday (he was -still is- really into open source).

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Daniel García Moreno: I’m a hacker

        The hack computer is built on top of the Endless OS. Endless OS is based on debian and the desktop is a modified gnome shell, but it’s not the usual debian derivative, it’s based on OSTree. The main difference is that the root filesystem is read only and updates are managed with ostree, that’s like a git repository.

        This kind of Operating System is easier to maintain, because the user can’t modify the base system, so this means that he was unable to break it. All user applications are installed via flatpak, so are independent of the OS version and because of flathub you can install latests version of apps without the need to update the full operating system.

        This is the way that Fedora SilverBlue is trying to follow and is a new way to build and distribute GNU/Linux.

      • Geary Email Client 0.13 Released with Gnome Online Accounts Support

        Geary email client 0.13 was released today with great new features, performance improvements, and numerous bug fixes.

        The key feature in Geary 0.13 is that email accounts added via GNOME Online Accounts now is supported.

      • Bastian Ilsø Hougaard: GNOME at FOSDEM 2019

        Earlier this month, the annual FOSDEM conference happened again at ULB, Bruxelles, Belgium. I had the opportunity to go there, man the GNOME booth, sell socks, and catch up with other GNOME contributors.

        Prior to the conference I had booked La Chambre Haute, which is a great little rooftop apartment located in Etterbeek, around 1.7km from the FOSDEM venue. I arranged the apartment for sharing through the GNOME wiki and shared the apartment with fellow GNOMEies Florian, Tobias, Julian and Niclas. We had a really pleasant time there, including oriental cooking and hacking! I can recommend joining for FOSDEM 2020. ;-)

      • Tobias Bernard: FOSDEM 2019

        Earlier this month I attended FOSDEM in Brussels. This year was much more relaxed than last year because I didn’t have a talk or other major responsibilities. That meant I had a lot more time to talk to fellow GNOME people and other friends working on different projects.

        I spent a lot of time at our booth, talking to people coming by, and planning new projects with fellow developers. The only talk I ended up going to was Zeeshan’s on Rust. I really wanted to go see Jordan’s talk as well, but the Rust devroom was way too packed on Sunday. I also attended the Mobile Free Software BoF, where Nicole gave a status update about the Librem 5 to interested community members, and people could ask questions.

  • Distributions

    • Reviews

      • Review: Slontoo 18.07.1 “LXDE”

        It is not often that I experiment with projects from the Gentoo family of distributions. This week I decided to enjoy a change of pace and experiment with a desktop oriented distribution from the Gentoo family called Slontoo. According to the project’s website,
        Slontoo is an operating system based on Funtoo Linux. It uses the Linux Mint live installer to simplify the installation procedure. Slontoo tries to provide most appropriate tools for home and office use.
        Funtoo is, in turn, based on Gentoo and strives to improve the technologies presented in the Gentoo meta-distribution.

        Slontoo is available in three editions: LXDE, MATE and Xfce. New users can download one unified ISO (1.7GB) that contains all three desktop environments, or select from one of three smaller ISO files that each include just one desktop. I decided to download the distribution’s LXDE edition which is 1GB in size. Slontoo is available for 64-bit systems only.

        Booting from the live media brings up a menu asking us to pick our preferred language. Then the system boots into a graphical mode and presents us with the LXDE desktop. A panel sits at the bottom of the screen, with the application menu in the bottom-left corner. Icons on the desktop open the file manager and launch the system installer. The live desktop was responsive and the distribution appeared to be working smoothly so I jumped immediately into the installer.

    • Screenshots/Screencasts

    • Fedora

    • Debian Family

      • Sway in experimental

        A couple of days ago the 1.0-RC2 version of Sway, a Wayland compositor, landed in Debian experimental. Sway is a drop in replacement for the i3 tiling window manager for wayland. Drop in replacement means that, apart from minor adaptions, you can reuse your existing i3 configuration file for Sway. On the Website of sway you can find a short introduction video that shows the most basic concepts of using Sway, though if you have worked with i3 you will feel at home soon.

        In the video the utility swaygrab is mentioned, but this tool is not part of Sway anymore. There is another screenshot tool now though, called grim which you can combine with the tool slurp if you want to select regions for screenshots. The video also mentions swaylock, which is a screen locking utility similar to i3lock. It was split out of the main Sway release a couple of weeks ago but there also exists a Debian package by now. And there is a package for swayidle, which is a idle management daemon, which comes handy for locking the screen or for turning of your display after a timeout. If you need clipboard manager, you can use wl-clipboard. There is also a notification daemon called mako (the Debian package is called mako-notifier and is in NEW) and if you don’t like the default swaybar, you can have a look at waybar (not yet in Debian, see this RFS). If you want to get in touch with other Sway users there is a #sway IRC channel on freenode. For some tricks setting up Sway you can browse the wiki.

      • The Sway Wayland Compositor Is Now Available From Debian Experimental

        For those that have been wanting to try out the near-final Sway 1.0, this Wayland compositor has made its way into the Debian archive albeit only in the “experimental” section for now.

        At the end of January was the start of the upstream Debian packaging work around Sway and it’s kept up with the latest release candidates. Available from Debian Experimental is now the latest Sway 1.0-RC2.

      • Making debug symbols discoverable and fetchable

        Michael wrote a few days ago about the experience of debugging programs on Debian. And he is certainly not the only one, who found it more difficult to find debug symbols on Linux systems in general.

        But fortunately, it is a fixable problem. Basically, we just need a service to map a build-id to a downloadable file containing that build-id. You can find the source code to my (prototype) of such a dbgsym service on salsa.debian.org.

      • Debian 9.8 MATE Run Through

        In this video, we look at Debian 9.8 the MATE edition.

      • Derivatives

        • Slax 9.8 Linux Distro Released with Various Updates from Debian GNU/Linux 9.8

          Slax 9.8 is now available for download and comes about three weeks after the release of Slax 9.7, which improved compatibility with new USB devices and made the ISO image even smaller by using 1MB blocks to compress the SquashFS filesystem.

          Slax 9.8 is based on the recently released Debian GNU/Linux 9.8 operating system and incorporates all of the upstream security updates and miscellaneous bug fixes that were included in the Debian GNU/Linux 9.8 “Stretch” point release.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Open sorcerers work to ARM Ubuntu

            A team of open sorcerers are trying to get Linux on Qualcomm-powered laptops from HP, Asus, and Lenovo.

            According to Tech Republic the idea could make for a higher performing experience than Windows 10.

            Microsoft and Qualcomm announced a partnership to pair Windows 10 and Snapdragon ARM processors for ultra-thin LTE-connected netbooks with a 20+ hour battery life.

            This Windows-on-Arm initiative has faced several stumbling blocks, with the the first-generation HP Envy x2 and Asus NovaGo slammed for poor performance and app compatibility in Windows 10.

          • Flavours and Variants

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Toyota Prepping ‘PASTA’ for its GitHub Debut

    Carmaker’s open source car-hacking tool platform soon will be available to the research community.
    The lead developer behind Toyota’s new cybersecurity testing tool said the carmaker plans to make its so-called PASTA (Portable Automotive Security Testbed with Adaptability) available via GitHub as early as next month or April.

    Tsuyoshi Toyama, senior researcher at Toyota InfoTechnology Center, told Dark Reading that he and his team are currently working on getting the PASTA specifications ready for availability online, and plan to offer as open-source the platform’s specs, CAN (controller area network) ID maps, ECU (engine control unit) program codes, and ECU circuit diagrams for vehicle testing. He says Toyota also hopes to offer PASTA’s driving simulator programs as open source, as well.

  • FAIR releases a new ELF OpenGo bot with a unique archive that can analyze 87k professional Go games

    It was last year in May when Facebook AI Research (FAIR) released an open source ‘ELF’ OpenGo bot, an AI bot that has defeated world champion professional Go players, based onits existing ELF platform for Reinforcement Learning Research. Yesterday, FAIR announced new features and research results related to ELF OpenGo, including an updated model, a Windows executable version of the bot, and a unique archive analyzing 87k professional Go games.

    ELF OpenGo, an open-source reimplementation of the AlphaZero algorithm, is the first open-source Go AI that has convincingly demonstrated superhuman performance, achieving a (20:0) record against global top professionals.

  • Novel software offers possible reduction in arrhythmic heart disease

    Potentially lethal heart conditions may become easier to spot and may lead to improvements in prevention and treatment thanks to innovative new software that measures electrical activity in the organ.

    The heart’s pumping ability is controlled by electrical activity that triggers the heart muscle cells to contract and relax. In certain heart diseases such as arrhythmia, the organ’s electrical activity is affected.

    Cardiac researchers can already record and analyse the heart’s electrical behaviour using optical and electrode mapping, but widespread use of these technologies is limited by a lack of appropriate software.

    Computer and cardiovascular experts at the University of Birmingham have worked with counterparts in the UK, Netherlands and Australia to develop ElectroMap – a new open-source software for processing, analysis and mapping complex cardiac data.

    Led by researchers from the School of Computer Science and the Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences, at the University of Birmingham, the international team has published its findings in Scientific Reports.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox 66 Beta 8 Testday Results

        As you may already know, last Friday February 15th – we held a new Testday event, for Firefox 66 Beta 8.

        Thank you all for helping us make Mozilla a better place: gaby2300, Priyadharshini A and Aishwarya Narasimhan.

  • Databases

    • DigitalOcean launches its managed database service

      DigitalOcean started as an affordable but basic virtual private server offering with a pleasant user interface. Over the last few years, the company started adding features like object and block storage, load balancers and a container service. Today, it’s expanding its portfolio once again by launching a feature that was sorely missing in its lineup: a managed database service.

      The first edition of these DigitalOcean Managed Databases only supports PostgreSQL, the popular open-source relational database. Later this year, it’ll add MySQL and Redis support (likely in Q2 or Q3). As for other databases, the company says that it’ll listen to customer feedback and use that to prioritize other offerings.

    • InfluxData Secures $60 Million in Series D Funding to Bring the Value of Time Series to the Enterprise Mainstream
    • InfluxData raises $60 million for time-series database software

      The amount of data generated today boggles the mind — U.S. companies alone produce 2.5 quintillion bytes daily, enough to fill ten thousand Libraries of Congress in a year — and much of it is of the time-series variety (i.e., data points indexed in time order). Given the sheer volume, it’s no wonder that only 12 percent of companies say they’re analyzing the data they have, according to Forrester Research.

      That’s one of the reasons Paul Dix — who’s helped to build software for startups, large companies, and organizations like Microsoft, Google, McAfee, Thomson Reuters, and Air Force Space Command — founded Y Combinator- and Bloomberg Beta-backed InfluxData (formerly Errplane) in 2012. The San Francisco startup develops an open source time series platform, InfluxDB, that is optimized to handle metrics and events in DevOps, internet of things (IoT), and real-time analytics domains. And after a banner year that saw revenue double, InfluxDB 2.0 launch in alpha, and Flux — a functional language for both querying and processing data — debut in technical preview, the startup is gearing up for growth.

    • Why you should use SQLite

      Lift the hood on most any business application, and you’ll reveal some way to store and use structured data. Whether it’s a client-side app, an app with a web front-end, or an edge-device app, chances are it needs an embedded database of some kind.

      SQLite is an embeddable open source database, written in C and queryable with conventional SQL, that is designed to cover those use cases and more. SQLite is designed to be fast, portable, and reliable, whether you’re storing only kilobytes of data or multi-gigabyte blobs.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Public Services/Government

    • Slovak advocates want parliament to push for open source

      Slovak proponents of the use of free and open source software are rallying for their country’s parliament to approve plans to share the source code of software solutions developed by and for public services. They are concerned that proprietary software vendors will lobby for changes to the eGovernment act, a strategic IT Government proposal that is to be discussed in parliament in March or April.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open-science model for drug discovery expands to neurodegenerative diseases

      Medicines 4 Neurodegenerative Diseases (M4ND Pharma) will pursue promising new genetic drug targets for these intractable nervous system disorders, thanks to $1.5 million from the Krembil Foundation. It will be the world’s second drug discovery company committed to open science after Medicines 4 Kids (M4K Pharma), which launched in 2017 to develop a novel drug for an uncommon but fatal childhood brain cancer.

      Open science is a way for researchers to share their data and knowledge quickly and publicly, unencumbered by patents and the peer review publishing process, with the aim of speeding up scientific discovery. The movement gathered force in the life sciences in the 1990s with the Human Genome Project, and spread to protein structures and then early-stage drug discovery through the Structural Genomics Consortium (SGC).

      The non-profit SGC has generated considerable private and public investment and several spin-out companies, but there remains a gap in late-stage drug development.

      “When we started M4K, many people thought an open approach to late-stage drug development might only be applicable to rare or neglected diseases, if at all,” says Aled Edwards, a professor of molecular genetics at the University of Toronto and CEO of the SGC. “But we’re getting unexpected funding and scientific contributions from industry, academic and clinical sources, and slowly but surely we’re advancing a medicine through the pipeline. It’s time to move the goal posts again on what’s possible with open science.”

    • IoT

      • Security Vulnerabilities Pose a Challenge to IoT/IIoT Mass Adoption

        Statista, a leading market and consumer data research firm, estimates that by 2020, the utilities, transportation and logistics, and discrete manufacturing industries are each projected to spend $40 billion on Internet of Things (IoT) platforms, systems and services. The next largest spending category will be business-to-consumer vendors, at $25 billion, while the health-care, energy and retail industries are each projected to spend north of $10 billion. These numbers add up to a significant investment in the IoT. In fact, the Boston Consulting Group predicts that the IoT market will reach $267 billion by 2020.

      • Decentralised IoT Network Gets Tencent Investment

        Wienke Giezeman is a man on a mission: since 2015, he’s been busy creating a decentralized LoRaWAN based internet of things (IoT) network which has no single owner and no single point of control. His goal is to make it easy for people to focus on the business value created by IoT, and not have to worry about the technology.

        Giezeman stood on the stage at his The Things Conference here earlier this month to announce some major breakthroughs that could just tip the balance for mass deployment of LoRaWAN devices and gateways. This includes a very low cost $69 indoor gateway, a generic software defined IoT node device incorporating multiple sensors, a security chip in conjunction with Microchip Technology, and a partnership with Tencent to accelerate LoRaWAN network expansion among the Chinese developer community.

      • Open IoT Network Adds Devices, Expands in China

        Giezeman stood on the stage at his The Things Conference here earlier this month to announce some major breakthroughs that could just tip the balance for mass deployment of LoRaWAN devices and gateways. This includes a very low cost $69 indoor gateway, a generic software defined IoT node device incorporating multiple sensors, a security chip in conjunction with Microchip Technology, and a partnership with Tencent to accelerate LoRaWAN network expansion among the Chinese developer community.

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • RISC-V Climbs Software Mountain

        Now that RISC-V has established a beachhead as a deeply embedded controller in SoCs, it’s time to start asking the next question: Can this open-source instruction-set architecture (ISA) make the next big leap into being an alternative to Arm and the x86 as a host processor?

        The short answer is yes, but it could take several years and there are plenty of pitfalls along the way. Essentially, the freewheeling open-source community behind RISC-V will need to develop and adhere to a wide range of system-level standards.

        So far, Nvidia and Western Digital plan to use RISC-V controllers in their SoCs, and Microsemi will use it in a new FPGA. Andes, Cortus, and startup SiFive sell IP cores, and a handful of startups plan to launch mainly machine-learning accelerators using it.

      • Western Digital’s RISC-V ‘Swerv’ Core Now Available for Free

        Western Digital has announced that it’s completed work on its Swerv RISC-V CPU core and has published the register-transfer level (RTL) abstraction of the design. Publishing the RTL code allows other companies to use the design.

        Open-source hardware initiatives and ISAs have existed for decades, but RISC-V has gathered a critical ecosystem and corporate interests in these projects where historically there was little incentive to buy-in. The issue isn’t primarily cost savings — particularly as node sizes decrease, the licensing costs of an ARM core simply aren’t a major part of the total. The end of conventional Moore’s Law scaling has moved interest back to ISAs, as has the rise of IoT, AI, ML, and the need for new architectures to address these challenges.

      • Western Digital Releases Their RISC-V Cores To The World

        What grew out of a university research project is finally becoming real silicon. RISC-V, the ISA that’s completely Big-O Open, is making inroads in dev boards, Arduino-ish things, and some light Internet of Things things. That’s great and all, but it doesn’t mean anything until you can find RISC-V cores in actual products. The great hope for RISC-V in this regard looks to be Western Digital, manufacturers of storage. They’re going to put RISC-V in all their drives, and they’ve just released their own version of the core, the SweRV.

        Last year, Western Digital made the amazing claim that they will transition their consumption of silicon over to RISC-V, putting one Billion RISC-V cores per year into the marketplace. This is huge news, akin to Apple saying they’re not going to bother with ARM anymore. Sure, these cores won’t necessarily be user-facing but at least we’re getting something.

        As far as technical specs for the Western Digital SweRV core go, it’s a 32-bit in-order core, with a target implementation process of 28nm, running at 1.8GHz. Performance per MHz is good, and if you want a chip or device to compare the SweRV core to (this is an inexact comparison, because we’re just talking about a core here and not an entire CPU or device), we’re looking at something between a decade-old iPhone or a very early version of the Raspberry Pi and a modern-ish tablet. Again, an inexact comparison, but no direct comparison can be made at this point.

      • A Network Card For The Trash-80

        The idea for the trsnic comes from [Arno Puder]’s RetroStoreCard, a device that plugs into the TRS-80 Model III and connects it to a ‘personal cloud’ of sorts that hosts and runs applications without the need for cassettes or floppys. It does this with an ESP32 wired up to the I/O bus in the Model III, and it’s all completely Open Source.

        [Peter] took this idea and ran with it. Thanks to the power found in the ESP32, real encrypted Internet communication can happen, and that means HTTPS and TLS.

      • RISC-V Eases Innovation in Military/Aerospace Designs

        The RISC-V Instruction Set Architecture (ISA), and open hardware standards in general, have the potential to be a real boon the military and aerospace designers. “RISC-V is being received with open arms by the military and aerospace sectors,” said Tim Morin, director of strategic marketing in Microchip Technnology’s FPGA business unit. “They are very excited about it.”

        From a design perspective, the ISA addresses the need to minimize power consumption, streamline bill of material (BOM) costs, and optimize board space. “With RISC-V, when you create an integrated circuit, you do exactly what you need,” said Michael Cave, senior director, strategic technology at SiFive, adding that the company is bidding on DARPA projects currently. “The government loves that reality. The government feels like if they don’t do something innovative, China is going to capture the lead.”

      • RISC-V: The Road Ahead

        Now that RISC-V has established a beachhead as a deeply embedded controller in SoCs, it’s time to start asking the next question: Can this open-source instruction-set architecture (ISA) make the next big leap into being an alternative to Arm and the x86 as a host processor?

        The short answer is yes, but it could take several years and there are plenty of pitfalls along the way. Essentially, the freewheeling open-source community behind RISC-V will need to develop and adhere to a wide range of system-level standards.

        So far, Nvidia and Western Digital plan to use RISC-V controllers in their SoCs, and Microsemi will use it in a new FPGA. Andes, Cortus, and startup SiFive sell IP cores, and a handful of startups plan to launch mainly machine-learning accelerators using it.

        RISC-V is in as many as 20 million fitness bands and smartwatches in China. In the U.S., SiFive has shipped more than 2,500 development boards using processors that it aims to sell as IP cores or as SoCs through its design services.

        “The lowest-hanging fruit is the embedded space where the APIs are not exposed to programmers,” said Rick O’Connor, executive director of the non-profit RISC-V Foundation. “That’s the easiest thing to do, but there’s healthy activity in all segments.

      • Libre RISC-V GPU Aiming For 2.5 Watt Power Draw Continues Being Plotted

        Besides having a dedicated Intel GPU to look forward to in 2020, the effort around creating an open-source RISC-V architecture based graphics processor continues being spearheaded by Luke Kenneth Casson Leighton and other libre hardware developers.

        This is the ambitious effort for effectively creating a RISC-V-based Vulkan accelerator that hopes to be able to achieve 25 FPS @ 720p, 5~6 GFLOPs. Part of how they plan to make a RISC-V based GPU viable is via their Simple-V extension for RISC-V. While the performance target is incredibly lax by today’s standards, they do plan for an aggressive power consumption target of just about 2.5 Watts.

  • Programming/Development

    • Chinese Tech Giant Baidu Launches Blockchain OS to Support DApp Development

      Chinese search engine and web services company Baidu has launched its Baidu Blockchain Engine (BBE), an operating system designed to facilitate decentralized application (DApp) development. The news was officially announced by Baidu’s cloud computing unit, Baidu Cloud, on Feb. 14.
      Baidu Cloud states that it considers an open source, commercialized platform to be “the only way to build a blockchain operating system.” BBE has reportedly been built on the basis of Baidu’s “ABC” technology strategy — artificial intelligence (AI), big data and cloud computing — and aims to make DApp development “as simple as creating a mobile app.”

    • How is the Eclipse Foundation Specification Process (EFSP) different from the Java Community Process (JCP)?

      As most of you are aware, Oracle has contributed the Java EE specification to the Eclipse Foundation. The enterprise Java community decided to rename the Java EE specification to Jakarta EE. Part of this huge transition to open source is changing the specification process. The famous Java Community Process (JCP) is going to be replaced by the Eclipse Foundation Specification Process (EFSP), which will be better suited for vendor neutrality, transparency, and all other attributes associated with open source. So what exactly is the difference?

      To learn more about the new process, please refer to the EFSP v1.0, and Wayne Beaton’s article in this newsletter.

    • How To Build A Successful Developer Community

      As a community starter, the first question one should ask themselves is why developers want to join the community: is it because they are going to learn new skills or make their work easier?

      What is the impetus for building the community by asking questions like, whether the community is built around an open-source project? Are the developer tools available? Is there a platform with an API? Is it like a partner ecosystem? Or is it just selling a product?

    • Ember.js video documentary released

      Besides being an interesting piece of content for developers and open-source enthusiasts around the world, the documentary also addresses the human element of open-source software and the power of community.

      The documentary starts off with Tom Dale telling the story about how in the early days of creating web apps using Javascript, people where telling them, “please stop using Javascript”, and “you guys are abusing the system” – but they had to stick with the vision and see it through and today, everyone uses Javascript to create web applications.

    • Why 2019 Will Be the Year for Shift-Left Mainframe Testing

      While 2018 was the year for planning and implementing shift-left methodologies in testing, mainframe and server testers were, for the most part, left behind. These legacy infrastructure experts were tied down to old-school testing tools. Mainframes kept functioning, but tools and testing practices often became bottlenecks, preventing performance testing teams from testing more quickly mid-cycle and pre-release.

    • Ubisoft’s Clever-Commit AI will sniff out bugs in Firefox

      GAMES DO ENCOURAGE VIOLENCE, but against bugs in the case Ubisoft which has partnered with Mozilla to build out an artificial intelligence (AI) system that sniffs out code gremlins.

      Dubbed Clever-Commit, the AI will act as a form of coding assistant that learns from a developer’s base bug and regression data to predict and flag potential new bugs that might be added as new code is slapped onto the codebase.

      The system, which is already being used internally by Ubisoft, will be adopted by Mozilla to review Firefox code and spot dodgy bits, with the goal of making the browser more stable for its users. But if the systems works well, Mozilla has plans to stick it further into Firefox.

    • Ubisoft and Mozilla team up to develop Clever-Commit, an AI coding assistant

      Game developer Ubisoft today announced that it has partnered with Mozilla to develop Clever-Commit, an AI-based coding assistant that learns from your code base’s bug and regression data to analyze and flag potential new bugs as new code is committed. Ubisoft already uses this tool internally and Mozilla says that it will deploy it to spot bugs in its Firefox code.

    • Programming languages: Python rides high but Groovy is cool again with developers

      Groovy, which came to life in 2007, hasn’t been a top-20 language in Tiobe’s index since 2016 but in the February listing it is now at 19th place, up from 49th last year.

      Groovy hit its stride as a language for writing scripts for popular continuous-integration tool Jenkins, but it’s also been buoyed by the Gradle open-source build-automation system. According to Tiobe, these days more ‘glue’ software is being written in Groovy.

    • The Deep Learning Framework Backed By Facebook Is Getting Industry’s Attention

      When it comes to deep learning frameworks, TensorFlow is one of the most preferred toolkits.

    • Inside the AI developer’s toolbox
    • Guide To Web Scraping With Python Libraries Selenium & Beautiful Soup
    • Speeding up basic object operations in Cython
    • Python’s str.isdigit vs. str.isnumeric
    • Test and Code: 65: one assert per test
    • A Lightweight AVR IDE

      All the basic features are there – there’s syntax highlighting, as well as integration with the AVRA assembler and AVRDUDE for programming chips. It’s a tool that could make taking the leap into assembly code just that little bit easier. For another taste of bare metal coding, check out [Ben Jojo]’s discussion of x86 bootloaders.

    • patience diffing algorithm

      I needed a (text) diff algorithm, and if you search for one you mostly come up with the Myers algorithm. But then I stumbled across something called patience diffing, and it turns out to be just what I wanted. It’s already described elsewhere, but it seems more people could stand to know about it, so here we are. It’s easy to understand, and more importantly, usually makes pretty diffs (often prettier than Myers).

    • Converting Decimals to Roman Numerals with Bash

      My last few articles have given me a chance to relive my undergraduate computer science degree and code a Roman numeral to decimal converter. It’s quite handy when you’re watching old movies (when was MCMLVII anyway?), and the basic coding algorithm was reasonably straightforward. (See Dave’s “Roman Numerals and Bash” and “More Roman Numerals and Bash”.)

      The trick with Roman numerals, however, is that it’s what’s known as a subtractive notation. In other words, it’s not a position → value or even symbol → value notation, but a sort of hybrid. MM = 2000, and C = 100, but MMC and MCM are quite different: the former is 2100, and the latter is 1000 + (–100 + 1000) = 1900.

      This means that the conversion isn’t quite as simple as a mapping table, which makes it a good homework assignment for young comp-sci students!

    • Creating a containerized Python/Flask development environment with Red Hat CodeReady Workspaces

      Red Hat CodeReady Workspaces provide developers with containerized development environments hosted on OpenShift/Kubernetes. DevOps teams can now use a hosted development environment that’s pre-built for their chosen stack and customized for their project.

      CodeReady Workspaces can help you rapidly onboard developers for your project as everything they need to develop is running in a containized workspace. In this post, we’re going to use CodeReady Workspaces to get up and running quickly with an existing open source project, Peak. Peak is a multi-container Kubernetes application for performance testing web services, and it allows you to create distributed performance tests using the Kubernetes Batch API for test orchestration. We’ll make some modifications to Peak’s Flask front end, a stateless web interface that interacts with a Falcon RESTful API to return data about performance tests. You won’t need the complete Peak application deployed, though if you like, you can find steps to deploy it to OpenShift here.

    • How to Run Your Python Scripts

      One of the most important skills you need to build as a Python developer is to be able to run Python scripts and code. This is going to be the only way for you to know if your code works as you planned. It’s even the only way of knowing if your code works at all!

      This step-by-step tutorial will guide you through a series of ways to run Python scripts, depending on your environment, platform, needs, and skills as a programmer.

    • Mike Driscoll: PyDev of the Week: Maria McKinley

      This week we welcome Maria McKinley (@twiteness) as our PyDev of the Week. Maria is a Senior Software Engineer at the Walt Disney Company and will be a speaker at PyCascades 2019. She is also teaching the Python Certificate Program at the University of Washington Continuing Education. Let’s spend a few moments getting to know her better.

    • How To Program A Really Cheap Microcontroller

      There are rumors of a cheap chip that does USB natively, has an Open Source toolchain, and costs a quarter. These aren’t rumors: you can buy the CH552 microcontroller right now. Surprisingly, there aren’t many people picking up this cheap chip for their next project. If there’s no original projects using this chip, no one is going to use this chip. Catch 22, and all that.

      Like a generous god, [Aaron Christophel] has got your back with a working example of programming this cheap chip, and doing something useful with it. It blinks LEDs, it writes to an I2C display, and it does everything you would want from a microcontroller that costs a few dimes.

      The CH552, and its friends the small CH551 all the way up to the CH559, contain an 8051 core, somewhere around 16 kB of flash, the high-end chips have a USB controller, there’s SPI, PWM, I2C, and it costs pennies. Unlike so many other chips out there, you can find SDKs and toolchains. You can program the chip over USB. Clearly, we’re looking at something really cool if someone writes an Arduino wrapper for it. We’re not there yet, but we’re close.

Leftovers

  • Science

    • A natural selection: Evolution evolves from board game to digital app

      Players in Evolution compete to create and grow their species to consume more food tokens, which are worth points at the game’s end and which become scarcer as the game progresses. Each species can have up to three Trait cards that give it extra powers or makes it harder to attack. One of the Traits makes species (which are herbivores by default) into Carnivores, which feed by attacking other species—including your own, if you can’t feed them by attacking species belonging to other players.

    • Scientists provide new insight on gene mutations associated with autism

      Autism spectrum disorder, and autism patients’ responses to treatments, is increasingly studied using neurons derived from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) – immature cells that can give rise to an unlimited source of any type of cell needed by the body. But high costs mean that only a few iPSC-derived neuronal lines are typically tested in a single study, limiting previous autism research. New approaches are therefore needed to speed up developments in this area.

      A team of researchers from The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids), the University of Toronto and McMaster University in Canada set out to establish a scalable iPSC-derived neuron model to help improve autism research. They developed a resource of 53 different iPSC lines derived from 25 individuals with autism, who carry a wide range of rare genetic variants, and from their unaffected family members.

      Using CRISPR editing, the scientists also created four ‘isogenic’ pairs of iPSC lines (cell lines with the same or similar genetic makeup) that either had or did not have a mutation, to explore the impacts of mutations on autistic characteristics.

    • Innovation and Disruption Get Less Likely With a Bigger Team, Study Finds

      One silver lining of having an apartment so small you can feel your stomach brush the wall with a particularly strong exhale is that you don’t have to feel bad not helping whomever is cooking dinner or doing the dishes. Fitting two people into the foot-and-a-half wide corridor that houses our fridge, oven, microwave, and sink is simply a non-starter. It’s frustrating at times, but it has helped instill a natural division of labor — whoever cooks does not touch the dishes — that I don’t think would have occurred otherwise, and it muted the well-intentioned, but not always constructive, instinct to help a busy cook who’s in the zone and doesn’t want to be bothered with finding you a vegetable to peel or something.

    • As Scholars Are Driven to Less Prestigious Journals, New Measures of Quality Emerge

      As more scholars publish in less-recognized open-access journals, the search is on for other ways to measure the impact of their research. One potential measure of reach is in online sharing: posts on Twitter, blog links, and other engagement metrics of various kinds.

