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02.14.19

Links 14/2/2019: “I Love Free Software Day” and Mesa 19.0 RC4 Released

Posted in News Roundup at 1:26 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • 5 Gorgeous Examples Of Truly Customized Linux Desktops

      Using Linux is anything but boring, especially when it comes to personalizing your OS. That extends way beyond just the ability to install multiple Desktop Environments like Budgie, Pantheon and KDE Plasma. Sure I’ve tinkered with them, tweaked the appearance a bit, installed some cool desktop widgets. But nothing prepared me for my first trip to /r/unixporn.

      I repeatedly insist that Linux makes your PC feel personal again, but the level of customization and pure creative beauty on display below left my jaw on the floor, and me with a desire to learn how to accomplish what’s been done here.

      Join me in a brief but drool-worthy tour of some truly unique Linux desktops.

    • Google Chrome is getting virtual desktops (probably)

      If you’re the sort of person who regularly runs a bunch of programs on your computer at once, you may already be a fan of using multiple monitors. You can put one set of apps on one screen and a different set on another and tilt your head a bit to switch your focus from one to the other.

      But if you have a laptop, you’re probably confined to using a single screen from time to time (unless you have a portable monitor that you take everywhere you go).

      Enter virtual desktops. Most modern operating systems offer a way to create multiple virtual workspaces that you can flip between. It’s not quite as seamless as using multiple displays, but it’s certainly more compact (and more energy efficient, for that matter).

  • Server

    • The long, slow death of commercial Unix [Ed: Microsoft propagandist Andy Patrizio should also do an article about the death of Windows Server.]

      In the 1990s and well into the 2000s, if you had mission-critical applications that required zero downtime, resiliency, failover and high performance, but didn’t want a mainframe, Unix was your go-to solution.

      If your database, ERP, HR, payroll, accounting, and other line-of-business apps weren’t run on a mainframe, chances are they ran on Unix systems from four dominant vendors: Sun Microsystems, HP, IBM and SGI. Each had its own flavor of Unix and its own custom RISC processor. Servers running an x86 chip were at best used for file and print or maybe low-end departmental servers.

    • What is Server Virtualization: Is It Right For Your Business?

      In the modern world of IT application deployment, server virtualization is a commonly used term. But what exactly is server virtualization and is it right for your business?

      Server virtualization in 2019 is a more complicated and involved topic than it was when the concept first started to become a popular approach nearly two decades ago. However, the core basic concepts and promises remain the same.

    • Transitioning Red Hat SSO to a highly-available hybrid cloud deployment

      About two years ago, Red Hat IT finished migrating our customer-facing authentication system to Red Hat Single Sign-On (Red Hat SSO). As a result, we were quite pleased with the performance and flexibility of the new platform. Due to some architectural decisions that were made in order to optimize for uptime using the technologies at our disposal, we were unable to take full advantage of Red Hat SSO’s robust feature set until now. This article describes how we’re now addressing database and session replication between global sites.

    • Red Hat named to Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For list

      People come to work at Red Hat for our brand, but they stay for the people and the culture. It’s integral to our success as an organization. It’s what makes the experience of being a Red Hatter and working with other Red Hatters different. And it’s what makes us so passionate about our customers’ and Red Hat’s success. In recognition of that, Red Hat has been ranked No. 50 on Fortune Magazine’s list of 100 Best Companies to Work For! Hats off–red fedoras, of course–to all Red Hatters!

    • News from Fedora Infrastructure

      One of the first tasks we have achieved is to move as many application we maintain to use CentOS CI for our Continuous Integration pipeline. CentOS CI provides us with a Jenkins instance that is running in an OpenShift cluster, you can have a look at the this instance here.

      Since a good majority of our application are developed in Python, we agreed on using tox to execute our CI tests. Adopting tox on our application allows us to use a really convenient way to configure the CI pipeline in Jenkins. In fact we only needed to create .cico.pipeline file in the application repository with the following.

    • Mirantis to Help Build AT&T’s Edge Computing Network for 5G On Open Source

      The two companies hope other telcos will follow AT&T’s lead in building their 5G networks on open source software.

    • The Telecom Industry Has Moved to Open Source

      The telecom industry is at the heart of the fourth industrial revolution. Whether it’s connected IoT devices or mobile entertainment, the modern economy runs on the Internet.
      However, the backbone of networking has been running on legacy technologies. Some telecom companies are centuries old, and they have a massive infrastructure that needs to be modernized.
      The great news is that this industry is already at the forefront of emerging technologies. Companies such as AT&T, Verizon, China Mobile, DTK, and others have embraced open source technologies to move faster into the future. And LF Networking is at the heart of this transformation.
      “2018 has been a fantastic year,” said Arpit Joshipura, General Manager of Networking at Linux Foundation, speaking at Open Source Summit in Vancouver last fall. “We have seen a 140-year-old telecom industry move from proprietary and legacy technologies to open source technologies with LF Networking.”

    • Monroe Electronics Releases Completely Redesigned HALO Version 2.0

      With improvements including a new web-based interface and its shift to a unified web-server platform, HALO V2.0 simplifies and streamlines all of these critical processes. The new web-based interface for HALO V2.0 allows users to work with their preferred web browser (e.g., Chrome, Firefox, Safari). The central HALO server now runs on a Linux OS (Ubuntu and CentOS 7) using a PostgreSQL database.

  • Shows

    • Top 5 podcasts for Linux news and tips

      Like many Linux enthusiasts, I listen to a lot of podcasts. I find my daily commute is the best time to get some time to myself and catch up on the latest tech news. Over the years, I have subscribed and unsubscribed to more show feeds than I care to think about and have distilled them down to the best of the best.

      Here are my top five Linux podcasts I think you should be listening to in 2019, plus a couple of bonus picks.

    • BSD Strategy | BSD Now 285

      Strategic thinking to keep FreeBSD relevant, reflecting on the soul of a new machine, 10GbE Benchmarks On Nine Linux Distros and FreeBSD, NetBSD integrating LLVM sanitizers in base, FreeNAS 11.2 distrowatch review, and more.

    • FLOSS Weekly 517: Liverpool MakeFest

      Caroline is the co-founder of the free event called Liverpool Makefest, a festival to promote stem, foss and maker-education for young people. The festival is now in its fifth year has attracted over 20,000 visitors and is being expanded across the national libraries within the UK.

    • LHS Episode #271: The Discord Accord

      Welcome to Episode 271 of Linux in the Ham Shack. In this week’s episode, the hosts discuss ARISS Phase 2, the Peanut Android app for D-STAR and DMR linking, a geostationary satellite from Qatar, open source software in the public sector, a new open-source color management tool, Linux distributions for ham radio and much more. Thank you to everyone for listening and don’t forget our Hamvention 2019 fundraiser!

  • Kernel Space

    • Rusty’s reminiscences

      Rusty Russell was one of the first developers paid to work on the Linux kernel and the founder of the conference now known as linux.conf.au (LCA); he is one of the most highly respected figures in the Australian free-software community. The 2019 LCA was the 20th edition of this long-lived event; the organizers felt that it was an appropriate time to invite Russell to deliver the closing keynote talk. He used the opportunity to review his path into free software and the creation of LCA, but first a change of clothing was required.

      [...]

      He found his way into the Unix world in 1992, working on an X terminal connected to a SunOS server. SunOS was becoming the dominant Unix variant at that time, and there were a number of “legendary hackers” working at Sun to make that happen. But then Russell discovered another, different operating system: Emacs. This system was unique in that it was packaged with a manifesto describing a different way to create software. The idea of writing an entire operating system and giving it away for free seemed fantastical at the time, but the existence of Emacs meant that it couldn’t be dismissed.

      Even so, he took the normal path for a few more years, working on other, proprietary Unix systems; toward the end he ended up leading a research project developed in C++. The proprietary compilers were too expensive, so he was naturally using GCC instead. He did some digging in preparation for this talk and found his first free-software contribution, which was a patch to GCC in 1995. The experience of collaborating to build better software for everybody was exhilarating, but even with as much fun as he was having there was another level to aim for.

    • Fixing page-cache side channels, second attempt

      The kernel’s page cache, which holds copies of data stored in filesystems, is crucial to the performance of the system as a whole. But, as has recently been demonstrated, it can also be exploited to learn about what other users in the system are doing and extract information that should be kept secret. In January, the behavior of the mincore() system call was changed in an attempt to close this vulnerability, but that solution was shown to break existing applications while not fully solving the problem. A better solution will have to wait for the 5.1 development cycle, but the shape of the proposed changes has started to come into focus.
      The mincore() change for 5.0 caused this system call to report only the pages that are mapped into the calling process’s address space rather than all pages currently resident in the page cache. That change does indeed take away the ability for an attacker to nondestructively test whether specific pages are present in the cache (using mincore() at least), but it also turned out to break some user-space applications that legitimately needed to know about all of the resident pages. The kernel community is unwilling to accept such regressions unless there is absolutely no other solution, so this change could not remain; it was thus duly reverted for 5.0-rc4.

      Regressions are against the community’s policy, but so is allowing known security holes to remain open. A replacement for the mincore() change is thus needed; it can probably be found in this patch set posted by Vlastimil Babka at the end of January. It applies a new test to determine whether mincore() will report on the presence of pages in the page cache; in particular, it will only provide that information for memory regions that (1) are anonymous memory, or (2) are backed by a file that the calling process would be allowed to open for write access. In the first case, anonymous mappings should not be shared across security boundaries, so there should be no need to protect information about page-cache residency. For the second case, the ability to write a given file would give an attacker the ability to create all kinds of mischief, of which learning about which pages are cached is relatively minor.

    • Linux Kernel Getting io_uring To Deliver Fast & Efficient I/O

      The Linux kernel is getting a new ring for Valentine’s Day… io_uring. The purpose of io_uring is to deliver faster and more efficient I/O operations on Linux and should be coming with the next kernel cycle.

      Linux block maintainer and developer behind io_uring, Jens Axboe of Facebook, queued the new interface overnight into the linux-block/for-next on Git. The io_uring interface provides submission and completion queue rings that are shared between the application and kernel to avoid excess copies. The new interface has just two new system calls (io_uring_setup and io_uring_enter) for dealing with I/O. Axboe previously worked on this code under the “aioring” name.

    • Graphics Stack

      • No Surprise But Intel Linux Developers Are Working Towards Adaptive-Sync Support

        Back during the Intel Architecture Day event in December, Intel confirmed that finally with Icelake “Gen 11″ graphics there is Adaptive-Sync support after talking about it for several years. While they didn’t explicitly mention Linux support, they’ve been largely spot on for years with supporting new display features on Linux and this should be the case as well with Adaptive-Sync and their next-generation graphics.

      • Mesa 19.0-RC4 Released With More Fixes

        After yesterday’s botched Mesa 19.0-RC3 release, Mesa 19.0-RC4 is now available while it’s looking like two weeks or so until the stable debut.

        Due to the prior release candidates missing out on many fixes due to a scripting failure, Mesa 19.0-RC4 is out today with the corrected script that’s pulled in a great deal of fixes onto the 19.0 branch. Over the earlier release candidates, Mesa 19.0-RC4 adds in a surprisingly large number of Nouveau NV50/NVC0 fixes, several RADV Radeon Vulkan driver fixes, and a random assortment of other fixes as seen in the 19.0 branch.

      • AMDGPU DC Gets Fixes For Seamless Boot, Disappearing Cursor On Raven Ridge

        Should you be running into any display problems or just want to help in testing out the open-source AMD Linux driver’s display code, a new round of patches were published today.

  • Applications

    • 8 Best Free Linux Food and Drink Software

      Richard Stallman, an American software freedom activist, has profound views on what freedoms should be provided in software. He strongly believes that free software should be regarded in the same way as free speech and not free beer. Rest assured, this article is not going to become embroiled in an ideological debate, but instead focuses on a subject which really is essential for life itself.

      The necessary requirements for life are physical conditions which can sustain life, nutrients and energy source, and water. This article relates to the last two requirements. Linux software can play a key part in helping to improve our health and quality of life. If you want to stay fit, part of the solution is to ensure that you are eating the right types of food in the right quantity. Nutrition analysis is important to ensure that you have a healthy balanced diet containing a variety of foods including fruit, vegetables and lots of starchy foods.

      This article is not just limited to software that ensures you maintain a healthy diet. We also feature the best free Linux software for helping people to cook delicious food. Although this software will not help you turn into Gordon Ramsay, Paul Bocuse, or Bobby Flay, it will open new doors in the world of cooking. Rest assured, we have not forgotten beer lovers, as we also identify the finest beer software available.

      To provide an insight into the quality of software that is available, we have compiled a list of 6 high quality food and drink software. Hopefully there will be something of interest for anyone interested in keeping fit, making beer, or the art of cooking.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Games

      • Gathering Storm Ships for Mac and Linux on Feb 14th!

        Launching for Mac & Linux on February 14, 2019, Civilization VI: Gathering Storm adds new advanced technologies, engineering projects, the fan-favorite World Congress, and introduces a living world ecosystem that showcases natural events that could enrich or challenge your growing empire.

      • Six years ago today, Steam was released for Linux – Happy Birthday

        Happy official birthday to the Steam client for Linux, today marks six years since it released for everyone.

        Who would have thought we would have everything we do now back in 2013? We’ve come a seriously long way! In that time we’ve seen the rise and fall of the Steam Machine and Steam Link (now available as an app), the Steam Controller, the HTC Vive headset and plenty more.

        We now have well over five thousand games available on the Steam store that support Linux. That’s a ridiculous amount, considering we’re still a very small platform even in comparison to Mac when going by the current Steam Hardware Survey showing the market share.

      • Team Cherry has announced Hollow Knight: Silksong, coming to Linux

        The sequel to Hollow Knight has now been officially announced by Team Cherry as Hollow Knight: Silksong.

      • Iron Marines from Ironhide Game Studio will be coming to Linux

        Ironhide Game Studio (Kingdom Rush) are working on a new real-time strategy game named Iron Marines and they’ve confirmed to us it’s heading to Linux.

        As we follow them on Twitter, we saw them link to the Steam page. Upon viewing it, we noticed it only listed Windows and Mac. After sending a quick message to them on Twitter, to ask if it will come to Linux they replied with an amusing gif that said “For Sure”—so there you have it!

      • Another little update on Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation for Linux

        While Stardock haven’t managed to get Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation onto Linux just yet, they did give another small update last month.

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Chakrma: Frameworks 5.55.0, Plasma 5.15.0, and Applications 18.12.2 by KDE are now available

        Most of our mirrors synchronize with the central repositories on the origin server within 24 hours. Use the mirror status web page to see when your mirror of choice last synchronized.