      HuMetricsHSS, a humanities and social-sciences project that tracks indicators in those fields, includes as another such metric “openness,” including a researcher’s “transparency, candor, and accountability, in addition to the practice of making one’s research open access at all stages.”

      Such efforts seek to chip away at long-established cultural norms. Early-career academics, encouraged by the incentives of tenure and promotion, feel pressure to publish in prestigious academic journals. Faculty members reviewing an applicant’s research may not be able to evaluate its content if they do not have the proper specialty, so the name of a well-known subscription journal can serve as a proxy for quality.

  • Hardware

    • ‘This collaboration is absolutely critical going forward’… One positive thing about Meltdown CPU hole? At least it put aside tech rivalries…

      The group met at the Churchill Club in San Francisco to reflect on 2018′s big security story – the Spectre-Meltdown CPU flaws – and ponder how it could be better handled going forward. Although chip designers were alerted to the vulnerabilities around June 2017, and operating system developers soon after, an action plan for disclosure was still being formulated the week before they hoped to public on Tuesday, January 9, 2018. The Reg blew the lid off it on January 2, after hearing no response from vendors, forcing timetables to be torn up.

      Among the board of brains were Intel government and policy director Audrey Plonk, Semiconductor Industry Association CEO John Neuffer, UC Berkeley Law Prof Deidre Mulligan, and White House NSC bod turned Venable cybersec director Ari Schwartz.

      The talk centered on the CPU speculative execution holes that sent chip designers back to the drawing board, and kernel and toolchain programmers back to their IDEs, to solve and come up with mitigations. Now one year past the big reveal, the panel pondered how they could have done things differently.

      For Schwartz, the saga reaches back to 2014′s Heartbleed, the data-leaking OpenSSL bug that was Meltdown before Meltdown. At the time, he was working in the White House, and had to actually play up the risk of the bug until it got the right attention.

      “When we looked at it we know this was very big,” Schwartz recounted. “The chief of staff to the President walked into our office, and said: I want to know everything about this.”

      The crisis of Heartbleed seemingly trained the tech giants on how to handle mass disclosure and patching of major security holes that affect the entire industry. Companies would learn how to cooperate with one another and set aside competitive differences for the greater good.

      Fast forward three years to late 2017, and researchers dotted around the world uncovered fundamental flaws in the way modern CPUs predicted which data or code would be needed next, flaws that could be exploited by malware to read memory that should be out of bounds – kernel memory or that of another application – and potentially steal passwords and other secrets.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • The Real Reason Anti-Vax Beliefs Spread So Fast Online Isn’t About Facts

      In a world where people are increasingly encountering science information online, particularly on social media, it’s important to understand why people are vulnerable to anti-vaccination messages and why this kind of [dis-]information spreads so easily.

    • Unequal Justice: Kavanaugh’s Vote on Abortion Access Bodes Ill for Roe

      On September 4, at the outset of his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Brett Kavanaugh pledged that if he became the 114th Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, he would serve as a fair decider of the law.

      “A good judge must be an umpire—a neutral and impartial arbiter who favors no litigant or policy,” Kavanaugh told the committee. “I don’t decide cases based on personal or policy preferences. I am not a pro-plaintiff or pro-defendant judge.”

      Even before Dr. Christine Blasey Ford testified in late September that Kavanaugh had tried to rape her in 1982, when he was a seventeen-year-old high school student, Kavanaugh’s critics weren’t buying the umpire metaphor. They believed that Kavanaugh, if confirmed, would operate as a conservative judicial activist bent on moving the high tribunal hard to the right. Women’s groups, in particular, feared that Kavanaugh would provide a fifth and decisive vote to gut, and eventually overturn, Roe v. Wade.

  • Security

    • RunC container vulnerability: What makes it so dangerous?

      First of all, what is runC? It is a command-line tool for spawning and running containers according to the OCI specification. It has the ability with run containers without root privileges using rootless.

      Researchers Adam Iwaniuk and Borys Popławski discovered the runC security vulnerability.

      An e-mail from Aleksa Sarai, Senior Software Engineer and developer at the open source software company SUSE, describes the runc Container breakout.

    • Open Source Security Podcast: Episode 134 – What’s up with the container runc security flaw?

      Josh and Kurt talk about the new runc container security flaw. How does the flaw work, what can you do about it, what should you do about it, and what the future of container security may look like.

    • Switzerland launches e-voting bug bounty

      The Swiss government is inviting hackers to test its electronic voting (e-voting) system for vulnerabilities, in a move aimed at improving the security and integrity of the country’s electoral process.

      The initiative was unveiled last week by Swiss Post, Switzerland’s national postal service and the organization tasked with deploying and managing the country’s e-voting platform.

      Ahead of the system’s planned nationwide rollout, a public intrusion test will take place between February 25 and March 24. A range of cash prizes are on offer for successful pen testers.

    • A Conversation about ZipSlip, NodeJS Security, and BBS Hacking

      Earlier this year, the popular Bower package manager was found vulnerable to archive extraction, allowing attackers to write arbitrary files on a user’s disk. As Nodejs Security WG member and Snyk developer advocate Liran Tal wrote, the vector attacks used by this exploit have been known since the early days of BBS.

      As security researcher skyn3t reported on January 1st 2019, an attacker could craft a malicious zip archive to exploit improper validation of symlinks to write arbitrary files outside of the zip extraction directory. According to Tal, the culprit for enabling path transversal in Bower’s case is a small Nodejs package, decompress-zip, but it is far from being an isolated case. In fact, this kind of vulnerability has been found in several ecosystems, including JavaScript, Ruby, .NET, Go, and Java, and seems to affect thousands of projects, making it deserve the ZipSlip moniker. What is even more striking is that the basic attack vector used by ZipSlip has been known, and potentially exploited many times, since the very early days of Bulletin Board Systems (BBS).

    • Vet third-party apps to reduce supply chain threats [Ed: At least NPM caught this; with proprietary software the back doors are there permanent, hidden, and you cannot remove them]

      Case in point: there was last fall’s update to the event-stream Node Package Manager (NPM), which included cryptocurrency-stealing code, and which wasn’t revealed until almost two months after the software was released. There have also been prior security issues identified in NPM packages.

      Jarrod Overson blogged about investigating the event-stream NPM package. The event-stream developer changed ownership of the project and the cryptocurrency-stealing code was added by the new developer in a subsequent update. The original developer hadn’t used the module in years and agreed to give a new developer control of the package.

      Once the malicious code was added, the developer updated the version information so applications that used the module would install the updated version. The package was installed as a dependency to other modules and was reportedly downloaded two million times per week. NPM packages will follow best practices to determine if updates to dependencies are available and auto-install the updated modules, making these types of attacks difficult to combat.

    • Oh Snapd! Gimme-root-now security bug lets miscreants sock it to your Ubuntu boxes

      Canonical has issued an update for Ubuntu to address a security vulnerability that can be exploited by malware and rogue users to gain root access.

      As this bug affects desktop and server editions of the Linux distro, this is an irritating flaw for folks using shared systems, such as labs or offices of workstations.

      Chris Moberly gets credit for the discovery and reporting of the flaw in question, CVE-2019-7304, which is an elevation-of-privilege vulnerability present in Ubuntu versions prior to 19.04. To reiterate, the flaw is not remotely exploitable, so a miscreant would need to already have a foothold on victim’s machine.

    • Pakistan Feels The Wrath Of Indian Hacktivists: Govt Sites Taken Down
    • Pulwama attack aftermath: Over 200 Pakistani websites hacked by Indian group
  • Defence/Aggression

    • NSC Memo Shows Elliott Abrams ‘Caballed Quietly’ to Spring a CIA-Connected Drug Trafficker

      When U.S. policymakers needed to spring a convicted CIA-connected drug trafficker from doing hard time in federal prison, who did they call?

      Trump’s infamous appointed special envoy to Venezuela, Elliott Abrams, according to a September 1986 National Security Council email, written by NSC staffer Oliver North.

      In a U.S. House Committee hearing on Thursday, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) scorched Abrams for his covering up of the infamous El Mozote massacre and lying to Congress during the Iran-Contra conspiracy in the 1980s.

      Her interrogation drew rebuke from Max Boot, the apostate conservative, and a chorus of right-wing media commentators. Boot described Omar’s comments as a “disgraceful ad hominem attack.”

      Actually, the impertinent congresswoman from Minneapolis could have gone much further about Abrams’ untrustworthy behavior. One of the most revealing stories comes from an impeccably right-wing source, Oliver North, former Republican senatorial candidate and Fox News talking head.

    • Abu Dhabi Arms Fair Opens Amid Yemen War Carnage

      The United Arab Emirates’ yearslong war in Yemen alongside Saudi Arabia bled into the start of a biennial Abu Dhabi arms fair Sunday, which saw the Emirates sign $1.3 billion in weapons deals.

      One manufacturer displayed a model of a machine gun on sale that’s now in the hands of Emirati-backed militiamen in Yemen, while the armored personnel carriers and tanks used in the war in the Arab world’s poorest country also could be seen at the show. Even the military show that began the fair included troops raiding a militant hideout equipped with both mobile and land-based ballistic missiles, just like those in the possession of Yemen’s Houthi rebels.

      While Emirati officials avoided discussing Yemen, allied American officials linked arms smuggling there to what they described as the wider malign activities of Iran across the greater Middle East.

    • The Crimes of Elliot Abrams

      Last week’s completely appropriate and mild questioning of President Trump’s Venezuela envoy Elliot Abrams seems to have struck a chord for both critics of US Latin American policy over the years and for the foreign policy establishment. The latter has recoiled in horror that one of their own has actually been publicly taken to task, in a congressional setting by a sitting Congresswoman (Omar Ilhan (D)-Minnesota), and the former has rejoiced that, at least, the crimes of US Latin American policy in the 80’s have been recognized. So, what exactly are the crimes of Elliot Abrams?

      Elliot Abrams is a cipher for US imperialism in Latin America and the world.

      From the inception of the United States US business interests and political leaders have coveted the natural resources, strategic position, markets and labor of Latin America. Thomas Jefferson was horrified by the first full blown republic in the hemisphere (Haiti) and imposed an embargo. Founder and President James Monroe was so grandiose in his view of the future imperial republic that his Doctrine basically proclaimed back yard status for the entire hemisphere in 1823. By the 1840’s there was little talk of neighbors and fellow republicans and overt racist discussion of the Manifest Destiny of the Anglo-Saxon race. This led to, as well as the destruction of most of the First Nation’s population and sovereignty, the theft of the northern half of Mexico. By 1898 the US set its sights on the remains of the Spanish Empire and successfully occupied Cuba and Puerto Rico, where they remain today.

      Naked aggression did not abate with the new century, it accelerated. With its maturing industrial economy, the US built the “Great White Fleet,” toured the world as a warning to all that there was a new Sheriff in town, and in response to the “Venezuela Crisis” the “great” progressive hero Theodore Roosevelt proclaimed the right of the US to intervene (The Roosevelt Corollary, 1904), at any time, for any purpose in the affairs of Latin America. Soon there after TR sent the US Navy to Columbia to lop off its northern province to create a canal.

    • What Happened to the Remains of Khashoggi’s Predecessor?

      Ghadanfar Rokon Abadi was Iran’s senior intelligence officer in Beirut in the late 1990s. I met him many times and he was always frank about Iran’s support for Hezbollah in Lebanon; he even spoke to students at a Christian university in east Beirut to explain why his country supported Syria. He was not very convincing: claiming that the Syrian revolution had nothing to do with poverty or oppression was a hard sell. He arrived back in Beirut as ambassador – and be sure, even more senior intelligence officer — in 2010, and subsequently herded then-president Mahmoud Ahmedinejad – a crackpot if ever there was one – on a tour of southern Lebanon.

      But in November 2013, two suicide bombers attacked the Iranian embassy in Beirut, killing 23 employees, Hezbollah guards and civilians who fell from their high-storey balconies when the explosion blasted through the streets. The attack was claimed by the ‘Abdullah Azzam Brigades’, named after a former lecturer in Saudi Arabia who would later help to found al-Qaeda, and was intended to destroy the entire embassy compound.

      The Iranians believed the Saudis were behind the attack. The Saudis, as always, denied it. The bombers never got through the gates, and so their intended target, Ambassador Ghadanfar Rokon Abadi, survived. For less than another two years.

      For in September 2015, now one of his country’s top diplomats (and still an intelligence officer, of course), he made the Haj pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia and was one of those among the more than 2,300 men and women killed in the Mecca stampede. Among the 464 Iranians to die were a number of Iranian officials, of whom Rokon Abadi was one.

    • It’s Not Just Trump and the Republicans

      There is a lot of talk lately in the liberal media about how President Trump and his Neocon advisors John Bolton (National Security Advisor) and Mike Pompeo (Secretary of State) along with his acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, are moving the country and the world dangerously closer to a catastrophic global nuclear war with the administration decision to terminate the Reagan-era treaty banning intermediate range nuclear missiles.

      It is true that the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, concluded by President Ronald Reagan and Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987, did greatly reduce the chances of nuclear war by removing US missiles from Europe and Asia that had the ability to strike the Soviet Union in minutes. It’s also true that with the INF gone, Russia will, as it is already doing, inevitably develop countermeasures, such as designing and deploying fleets of quick-launch, virtually unstoppable hypersonic cruise missiles that could head towards the US before attacked, assuring the destruction of the United States in response to any first strike. (Russian or Chinese hyperspeed cruise missiles that travel perhaps 6000 mph, pose no first strike threat unless based along the US border, as they give the US plenty of time to launch a counterattack–probably the reason the US never put much effort into developing them.)

      What is not true is the notion that it is just Trump who has pushed the nuclear doomsday clock closer to midnight.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Rep. Tulsi Gabbard defends WikiLeaks: It ‘spurred some necessary change’

      Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, a 2020 presidential hopeful, defended WikiLeaks Saturday night, saying the information released by the organization brought “necessary change.”

      The Hawaii congresswoman was fielding questions at a meet-and-greet in Concord, New Hampshire, over the weekend when she was asked about WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Use these tools to help visualize the horror of rising sea levels
    • A Green New Deal for American Labor?

      The simple yellow protest signs were stenciled “Green Jobs for All.” Speaker after speaker stepped into the middle of the office floor, marked with a U.S. House of Representatives seal. Representative-Elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, fresh off her election win, gave the protesters high fives.

      That was the scene in November when the youth climate justice organization Sunrise Movement held a sit-in at the office of Rep. Nancy Pelosi, who was soon to be the Speaker of the House.

      Most Americans had never heard of the “Green New Deal” at the time.

      Now, it’s on the mainstream radar. The New York Times and the Washington Post ran multiple stories when Ocasio-Cortez introduced a resolution on February 7 to reduce carbon emissions through a massive good jobs program. The resolution has 67 House co-sponsors, while the Senate version has 12.

      Just like the original New Deal in the ’30s, her version of a Green New Deal would include a federal guarantee of living-wage employment—that is, anyone who wanted a job could get one at a salary that could support a family, with an emphasis on union jobs and protecting the right to organize.

    • What Green New Deal Advocates Can Learn From the 2009 Economic Stimulus Act

      Congressional Democrats have introduced a “Green New Deal” proposal that calls for a 10-year national mobilization to curb climate change by shifting the U.S. economy away from fossil fuels. Many progressives support this idea, while skeptics argue that a decade is not long enough to remake our nation’s energy system.

      The closest analog to this effort occurred in 2009, when President Obama and Congress worked together to combat a severe economic recession by passing a massive economic stimulus plan. Among its many provisions, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 provided US$90 billion to promote clean energy. The bil’s clean energy package, which was dubbed the “biggest energy bill in history,” laid the foundation for dramatic changes to the energy system over the last 10 years.

    • Early rain as Arctic warms means more methane

      As the global temperature steadily rises, it ensures that levels of one of the most potent greenhouse gases are increasing in a way new to science: the planet will have to reckon with more methane than expected.

      Researchers who monitored one bog for three years in the Alaskan permafrost have identified yet another instance of what engineers call positive feedback. They found that global warming meant earlier springs and with that, earlier spring rains.

      And as a consequence, the influx of warm water on what had previously been frozen ground triggered a biological frenzy that sent methane emissions soaring.

    • When Grizzly Bears Go Bad: Constructions of Victimhood and Blame

      Global temperatures are rising in a synchronous dance with glacier ablation and rising ocean levels. Hurricanes are strengthening, islands are drowning, droughts are worsening, and weather is gravitating towards extremes, at the same time that our modern version of the Know-Nothings is willfully denying the obvious. Meanwhile, an exceedingly few people are attacked by one of the trifling number of grizzly bears that have survived the onslaught of humanity. And of those exceedingly few people, fewer yet are killed. Fewer by orders of magnitude than those killed by surgical procedures, measles, lightning strikes, dog attacks, murderous white supremacists…and any other of a multitude of causes.

      Yet you wouldn’t know this. Based on media coverage, the polemics of certain politicians, and the lament of privileged ranchers and hunters, you would think that grizzly bears are running amuck, killing all who venture near their malicious claws and teeth. Or, even among those inclined to be more temperate, you would think that grizzlies are the unmitigated malefactors, and the attacked humans, victims without exception.

    • Venezuelan Coup Democrats Vomit on Green New Deal

      In humanity’s current existential climate crisis, leftists who see any hope for humanity put our faith in movements. Without movements relentlessly pressuring them to do the right thing, politicians of both US major parties—especially at the crucial national and state levels—will remain their bought-off pro-corporate warmongering selves, and powerful corporate media will provide them propaganda cover.

      US media providing propaganda cover for politicians doing the wrong thing has been “a thing” almost forever, especially in foreign policy, where we’ve persistently done the murderous wrong thing in distant lands most Americans know or care little about. Among almost countless instances, the Vietnam and Iraq wars spring powerfully to mind. Our government lied, our media spread their lies, and our government mass-murdered, while We the People helped foot the bill with our taxes. But even where tax-cutting was all the rage, as in the “Dubya” Bush administration, no cost was too high for wars elites wanted— unwittingly providing a powerful argument for supporters of modern monetary theory (MMT).

      With the stakes higher than ever, when doing the wrong thing now bears a hideous climate price tag, our government is at it again. While Naomi Klein titled her groundbreaking book on climate politics This Changes Everything, for our bought-off Republican and Democrat warmongers, humanity’s climate crisis evidently changes nothing, and the business-as-usual of illegal, murderous US regime change remains the order of the day. If our intentions in Venezuelan aren’t murderous, why put a proven amoral butcher like Elliot Abrams in charge of things? Under the PR stunt cover of US humanitarian aid to Venezuela (a self-serving political stunt the Red Cross and the UN warned the US not to try), Abrams may already be up to his old trick of smuggling arms to Venezuelan rebels. While our corporate media—acting yet again as our warmongering government’s propaganda arm—almost universally applauds.

  • Finance

    • An End to Amazon’s Two-Bit Romance. No Low-Rent Rendezvous.

      The Amazon corporation walked out in a huff. On Valentine’s Day, the retailer announced that its romance with New York is off.

      Faced with stiffer-than-anticipated resistance, the company announced February 14th that it is pulling out of its previously reported plan to build a gleaming corporate headquarters in Long Island City.

      The timing seemed perfect for what has felt from the start like a very old-school seduction routine.

      Having led this city and others around in an embarrassing flirt-to-the-finish, Amazon, the wealthy suitor, chose to bed down in Long Island City. Now they’ve stormed out. Apparently, Amazon didn’t like the fact that the city of Lady Liberty wanted to set a few terms before sex.

      Like a macho man in the pre-feminist era, Amazon wanted things their way or no way. That’s how monopolies roll. Don’t ask questions, don’t consider options, and whatever you do, don’t conduct a background check. New York’s tryst with the the company was struck in private before local residents groups, unions, and state and city legislators got their say.

      Stuart Appelbaum of the retail union, who participated in what turned out to be the final meeting between Amazon and lawmakers, said the company had refused to compromise even on a demand that it not actively work against the unionization of its New York workers, and rumor has it they didn’t like activists talking about exploitation in their warehouses and their workplaces out of state.

      In the #MeToo era, intimacy requires informed consent. So, too, development. City residents didn’t fancy an arranged marriage. The Amazon deal required answers to some basic questions: who will get what for what kind of compensation, and how do city taxpayers know they won’t be left high and dry when the fun is over, the profits are gone, and it’s time to clean up the mess?

    • How a Failing Capitalist System Is Allowing Amazon to Cripple America

      Capitalism is failing in America, and Amazon is both the cause and beneficiary of much of the breakdown. Jeff Bezos said, “We’ve had three big ideas at Amazon that we’ve stuck with for 18 years, and they’re the reason we’re successful: Put the customer first. Invent. And be patient.” He might have added three capitalist practices familiar to his company: (1) Pay no taxes; (2) Drive competitors out of business; and (3) Exploit workers.

    • Are the super-rich ruining Burning Man?

      The increase in so-called “turnkey” or “plug-and-play” camps offering luxury and glamour for the super-rich or Insta-famous has become a source of tension at Black Rock City.

    • To Get Any Economic Fairness, We Need To Be Demanding It—By Name

      The United States has the most inequitable distribution of wealth of any developed country in the world. The top 1% own 40% of the nation’s wealth. The US has 26% of the world’s 2208 billionaires, including 12 of the top 15. The three wealthiest Americans have more wealth than the entire bottom half of the US population.

      Meanwhile, those in that bottom half struggle to get by. 39.7 million (or 12.3% of) Americans live below the poverty line, including 17.5% of all children under 18. Tens of millions of others live barely above it. 78.8% percent of all Americans live paycheck to paycheck, and 71% are in debt. On any given night an estimated 554,00 Americans are homeless.

      This maldistribution of national wealth has major societal consequences. Studies by British researchers have found strong correlations between economic inequality and a variety of social ills including obesity, heavy drug use, shorter life expectancy, high rate of teen births, high rates of violent crime, poor educational performance, high rates of incarceration, less social mobility, fewer job opportunities, etc. Compared to other developed countries, the United States performs badly on all these measures, suggesting that our high degree of economic inequality is a prime cause. It is also a major factor in the US’s ranking of 108th out of 140 countries in the Happy Planet Index.

    • After Superstorm Sandy’s Rain, Cooperatives Sprang Up Like Mushrooms

      In the wake of Superstorm Sandy back in 2012, a grassroots relief effort growing partly out of Occupy Wall Street did its best to help the hardest-hit area of the Rockaways, a neighborhood located in the Queens borough of New York City. Networks grew up offering business assistance and loans, and gradually the “worker-owned Rockaway cooperatives” (WORCs) were born. Offering residents in this remote part of Queens, New York, a way to meet their immediate needs while kind of staving off what author Naomi Klein has described as disaster capitalism.

      After all these years, how are those efforts faring? Is there, in fact, an alternative path for developers after disasters? And if so, what do the Rockaways have to teach? Do lessons also emerge from places like Florida after Hurricane Michael, or Puerto Rico after Maria? To talk about all this, we are joined by Lorena Giron, a Rockaways resident and co-owner of the La Miez Bakery. We are also joined by Brendan Martin, founder and director of the Working World, a nonprofit that provided free business development training and ongoing technical assistance to many of the Rockaways co-ops.

    • They Used To Hold Hands Through the Wall. Now, There’s Razor Wire.

      The February sun reflects off the concertina razor wire strung across the U.S.-Mexico border wall like razor-sharp tinsel. The wire seemed to bloom overnight, six rows of it, placed all the way to the ground, within reach of playing children or wandering dogs.

      On the sidewalk where I stood in Nogales, Arizona, a storefront window displayed mannequin brides, dressed in white wedding dresses. Not 50 feet away, the coils of glinting wire expand like a lethal slinky.

      It was morning, and the town of 20,000 was just beginning to wake up. Downtown in the shopping district, a garbage truck rumbled past, and Norteño music played from stereos outside of just-opening shops. Shuttle drivers congregated along the sidewalk, waiting for Tucson or Phoenix-bound passengers to fill their vans.

      In November 2018, the Trump administration ordered that the wall at the Nogales port of entry be topped with concertina razor wire. Last week, more rows of wire were suddenly added to the Arizona side of the wall, and stretched much further than the immediate port of entry. And this time, the wire was placed all the way to ground level.

    • Welfare for Those ‘Unwilling to Work?’ It’s Not As Crazy As You Might Think.

      The rollout of the progressives’ Green New Deal has been less than smooth. One major reason: the release of an FAQ that listed “economic security” for those “unwilling to work” as one of the program’s goals.

      “Unwilling”? The now-retracted FAQ made other eyebrow-raising claims, but conservatives pounced on that word in particular. Of a piece with the usual complaints about welfare as a reward for laziness, it was called extreme, absurd and, in one florid instance, a “Communist Manifesto, 21st Century.”

      But is the idea of unconditional economic security really so extraordinary? In fact, Finland recently completed a landmark basic income project aimed at just that. And while the results are preliminary, they give us reason to reflect on our own values.

    • BuzzFeed News Employees Unionized And The Company Says It’s Open To Voluntary Recognition

      The union’s announcement on Tuesday came little more than two weeks after BuzzFeed laid off roughly 15% of its workforce, or more than 200 employees — cuts that hit the news division hard in bureaus in Los Angeles; San Francisco; Washington, DC; and New York.

      “We look forward to meeting with the organizers to discuss a way toward voluntarily recognizing their union,” Ben Smith, editor-in-chief of BuzzFeed News, said.

      The employees have organized under the NewsGuild of New York. The organizing effort dates back to 2015, when a group of employees met with the guild to discuss workplace grievances.

      Dominic Holden, a politics reporter for BuzzFeed News and a member of the organizing committee, said in an interview that employees were well on their way to unionizing before the latest round of layoffs. However, he said, the recent cuts “made it abundantly clear that we need a contract that protects workers during periods of intense transition.”

    • Nasdaq to Add Bitcoin and Ethereum Indices to Global Data Service

      Stock exchange operator Nasdaq is adding indices for bitcoin and ethereum to its global data service later this month.

      The company announced Monday that it has partnered with New Zealand-based blockchain data and research firm Brave New Coin to offer information on the two new indices starting Feb. 25.

      The Bitcoin Liquid Index (BLX) and the Ethereum Liquid Index (ELX) will offer ?real-time? information on the Nasdaq Global Index Data ServiceSM (GIDS), its consolidated data feed, Nasdaq said.

    • J.P. Morgan is using Ethereum to launch a ‘digital U.S. dollar’—here’s what it means for blockchain

      One blockchain milestone that I’ve been anticipating this year is the slow but sure arrival of the institutional herd. Well, the herd is arriving. J.P. Morgan just became the first bank to create and successfully test a digital coin that represents the U.S. dollar and plans to extend their digital coin to other major currencies.

      The JPM Coin was built on Quorum, an enterprise iteration of the Ethereum blockchain, that enables the instantaneous transfer of payments between institutional accounts.

      While J.P. Morgan is the first U.S. bank to issue a blockchain-based digital coin that represents the U.S. dollar, it is not the first time large financial institutions have used an enterprise implementation of the Ethereum blockchain to tokenize fiat currency.

    • Of Stress and Inequality

      Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett’s “The Inner Level: How More Equal Societies Reduce Stress, Restore Sanity and Improve Everyone’s Well-Being” is a follow-up to their 2009 best-seller “The Spirit Level.” That book reviewed several hundred studies expounding on their book’s subtitle: “Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger,” and came to the breakthrough finding that “inequality affects the vast majority of the population, not only the poor minority.”

      The data also supported their contention that closing the wealth gap between the highest- and lowest-income citizens reduced the cost and impact of health and social problems, such as violence and drug abuse, for an entire society. They update this previous research to demonstrate ever more strongly that the United States is not “the land of opportunity,” but one of the world’s most unequal societies, offering less upward mobility than most other economically developed democracies.

      Had they gone no further, the new book could have served as a valuable revision of their original work. But they do go further. In fact, I felt that their contention that we are in a new era where inequality affects everyone’s mental health was at times too ambitious for the data presented. Nevertheless, the authors break new ground. They go beyond the economic impact that weakens a society when it cannot create a reasonably balanced distribution of wealth, extending into the psychological fallout from inequality. But they’re quick to dissuade readers from assuming that they are concerned about individual neuroses, beginning with the title of the first chapter: “This is Not a Self-Help Book.”

    • Jimmy Song Gives 3 Reasons Why Bitcoin SV is a Scam… But Is It Enough to Change Your Mind?

      Mr. Song has been a profound critic of Bitcoin SV from the very moment of its announcement, however even before its birth; he was one of the biggest voices against Bitcoin Cash, the altcoin from which it originated. A few months ago, on the Blockchain Cruise, Song held a debate with Roger Ver, in which he shared the reasons why he opposes the BCH philosophy. He argued that BCH was fiat on a blockchain, it was extremely centralized, it was somewhat toxic and not at all what was envisioned by Satoshi Nakamoto

    • Brock Pierce: My Mt. Gox Redemption Plan ‘Shows Power Of Bitcoin’

      Venture capitalist and ex-Bitcoin Foundation director Brock Pierce thinks his plan to take over the Mt. Gox rehabilitation process “demonstrates the power of open source.”

    • Bitcoin [BTC] developer Jimmy Song lists 3 reasons why Bitcoin SV [BSV] is a “scam”

      Bitcoin SV [BSV] has been met with a host of varied opinions from the global cryptocurrency since it emerged three months ago, from being lauded as the true vision of Satoshi, to being called a “dumpster fire,” BSV has seen it all.

      Recently, Jimmy Song, a developer of the top cryptocurrency Bitcoin [BTC] and author of the book, “Programming Bitcoin,” called BSV a “scam” and listed out three specific reasons for his conclusion, via a video on his YouTube channel, “Off Chain with Jimmy Song.”

      [...]

      Craig S Wright, recently went on a tirade about how he, “was Satoshi,” for which he received a lot of flak from the crypto industry. Known for being very verbal on Twitter, Wright even got into a heated dispute with Wikileaks, which he brands a “fakenews cesspool.”

      Wikileaks did not take things lying down, the news organization claimed and even produced evidence of Wright editing a blog post from August 2008, which he wanted to use to prove that he was involved in cryptocurrencies over a decade ago. Wikileaks, and many in the crypto-community labeled Wright as “faketoshi” since, a label that Song would approve of.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • We Will Be Here: On Donuts, Dogs, the Duck of Justice and Other Non-Emergencies

      We are again in need of a break from the latest batshit executive follies: Nominating himself for the Nobel Peace Prize; grazing like any thick doddering geezer, national “emergency” notwithstanding, at the scuzzy omelette bar at his scuzzy golf club; fuming about punishing a late-night comedy show on the teevee – “This is the real Collusion!” – because what First Amendment? For a touch of comic relief mixed with improbable humanity, we turn to the slice-of-Maine-life that is the Bangor Police Department’s Facebook page, full of wry tales of good deeds, small crimes like ineptly self-updated license plate registrations – a “weak effort in criminal behavior” – hope, grief, dogs, drugs, empathy, cereal, their “marginally famous” Duck of Justice, the universal “fight to find the light,” small acts of grace and, yes, donuts. To get real: These are cops, white men (mostly) with power, so there have to be some skanky acts going unrecorded. Lieut. Tim Cotton, a detective and the page’s author/administrator, addresses the ugly elephant in the room: “Of course there are bad cops that need to be out of the industry (and) out of a job. But most cops are good people. I hear cops do interviews saying, ‘We want to show that we’re human’” – which is “a given. We need to show kindness, empathy and humor.”