      • KDE neon Systems Based on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS Have Reached End of Life, Upgrade Now

        With the rebase of KDE neon on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver) on September 2018, the development team have decided it’s time to put the old series based on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus) to rest once and for all as most users already managed to upgrade their systems to the new KDE neon series based on Canonical’s latest Ubuntu LTS release.

        “KDE neon was rebased onto Ubuntu bionic/18.04 last year and upgrades have gone generally smooth. We have removed xenial/16.04 build from our machines (they only hang around for as long as they did because it took a while to move the Snap builds away from them) and the apt repo will remove soon,” said the devs.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

  • Distributions

    • The Earliest Linux Distros: Before Mainstream Distros Became So Popular

      Take a look back into how some of the earliest Linux distributions evolved and came into being as we know them today.

    • Ethical Hacking, Ubuntu-Based BackBox Linux OS Is Now Available on AWS

      If you want to run BackBox Linux in the cloud, on your AWS account, you should know that the ethical hacking operating system is now available on the Amazon Web Services cloud platform as an Amazon Machine Image (AMI) virtual appliance that you can install with a few mouse clicks.

      The BackBox Linux operating system promises to offer Amazon Web Services users an optimal environment for professional penetration testing operations as it puts together a collection of some of the best ethical hacking tools, which are already configured and ready for production use.

    • Screenshots/Screencasts

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • Inkscape, GTK, glibc Updates Arrive in Tumbleweed

        The lone snapshot of the week was 20190209. ModemManager made the jump from version 1.6.14 to 1.10.0 and consolidated common tag names among all the supported plugins as well as provided a new tag to allow specifying flow control settings to use in serial ports. The Mozilla Thunderbird 60.5.0 package gave more search engine options in certain locations offering Google and DuckDuckGo available by default. The email client also added Thunderbird FileLink with WeTransfer to upload large attachments. Thunderbird Filelink provides support for online storage services and allows upload attachments to an online storage service and then replaces the attachment in the message with a link. General-purpose parser generator bison 3.3.1 removed support for the 32-bit C/C++ development system DJGPP. The compiler cache, ccache 3.6, which speeds up recompilation by caching previous compilations, fixed a problem due to Clang, which is a C language family frontend for LLVM, overwriting the output file when compiling an assembler file and added support for GNU Compiler Collection‘s `-ffile-prefix-map` option. The 1.12.12 version update for dbus stopped a few memory leaks and added a couple patches. The epson-inkjet-printer-escpr 1.6.35 version added support for new printer models EcoTank ET-M1100 and Epson WorkForce ST-2000. GNU C Library glibc 2.29 added getcpu wrapper function, which returns the currently used CPU and NUMA node, and optimized the generic exp, exp2, log, log2, pow, sinf, cosf, sincosf and tanf functions. Cross-platform widget toolkit gtk3 3.24.5 implement gdk_window_present for Wayland, updated translations and refreshed the theme. The health-checker 1.1 package added new plugins for cri-o and kubelet. Users of the professional-quality vector-graphics application Inkscape can now use the 0.92.4 version; the new version improves preferences of the measuring tool when grids are visible and fixes a crash that would happen when a user does a Shift/Ctrl-click when handling shapes. Tumbleweed users will have 1.7x faster performance with Ruby 2.6 as the default as compared to Ruby 2.5. Other library packages updated in the snapshot were libosinfo 1.3.0, libsodium 1.0.17, libsolv 0.7.3, libstorage-ng 4.1.86 and libzypp 17.11.1.

    • Debian Family

      • Futatabi video out

        After some delay, the video of my FOSDEM talk about Futatabi, my instant replay system, is out on YouTube. Actually, the official recording has been out for a while, but this is a special edit; nearly all of the computer content has been replaced with clean 720p59.94 versions.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Why I love free software

    The Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) is a charity that supports and promote the use of free software. Their latest income and expense report for 2017, shows that much of their efforts focus on, beyond basic infrastructure costs, public awareness, legal work, and policy work.

    Every year, they celebrate free software on February 14 around the world online and offline.

  • Let’s celebrate “I love Free Software Day”!

    One of our goals in the LibreOffice community is to make powerful productivity tools available to everyone. Releasing the software for free is an important part of that, but “free software” is about more than just the price. It’s about giving users fundamental freedoms in how they use their software and computers – giving control back to them.

    For instance, the source code for LibreOffice – that is, the human-readable “recipe” behind the program – is available for everyone to see, study and modify. You can download this code, see what it does, change it for your needs, and then turn it back into an executable version for your computer. Many hundreds of people have done this already, contributing back important changes and updates to LibreOffice. And then you’re free to share the changes with other users.

  • Show your love for free software this Valentine’s Day!

    Free software is crucial for a free society, and we love being able to use technology that respects our rights. Spread the love this Valentine’s Day and spread the word about free software by sharing this graphic, which invites your friends and family to learn more about computer user freedom, with the hashtag #ilovefs:

  • I Love Free Software Day 2019

    Free Software is a substantial part of my life. I got introduced to it by my computer science teacher in middle school, however back then I wasn’t paying that much attention to the ethics behind it and rather focused on the fact that it was gratis and new to me.

    Using GNU/Linux on a school computer wasn’t really fun for me, as the user interface was not really my taste (I’m sorry KDE). It was only when I got so annoyed from the fact that my copy of Windows XP was 32 bit only and that I was supposed to pay the full price again for a 64 bit license, that I deleted Windows completely and installed Ubuntu on my computer – only to reinstall Windows again a few weeks later though. But the first contact was made.

    Back then I was still mostly focused on cool features rather than on the meaning of free software. Someday however, I watched the talk by Richard Stallman and started to read more about what software freedom really is. At this point I was learning how to use blender on Ubuntu to create animations and only rarely booted into Windows. But when I did, it suddenly felt oddly wrong. I realized that I couldn’t truly trust my computer. This time I tried harder to get rid of Windows.

    Someone once said that you only feel your shackles when you try to move. I think the same goes for free software. Once you realize what free software is and what rights it grants you (what rights you really have), you start to feel uncomfortable if you’re suddenly denied those rights.

  • Events

    • Saving birds with technology

      Two members of the Cacophony Project came to linux.conf.au 2019 to give an overview of what the project is doing to increase the amount of bird life in New Zealand. The idea is to use computer vision and machine learning to identify and eventually eliminate predators in order to help bird populations; one measure of success will be the volume and variety of bird song throughout the islands. The endemic avian species in New Zealand evolved without the presence of predatory mammals, so many of them have been decimated by the predation of birds and their eggs. The Cacophony Project is looking at ways to reverse that.

    • Mozilla’s initiatives for non-creepy deep learning

      Jack Moffitt started off his 2019 linux.conf.au talk by calling attention to Facebook’s “Portal” device. It is, he said, a cool product, but raises an important question: why would anybody in their right mind put a surveillance device made by Facebook in their kitchen? There are a lot of devices out there — including the Portal — using deep-learning techniques; they offer useful functionality, but also bring a lot of problems. We as a community need to figure out a way to solve those problems; he was there to highlight a set of Mozilla projects working toward that goal.
      He defined machine learning as the process of making decisions and/or predictions by modeling from input data. Systems using these techniques can perform all kinds of tasks, including language detection and (bad) poetry generation. The classic machine-learning task is spam filtering, based on the idea that certain words tend to appear more often in spam and can be used to detect unwanted email. With more modern neural networks, though, there is no need to do that sort of feature engineering; the net itself can figure out what the interesting features are. It is, he said, “pretty magical”.

    • Lisp and the foundations of computing

      At the start of his linux.conf.au 2019 talk, Kristoffer Grönlund said that he would be taking attendees back 60 years or more. That is not quite to the dawn of computing history, but it is close—farther back than most of us were alive to remember. He encountered John McCarthy’s famous Lisp paper [PDF] via Papers We Love and it led him to dig deeply into the Lisp world; he brought back a report for the LCA crowd.

      Grönlund noted that this was his third LCA visit over the years. He was pleased that his 2017 LCA talk “Package managers all the way down” was written up in LWN. He also gave his “Everyone gets a pony!” talk at LCA 2018. He works for SUSE, which he thanked for sending him to the conference, but the company is not responsible for anything in the talk, he said with a grin.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Welcoming a new Firefox/Toolkit peer

        Please join me in welcoming Bianca Danforth to the set of peers blessed with reviewing patches to Firefox and Toolkit. She’s been doing great work making testing experiment extensions easy and so it’s time for her to level-up.

  • LibreOffice

  • Funding

  • Programming/Development

    • WebKitGTK 2.23.90 Adds Support For JPEG2000, More Touchpad Gestures

      It missed the GNOME 3.32 Beta by a week, but out today is the WebKitGTK 2.23.90 release, the downstream of the WebKit web layout engine focused on GTK integration and used by the likes of GNOME Web (Epiphany).

      Interestingly, this WebKitGTK release adds support for JPEG2000. That support is a bit surprising considering outside of Apple’s Safari browsers, JPEG2000 isn’t really supported by other web browsers for this offshoot of JPEG that has never been widely adopted. But now nearly two decades after JPEG2000 was published, it’s at least supported by WebKitGTK.

    • Qt on CMake Workshop Summary – Feb 2019

      Last Monday and Tuesday a few brave souls from both the Qt Company and KDAB gathered together in the KDAB Berlin office premises to work on the CMake build system for building Qt. There was Mikhail, Liang, Tobias, Kai (QtCompany) as well as Jean-Michaël, Allen, Volker and me (KDAB) sitting together in a tight room, focusing solely on the CMake port of Qt.

    • Python 3.8 alpha in Fedora
    • Fedora 31 Is Already Planning Ahead For Python 3.8

      While Fedora 30 isn’t debuting for another three months, with the system-wide change deadline already having passed on that release, ambitious Fedora developers are already thinking about early feature plans for Fedora 31 that will debut in November.

      One of the first Fedora 31 system-wide change proposals is for upgrading from Python 3.7 to Python 3.8. Python 3.7 was released just last summer and the Python 3.8.0 release isn’t even expected until the end of October, but given it will be another big update to Python3, Fedora developers are working on coordinating the upgrade early to prevent possible fallout late in the cycle.

    • What You Don’t Know About Python Variables

      The first time you get introduced to Python’s variable, it is usually defined as “parts of your computer’s memory where you store some information.” Some define it as a “storage placeholder for texts and numbers.” We will soon find out that Python’s variable is deeper than this.

    • Some Attention to Detail
    • Mozilla GFX: WebRender newsletter #40
    • A GPIOZero Theramin for Valentine’s Day
    • Benchmarking The Python Optimizations Of Clear Linux Against Ubuntu, Intel Python

      Stemming from Clear Linux detailing how they optimize Python’s performance using various techniques, there’s been reader interest in seeing just how their Python build stacks up. Here’s a look at the Clear Linux Python performance compared to a few other configurations as well as Ubuntu Linux.

      For this quick Python benchmarking roundabout, the following configurations were tested while using an Intel Core i9 7980XE system throughout:

      - Clear Linux’s default Python build with the performance optimizations they recently outlined to how they ship their Python binary.

    • Python elects a steering council

      After a two-week voting period, which followed a two-week nomination window, Python now has its governance back in place—with a familiar name in the mix. As specified in PEP 13 (“Python Language Governance”), five nominees were elected to the steering council, which will govern the language moving forward. It may come as a surprise to some that Guido van Rossum, whose resignation as benevolent dictator for life (BDFL) led to the need for a new governance model and, ultimately, to the vote for a council, was one of the 17 candidates. It is perhaps much less surprising that he was elected to share the duties he once wielded solo.

      The other members of the steering council are Barry Warsaw, Brett Cannon, Carol Willing, and Nick Coghlan. Other candidates and their nomination statements are available as part of PEP 8100 (“January 2019 steering council election”). Warsaw, Cannon, and Coghlan are likely recognizable names to those who follow Python development (as is, of course, Van Rossum). Willing is perhaps less-known in the Python world, even though she is a core developer, has been a member of the Python Software Foundation (PSF) board of directors, and is a core developer and steering council member for the Jupyter project.

      The number of candidates for the Python steering council was rather large, especially when compared with either the eligible voter pool (96) or the number who actually cast ballots (69). Voting was restricted to active core developers, though nominees could come from outside of that set. Some concerns were expressed about allowing external nominees, but the PEP did explicitly allow core developers to nominate “outsiders”. Three of the nominees were not on the list of eligible voters: David Mertz, Peter Wang, and Travis Oliphant. However, Oliphant is a former core developer as can be seen in his nomination thread. The rest of the candidates are a mix of both older and newer core developers with interests ranging throughout the Python ecosystem.

Leftovers

  • K-pop and Fancy Sneakers: Kim Jong Un’s Cultural Revolution

    Dancers in hot pants. Factories pumping out Air Jordan lookalikes. TV dramas that are actually fun to watch.

    North Korean pop culture, long dismissed by critics as a kitschy throwback to the dark days of Stalinism, is getting a major upgrade under leader Kim Jong Un.

    The changes are being seen in everything from television dramas and animation programs to the variety and packaging of consumer goods, which have improved significantly under Kim. Whether it’s a defensive attempt to keep up with South Korea or an indication that Kim is willing to embrace aspects of Western consumer culture that his predecessors might have viewed as suspiciously bourgeois isn’t clear.

    “The most important thing for us is to produce a product that suits the people’s tastes,” Kim Kyong Hui of the Ryuwon Shoe Factory told The Associated Press recently in the facility’s showroom, which is filled with dozens of kinds of shoes for running, volleyball, soccer — even table tennis. “The respected leader Kim Jong Un has instructed us to closely study shoes from all over the world and learn from their example,” she added, pointing to a pair of flame-red high-top basketball shoes.

    To be sure, North Korea remains one of the most insular countries in the world. Change comes cautiously and anyone who openly criticizes the government or leadership or is seen as a threat can expect severe repercussions. But there appears to be more of a willingness under Kim to experiment around some of the edges.

  • “Radical Ireland’s Dead And Gone”: The Protest Outside Simon Harris’ Home

    “Romantic Ireland’s dead and gone, it’s with O’Leary in the grave”. Thus wrote W.B. Yeats over 100 years ago in his poem September 1913which castigated the Dublin middle class for their part in the Hugh Lane bequest controversy. Lane, an art dealer and collector, sought to offer his paintings to Dublin Municipal Corporation. The city’s middle class, however, descended into frenzied condemnation of the proposal and of the art – which included pieces by French impressionists Degas and Renoir – on moralistic and economic grounds.