    • Trump’s Wall an Ugly Scar Across Hot Zone of Biological Diversity

      Trump’s Wall, like most Trump fantasies, is more symbolic than real, which is why he can never remember what its shape would be or what to call it. The fact is that it is just a projection of his racist anxieties, something standing between him and the rapists, murderers, and drug dealers he believes seep into his life from the south, just his worst subconscious impulses seep up to make him rape and launder money and commit other enormities. Trump’s Wall is a mirror for his unfaced dark side, which he projects on the Mexican Other.

      Because it exists in his fevered imagination he cannot imagine that it has an impact on real, living beings. But the impact is profound, and deeply damaging.

      An important article in the journal Bioscience pointed out last summer that “The Border Wall bypasses and violates environmental laws.”

      The Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act can be waived by the Department of Homeland Security on the authority of the 2005 Real ID Act.

      This waiver allows wall construction to evade any analysis of environmental impact or any study of “less damaging alternative strategies.” There are no opportunities for public comment or legal remedies. 8 such waivers have been issued so far, for all of the four southern border states, 3 of them under Trump himself.

    • Slamming President for Jeopardizing Disaster Funds, States Prepare Legal Challenge to Trump’s Emergency Declaration

      At least five states are preparing a legal challenge to President Donald Trump’s national emergency declaration, which he made on Friday to secure funding for a border wall after congressional Democrats refused to approve $5.7 billion in funds for the project.

      California Attorney General Xavier Becerra appeared on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday to say a lawsuit he’s preparing with officials in Minnesota, Hawaii, New Mexico, and Oregon will be filed “definitely and imminently.”

      “We knew something like this might happen, and with our sister state partners we are ready to go,” Becerra told Martha Raddatz.

    • White House Indicates Trump to Veto Resolution to Disapprove Emergency

      President Donald Trump is prepared to issue the first veto of his term if Congress votes to disapprove his declaration of a national emergency along the U.S.-Mexico border, a top White House adviser said on Sunday.

      White House senior adviser Stephen Miller told “Fox News Sunday” that “the president is going to protect his national emergency declaration.” Asked if that meant Trump was ready to veto a resolution of disapproval, Miller added, “He’s going to protect his national emergency declaration, guaranteed.”

      The West Wing is digging in for fights on multiple fronts as the president’s effort to go around Congress to fund his long-promised border wall faces bipartisan criticism and multiple legal challenges. After lawmakers in both parties blocked his requests for billions of dollars to fulfill his signature campaign pledge, Trump’s declared national emergency Friday shifts billions of federal dollars earmarked for military construction to the border.

      California Attorney General Xavier Becerra told ABC’s “This Week” that his state would sue “imminently” to block the order, after the American Civil Liberties Union and the nonprofit watchdog group Public Citizen announced Friday they were taking legal action.

    • Facebook Is Incapable Of Governing Itself; Strict Laws Underway: UK Govt

      After 18 months of an investigation against Facebook, probing the social media platform’s privacy practice, the UK government has published a detailed report. The Digital, Culture, Media and Sports Committee of the UK Parliament has accused Facebook of violating data privacy laws.

      The report also contained information acquired from Facebook’s internal emails. The officials have asked social media platforms to remove “hurtful” or “illegal” content and must be held responsible for it. Members of Parliament have advocated for a compulsory code of conduct that must be followed by the social media companies to limit their role and to make them accountable for their actions.

    • Worshipping the Electronic Image

      Donald Trump, like much of the American public, is entranced by electronic images. He interprets reality through the distortions of digital media. His decisions, opinions, political positions, prejudices and sense of self are reflected back to him on screens. He views himself and the world around him as a vast television show with himself as the star. His primary concerns as president are his ratings, his popularity and his image. He is a creature—maybe the poster child—of the modern, post-literate culture, a culture that critics such as Marshall McLuhan, Daniel Boorstin, James W. Carey and Neil Postman warned us about.

      It is not, as some have suggested, merely that Trump speaks at the level of a seventh-grader or that he harkens back to a preliterate oral culture. He embodies the incoherence of the modern digital age, filled with sudden shifts from subject to subject, a roller-coaster ride of emotional highs and lows punctuated with commercials. There is nonstop stimulation. Seldom does anything occupy our attention for more than a few seconds. Nothing has context. Images overwhelm words. We are perpetually confused, but always entertained. We barely remember what we saw or heard a few minutes earlier. This is by design of the elites who manipulate us.

      “It is not merely that on the television screen entertainment is the metaphor for all discourse,” Postman points out. “It is that off the screen the same metaphor prevails.” Americans, because television stages their world, “no longer talk to each other, they entertain each other.” Trump is what is produced when a society severs itself from print, when it pushes art, ethics, classics, philosophy, history and the humanities to the margins of the universities and culture, when its members spend hours sitting inert in front of a screen. Information, ideas and epistemology are, as Postman writes, given form today by electronic images.

      [...]

      The fixation on electronic images by Trump means he and millions of other American adults—who, according to a 2018 report by the Nielsen company, on average watch four hours, 46 minutes of TV each day and spend “over 11 hours per day listening to, watching, reading or generally interacting with media”—have severed themselves from complex thought. They have been infantilized. Television, including the news, reduces all reality to a childish, cartoonish simplicity. News as presented on screens “provides degenerate photographs or a pseudo-reality of stereotypes,” James W. Carey writes. “News can approximate truth only when reality is reducible to a statistical table: sport scores, stock exchange reports, births, deaths, marriages, accidents, court decisions, elections, economic transactions such as foreign trade or balance of payments.” News on our screens is incapable of imparting complexity and nuance. It is devoid of historical, social or cultural context. TV news speaks in easily digestible clichés and political and cultural tropes. It is sensational and fragmented. The frenetic pace of TV news means that except when delivering statistics, the programs can trade only in established stereotypes. TV news is, in essence, divorced from the real, mindlessly grounded in the ruling elites’ reigning ideology of neoliberalism, militarism and white supremacy.

      Postman, in his book “Amusing Ourselves to Death,” writes that after the development of the telegraph, “News took the form of slogans, to be noted with excitement, to be forgotten with dispatch.” Arguing that the 19th-century invention is the basis for communication in the digital age, he says, “Its language was also entirely discontinuous. One message had no connection to that which preceded or followed it. Each ‘headline’ stood alone as its own context. The receiver of the news had to provide a meaning if he could. The sender was under no obligation to do so. And because of all this, the world as depicted by the telegraph began to appear unmanageable, even undecipherable. The line-by-line, sequential, continuous form of the printed page slowly began to lose its resonance as a metaphor of how knowledge was to be acquired and how the world was to be understood. ‘Knowing’ the facts took on a new meaning, for it did not imply that one understood implications, background, or connections. Telegraphic discourse permitted no time for historical perspectives and gave no priority to the qualitative.”

    • Rift Between Trump and Europe Is Now Open and Angry

      European leaders have long been alarmed that President Trump’s words and Twitter messages could undo a trans-Atlantic alliance that had grown stronger over seven decades. They had clung to the hope that those ties would bear up under the strain.

      But in the last few days of a prestigious annual security conference in Munich, the rift between Europe and the Trump administration became open, angry and concrete, diplomats and analysts say.

      A senior German official, who asked not to be identified because he was not authorized to speak on such matters, shrugged his shoulders and said: “No one any longer believes that Trump cares about the views or interests of the allies. It’s broken.”

      The most immediate danger, diplomats and intelligence officials warned, is that the trans-Atlantic fissures now risk being exploited by Russia and China.
      Even the normally gloomy Russian foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, happily noted the strains, remarking that the Euro-Atlantic relationship had become increasingly “tense.”

      “We see new cracks forming, and old cracks deepening,” Mr. Lavrov said.

    • 31 Actual National Emergencies

      Everyone with five functioning gray cells knows that the aspiring fascist strongman Donald Trump’s Declaration of a National Emergency on the U.S.-Mexico border is absurd.

      There is no “national security crisis” of illegal immigration on the southern United States border.

      Illegal crossings are not at “emergency” levels; they are at a fifty-year low.

      Undocumented immigrants are not a crime and violence threat. They are less likely to commit crimes, violent ones included, than naturalized U.S. citizens.

      Drugs come into the U.S. not through gaps in border fencing but primarily through legal ports of entry.

      There is no big call for a completed U.S.-Mexico wall on the part of U.S. citizens on the southern border.

      The United States military has not been “breaking up” and blocking “monstrous caravans” of illegal immigrants trying to harm the U.S.

      The only crisis at the border is the humanitarian one created by Trump’s war on asylum-seekers and legal as well as technically illegal immigrants. The wannabe strongman has set up a ridiculous brown menace strawman in an effort to take an unprecedented step. He wants to use the National Emergencies Act to fulfill a ridiculous campaign promises to his white-nationalist base. He wants to make an end run around Congress to spend federal taxpayer on a project that lawmakers chose not to fund – a political vanity scheme that is opposed by 60 percent of the U.S. populace.

    • Haiti and the Collapse of a Political and Economic System

      You can draw a pretty straight line from the last electoral process to the current unrest in Haiti. Building for months, and frankly years, the country has now been shut down for five days as tensions – and violence – increase, threatening President Jovenel Moise’s mandate.

      In 2015 and 2016, backed by the international community, political and economic actors made a Faustian bargain in the name of “stability.” They decided to allow fraudulent and violence-plagued legislative elections to stand, and rerun them at the presidential level.

      The failure of that analysis is evidenced by the situation in Haiti today. In truth, it’s been international policy for more than a decade. Keep a lid on things, while sustaining the unsustainable status quo.

    • The Millennial Generation Will Tear Down Trump’s Wall

      In an impromptu animated speech from the Rose Garden, President Trump continued his streak of fanatical claims about his beloved wall. Moving on from lengthy rambling about how “Mexico will foot the bill,” and building a “human wall, if necessary,” Trump played his final card: declaring a national emergency. It’s a constitutionally questionable move—and one that comes with an $8 billion price tag.

      With this latest anger-fueled outburst par for the course from the White House, it’s no surprise that a majority of millennials do not agree with how Trump handles immigration. Considering that millennials are the largest voting bloc for the 2020 election, Trump needs our support—so he should consider what we want.

      Millennials are both the largest living generation, and the most racially and ethnically diverse generation in American history. In 2016, according to the Census Bureau, 39 percent of foreign-born U.S. citizens and 48 percent of foreign-born non-citizens were between the ages of 25 and 44. And roughly one in five millennials identify as Latino, while 14 percent are black and seven percent are Asian.

      Given this diversity, it’s not surprising that millennials have dramatically different views on immigration compared to Baby Boomers—who are more ethnically homogeneous. Though the border wall isn’t particularly popular with the American people at large, it’s even less popular with young voters: 77 percent of millennials under 30 oppose Trump’s plans.

      Still, regardless of political persuasion, nearly all Americans recognize the broken state of our immigration system. Yet millennials have identified the correct solution, and largely agree that the fix isn’t a wall, but, rather, effective changes in policy.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • The First Rule of AIPAC Is: You Do Not Talk about AIPAC

      Washington’s political establishment went berserk when US Representative Ilhan Omar (D-MN) publicly noted that US-Israel relations are “all about the Benjamins” — slang for $100 bills, referring to money shoveled at American politicians by the American Israel Public Affairs Group (AIPAC).

      Omar was accused of antisemitism — immediately by Republicans, shortly after by members of her own party — and bullied into apologizing. She may or may not be prejudiced against Jews, but even if she is, that wasn’t her real offense.

      Her real offense was publicly mentioning the irrefutable fact that many members of Congress take their marching orders from a foreign power’s lobbying apparatus (an apparatus not, as required by law, registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act), at least partly because those marching orders come with promises of significant donations to those politicians’ campaigns.

      AIPAC itself doesn’t make direct donations to political campaigns. But AIPAC and other pro-Israel lobbying groups like Christians United For Israel punch well above their weight in American politics, largely by motivating their supporters to financially support and work for “pro-Israel” candidates in general elections and help weed out “anti-Israel” candidates in party primaries.

      By the way, “pro-Israel” in this context always means “supportive of the jingoism of Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party,” and never “supportive of the many Israelis who’d like peace with the Palestinian Arabs.”

    • USMCA’s Outsourcing of Free Speech to Big Tech

      When Trump signed the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) last November, he said that this was “the most advanced trade deal in the world with ambitious provisions on the digital economy”—and he wasn’t lying. The USMCA has effectively replaced the North American Free Trade Agreement that was signed by Canada, Mexico and the US under the Clinton administration in 1994. This redraft, however, does not look like its predecessor in scope or political aims and dangerously treads upon the freedom of speech guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and Article 6 of Mexico’s Constitution in addition to all three countries’ accession to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

      To understand what has happened here, we need to examine the Communications Decency Act of 1996 (CDA, also known as Title V of the Telecommunications Act of 1996). Section 230 states: “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider” (47 U.S.C. § 230). What this means is that the host which acts as an online intermediary by republishing our speech is protected against a series of laws that would otherwise hold them accountable and legally responsible for what we post online as individuals. Those protected under this section are every entity from our ISPs to the platforms upon which we publish, be it Twitter, Instagram, Google, and any online service that publishes third-party content.

      While there are certain exceptions for mostly criminal content and anything related to intellectual property, the CDA 230 created a wide range of protections allowing for free speech online. This translates to if The Guardian publishes a defamatory piece about me, I could sue this newspaper for libel. But if The Guardian tweets the very same claims, Twitter would not be held legally accountable for libel. One caveat to CDA 230, however, is that this bill had been wrongly interpreted to shield websites that participate in sex trafficking from any criminal liability. So, last year an important piece of legislation removed this loophole, the bipartisan “Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act,” H.R. 1865, 115th Congress (2018), provides websites immunity for content posted by third parties with the exclusion of sex trafficking. Additionally, two to bills with online provisions were passed into law—one in the House known as FOSTA (the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act) and the Senate bill, SESTA, (Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act)—have held big tech responsible for child pornography and human trafficking.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Facebook may not collect or combine personal data using “forced consent”, says German competition authority

      It would be an understatement to say that Facebook is under intense scrutiny at the moment. Mostly this has come from data protection authorities in the EU, using the GDPR as a means for challenging Facebook’s business practices. But the attack has just broadened, with Germany’s competition authority, the Bundeskartellamt, issuing a ruling that strikes at the heart of Facebook’s business model.

      Following a three-year investigation, the German competition authority has imposed a number of restrictions on Facebook. In the future, Facebook will no longer be allowed to force its users to agree to the practically unrestricted collection and assigning of non-Facebook data to their Facebook user accounts. By combining data from its own site and from many others around the Internet, Facebook is able to build a uniquely powerful database for each individual user, and thus to gain market power. That market power is why the competition authority has intervened.

    • A Line in the Sand

      At the time I wrote that, I assumed that the GDPR would clear paths for work already moving forward within all 13 items on that muggle-liberating punch list. Alas, the GDPR’s single positive achievement so far has been shaking things up. That’s it. The worst thing the GDPR has done is encourage surveillance capitalists to keep doing the same damn things, only now with the “consent” of “data subjects” clicking “agree” to misleading cookie notices everywhere.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • HATE-FEST IN WARSAW

      The point of this cynical exercise was to lay the diplomatic groundwork for an anti-Iranian coalition to act as a fig-leaf for an upcoming attack on Iran planned by President Donald Trump and his close ally, Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu.

      The real question is who is calling the shots in bleak Warsaw, Trump or Bibi Netanyahu? It seems to many that the Israeli tail is again wagging the American dog.

      This is thanks to the power of America’s born-again evangelicals, hoodwinked into believing that a Greater Israel is somehow a key part of the Second Coming of Christ.

      A Fox News poll this week finds that a quarter of these credulous folks believe that God actually summoned Donald Trump to become president. This may even be more than the number of Americans who believe that Elvis is still alive. More proof that the Republicans have pretty much become a theological party.

      The three horseman of the hard right Republican Apocalypse, Vice president Mike Pence, Insecurity advisor John Bolton, and State Secretary Mike Pompeo (who reportedly keeps an open bible on his desk) joined their voices to the Warsaw jamboree to excoriate Iran for being a ‘sponsor of terrorism,’ and a danger to world peace and stability.

    • Former Congressman Anthony Weiner Released From Prison

      Disgraced former Congressman Anthony Weiner has been released from federal prison after being convicted of having illicit online contact with a 15-year-old girl in 2017.

      The Federal Bureau of Prisons website shows the 54-year-old New York Democrat is currently in the custody of its Residential Re-entry Management office in Brooklyn, N.Y.

      It’s not immediately clear when Weiner was transferred and where he’s staying now, but Weiner will have to register as a sex-offender and spend three years on supervised release under the terms of his sentence.

      The prison bureau, federal prosecutors in New York and Weiner’s lawyer didn’t respond to emails seeking comment Sunday.

    • Smollett Developments Leave Some Baffled, Others Outraged

      The national outrage that simmered after actor Jussie Smollett said he was attacked by people shouting racial and anti-gay slurs was fueled in part by celebrities who spoke out loud and strong on social media.

      But the outrage has now been replaced by surprise, doubt and bafflement as the singers, actors and politicians who came out in support of the “Empire” star struggle to digest the strange twists the case has taken. Some conservative pundits, meanwhile, have gleefully seized on the moment.

      The narrative that just a week ago seemed cut-and-dry has become messy and divisive — and it’s all playing out again on social media.

    • America Has a Lot to Learn From the Roman Empire’s Fall

      And soon enough after September 11th, those unapologetic, implacable demonstrations of will did, in fact, begin — first in Afghanistan and then, a year and a half later, in Iraq. Goaded by Osama bin Laden, the new Rome went into action.

      Of course, in 2019 we have the benefit of hindsight, which Charles Krauthammer, Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, and the rest of that crew didn’t have as they applied their Roman-style vision of an imperial America to the actual world. It should be added, however, that the millions of people who hit the streets globally to protest the coming invasion of Iraq in the winter of 2003 — “How did USA’s oil get under Iraq’s sand?” said a typical protest sign (which Donald Trump would have understood in his own way) — had a far better sense of the world than did their American rulers-to-be. Like the Soviets before them, in fact, they would grievously confuse military power with power on this planet.

      More than 17 years later, the U.S. military remains stuck in Afghanistan, bedeviled in Iraq, and floundering across much of the Greater Middle East and Africa on a planet with a resurgent Russia, and an impressively rising China. One-third of the former axis of evil, Iran, is, remarkably enough, still in Washington’s gunsights, while another third (North Korea) sits uncomfortably in a presidential bear hug. It’s no exaggeration to say that none of the dreams of a new Rome were ever faintly fulfilled. In fact, if you want to think about what’s been truly exceptional in these years, it might be this: never in history has such a great power, at its height, seemed quite so incapable of effectively applying force, military or otherwise, to achieve its imperial ends or bring its targets to heel.

      And yet, wrong as they may have been on such subjects, don’t sell Krauthammer and the rest of that neocon crew short. They were, in their own way, also prophets, at least domestically speaking. After all, Rome, like the United States, had been an imperial republic. That republic was replaced, as its empire grew, by autocratic rule, first by the self-anointed emperor Augustus and then by his successors. Arguably, 18 years after Krauthammer wrote that column, the American republic might be heading down the same path. After all, so many years later, the neocons, triumphantly risen yet again in Washington (both in the administration and as its critics), finally have their Caesar.

      Hail, Donald J. Trump, we who are about to read your latest tweet salute you!

    • If You Hate Campaign Season, Blame Money in Politics

      Amy Klobuchar could’ve waited for the temperature to rise above 15 degrees before launching her 2020 presidential bid. Instead, she chose to risk frostbite and make her pitch in the middle of a snowstorm — all for an election more than 600 days away.
      The Minnesota senator is just one of around a dozen Democrats who’ve already thrown their hats into the presidential ring or hinted they intend to soon.
      What’s the big rush?
      People in other countries think we’re insane for having such long political races. By one count, in the timeframe of the 2016 U.S. election, you could’ve fit about four elections in Mexico, seven in Canada, 14 in the UK, and 41 in France.

    • How the BLM Serves the West’s Welfare Ranchers

      The BLM just released its decision on its proposed Bruneau Owyhee Sage-grouse Habitat Project (BOSH Project) which will degrade 617,000 acres of southern Idaho by logging juniper, creating linear weed patches known as fire breaks, and using other questionable management strategies, all done, we are told in the name of enhancing sage grouse habitat.

      Remarkably the BLM failed to note that livestock grazing is by far and away the biggest factor in sage grouse decline across the West, in part, because of the multiple ways that the livestock production harms the bird. But, of course, seeing its role to pander to the welfare ranchers of the West, the BLM has taken the politically expediate measure of doing more harm in the name of sage grouse.

      The BLM starts out with some questionable assertions. The first is that juniper, a native species, is expanding its range and thus must be eradicated. Any number of studies challenge that assumption. Juniper woodlands tend to burn at intervals of hundreds of years, and in stand replacement blazes. After such blazes, the juniper slowly recolonizes the landscape. Also climate change has led to natural expansion of juniper in some areas. In either case, the presence of juniper is not abnormal or something to be destroyed.

      Instead of even responding to such studies, the BLM relies only on studies by Range Department professors who exist to justify livestock grazing on public lands. These studies start with the incorrect assumption that wildfire was very frequent in sagebrush ecosystems and therefore, also in juniper woodlands, but more recent sagebrush fire studies also find sagebrush burns at long rotations of hundreds of years.

    • A Tale of Two Citations: Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring” and Michael Harrington’s “The Other America”

      More than half a century has passed since Rachel Carson meticulously exposed government and corporate poisoning of the planet with synthetic pesticides. Serialized in the New Yorker in weekly install­ments, Carson’s Silent Spring was officially published as a hard-cover book in September 1962 by Houghton Mifflin Co. for the price of $5. The book, with its wonderful drawings, excoriated the government and corporations for covering the planet with cancer-causing pesticides like DDT, a product of the newly powerful agribusiness and pharmaceutical infrastructure. Many of the pesticides were originally designed as nerve gasses and weapons of war.[i] “Since the earliest origins of modern industrial agriculture, agribusiness has been at war against all life on earth, including ourselves,”[ii] writes Brian Tokar, author of Earth for Sale and Monsanto: Origins of an Agribusiness Behemoth. From its origins, “chemical agriculture has been a form of warfare—it is a war against the soil, against our reserves of fresh water, and against all the microbes and insects that are necessary for the growing of healthy food.”[iii] But in an expansive America following World War II, few were concerned about the mass application of pesticides, which was promoted as part of the promise for securing “the good life” for all. (To actually achieve that, though – if it were possible to be achieved at all – would require powerful social justice movements to overturn the country’s legacy of white supremacy and Jim Crow laws. Millions of people were excluded from partaking in what was portrayed as the American dream, and which remained, for many, the American Nightmare.)

      Carson’s mind-blowing exposé not only revealed the prevalence of chemical pesticides but – and we’ve forgotten this today – also the “secret” that radio­active Strontium 90, a byproduct of above-ground nuclear bomb tests, had tainted the nation’s milk supply. This was shocking information. “No one had ever thought humans could create something that could create harm all over the globe and come back and get in our bodies,” oceanographer Carl Safina told Eliza Griswold, whose story about Rachel Carson appeared in 2012 inThe New York Times Sunday Magazine. [iv] The uproar that followed inspired an army of parents anguishing over the threats of pesticides and radioactive Strontium 90 to the health of their children. Many were women who had worked for the first time in jobs previously “set aside” for men, in support of the anti-Nazi effort during World War II, only to be replaced by male workers reclaiming “their” jobs upon returning from the war. They brought those experiences into organizing a new mass “environmental” movement in the context of the Cold War, and as their children were drilled to “duck and cover” under their desks in case Russia was to order a nuclear bomb attack – more an ideological device than offering practical protection.[v] Would such a mass environmental movement have emerged had there been no perceived external threat to fuse with ongoing ecological disasters? Would so many women have participated had they not first experienced a sort of liberation (at least in part) from traditional family roles through their work in factories during the anti-Nazi effort in World War II? It’s impossible to say. But one thing is true: As a consequence, women’s organizing of the ecology and Ban the Bomb movements, and their participation in factory jobs, shook up the typical or traditional nuclear family structure—a structure neither as typical nor as traditional as we’re led to believe.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • How Tim Berners-Lee’s Inrupt project plans to fix the web

      Tim Berners-Lee wants to change the face of the internet he created. In September 2018, the father of the world wide web announced the launch of startup Inrupt, co-founded with cybersecurity entrepreneur John Bruce, which has as its mission “to restore rightful ownership of data back to every web user.”

      Since 2015, Berners-Lee has been working on a new web infrastructure called Solid, which rethinks how web apps store and share personal data. Inrupt aims to drive the development of the Solid platform and transform it from an innovative idea to a viable platform for businesses and consumers. “My group in the CSAIL [Computer Sciences and Artifical Intelligence Laboratory] Lab at MIT had been working on Solid for some years,” Berners-Lee says. “The initial goal of Inrupt is to add the energy and resources of a startup to the open-source efforts to make the Solid movement happen.”

      Over the past three decades, the web has evolved into something very different to Berners-Lee’s original vision of openness, co-operation and creativity. Most of the data we put online is now siloed on the servers of companies like Google, Facebook and Twitter, and used to sell us as an audience for targeted advertising. We can download and delete our online histories, but we still can’t easily move our data between services. “Innovation and value creation are choked by powerful forces whose focus is primarily on what generates profit or serves political agendas,”says John Bruce, who takes the role of CEO at Inrupt (Berners-Lee is CTO).

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Foreign Meaning Matters: Brauneis and Moerland on Trademark’s Doctrine of Foreign Equivalents

      I was enjoying some siggi’s® yogurt, and noticed, just below the trademark name siggi’s®, an interesting piece of trivia: “skyr, that’s Icelandic for thick yogurt!” You learn something new every day.

      Robert Brauneis and Anke Moerland’s recent article argues that it would not be good policy to allow the company that distributes siggi’s ® yogurt to trademark the name SKYR for yogurt in the United States, even though most people in the United States do not currently know what the word “skyr” means. In short, they argue that when reviewing trademarks for purposes of distinctiveness, the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) and the courts should translate foreign terms that are generic or merely descriptive in their home country, because allowing such marks would cause unexpected harms for competition.

      This is a fascinating paper that warrants serious thinking, and perhaps re-thinking, of how trademark law currently treats foreign terms.

      What’s the harm, we might ask? If a US company wants to sell thick yogurt under the trademark SKYR, and virtually no one in the US knows what SKYR means, surely this should be classified as fanciful (inherently distinctive) and receive strong protection. At least this would be the answer provided by a typical “doctrine of foreign equivalents” analysis.

    • Copyrights

      • EU copyright directive moves into critical final stage

        In September 2018 the European Parliament voted to approve drastic changes to copyright law that would negatively affect creativity, freedom of expression, research, and sharing across the EU. Over the last few months the Parliament, Commission, and Council (representing the Member State governments) were engaged in secret talks to come up with a reconciled version of the copyright directive text.

        The closed-door “trilogue” negotiations are now complete and a final compromise has been reached. The text is not yet published but MEP Julia Reda has shared unofficial versions of Article 13 (upload filters) and Article 11 (press publishers right). Both of these carried through with no major improvements on behalf of user rights and the public interest.

      • NJ AG: Takedown notice that led to new gun-file lawsuit came from Slovakia—not us

        Last week, it appeared that Defense Distributed’s battle against the State of New Jersey over a recently enacted “ghost gun” law had new life. This week, a filing from the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office puts one of the new lawsuit’s inciting incidents into question.

        In a February 12 letter (PDF) to District of New Jersey Judge Anne Thompson, NJ Assistant AG Glenn J. Moramarco writes that a recent takedown notice submitted to Cloudflare and aimed at the website CodeIsFreeSpeech was faked.

        “A key document supporting Plaintiff’s TRO application—a ‘takedown notice’ purportedly sent by [New Jersey AG's Division of Criminal Justice] to CloudFlare, Inc., which hosts one of the plaintiff’s websites, CodeIsFreeSpeech.com—was not in fact issued by DCJ,” the NJ AG’s office writes in the filing. “[It] appears to have been issued by some entity impersonating the Attorney General’s Office.”

António Campinos Still Needs to Hold Team Battistelli Accountable for Illegally Bringing Weapons to the EPO

Posted in Europe, Patents at 2:31 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Recent: António Campinos Will Never Hold Battistelli Accountable for His Crimes Because He Too Profits From These

EPO IS CORRUPT, SO WHY NOT BRING WEAPONS TOO?

Summary: It is imperative that, in order to repair the reputation of the European Patent Office (EPO), António Campinos should pursue accountability for the managers who brought Benalla and firearms to the Office (very serious breach of German law, jail sentence included)

Related/background:

02.17.19

Links 17/2/2019: Compiz 0.9.14.0, Geary 0.13.0, GNU FreeDink 109.6, Debian 9.8, Texinfo 6.6

Posted in News Roundup at 1:51 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • Here’s what Linux backup and restore for Chromebooks looks like, expected in Chrome OS 74

      A few weeks ago I pointed out a new feature targeted for Chrome OS 74: A native way to backup and restore Linux apps and data on Chromebooks that support Project Crostini. Since then, the Chromium team has made a big push to nail down the functionality in advance of the Chrome OS 74 feature freeze date, which is February 22: Aside from the code to support backups and restores, there was a slew of interface work done this week.

  • Server

    • The Rise of Bare-Metal Kubernetes Servers

      While most instances of Kubernetes today are deployed on virtual machines running in the cloud or on-premises, there is a growing number of instances of Kubernetes being deployed on bare-metal servers.

      The two primary reasons for opting to deploy Kubernetes on a bare- metal server over a virtual machine usually are performance and reliance on hardware accelerators. In the first instance, an application deployed at the network edge might be too latency-sensitive to tolerate the overhead created by a virtual machine. AT&T, for example, is working with Mirantis to deploy Kubernetes on bare-metal servers to drive 5G wireless networking services.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

  • Kernel Space

    • Bitmain SoC Support Coming To Linux 5.1 – Sophon ARMv8 + RISC-V Chip For Deep Learning

      Queued for mainlining with the upcoming Linux 5.1 kernel cycle is initial support for Bitmain SoCs. Bitmain is the Chinese company that started out designing ASICs for Bitcoin mining with the Antminer and other products. The company has also been venturing into designs for artificial intelligence and deep learning.

      With the upcoming Linux 5.1 kernel will be initial support for Bitmain’s BM1880 System-on-a-Chip as well as the “Sophon Edge” developer board.

    • Linux Foundation

      • Samsung SDS Reveals Blockchain Accelerator Tech Following Hyperledger Testing

        The IT arm of South Korean technical school large Samsung proclaimed it had developed technology to hurry up blockchain transactions, the corporate confirmed in an exceedingly promulgation on Feb fourteen. Presenting at the continued IBM suppose 2019 conference in point of entry, Samsung SDS aforesaid its new technology, Nexledger Accelerator, had already passed testing with Hyperledger material.

        “In order to boost dealing process speed, that could be a key thought in applying blockchain technology, Samsung SDS has developed its own Nexledger Accelerator, which may be applied to Hyperledger material,” the promulgation explained:

      • Samsung SDS, IBM collaborate to strengthen Open Source Hyperledger Fabric

        During IBM THINK 2019, IBM’s annual conference focused on technology and business, Samsung SDS announced it is continuing its collaboration with IBM in support of advancing Hyperledger Fabric, an open source cross-industry blockchain technology, with recent code contributions, research, and a new white paper.
        As a contributor to Hyperledger Fabric, Samsung SDS is working to improve fabric capabilities and actively contributing its new “Accelerator” code to the open source community. The new code is expected to significantly improve Hyperledger Fabric performance for specific use cases.

      • Samsung SDS and IBM Collaborate to Strengthen Open Source Hyperledger Fabric and Blockchain Ecosystems
      • IBM Blockchain Platform now live in Melbourne

        IBM has made its blockchain platform available out of the IBM data centre in Melbourne, allowing customers to run their applications on the company’s cloud and abide by data sovereignty requirements.

      • Hyundai Commercial Partners With IBM to Accelerate Blockchain Development
      • Linux Foundation Revives Mapzen, an Alternative to Giants

        Mapzen, an open source mapping platform praised in civic tech circles and used in certain local government projects, is back.

        More accurately, it never really left. The project officially shut down a year ago, but since it was open-source, people kept using it.

        Now, the Linux Foundation — a vanguard of open-sourcing — is taking on Mapzen as a project, giving current and prospective Mapzen users more clarity about who owns the intellectual property and how they can use it.

      • Open Mainframe Project Advances Modern Mainframe with Production-Ready Zowe 1.0

        The Open Mainframe Project (OMP) has announced that Zowe, an open source software framework for the mainframe, is now production-ready less than 6 months after launching.

        Hosted by The Linux Foundation, the Open Mainframe Project is comprised of business and academic leaders within the mainframe community that collaborate to develop shared tool sets and resources. OMP launched Zowe, an open source project based on z/OS, last August to serve as an integration platform for the next generation of tools for administration, management and development on z/OS mainframes.

      • Develop on the Mainframe like any other cloud platform with Zowe

        Hosted by The Linux Foundation, the Open Mainframe Project is comprised of business and academic leaders within the mainframe community that collaborates to develop shared toolsets and resources. OMP launched Zowe, the first-ever open source project based on z/OS, last August to serve as an integration platform for the next generation of tools for administration, management and development on z/OS mainframes.

        Zowe 1.0 consists of core technologies enabling modern interfaces for web applications on z/OS, a new command line interface and expansion of platform REST API capabilities. This makes the z/OS environment more “cloud-like” and aims to improve integration in h

      • Open Mainframe Project Advances Modern Mainframe with Production Ready Zowe 1.0

        Hosted by The Linux Foundation, the Open Mainframe Project is comprised of business and academic leaders within the mainframe community that collaborate to develop shared tool sets and resources. OMP launched Zowe, the first-ever open source project based on z/OS, last August to serve as an integration platform for the next generation of tools for administration, management and development on z/OS mainframes.

      • Zowe 1.0 released, Microsoft joins OpenChain, new Raspberry Pi store, and more news
      • Zowe 1.0 released for the modern mainframe

        The Open Mainframe Project has announced that after six months of development Zowe is now production ready. Zowe is an open-source mainframe framework that strengthens integrations with modern enterprise applications.

        By providing interoperability and offering new web technologies, Zowe is designed to enable developers to use familiar open-source tools to access mainframe resources and services.

      • Sony Pictures unveils the Open-Source Software used for making Into the Spider-Verse

        The acclaimed Sony Pictures Imageworks contributed the software tool used to curate the best of Sony Pictures movies. The movies such as Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Alice in Wonderland, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs to a major open source community.

        Sony Pictures used OpenColorIO for managing color during the process of production. OpenColorIO has become the second project of the software in the Academy Software Foundation. The foundation is an industry association across the industry the the Open Source Linux Foundation is working on.

        The acclaimed Sony Pictures Imageworks contributed the software tool used to curate the best of Sony Pictures movies. The movies such as Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Alice in Wonderland, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs to a significant open source community.

      • OpenColorIO tool from Into the Spider-Verse now open-source

        The OpenColorIO tool from Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is now available as an open-source program.

    • Graphics Stack

      • RADV Driver Gets Big Patch Series For 8-bit & 16-bit Arithmetic, 8-bit Storage

        A set of 38 patches have been sent out that wire in support for the VK_KHR_shader_float16_int8, VK_AMD_gpu_shader_half_float, VK_AMD_gpu_shader_int16, and VK_KHR_8bit_storage extensions to the RADV driver within Mesa.

        Rhys Perry who started contributing to the Nouveau driver stack has been working on this 8-bit and 16-bit arithmetic support for the Radeon Vulkan “RADV” driver. These 8-bit / 16-bit extensions work for AMD Volcanic Islands GPUs and newer. However, the half-floats support needs LLVM 8.0 or newer due to bugs on LLVM 7.

      • BACO Power Savings Support Comes To AMD’s Vega 12

        The latest addition to AMD’s open-source Linux kernel driver is supporting BACO on Vega 12.

        With the upcoming Linux 5.1 kernel cycle, BACO is enabled for Vega 10 and Vega 20. BACO is short for Bus Active, Chip Off as a low-power mode whereby most of the GPU is shut-off during idle periods in order to drastically cut the power consumption of the graphics card. BACO is also known as AMD ZeroCore Power mode.

      • Improved ETC2 Texture Compression Lands For Older Haswell/Ivybridge GPUs On Linux

        The previously mentioned work on improving ETC2 support for older generations of Intel graphics has now been mainlined for Mesa 19.1.

        This work for the ETC2 texture compression is improving the “fake” support for Intel Gen 7 class graphics, the Ivybridge and Haswell era graphics. This work was done by Igalia to address the lack of native ETC2 coverage on these several year old chips. Following this improved implementation for the fake ETC2 support is also wiring up OES_copy_image support for this extension. ETC2 is the lossy texture compression mandated since OpenGL ES 3.0 and OpenGL 4.3.

      • Freedreno Picks Up OpenGL Compute Support For Adreno A6xx Hardware

        The newest addition to the Freedreno Gallium3D driver for open-source 3D on Qualcomm graphics hardware is enabling OpenGL compute support for A6xx series hardware.

        Freedreno already ships compute support for Adreno A5xx hardware while now for Mesa 19.1 the support has landed for the latest-generation A6xx hardware.

    • Benchmarks

      • Noctua’s NH-U9 TR4-SP3 Is Still The Best 4U EPYC / Threadripper Cooler I’ve Found

        If you are in the market for an AMD Ryzen Threadripper or AMD EPYC heatsink that fits within 4U height requirements, the Noctua NH-U9 TR4-SP3 is still easily the best option available. I’m now running the NH-U9 TR4-SP3 in five different EPYC/Threadripper systems in the racks and they work out splendid.

        I’ve already covered the NH-U9 TR4-SP3 multiple times before, but with having picked up another one of these coolers this past week and being satisfied with the results, just wanted to give another shout-out to Noctua and pass along the latest thermal results. For this latest build, the NH-U9 TR4-SP3 is cooling an EPYC 7351P 16-core / 32-thread CPU that tops out at 3.9GHz.

  • Applications

    • Compiz 0.9.14.0 released

      Compiz 0.9.14.0 has been officially released today.

      Major changes in this release include:

      - Development has switched from Bazaar (back) to Git [1].
      - CCSM has been ported to PyGObject, GTK 3 and Python 3.
      - compizconfig-python has been ported from Pyrex to Cython.
      - Restored the Color Filter plugin by porting it to the new plugin API.
      - Added support for loading configuration from multiple files.
      - Docks and splashscreens now appear focused.
      - Fixed build errors with GCC 8.
      - Removed KDE (4.x) support code.
      - Compiz now needs cmake ≥ 3.10.0 and pkg-config ≥ 0.29.1 to build.
      - gtk-window-decorator now needs libmetacity ≥ 3.22.0 to build.

      Also, some bugs have been fixed. See NEWS [2] for a list of them.

      The tarball for the new release can be downloaded at [3].
      Please report any bugs you have found to our bug tracker [4].

      I would like to thank Alberts Muktupāvels, Marco Trevisan, Auboyneau Vincent,
      Samuel Thibault, Colomban Wendling, Eleni Maria Stea and other people who have
      contributed to this release.

    • Compiz 0.9.14 Released As First Update In Over Two Years

      While Ubuntu may no longer be using Compiz by default as the compositing window manager, the Compiz project is still alive as marked by today’s Compiz 0.9.14.0 release.

      Compiz 0.9.14.0 is the first release for the project in over two years and features the Compiz Config Settings Manager (CCSM) being ported to GTK3 and Python 3, restored the color filter plug-in, support for loading configuration data from multiple files, focus fixes for docks, fixes for building with the GCC 8 compiler, dropping the KDE4 support code, and a variety of other bug fixes and improvements.

    • 4 Excellent Command-line FTP clients

      The desktop environment with its bundle of programs sharing a common graphical user interface (GUI) remains a firm favorite with users. Not surprising really given that a good desktop environment makes computing fun and simple. The graphical desktop environment has become so ingrained in almost everyone’s computer activities that it might seem the command line will wither away. Yet, there is still an important role to play for the powerful command-line interface (CLI).

    • Colorization in GIMP

      As part of the Image team at GREYC lab (CRNS, ENSICAEN, University of Caen), I implemented the “fill by line art” algorithm in GIMP, also known as “Smart Colorization“. You may know this algorithm in G’Mic (developed by the same team), so when they proposed me to work with them, I wanted to implement this algorithm in GIMP core. Thus it became my first assignment.

    • Geary 0.13.0 released!

      Geary 0.13.0 has been released.

    • GNOME’s Geary 0.13 Is A Big Step Forward For This Linux Mail Client

      Geary 0.13 is out today as a big step-up for this GNOME e-mail client for the Linux desktop.

      The Geary 0.13 release features a new UI for creating/managing email accounts, there is finally integration with GNOME Online Accounts, improvements for displaying conversations, better UI/UX work around composing new messages, various bug fixes, security fixes, and other enhancements.

    • Geary 0.13.0 released

      This is a major new release, featuring a number of new features —
      including a new user interface for creating and managing email
      accounts, integration with GNOME Online Accounts (which also provides
      OAuth login support for some services), improvements in displaying
      conversations, composing new messages, interacting with other email
      apps, reporting problems as they occur, and number of important bug
      fixes, server compatibility fixes, and security fixes.

      This latest version is now available for installation from Flathub. See
      the Geary web site for installation details and other installation
      options: https://wiki.gnome.org/Apps/Geary

      Note to maintainers: This version now uses meson for a build system and
      has a number of updated dependencies. Please see meson.build for
      details.

    • Wine-Staging 4.2 Released – Now Less Than 800 Patches Atop Upstream Wine

      Wine 4.2 debuted on Friday and now the latest Wine-Staging release is available that continues carrying hundreds of extra patches re-based atop upstream Wine to provide various experimental/testing fixes and other feature additions not yet ready for mainline Wine.

      Wine-Staging for a while has been carrying above 800 patches and at times even above 900, but with Wine-Staging 4.2 they have now managed to strike below the 800 patch level. It’s not that they are dropping patches, but a lot of the Wine-Staging work has now been deemed ready for mainline and thus merged to the upstream code-base. A number of patches around the Windows Codecs, NTDLL, BCrypt, WineD3D, and other patches have been mainlined thus now coming in at a 798 patch delta.

    • 14 Excellent Free Plotting Tools

      A plotting tool is computer software which helps to analyze and visualize data, often of a scientific nature. Using this type of software, users can generate plots of functions, data and data fits. Software of this nature typically includes additional functionality, such as data analysis functions including curve fitting.

      A good plotting tool is very important for generating professional looking graphics for inclusion in academic papers. However, plotting tools are not just useful for academics, engineers, and scientists. Many users will need to plot graphs for other purposes such as presentations.

      Fortunately, Linux is well endowed with plotting software. There are some heavyweight commercial Linux applications which include plotting functionality. These include MATLAB, Maple, and Mathematica. Without access to their source code, you have limited understanding of how the software functions, and how to change it. The license costs are also very expensive. And we are fervent advocates of open source software. The purpose of this article is to help promote open source plotting tools that are available.

      To provide an insight into the quality of software that is available, we have compiled a list of 14 excellent plotting tools. Many of the applications are very mature. For example, gnuplot has been in development since the mid-1980s.

      The choice of plotting software may depend on which programming language you prefer. For example, if your leaning towards Python, matplotlib is an ideal candidate as it’s written in, and designed specifically for Python. Whereas, if you’re keen on the R programming language, you’ll probably prefer ggplot2, which is one of the most popular R packages. With good reason, it offers a powerful model of graphics that removes a lot of the difficulty in making complex multi-players graphics. R does come with “base graphics” which are the traditional plotting functions distributed with R. But gpplot2 takes graphics to the next level.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Games

      • GNU FreeDink 109.6

        This is the first official announcement for the new 109.x line with updated technologies (SDL2, OpenGL), WebAssembly support and many fixes and improvements.

      • GNU’s RPG/Adventure Game Updated For SDL2, Defaults To OpenGL Rendering

        Of the many free software projects under the GNU umbrella, there aren’t many games. One of the only titles is GNU FreeDink, which is out this weekend with its newest update after several active weeks of development.

      • Ravenfield, the single-player FPS with large-scale battles has a new release out

        More FPS news for you this weekend, with the single-player Ravenfield having another great update out with lots of new toys.

        Early Access build 13 is up and with it comes two huge new maps with River Delta and Citadel, so it now has a total of nine large battles to engage in.

      • The unique FPS ‘Shotgun Farmers’ is leaving Early Access next month

        Shotgun Farmers, by far one of the most unique FPS games I’ve played in a long time is due to leave Early Access soon.

        While the developer, Megastorm Games, isn’t giving an exact date just yet they have made it clear it will be next month. To go along with the news, a small update was released adding in some adjustments to the maps along with support for character emotes.

      • The first Steam Play update for this year is out with Proton 3.16-7 beta

        Valve have pushed out a Steam Play beta update with Proton 3.16-7 now available for testing. Lots of fixes!

        Not quite the huge upgrade many were expecting, most people thought Valve would be pushing ahead with a major update of Wine but this release still seems like a very nice update overall

        Firstly, they’ve updated DXVK to 0.96 and FAudio to 19.02. This should hopefully mean quite a number of games will see improvements and begin working. Additionally, there has been some controller improvements, with Unity specifically mentioned for games like Subnautica and INSIDE.

      • Neon Krieger Yamato Brings a New Breed of Puzzle-Platforming to Linux and Windows PC

        LIONPLEX’s first game looks like a fantastic pickup for anyone who enjoys a wide variety of action-platformers. Neon Krieger Yamato gives you eight playable characters to play as through a wide variety of genres. The genre blending on display is impressive, and uses platformers alongside combat-centric puzzles to bring back touches of the past with its pixel art and also using more detailed art than one would normally see in the early ’90s.

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • Xfce apps – In the land of Tux, where the shadows lie

      Last year, I decided to do a thorough analysis of the KDE and Gnome application stacks, separately, to figure out how complete these two desktop environments really are. I looked at the different application categories, weighed the major advantages and flaws in the popular software, examined some unique entries, and then also talked about what’s missing, the obstacles that keep these environments from being fully independent and 100% user ready, so to speak.

      I’d like to examine Xfce next. After all, this is the third most popular Linux desktop environment, barring forks of the other two, and so it merits its own moment of spotlight. But at the same time, Xfce has never really deliberately prided itself at what it can do and offer. It’s always hung to the back, sort of shying away from publicity, being modest and frugal in all aspects. So when you think about Xfce, you don’t normally think about the application stack. You could say it’s a lightweight, simple desktop, but can you name five pure Xfce programs? Aha. Let’s see.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Latte and a Colors tale…

        A few months ago while I was scratching Latte Dock limits an idea came and haunted my thoughts. How Latte could give the colors freedom for panels and windows that an Android phone already provides? Questions like this arose and solutions appeared suddenly in many different places, but an important and concrete dream prevail in the end.

      • KDE Continues Overhauling System Settings, More Discover Improvements

        Sunday mornings mean another weekly recap of the KDE improvements made, thanks to the great analysis by KDE developer Nathan Graham. While Plasma 5.15 was released this week, the KDE developers are already hard at work on KDE Plasma 5.16.

      • This week in Usability & Productivity, part 58

        The System Settings Window Decorations page has been completely rewritten, bringing it into greater conformance with the modern visual style and fixing a huge number of bugs in the process (Valerio Pilo, KDE Plasma 5.16.0)…

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

      • Sparky Online

        There is a new, small tool available for Sparkers: Sparky Online.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • If companies can run SAP on Linux, they can run any application on it: Ronald de Jong

        “We have had multiple situations with respect to security breaches in the last couple of years, albeit all the open source companies worked together to address the instances. As the source code is freely available even if something goes wrong, SUSE work closely with open source software vendors to mitigate the risk”, Ronald de Jong, President of -Sales, SUSE said in an interview with ET CIO.

      • SUSE Public Cloud Image Life-cycle

        It has been a while since we published the original image life-cycle guidelines SUSE Image Life Cycle for Public Cloud Deployments. Much has been learned since, technology has progressed, and the life-cycle of products has changed. Therefore, it is time to refresh things, update our guidance, and clarify items that have led to questions over the years. This new document serves as the guideline going forward starting February 15th, 2019 and supersedes the original guideline. Any images with a date stamp later than v20190215 fall under the new guideline. The same basic principal as in the original guideline applies, the image life-cycle is aligned with the product life-cycle of the product in the image. Meaning a SLES image generally aligns with the SUSE Linux Enterprise Server life-cycle and a SUSE Manager image generally aligns with the SUSE Manager life-cycle.

    • Fedora

      • Fedora 31 Planning To Use Cgroups V2 By Default

        While the Linux kernel has shipped Cgroups V2 as stable since early 2016, on Fedora and most other Linux distributions it hasn’t been enabled by default over the original control groups “Cgroups” implementation. But come Fedora 31 later this year, they are now planning to make it the default.

        Enabling Cgroups V2 by default will allow systemd and the various Linux container technologies along with libvirt and friends to make use of the new features and improvements over the original Cgroups like offering a unified hierarchy. The new implementation also provides better consistency, purpose-driven flexibility, and other design improvements over the original control groups. It’s taken a while for CGroups V2 to become the default due to interface changes compared to V1 and all of the important containers/tooling needing to be adapted to make use of it.

      • Fedora Infrastructure Detective Work: Mirrorlist 503′s

        The Fedora Project Mirrorlist system has evolved multiple times in the last 10 years. Originally written by Matt Domsch it underwent an update and rewrite by Adrian Reber, et al a couple of years ago. For many years Fedora used a server layout where the front end web servers would proxy the data over VPN to dedicated mirrorlist servers. While this made sense when systems were a bit slower compared to VPN latency, it had become more troublesome over the last couple of years.

    • Debian Family

      • Updated Debian 9: 9.8 released

        The Debian project is pleased to announce the eighth update of its stable distribution Debian 9 (codename “stretch”). This point release mainly adds corrections for security issues, along with a few adjustments for serious problems. Security advisories have already been published separately and are referenced where available.

        Please note that the point release does not constitute a new version of Debian 9 but only updates some of the packages included. There is no need to throw away old “stretch” media. After installation, packages can be upgraded to the current versions using an up-to-date Debian mirror.

        Those who frequently install updates from security.debian.org won’t have to update many packages, and most such updates are included in the point release.

      • Debian 9.8 Released With Latest Security Fixes
      • Debian GNU/Linux 9.8 Released with over 180 Security Updates and Bug Fixes

        The Debian Project announced today the general availability of the eighth point release to the Debian GNU/Linux 9 “Stretch” operating system series.

        Coming only a month after the Debian GNU/Linux 9.7 emergency release that, which included only an important security update for the APT package manager, the Debian GNU/Linux 9.8 point release is here as an up-to-date install media that contains numerous security and bug fixes, offering users a way to install the Debian GNU/Linux 9 “Stretch” operating system series without having to download hundreds of updates from the official software repositories.

      • Debian 9.8 released : Desktop environments and power settings

        Debian 9.8 – the latest update to Debian Stretch – was released yesterday. Updated installation media can be found at the Debian CD Netnstall page, for example, at As part of the testing, I was using a very old i686 laptop which powers down at random intervals because the battery is old. It tends to suspend almost immediately. I found that the power management settings for the Cinnamon desktop were hart to find: using a Mate disktop allowed me to find the appropriate settings in the Debian menu layout much more easily Kudos to Steve McIntyre and Andy Simpkins (amongst others) for such a good job producing and testing the Debian CDs

      • Steve Kemp: Updated myy compiler, and bought a watch.
      • David Moreno: Dell XPS 13 9380

        Got myself a XPS 13” 9380 that Dell just released as “Developer Edition” with Ubuntu 18.04 LTS pre-installed. They just released it on January 2019.

        Ubuntu didn’t last long though. I prefer OS X Mojave than any of the Ubuntu installations. It’s okay though, it’s just not for me.

      • Ben Hutchings: Debian LTS work, January 2019

        I was assigned 20 hours of work by Freexian’s Debian LTS initiative and carried over 5 hours from December. I worked 24 hours and so will carry over 1 hour.

        I prepared another stable update for Linux 3.16 (3.16.63), but did not upload a new release yet.

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Canonical releases second point release for Ubuntu 18.04 LTS

            Canonical, the company behind the popular Linux distribution Ubuntu, has announced the general availability of Ubuntu 18.04.2 LTS. This is the second such point release since Ubuntu 18.04 was launched in April last year.

            If you currently run Ubuntu 18.04 and want to use the new software, there’s no need to download the newly spun ISO images, instead just apply any available updates from the update manager. You shouldn’t notice anything different as these point releases are really just about bundling newer security patches so you don’t have to install them manually on a clean installation.

          • Ubuntu 18.04.2 LTS Is Here With New Hardware Enablement Stack

            Canonical has finally released the second point release of its Ubuntu 18.04 Bionic Beaver LTS operating system. Ubuntu 18.04.2 follows Ubuntu 18.04.1 LTS, which arrived last year in July.

            As expected, this version has been made available for Desktop, Server, and Cloud platforms, along with different official flavors like Kubuntu, Lubuntu, Ubuntu Budgie, Ubuntu Kylin, Ubuntu MATE, and Xubuntu.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Lubuntu 18.04.2 has been released!

              Lubuntu is an official Ubuntu flavor which uses the Lightweight X11 Desktop Environment (LXDE). The project’s goal is to provide a lightweight yet functional Linux distribution based on a rock solid Ubuntu base. Lubuntu specifically targets older machines with lower resources, but also runs great on newer hardware. Along with a simple but usable graphical user interface, Lubuntu comes with a wide variety of applications chosen for their small footprint so you can browse, email, chat, play, and be productive.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Call for Oman Free and Open Source Software Platform

    The participants of the Free and Open Source Software Conference 2019 commended the efforts of government agencies and academic institutions in supporting free and open source software in the Sultanate.

    It was recommended to strengthen these efforts and raise awareness of this software in various educational institutions and in public and private institutions.

    The participants commended the good organisation of the conference and its success and they called for its continuation every two years to increase awareness of free and open source software and its role in modern digital technologies to keep up with the developments during the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

    They also commended the Oman Free and Open Source Software Platform, which was announced at the opening of the conference.

  • ‘IT localisation vital for future’

    Under the theme of “FOSS as Driver for Technology Transfer, Innovation & Entrepreneurship”, the fourth edition of the Free and Open Source Conference FOSSC was launched yesterday at Sultan Qaboos University (SQU) Conference Hall under the patronage of Dr. Abdulmounim bin Mansoor Al Hassani, Minister of Information and in the presence of academics, researchers and students along with international guests.

    The two-day conference, the first-of-its-kind in the Mena region, is jointly organised by the Communication and Information Research centre (CIRC) at SQU and the Information Technology Authority (ITA), represented by the Digital Society Development Division to support the Free and Open Source Initiative (FOSS).

  • Uber Introduces AresDB: GPU-Powered, Open-Source, Real-Time Analytics Engine

    Uber recently introduced AresDB, an open-source real-time analytics engine leveraging an unconventional power source – graphics processing units (GPUs) – for meeting the growing demands of analysis at scale and at the same time unifying, simplifying and improving Uber’s existing solutions.

  • New open-source project introduces code-free deep learning approach

    Uber’s AI engineering team wants to make deep learning more accessible with the open-source release of Ludwig. The deep learning toolbox based on TensorFlow aims to give users the ability to train and test deep learning models without having to write any code.

    “Ludwig is unique in its ability to help make deep learning easier to understand for non-experts and enable faster model improvement iteration cycles for experienced machine learning developers and researchers alike. By using Ludwig, experts and researchers can simplify the prototyping process and streamline data processing so that they can focus on developing deep learning architectures rather than data wrangling,” the Uber AI team wrote in a post.

  • Good old Ludwig makes deep learning code-free

    Ride sharing company Uber’s AI department open sourced project Ludwig to get those into deep learning, that don’t necessarily want to write code.

    The toolbox has been in the making for two years and though there are no coding skills required to train a model, experienced users should have ways of influencing the process. It was developed to simplify model building and comparing while keeping it more generic than other well known machine learning libraries such as OpenCV or Facebook’s PyText.

  • Uber releases Ludwig, an open source AI toolkit that simplifies training deep learning models for non-experts

    Uber released a new, open source Deep Learning toolbox called Ludwig, yesterday, to make training and testing of the deep learning models easier for non-experts. “By using Ludwig, experts and researchers can simplify the prototyping process and streamline data processing so that they can focus on developing deep learning architectures rather than data wrangling”, states the Uber team.

    Uber had been working on developing Ludwig for the past two years to simplify the use of Deep Learning models in projects. Uber has used the toolkit for several of its own projects such as its Customer Obsession Ticket Assistant (COTA), information extraction from driver licenses, food delivery time prediction, etc. Ludwig comes with a set of model architectures that can be combined to develop an end-to-end model for a given use case.

  • Uber releases Ludwig, an open source AI ‘toolbox’ built on top of TensorFlow

    Want to dive earnestly into artificial intelligence (AI) development, but find the programming piece of it intimidating? Not to worry — Uber has your back. The ride-hailing giant today debuted Ludwig, an open source “toolbox” built on top of Google’s TensorFlow framework that allows users to train and test AI models without having to write code.

  • Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst: How Open Source Stopped Being ‘Scary’

    Jim Whitehurst had a nice job as chief operating officer of Delta Airlines in 2008, when he switched career tracks to take a position as CEO of Red Hat. Since then, he’s been at the forefront of a historical shift in the technology industry, as open source has made the transition from maverick and dangerous — a “scary, cult-like thing,” in Whitehurst’s own words — to mainstream.

    Nothing makes mainstream business sit up and take notice like money, and by that measure, Red Hat Inc. (NYSE: RHT) has turned the business world upside down not once but at least twice. The company went public in 1999 for a market cap of nearly $5 billion a day after its debut.

    Last year, IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) announced its pending acquisition of Red Hat for $34 billion, which would see Red Hat continue to operate as an independent business unit under the Red Hat umbrella, with Whitehurst remaining in charge. (See How Red Hat Could Give IBM’s Telco Strategy a New Lease of Life and IBM-Red Hat: A Crazy Plan That Might Work.)

  • Leading Organizations Accelerate Innovation and Business Value Across Hybrid Clouds with Red Hat Integration and Container Technologies
  • IBM’s Code and Response is open source tech for natural disasters

    “To take a huge leap forward in effective disaster response, we must tap into the global open source ecosystem to generate sustainable solutions we can scale and deploy in the field. But we cannot do it alone,” said Lord.

  • Q&A with IBM Cloud’s Jason McGee: Leveraging open source to make multicloud easier

    The storage and processing options available in a hybrid computing world have created new accessibility in cloud computing, but businesses still need supportive technologies to streamline the bridge between multiple disparate data environments.

    To ensure organizations can actually take advantage of the multicloud opportunity, Jason McGee (pictured), IBM fellow, vice president and chief technology officer of IBM Cloud Platform, is working to develop that bridge through open-source container-based technology.

  • IBM renews code challenge to stress-test open source projects

    IBM’s latest developer outreach seeks to rebuild lives with ones and zeros as it helps organizations prevent, manage and respond to natural disasters.

    IBM and the Linux Foundation issued the Call for Code challenge in May 2018, a five-year, $30 million pledge to fund developer tools, technologies and training to help prevent and manage natural disasters. Their follow-up effort, the Code and Response initiative unveiled here at IBM Think 2019, aims to put those technologies into practice.

  • IBM CEO And Friends Open Up About Open Source: ‘Everything That Can Be Open Source, We’d Prefer To Be Open Source’

    Moderating a panel of industry and foundation thought leaders at the IBM THINK 2019 conference, Ginny Rometty probed how open source is revolutionizing software development, and why large companies need to play a role in sustaining that innovation

  • Four Hundred Monitor, February 11

    The cloud is booming for IBM, which has recently said it has closed $3 billion in cloud deals already this year. The latest deal is covered in the first Top Story below, and Big Blue has got to be big happy to see the its cloud investments paying off. IBM also had more news on the AI front, revealing plans for a new AI research hub in New York. Now is a good time for you to start thinking about investing in yourself. There are plenty of good opportunities listed in our Chats, Webinars, Seminars, Shows, and Other Happenings section below, including webinars that require no travel, or conferences like COMMON where you will be able to find the team from IT Jungle this year in Anaheim.