    Yeats had also put pen to paper for September 1913 in the wake of the Great Dublin Lockout of that year, when “Big” Jim Larkin and James Connolly had led the city’s tram workers and the ITGWU in a protracted battle with the bosses and their figurehead William Martin Murphy. Yeats’ lines in the poem describing men fumbling “in a greasy till” to “add the halfpence to the pence” are understood to be attacks on the mean-spiritedness of both the middle and upper classes of Dublin during this period. With his reference to the Fenian, John O’Leary, a long-standing member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, Yeats yearned for an Ireland of upstanding political characters but despaired that such an era was “dead and gone”.

    In the hysterical reaction of the last few days by what is often termed “Middle Ireland”, as well as by those purporting to be on the left, to a protest held outside the home of Simon Harris, Minister for Health, it is clear that “radical Ireland is dead and gone”. Indeed, we might ponder whether it ever existed.

  • Hardware

    • Cameron Kaiser: So long, Opportunity rover

      Both Opportunity and Spirit were powered by the 20MHz BAE RAD6000, a radiation-hardened version of the original IBM POWER1 RISC Single Chip CPU and the indirect ancestor of the PowerPC 601. Many PowerPC-based spacecraft are still in operation, both with the original RAD6000 and its successor the RAD750, a radiation-hardened version of the G3.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • This May Be the Only Viable Alternative to ‘Medicare for All’

      Affordable health care providing universal access has long been a holy grail of the Democratic Party. Like the grail itself, however, many have tried to obtain it, and all have failed in the efforts.

      Even after the implementation of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, American health care is still neither particularly affordable (especially after repeated Republican efforts under the Trump administration to gut its main elements), nor is the access universal. Unlike in most other countries, U.S. health care is still largely predicated on employment, despite the insistence of many that it is a “universal right.”

    • Bernie Sanders Wants to Expand Social Security

      Today, Social Security plays a major role in safeguarding tens of millions of people from destitution — not just people over the age of sixty-five, but millions of children too. It is by far the most significant anti-poverty program in the country. Which is why Vermont senator Bernie Sanders has introduced the “Social Security Expansion Act” to expand Social Security by requiring the wealthy to contribute more equitably to our public retirement system and preventing them from exploiting it for personal gain.

      Over the last thirty years, skyrocketing inequality has threatened Social Security’s survival. The wealthiest have captured an increasing share of income gains above the taxable earnings cap, while workers’ wages have flat-lined. This trend has shrunk the share of national wages being taxed to fund Social Security. That’s why the program’s “total cost is projected to exceed its total income (including interest) in 2018 for the first time since 1982,” according to Social Security’s Board of Trustees.

      For decades, conservatives on both sides of the aisle have tried to raid Social Security to bankroll corporate tax cuts and/or turn it into a profitable industry. Sanders’s legislation pushes back on this agenda.

    • To Be Crystal Clear: ‘Medicare for All’ Does Not Mean ‘Medicare for Some’

      As the health care debate heats up, it’s time to be clear about what Medicare for All is and what it is not. Medicare for All does not mean giving people the option to “buy in” to Medicare under our current health insurance system—what might be called Medicare for Some.

      Members of Congress who support bringing everyone in America under one federally administered health insurance program are proposing Medicare for All. Members of Congress who support opening up Medicare to people as an additional insurance option are proposing a Medicare buy-in or Medicare for Some. Predictably, some members of Congress support both.

  • Security

    • Snapd flaw gives attackers root access on Linux systems
    • Canonical Patches Dirty Sock Vulnerability Affecting Ubuntu, Other Linux Distros [Ed: Shows what Microsoft thinks of Linux: "Microsoft Editor" (Bogdan Popa) in Softpedia keeps hijacking their Linux section only ever to spew FUD in there. Again today.]
    • Microsoft Developer: You Still Should Have Anti-Virus With Windows Subsystem For Linux [Ed: Microsoft is making GNU/Linux "great again" with NSA back doors]
    • 9 Best Linux-Based Security Tools

      Information security specialists and sysadmins need to be sure their networks are sealed against malicious attacks. This is why the practice of penetration testing is commonly employed, to sniff out security vulnerabilities before malicious hackers. Home Linux users should also be wary about the security of their systems. There are a huge variety of tools for accomplishing this, but some stand out in the industry more than others.

      In this article, we are going to highlight 9 of the best Linux-based security tools, which every pentester should be familiar with. Note this is only a list of some of the most widely used tools – if you’re interested in the latest security news, you can regularly read this website, which covers a lot of great infosec topics. Most of the tools on this list are also bundled with Kali Linux (specially designed for information security professionals, but not for home users or Linux newbies), but you can check out this literally massive list of all things related to hardware, security, programming, and other computer-related fields of interest to infosec people.

    • Systemd 241 Released With Security Fixes & Other Changes

      Lennart Poettering has just tagged the systemd 241 update that includes the “system down” security fixes and other improvements to this widely-used Linux init system.

    • PostgreSQL 11.2, 10.7, 9.6.12, 9.5.16, and 9.4.21 released

      The PostgreSQL project has put out updated releases for all supported versions. “This release changes the behavior in how PostgreSQL interfaces with ‘fsync()’ and includes fixes for partitioning and over 70 other bugs that were reported over the past three months.”

    • Dimitri John Ledkov: Encrypt all the things

      Went into blogger settings and enabled TLS on my custom domain blogger blog. So it is now finally a https://blog.surgut.co.uk However, I do use feedburner and syndicate that to the planet. I am not sure if that is end-to-end TLS connections, thus I will look into removing feedburner between my blog and the ubuntu/debian planets. My experience with changing feeds in the planets is that I end up spamming everyone. I wonder, if I should make a new tag and add that one, and add both feeds to the planet config to avoid spamming old posts.

      Next up went into gandi LiveDNS platform and enabled DNSSEC on my domain. It propagated quite quickly, but I believe my domain is now correctly signed with DNSSEC stuff. Next up I guess, is to fix DNSSEC with captive portals. I guess what we really want to have on “wifi” like devices, is to first connect to wifi and not set it as default route. Perform captive portal check, potentially with a reduced DNS server capabilities (ie. no EDNS, no DNSSEC, etc) and only route traffic to the captive portal to authenticate. Once past the captive portal, test and upgrade connectivity to have DNSSEC on. In the cloud, and on the wired connections, I’d expect that DNSSEC should just work, and if it does we should be enforcing DNSSEC validation by default.

      So I’ll start enforcing DNSSEC on my laptop I think, and will start reporting issues to all of the UK banks if they dare not to have DNSSEC. If I managed to do it, on my own domain, so should they!

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Unhinged Mike Pence Warns of ‘New Holocaust’ as Team Trump Tries to Rally EU Leaders for War With Iran

      Pence accused Iran of being “the leading state sponsor of terrorism in the world” and “the greatest threat to peace and security in the Middle East” while attempting to shame European leaders over their recent “effort to create mechanisms to break up our sanctions…against Iran’s murderous revolutionary regime.”

      [...]

      Pompeo and Trump National Security Advisor John Bolton have been accused of fomenting unrest in Iran in the name of forcing regime change. Last month, just days after Pompeo delivered an “arrogant tirade” vilifying the country, it came out that Bolton had ordered the Pentagon to draw up military strike options against Iran. Earlier this week, Bolton marked the 40th anniversary of Iran’s 1979 revolution with barely veiled threats. Each move has provoked warnings that “the drums of war are beating.”

    • House Democrats Slam Trump on Yemen and Venezuela

      After years of standing on the sidelines as the United States waged war in countries across the globe, Democrats in Congress are challenging war hawks in the Trump administration and moving to curb the president’s ability to launch military operations in foreign countries without approval from lawmakers.

      With votes from a handful of isolationist Republicans, the Democratic majority in the House passed a resolution on Wednesday directing President Trump to halt U.S. military assistance to the Saudi-led coalition fighting Houthi rebels in Yemen, where an ongoing civil war has killed thousands of civilians and left millions more on the brink of starvation.

      The vote came shortly after a heated committee hearing where House Democrats warned White House officials against taking military action in Venezuela, where the U.S. is actively backing opposition politicians in the midst of a political and humanitarian crisis that has severely shaken the sitting government.

    • Ilhan Omar Grills Venezuela Envoy Elliott Abrams on U.S.-Backed Genocide, Death Squads & Massacres

      The new U.S. special envoy to Venezuela, Elliott Abrams, testified on Capitol Hill Wednesday on U.S. efforts to oust Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro. Abrams spoke three weeks after the U.S. recognized opposition leader Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s new president. Since then, the U.S. has placed sweeping sanctions on Venezuela’s state-run oil company and rejected calls for an international dialogue to resolve the crisis. Elliott Abrams is a right-wing hawk who was convicted in 1991 for lying to Congress during the Iran-Contra scandal, but he was later pardoned by President George H.W. Bush. Abrams defended Guatemalan dictator General Efraín Ríos Montt as he oversaw a campaign of mass murder and torture of indigenous people in Guatemala in the 1980s. Ríos Montt was later convicted of genocide. Abrams was also linked to the 2002 coup in Venezuela that attempted to topple Hugo Chávez. Democratic Congressmember Ilhan Omar of Minnesota questioned Abrams about his record on Wednesday during his testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

    • Rep. Ilhan Omar Applauded for Grilling Elliott Abrams Over Role in US-Backed Genocide, Massacres, and Death Squads in Latin America

      “You later said that the U.S. policy in El Salvador was a ‘fabulous achievement,’” Omar said. “Yes or no: Do you still think so?”

      After Abrams claimed that El Salvador became a “democracy” after the U.S. intervened, Omar pressed on, asking, “Yes or no, do you think that massacre was a ‘fabulous achievement’?”

    • Ilhan Omar Makes Convicted War Criminal Elliott Abrams Squirm

      As forensic experts in El Salvador continue the 26-year effort to exhume the bodies of the victims of the December 1981 El Mozote massacre, Minnesota Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar grilled the Trump administration’s Venezuela envoy, Elliott Abrams, on his role in human rights violations.

      “I fail to understand why members of this committee or the American people should find any testimony that you give today to be truthful,” Omar said during a House foreign affairs hearing on Venezuela on Wednesday. She was referencing the Iran-Contra scandal, after which Abrams pleaded guilty in 1991 to two misdemeanor counts for lying to Congress about using cash from arms sales to Iran to fund the Contra rebels in Nicaragua. Abrams was later pardoned by George H.W. Bush. As Abrams began to speak, Omar cut him off.

      “It wasn’t a question,” she said.

      “It was an attack,” Abrams said, raising his voice.

    • Elliott Abrams Melts Down As Muslim Congresswoman Questions Role In Crimes Against Humanity

      Elliott Abrams, the special envoy to Venezuela for President Donald Trump’s administration, had a meltdown when Representative Ilhan Omar highlighted his criminal conduct in the Iran-Contra scandal.

      The meltdown occurred during a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing, “Venezuela at the Crossroads.”

      “In 1991, you pleaded guilty to two counts of withholding information from Congress regarding your involvement in the Iran-Contra affair for which you were later pardoned by President George H.W. Bush,” Omar stated. “I fail to understand why members of this committee or the American people should find any testimony that you give today to be truthful.”

      “If I could respond to that,” Abrams interjected. Omar replied, “That wasn’t a question.”

    • Keep Interceptor Missiles Out of Hawai’i

      It’s been reported that interceptor missiles might be deployed soon at the Pacific Missile Range Facility on the leeward coast of Kauai (“Hawaii could house missile interceptors sooner than later,” Star-Advertiser, Feb. 3). Defense against missiles from North Korea is the stated purpose. For the people of Hawaii, who experienced the false missile alert of January 2018, a defensive system might sound like a good idea.

      Despite the nomenclature, however, the ballistic missile defense system (BMDS) is an offensive weapon. Since ancient times, it has been well-understood that a shield renders one’s sword more formidable. The point of BMDS is to have first-strike capability against one’s enemies.

      The Pentagon’s 2018 National Defense Strategy shifted the focus from terrorism back onto great powers competition. Russia and China are the rivals, and North Korea and Iran are the “rogue regimes” of greatest concern. Making Hawaii a launchpad for missiles makes it a target. It makes us less secure. When you received the missile alert, did you look out the window toward Pearl Harbor?

      During the Cold War, the U.S. and the Soviet Union arrived at a stalemate via the principle of Mutually Assured Destruction. Either side had sufficient nuclear weapons, particularly submarine-launched ballistic missiles, to survive a first strike by the other side. The threat of devastation by the other side’s remaining weapons helped to stay the finger of American presidents and Soviet premiers on the nuclear button.

    • We’ve Been Reduced to Enemy Combatants in Our Own Country

      We have managed to survive crackdowns, clampdowns, shutdowns, showdowns, shootdowns, standdowns, knockdowns, putdowns, breakdowns, lockdowns, takedowns, slowdowns, meltdowns, and never-ending letdowns.

      We’ve been held up, stripped down, faked out, photographed, frisked, fracked, hacked, tracked, cracked, intercepted, accessed, spied on, zapped, mapped, searched, shot at, tasered, tortured, tackled, trussed up, tricked, lied to, labeled, libeled, leered at, shoved aside, saddled with debt not of our own making, sold a bill of goods about national security, tuned out by those representing us, tossed aside, and taken to the cleaners.

      We’ve had our freedoms turned inside out, our democratic structure flipped upside down, and our house of cards left in a shambles.

      We’ve had our children burned by flashbang grenades, our dogs shot, and our old folks hospitalized after “accidental” encounters with marauding SWAT teams. We’ve been told that as citizens we have no rights within 100 miles of our own border, now considered “Constitution-free zones.” We’ve had our faces filed in government databases, our biometrics crosschecked against criminal databanks, and our consumerist tendencies catalogued for future marketing overtures.

      We’ve seen the police transformed from community peacekeepers to point guards for the militarized corporate state. From Boston to Ferguson and every point in between, police have pushed around, prodded, poked, probed, scanned, shot and intimidated the very individuals—we the taxpayers—whose rights they were hired to safeguard. Networked together through fusion centers, police have surreptitiously spied on our activities and snooped on our communications, using hi-tech devices provided by the Department of Homeland Security.

    • Danny Glover: The U.S. Redefines the Term ‘Dictator’ as It Sees Fit

      Actor and activist Danny Glover places the conflict over Venezuela in the context of a long history of US-led coups in Latin America

    • Mistranslated or Not, Israeli PM’s ‘War With Iran’ Tweet Sparks Grave Concerns

      A deleted tweet from Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ignited fresh fears about his position on Iran, after his official Twitter account provided an English translation of his remarks to reporters on Wednesday while attending an American-led summit about the Middle East hosted in Warsaw, Poland.

      The initial tweet, translated from Hebrew, had the prime minister saying: “What is important about this meeting, and it is not in secret, because there are many of those—is that this is an open meeting with representatives of leading Arab countries, that are sitting down together with Israel in order to advance the common interest of war with Iran.” An amended translation replaced “war” with “combating.”