  • Planting a flag in hybrid cloud through open source at IBM Think 2019

    Over the past year, IBM has made clear its intention to evolve in support of a transformed digital enterprise market. 2018 saw the company reach a few notable benchmarks in its multi-year digital transformation, including its promising first signs of revenue growth in more than 20 quarters. IBM’s cloud business grew 12 percent to a total $19.2 billion in 2018, expanding the company’s gross profit margin to 49.1 percent.

    [...]

    Projects like the AI OpenScale platform for bias identification and the Nvidia Corp.-backed converged system for greater value extraction in AI workloads illustrate the potential IBM has to offer in a market where AI is only becoming more relevant.

    Key to IBM’s reinvigorated cloud and AI strategy is its acquisition of open-source provider Red Hat Inc. The $34-billion grab is a historic one for IBM, signifying a tangible pivot to microservices and hybrid cloud. The containerization software now available to IBM via Red Hat and its flagship offering OpenShift gives the company relevance within a new developer audience through its direct line to Kubernetes, a significant force in hybrid cloud simplicity.

    The newly acquired asset is intended to bolster cross-platform processes through IBM Cloud Private, a service that delivers digital infrastructure and AI data analytics to various custom enterprise environments.

  • Tomorrow is Good: #Freethemodels: we need open source energy models

    The transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy is arguably the biggest operation in human history. But it’s increasingly based on secret models with a bad track record. That has to change!

    For me, this journey started in 2007 (Dutch link). I was doing some research in my spare time and it struck me that solar, wind and electric vehicles were on course to become cheaper than fossil alternatives. What struck me even more, was that the predictions of ‘authoritative’ institutions like the International Energy Agency and the Energy Information Administration seemed to ignore this development. At first, it seemed unrelated to my work in computers, the Internet and mobile phones. Then I realized the similarity: I had been ‘fighting’ with ‘trusted experts’ in Telecom for the past 15 years. They had been denying the future of PCs, the Internet and mobile phones all through my career. The lesson I take from this: experts of the old cannot fathom the new.

  • Google open-sources PlaNet, an AI agent that learns about the world from images

    Reinforcement learning — a machine learning training technique that uses rewards to drive AI agents toward certain goals — is a reliable means of improving said agents’ decision-making, given plenty of compute, data, and time. But it’s not always practical; model-free approaches, which aim to get agents to directly predict actions from observations about their world, can take weeks of training.

    Model-based reinforcement learning is a viable alternative — it has agents come up with a general model of their environment they can use to plan ahead. But in order to accurately forecast actions in unfamiliar surroundings, those agents have to formulate rules from experience. Toward that end, Google in collaboration with DeepMind today introduced the Deep Planning Network (PlaNet) agent, which learns a world model from image inputs and leverages it for planning. It’s able to solve a variety of image-based tasks with up to 5,000 percent the data efficiency, Google says, while maintaining competitiveness with advanced model-free agents.

  • eLife invests in Texture to provide open-source content production tools for publishers

    Originally created by Substance Software GmbH (Substance) as a JavaScript library of tools for web-based content editing, Texture has been supported by a community of organisations collectively known as the Substance Consortium and including Érudit, the Public Knowledge Project (PKP) and SciELO. eLife has now invested in Texture’s development to support its own open-source publishing platform, but – as with the organisation’s other open-source projects – any new features will be added to the tool in such a way that they can be repurposed by other publishers.

  • SD Times Open-Source Project of the Week: Principled GraphQL

    GraphQL is quickly becoming the preferred approach for working with APIs. It is a query language for APIs, and is designed to give users more insight and understanding into the data inside their APIs.

    According to GraphQL platform provider Apollo, it’s also so much more than a query language. “It’s a comprehensive solution to the problem of connecting modern apps to services in the cloud. As such, it forms the basis for a new and important layer in the modern application development stack: the data graph. This new layer brings all of a company’s app data and services together in one place, with one consistent, secure, and easy-to-use interface, so that anyone can draw upon it with minimal friction,” the company wrote.

  • Open source your automation testing for the mobile web with OpenTest

    Testing is a crucial part of the development cycle. How else will we find out if that cool new idea actually works in practice? Entering a crowded field, OpenTest offers developers a new tool for standardizing functional tests across a wide variety of platforms and teams.

    OpenTest is an open source functional test automation tool for web applications, mobile apps and APIs. With a wide variety of features and a focus on mainstream testing practices, OpenTest gives developers a spectacular foundation to evaluate their applications for the mobile web. What’s more, it is an easy to use tool for beginners as well as experts.

  • Facebook Open-Sources PyText NLP Modeling Framework

    Facebook AI Research is open-sourcing PyText, a natural-language-processing (NLP) modeling framework that is used in the Portal video-calling device and M Suggestions in Facebook Messenger.

    NLP is a technology for parsing and handling human languages and is a key component of chatbot or smart-assistant applications. Engineers developing NLP algorithms often turn to deep-learning systems to build their solutions, such as Facebook’s PyTorch platform. PyText builds on top of PyTorch by providing a set of interfaces and models specifically tuned for NLP. Internally, Facebook is using PyText to power NLP in their Portal video-calling device and in their Messenger app’s M Suggestion feature.

  • Fasttoken Is Making Its Codes Open Source

    One of the most common problems facing the Ethereum blockchain is scaling. While Ethereum has seen its fair share of proposed scaling solutions, state channels appear to be the best solution so far. State channels are a form of block communication that occurs outside of the blockchain and can be used to support greater scalability. And that’s not in the distant future – state channels are already available.

  • Novel Software May Help Detect Heart Diseases: Study

    Researchers have developed a new software that could spot potentially lethal heart diseases and may lead to improvements in prevention and treatment, says a new study.

    The software – ElectroMap – which measures electrical activity in the organ, is a new open-source software for processing, analysis and mapping complex cardiac data.

  • This new software reads cardiac data, can predict risk of heart disease

    The ElectroMap software is an open-source software for processing, analysis and mapping complex cardiac data, said experts at the University of Birmingham Dubai.

    The heart’s pumping ability is controlled by electrical activity that triggers the heart muscle cells to contract and relax.

    In certain heart diseases such as arrhythmia, the organ’s electrical activity is affected.

    Cardiac researchers can already record and analyse the heart’s electrical behaviour using optical and electrode mapping, but widespread use of these technologies is limited by a lack of appropriate software, according to the study published in the journal Scientific Reports.

  • Gadgetbridge is an open-source replacement for the Android app of Pebble, Mi Band, Amazfit, and other smart bands

    Purchasing a Smart Band or a smart wrist-based fitness tracker means that you not only purchase a product, but you also purchase yourself into an ecosystem of services controlled by the manufacturer. The functionality that is present on your smart band flows to you through the manufacturer, meaning that your data always goes through one extra pair of hands than is required. For most smart bands, you have to create an account with the manufacturer and continue tracking your activity and data through the manufacturer’s app — something that may not appeal to everyone in this privacy-conscious world. Enter Gadgetbridge, an open-source app that focuses on removing the manufacturer out of the equation.

  • The Pros and Cons of Open Source Cloud Computing

    Open source software is becoming increasingly more common in the technology world. True to its name, the underlying base of open source software is available for its users to study and tinker with. As such, dedicated userbases for open source technology have propped up to provide resources, updates, and technical help for open source programs.

  • You Can Now Use Open-Source Machine Learning Tools In Your Ableton Sessions

    Despite having become buzzwords in music technology over the last few years, it has often felt like “artificial intelligence” and “machine learning” were experiments taking place in secluded computer labs or only with established musicians. The tools that promised to revolutionize the way we make music never seemed to trickle down to the “we” of your regular bedroom producer.

    Magenta Studio might be set to change all that. Developed by the Google AI team and first showed at Ableton Loop in Los Angeles last year, Magenta is now available standalone and on Ableton (both Mac and Windows), giving you the chance to experiment with the powerful data analysis that machine learning provides.

  • 5 Open-source ML Tools You Can Use Without Coding

    As the demand for machine learning and artificial intelligence goes up, leading tech giants realised the need to give developers access to tools to build and deploy models. From the industrial perspective, there aren’t enough skilled programmers and data scientists within the industry to develop these systems. Tech giants are now open sourcing their platforms and developer tools to lower the barrier for entry in AI/ML.

    In this article, we list down 5 such tools that are making ML and AI accessible:

    Lobe:Lobe is an easy-to-use visual mechanism that lets users to build custom deep learning models, promptly train them, and ship them immediately in a user desired app without writing any code. Users can begin by dragging in a folder of training examples from there desktop. Lobe automatically builds its users a custom deep learning model and starts training. User can export the trained model and ship it directly in their app.

  • Healthcare Design Studio Publishes Open Source Health Finance Visualization

    “The Healthscape visualization serves two purposes. The first is to provide the public and professionals interested in the healthcare space a way to increase understanding and explore how all the pieces fit together. The second is to give providers, patient advocacy groups, health policymakers, and health economists a visual communication tool to discuss issues at the higher health systems level,” said Juhan Sonin, director of GoInvo.

  • HUAWEI’s open source WATCH GT smartwatch is coming to America

    The company is hoping American consumers will also be interested in its wearables, as today, it reveals the previously announced HUAWEI WATCH GT is finally coming to America. While not the company’s first smartwatch to hit the USA, it is definitely the most intriguing. It runs an open source operating system called LiteOS, and battery life can apparently reach two weeks. No, that is not a typo — two weeks! It focuses heavily on health — it can monitor fitness and sleep. Best of all, it is compatible with both iOS and Android, so it won’t lock you into either platform.

  • Argonne’s Innovative Community Software Is on Weather Scientists’ Radar

    In 2015, the Python-ARM Radar Toolkit (Py-ART) made its open-source debut. After 4 years, and with contributions from 34 individual editors, it is now a staple in radar science. The toolkit helps scientists analyze radar data to improve models of the Earth’s systems; its growth illustrates the power of community software.

    Py-ART is an architecture for working with radar data in the Python programming language. It ingests data from a wide variety of atmospheric radars to produce visualizations that enable users to draw meaningful conclusions. Institutions across the world — including the National Weather Service, MeteoSwiss, IBM and the University of Illinois — use Py-ART to organize and analyze radar data.

    [...]

    Inspired by Py-ART’s success, scientists have launched the OpenRadar Partnership, an informal collaboration across Europe, Canada and the United States on open-source radar software education and inter-compatibility.

  • Furnace turns up heat on data streaming apps
  • Furnace – New, Serverless, Open Source Platform — Lets Developers Create Advanced, Data-Intensive Apps In Hours, Not Months
  • Why Use Open Source to Gain More Visibility into Network Monitoring
  • 8 Free & Best Open source bare metal hypervisors (Foss)
  • Open Robotics turns its focus to ROS 2.0

    Open Robotics, previously known as the Open Source Robotics Foundation, is pouring its development efforts into rewriting the core of the Robot Operating System (ROS) 1.0 this year. ROS has been around since 2007, and while version 1.0 is already being used in a number of different applications and solutions, the robotics industry is changing and Open Robotics is determined to see that the technology changes with it.

    Despite its name, ROS is not exactly an operating system. It is a collection of software libraries and tools used to develop robot applications. According to Brian Gerkey, CEO of Open Robotics, when the organization first started working on ROS, many of the robotics solutions already available were in the form of traditional robot arms used in factories or in such things as floor-cleaning robots for consumers.

    “Since that time we’ve seen an explosion of products in other domains, especially mobile robots that do everything from transport goods, to provide facility security, to entertain. And of course we’ve seen the impossible to ignore trend of investment and advancement in autonomous vehicles,” he said.

    The ongoing evolution of the robotics industry, and the need for more advanced solutions, is what led Open Robotics to rethink the core system.

  • MITRE Announces Compass™, a New Open-Source Application to Collect Common Oncology Data
  • New geometric model improves predictions of fluid flow in rock

    “Relationships once thought to be inherently history-dependent can now be reconsidered based on rigorous geometric theory,” McClure said.

    The team used the open source Lattice Boltzmann for Porous Media (LBPM) code, developed by McClure and named for the statistics-driven lattice Boltzmann method that calculates fluid flow across a range of scales more rapidly than calculations using finite methods, which are most accurate at small scales. The LBPM code, which uses Titan’s GPUs to speed fluid flow simulations, is released through the Open Porous Media Initiative, which maintains open-source codes for the research community.

  • Over 16,000 bugs later, Google’s fuzz tester is now open source

    Here comes another tool open sourced by Google! This time, security and testing take the center stage. ClusterFuzz helps find bugs in your software so you can exterminate them with its scalable fuzzing infrastructure. Open sourced on February 7, 2019, this service focuses on stability and security.

    ClusterFuzz already has some impressive numbers to brag about. So far, it found over 16,000 bugs in Chrome, as well as over 11,000 bugs in open source projects integrated with OSS-Fuzz. If you use Chrome as your browser of choice, then you owe some of your experience to ClusterFuzz. Now you too can harness that power for good and keep your own projects secure and bug-free.

    As always, it is a great plus to all developers when a useful tool gets open sourced. Contributing to open source is becoming the new normal, with even large organizations getting on board. Hopefully FOSS will continue to grow and help break down silos.

  • Continuous Fuzzing for all? Google open sources ClusterFuzz bug hunter

    Google has open sourced ClusterFuzz, a scalable fuzzing infrastructure project that has already helped to get rid of more than 16,000 Chrome bugs.

    It is also the tool used for Google’s Oss-Fuzz initiative, which aims at helping maintainers of open source projects get their project as ready to deal with anything users throw at it as possible – an offer over 160 projects have accepted in the last two years. Fuzzing is a sort of testing approach which confronts a system with random inputs to help developers to find security flaws and unexpected behaviour.

    ClusterFuzz has been written to offer fuzzing at scale and in a continuous manner, which is why Google claims to have it running on over 25,000 cores for Chrome. There it is integrated into the development workflow and provides users with a web interface for managing and viewing crashes caused during testing. To ensure no issue goes unnoticed, it also includes automatic bug filing and closing for the Monorail issue tracker.

  • The Telecoms.com Podcast: Europe, Huawei, O-RAN & Legere

    They move on, inevitably, to Huawei and its ongoing drama, before concluding with a look at the growing O-RAN Alliance and the unique qualities of T-Mobile US boss John Legere.

  • AT&T Building 5G Network on an Open Source Foundation

    “We made a big bet that open source was the right way to go,” Ryan Van Wyk, AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) associate VP, network cloud software engineering, tells Light Reading. And that bet paid off handsomely, he says.

    AT&T last week described a substantial, multi-year project to build its 5G network on a cloud based on Kubernetes and OpenStack. The telco has implemented OpenStack on Kubernetes in more than 20 regions to date, with more to come. (See AT&T Inks ’8-Figure’ Kubernetes & OpenStack 5G Deal With Mirantis.)

  • AT&T signed an ’8-digit’ deal that isn’t good news for VMware, Cisco, or Huawei — but could be great for Google Cloud

    AT&T is in the midst of an ambitious project called Airship that could have sweeping implications for the $350 billion telecom equipment industry.

    Late last week, AT&T signed an “8-figure,” three-year deal with a company called Mirantis. According to Mirantis, the company will help AT&T build out and manage the infrastructure it needs for its 5G network.

    Airship means that if you want to build a cloud, specialized hardware and software from vendors like VMware, Cisco, Juniper, and Huawei are unnecessary, Mirantis’ cofounder and chief marketing officer, Boris Renski, tells us.

  • ONF to address CSPs’ Core issues with new open source projects

    Taking at a look at OMEC first, the ONF envisages it as a high performance, scalable, open source mobile core platform. It is being established under the CORD project umbrella in collaboration with Sprint (there are plenty of “umbrellas” in the open source community, and let’s not forget that the ONF is a member of the Linux Foundation). CORD, incidentally, is an acronym for Central Office Re-architected as a Datacenter – an ONF project that combines NFV and SDN with the elasticity of commodity clouds to bring datacenter economics and the traditional telco Central Office. The OMEC project is intended to become an open source production grade Evolved Packet Core (EPC).

    OMEC is being built using an NFV architecture that is optimised for Intel platforms and has reportedly already been tested for scale. It is 3GPP Release-13 compatible, features a DPDK-based data plane to support large subscriber numbers (hence the Intel connection), and provides full connectivity, billing and charging capabilities. It is also designed for lightweight and cost-effective deployments, including IoT and edge applications.

  • ONF and Sprint Launch Open Evolved Mobile Core (OMEC) Open Source Project

    ONF, the recognized leader driving transformation of the networking industry through collaborative development of open source platforms, today announced the launch of Open Mobile Evolved Core (OMEC), an industry-first high performance scalable open source Mobile Core platform. ONF, in collaboration with Sprint, is launching OMEC under the CORD® project umbrella. The project is intended to become an open source production grade Evolved Packet Core (EPC).

  • Rubrik Launches Open Source Community Called Build

    Rubrik announced an open source community, Rubrik Build, which aims to simplify improvement of existing projects and ease creation of applications, automation tooling, and integrations. It’s based on a set of APIs providing pre-built use cases, quick-start guides, and integrations with popular tooling.

    A goal is inclusion. “Many people in the tech community do not come from a traditional software engineering background, and this can make contributing to open source seem daunting,” Rubrik Principal Technologist Rebecca Fitzhugh told SDxCentral. “The goal of Rubrik Build is to break down these barriers so anyone can contribute to a project.”

  • Rubrik just launched an open source community

    Rubrik just announced Rubrik Build, a new 100 percent public, 100 percent Open Source community built around use cases and integrations that consume Rubrik APIs. As part of Rubrik Build, contributors can leverage existing software development kits, tools, and use cases or contribute their own ideas, code, documentation, and feedback.

    The goal of Rubrik Build to establish a community around consuming Rubrik’s world-class APIs to quickly get started with pre-built use cases, quick start guides, and integrations with popular tooling. The Build program was designed with customers in mind, easing their transition to consuming APIs.

  • A former Marine explains how her service helped prepare her to lead a new open source initiative for $3.3 billion startup Rubrik

    The idea, says Fitzhugh, is to encourage an open source ecosystem to flourish around Rubrik, though the company’s main offering is not offered as open source.

  • The Internet Was Built on the Free Labor of Open Source Developers. Is That Sustainable?

    In a recent interview with New Left Review, Stallman described how MIT’s AI lab fostered a culture of collaboration and radical openness to the point where the lab’s giant computer wasn’t protected with passwords and the doors to the lab were always unlocked. To be sure, Stallman acknowledged that some of this culture of openness was a product of circumstance: Minsky, for instance, was always losing his door keys and the researchers in the lab couldn’t help but share the room-sized computer because it was the only one. Nevertheless, the spirit of the lab made an impression on Stallman.

    In 1983, he posted a message to a Usenet group—basically a proto-forum—in which he declared his intention to create an operating system and “give it away free to everyone who can use it.” Stallman called the operating system GNU, a recursive acronym for “Gnus Not Unix,” a challenge to the dominant proprietary OS of the time—Unix, which was used internally at Bell Labs—embedded in its very name.

    GNU was the opening salvo in the free software movement, whose principles Stallman summarized in the 1985 GNU Manifesto: “I consider that the Golden Rule requires that if I like a program I must share it with other people who like it. Software sellers want to divide the users and conquer them, making each user agree not to share with others. I refuse to break solidarity with other users in this way.”

  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

      • Chromium is eroding the Open Web and it’s our responsibility to stop it

        Edge’s move to Chromium means that the balance of power has tipped further towards a single party who can increasingly become the arbiter of which ideas should be developed, which standards should be accepted and which usability concerns matter the most. The seats at a W3C meeting should not be 70% filled by Chromium-based platforms, nor should Google have veto powers on open source projects.

        Such a monopoly hamstrings innovation, and the resultant complacency has consequences. Whilst it may be great for developers to have one less rendering engine to worry about, we and our users are still paying the price for Internet Explorer’s market domination circa 15 years ago.

  • Education

    • The Need to Fund Open Source Software Research and Development to Enhance ICT for Development and ICT for Dollars

      I owe part of my IT education to the Open Source Community. I enhanced my programming skills using open source programming languages; I garnered a better understanding of operating systems through my study and research of the Linux kernel; I understood the inner workings of software by having access to their code; and in college, I used learning materials from computer science classes made available by MIT Open Courseware. But this article is not about how I benefited from open source software. I only mentioned my experience with open source software to illustrate that if I can benefit from it, every Liberian can do the same. Therefore, this article is about how open source software can benefit Liberia as a developing country. It is also a call to both private and public organizations to invest in open source software in order to enhance Information and Communications Technology for Development (ICT4D) and Information and Communications Technology for Dollars (ICT4$).

      Liberia’s ICT sector has achieved a lot since the end of the civil war. The creation of a liberal market, the advent and deployment of the ACE subsea cable and several other achievements have been the factors that have driven Liberia’ ICT revolution. Again, this article is not intended to delineate all of Liberia’s ICT achievements; it’s about the benefits we can get from investing in open source software.

      Before going further into this discussion, permit me to briefly discuss the difference between the two types of software. Open source software is software whose source code is openly published, is available at no charge, and can freely be modified and distributed. Proprietary software is software that is generally licensed for a fee and its source code is kept secret. It is often developed by software firms or companies such as Microsoft.

  • Windows Lies

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

  • Licensing/Legal

    • Red Hat drops MongoDB out of Satellite

      Red Hat is prising MongoDB out of its Satellite infrastructure management platform in favour of PostgreSQL.

      The open source vendor made the announcement in a blog post yesterday saying it would “standardize on a PostgreSQL backend” and that it wanted to ensure users “were not caught by surprise as this is a change to the underlying databases of Satellite”.

      “No specific timing or release is being communicated at this time. At this point we’re simply hoping to raise awareness of the change that is coming to help users of Satellite prepare for the removal of MongoDB,” it added.

    • Google Cloud’s new CEO used his first public talk to throw shade at Amazon over its feud with open source startups

      Amazon has a habit of taking free software created by other companies and selling it on its cloud. But Google Cloud isn’t like that, new CEO Thomas Kurian says.

      At his inaugural appearance as the new CEO of Google Cloud on Tuesday, Kurian spoke about how Google Cloud allows customers to use a variety of open source tools to build applications on its cloud.

      Many of these tools are developed by other startups and made available as open source, meaning that they are free for anyone to use, download, modify — and even sell, something that Amazon Web Services frequently does.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open-Source Biology and Biohacking Hack Chat

      Justin Atkin‘s name might not ring a bell, but you’ve probably seen his popular YouTube channel The Thought Emporium, devoted to regular doses of open source science. Justin’s interests span a wide range, literally from the heavens above to the microscopic world.

      His current interest is to genetically modify yeast to produce spider silk, and to perhaps even use the yeast for brewing beer. He and the Thought Emporium team have been busy building out a complete DIY biology lab to support the effort, and have been conducting a variety of test experiments along the way.

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • The Future Of Fritzing Is Murky At Best

        Fritzing is a very nice Open Source design tool for PCBs, electrical sketches, and schematics for designers and artists to move from a prototype to real hardware. Over the years, we’ve seen fantastic projects built with Fritzing. Fritzing has been the subject of books, lectures, and educational courses, and the impact of Fritzing has been huge. Open up a book on electronics from O’Reilly, and you’ll probably see a schematic or drawing created in Fritzing.

        However, and there’s always a however, Fritzing is in trouble. The project is giving every appearance of having died. You can’t register on the site, you can’t update parts, the official site lacks HTTPS, the Twitter account has been inactive for 1,200 days, there have been no blog posts for a year, and the last commit to GitHub was on March 13th. There are problems, but there is hope: [Patrick Franken], one of the developers of Fritzing and the president of the PCB firm Aisler which runs the Fritzing Fab, recently gave a talk at FOSDEM concerning the future of Fritzing. (That’s a direct FTP download, so have fun).

      • Slic3r vs Cura – 3D Printer Slicer Software Shootout

        A slicer is a software application that takes in 3D model files, like STL and OBJ, as input and, based on the user’s preferences and settings, creates g-code files as output.

        G-code is a set of commands that control the movement of a 3D printer along the X, Y, and Z axes for the entire model. They also contain instructions for heaters and other connected devices, such as servos or leveling sensors.

      • Can MIPS Leapfrog RISC-V?

        When Wave Computing acquired MIPS, “going open source” was the plan Wave’s CEO Derek Meyer had in mind. But Meyer, a long-time MIPS veteran, couldn’t casually mention his plan then. Wave was hardly ready with the solid infrastructure it needed to support a legion of hardware developers interested in coming to the MIPS open-source community.

        To say “go open source” is easy. Pulling it off has meant a huge shift from MIPS, long accustomed to the traditional IP licensing business.

        Wave’s first step was hiring Art Swift as president of its MIPS licensing business. Swift fit the bill as someone who knows the best of both worlds — old (traditional IP for licensing) and new (open source). Swift had served as vice-chair of the RISC-V Foundation’s Marketing Committee and was vice president of marketing and business development at MIPS Technologies from 2008 to 2011.

      • Building A RISC-V Desktop

        The core of this build is the HiFive Unleashed, a Linux-capable board from SiFive, makers of the first (production) RISC-V microcontroller. This board uses the Freedom U540 SOC built with a 28nm process, has 8GB of DDR4, and 32MB of Flash. For a board built on an Open archetecuture this is impressive, but it comes at a cost: the HiFive Unleashed ran for $1000 during its crowdfunding campaign.

      • Can Arm Survive RISC-V Challenge?

        We hear stories about new licensing practices at Arm since it was acquired by Japan’s SoftBank. Arm’s rivals tell us that they are engaged in many more talks with current Arm licensees who are looking for alternatives.

        Product developers no longer have the luxury of two-year product development cycles. And many don’t have the big budgets for licensing fees, often quoted as the huge barrier to entry for system-on-chip (SoC) design.

      • Open Source Hardware Benefits Procurement Practices

        “Open source does two things for you: it rationalizes price and motivates adoption and investment,” explained Keith Witek, senior vice president, Corporate Development, Strategy, and General Counsel at SiFive, a provider of commercial RISC-V processor IP. “If I charge you too much, you can leave and go to different vendor. I can’t lock you up with proprietary architecture or tools. And you feel like you can invest, because no one can take it away from you. RISC-V takes a big part in democratizing silicon.”

        The basics of RISC-V

        The RISC-V ISA is based on established reduced instruction set computer (RISC) principles. Anyone can use it for all types of implementation, including development and commercial and open source implementations, without cost. That means that anyone who wants to can design, manufacture and sell RISC-V chips and software.

      • The next generation open-source, 3D-printable Niskin bottle has arrived!

        The Niskin bottle, a seemingly simple device designed to take water samples at discrete depths, is one of the most important tools of oceanography. These precision instruments allow us to bring ocean water back to the surface to study its chemical composition, quality, and biologic constituency. If you want to know how much plastic is circulating in the deep sea, you need a Niskin bottle. If you need to measure chemical-rich plumes in minute detail, you need a Niskin bottle. If you want to use environmental DNA analyses to identify the organisms living in a region of the big blue sea, you need a Niskin bottle.

      • Arduino IoT Cloud Public Beta

        One of the reassuring things about the Arduino, and something that contributed to making it a success, was its open source nature. Of course, this caused Arduino – the company – problems. How to make money and keep control of an open source product is a headache. One solution is to move things online.

        Once upon a time the Arduino was programmed exclusively using an open source desktop IDE. Using it gave the security of open source.

      • Hack My House: Garage Door Cryptography Meets Raspberry Pi

        The garage door is controlled by a button hung on the garage wall. There is only a pair of wires, so a simple relay should be all that is needed to simulate the button press from a Raspberry Pi. I wired a relay module to a GPIO on the Pi mounted in the garage ceiling, and wrote a quick and dirty test program in Python. Sure enough, the little relay was clicking happily– but the garage door wasn’t budging. Time to troubleshoot. Does the push button still work? *raises the garage door* yep. How about the relay now? *click…click* nope.

      • How 3D Printers Work – Simply Explained

        Many of us will be familiar with the Star Trek scene where Captain Picard steps up to the food synthesizer and says, “Tea, Earl Grey, hot,” and the drink miraculously appears. When you mention 3D printing to the uninitiated, this is sometimes what they expect.

        The reality is that 3D printing is a lot more down to earth and certainly easier to understand than matter scrambling.

        In this article, we’ll look at how this approach to manufacturing has become a mainstay among hobbyists and engineers alike.

  • Programming/Development

Leftovers

  • The Music That’s In All of Us

    And suddenly the music burst through the borders.

    This was in May of 1999, in a city in the Netherlands called Alkmaar. Laura Hassler, an American woman who had been living in the Netherlands for many years by then — who was a choir director and, in essence, the “town musician,” the organizer of public music events — had put together a concert for the town’s annual honoring of the dead of World War II.

    But the bloody war in Kosovo was then raging: Thousands had died; nearly a million refugees were streaming across Europe. Its horror dominated the daily news and Laura couldn’t ignore it. She couldn’t simply focus on the war dead of half a century ago, not when the hell of war was alive in the present moment, pulling at her soul.

    She decided, “We’ll perform music from the people suffering from war now — folk songs from Eastern Europe,” she told me. Her impulse was to reach out, to connect, somehow, with those suffering right now, on the other side of Europe. And something happened the night of the concert. When it ended, there was a moment of profound silence . . . and then, as the audience stood, applause so thunderous that the rafters shook. It went on for 20 minutes.

    One of the musicians, a political refugee from Turkey, said to her afterwards: “This concert was special. We should put it on a train, send it to Kosovo and stop the war!”

  • Frieze L.A. Looks Good for Galleries, but Artists Give Mixed Reviews

    As Frieze Los Angeles takes center stage at the Paramount Studios backlot this weekend, the arts community is of two minds about the arrival of one of the world’s most prestigious art fairs. “L.A. has great galleries, both established and young, and fantastic institutions. It has world-class art schools, [it’s] a place that artists choose to live and work. The only thing it doesn’t have is a major art fair, and we’re bringing it with Frieze,” Victoria Siddall, director of Frieze Fairs, told Truthdig.

    But the recent past is littered with art fairs that launched in Southern California with great fanfare, only to sputter out. In the same location Frieze inhabits through Sunday, Paris Photo L.A. closed in 2016 after only three years.

  • Science

    • Researchers, scared by their own work, hold back “deepfakes for text” AI

      The performance of the system was so disconcerting, now the researchers are only releasing a reduced version of GPT-2 based on a much smaller text corpus. In a blog post on the project and this decision, researchers Alec Radford, Jeffrey Wu, Rewon Child, David Luan, Dario Amodei, and Ilya Sutskever wrote: [...]

    • Endless Combustion

      From the moment that a light gets turned on in the morning, every action of a Western life uses energy. Its easy availability—thanks largely to the so-called fossil fuels—gave us modernity, and now the endless combustion of all that coal and gas and oil has triggered the end of the Holocene and is calling into question the very survival of our civilization. Some of the richest companies on earth have been in the energy business, and geopolitics has long followed the oil derrick. Even our domestic politics is dominated by this industry more than any other; it is, after all, where the Koch brothers made their mint.

      So the wonder is how little attention we actually pay to the subject. [...]

    • Small research teams ‘disrupt’ science more radically than large ones

      The current infatuation with large-scale scientific collaborations and the energy they can bring to a scientific domain owes much to the robust correlation that exists between citation impact and team size. This relationship has been well documented in the emerging ‘science of science’ field1. Writing in Nature, Wu et al.2 use a new citation-based index to nuance this conventional wisdom. They find that small and large teams differ in a measurable and systematic way in the extent of the ‘disruption’ they cause to the scientific area to which they contribute.

    • Avoid large groups to be a disruptive scientist

      Smaller teams of scientists tend to carry out work that is more “disruptive” than that of larger groups, according to a study of more than 65 million papers, patents and software products published between 1954 and 2014. The study, led by James Evans from the University of Chicago, finds that as teams grow from one to 50 members there is a big drop in scientific “disruptiveness”. Large groups instead mostly carry out work that develops on existing research.

    • Small research teams more likely to deliver disruptive results

      Large research teams are a growing trend and widely thought to increase productivity, citations and grant activity. However, new analysis has shown that small groups are just as essential for a flourishing science and technology sector.

      The team led by James Evans from the University of Chicago analysed more than 65 million papers, patents and software products from 1954–2014. When they compared two major policy incentives for science – funding versus awards – they found that Nobel prize-winning articles were more likely to come from small teams, whereas those acknowledging US National Science Foundation (NSF) funding were associated with large teams. The team concluded that new disruptive ideas tended to come from smaller teams that explore promising ideas from older and less popular work. Large teams were more likely to develop recent ideas by solving acknowledged problems and refining common designs.

  • Hardware

    • Silicon wars: How AI has sparked a chips arms race between Amazon and Google
    • Chinese OEMs claimed a third of smartphone sales in Europe last year

      Chinese manufacturers now account for almost a third of smartphone shipments in Europe, with Huawei leading the way.

      That’s according to the latest figures from the beancounters at Canalys, whose figures show that Chinese OEMs accounted for 32 per cent, roughly a third, of smartphone sales in Europe in 2018.

      Huawei leads the pack, having flogged 13.3 million handsets during the fourth quarter of last year to claim a sizable 23 per cent of the market. This comes despite the hostility the company is facing in the US, which is starting to rub off onto its European allies.

    • US bid to push Europe on Huawei ban meets resistance

      The US is facing resistance from European countries it considers allies as it tries to convince them not to use equipment from Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei Technologies in their 5G networks.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Facebook, Google, CDC under pressure to stop anti-vax garbage from spreading

      Last week, Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate health committee, along with ranking member Patty Murray (D-Wash.) sent a letter to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Health and Human Services. The lawmakers asked what health officials were doing to fight misinformation and help states dealing with outbreaks. “Many factors contribute to vaccine hesitancy, all of which demand attention from CDC and [HHS’ National Vaccine Program Office],” the lawmakers wrote. On Thursday, February 14, the committee announced that it will hold a hearing on the subject on March 5.

    • Facebook is thinking about removing anti-vaccination content as backlash intensifies over the spread of misinformation on the social network
    • Judge Rebukes Arizona Walmart for Firing Employee With Medical-Marijuana Card

      But now a federal judge has ruled that because Walmart could not prove the employee was impaired at work, the company violated the nondiscrimination provision in the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act.

    • Ex-FBI agent is out in Flint water investigation
    • Opinion: Flint Water Crisis lessons remain unlearned with attacks on environmental executive orders

      The Synder administration often recycled the line that government should be “run like a business.” This failed ideology must be trashed. The only recycling left is the millions of plastic water bottles the residents of Flint, and now in cities all over our state, have been forced to drink from.

    • Why Is the Republican Party So Confused About Health Care?

      Judging by exit polls, the single most effective midterm issue for Democrats was health care — in particular, the argument, made by Democratic candidates across the country, that Republicans were out to eliminate the Affordable Care Act’s regulations governing pre-existing conditions.

    • Erin Brockovich slams Trump administration over plan to stop regulating toxic chemicals

      Politico reported Monday that the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) is looking to no longer enforce utility companies to test or remove the chemicals PFOA and PFOS from their water supply under the Clean Water Act.

      Brockovich warns that the two chemicals in question are not only dangerous, but also heavily prevalent throughout the water system across the country.

    • A toxic crisis in America’s coal country

      In the shadow of some of America’s most controversial coal mines, where companies use huge amounts of explosives to blow the tops off mountains, isolated communities say their water has been poisoned.

    • Poll: Supporting ‘Medicare for All’ helps presidential candidates

      Seventy-three percent of Democratic respondents said they were more likely to vote for a White House hopeful who favors “Medicare for all.” Just 9 percent of Democrats said candidates with that position would be less likely to attract their support.

    • Medicine alone can’t lengthen US lives. We need to invest outside the health care system.

      What is the answer? We need to shift our focus from investments in health care to investments in health. The most potent determinants of premature mortality and poor health reside outside of the health care system. Social factors, including poverty, food insecurity and substandard housing, have profound effects on population health.

    • Polk beekeeper trucks hives westward for almond season

      California’s almond industry is a $5 billion business that produces about 80 percent of the world’s almonds — some 1.1 million tons of the chewy nuts a year, according to the Almond Board of California. During winter, almond trees covering roughly 1 million acres of Central California erupt in blooms of white flowers with fuchsia centers.

      [...]

      “The California almond industry needs about 2 million hives to pollinate all the almonds in California, which is about all the (commercial) hives in the United States,” Kern said. “So they get kind of desperate.”

    • Death-Cap Mushrooms Are Spreading Across North America

      The death cap is a global traveler, but only in the past century has it caught its stride. Long after eucalyptus trees and feral cats spread across Australia, long after pigs and mongooses were running loose in Hawaii, Amanita phalloides was still home in Europe, where it grew mostly in deciduous forests and was the leading cause of mushroom poisonings from the Balkans to Russia to Ireland.

      The first death caps in North America were identified on the East Coast in the early 1900s. The first in California were spotted on the grounds of the Hotel Del Monte in Monterey in 1938, growing from the roots of a planted, ornamental tree. After that, the species landed hard in the Bay Area, where it is now common, having spread into wild oaks; it is becoming more abundant in California than in its native European habitat. After the Bay Area, it was reported in a string of Pacific Northwest cities, each one farther up the coast.

    • Here’s what the Sacklers didn’t want you to see in the OxyContin lawsuit

      Massachusetts’ allegations painted a grim image of greed and callousness on the part of the family—for example, Richard Sackler’s suggestion to consider patients who became addicted to their powerful drugs “reckless criminals” to protect sales and profits. But the version of the lawsuit released didn’t have the full picture. Parts of the nearly 300-page complaint were redacted at the request of Purdue and the Sacklers.

      That’s not the case anymore. On Monday, January 28, a Massachusetts judge ruled that the lawsuit could be released in full, and the state’s attorney general’s office did so on Thursday. The newly revealed portions don’t dramatically change the loathsome portrait the allegations paint of the affluent family. However, there are some interesting new pieces of information, and Ars has gone ahead and plucked them out.

    • Pressure mounts on Facebook and Google to stop anti-vax conspiracy theories

      In the letters, Schiff wrote that the misinformation on these platforms could make parents ignore legitimate medical advice to vaccinate their children. “Repetition of information, even if false, can often be mistaken for accuracy,” he wrote. He referenced recent reporting by Julia Carrie Wong at The Guardian, who discovered that both Facebook and YouTube are full of fear-mongering, inaccurate anti-vaccine propaganda. What’s more, Wong found, YouTube’s recommendation algorithm helped lead people to those lies.

    • Facebook, Facing Lawmaker Questions, Says It May Remove Anti-Vaccine Recommendations

      Information discouraging people from getting vaccines for their children, which has gone viral on Facebook, especially in its Groups product, may have contributed to an increase in outbreaks of measles. The crisis drew attention on Thursday from Representative Adam Schiff, who sent a letter to Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg and Google boss Sundar Pichai, asking them to address the problem.

    • Using Marijuana to Quash the Opioid Crisis

      In the struggle to address rising levels of opioid misuse and mortality, an unlikely ally has emerged: marijuana.
      The relationship between cannabis and opioid use is among of the best-documented aspects of marijuana policy. In short, the science demonstrates that marijuana is a relatively safe and effective pain reliever — and that patients with legal access to it often reduce their use of conventional opiates.
      Over 35 controlled clinical trials, involving over 2,000 subjects, have been conducted to assess the safety and usefulness of cannabis or its components for the treatment of chronic pain. Many of these trials specifically evaluate the plant’s ability to target hard-to-treat neuropathic pain.
      An exhaustive literature review of over 10,000 scientific abstracts by the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine determined: “There is conclusive or substantial evidence that cannabis is effective for the treatment of chronic pain in adults.”

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • The U.S. Military Is Poisoning Germany

      Germany is experiencing a public health crisis with millions of people potentially exposed to drinking water contaminated with Per and Poly Fluoroalkyl Substances, or PFAS.

      A major source of this chemical contamination comes from the aqueous film forming foam (AFFF) used in routine fire-training on U.S. military bases. After igniting, then dousing massive fires with lethal foam, the American bases allow the poisons to leach into the groundwater to contaminate neighboring communities which use groundwater in their wells and municipal water systems.

      Confidential US Military documents leaked to the German news magazine Volksfreund in 2014 showed that groundwater at Ramstein Airbase contained 264 ug/L or 264,000 ppt. of PFAS. Other samples at Ramstein were shown to contain 156.5 ug/l or156,500 ppt.

      The water monitoring program of the state of Rhineland-Palatinate in the vicinity of the Spangdahlem Air Base found PFAS at concentrations of 1.935 ug/l or 1,935 ppt. The drainage system in Spangdahlem is still spreading the chemicals.

      Harvard scientists say PFOS/PFOA at concentrations of 1 part per trillion (ppt) in drinking water is likely to be harmful to human health. Fishing ponds, streams and rivers around the airfields are a thousand times more contaminated than they should be according to EU requirements.

    • Why Trump ignored climate change and gun violence during the State of the Union

      The Pew public opinion poll of American adults conducted last month indicates Democrats and Republicans are further apart than ever in terms of which issues they view as being the most important ones facing the country.

    • In Iran, a hardline hunt for ‘infiltrators’ has political target, too

      For years there’s been a widening crackdown inside Iran against alleged enemies of the Islamic Republic. Environmentalists, women’s rights activists, and lawyers have increasingly been targeted. Even a member of Iran’s nuclear negotiating team is now behind bars.

    • UN rights chief secures Jakarta agreement for Papua access

      On Friday, Mr Wenda handed to the UN in Geneva a document he has claimed includes 1.8 million signatures from people living in Papua and West Papua.

    • Free Papua Movement to officially declare war with Indonesia
    • Aggressive U.S. Foreign Policy Is Back — in Venezuela

      Tensions in Venezuela continue to escalate, following a move by Juan Guaidó, the leader of the country’s right-wing opposition and president of the National Assembly, to declare himself interim president ahead of new elections.

      Guaidó was immediately backed by nearly 20 countries, including the right-wing Lima Group in Latin America, as well as European Union officials, Canada and the United States. The effort was clearly coordinated to force Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro out of power, and this will have dramatic consequences for both Latin America and the rest of the world.

      Events continue to evolve rapidly, and any predictions about the outcome would be speculative. Yet it’s worth noting that in 2017, when Trump discussed the possibility of invading the country for the first time as president, he repeatedly brought up the invasions of Panama and Grenada in the 1980s. Trump’s foreign policy mirrors that of President Ronald Reagan, with Trump’s interventions in Latin America likely meant to serve a similar global strategic purpose as the wars in Grenada, Panama and Nicaragua. In the 1980s, those operations honed tactics of military invasion and social destabilization, reviving certain moral justifications for warfare, which eventually allowed the U.S. to launch later wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

      In addition to wanting to secure its massive oil reserves and taking out one of the last remaining “Pink Tide” governments in the region, the Trump administration has an opportunity to use a “win” in Venezuela to experiment with new tactics of “regime change” and regain the support needed to build toward launching another major war.

    • Trump’s Broken Promises to the Land of “American Carnage”

      In late November, General Motors (GM) announced that it had no plans to allocate any new products to its Lordstown, Ohio, plant after it discontinues production on the Chevrolet Cruze this March. The move essentially ends the plant’s last 1,600 jobs, and represents only the latest dispatch from the heartland of what President Trump has called “American carnage.”

      For 52 years, the Lordstown plant, nestled in Trumbull County in the state’s Mahoning Valley, served as one of the nerve centers of the Youngstown-Warren area. Youngstown produced steel: Miles of blast furnaces perpetually lit up the night skies, and locals referred to the accompanying pollution as “pay dirt,” since the steel mills meant prosperity. Today, however, Youngstown is now one of the poorest cities in the country. From 1977 to 1984, all of the major steel producers in the Youngstown area closed, costing 50,000 jobs and igniting Great Depression-levels of unemployment. Since then, the city has become a poster child for the crumbling towns of the Rust Belt.

      The city of Warren, the second-largest in the region, also had steel, but beginning in 1966, when GM opened the Lordstown plant on the city’s outskirts, automotive production increasingly became a crucial part of the area’s industrial backbone. At its height, GM operated its Packard Electric Division plants in Warren, along with its Assembly Division and Fisher Body stamping plants in Lordstown. The largest employer in Mahoning Valley, GM had 25,000 workers on its payroll in the early 1980s. Today, those jobs are virtually gone.

      One day before Trump’s stunning election in 2016, GM announced it would eliminate the third shift at Lordstown, a decision that ultimately cost more than 1,200 workers their jobs. Then, in July 2017, Trump held a rally in Youngstown, paying lip service to the city’s industrial past. “Tonight I’m back in the center of the American heartland,” Trump told the denizens of the Youngstown-Warren area, “far away from the Washington swamp to spend time with thousands of true American patriots.”

    • Aurora Shooting Victims Ranged From Intern to Plant Manager

      The victims of a disgruntled employee who opened fire at a suburban Chicago industrial warehouse were co-workers ranging from an intern to the plant manager. A look at the victims,,,

    • Trump’s Grand Coalition Against Iran Is Completely Falling Apart

      France24 reports that Trump’s attempt to dissuade the Europeans from continuing their support for the 2015 Iran nuclear deal has backfired.

      On Friday at a Munich security meeting, Germany’s foreign minister, Heiko Maas, replied to the chiding of Vice President Mike Pence that Iran is destabilizing the region. Maas remarked that “Together with the British, the French and the entire European Union, we have found a means to allow Iran to remain in the nuclear accord. Our objective remains the lack of nuclear weapons, precisely because Iran destablizes the region.” Without the accord, “the region will not be more secure, but would in fact take a further step toward open confrontation.”

      Frederica Mogherini, the European Union’s High Representative for foreign affairs, said, “We think that [this accord] is fundamental and crucial for our security.” The agreement “is a basic pillar of the architecture of nuclear non-proliferation at the global level.”

      Pence had, after a visit to the Holocaust death camp at Auschwitz, accused Iran of fomenting a virulent anti-Semitism reminiscent of that of the Nazis.

      [Iran has a small Jewish community with a representative in Parliament, which is not very much like Nazism. In contrast, Donald Trump called the Neonazis who shouted “Jews will not replace us” in Charlottesville “very fine people.” Pence has never spoken out about the dangers of white nationalism in the United States.]

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Award-winning journalist Chris Hedges endorses Free Assange demonstrations in Australia

      It is imperative that we pressure the Australian government to make sure its citizen, Julian Assange, is protected from the lawlessness of the American empire. He has not been charged with a crime. He cannot, under international and American law, be kidnapped and taken to the United States and put on trial for his work as a publisher. I implore everyone who can, to attend the two rallies being organized in Australia demanding that the Australian government secure the freedom and safe passage home of Julian.

    • Spy Betrayed U.S. to Work for Iran, Charges Say

      That indictment was made public on Wednesday as the Justice Department accused Ms. Witt, 39, of defecting to Iran in August 2013 to work with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in betrayal of the United States.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Huge global extinction risk for insects could be worse than we thought

      Over 40 per cent of insect species could go extinct in the next few decades, with butterflies, bees and dung beetles most affected. The main cause is habitat loss. That’s the alarming conclusion of a review of all long-term surveys of insects published in the past 40 years.

    • A New Mass Extinction Has Started, And Its First Victims Are Disappearing Fast

      A newly published review of 73 reports on insect decline around the world has found that over 40 percent of insect species are threatened with extinction. For some comparison, that rate of local species extinction is eight times faster than we’re seeing in vertebrates such as mammals, birds, and reptiles.

      Insects play a crucial role in the animal food chain, as well as pollinating plants and recycling nutrients in the environment. If they go, they take other animals with them, and that’s a major problem in maintaining a world we can all live in.

    • ‘This Land Is Meant Only for Saffron. Without It, It Means Nothing.’

      There are many local legends about how saffron came to Kashmir. One goes back to the 12th century, and says that Sufi saints Khawaja Masood Wali and Sheikh Sharif-u-din Wali presented a local chieftain with a saffron bulb after he cured them of an illness while they were traveling. Another claims that the Persians brought it in 500 B.C., as a means to further trade and market. A third dates the spice back to the Hindu Tantric kings, when it was mixed into hot water to create potions that incited feelings of romantic love.

    • The truth about big oil and climate change

      According to ExxonMobil, global oil and gas demand will rise by 13% by 2030. All of the majors, not just ExxonMobil, are expected to expand their output. Far from mothballing all their gasfields and gushers, the industry is investing in upstream projects from Texan shale to high-tech deep-water wells. Oil companies, directly and through trade groups, lobby against measures that would limit emissions. The trouble is that, according to an assessment by the IPCC, an intergovernmental climate-science body, oil and gas production needs to fall by about 20% by 2030 and by about 55% by 2050, in order to stop the Earth’s temperature rising by more than 1.5°C above its pre-industrial level.

    • The role of women and youth in changing the conversation on climate change
    • Use tariffs to fight a real emergency: climate change

      So, if we are going to use tariffs, why not use them to address the real and present danger of climate change?

    • The Green New Deal Shows How Grand Climate Politics Can Be

      It’s right there at the top. The Green New Deal’s first four lines call out the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s “Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5℃” from last October and the US government’s own Fourth National Climate Assessment, released ignominiously on Black Friday. Past iterations of those reports were stolid accounts of what various computer models said about the potential meaning of limited historical data under certain scenarios as determined by … oh I’m sorry, I must have dozed off. But the latest reports don’t hide under caveats. They are clear-eyed accounts of what’s happening today and what will happen tomorrow if humans don’t get their greenhouse gas-emitting acts together. It might’ve also helped that predictions for a once-far-off midcentury are now only 25 years away.

    • America’s trains are a drag. The Green New Deal wants to fix that.

      For a big, ambitious plan to fight climate change, it would make perfect sense to target transit in general and air travel in particular. Transportation — planes, cars, shipping — is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. Surging air travel demand helped fuel the rise in US emissions after years of decline. And aircraft are extremely difficult to decarbonize. While electrification is coming for cars, trucks, and buses, no battery or fuel cell is going to fly anyone across the Pacific anytime soon.

    • Extreme weather is sucking the life from your electric car

      New research from AAA reveals that when the mercury dips to 20 degrees Fahrenheit, the average driving range of an electric car decreases by 41 percent. When colder temperatures hit, EV owners have the same instinct as their internal combustion engine-driving brethren, which is to crank up the heat as high as it will go. This puts a serious strain on an EV’s battery, reducing the overall range and increasing the need to charge more often to minimize the chance of being stranded by a dead battery.

    • The Climate Wall: Q&A With Todd Miller

      All of the assessments about climate change—whether coming from the United Nations, the private sector, the Department of Defense, or the Department of Homeland Security—are talking about accelerating migration, displacement of people, and how it will “challenge stability.” Already, 22.5 million people are already being displaced per year, according to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center, with projections ranging between 150 million and one billion by 2050. There’s a lot of talk about risk, and that slips easily into talk about “terrorism,” they talk about conflict, and so on. A significant part of today’s border militarization exists in a context where it isn’t about today or the immediate present, but rather anticipating future events that could happen. DHS and others are planning 30 years into the future—for what they believe will happen—and climate is definitely on their minds.

    • Coal production may have reached a point of no return, per projections

      2018 was a particularly bleak year for the industry. Coal capacity retirements actually doubled in 2018 compared to 2017, and coal production was largely flat. Recent projections from the Energy Information Administration don’t show the conclusive end of the coal industry any time soon, but they do show that coal may have reached a point of no return, despite all the rollbacks of environmental regulations that the Trump administration has proposed or enacted.

    • ‘A worrying signal’: it’s hot and only going to get hotter

      After setting record high temperatures every 13 years on average during the first 100 years of records running from 1880 to 1980, that pace has accelerated to one every three years since, NOAA said.

    • Plastic in Britain’s seals, dolphins and whales

      Researchers from the University of Exeter and Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML) examined 50 animals from 10 species of dolphins, seals and whales — and found microplastics (less than 5mm) in them all.

    • 100% polluted: plastic found in all British whales, dolphins and seals

      Animals that died as a result of infectious disease had slightly higher numbers of particles than those killed by injury or other causes.

    • Trump Interior Department Secretary Pick Gutted Protections for Birds

      President Donald Trump’s new pick for Interior Department secretary played a key role in gutting protection for migratory birds, according to emails obtained by Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting.

      The newly obtained emails from 2017 and 2018 indicate that David Bernhardt, a former industry lobbyist, has been personally involved with intricacies of new policies at the Interior Department that benefit oil companies and other industries.

      According to the emails, Justice Department lawyers apparently opposed the rollback. Daniel Jorjani, the Interior Department’s top lawyer, shared their comments with Bernhardt, calling them “robust.”

      “Well we have a bit of work to do,” Bernhardt replied. “Change is not easy.”

    • ‘It’s About Economics’: Two Coal Plants to Close Despite Trump’s Tweet

      Trump is losing his rallying cry to save coal. The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) voted on Thursday to retire two coal-fired power plants in the next few years despite a plea from the president to keep one of the plants open.

      Earlier this week, the president posted an oddly specific tweet that urged the government-owned utility to save the 49-year-old Paradise 3 plant in Kentucky. It so happens that the facility burns coal supplied by Murray Energy Corporation, whose CEO is Robert Murray, is a major Trump donor.

    • Former EPA Official Launches Dark Money Group to Promote Trump’s Energy Agenda

      Environmental and energy policy is poised to be a hotly contested issue in the leadup to the 2020 election.

      One new group that stands to play a key part in that conversation is Energy 45 Fund, a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization founded by outgoing senior Trump administration adviser Mandy Gunasekara “to promote the Trump energy agenda” following her resignation from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

      The source of money fueling the group may remain a mystery. Gunasekara told the Center for Responsive Politics that the group’s funders will be allowed to remain anonymous.

      “I will respect their preferences,” Gunasekara said.

      Moreover, the “dark money” group’s website was purchased weeks before Gunasekara left the Trump administration, while she was seemingly still on EPA payroll.

      In a resignation letter to the White House dated and effective Feb. 7 — the same day House and Senate Democrats floated their “Green New Deal” — Gunasekara formally resigned from her position as principal deputy assistant administrator at the EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation then announced plans to launch the group.

    • The Real Danger to the Green New Deal—and the Planet—Comes From Neoliberal Democrats

      Right now, the Republicans’ unhinged rants against the GND are generating mostly ridicule among Americans, but that could change.

      But the real political danger to Democrats isn’t the Republican assault on the GND, it is that they’ll do what they did with Obamacare—run from the issue and allow the Republicans set the terms of the debate. That approach caused the Party to experience record losses at every level of government in 2014, and it looks like the neoliberals in charge of the party are about to do the same with the GND.

      For example, here’s what Nancy Pelosi had to say about the Green New Deal: “…The green dream, or whatever they call it, nobody knows what it is, but they’re for it, right?” The rest of the Democratic leadership is following her lead, and the party’s old guard is following them.

  • Finance

    • Amazon’s Retreat on New York City Headquarters Followed Unexpected Backlash

      Its plan to build a sprawling complex in Queens in return for nearly for $3 billion in government incentives had come under fierce opposition…

    • Amazon Won’t Build HQ2 in New York, But it Will Continue Grifting Taxpayers Elsewhere

      After months of opposition from local politicians, tech industry activists, and residents, Amazon announced Thursday that it would not be building a massive new campus in Queens, New York after all. It’s a win for millions of New York state taxpayers, who were poised to give the richest man on Earth $1.7 billion in incentives and subsidies.

      Amazon’s much-hyped “HQ2” search was a sweepstakes to see which cities would give it the best subsidies, tax breaks, and other handouts to build there. Today’s news is a huge for the people of New York, and a big win for activists, but it is not the end of the era of massive subsidies for big companies.

    • Uber Sues NYC to Kill Its Ride-Hail Car Cap

      Six months after New York City lawmakers enacted a first-of-its-kind cap on the number of cars driving for ride-hail companies in the city, Uber has sued to make it disappear.

      In its lawsuit, filed in a New York state court Friday afternoon, Uber argues that the one-year freeze on ride-hail vehicle licenses is anticompetitive and exceeds the city’s authority. It also argues that there are better policies for fighting traffic, tools that don’t specifically target ride-hail companies.

    • Uber sues to overturn New York City’s cap on new ride-hail drivers

      Uber filed a lawsuit on Friday to overturn New York City’s first-in-the-nation law capping the number of ride-hail drivers that operate on its streets. The law, which went into effect last August, paused the issuance of new licenses to drivers for 12 months. But Uber wants the law overturned for fear that the city will ultimately make the cap permanent.

    • ‘Runaway Collapse’ of Environment Could Cause the Next Great Recession

      Climate change, biodiversity loss, soil infertility, deforestation, and ocean acidification are among the manmade threats that affect agriculture, energy, public health, economic growth, and immigration. Current disruptions to the environment could seriously destabilize those sectors—which would likely amplify social conflicts and spark widespread civic unrest, the report says.

    • Market forces shouldn’t shape education

      Our education system should be geared towards equipping children with the best that has been thought and said, so that they may go on to create, adapt, develop and transform the world around them. A focus on skills, acronyms, fads and buzzwords fails to do this. There’s a reason PPE graduates are the most sought after. They have a broad range of knowledge, the ability to think creatively and apply their knowledge to different areas. While not all children can go on to study PPE at Oxbridge, this is still something we can learn from.

    • Amazon Won’t Build Its New Headquarters in New York City

      Critics of the deal, like US representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, state senator Michael Gianaris, and city council member Jimmy Van Bramer, complained about the lack of information they were provided and the enormous subsidies Amazon would receive from the local government. Activists and lawmakers also raised concerns over Amazon’s labor practices and its anti-union track record.

    • New York Fights—and Amazon Flees

      Amazon has ended its plan, less than three months after it was announced, to locate one of its two new headquarters in Long Island City—a deal had triggered fierce if entirely predictable opposition to throwing billions in public subsidies at the world’s richest man, bypassing public review processes, securing few promises for low-income job seekers, and rewarding a company with a lousy labor record, a creepy role in Big Data, and some objectionable dealings with federal law-enforcement agencies.

    • Ocasio-Cortez celebrates Amazon canceling New York offices: ‘Anything is possible’

      Her statement came shortly after Amazon in a blog post announced that it was canceling its plan to build offices, dubbed “HQ2,” in Queens, citing pushback from “a number of state and local politicians.”

    • Are Your Children Racking Up Charges From Mobile Games? Here’s How to Fight Back

      Unfortunately, preventing unwanted in-app purchases is far from straightforward. Many young ones are clever about finding workarounds when they are blocked. And tech companies typically don’t have much incentive to invest in safeguards because these purchases generate revenue.

    • Why Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s War on Credit Scores Is a Big Deal

      Credit scores: Everyone’s got one, even if they don’t know it — and these numbers can have a profound impact on the trajectory of your life. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez knows this firsthand, thanks to a false claim circulating about her credit score.

      Over the weekend, she put financial services firm Equifax on blast, calling the credit scoring system “broken.”

      AOC’s comment is a timely one; as a member of the House Finance Committee, she’s in an excellent position to do some digging into the practices of the credit scoring industry, which is dominated by firms Experian, Equifax and Transunion.

      As anyone who’s tried to do anything that requires credit history — buying a house or car, getting a job, buying car insurance, applying for a line of credit, getting housing — knows, the scores developed under the secret sauce used by these companies are arbitrary, really difficult to appeal and hard to shake.

    • Teachers’ Strikes Are Rattling Washington. This Hearing in the U.S. House Is Proof.

      As Denver public school teachers head back to school, ending their first labor stoppage in 25 years, it’s hard to dismiss the impact the nation-wide teacher strikes have had on American politics. As Democratic presidential candidates rush to voice support for the Colorado educators, Denver’s strike marks the ninth major teacher uprising in the last twelve months, with the anniversary of the very first—West Virginia’s—coming up next week.

      Survey after survey has shown the striking teachers have gotten their message across: The majority of Americans agree teacher pay is a real problem. The annual PDK poll reported in September that two-thirds of people say teacher salaries are too low — a new high in its data since the poll started in 1969. Another national poll released in April found 78 percent of adults think schools don’t pay teachers enough, and 52 percent supported those going on strike over wages.

      As further evidence of how the teacher protests have shaped the national conversation, the House education committee convened this week for its first hearing on K-12 schools in the new Congress, and the topic of teacher pay was front and center. Republicans and Democrats both agreed that teacher salaries were simply too low.

      The House Education and Labor Committee hearing, chaired by Democratic Representative Bobby Scott of Virginia, lasted three and a half hours, and was entitled, “Underpaid Teachers and Crumbling Schools: How Underfunding Public Education Shortchanges America’s Students.” Topics explored throughout the convening included more than just teacher compensation and school infrastructure. Legislators and witnesses also discussed adequate funding for students with disabilities, turnaround strategies for low-performing schools, and civil rights protections for students who attend private schools.

    • Amazon HQ2: Texas experience shows why New Yorkers were right to be skeptical

      New York offered Amazon close to US$3 billion to build a “second” headquarters in Long Island City on the promise of 25,000 jobs.

      Since the deal was joyfully announced in November, however, many local residents and some politicians in the area have been questioning whether it’s worth it, both in terms of the price tag and the impact on housing and traffic congestion. And on Feb. 14, Amazon backed out of the deal, citing political opposition to its plans.

      The research supports those who question the wisdom of cities and states incentivizing economic development. Studies suggest the jobs and economic gains are usually not worth the tax breaks since the majority of companies would have come even without incentives.

      And that’s when the companies try to live up to the promises they made. They don’t always do so, with the latest example being Foxconn’s announcement that it is reconsidering plans to build a factory in Wisconsin – less than a year after agreeing to create up to 13,000 high-tech jobs in exchange for more than $4.5 billion in incentives.