    • In House’s Yemen Vote, Congress Reasserts War-Making Powers

      Asserting congressional authority over war-making powers, the House passed a resolution Wednesday that would force the administration to withdraw U.S. troops from involvement in Yemen, in a rebuke of President Donald Trump’s alliance with the Saudi-led coalition behind the military intervention.

      Lawmakers in both parties are increasingly uneasy over the humanitarian crisis in Yemen and skeptical of the U.S. partnership with that coalition, especially in light of Saudi Arabia’s role in the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, a critic of the royal family.

    • House Makes History With Vote to End U.S. Role in Yemen War
    • ‘Historic’: House Approves War Powers Resolution to End US Complicity in Yemen

      The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday overwhelmingly approved a War Powers Resolution that would require President Trump to end U.S. military support for the ongoing Saudi-led war in Yemen.

      The bill, H.J. Res. 37 introduced by Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), passed in a 248-177 vote—mostly along party lines in the Democratic-controlled House—and will now head to the Senate where a version of the resolution last year, despite Republican control, passed in historic fashion. Read the full roll call here.

    • One Year After Parkland Massacre, Student-Led Movement Celebrated for Renewed Progress on Anti-Gun Laws

      Hours before Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida was to mark the one-year anniversary of its deadly shooting, gun control groups applauded as major gun control legislation was advanced to the House floor for the first time in years—the latest stride in a renewed push for meaningful reform which has been led largely by Parkland survivors.

      The House Judiciary Committee voted 21 to 14, along party lines, to send the Bipartisan Background Checks Act (H.R. 8) to the House Wednesday night after nine hours of debate. The bill would require background checks for all gun sales in the U.S. The committee also passed a bill to close a loophole in the current, weaker background checks law that allows a gun purchase to move ahead if the check is not conducted within three days.

      Along with the Judiciary Committee’s hearing last week—the first on gun control in more than a decade—the votes were the first significant anti-gun actions taken by the Democratic Party since it won control of the House in November.

    • One Year After Parkland, 1,200 More Kids Are Dead by Gunfire—But Students Still Fight for Gun Safety

      It’s been one year since the devastating massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School—the deadly school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that galvanized the nation to take action against gun violence and turned a generation of young people into activists. On February 14, 2018, a former student armed with a semiautomatic AR-15 entered Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and opened fire, gunning down 17 students, staff and teachers in just three minutes. It was one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history. Students who survived the massacre quickly came to national prominence as leading activists for gun control. We speak with Lois Beckett, senior reporter at The Guardian covering gun policy. Her latest piece is titled “’We can’t let fear consume us’: why Parkland activists won’t give up.”

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Who’s Afraid of the Green New Deal

      In recent weeks, a polar vortex blew across the U.S., killing at least 20 people. At the same time, U.S. government scientists reported that 2018 was the fourth-warmest year on record, with the five hottest years occurring in the past five years. A huge hole in one of the largest glaciers in Antarctica is causing accelerated melting there, while across that continent, large lakes of meltwater are bending, buckling and threatening to collapse these vast ice sheets — all leading to rapidly increasing global sea level rise. Glaciers melting in the Himalayas threaten tens of millions of people downstream with flooding and the disruption of water supplies. As evidence that the planet is experiencing what has been called “the sixth great extinction,” a recent review of scientific data concludes that 40 percent of the world’s insects are on the brink of extinction.

      President Donald Trump’s response? During the polar vortex, he tweeted: “What the hell is going on with Global Waming? (sic) Please come back fast, we need you!” Yet there are signs of hope. Two Democrats, New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey, have submitted a resolution to Congress recognizing “the duty of the Federal Government to create a Green New Deal.” House Resolution 109 had a remarkable 67 co-sponsors in the House, all Democrats, and has been distributed to 11 different House committees for consideration.

      “Today is the day that we truly embark on a comprehensive agenda of economic, social and racial justice in the United States of America,” Ocasio-Cortez said, announcing the effort. “Climate change and our environmental challenges are one of the biggest existential threats to our way of life, not just as a nation, but as a world.”

    • Capitalism’s Ownership of Global Warming

      Capitalism not only owns global warming, there’s a big red mitigation arrow pointed at the heart of today’s rampant capitalism, which is eerily similar to the loosie goosie version of the Roaring Twenties, but with a high tech twist.

      After all, somebody’s got to pony-up for climate change/global warming mitigation. Who better than deep pocket capitalists?

      For historical perspective: Today’s brand of capitalism runs circles around the Eisenhower 1950s with its 90% top marginal tax rate amidst harmony and good feelings all across the land, an age of innocence aka Leave It To Beaver.

      In sharp contrast to the fifties era of good feelings with its emergence of spanking new suburbia, today’s landscape resembles the film Blade Runner (1982) high-tech, rich, and gleaming in some places but elsewhere (often times right next door) shabby and weakening as America’s middle class fizzles away attached to a ball & chain of indebted servitude.

      With increasing frequency as climate mitigation is investigated certain economic statistics stand out like a throbbing sore thumb: “The top three greenhouse gas emitters— China, the EU and the US—contribute more than half of total global emissions, while the bottom 100 countries only account for 3.5%. Collectively, the top 10 emitters account for nearly three-quarters (75%) of global emissions. The world can’t possibly successfully tackle the climate change challenge without significant action from these top-emitting countries.” (Source: World Resources Institute)

      Interestingly enough, the socio-politico-economic genesis of global warming as of nowadays is known as Late Capitalism, as defined by Ernest Mandel (Late Capitalism, Verso Classics, 1999) or in the parlance: “Increasing commodification and industrialization of more, and more, sectors of human life” as the social fabric splits apart, delineating “haves” versus “have-nots.”

    • New Report Warns Geoengineering the Climate Is a ‘Risky Distraction’

      A new report makes the case that the fossil fuel industry prefers geoengineering as an approach for addressing climate change because it allows the industry to keep arguing for continued fossil fuel use.

      In Fuel to the Fire: How Geoengineering Threatens to Entrench Fossil Fuels and Accelerate the Climate Crisis, the Center for International Environmental Law (CEIL) warns that geoengineering, which includes technologies to remove huge amounts of carbon dioxide and to shoot particles into the atmosphere to block sunlight, potentially offers more of a problem for the climate than a solution.

      “Our research shows that nearly all proposed geoengineering strategies fail a fundamental test: do they reduce emissions and help end our reliance on fossil fuels?” said CIEL President Carroll Muffett, who co-authored the report with the support of the Heinrich Boell Foundation.

    • Large Natural Gas Producer to Pay West Virginia Plaintiffs $53.5 Million to Settle Royalty Dispute

      The second-largest natural gas producer in West Virginia will pay $53.5 million to settle a lawsuit that alleged the company was cheating thousands of state residents and businesses by shorting them on gas royalty payments, according to terms of the deal unsealed in court this week.

      Pittsburgh-based EQT Corp. agreed to pay the money to end a federal class-action lawsuit, brought on behalf of about 9,000 people, which alleged that EQT wrongly deducted a variety of unacceptable charges from peoples’ royalty checks.

      The deal is the latest in a series of settlements in cases that accused natural gas companies of engaging in such maneuvers to pocket a larger share of the profits from the boom in natural gas production in West Virginia.

      This lawsuit was among the royalty cases highlighted last year in a joint examination by the Charleston Gazette-Mail and ProPublica that showed how West Virginia’s natural gas producers avoid paying royalties promised to thousands of residents and businesses. The plaintiffs said EQT was improperly deducting transporting and processing costs from their royalty payments. EQT said its royalty payment calculations were correct and fair.

      [...]

      Settlement payments will be calculated based on such factors as the amount of gas produced and sold from each well, as well as how much was deducted from royalty payments. The number of people who submit claims could also affect settlement payments. Each member of the class that submits a claim will receive a minimum payment of at least $200. The settlement allows lawyers to collect up to one-third of the settlement, or roughly $18 million, subject to approval from the court.

      The settlement is pending before U.S. District Judge John Preston Bailey in the Northern District of West Virginia. The judge gave it preliminary approval on Monday, which begins a process for public notice of the terms and a fairness hearing July 11 in Wheeling, West Virginia. Payments would not be made until that process is complete.

    • Heat and the End of the World as We Know It

      I’m no climate scientist. The best I can say for myself is that I’ve been a pretty close student of varied specialties associated with climate science for about four decades.

      My somewhat lengthy acquaintance with climate science hasn’t led me to see a lifeless planet, a treeless planet, or human extinction across the entire planet. Nothing I know or think I know persuades me to expect anything quite that dire, at least not solely due to a hotter world.

      I do see us headed in that direction, just because we’re still cranking up the heat with just about everything we do in the normal course of our daily routines. Because this trend persists, and might persist for too long, I am persuaded that, beginning in the lifetime of children born since 1980, a plausibly hotter, hotter, and hotter world could set off a severe and gruesome culling of the human herd, and that we’ll be bringing a lot down with us.

      The end of the world? No. There’ll be some extinctions but, for humans, the effects of a hotter world are just a matter of increasing threat to familiar hopes for life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness – and capital wealth including household wealth. In other words, the end of the world as we know it.

      Some of this is clearly preventable, in theory, but the prevention clearly depends on our willingness to pull back from familiar daily routines of a recklessly comfortable way of life. A recent Ambio article by some heavyweights in climate sets out the situation well enough.

    • Savage heat engulfs temperate Tasmania

      Australia has been going through one of its hottest and stormiest summers on record and usually temperate Tasmania, its island state, has taken a battering..

      Climate change-related weather events have brought cyclones and raging floods to the north-east of the country, while drought and temperatures exceeding 40°C have resulted in parched lands and rivers drying up in areas of New South Wales.

      Summer on the island of Tasmania, Australia’s most southerly state, with a generally temperate climate, is usually a time for BBQs and beach swimming. This summer has been very different.

      A prolonged drought and record high temperatures have caused a series of devastating fires, destroying unique forests and vegetation and forcing people to leave their homes.

    • Tanzania Prepares to Hand Wildlife Reserves Over to Farmers and Livestock

      Some of the most important habitats in the United Republic of Tanzania, one of the world’s most important biodiversity hotspots, could soon be inundated with farmers and livestock following a recent decree by President John Magufuli that orders relisting protected lands as village property.

      This is a major reversal for Tanzania, a country known for its wild spaces, including World Heritage sites ranging from the Ngorongoro Crater and Mt. Kilimanjaro to the vast Selous Game Reserve and famous Serengeti National Park. Tanzania’s protected areas support an amazing array of wildlife, including some of the largest remaining elephant and lion populations in Africa and the continent’s largest wildebeest and zebra migrations.

  • Finance

    • A Late Valentine? Millionaires Stop Paying into Social Security on February 18th

      By February 18th, someone making $1,000,000 in 2019 will have stopped paying into Social Security for the year. Social Security, which provides retirement, disability, and survivor benefits to countless Americans every year, only taxes the first $132,900 of a salary (up from $128,400 in 2018). If you make more than this cap, that income is not subject to the tax.

      Most people in the United States make less than $132,900 per year, so they will pay the 6.2 percent payroll tax every time they get a paycheck in 2019. Those who make over $132,900 get a break on any income above that amount.

      If a person made $50,000 in 2019, for example, they’d pay taxes until December 31st — and have an effective tax rate of 6.2 percent. But someone making $1,000,000 in 2019 would stop paying Social Security taxes on February 18th and see a bump in their pay afterwards. This person’s effective tax rate would be just 0.8 percent. The burden of Social Security taxes falls more heavily on those who make less.

    • Betsy DeVos Is Pushing a Terrible Double Standard on College Campuses

      In her proposed rules governing the treatment of sexual harassment and assault claims on college campuses and K-12 schools, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has managed to achieve exactly what the law she is enforcing prohibits: discrimination on the basis of sex.

      The Education Department is charged with enforcing Title IX of the Civil Rights Act, which bans sex discrimination in schools receiving federal funding, but DeVos’s proposed rules would create a systemic double standard: They treat claims of discrimination based on sex fundamentally differently from claims of discrimination based on race — also forbidden under federal law. The Education Department offers no justification whatsoever for the disparities, and while women are, of course, accustomed to such differential treatment, that’s exactly what Title IX was designed to eliminate.

    • The Washington Post Wants to Cut Social Security Again

      I guess we can always count on The Washington Post to print misleading pieces calling for cuts in Social Security. After all, what are newspapers for? Anyhow, Robert Samuelson gives us one of his usual tirades, misrepresenting most of the key items in the debate.

      The basis of his outrage is a bill proposed by Representative John Larson to increase Social Security. The proposal is for a modest overall increase in benefits with a larger increase for the poor. The proposal also calls for indexing benefits to a cost of living index designed to monitor the expenses faced by seniors, instead of the population as a whole. Samuelson complains that this could lead to higher benefits.

      The gist of Samuelson’s argument is that seniors are doing very well right now. He cites a recently done study by C. Adam Bee and Joshua Mitchell, two economists were at the Census Bureau at the time, that found, based on tax filings that seniors had higher incomes than we had realized.

    • And Now This Message From Some Very Rich People: ‘Please Raise Our Taxes’

      Imploring New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to allow them to contribute to the state’s future in a way that benefits all New Yorkers, four dozen millionaires are demanding that lawmakers pass a “Multi-Millionaires Tax” to raise billions of dollars for education, infrastructure, and other programs for the greater good.

      Forty-eight millionaires sent a letter to Cuomo and the New York State Assembly as lawmakers weigh proposals for closing the state’s $2.3 billion deficit—arguing that raising their taxes could provide the state with an additional $2 to 3 billion per year.

      “We millionaires and multi-millionaires of New York can easily invest more in the Empire State, and lawmakers like you have a moral and a fiduciary duty to make sure we do so,” wrote the Patriotic Millionaires, including former Blackrock executive Morris Pearl and filmmaker and entertainment heir Abigail Disney.

    • JP Morgan Is Launching Its Own Cryptocurrency ‘JPM Coins’

      .P. Morgan Chase is set to become the first major U.S. bank to launch its own cryptocurrency. The bank has created its digital currency dubbed ‘JPM Coin’ that will be used to carry out a few transactions initially.

      The engineers at the New York-based bank have leveraged blockchain technology to create digital tokens that will drive a fraction of $6 trillion that bank moves around the world each day. With its digital currency, the bank wants to envision a future where its own cryptocurrency will be used to perform cross-border transactions, corporate debt issuance, etc.

    • Ripple can be the dark horse cryptocurrency of 2019: Ripple Price Predictions – XRP Price Today

      Many of the investors are looking for cryptocurrencies which can actually rise significantly in 2019. Most of the investors are looking at the lesser known cryptocurrencies or at the mainstream cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin or the Ethereum. The truth is that it can be Ripple which can be the dark horse cryptocurrency of 2019.

    • ‘No One Should Be Surprised’: After Long Career Stiffing Workers, Trump Blocks Back Pay for Federal Contractors

      As a real estate mogul, Donald Trump was notorious for swindling low-wage workers out of pay.

      So—as economist Robert Reich put it—”no one should be surprised” that Trump is continuing this cruel practice as president, this time by reportedly refusing to sign any government funding deal that includes back pay for the estimated 580,000 federal contractors who were furloughed or forced to work without pay for over a month due to the shutdown.

    • 35 Days Without Pay Show How Precarious Federal Jobs Have Become

      As U.S. Congress attempts to avert yet another shutdown, federal workers and contractors are still recovering from the longest government closure in American history. President Trump used workers as a bargaining chip in his xenophobic demand for a border wall, with many turning to food pantries or the more than 2,000 GoFundMe campaigns to make ends meet. Those 35 days of lost wages exposed how precarious federal labor has become after decades of rhetoric meant to delegitimize the work of the public sector.

      One illustrating point: the sweeping privatization of public jobs. In an economy where one in five jobs are held by contract workers, the federal government’s turn toward privatization translates to unstable wages, lack of benefits and temporary employment for the workers who clean, serve food and guard government buildings.

      Despite the shutdown’s end, an estimated four million federally contracted workers from private companies have still not received a paycheck for the five weeks of work they lost due to the government’s closing. Federal contractors include support staff in federal buildings, who are among the lowest-paid workers, earning between $450 and $650 per week. While Congressional Democrats have introduced legislation to give contract workers back pay, it remains unclear if the bill will pass.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • What Swings the Swing Voter?

      According to conventional wisdom, the Democrats must appeal to middle-of-the-road swing voters in order to defeat Trump in 2020. Supposedly these voters want a moderate who “crosses the partisan divide,” “finds common ground with all classes and income groups,” “removes barriers to advancement,” “builds public/private partnerships,” “works for the common good against all special interests,” “avoids the extremes of the right and the left,” and “shuns costly pie-in-the-sky programs.”

      Wrong.

      Mounting evidence suggests that the swing voter is one who faces the stark daily realities of rising inequality and all its related issues — expensive or non-existent health care, astronomical student debt, unaffordable housing, and a generation’s worth of wage stagnation. As the New York Times recently reports (“For Democrats Aiming Taxes at the Superrich, ‘the Moment Belongs to the Bold’”)

      The soak-the-rich plans — ones that were only recently considered ridiculously far-fetched or political poison — have received serious and sober treatment, even by critics, and remarkably broad encouragement from the electorate. Roughly three out of four registered voters surveyed in recent polls supported higher taxes on the wealthy. Even a majority of Republicans back higher rates on those earning more than $10 million, according to a Fox News poll conducted in mid-January.

    • The Lobbying Swamp Is Flourishing in Trump’s Washington

      It’s been more than two years since President Donald Trump, who rallied campaign supporters with calls to “drain the swamp” of lobbyists and their ilk, took office. But despite that campaign promise, Washington influence peddlers continue to move into and out of jobs in the federal government.

      In his first 10 days in office, Trump signed an executive order that required all his political hires to sign a pledge. On its face, it’s straightforward and ironclad: When Trump officials leave government employment, they agree not to lobby the agencies they worked in for five years. They also can’t lobby anyone in the White House or political appointees across federal agencies for the duration of the Trump administration. And they can’t perform “lobbying activities,” or things that would help other lobbyists, including setting up meetings or providing background research. Violating the pledge exposes former officials to fines and extended or even permanent bans on lobbying.

      But loopholes, some of them sizable, abound. At least 33 former Trump officials have found ways around the pledge. The most prominent is former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who resigned in December after a series of ethics investigations. He announced Wednesday that he is joining a lobbying firm, Turnberry Solutions, which was started in 2017 by several former Trump campaign aides. Asked whether Zinke will register as a lobbyist, Turnberry partner Jason Osborne said, “He will if he has a client that he wants to lobby for.”

      Among the 33 former officials, at least 18 have recently registered as lobbyists. The rest work at firms in jobs that closely resemble federal lobbying. Almost all work on issues they oversaw or helped shape when they were in government. (Nearly 2,600 Trump officials signed the ethics pledge in 2017, according to the Office of Government Ethics. Twenty-five appointees did not sign the pledge. We used staffing lists compiled for ProPublica’s Trump Town, our exhaustive database of current political appointees, and found at least 350 people who have left the Trump administration. There are other former Trump officials who lobby at the state or local level.)

    • Didactic Truancy: Blackface and the Fallacy of “Teachable Moments”

      History abounds with teachable moments, but they have meaning only if its students show up. The ceaseless onslaught of reports of blackface has proven, well, instructive. It seems that almost daily we are inundated with a flood of blackface incidents. In Virginia alone, it has been revealed that three top political leaders from both parties have blackening up in the past and cakewalked their way into belated infamy.

      We keep revisiting blackface, or rather, like a parasitic house guest, it never quite packs up and leaves. When it comes to blackface in America, every day is Groundhog’s Day, an endlessly recycling time loop, though without the redemptive ending. Only a year ago former NBC talk show host Megyn Kelly opined that “Back when I was a kid, that was OK, just as long as you were dressing as a character.” The good old days Kelly, 48, describes are not those of America’s pre-civil rights era but, presumably, the 1980s. Her sentiments are shared by Ralph (“Coonman”) Northam, the embattled Democratic governor of Virginia, who saw nothing wrong with moonwalking in blackface as Michael Jackson in 1984. (Ironically, had he waited twenty years to imitate Jackson, he might not have felt compelled to use shoe polish, but that’s another act in the tragicomedy of American racial performativity and a subject for another article.) If Kelly’s case has a teachable moment, it is that you can insult black people, get “fired” for it and come away with a $62 million severance package. Lesson learned, though this was perhaps not the teachable moment NBC intended.

      It may indeed be that for many white people, blackface is not an issue. Judging by its continued popularity, it may never become an issue for them despite almost two centuries of black efforts to enlightened them. However, it has been an issue for most blacks and not, as some whites have claimed, only recently: Black hatred of the practice goes back to its beginnings in the 1830s, with Frederick Douglass in 1848 denouncing its practitioners as “the filthy scum of white societywho have stolen from us our complexion denied to them by nature in such a way to make money and pander to the contempt of their fellow white citizens.”

    • 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.

      If lengthy campaigns boosted voter education and turnout, I’d be all for them. But there’s scarce evidence of that. The United States ranks 26th out of 32 industrialized countries in the share of the voting age population that shows up at the polls.

      So what can we do to avoid contests that shift politicians’ focus away from governing to endless campaigning?

    • Republicans Deny Collusion as Manafort Busted Again

      The similarity between these two situations is so obvious as to be almost not worth mentioning: The House committee back then was controlled by a Republican majority and chairman, as is the Senate committee today. Congressional Republicans, nearly to a person, have stapled their fate to the whims and vagaries of the anthropomorphic wrecking ball in the White House. “Nothing to see here, move along” has been the party’s mantra since Trump slithered down that golden elevator in June of 2015… So, yeah, it sounds totally legit when they wave the whole thing off, again. Lather, rinse, repeat.

      Back in March of 2018, Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee erupted in rage and disgust when the GOP majority abruptly shut down the investigation after claiming there was no there, there. “The work is too important to be left undone,” said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-California), then the ranking minority member. “The American people need to know whether the Russians still have something they can hold over the president’s head. If this is where the GOP is coming from, it represents to me the completeness of their capitulation to the White House, and that leaves little common ground.”

      House Democrats on that 2018 committee even went so far as to release their own dueling report denouncing Republicans for ending the investigation, listing a long litany of witnesses who were never interviewed and documents that were never subpoenaed or examined. “The decision to shut down the investigation before key witnesses could be interviewed and vital documentary evidence obtained will prevent us from fully discharging our duty to the House and to the American people,” read the rebuttal.

      Those same House Democrats are now running the show on the Intelligence Committee, chaired by Schiff, who has reopened the investigation and is actively sharing information with Robert Mueller and his crew. “The concern that we have always had is whether this president is acting in the national interest, or because of some hidden financial motivations,” Schiff recently told The Washington Post. “I think we need to find out.”

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Privacy is not a science, it is a human right

      Given the levels of institutional corruption in academia and in the regulatory bodies and advocacy institutions that should be protecting our privacy, very few things shock me these days. So hats off to Bart van der Sloot for managing the impossible and finding a new low by framing institutional corruption as scientific neutrality in his article Dubbele petten in de privacywetenschap.

      [...]

      First off, let’s get this straight: privacy is not a science, it is a human right. There is no such thing as “privacy science”. There never was. There never will be. It’s not a science any more than human rights is a science. I can see what you’re trying to do, Mr. Sloot, and it’s duplicitous as all hell.

      Let me tell you why privacy is not a science: because there is no scientific reason for us to have privacy any more than there is a scientific reason why we should not be slaves. Mr. Sloot purposefully conflates ethics, which asks “what is good?” and “how should we live?” with evolutionary biology, and perhaps sociology, which study the way things are and how they came to be the way they are and maybe even extrapolate to how they might be in the future given a certain set of constraints. The latter do not make value judgements. The former is all about value judgements. To the extent that studies in the latter follow the scientific method, we call them sciences. The former is not science, it is philosophy.

      It is science that tells us how a projectile can be propelled from a hand-held device at such velocity as to cause terminal damage to another human being and exactly how it causes that damage. It is ethics that tells us we should not shoot people. Only people interested in providing some sort of pseudoscientific justification for their desire to shoot people conflate the two.

    • Facebook and Data Mining: Is Anything Private?

      Facebook knows us. Exceptionally well.

      Facebook tracks who we talk to, what we talk about, what we like, what we’re interested in. It tracks where we are and what transactions we conduct. Facebook can pick your face out of other people’s pictures and automatically tag you in media. It can even find you in the background of crowd shots (“isn’t it cool that I’ve been tagged in so many pictures?”).

      After gathering all this personal data, who does Facebook sell it to? Any buyer who can afford it. Even foreign actors, as we saw in the 2016 election. If there’s a small smidgen of our intimate life that Facebook can sell, it will do so.

    • California Governor Wants Users to Profit From Online Data

      California Gov. Gavin Newsom has set off a flurry of speculation after he said the state’s consumers should get a piece of the billions of dollars that technology companies make by capitalizing on personal data they collect.

      The new governor has asked aides to develop a proposal for a “data dividend” for California residents but provided no hints about whether he might be suggesting a tax on tech companies, an individual refund to their customers or something else.

      “Companies that make billions of dollars collecting, curating and monetizing our personal data have a duty to protect it,” the Democrat said in his first State of the State speech Tuesday. “California’s consumers should also be able to share in the wealth that is created from their data.”

      Tech companies, for example, sell the data to outside businesses that target ads to users. The European Union and Spain’s socialist government last year each proposed taxing big internet companies like Google, Facebook and Amazon.

      Common Sense Media, which helped pass California’s nation-leading digital privacy law last year, plans to propose legislation in coming weeks that would reflect Newsom’s proposal, founder and CEO James Steyer said, without providing details.

      Starting next year, California’s European-style privacy law will require companies to tell customers upon request what personal data they have collected and why, which categories of third parties have received it, and allow consumers to delete their information and not sell it.

    • French Data Protection Authority Takes on Google

      France’s data protection authority is first out the gate with a big decision regarding a high-profile tech company, and every other enforcer in Europe is taking notes. On January 21, France’s CNIL fined Google 50 million Euros for breaches of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). This is about 57 million U.S. dollars. The decision relates to Google’s intrusive ad personalization systems, and its inadequate systems of notice and consent when users create accounts for Google services on Android devices.

      Since the GDPR came into effect on May 25, 2018, many companies have simulated compliance with the law while manipulating users into granting them consent by means of deceptive interface design and behavioral nudging. If a major company is seeking to get a free pass from another national data protection authority, that decision will now be critically contrasted with the approach of the CNIL.

      Hopefully, the CNIL’s recent decision is a harbinger of a robust enforcement approach which will deliver critical privacy protections to users.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Russia and the U.S. are racing to negotiate with Islamists. So far, they’re neck and neck.

      Russian-mediated negotiations between the Palestinian groups Hamas and Fatah are scheduled to conclude in Moscow today. The negotiations took place amid rumors that the White House is preparing a “deal of the century” to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and may make its plan public this spring. In the last several months, Moscow and Washington have taken part in a lively contest to assert their influence in Middle Eastern conflicts, often by entering talks with parties that are widely considered extremist or terrorist groups. Here, Meduza reports on the most important episodes of that ongoing diplomatic game.

    • Can California Revolutionize Rape-Kit Testing?

      On a warm Friday night in May 2008, as a young woman and her friend got into a car in Berkeley, Calif., a stranger approached and held a gun to her head. He got into the back seat and ordered her to drive until she reached a dead-end street. There, he first raped the older teenager, and then the younger one.

      After the assault, the teens went to a hospital, where the older one agreed to complete a rape kit so that DNA evidence from the attack could be collected from her body.

      Had her rape kit been tested right away, it would immediately have revealed that her attacker was a California resident with a long criminal history, according to a 2016 report published by the San Francisco Chronicle.

      Instead, her kit sat on a shelf in the Berkeley Police Department’s evidence room until 2014, when it was finally processed by a crime lab.

      As a result of the long delay, the perpetrator remained free, and he raped another woman in 2015.

    • As Hunger Strike Resumes, Corcoran Prisoners Describe Life Under Lockdown

      Prisoners in 3C Unit at the state prison in Corcoran, California resumed their hunger strike after the warden backed out of negotiations to end a months-long lockdown and violence orchestrated by prison officials.

      At its peak, 270 people participated in the Corcoran hunger strike, in which prisoners refused food trays for three weeks in January. They suspended their action when Warden Ken Clark agreed to negotiate and pledged to meet two of their six demands by restoring access to packages and the canteen.

      But prisoners say negotiations have not progressed in the weeks since that first meeting and Warden Clark has failed to keep his promises. Family members and supporters gathered outside the prison on February 9 and 10 to protest during what would have been visitation hours.

      On February 11, the prisoners once again refused meals and held a day-long noise demonstration by banging on the doors and windows of their cells.

    • Federal Judge Thinks The Best Fix For An Accidentally Unsealed Court Doc Is Prior Restraint

      Kim did it anyway, resulting in the US Press Freedom Tracker taking notice of this unconstitutional blip on its radar. Judge Kim’s order blows right past Supreme Court precedent and attempts to do damage to the First Amendment protections the Chicago Sun-Times enjoys.