      But how often do companies that agree to build factories and create jobs in exchange for economic incentives back away from their promises? And when they do, do taxpayers ever learn about it?

    • Without Amazon, New York Can Now Do Economic Development Right

      Now that activists in New York City successfully chased Amazon and its “HQ2” plan out of New York City, there is a new challenge: Can the organizers and elected leaders who successfully blocked the kind of economic development they opposed bring about the kind of economic development they want?

      That was a question that Cheyenna Weber, general coordinator for the Cooperative Economics Alliance of New York City, was wrestling with in New York City hours after Amazon announced on Thursday that it was canceling a planned complex in Long Island City, Queens that they said would bring 25,000 jobs to the area.

      CEANYC offers support and advocacy for a sprawling group of cooperatives and other community-based enterprises that exist under the umbrella of the “solidarity economy.” It’s a particularly robust ecosystem—a 2017 directory lists 2,000 enterprises and orgnizations—that operate based on such values as worker democracy, sustainability, social justice and mutualism. “New York City is unique in that there is every type of solidarity economy entity going on here,” she said, from community food gardens to daycare cooperatives. “That density and diversity don’t exist anywhere else in the country.”

    • How the New York Amazon Deal Fell Apart

      In early November, word began to leak that Amazon was serious about choosing New York to build a giant new campus. The city was eager to lure the company and its thousands of high-paying tech jobs, offering billions in tax incentives and lighting the Empire State Building in Amazon orange.

      Even Governor Andrew Cuomo got in on the action: “I’ll change my name to Amazon Cuomo if that’s what it takes,” he joked at the time.

      Then Amazon made it official: It chose the Long Island City neighborhood of Queens to build a $2.5 billion campus that could house 25,000 workers, in addition to new offices planned for northern Virginia. Cuomo and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, Democrats who have been political adversaries for years, trumpeted the decision as a major coup after edging out more than 230 other proposals.

      But what they didn’t expect was the protests, the hostile public hearings and the disparaging tweets that would come in the next three months, eventually leading to Amazon’s dramatic Valentine’s Day breakup with New York.

      Immediately after Amazon’s Nov. 12 announcement, criticism started to pour in. The deal included $1.5 billion in special tax breaks and grants for the company, but a closer look at the total package revealed it to be worth at least $2.8 billion. Some of the same politicians who had signed a letter to woo Amazon were now balking at the tax incentives.

    • These are Russia’s charges against American investment manager Michael Calvey, and here’s why he says it’s all baloney

      What prosecutors say: First Collection Bureau (PKB), a company owned by the American investment manager Michael Calvey, borrowed 2.5 billion rubles ($37.7 million) from Vostochny Bank. Instead of repaying that loan, Calvey transferred his shares in another company called IFTG to Vostochny Bank in February 2017, telling the bank’s board of directors that the shares were worth nearly 3 billion rubles ($45.3 million). In February 2019, Vostochny Bank board member Sherzod Yusupov went to the Federal Security Service (FSB) and accused Calvey and the other participants in the deal of deceiving him. The FSB says it then verified these allegations, finding an audit assessment allegedly stating that IFTG was worth just 600,000 rubles ($9,050), not 3 billion rubles. Prosecutors say this is how Calvey and his accomplices committed fraud.

    • Why the SEC’s ‘ICO Guide’ Paints a Dark Picture for Cryptocurrency in 2019

      This week, the Securities and Exchange Commission tweeted out its guidelines for those launching and investing in ICOs, although many would say that over a year on from the peak of the cryptocurrency boom, the guidelines amount to too little, too late.

      That said, the document still throws up several points of contention, including a rather gloomy outlook for cryptocurrency exchanges – even decentralized ones – and at least one possible violation of the First Amendment on the part of the SEC.

    • North American Expats Contribute to Inequality in Latin America

      When Ana Jane* turned 60, she decided she wanted “a complete life change.” Approaching retirement, she was suddenly laid off from her job as an interior decorator in early 2009, during the peak of the financial crisis. Having endured cancer, job loss and an addiction problem, she was hoping to turn her life around. But the opportunities to do so in her home city of Houston, Texas, were limited.

      “I don’t think I can live in Houston for what I had as far as monthly income,” she said. “I wanted out of the states.” So she left.

      Over the last decade, thousands of Americans, most of them white, have left the United States to settle in communities in Latin America, where the cost of living is lower. International “lifestyle marketers,” such as International Living, with ties to real estate investors and developers in select destinations, often promote these communities online.

      Ana Jane chose to live in Cuenca, Ecuador, a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage city of 330,000 people located high up in the Ecuadorian Andes, and where the average monthly household income is about $700, well below what most retirees say they live on in the US. About a third of Cuenca’s population work in the informal sector, where even the basic salary of $394 per month is not guaranteed. Though there are no official statistics keeping tab on how many Americans have relocated there, municipal officials estimate as many as 10,000 since the 2008 crisis.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Trump Declared an Emergency Based on Data That Doesn’t Exist

      One possible reason President Trump may have had trouble producing those stats? They don’t really exist. Again and again throughout his remarks, and throughout his years-long battle to build a wall on the southern border, President Trump has relied, instead, on anecdotes, highlighting, for example, the heartbreaking stories of mothers whose children have been killed by undocumented immigrants or noting, as he did during the press conference, individual examples of people being killed on the border last week. These stories confirm President Trump’s stated belief that something new and dangerous is taking place on the border, and so he holds up them up as all the proof the American public needs that he’s right.

    • President of United States reposts video from winner of Infowars meme contest
    • Judge: Mississippi Suit to Cover All Who Lost Voting Rights

      A federal judge says a handful of former Mississippi convicts who are suing to have their voting rights restored can represent everyone who falls into that category.

      The ruling this week by U.S. District Judge Daniel Jordan certifying the lawsuit as a class action raises the stakes considerably. A victory by the plaintiffs could restore voting rights to tens of thousands of Mississippians, not just the handful who sued.

      Jordan ruled that the plaintiffs had met the legal tests for a class action, despite arguments by lawyers for the state that a class-action was unnecessary. Jordan said he might decide later whether the class should only include people who have completed all the terms of their sentence, including payment of fines and restitution, or whether to set different limits.

      There’s still a long way to go in the case. Both sides have asked Jordan to rule without a trial, but the judge could choose to hear witnesses.

    • Kamala Harris and the Rest of Us Will Regret Portraying Civil Rights as a National Security Issue

      “Russia was able to influence our election because they figured out that racism, sexism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, and transphobia are America’s Achilles heel. These issues aren’t only civil rights—they’re also a matter of national security. We have to deal with that.”

      This kind of rhetoric is a prime example of securitization: the attempt to turn an issue that is not obviously a matter of national security into one. The crux of the message is essentially: if you don’t toe my preferred line on this issue, you will be putting yourselves or your loved ones at risk—and providing comfort or aid to our enemies.

      Kamala Harris literally premised her career on securitization. She won her first public office, San Francisco District Attorney, by unseating one of the most progressive criminal justice reform advocates in the country at the time. Harris’ basic argument was that a commitment to sentencing reform and diversion programs was making San Francisco less safe; it was putting criminals before “the people.”

      Her bid to shift the conversation—from discussions about social justice to concerns about public safety—paid off. She decisively won the election, despite the reality that violent crime had actually dropped precipitously in San Francisco under her rival’s tenure (perhaps due to the very reforms she sowed public distrust against).

      This is why politicians rely on securitization: it is effective. When people come to view something as a security issue, they tend to become more supportive of the person who is promising to keep them safe, and less skeptical of the measures deployed to ensure that safety.

    • Setting Necessary Boundaries on Trump’s Misconduct

      Yesterday, in anticipation of Trump’s false declaration of a national emergency, Nancy Pelosi warned that such behavior set a bad precedent and invoked the possibility that, once a Democratic president is elected, he or she could declare a national emergency over gun violence. This was not the proper response.

      The proper response is to declare that the House of Representatives will immediately move to impeach the president for violating his oath of office and subverting the three-branch constitutional framework, among his other high crimes and misdemeanors, and that the GOP members of the Senate are going to be held publicly accountable for their support of Trump if they fail to convict him for this absolutely intolerable overreach of presidential power.

      Importantly, the public must be clear that its representatives are empowered to remove the president at their own judgment. That is, impeachment is a political judgement, not one applying criminal law burdens of proof. In an impeachment proceeding, a defendant president is not so easily protected by claiming there is no proof of a criminal intent as he would be in a court of law. Nor can the defendant president argue that conviction is not appropriate because the facts are such that it is plausible one might conclude there is a real emergency. The Senate does not have to overcome reasonable, or plausible, doubt before convicting.

    • With Americans Outraged Over Trump’s ‘Power Grab Based on Lies,’ 230+ President’s Day Protests Planned Across the Country

      As of Sunday morning, more than 230 demonstrations in cities and towns across the country are planned for Monday, February 18, with more than 10,000 Americans prepared to protest President Donald Trump’s admittedly-fake national emergency, and Republicans for their support for his actions.

      After Trump’s press conference Friday morning, progressive groups including MoveOn, United We Dream, Indivisible, and CREDO Action set to work organizing demonstrations against what CREDO co-director Heidi Hess called “an unconstitutional power grab that threatens our democracy and escalates Trump’s attacks on immigrants, communities of color, Muslims and Black and Brown people.”

      Within 24 hours Americans had RSVP’d to more than 175 President’s Day protests, with the number exploding again by Sunday.

      Emma Einhorn, campaign director for MoveOn, said the enthusiasm reflected the American public’s widespread opposition to Trump’s anti-immigration agenda.

    • Trump Is Our One-Man National Emergency

      Remember the stories about his alleged fury in 2011 when Barack Obama so effectively zinged Trump as he sat fuming from his table at the White House Correspondents Association dinner? Supposedly it was that humiliation at the hands of a black president that convinced Trump to seek the presidency and, God help us, get the last laugh.

      As a candidate, and once he assumed the highest office, in addition to its fundamental principle of Not America But Me First, the Trump platform has been built on planks of anything-Obama-did-I-reject-and-attack. So out went Obama regulations and trade deals. Iran nuclear pact? Be gone. Farewell, Paris climate accord.

      Last week, Trump tweeted, “No president ever worked harder than me (cleaning up the mess I inherited)!” That’s nonsensical on every level. For one, Lincoln and FDR must be laughing their presidential backsides off. And compared to you, Donald, you think Obama made a mess? Unless, of course, it’s something utterly, inarguably good, like the blooming, post-meltdown economy you inherited from him. Then it’s time to take credit for it.

      No putdown of Obama, no matter how petty, fake or borderline racist is beneath Trump. Last month, Josh Dawsey at The Washington Post reported that Trump “relishes” giving tours of the Oval Office and telling visitors that Obama “just sat in here and watched basketball all day.” Given the recent disclosure of Trump’s vast expanses of “executive time” watching Fox News, this is projection at a championship level.

    • How CNN Led Facebook To Censor Pages Of Russia-Backed Video Company And Manufactured News Story

      CNN went in search for a story about a Russian-funded digital media project that produces viral videos aimed at undermining American democracy. When CNN journalists could not find what they were looking for, they effectively manufactured the news by giving Facebook a pretext for removing the project’s pages used to share videos. Now, the cable news network had their story.

      Four CNN journalists worked on the report, “Russia is backing a viral video company aimed at American millennials.” It appeared online late in the day on February 15 and broke the news that Maffick Media had their Facebook pages for three video channels suspended.

      Facebook never required pages to include information about their parent companies nor has the social media company ever labeled state-sponsored media, which CNN acknowledged. Yet, since the project involves funding from Russian state media, CNN and others believed they were trying to hide who funds the videos.

    • DNC Rejects Ban on Corporate PAC Money, Delaying Decision Until 2020

      After rejecting a proposal to reinstate a full ban on corporate PAC donations earlier this week, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) decided on Saturday that the party’s Platform Committee would review a possible ban in 2020.

      At the DNC’s winter meeting, the DNC failed to pass the anti-corporate PAC resolution proposed by Christine Pelosi, chair of the California Democratic Party women’s caucus and daughter of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif). But Pelosi applauded the committee’s rejection of a resolution to “study” the effects of corporate PAC donations, instead directing the DNC’s Platform Committee to vote on whether the contributions will be allowed in 2020.

      [...]

      Former President Barack Obama introduced a ban on corporate PAC money in 2008, but the DNC reversed it in 2016. Despite the fact that reinstating the ban is clearly a winning issue with voters, some Democrats still claim that refusing corporate donations will harm the Party’s chance of defeating President Donald Trump in 2020.

      “My number one focus, frankly, is to get rid of Donald Trump,” Charlie King, a DNC member and former executive director of the New York State Democratic Party, told Vox.com—indicating that offering voters broadly popular ideas is far less important to some members than simply defeating Trump and returning to the corporate-friendly status quo that existed before he was elected.

      Larry Cohen, a member who supported Pelosi’s resolution and who serves on the board of Our Revolution, strongly disagreed.

    • Catalan Crisis Shakes Spain’s Stability

      he secession crisis festering in Spain’s northeastern corner of Catalonia has spread to the political heart of the European Union nation.

      Twice in less than a year, separatist lawmakers from Catalonia have played the role of king slayer, with their votes in the national Parliament in Madrid proving the decisive push to topple consecutive governments.

      Catalan separatists momentarily aligned with their political nemeses this week by joining Spain’s right-wing parties to kill the Socialist government’s spending bill, after talks between the government and the separatists collapsed over the possibility of a referendum on secession.

      The failure to pass a national spending bill led Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez on Friday to call an early election for April 28.

    • WATCH: Pence Met with Icy Silence in Munich, Praising Trump and Attempting to Bully Leaders on Foreign Policy

      Slamming European countries for “undermining U.S. sanctions” by staying in the painstakingly-reached Iran nuclear deal, Pence called on world leaders to turn away from Iran while accusing the country of antisemitism.

      “The Iranian regime openly advocates another Holocaust and it seeks the means to achieve it,” said Pence.

      Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif called Pence’s accusation “laughable.”

      “Iran has always supported the Jews,” he told Der Spiegel. “We are just against Zionists.”

      “Iran’s historic and cultural record of coexistence and respect for divine religions, particularly Judaism, is recorded in reliable historic documents of various nations,” Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi added in a statement.

      “The principle that underlies our foreign policy is the aggressive and occupying nature of the Zionist regime [Israel] … which is a killing machine against the Palestinian people,” he said.

      Regarding Iran, German Chancellor Angela Merkel also addressed the conference, defending the decision of Germany and other European nations to stay in the nuclear agreement and observing the Trump administration’s isolation in the debate over the deal.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Tunisia: Citizens Testing Right-to-Information Law

      Tunisia passed the “Right to Access Information Law” (Law No. 2016-22) in March 2016, joining the few Arab countries that have such laws. Tunisia’s law obliges public bodies to furnish a more extensive range of information than legislation in Jordan (adopted in 2007), Yemen (2012), Lebanon (2017), and Morocco (2017). It also limits what information can be denied. Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government has had a similar law on the books since 2013.

      Tunisia’s law requires all government bodies, public institutions, and any institutions that receive public funding to make a range of information public upon request, including organizational charts, legal texts, state agreements, public policies and programs, procurement processes, statistics, and “any information relating to public finances including detailed budget-related data at the central, regional and local levels.” Tunisia’s law is the first in the Arab world to establish an independent commission to oversee compliance, the Access to Information Authority (known as INAI, its French acronym).

    • Reporters Without Borders says Spanish journalists continue to face harassment and repression

      RSF said journalists had continued to run into obstacles as seen when National Police officers seized mobile phones, computers and material from news outlets in Mallorca. Europa Press and Diario de Mallorca were reporting on alleged large-scale corruption on the island.

    • At least 79 journalists arrested in two months of protests in Sudan

      RSF has so far registered a total of 79 media personnel arrests since the protests against an increase in the price of bread began on 19 December and then quickly grew into angry demonstrations against the regime.

      These systematic arrests have targeted not only reporters covering protests in almost all parts of the country but also journalists who themselves dared to protest against the regime’s policy of censorship and arrests of journalists with the aim of restricting coverage of the protests.

    • Mexico: Veteran Radio Reporter Jesús Ramos Rodríguez Murdered
    • Finland sets precedent in sentencing journalists’ harassers

      The latest ruling came in October when a Finnish regional court convicted the instigators of an online harassment campaign against Finnish journalist Jessikka Aro of stalking, aggravated defamation and incitement to aggravated defamation following years of sustained attacks on Aro through various channels. Aro is known for her award-winning investigative reports on Russian online [astroturfers].

    • Finland sets precedent in sentencing journalists’ harassers

      “The court judged that systematic harassment of an individual journalist and inciting others to do so can be compared to physical abuse”, Arno Ahosniemi, the editor-in-chief of Finnish business daily Kauppalehti and the chair of the Guild of Finnish Editors, said in an interview with the International Press Institute (IPI).

    • Pakistan’s Supreme Court Upholds Christian Woman’s Blasphemy Acquittal

      On Tuesday, Pakistan’s Supreme Court upheld its acquittal of a Christian woman who had been sentenced to death for blasphemy in 2010, clearing the way for her to leave the country as radical Islamists seethe.

    • FATAH: Asia Bibi is finally free, but blasphemy laws still must go

      This time it’s a Christian mother from Pakistan who spent nearly ten years on death row for the crime of daring to drink from a cup of water reserved for Muslims. Her name is Aasiya Noreen also known as Asia Bibi.

      Asia Bibi’s daughters reportedly arrived in Canada before her and Bibi herself was believed to have arrived in Toronto on a Tuesday afternoon flight, the family reunited for the first time in a decade.

    • Asia Bibi blasphemy acquittal upheld by Pakistan court

      In a concerted move to forestall public unrest, Pakistani electronic media is underplaying the story.

    • Pakistani Christian Asia Bibi’s Daughters In Canada: Source

      The daughters of Pakistani Christian woman Asia Bibi, whose blasphemy case spotlighted religious extremism in her country, are now in Canada, a source close to the case said on Wednesday.

    • Why did gay Muslim comics disappear from Instagram?

      The Instagram account – under the username @Alpantuni – featured comic strips that showed the abuse and discrimination faced by a gay Muslim character. It had almost 6,000 followers.

      One comic showed the character being told to “burn in hell” and having faeces thrown at him.

      Local media outlets say the communications ministry had threatened to block Instagram if @Alpantuni’s account was not removed.

    • Yet another critic of the president is arrested in the Philippines

      Officers from the National Bureau of Investigation arrived late in the afternoon. They told journalists at Rappler, an online media outlet that has been scathing in its criticism of President Rodrigo Duterte, to stop filming as they arrested the organisation’s boss, Maria Ressa. A veteran journalist, Ms Ressa is accused of “cyber libel” in connection with a piece published almost seven years ago. It alleged that a businessman, Wilfredo Keng, whose car a former chief justice used for transport during an impeachment trial, had ties to human trafficking and drug rings.

    • India set to adopt China-style internet censorship

      New rules limiting internet freedom could be imposed by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government any time after Thursday night.

    • India Proposes Chinese-Style Internet Censorship

      Under the proposed rules, Indian officials could demand that Facebook, Google, Twitter, TikTok and others remove posts or videos that they deem libelous, invasive of privacy, hateful or deceptive. Internet companies would also have to build automated screening tools to block Indians from seeing “unlawful information or content.” Another provision would weaken the privacy protections of messaging services like WhatsApp so that the authorities could trace messages back to their original senders.

      The new rules could be imposed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government anytime after the public comment period ends on Thursday night. The administration has been eager to get them in place before the date is set for this spring’s national elections, which will prompt special pre-election rules limiting new policies.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Russian Army Will Ban Social Media to Prevent Soldiers From Being Tracked Overseas

      Russian lawmakers are poised to introduce a new law preventing soldiers from posting information on the internet, in a move designed to avoid details of foreign deployments becoming public.

      On Tuesday, the parliament approved the second of three readings of the legislation, Reuters reported. The ban would cover photographs, video, geolocation data and other information that might compromise the positions of military units or shed light on their activities.

      The new law will also prevent troops from sharing information about fellow soldiers or any of their relatives. Anyone breaking the ban would be subject to disciplinary measures. The bill, if passed, would formally legislate military recommendations issued to troops in 2017, according to pro-Kremlin newspaper Izvestia.

      If the lower house approves the bill for the third time, it will then be sent to the Senate for approval. If successful, it will pass to President Vladimir Putin for final approval.

      A note explaining the need for the bill read: “Information shared by soldiers on the internet or mass media is used…in certain cases to form a biased assessment of Russia’s state policy.”

    • Even years later, Twitter doesn’t delete your direct messages

      When does “delete” really mean delete? Not always, or even at all, if you’re Twitter .

      Twitter retains direct messages for years, including messages you and others have deleted, but also data sent to and from accounts that have been deactivated and suspended, according to security researcher Karan Saini.

      Saini found years-old messages in a file from an archive of his data obtained through the website from accounts that were no longer on Twitter. He also reported a similar bug, found a year earlier but not disclosed until now, that allowed him to use a since-deprecated API to retrieve direct messages even after a message was deleted from both the sender and the recipient — though, the bug wasn’t able to retrieve messages from suspended accounts.

      Saini told TechCrunch that he had “concerns” that the data was retained by Twitter for so long.

      Direct messages once let users “unsend” messages from someone else’s inbox, simply by deleting it from their own. Twitter changed this years ago, and now only allows a user to delete messages from their account. “Others in the conversation will still be able to see direct messages or conversations that you have deleted,” Twitter says in a help page. Twitter also says in its privacy policy that anyone wanting to leave the service can have their account “deactivated and then deleted.” After a 30-day grace period, the account disappears, along with its data.

    • Twitter has been storing your ‘deleted’ DMs for years

      It turns out that despite showing that the message was deleted, Twitter still stores all those DMs dating back years. Folks can access this simply by downloading the archived data on their account from Twitter. Saini confirms that even messages sent to and from deleted or suspended accounts are still accessible.

    • Twitter Retains Your DMs For Years After You’ve Deactivated Your Account

      t seems that Twitter’s definition of ‘Delete’ is different from ours. In a report published by Techcrunch, it was revealed that Twitter retains users’ messages for years even after they have deactivated their account. Twitter’s policies state that if anyone wants to opt out of the platform, they can have their account “deactivated and then deleted” within a grace period of 30 days.

    • Facebook and FTC negotiating multi-BILLION dollar fine over privacy violations

      Facebook is expected to be slapped with the largest fine the FCC has ever imposed on a tech company, but the exact dollar amount is yet to be determined.

    • Facebook monitors and tracks the locations of users it deems a threat

      The company actively monitors its platform for threatening comments, the report said. That can include a nonspecific threat to a Facebook location or a direct one targeted at specific people. Once Facebook determines that a threat from a user is credible, the company uses data from its products to track that person’s location.

    • Facebook uses its apps to track users it thinks could threaten employees and offices

      The company’s information security team is capable of tracking these individuals’ whereabouts using the location data they provide through Facebook’s apps and websites.

    • Facebook may face multi-billion dollar fine for Cambridge Analytica scandal

      The FTC has been investigating Facebook and is negotiating with the company “over a multi-billion dollar fine that would settle the agency’s investigation,” The Washington Post reported yesterday, citing “people familiar with the probe.” New York Times sources also confirmed that the current negotiations “could amount to a record, multibillion-dollar fine.”

    • Facebook Fine Could Total Billions if F.T.C. Talks Lead to a Deal

      The current talks have not yet reached the F.T.C.’s five commissioners for a vote and it is unclear how close the two sides are to wrapping up the nearly 11-month investigation. The commissioners met in mid-December and were updated by staff members that they had at that point found considerable evidence of violations of the 2011 consent decree.

    • Facebook Faces U.S. Privacy Pact That Could Cost Billions

      No settlement proposal has been presented to the agency’s five commissioners, according to one of the people. The commissioners have the final say over any agreement reached with Facebook. It was unclear whether the two sides have discussed details of how much Facebook would have to pay to resolve the case. The Washington Post reported earlier that they are in discussions about a multi-billion-dollar fine.

    • Facebook’s internal security goons track ex-employees and critics using Facebook’s apps

      Given the scale of Facebook and the number of people the company has infuriated, this watchlist could be very big indeed — as CNBC points out, if the company tracks 0.1% of its users this way, it’s keeping tabs on 270,000 people.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • [Older] The Insane New Path to YouTube Fame: Taunt Cops and Film It

      Though the stakes are high, the payoff is, too. After Padilla’s trash-talking encounter with the San Antonio officer, he said, a more prominent YouTube personality highlighted the video, bringing him new subscribers and millions of views. Padilla also takes donations, meaning that new eyeballs often lead to more money from individuals who want to support his First Amendment “tests.” It’s become a form of business for the 27-year-old, who first became interested in auditing not because of a personal encounter with the cops but after watching police-brutality videos online.

      “I just went out there and did it, homey,” Padilla told The Daily Beast.

      Currently, however, the business has gone cold. Padilla isn’t in a position to film more audits for his audience. For one thing, he’s facing a deluge of death threats over his videos. Worse, after another encounter with police and more than eight arrests over his audits, he’s been under house arrest since July, pending trial on the charges.

    • YouTuber shot while filming security guard outside synagogue

      A YouTuber who films her own confrontations with law enforcement was shot yesterday while recording a security guard outside a Los Angeles synagogue and high school.

      The YouTuber, Zhoie Perez, who goes by Furry Potato online, began live-streaming the encounter after the guard drew a gun. “He said if I moved he’s gonna shoot me dead,” Perez says. After several minutes of filming, a shot is fired, and Perez shouts, “Fucker shot me! Fucker shot me in the leg! Fuck!”

    • Wisconsin Republicans Literally Erased Colin Kaepernick From Black History Month

      A resolution was put forward by the Wisconsin state legislature’s black caucus about people whom they wanted to see honored during this year’s Black History Month commemorations. One of the people these legislators wanted to single out for praise was a son of Wisconsin: blackballed NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick. When Wisconsin Republicans saw his name, they erased it—literal erasure!—from the resolution. Republicans blocked the passage of the resolution until Kaepernick was removed. He is not in the updated version of the resolution. Later, at a press conference, they said Kaepernick was “too controversial” to be included on such a list.

    • ICE Stops Force-Feeding Immigrant Detainees

      The U.S. government has suddenly stopped force-feeding all nine Indian immigrants on a hunger strike inside an El Paso immigration detention center, according to local reports Thursday.

      The dramatic reversal comes as public pressure was mounting on U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to halt the controversial practice, which involves feeding detainees through nasal tubes against their will. Last week, the United Nations human rights office said the force-feeding of immigrant hunger strikers at the facility could violate the U.N. Convention Against Torture.

    • Iran’s capital bans dog walking in public in effort to discourage dog ownership

      In addition to dog walking, driving with a dog in a car was also being banned by Tehran’s Prosecutors Office, Tehran Police Chief Hossein Rahimi told state-run news agency Young Journalists Club.

    • Man kills self, Hindu girl in Shikarpur

      The man was persuading Rajkumari to convert to Islam so that they could marry each other. However, she refused his request.

    • Indonesian teens publicly flogged for cuddling

      The college student and her boyfriend each received 17 lashes for publicly cuddling, which is a violation of the state’s strict interpretation of Sharia law, according to a government spokesman.

    • Tortured for a good deed

      Madrasa teacher, imam tied to trees, beaten up for stopping child marriage in Noakhali

    • CAIR Decries Gun Store Stickers As Bigoted Against Muslims

      The organization claims Ammo Bros sells stickers that read “Infidels” and “Pork Eating Crusader.”

    • Life under ISIS led these Muslims to Christianity

      “Changing your religion under ISIS wasn’t even imaginable. ISIS would kill you immediately,” he added.

    • Not Quite the Religion of Peace

      When sentencing a pair of jihadis, a NSW judge observed that the Islamic community needs to work out if Koranic exortations to violence are to be taken seriously or not. Predictably, there followed immediate denials that anything needs to change or, indeed, could be changed. It seems Islamic leaders could use a refresher course in their creed’s most sacred text

    • Saudi women’s rights activist is being tortured in ‘palace of terror,’ brother says

      In the article, Walid Alhathloul writes that during a recent visit by his parents to see Loujain she told them she was regularly whipped, beaten, electrocuted and sexually harassed in a basement she called the “palace of terror.”

      Alhathloul was arrested in May 2018, along with 10 other women’s rights activists in Saudi Arabia. Her family, Saudi activists and Human Rights Watch have alleged in recent months that she and other female detainees have been tortured and sexually harassed in prison.

    • The myth of the hijabi woman’s agency

      If you dig deep into the bedrock of this, it is clear that this agency is very limited. That is how patriarchy and religion have modernised themselves: by inventing the myth of the agency of women, especially veiled women. It has convinced them that they are making a choice and have the freedom to exert that choice.

      To me, their freedom is just like that of mice in a maze — they are free to go anywhere, so long as they remain inside the maze. That is the whole extent of agency veiled woman have.

    • Muslim school will not allow girls to eat lunch until after boys have finished, Ofsted chief says

      Addressing the women and equalities select committee, he said that Ofsted inspectors are trying to hold schools account for discriminating against girls but feel “isolated” when their stance is not backed up by ministers.

    • He divorced her over the phone because she ‘came home 10 minutes late’

      The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2018, which was passed in the Lok Sabha on December 27 during the Winter Session, criminalises the practice and classifies triple talaq as a cognisable and non-bailable offence, with three years’ imprisonment and a fine. The bill is pending in the Rajya Sabha.

    • Yazidi Boy Kidnapped by IS Talks about His Past
    • Finnish Parliament calls unexpected timeout on civilian and military intelligence laws

      The decision to withdraw a bill from the agenda at such a short notice is exceptional.

      The Finnish Parliament in October voted overwhelmingly in favour of declaring urgent a series of constitutional amendments necessitated by the new intelligence laws, thus enabling the government to enact the laws by the end of its term in office.

    • Finland’s Grooming Gangs

      It was evidently the “blatant” failings of police and politicians that allowed these men to continue raping and abusing these children; the authorities reportedly remained silent either for political gain or to avoid professional damage.

    • ‘Removing your hijab can get you killed – even in the West’

      Yasmine Mohammed: Last year was the first year that I responded to World Hijab Day, which was set up by Islamists in the US. I posted a video of myself burning the hijab, in solidarity with the women in Iran, Saudi Arabia and all over the world who would like to remove this cloth from their heads. For many women in Muslim-majority countries, to do so could not only mean ostracism or abuse from your family and community, but also could mean being imprisoned or killed. This is not unheard of in Western countries, either. In Canada, there was a 16-year-old who was killed for removing her hijab.