      Not that any of Kim’s courtroom bluster matters… at least not at this point. The Chicago Sun-Times published its article anyway using the source document the court system failed to keep sealed. And now Chicagoans know yet another of their politicians engaged in questionable — if not illegal — business dealings. Readers are likely unsurprised, but even so, there’s a strong public interest in political corruption, which should easily outweigh anything Judge Kim might try to summon in support of his free speech blindside hit. It’s apparent the US attorney’s office won’t be backing him up, so he’s going to have to go it alone if he’s going to take a run at contempt of court hearings. Good luck with that.

    • Another One: Falling Asleep In Your Car Outside Taco Bell While Black

      Yeah, it’s still happening. It took six Vallejo, CA. police officers firing “multiple rounds” in four seconds to kill Willie McCoy, a 20-year-old rapper who fell asleep in his car in a Taco Bell parking lot with a gun in his lap, woke up, “suddenly” moved and was evidently too startled to follow their commands to “keep his hands visible.” “However the driver quickly reached for the handgun on his lap,” read a police statement. “In fear for their own safety, the officers discharged their weapons.” Police were responding to a 911 call from a Taco Bell employee who said a man was “slumped over” the wheel of a silver Mercedes; police found the car running and the doors locked. Relatives said McCoy had been at a studio recording session – he performed as Willie Bo with the group FBG – dropped off his girlfriend, was getting something to eat and was likely exhausted. After firing, police kept shouting commands, removed him from the car and “rendered medical assistance.” He died on the scene.

    • Someone Impersonated New Jersey’s Attorney General To Demand Cloudflare Takedown 3d Printed Gun Instructions

      Buckle in, folks. Here’s a crazy one involving 3D printed guns, angry lawsuits and an apparently forged letter from the New Jersey Attorney General.

      Over the past few years, we’ve been highlighting a whole bunch of stories concerning the lengths that some people will go to in an effort to block certain content online. One version that we’ve seen quite a bit in the past few years is forging takedown demands, including forged court orders. However, now we’ve seen it expand to a different arena — touching on another issue we’ve written about before. Last year (not for the first time) we wrote about the moral panic and hysteria around 3D printed guns that had resulted in a few states claiming the right to order 3D files offline.

      Not much had seemed to happen on that front, until a week or so ago when various 2nd Amendment groups, including the somewhat infamous Defense Distributed (makers of 3D printer files for firearm components) filed a lawsuit, seeking an injunction against New Jersey’s Attorney General, Gurbir Grewal, arguing that he had sent an unconstitutional takedown letter to Cloudflare, which was the CDN service that Defense Distributed was using for its website CodeIsFreeSpeech.com.

      In theory, this was setting up an important potential 1st Amendment case. But, on Tuesday, something unexpected happened. The State of New Jersey showed up in court to say no one there actually sent the takedown — and that they believed it was forged, and sent via a proxy service in the Slovak Republic. Really.

    • One Way Ralph Northam Can Redeem Himself

      Nearly four decades after smearing his face with shoe polish and doing a blackface impersonation of Michael Jackson, Virginia governor Ralph Northam says he wants to be a beacon of racial reconciliation. To that end, advisers tell BuzzFeed News, Northam has embarked on a survey course in wokeness: boning up on the horrors of U.S. slavery via Alex Haley’s Roots; studying the legacy of American racism through Ta-Nehisi Coates’ “The Case for Reparations”; watching the heroic cinematic portraiture of the Ku Klux Klan in Birth of a Nation. (A film, it should be noted, that features an astounding amount of blackface.) Northam’s apology-slash-rebranding campaign is also slated to feature a policy agenda focused on racial equity, putting desperately needed resources into public transportation, affordable housing and Virginia’s historically black colleges.

      Also supposedly on Northam’s to-do list? Finally calling for the removal of Virginia’s many racist statues and monuments glorifying the Confederacy, a nation founded specifically to ensure the preservation of black chattel slavery. According to BuzzFeed, “a source close to the governor said Northam is telling people privately that if the commonwealth’s legislature puts a bill on his desk that provides the authority to bring down Confederate statues that he would sign it.”

      Like the rest of his all-racial-equality-all-the-time platform, this sits somewhere between a shift and a pivot for Northam. The article notes that while stumping for the governorship, Northam was vocal about the need for Virginia’s Confederate markers to come down, but “later softened his position, saying what should be done with the statues should be left up to localities.” The Richmond Times-Dispatch makes particular note of the fact that in “August 2017, following the deadly white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Northam—then the Democratic nominee for governor—said in a statement that Confederate statues ‘should be taken down and moved into museums.’ He has not pursued that policy as governor.”

    • The Psychology of the Wall

      Geopolitics, like thermodynamics, has its laws of conservation. If a wall comes down in one place, you can bet that it will go up somewhere else.

      It wasn’t long after the Berlin Wall fell that different kinds of walls went up in Eastern Europe. New borders separated the Czech Republic from Slovakia, and then, after much bloodshed, the new successor states of former Yugoslavia.

      By the end of the 1990s, barriers were being established in small towns in the Czech Republic, in Slovakia, and in Romania to separate Roma and non-Roma populations. Germans on both sides of the former Berlin Wall were declaring that they were one people. But in other countries in the region, the majority population was insisting, rule of law notwithstanding, that the citizenry was not one people and a wall was necessary to emphasize the distinction.

      These discriminatory walls anticipated the next round of walls in the region: to keep out immigrants. Hungary built a wall on its border with Serbia in 2015, and then a second one in 2017 just to be sure. Germany was letting in more than a million desperate people. Hungary and most of the rest of Eastern Europe, after making the earlier case that they belonged in the European Union, were shutting the door after themselves.

      It’s not just Eastern Europe. The Brexit vote was basically an effort to build a big wall across the English Channel to separate the United Kingdom from Europe. Keeping out immigrants was a major motivating factor.

      Walls are practically everywhere, alas. You can find a very sad set of walls separating Israel from the Occupied Territories. Spain has walled off its cities of Ceuta and Melilla from the rest of Morocco (yes, there are two Spanish towns in North Africa). There’s a wall between Saudi Arabia and Iraq. According to Elisabeth Vallet, a geography professor at the University of Quebec-Montreal, there were 15 border walls around the world in 1989. That has jumped to 77 today.

      As with so many of his fixations, Donald Trump’s call for a wall is hardly original. And this wall, too, is a response to the collapse of walls elsewhere. Economic globalization was responsible, from the 1980s on, for gradually tearing down all manner of barriers: to trade, to finance, and to the movement of manufacturers. Trump and his economic populists have done as much as they can to put back some of those barriers, for instance by withdrawing from the Trans Pacific Partnership and by slapping tariffs on products from allies and adversaries.

      But Trump’s wall along the Mexico border is first and foremost about keeping people out. Economic globalization removed some barriers to the movement of people, but primarily those with highly sought-after skills. As for the truly desperate who were trying to climb over walls and breach borders, they were often motivated more by war and the violence of non-state actors.

    • Putin proposes new law to punish crime bosses

      Russian president Vladimir Putin has proposed an addition to the country’s criminal codex that would penalize “occupying a high rank in the criminal hierarchy.” The proposal prescribes a prison sentence of 8 – 15 years.

      The clarifying note that accompanied Putin’s bill, which has been submitted for consideration to the State Duma, stated that Russian criminal authorities can currently avoid responsibility for their actions “thanks to their position.” “At the same time, current law does not place criminal responsibility on these figures for the fact of their leadership in the criminal hierarchy alone,” the president’s note explained.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • In Wake Of Verizon Flub, New Law Would Ban Wireless Throttling Of First Responders

      Last summer Verizon got caught in a PR shitstorm after it throttled the wireless data connection of a California fire department — just as they were fighting one of the biggest forest fires in California history. When the firefighters complained to Verizon about the throttling (which occurs on all of Verizon’s “unlimited but not really” data plans), instead of fixing the issue Verizon tried to upsell the department to a more expensive plan. While some responsibility lies with the department for not understanding the data connection they’d bought, Verizon ultimately admitted that throttling any first responders violated the company’s policies and should have never happened
      .
      In the months since, Verizon has been running ads (including one during the Super Bowl) in a bid to burn the PR kerfuffle out of the public consciousness.

      But the damage had already been done. The incident has now been a cornerstone of net neutrality activist arguments as to why some basic rules on this front are necessary, and it was brought up repeatedly during the recent opening arguments in the latest net neutrality court battle.

      [...]

      It’s been a bold lobbying gambit that has seen incredible success in the Trump era, largely while the general public (and even many in the tech press) remain oblivious to the full scope. And it’s a gambit ISPs like Verizon are desperately hoping will be upheld by Brett Kavanaugh should it wind its way to the Supreme Court.

  • DRM

    • Patently unfair – Epson takedowns continue

      As a verified rights-owner (VeRO) on eBay UK and by using Amazon UK’s reporting notice system, Seiko Epson Corporation (“Epson”) has free rein to remove any and all third-party cartridge listings that it wishes. It simply has to inform eBay or Amazon of the offending listing, provide its patent number and assert patent infringement. Listings are always removed, and affected sellers cannot prevent, challenge or appeal removal.

      This one-sided system is fundamentally unfair. If Epson genuinely believes that its patents are being infringed it should issue court proceedings to enforce its rights. Instead, eBay and Amazon’s automatic takedown notice procedures provide the multi-million-dollar corporation with a blunt tool it can brazenly use to circumvent fair judicial process.

      Targeting online sellers is a low move by Epson. The primary focus for patent enforcement should be compatible cartridge manufacturers or importers. Resellers are the least important part of the chain. However, online sellers have the disadvantage of being visible, and eBay and Amazon’s automatic and inflexible takedown policies make them by far the easiest target.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • User Interface Claims are Technological and Thus Not Subject to Business Method Review

      This appeal stems from Covered Business Method (CBM) Review decisions on four related patents owned by TT. The PTAB instituted all four CBM reviews. However, by the time of final decision, two of the challenged patents had been already upheld on eligibility by the Federal Circuit. For those two patents, the PTAB followed the court’s lead and found the patents were directed to eligible subject matter. However, claims of the second set of patents were ruled invalid as ineligible and obvious.

      On appeal, the Federal Circuit took a shortcut. Rather than directly addressing the underlying patentability question, the court vacated the PTAB determinations on jurisdiction grounds. The court held that the inventions at issue are “technological” and therefore not “covered business methods.”

      Section 18 of the America Invents Act (AIA) creates the “Transitional Program for Covered Business Method Patents.” The program, which sunsets in 2020 allows broad challenges of business method patents — including challenges on eligibility grounds. However, the law includes a strict and limited definition of what counts as a “covered business method patent.”

    • Unified files IPR against US 8,768,077 owned by Velos Media, LLC

      On February 12, 2019, Unified filed a petition (with Baker Botts serving as lead counsel) for inter partes review (IPR) against U.S. Patent 8,768,077, owned by Velos Media, LLC (Velos) as part of Unified’s ongoing efforts in its new SEP Video Codec Zone.

      The ‘077 patent and its corresponding extended patent family is the largest family known to be owned by Velos and represents approximately 5.3% of Velos’ known U.S. assets. Including this petition, Unified has now challenged patents representing 10% of Velos’ total known U.S. assets.

    • ‘eBay decision has led to much better understanding of how injunctions affect markets’

      Injunctive relief has become an increasingly popular weapon in patent conflicts. Conditions for granting patent remedies define the scope of patent protection; injunctions that are granted automatically significantly strengthen patentees’ position. However, Rafał Sikorski of the Faculty of Law of the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan, Poland, and editor of the book Patent Law Injunctions, thinks injunctive relief should be applied in a flexible manner. ‘Otherwise, there is a danger that it will be used by the right holders as a tool to obtain excessive compensation for the use of their inventions, one that does not reflect properly their real value.’ Kluwer IP Law interviewed Sikorski.

    • Apple’s workaround for German fake injunction–Qualcomm-based variants of iPhone 7 and iPhone 8–exacerbates Qualcomm’s antitrust woes

      At the end of my shareholder-value-focused analysis of Qualcomm’s $1.5 billion deposit for the immediate enforcement of a Germany-wide patent injunction against the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 8, I predicted it was going to be “a Pyrrhic victory.” By now it’s clear that “Pyrrhic victory” is a euphemism. It’s a total disaster for Qualcomm, actually. A waste of money; zero leverage over Apple (which as of today is again selling all iPhone models in Germany without restrictions); zero proof of patent portfolio strength; a significant risk of additional EU antitrust problems because it underpins a complaint by Apple that had already given rise to preliminary investigations by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Competition (DG COMP); and adverse effects on Qualcomm’s reputation in U.S. and Asian competition circles.

    • Copyrights

      • Movie Torrents Shown To Actually Boost Box Office Sales For Post-Release Movies

        With what is now many, many years covering issues of piracy and intellectual property, it will come as no surprise to you that we’ve specifically dived into the intersection of copyright infringement and the film industry over and over. What is something of a counter-intuitive notion, however, is that we also have a decade-long post history pointing out that, despite all the fear-mongering about how piracy is killing the movie industry, box office records keep getting broken on the regular. The easy point to make is that obviously piracy is not killing the film industry, given how many movie tickets are being sold. But perhaps, according to a recent study, we should have gone one further and explored whether box office records were being broken in part because of piracy.

        Researchers from the University of Houston and Western University dug into the effect of The Pirate Bay’s offline status in part of 2014 and came away with some surprising findings.

      • The Final Version of the EU’s Copyright Directive Is the Worst One Yet
      • EU Moves Forward With Agreement To Fundamentally Change The Internet From Open To Closed

        Despite the fact that even the staunchest supporters of Article 13 were asking for it to be dropped from the final version of the EU Copyright Directive, that didn’t happen. In the final trilogue negotiations between the EU Council, the EU Commission and the EU Parliament, it appears that the agreed upon “compromise” is basically as bad as we feared. It will fundamentally change the entire nature of the internet. And not in a good way. As we recently discussed, the only way this makes sense is if the goal is to have the law be so bad that big internet companies feel forced to pay their way out of it.

        [...]

        If this becomes law, I’m not sure Techdirt can continue publishing in the EU. At the very least, it will require us to spend a large sum of money on lawyers to determine what our liability risk is — to the point that it might just not be worth it at all. Article 13 makes a commenting system untenable, as we simply cannot setup a filter that will block people from uploading copyright-covered content. Article 11 potentially makes our posts untenable, since we frequently quote other news sites in order to comment on them (as we do above).

        This is, of course, the desire of those supporting both bills. It is not just to close the (made up, mythical) “value gap.” It is to fundamentally change the internet away from an open system of communications — one that anyone can use to bypass traditional gatekeepers, to a closed “broadcast” system, in which key legacy gatekeepers control access to the public, via a complicated set of licenses that strip all of the benefits and profits from the system.

      • EU Copyright Rules: Provisional Deal Struck On Changes

        The European Council’s Romanian presidency announced today it has struck a provisional agreement with the EU Parliament on a draft directive that makes changes to existing European Union copyright rules. The draft agreement, which will go before the full Council of member states and Parliament for approval, would make changes such as a controversial new “publishers’ right” or “snippet tax,” and strengthens copyright protections on online content sharing platforms. It also would introduce copyright exceptions for a range of purposes such as text and data mining, online teaching, and cultural heritage.

      • Mozilla Open Policy & Advocacy Blog: Mozilla statement on the conclusion of EU copyright directive ‘trialogue’ negotiations

        The Copyright agreement gives the green light to new rules that will compel online services to implement blanket upload filters, with an overly complex and limited SME carve out that will be unworkable in practice. At the same time, lawmakers have forced through a new ancillary copyright for press publishers, a regressive and disproven measure that will undermine access to knowledge and the sharing of information online.

        The legal uncertainty that will be generated by these complex rules means that only the largest, most established platforms will be able to fully comply and thrive in such a restricted online environment.

        With this development, the EU institutions have squandered the opportunity of a generation to bring European copyright law into the 21st century. At a time of such concern about web centralisation and the ability of small European companies to compete in the digital marketplace, these new rules will serve to entrench the incumbents.

02.13.19

Links 13/2/2019: Tails 3.12.1, MongoDB Being Dumped

Posted in News Roundup at 7:41 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Ways To Contribute Back To Linux Community

    So you’ve been a part of the huge collaborative Linux community and have learned or benefited a lot from them. And now you hear about contributing back some love to the community through various means: developing software, maintaining, documenting, sharing, etc Maybe you are stuck figuring out at which to choose right now. Or have no idea at all where to start.

  • New Ports Bring Linux to Arm Laptops, Android to the Pi

    Like life itself, software wants to be free. In our increasingly open source era, software can more easily disperse into new ecosystems. From open source hackers fearlessly planting the Linux flag on the Sony Playstation back in the aughts to standard Linux apps appearing on Chromebooks and on Android-based Galaxy smartphones (Samsung’s DeX), Linux continues to break down barriers.

    The latest Linux-related ports include an AArch64-Laptops project that enables owners of Windows-equipped Arm laptops and tablets to load Ubuntu. There’s also a Kickstarter project to develop a Raspberry Pi friendly version of Google’s low-end Android 9 Pi Go stack. Even Windows is spreading its wings. A third-party project has released a WoA installer that enables a full Windows 10 image to run on the Pi.

  • Windows ARM Laptops Can Now Run Ubuntu

    A new open source project aims to bring fully functional Ubuntu to ARM Windows 10 laptops, like the HP Envy X2, pictured above.

    A crop of Windows 10 laptops that run atop Qualcomm Snapdragon ARM processors are available from major PC makers.

    Notebooks such as the HP Envy x2 and Asus NovaGo, though novel, and offering crazy-long battery life, have been criticised by users and tech bloggers alike for being slow.

    Poor performance and app incompatibilities around the ‘x86’ emulator Windows 10 for ARM uses have dogged these machines since their launch.

  • Desktop

    • Linux on DeX: Turn Your Samsung into a Computer

      When was the last time you heard of a computer-type experience on a mobile phone? Ubuntu Edge? If you haven’t heard about it yet, Samsung is masterminding housing the power of a whole computer on a mobile phone with Linux on DeX.

      Linux on DeX offers you a portable development environment by enabling you to cast a Linux development environment onto a desktop environment complete with a keyboard, mouse, and monitor anywhere, anytime.

      It requires a Galaxy Note9 or Galaxy Tab S4 running the Linux on DeX app and you can connect your device to a monitor, a keyboard, and a mouse for the full desktop experience.

  • Server

    • Sitting in the Linux Cockpit

      If you haven’t tried the relatively new Linux Cockpit, you might be surprised by all it can do. It’s a user-friendly web-based console that provides some very easy ways to administer Linux systems — through the web. You can monitor system resources, add or remove accounts, monitor system usage, shut down the system and perform quite a few other tasks — all through a very accessible web connection. It’s also very easy to set up and use.

      While many Linux sysadmins spend most of their time on the command line, access to a remote system using a tool like PuTTY doesn’t always provide the most useful command output. Linux Cockpit provides graphs and easy-to-use forms for viewing performance measures and making changes to your systems.

    • Open Outlook: Storage and the Power of the Stack

      The storage landscape has changed considerably over the past few years. We’ve seen the advent of Linux containers as a popular development tool, necessitating new forms of container-native storage solutions. Storage has evolved into software-defined storage (SDS) solutions that can provide consistent storage across on-premise, public and hybrid cloud environments. Hyperconverged infrastructure has emerged as a viable means of supporting both compute and storage.

      Indeed, storage has evolved since Red Hat acquired Gluster and InkTank (Ceph) in 2011 and 2014, respectively. At the time of those acquisitions, Red Hat was looking at the individual power behind both solutions, and how that power could be harnessed to make open source the de facto choice for organizations looking to dip their toes into SDS. In reality, we were laying the groundwork for the software-defined present we find ourselves in today. We were creating the building blocks for an integrated portfolio of solutions with storage as an important part of the puzzle.

    • OpenShift Protects against Nasty Container Exploit

      Red Hat OpenShift has been using Linux process-to-file type enforcement with multi-category security in its container orchestration platform for 8 years. SELinux has been set to enforcing in OpenShift since 2011. Red Hat Openshift Online is a publicly accessible hosted service that thousands of developers log into everyday to launch code as containers. Red Hat OpenShift Online had SELinux turned on from the beginning. How about the version of OpenShift you are running inside of your datacenter? That’s right: Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform has had SELinux turned on by default. And we don’t just mean it’s turned on; we mean it is configured to protect you out of the box against real world threats.

      I’m afraid I don’t know of another Kubernetes-based container orchestration platform that has used this protection method for this long. Unlike other Kubernetes distributions, Red Hat has bridged the gap between Linux and the container orchestration platform on top, enabling Red Hat OpenShift to track and address security issues across the stack, not just in one layer. And we’re able to do this by default, from day one.

    • Red Hat Virtualization 4.3 Beta is available now

      Virtualization is a cornerstone of the data center, providing a platform which organizations can use to more rapidly deploy new servers for applications, or to more confidently host existing applications which are critical to keeping the business operational. A virtualization platform should be a reliable and hardworking stalwart, ready to take on more work when needed.

    • Introducing a New Way to Try Red Hat OpenShift Online Pro

      Red Hat OpenShift Online hosting has been available since 2011, and to date, well over 4 million applications have been launched on OpenShift Online. This service has been available in two tiers: the free Starter plan and the paid Pro plan. Both services offered the same OpenShift experience, with the Starter plan geared toward developers who want to experiment and learn on the platform, and the Pro plan geared toward professional application development and hosting.

      We’re excited to announce that as of today, we’re offering a 30 day free trial of the Red Hat OpenShift Online Pro plan. The trial automatically converts to a fully supported, paying account after the 30 days to prevent any interruptions in service. This offering provides the full professional experience, allowing customers to utilize the full public cloud hosted power of OpenShift Online.

    • IBM Puffs Up Power Iron On Its Public Cloud
    • Big Blue Finally Brings IBM i To Its Own Public Cloud

      Well, that took quite a long time. After what seems like eons of nudging and cajoling and pushing, IBM is making the IBM i operating system and its integrated database management system, as well as the application development tools and other systems software, available on its self-branded IBM Cloud public cloud.

      Big Blue previewed its plans to bring both IBM i and AIX to the IBM Cloud at its annual Think conference in Las Vegas, on scale out machines aimed at small and medium businesses as well as to customers who want to run clusters of machines, and on scale up systems that have NUMA electronics that more tightly cluster them into shared memory systems.

      There are a lot of questions about how this will be all be packaged up and sold under the unwieldy name of the IBM Power Systems Virtual Server on IBM Cloud. But we will tell you all that we know and fill you in as we learn more.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • We’re Gonna Need a Bigger Repo | LINUX Unplugged 288

      The hype around a new security flaw hits new levels. Fedora has a bunch of news, and we discover what’s new in the latest Plasma release.

      Plus we fall down the openSUSE rabbit hole when Ell updates us on her desktop challenge.

      Special Guests: Alan Pope, Brent Gervais, Daniel Fore, Ell Marquez, Martin Wimpress, and Neal Gompa.

    • mintCast 302 – New Users, Start Here
    • 5 Linux Mint Issues For Windows Users

      5 Linux Mint Issues For Windows Users. Any Windows user considering the switch to Linux Mint would be wise to consider the following points before taking the leap into a new Linux distribution. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to have you join us! But there are issues to consider before switching from Windows over to Linux Mint.

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux Foundation

      • Xen Summit

        The ​Xen Project ​Developer ​and ​Design ​Summit ​brings ​together ​the ​Xen ​Project’s ​community ​of ​developers ​and ​power ​users ​for ​their ​annual ​conference. ​The ​conference ​is ​about ​sharing ​ideas ​and ​the ​latest ​developments, ​sharing ​experience, ​planning, ​collaboration ​and ​above ​all ​to ​have ​fun ​and ​to ​meet ​the ​community ​that ​defines ​the ​Xen ​Project.

      • Linux Foundation Unveils Impressive Speaker Lineup for Open Source Leadership Summit 2019

        The Linux Foundation, the nonprofit organization enabling mass innovation through open source, today announced the speakers and schedule for Open Source Leadership Summit (OSLS), taking place March 12-14 at the Ritz Carlton in Half Moon Bay, Calif.

        The full lineup of sessions can be viewed here, and features speakers from Adobe, Comcast, Fidelity Investments, GitLab, Google, Huawei, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Netflix, Nokia, Red Hat, Uber, Walmart, Wipro, and others.

        An intimate, invitation-only event for Linux Foundation and LF Project members, OSLS gathers technical and business leaders transforming technology across a multitude of industry verticals – financial services, healthcare, software, transportation, telecom and energy to name a few, to share best practices and accelerate open source development and cross-industry collaboration.

      • 6 Key Metrics Driving Growth at the Cloud Native Computing Foundation

        There are a lot of different open-source organizations out there, but none had a bigger year in 2018 than the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) and 2019 looks to be no different.

        The CNCF published its 2018 annual report on Feb. 8 providing an overview of the organization’s activities and growth over the past year. The CNCF itself is part of the Linux Foundation and got its start with a single project in July 2015. That single project the Kubernetes container orchestrations system, is now just one of 31 open-source cloud projects hosted at the CNCF.

        The 31-page CNCF annual report provides all kinds of insight into the operations of the cloud organization, as well reviewing key metrics that define its current and likely future success. In this eWEEK Data Points article, we look at the reasons why the CNCF is growing and how the cloud native movement is poised for success in 2019 and beyond.

    • Graphics Stack

      • VK9 Project Stalls As Developer Leaves To Pursue Other Interests

        While VK9 was the first open-source project to pursue mapping Direct3D over Vulkan, at least for now the project has halted.

        It’s been almost three years that Christopher Schaefer has been near single-handedly working on this project to get Direct3D 9 running over the Vulkan graphics API. While he’s been successful in getting code samples and other bits running from D3D9 over Vulkan, he’s decided to throw in the towel at least for the time being.

      • NVIDIA Video Codec SDK 9.0 Officially Released

        Since the start of December the NVIDIA Video Codec SDK 9.0 update has been available in the company’s early access program while now this SDK with the NVENC/NVDEC APIs has rolled out as stable.

        The NVIDIA Video Codec SDK 9.0 brings some big changes particularly around the Turing GPU support with faster decode, support for higher image quality encoding on H.264/H.265, efficiency enhancements, better CUDA interoperability, and other new capabilities enabled for NVIDIA’s latest graphics processors.

      • AMD_DEBUG Can Now Be Used In Place Of R600_DEBUG For RadeonSI Options

        When setting various debug options for the RadeonSI Gallium3D driver — like enabling its NIR back-end among many other options — that has traditionally been done through the R600_DEBUG= environment variable. But that variable name makes little sense these days since RadeonSI doesn’t even support the now-vintage R600 GPUs. Thankfully, AMD_DEBUG= is now a supported alternative.

        Marek Olšák added the support on Tuesday so the AMD_DEBUG environment variable for RadeonSI can now be used as an alternative to R600_DEBUG — using that environment variable is still supported to keep any scripts, etc, working.

      • mesa 19.0.0-rc3

        Hi List,

        Mesa 19.0-rc3 is now available.

        Due to a bug I discovered in the script that scrapes for stable nominations
        (after uploading the tarball) there is basically nothing in the -rc3 release. As
        a result I’m planning to make a -rc4 tomorrow. You can see the staging/19.0
        branch to see the additional patches present.

        Dylan

      • Mesa 19.0-RC3 Released But It’s A Dud

        The latest weekly release candidate of Mesa 19.0 is now available for testing, but it’s a very petite release due to failing to include all of the latest back-ported patches intended for this release.

      • RadeonSI Picks Up Primitive Culling With Async Compute For Performance Wins

        Prolific open-source AMD Linux driver developer Marek Olšák has sent out his latest big patch series in the name of performance. His new set of 26 patches provide primitive culling with asynchronous compute and at least for workstation workloads yields a big performance uplift.

        The 26 patches allow for using async compute to do primitive culling before the vertex shader process. This work ends up yielding performance improvements for workloads that do a lot of geometry that ends up being invisible. This code is stable and passing nearly all conformance tests while working from GCN 1.1 through Radeon VII.

      • Linux-Firmware Adds Signed NVIDIA Firmware Binaries For Turing’s Type-C Controller

        While we are still waiting on NVIDIA to publish the signed firmware images for Turing GPUs in order to bring-up 3D hardware acceleration on the GeForce RTX 2000 series graphics cards with the open-source Nouveau driver, today they did post the signed firmware image files for their Type-C controller found on these new GPUs.

      • Open-Source NVIDIA “Nouveau” DRM Changes Begin Queuing Ahead Of Linux 5.1

        The Nouveau kernel driver tree where development happens on this open-source NVIDIA DRM driver saw a fresh batch of changes on Tuesday in aiming for new material with Linux 5.1.

        This latest work comes from Red Hat’s Ben Skeggs who continues serving as the Nouveau DRM driver maintainer and often responsible for many of the Nouveau DRM changes himself. There is just more than two dozen changes that landed into the Nouveau kernel repository.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Month of KDE Applications Snaps

        Snaps is a fancy new package format for Linux which allows applications to be shipped which run on pretty much any Linux distro. This nicely solves one of the headaches with shipping software for Linux, that you have to package it a dozen times using a dozen different methods to get anyone to be able to install it.

        The format and host for Snaps is made using Ubuntu and developed by KDE patron Canonical.