    • Muslims Form Community Patrol. Some Neighbors Say No Thanks.
    • FGM ‘increasingly performed on UK babies’

      “People are concerned about cultural sensitivities, worried about being branded racist, and it’s being performed on a very private area,” Dr Proudman said, explaining why it has taken many years for the first UK conviction to arrive.

    • To Forgive Is Also Human — But Leaves One With Little To Rage About On Social Media

      It’s by admitting past behavior and recognizing that it was wrong and why that we behave in better ways in the future — and maybe set an example for others with similarly ugly beliefs.

    • “It’s What Happens in a Totalitarian Regime”: Capitol Police Slammed for “Disturbing” Physical Attacks on Reporters

      Press freedom advocates and journalists described a Friday report of Capitol Police manhandling and shoving reporters in the Russell Senate Office Building as “bizarre” and “disturbing,” with some calling the altercation an incident far more likely to take place in a totalitarian regime than in a democracy.

      As Roll Call reported Friday, Capitol Police pushed and “slammed into” reporters on Thursday afternoon around the time that senators were voting on the spending bill. The police attempted to prevent reporters from speaking to lawmakers—a practice that is common in the Senate basement, where the incident took place.

    • Tension prevails in Tirubhuvanam after murder of former PMK functionary

      Meanwhile, in a statement, PMK party founder S Ramadoss alleged that Ramalingam had been hacked to death after he opposed religious conversions. He said those involved in the murder should be arrested and severely punished. Besides, the Tamil Nadu and Central governments should offer Rs 1 crore to the victim’s family as compensation.

    • Tamil Nadu: Former PMK Activist Murdered By Suspected Members Of Radical Islamic Organisation For Resisting Conversion In A Dalit Neighbourhood

      According to police sources, Ramalingam’s murder is linked to his recent attempt to resist proselytisation by members of an Islamic group in a Hindu Dalit dominated neighbourhood.

    • Nottingham taxi driver loses licence after refusing to pick up blind man and his guide dog

      Upon the review of his Hackney carriage and private hire driver’s licence, it was revoked indefinitely and he will only be able to obtain one in the future if he can demonstrate he is fit to return to driving a taxi.

    • France’s Muslim paradox

      However, the country is short of imams so it imports them from Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia — the home countries of the main Muslim immigrant communities — Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

      [...]

      By asking those countries and Tunisia to send imams — the need is particularly high during Ramadan — France is walking into an ideological trap that only encourages the spread of political Islam.

    • 25 photos show what Iran looked like before the 1979 revolution turned the nation into an Islamic republic

      # 40th anniversary

      In the decades before the Islamic revolution of 1979, Iran was ruled by the Shah whose dictatorship repressed dissent and restricted political freedoms.

      But he also he pushed the country to adopt Western-oriented secular modernization, allowing some degree of cultural freedom.

    • Escape from Syria: The western women emerging from ISIS’s crumbling caliphate

      “When I came here, I heard. I haven’t seen one, but…” Her answer trailed off with a nervous laugh. “Well, having slaves is part of Sharia,” she finally ventured. “I believe in Sharia, wherever Sharia is. We must follow whoever is implementing the way, the law.”

    • Vatican Defrocks Former U.S. Cardinal Over Sex Abuse

      Pope Francis has defrocked former U.S. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick after Vatican officials found him guilty of soliciting for sex while hearing confession and of sexual crimes against minors and adults, the Holy See said Saturday.

      McCarrick, 88, is the highest-ranking Catholic churchman to be laicized, as the process is called. It means he can no longer celebrate Mass or other sacraments, wear clerical vestments or be addressed by any religious title. He is the first churchman who reached the rank of cardinal to be defrocked in the church’s sex abuse scandals.

      The punishment for the once-powerful prelate, who had served as the archbishop of Washington, spent years in New Jersey dioceses and had been an influential fundraiser for the church, was announced five days before Francis leads an extraordinary gathering of bishops from around the world to help the church grapple with the crisis of sex abuse by clergy and the systematic cover-ups by church hierarchy. The decades-long scandals have shaken the faith of many Catholics and threaten Francis’ papacy.

    • A Showdown on the Census Citizenship Question Is Coming to the Supreme Court

      Today, the Supreme Court announced that it will hear oral arguments on the Trump administration’s decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census. The addition of such a question would likely depress census turnout, skew the allocation of congressional seats, and change how billions of dollars in federal funding are distributed to the states.

      The decision comes after a federal court in New York ruled against the administration in the case, New York v. United States Department of Commerce. The lower court had decided that the Commerce Department’s decision to add the question was “arbitrary” and made in violation of federal law.

      In an unusual move, the Trump administration appealed the lower court’s ruling directly to the Supreme Court, rather than going first to the court of appeals.

      The Supreme Court agreed to take up two questions. First, the Justices will consider whether the New York court was correct to block the citizenship question. Second, the Court will decide if the lower court properly allowed the groups challenging the question to obtain documents and other information from the federal government.

    • Imagine Pleading Guilty Because You Can’t Afford to Call Your Lawyer

      Imagine paying $20.12 for a 15-minute phone call. That’s how much a call from the Jennings Adult Correctional Facility in Missouri costs.

      In 2013, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) set price caps on interstate calls from jails, prisons and detention facilities. Now, interstate calls can cost no more than 21 cents per minute (or $3.15 for a 15-minute phone call). Two years later, in 2015, it did the same for intrastate (or in-state) calls, which make up 92 percent of all calls from incarcerated people. Prison phone providers filed lawsuits challenging these restrictions and, in June 2017, a federal court ruled in the phone companies’ favor. The ruling means that intrastate calls are not subject to FCC regulation and rates fluctuate wildly depending on each facility’s contract with the phone provider.

      Jennings isn’t the only local jail with outrageous phone prices. The Arkansas County Jail charges $24.82 for a 15-minute call; in contrast, the same call from the state’s prisons costs $4.80. In Michigan, a call from the Benzie County Sheriff’s jail costs $22.56, but $2.40 from the state prison.

      Even when phone costs aren’t as exorbitant, they still add up quickly. The Allegheny County Jail in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which contracts with the company GTL, charge $3.15 for a 15-minute call. That doesn’t count the fee to add money onto a phone account. Carol Speaks, whose son is currently in the jail, says that for every $20 that she adds to her phone account, she gets $17 in calls. In other words, GTL takes $3 of every payment, leaving her with four 15-minute phone calls. Speaks, who earns $15 an hour, said the money she spent on calls meant that, at times, she had to forgo putting gas in her car or buying groceries.

    • 21 Savage Arrested by ICE and Could Be Deported

      ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) said they “arrested unlawfully present United Kingdom national Sha Yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph AKA ’21 Savage’ during a targeted operation with federal and local law enforcement partners early Sunday in metro Atlanta. Mr. Abraham-Joseph was taken into ICE custody as he is unlawfully present in the U.S. and also a convicted felon.”

    • 21 Savage Arrested By ICE in Atlanta

      21 Savage was picked up by ICE early Sunday morning. He apparently entered the U.S. legally in 2005 but his visa expired and he reportedly is here illegally.

    • Can Trump’s Wall Survive His Fake Emergency?

      For a fleeting moment on Friday morning, a wild hope galloped through my mind like a horse fleeing a barn fire. Trump would step to the podium to make his emergency declaration, smirk at the assembled reporters and say, “My fellow Americans, I have never told a joke in my life.” With a sudden howl, he would rip the rubber mask off his head to reveal a man everyone thought was dead. I knew it! It’s Andy Kaufman! Behind him, Mike Pence would tear his mask off to reveal Jerry Lawler, and the two would walk away arm in arm giggling like titmice on a tree bough, having pulled the greatest prank of all time.

      If you’re going to cause a constitutional crisis, you may as well make it fun, right?

      Nope. When Trump unleashed a disorganized, rambling, snarling, sniff-riddled word cloud on China, Korea, Syria, missiles, Obama, wars, duct tape, “bob” wire, Democrats, singsong Beat poetry, caravans and the stock market while announcing his illegal emergency declaration, it wasn’t fun. It was surreal to the point of brown-acid psychedelia, and it was perfectly terrifying in the main, but it wasn’t fun. In an administration made of low points, Friday’s Rose Garden debacle was a Jules Verne novel on live television. Dead or alive, Andy Kaufman would have been a substantial improvement.

      In an administration made of low points, Friday’s Rose Garden debacle was a Jules Verne novel on live television.
      So that happened, as Trump said on Friday, and here we are. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell jettisoned the last lingering threads of his integrity and endorsed the emergency declaration on Thursday afternoon, likely because he’s also getting the shutdown-avoiding border bill he wanted. With McConnell now on board, a majority of the lemmings in his caucus — many of whom are deeply concerned about the precedent being set — will likely fling themselves over the cliff if House Speaker Pelosi, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rep. Joaquin Castro force a vote on the declaration, which they are all but certain to do.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • The Spartan Web

      Today, when you visit a website to read an article, which might be a thousand words of text, your browser might easily load megabytes of data for that. The whole bible fits into one megabyte. When these data packets arrive I would love to go into spartan mode and kick them into a deep dark hole.

    • Why does that website take forever to load? Clues: Three syllables, starts with a J, rhymes with crock of sh…

      If the web seems slow, blame third-party advertising and analytics scripts.

      Many internet users have already come to that conclusion but Patrick Hulce, founder of Dallas, Texas-based Eris Ventures and a former Google engineer, has assembled data that clarifies the impact of third-party scripts in the hope it prompts more efficient coding.

      Hulce has compiled a list of the third-party scripts residing in the top million websites and found that the 100 most common bits of JavaScript eat up about 59 per cent of script execution time.

      “Third party script execution is the majority chunk of the web today, and it’s important to make informed choices,” he says in the GitHub post where he presents the data.

  • DRM

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Federal Circuit vacates PTAB analysis of online-trading patents

      A federal appeals court on Wednesday revived four patents on a graphical user interface for online stock traders, saying the Patent Trial and Appeal Board had overstepped its authority in reviewing them.

      The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit vacated a win for Greenwich, Connecticut-based Interactive Brokers LLC and its holding company, IBG LLC, in a dispute with software developer Trading Technologies International of Chicago.

    • After PTAB Wins, BMW Seeks End To Car Tech Patent Suit

      BMW asked a Texas federal judge Wednesday to hand it a win in a Texas company’s infringement suit over vehicle software update technology, noting that the Patent Trial and Appeal Board found…

    • Alarm.com Loses Patent Infringement Case Against SecureNe

      Alarm.com (Nasdaq: ALRM) has lost its bid for millions of dollars in damages in a patent infringement case relating to smart home security and automation networking.

      A jury found Feb. 8 that SecureNet Technologies did not infringe three of Alarm.com’s patents, awarding no damages in the five-day U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware trial.

      Based in Florida, SecureNet manufacturers a B2B software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution for providers of interactive services in the security, smart home, MSO health & wellness and energy verticals.

    • Alarm.com Loses Patent Infringement Case Against SecureNet, Awarded No Damages
    • Samsung Gets Fed. Circ. Win Over Abstract Health Data IP

      Samsung secured a victory Tuesday as the Federal Circuit affirmed a Virginia federal court’s determination that four patents covering a system for processing health data are invalid because they are abstract….

    • PTAB Taking Patent Eligibility Revamp To Heart

      The Patent Trial and Appeal Board has in recent weeks demonstrated its intent to follow the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s new patent eligibility framework, taking an approach that could enable…

    • Copyrights

      • Copyright Office Refuses Registration for ‘Fresh Prince’ Star Alfonso Ribeiro’s “Carlton Dance”

        In correspondence last month that was surfaced on Wednesday in California federal court, Saskia Florence, a supervisory registration specialist in the Office’s Performing Arts Division, told Ribeiro’s attorney that registration must be refused because his claimed “choreographic work” was a “simple dance routine.”

      • Japan to amend copyright law to combat piracy

        Piracy is a serious problem. Piracy causes heavy damage to copyright holders and content business. The amount of damage for manga and animation in Japan is about JPY 200 billion (USD 1.8 billion), according to a government survey in 2014.

        In order to solve this problem, the Japanese government tried to legislate piracy website blocking. However, the government had to give up the legislation for that (See here about this). Because it encountered strong opposition, considering infringement on the constitutionally guaranteed secrecy of communication.

      • European Commission removes offensive blog post that called critics of copyright bill a “mob”

        Many people were outraged, and I called this a “new low” for political discourse in the EU. It’s simply inappropriate and unacceptable for a government agency to insult citizens concerned about a legislative proposal (many of whom foot the bill of the Brussels gravy train with their taxes). If there had been a violent demonstration breaking the windows of the Berlaymont building, the term “mob” might have been justified. But no such thing happened in connection with the EU Copyright Directive.

        We’re just talking about citizens expressing their views on the Internet and participating in peaceful demonstrations. In fact, I actually think the opponents of that ill-conceived, misguided bill are too nice for their own good. Apart from some Internet memes involving one MEP (Axel Voss), they haven’t really attacked some people as hard as they could have and in my view should have. My brothers-in-arms in the fight against the EU software patent directive, the FFII activists, maintained a wiki on which they documented the lies of countless politicians. I remember how some MEPs were really upset, especially when they realized that those unfavorable wiki pages were among the very first Google search results for their names. I’m quite sure one could research and publish a lot more information about longstanding relationships of numerous MEPs with certain media companies. And even if one did that, citizens would still be citizens, voters would still be voters, and taxpayers would still be taxpayers–not a “mob” unless there’s violence involved, or at an absolute minimum, insults that can’t be justified with political disagreement.

        It’s something else when President Trump takes to Twitter in his outspoken way. He’s the President, and he gets attacked at a very personal level all the time. Also, he’s already campaigning for reelection. But imagine the outcry you’d hear in the U.S. if the DOJ referred to dissidents in an IP context as a “mob!”

      • EU’s final Copyright Directive text is worse than anyone thought possible

        The Copyright Directive overhaul has been in the planning for some time, but the latest iteration has been described by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) as “worse than any in the Directive’s sordid history”.

        Under the new rules, any company over three years old or making more than €10m is completely responsible for content on their site, and any infractions that their users make are completely on them.

      • EU Commission Portrays “Article 13” Opponents as a Misled and Misinformed Mob

        With the ink barely dry on Wednesday’s agreement for the final draft of Article 13, the EU Commission published an eyebrow-raising piece Thursday. While much of it is implied, the Commission suggests that the millions of people who opposed Article 13 have been misled and are therefore poorly informed.

      • The Final Version of the EU’s Copyright Directive Is the Worst One Yet

        Goodbye, protections for artists and scientists

        The Copyright Directive was always a grab bag of updates to EU copyright rules—which are long overdue for an overhaul, given that it’s been 18 years since the last set of rules were ratified. Some of its clauses gave artists and scientists much-needed protections: artists were to be protected from the worst ripoffs by entertainment companies, and scientists could use copyrighted works as raw material for various kinds of data analysis and scholarship.

        Both of these clauses have now been gutted to the point of uselessness, leaving the giant entertainment companies with unchecked power to exploit creators and arbitrarily hold back scientific research.

      • Trump video removed after copyright complaint by R.E.M. publisher

        A video tweeted by President Trump was removed from Twitter on Saturday after the publisher of R.E.M.’s songs complained about the band’s music being used in the video, CNBC reported.

      • Pirate Site Slammed for Meddling with DRM-Free Games, Circumvention Ensues

        Pirate site IGG-Games, which sits among the top 1,500 sites in the world, is under fire for meddling with pirate releases. One particular example involves the DRM-free game The Eternal Castle, which has been modified not to run if people remove IGG-Games’ advertising code. The site says it needs to do this to prevent other sites “stealing” its releases but pirates are not impressed. In fact, they’ve developed a tool to remove this ‘DRM’.

Amazon’s Patent Policy Should be Enough of a Reason to Boycott Amazon and AWS

Posted in Patents, Servers at 8:47 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Bezos and MbS

Summary: There are many things to criticise Amazon and its founder for; but rarely does the mainstream media bring up the company’s appalling patent policy

THIS post isn’t about infidelity (shown above) or greed; or Bezos betraying his dead worker by meeting the murderer (shown above). It isn’t about him attacking media and its sources (like our EPO sources) or about him being an exhibitionist. It’s not about him raking in billions of dollars from the CIA (AWS contracts) or about him urging all companies to work for the Pentagon. It’s not about him looking to grab taxpayers’ money in New York (corporate welfare) or famously mistreating his employees (we covered some examples based on insiders’ accounts after they had approached us).

Amazon is a really bad company. Nevertheless, a lot of companies still feel comfortable hosting most things if not all things at AWS, i.e. in datacentres that Amazon keeps a secret (unless or until it leaks). It even uses proxy locations to hide where the servers are, just like some clandestine agency. It’s about surveillance and there’s a lot of censorship, too. It’s imperialistic.

“Amazon is a really bad company. Nevertheless, a lot of companies still feel comfortable hosting most things if not all things at AWS…”Amazon’s record with patents — a subject we last covered some months ago — is overlooked by almost everybody. At the European Patent Office, for instance, Amazon pursued the same dubious patents it had received from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), such as this patent we wrote about some months ago. Amazon isn’t just imperialistic; it’s also monopolistic. It uses software patents to shield its monopoly.

Don’t Use Cloudflare Because You Impose This on People Who Least Want It

Posted in Servers at 8:21 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

It may also put these people at risk

Cloudflare

Summary: Reasons to stop making the World Wide Web so heavily dependent on some dubious companies like Cloudflare, which already has a worrisome track record

OVER the years, at work and at home (e.g. in social control media), I have expressed strong (but polite) criticism of Cloudflare (or CloudFlare or CF) and its dangers — to the point where its oversensitive staff decided to block my Twitter account (not due to abuse or because I spoke to them, they just didn’t want to see anything I had said). I’ve rarely come across so thin-skinned a company and recently I have seen people making the very same points. So here’s the gist of it all: Cloudflare is a MitM (man in the middle) and this enables Cloudflare to engage in censorship, surveillance and even worse things. Cloudflare has done both things in the past and was at times caught misusing its power. Cloudflare is no ordinary CDN but a private, for-profit company that’s upselling. At times they also have technical issues and I’ve seen not just companies but public institutions forced offline (or into semi-working order) due to Cloudflare.

Each time we come under heavy DDOS attack (we have not had such issues for a number of months) someone out there asks us why we don’t use Cloudflare. Explaining all the associated issues is time-consuming as the explanation can be lengthy.

“In some cases, for particular countries, having all traffic visible to the US (through an American company with legal obligations to its government) can be a matter of life and death.”I’ve been dealing with Cloudflare since it was a young company, however reluctantly, at work. I’ve seen public institutions coming to rely on this foreign company and relaying all traffic through it. That raises all sorts of legal questions.

The bottom line is, never ever use Cloudflare. When accessing sites that route traffic through Cloudflare one might in fact be denied access (e.g. Tor users or people who rightly reject JavaScript). In that case, it’s wise to leave (not enter the site), instead leaving a note to the Webmaster, urging him/her to drop Cloudflare.

Sites that respect their visitors do not resort to Cloudflare. Building one’s own CDN may be expensive, but what is the worth of your visitors’ rights? In some cases, for particular countries, having all traffic visible to the US (through an American company with legal obligations to its government) can be a matter of life and death.

How Many/Most EPO Examiners View ‘President’ António Campinos

Posted in Europe, Patents at 7:31 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

EPO change

Summary: Based on what readers/insiders have told us, there’s a prevalent perception that António Campinos is afraid of (thus controlled/directed by) Bergot, who is still doing Battistelli’s biddings at the European Patent Office (EPO)

Techrights’ Priorities Over the Years

Posted in Action, America, Europe, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Novell, Patents at 7:05 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Or why we’ve dropped most coverage about US patents and patent cases

Priority

Summary: An old priority of ours, eliminating software patents in the United States, is no longer quite so relevant because such patents are perishing in US courts, with or without outside intervention such as activism

THIS site is turning 13 later this year. It started by focusing on Novell, but then it increasingly focused on Microsoft and GNU/Linux (related to Novell). Around 2010 we turned almost all our attention to software patents — a natural extension of our coverage regarding Novell’s patent deal. The common theme has all along been preserving the freedom of Free software although software patents pose a great threat also to proprietary software developers. So we’re generally for the interests of programmers, no matter if their code is publicly shared or not. Software development oughtn’t necessitate an army of lawyers and should not involve reading hundreds of thousands of patents. It’s beyond impractical and such patents aren’t even necessary, unlike copyright law.

“…we’re generally for the interests of programmers, no matter if their code is publicly shared or not.”Invaluable information about internal European Patent Office (EPO) affairs came through to us in 2014, perhaps based on our track record covering abuses at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and to a lesser degree the EPO (we hadn’t criticised the EPO much before that, except when it came to software patents in Europe). Seeing that António Campinos is not changing anything for the better, and moreover seeing that the SCOTUS precedence (notably Alice) secured 35 U.S.C. § 101 — something that the USPTO cannot change and CAFC as well as ITC must respect — a couple of months ago I decided to mostly drop USPTO coverage, which occupied entire weekends (all my time), turning again to GNU/Linux and Microsoft with the newly-availed time. Seeing that the UPC is rapidly dying (running out of time), several months ago we began also focusing, yet again, on software patents in Europe — a subject increasingly covered by Florian Müller as well. We used to be vocal critics of his writings, but things have changed since. He no longer takes money from Microsoft.

The EFF has, in our view, become somewhat alarmist lately. It says there's a comeback of software patents in the US and belatedly bemoans Iancu (we did so when the warning signs became apparent, based on what he had done and said in prior years). This morning we saw some articles from the patent microcosm (days-old posts) claiming that Iancu tries to pressure courts/judges/politicians to help him bring back software patents, but he lacks the authority to do this. He merely discredits the Office, that’s all. We’re still monitoring the matter and will leap back on the saddle if the danger materialises. It has not happened, at least not yet. Based on the latest figures from the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) and the PTAB-hostile Anticipat (against inter partes reviews (IPRs)), decisions involving 35 U.S.C. § 101 still rise in number. Various tweets from patent maximalists are still obsessing over PTAB overturning examiners’ decisions, usually against software patents and only in rare cases (notable exceptions) the other way around. So there’s definitely no turnaround and the silence in many blogs speaks volumes. Some of them openly express pessimism and defeatism. Let it be so.

Courts in Disagreement: Warning on Wrongly-Granted European Patents and the Looming Collapse of All Software Patents in Europe

Posted in Europe, Patents at 5:07 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Similar to what happened owing to 35 U.S.C. § 101/Alice (SCOTUS). Many patents granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for a number of decades turned out to be worthless. Litigation numbers completely collapsed and even the number of applications is decreasing.

Abandoned pier

Summary: By devaluing patents and reducing their perceived worth (as is happening in China and Europe) patent offices risk decreasing participation in the very system they fundamentally depend on

INCLUDED in our daily links, lumped together for brevity, are some of the latest patent cases and their outcomes in the US. They show that patents granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) continue to perish (be thrown away by courts) at all levels, not just the Federal Circuit. Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) inter partes reviews (IPRs) also persist as usual. The danger is that the same is already happening to the European Patent Office (EPO) and people are gradually realising it. Companies might divest. We wrote about it yesterday.

“…when such courts do blast the EPO (for misinterpreting the EPC) the EPO just simply ignores it, just like Iancu at the USPTO.”Yesterday we saw this new Regeneron press release about Immunex/Amgen (e.g. in PharmiWeb). Many patents are nowadays being granted in error, also by EPO examiners who were traditionally a lot better. Once there’s a lawsuit or a challenge here’s what happens increasingly and more frequently (we covered many more similar examples earlier this year):

Today the European Patent Office invalidated Immunex’s European patent claiming antibodies that target human IL-4 receptors (IL-4R)

Decision follows yesterday’s ruling by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office invalidating a similar Immunex patent claiming antibodies that target human IL-4R

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: REGN) today announced two important legal developments invalidating Immunex patents with functional claims to antibodies that target human interleukin-4 receptors (IL-4R). Earlier today, the Opposition Division of the European Patent Office (EPO) revoked Immunex’s European Patent No. 2,990,420 in its entirety because the claims were invalid for insufficiency of disclosure. This follows a decision yesterday by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) of the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) to invalidate all 17 claims of Immunex’s U.S. Patent No. 8,679,487 as obvious. These decisions are subject to appeal by Immunex.

The patents in question are owned by Immunex Corporation, which is wholly-owned by Amgen.

Sooner or later companies like Immunex/Amgen might simply decide to no longer pursue European Patents, seeing that these sometimes lack legitimacy and cost a lot of money in legal bills (not just application/renewal). Those should be the lessons learned from the USPTO’s failings. What happens in the US right now is despicable because a Trump appointee tries to change all that by breaking the law while patent maximalists are bypassing the law and dodging 35 U.S.C. § 101 so as to get software patents that courts would reject anyway. A new ‘webinar’ entitled “The USPTO’s Updated Guidance on Section 101: Adjusting Your IP Evaluations for Maximum Protection” has just been promoted by Patent Docs. This isn’t about law but about working around the law. Director Iancu turns out to be even worse than David Kappos, whose former employer, IBM, is pushing for software patents in Europe under the guise of “AI”. What would courts in Europe have to say about such patents?

Well, on the 6th of February J A Kemp published this “Review Of Software Patent Appeals At The EPO 2018″. From the section about algorithms:

Inventions in the field of computer science can in some cases derive technical character from the technical nature of the data being processed, and in other cases, from a technical improvement in processing data independently of the nature of the data itself. However, inventions where the data is too abstract, or is non-technical in nature, can fall between these two categories.

Thus, it is instructive to contrast T 2707/16 (Dynamically generating multiple hierarchies/MICROSOFT TECHNOLOGY with T 0841/16 (Business rule interface/AB INITIO). The latter case concerned a graph-based system for editing and compiling business rules where neither the nature of the data nor the alleged advantage of improved editing were considered technical. In the former case it was held that “the use of caching for dynamically generated data (i.e. the data polyarchy) with an authoritative store is a technical concept that serves as a compromise between higher scalability and fast response times for query processing on the one hand and freshness of the data on the other hand and that this goes beyond the notoriously known use of caching in general. Consequently, the Board considers that the claimed implementation achieves the technical effect of higher scalability of query processing on a server by means of a particular application of caching which reflects further technical considerations.” The claims at issue, which were remitted for further prosecution, did not specify the nature of the data being searched.

Independence of the nature of the program being executed also contributed to technical character in T 2052/15 (Asychronous antivirus processing/KASPERSKY) where an increase in the responsiveness of a computer by using computing resources in an asynchronous manner was considered a technical solution to a problem.

A rare case of the implementation of a non-technical method being considered technical is T 2330/13 (Checking selection conditions/SAP). This concerned a method for checking whether selected options for a “configurable product” (e.g. a car) are consistent before manufacture. The Board considered that the term “configurable product” did not confer technical character because it did not exclude non-technical products, such as insurance policies. However they did consider that “the specific claimed bit (sub-)matrices, bit strings and steps of the method, especially those of splitting the bit matrix, forming bit strings representing the selection and restriction conditions and determining inconsistent pairs of selection conditions when performed by parallel processing, do contribute to the technical character of the invention and should be taken into account when assessing inventive step.” The case was therefore remitted for further prosecution.

Given that computer programs are considered non-technical, it is perhaps not surprising that even higher abstractions such as programming languages and systems for assisting programmers have been rejected. In 2018, examples include T 0790/14 (Programming language construct/MATHWORKS), a programming language for mathematical operations; and T 2497/12 (Java RMI integration/MATHWORKS), a system for integrating programs in different languages.

Software patents are not permitted in Europe. So Strafford will train people or teach people how to pretend algorithms are “AI” (for the EPO to let them slip in). A post titled “Webinar on EU Guidelines for Patenting AI and Machine Learning Technologies” was published several hours ago by Patent Docs, whose majority of posts are nowadays these ads, not actual articles (all the patent maximalists’ blogs have become mostly or entirely dormant because they’ve lost the argument). Here’s what it says:

Strafford will be offering a webinar entitled “New EU Guidelines for Patenting AI and Machine Learning Technologies: Comparison With U.S. Approach — Navigating EPO and USPTO Rules to Maximize Patent Protection” on February 26, 2019 from 1:00 to 2:30 pm (EST). Aliza G. Carrano and Susan Y. Tull of Finnegan Henderson Farabow Garrett & Dunner will guide patent practitioners in overcoming the challenges when seeking patent protection for artificial intelligence (AI) or machine learning (ML) inventions, examine the new guidelines from the European Patent Office (EPO), and compare the EU approach with the U.S. approach.

So their strategy is to basically pretend algorithms are “AI” (buzzword) or “ML” (an actual technical term, albeit often misused and still alluding just to software). We recently wrote about how EPO management admitted it was granting software patents under the guise of "Blockchain" (also a technical term, albeit often misused). The USPTO does the same thing (“Blockchain-based Patents”). These fake patents are abstract patents that courts would throw out everywhere but China perhaps. Media, nevertheless, pays a lip service to these and days ago an article was published by Mareesa A. Frederick and Alyssa Holtslander (Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, LLP) to promote “IoT” (buzzword), admitting that “IoT patents will contain claims directed to computer-related methods of gathering data” (so they admit/concede these to be abstract patents). Large litigation firms are leveraging made-up buzzwords and hype like “AI” or “IoT” in an effort to justify patents on all the foods and associated processes. Abstract ideas? Yes. They even admit so further down in the text:

Another important consideration is patent eligibility. In order to obtain a patent, a patent must claim eligible subject matter. Laws of nature, natural/physical phenomena, and abstract ideas are not considered subject matter that is patentable. For example, one cannot obtain a patent claim on the law of gravity.

Patent eligibility is particularly important for inventions for computer-related technology. Abstract ideas that are implemented on a computer may not be considered subject matter that is patentable. The underlying concern is that companies will seek to obtain patents for well-known methods and systems by merely using a computer to implement them.

Because IoT patents will contain claims directed to computer-related methods of gathering data, subject matter eligibility might be an issue for IoT inventions. Notably, the Supreme Court recently held that patents directed to electronic methods and computer programs for financial-trading systems did not claim eligible subject matter.

It’s obvious who’s going to suffer the most from such patents; small companies cannot quite afford a legal challenge and might simply settle instead.

There’s a timely new example of it in the media (published a few days ago). “A “patent troll” has filed suit against U.S. Safety Gear, a small business with 95 employees in 13 locations, including one in Leavittsburg,” Warren Tribune Chronicle wrote in “‘Patent troll’ files suit against small business” (as trolls so typically do; they attack the weak). Are small companies in Europe going to suffer a similar fate because of the EPO’s granting of software patents? Some are already reporting such abuse, yet they cannot take the matter to sufficiently high courts; when such courts do blast the EPO (for misinterpreting the EPC) the EPO just simply ignores it, just like Iancu at the USPTO.

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