        We have been working on building Snaps from the KDE neon builders for some time and they’re now at a quality where we can move them into the stable channel. (Snap software gets hosted in channels depending on the risk you want to take, others being candidate, beta and edge.)

      • What’s new in KDE Plasma 5.15
      • KDE neon on xenial/16.04 EOL

        KDE neon was rebased onto Ubuntu bionic/18.04 last year and upgrades have gone generally smooth. We have removed xenial/16.04 build from our machines (they only hang around for as long as they did because it took a while to move the Snap builds away from them) and the apt repo will remove soon. If you haven’t already upgrade now.

      • Plasma v5.15 Released, NetBSD Switching to GCC v7, Django Announces Important Bug Fix, Xen Project Developer and Design Summit

        The KDE project launched the first stable release of Plasma in 2019 with version 5.15. The release boasts improvements in usability, notifications, eye candy and more.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • 24 Excellent GNOME Extensions (Updated)

        Freedom of choice is a central plank of open source software, and it’s very relevant when choosing and configuring a desktop environment. One of Linux’s best features is its modularity.

        Extensibility relates to the ability to customize a desktop environment to an individual’s preferences and tastes. This flexibility is offered by themes, extensions, and applets.

        GNOME ships with a System Settings tool which isn’t as diverse as some of its peers. There’s still useful options such as a simple way to enable remote access and file sharing. If you’re serious about customizing GNOME, you’ll need the GNOME Tweaks utility. It’s not an official GNOME app, but it offers some advanced tinkering. But when it comes to micro-configuring the GNOME desktop to your preference, Tweaks still leaves us asking for more. Fortunately, there’s an awesome range of extensions that provide additional functionality.

        Here’s our recommended GNOME shell extensions. Most of the extensions are not officially supported by GNOME. But they all take the desktop to the next level, either by adding useful functionality, improving your workflow, or simply offering a touch of panache to the desktop. All the extensions all compatible with the latest release of GNOME. Naturally there’s only open source goodness on offer.

        The extensions are best installed from the gnome-shell extensions website. Some extensions are installed by default with Linux distributions.

  • Distributions

    • Debian Family

      • Gemini NC14 + Debian

        My main machine is a Dell E7240. It’s 5 years old and, while a bit slow sometimes, is generally still capable of doing all I need. However it mostly lives in an E-Port Plus II dock and gets treated like a desktop. As a result I don’t tend to move it around the house; the external monitor has a higher resolution than the internal 1080p and I’m often running things on it where it would be inconvenient to have to suspend it. So I decided I’d look for a basic laptop that could act as a simple terminal and web browser. This seems like an ideal job for a Chromebook, but I wanted a decent resolution screen and all of the cheap Chromebooks were 1366×768.

        Looking around I found the Gemini Devices NC14. This is a Celeron N3350 based device with 4GB RAM and a 14” 1080p LCD. For £180 that seemed like a decent spec, much better than anything else I could see for under £200. Included storage is limited to a 32GB eMMC, with a slot for an m.2 SSD if desired, but as I’m not planning to store anything other than the OS/applications on the device that wasn’t a drawback to me. Box seem to be the only supplier, though they also list on Amazon. I chose Amazon, because that avoided paying extra for shipping to Northern Ireland.

        The laptop comes with just a wall-wart style power supply – there’s no paperwork or anything else in the box. The PSU is a 12V/2A model and the cable is only slightly more than 1m long. However there’s also a USB-C power on the left side of the laptop and it will charge from that; didn’t work with any of my USB-C phone chargers, but worked just fine with my Lenovo laptop charger. The USB-C port does USB, as you’d expect, but surprisingly is also setup for DisplayPort – I plugged in a standard USB-C → HDMI adaptor and it worked perfectly. Additional ports include 2 standard USB 3.0 ports, a mini-HDMI port, a 3.5mm audio jack and a micro SD card slot. The whole device is pretty light too, coming in at about 1.37kg. It feels cheap, but not flimsy – not unreasonable given the price point. The keyboard is ok; not a great amount of travel and slightly offset from what I’m used to on the right hand side (there is a column of home/pgup/pgdn/end to the right of the enter key). The worst aspect is that the power button is a regular key in the top right, so easy to hit when looking for delete. The trackpad is serviceable; the middle button is a little tricky to hit sometimes, but there and useful.

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • It’s Hard to Believe That This is a Screenshot of Ubuntu

            But although the underlying operating system is familiar the rest of what’s on show is made up of unfamiliar, custom code from the hands of Redditor Noah_The_Blob.

            He shared screenshots of his bespoke desktop set-up on the /r/unixporn sub-reddit this week. Here, the world, including me, duly gave him props, upvotes and endless questions about how to recreate the look for ourselves!

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Events

    • Jonathan Dowland: My first FOSDEM

      FOSDEM 2019 was my first FOSDEM. My work reason to attend was to meet many of my new team-mates from the Red Hat OpenJDK team, as well as people from the wider OpenJDK community, and learn a bit about what people are up to. I spent most of the first day entirely in the Free Java room, which was consistently over-full. On Monday I attended an OpenJDK Committer’s meeting hosted by Oracle (despite not — yet — being an OpenJDK source contributor… soon!)

      A sides from work and Java, I thought this would be a great opportunity to catch up with various friends from the Debian community. I didn’t do quite as well as I hoped! By coincidence, I sat on a train next to Ben Hutchings On Friday, I tried to meet up with Steve McIntyre and others (I spotted at least Neil Williams and half a dozen others) for dinner, but alas the restaurant had (literally) nothing on the menu for vegetarians, so I waved and said hello for a mere 5 minutes before moving on.

    • At MWC19 Barcelona 2019, the future is open!

      From open platforms, to open collaboration, to open innovation, more telecommunications service providers (SPs) are looking to open to deliver more services faster, to meet customer expectations, beat out competitors, and excel in the digital era. In a few short days, MWC Barcelona will be underway in Barcelona, giving the industry an opportunity to coalesce and take on new challenges together.

    • First Phase for openSUSE Conference Talks Begins

      openSUSE is pleased to announce the first phase for accepting talks for the openSUSE Conference 2019 (oSC19) has begun.

      A total of 80 talks were submitted during the call for papers, which began in late fall and ended Feb. 4. In total, there were 42 normal talks, two long workshops, four short workshops, 19 short talks and seven lighting talks submitted.

      The review team rated all the submitted abstracts and selected 22 normal talks, two long workshops, four short workshops, 13 short talks and five lighting talks.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Tails 3.12.1 is out

        This release is an emergency release to fix a critical security vulnerability in Firefox.

        It also fixes other security vulnerabilities. You should upgrade as soon as possible.

      • Mozilla to use machine learning to find code bugs before they ship

        In a bid to cut the number of coding errors made in its Firefox browser, Mozilla is deploying Clever-Commit, a machine-learning-driven coding assistant developed in conjunction with game developer Ubisoft.

        Clever-Commit analyzes code changes as developers commit them to the Firefox codebase. It compares them to all the code it has seen before to see if they look similar to code that the system knows to be buggy. If the assistant thinks that a commit looks suspicious, it warns the developer. Presuming its analysis is correct, it means that the bug can be fixed before it gets committed into the source repository. Clever-Commit can even suggest fixes for the bugs that it finds. Initially, Mozilla plans to use Clever-Commit during code reviews, and in time this will expand to other phases of development, too. It works with all three of the languages that Mozilla uses for Firefox: C++, JavaScript, and Rust.

        The tool builds on work by Ubisoft La Forge, Ubisoft’s research lab. Last year, Ubisoft presented the Commit-Assistant, based on research called CLEVER, a system for finding bugs and suggesting fixes. That system found some 60-70 percent of buggy commits, though it also had a false positive rate of 30 percent. Even though this false positive rate is quite high, users of this system nonetheless felt that it was worthwhile, thanks to the time saved when it did correctly identify a bug.

      • Facebook Answers Mozilla’s Call to Deliver Open Ad API Ahead of EU Election

        After calls for increased transparency and accountability from Mozilla and partners in civil society, Facebook announced it would open its Ad Archive API next month. While the details are still limited, this is an important first step to increase transparency of political advertising and help prevent abuse during upcoming elections.

        Facebook’s commitment to make the API publicly available could provide researchers, journalists and other organizations the data necessary to build tools that give people a behind the scenes look at how and why political advertisers target them. It is now important that Facebook follows through on these statements and delivers an open API that gives the public the access it deserves.

        The decision by Facebook comes after months of engagement by the Mozilla Corporation through industry working groups and government initiatives and most recently, an advocacy campaign led by the Mozilla Foundation.

        This week, the Mozilla Foundation was joined by a coalition of technologists, human rights defenders, academics, journalists demanding Facebook take action and deliver on the commitments made to put users first and deliver increased transparency.

        “In the short term, Facebook needs to be vigilant about promoting transparency ahead of and during the EU Parliamentary elections,” said Ashley Boyd, Mozilla’s VP of Advocacy. “Their action — or inaction — can affect elections across more than two dozen countries. In the long term, Facebook needs to sincerely assess the role its technology and policies can play in spreading disinformation and eroding privacy.”

      • ARCore and Arkit, What is under the hood: SLAM (Part 2)

        In our last blog post (part 1), we took a look at how algorithms detect keypoints in camera images. These form the basis of our world tracking and environment recognition. But for Mixed Reality, that alone is not enough. We have to be able to calculate the 3d position in the real world. It is often calculated by the spatial distance between itself and multiple keypoints. This is often called Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM). And this is what is responsible for all the world tracking we see in ARCore/ARKit.

      • This Week in Rust 273
      • Socorro: January 2019 happenings

        Socorro is the crash ingestion pipeline for Mozilla’s products like Firefox. When Firefox crashes, the crash reporter collects data about the crash, generates a crash report, and submits that report to Socorro. Socorro saves the crash report, processes it, and provides an interface for aggregating, searching, and looking at crash reports.

  • LibreOffice

    • New Tabbed Layout Coming On LibreOffice v6.2

      LibreOffice, the most popular open source office suite program is set to feature a new look and feel in the coming v6.2 release, called the tabbed layout. As of now, the current stable version is in v6.1.4 and its default look currently mimics the traditional menu-based GUI and some toolbars.

    • Expensive LibreOffice Extensions And Templates Website?

      I read a time ago about the myth of an expensive LibreOffice extensions and templates website. I investigated about this and had a look at the real numbers (they are public available on the wiki page: https://wiki.documentfoundation.org/TDF/Ledgers). I found some expenses only in two fiscal period: 2017 and 2018. TDF spent in 2017 6399.44 Euro and in 2018 642.60 Euro. The money was predominantly spent for content migration and an improved server environment. It included also an individual training for the TDF infrastructure team.

    • Announcing the dates of LibOCon Almeria

      LibreOffice Conference 2019 will be hosted by the Spanish city of Almeria during the month of September, from September 11 (Wednesday) to September 13 (Friday).

      On Tuesday, September 10, there will be the usual meetings of the community, to discuss topics of general interest for native language projects, such as localization, documentation, quality assurance, design and marketing.

      Collateral events such as the social dinner and the hackfest, which are a tradition of the LibreOffice Schedule, have not yet been scheduled.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

  • Programming/Development

    • snekde — an IDE for snek development

      I had hoped to create a stand-alone development environment on the Arduino, but I’ve run out of room. The current snek image uses 32606 bytes of flash (out of 32768) and 1980 bytes of RAM (out of 2048). I can probably squeeze a few more bytes out, but making enough room for a text editor seems like a stretch.

      As a back-up plan, I’ve written a host-side application that communicates with the Arduino over the serial port.

    • 3 new ways to contribute code to Ansible

      Here are the three ways that have me excited for would-be contributors to the Ansible community.

    • Introducing the Small Scale Scrum framework

      Scrum is a leading candidate for the implementation of Small Scale Agile for many reasons, including its popularity, developers’ preferences, high success rates for scrum adoption and project deliveries, and strong principles and values including focus, courage, openness, commitment, and respect.

      Small Scale Scrum can be best described as “a people-first framework defined by and for small teams (a maximum of three people) and supporting planning, developing, and delivering production-quality software solutions.” The proposed framework centers around the concept of team members occupying multiple roles on any project.

      Small Scale Scrum is valuable due to its strong support for the small, distributed teams found in organizations all over the world. Small teams need new ways to meet customers’ continuously growing expectations for rapid delivery and high quality, and Small Scale Scrum’s guidelines and principles help address this challenge.

    • GCC 8/9 vs. LLVM Clang 7/8 Compiler Performance On AArch64

      With Clang 8.0 due out by month’s end and GCC 9 due for release not long after that point, this week we’ve been running a number of GCC and Clang compiler benchmarks on Phoronix. At the start of the month was the large Linux x86_64 GCC vs. Clang compiler benchmarks on twelve different Intel/AMD systems while last week was also a look at the POWER9 compiler performance on the Raptor Talos II. In this article we are checking out these open-source compilers’ performance on 64-bit ARM (AArch64) using an Ampere eMAG 32-core server.

    • How Clear Linux Optimizes Python For Greater Performance

      Clear Linux’s leading performance isn’t limited to just C/C++ applications but also scripting languages like PHP, R, and Python have seen great speed-ups too. In a new blog post, one of Intel’s developers outlines some of their performance tweaks to Python for delivering greater performance.

      Last April, Victor Rodriguez Bahena of the Intel Open-Source Technology Center and longtime Clear Linux developer began shedding more light on their “magic” performance work for the distribution’s out-of-the-box performance. Finally this week the second post in that series is out as he details the optimizations made to their Python implementation.

    • Boosting Python* from profile-guided to platform-specific optimizations
    • Full integration to Salesforce with Red Hat Integration (Part 2)
    • Coding in Python 04 – Setting up Variables
    • Testing isn’t everything, but it’s important
    • Python, For The love of It – part 3 (What I Built With It)
    • PyCoder’s Weekly: Issue #355 (Feb. 12, 2019)
    • Qt 5.13 Alpha Released With WebAssembly Preview, Qt Lottie Technical Preview

      The Qt Company has announced the alpha release of the forthcoming Qt 5.13 tool-kit.

      Qt 5.13 is slated for release in May and is another Qt5 feature release ahead of the transition to Qt6 planned for late 2020.

    • Qt 5.13 Alpha Released

      I am happy to inform that Qt 5.13 Alpha is released today. You can download Qt 5.13 Alpha via online installer (both source and prebuild binary packages). Source packages are also available for commercial users in the Qt Account portal and in the download.qt.io for open-source users.

      Qt 5.13 New Features page contains information about most important changes coming with the release. Please remember creating the list is still in progress so something important can still be missing. List should be completed by Beta1.

      Target is to release Beta1 within coming weeks, when API reviews are concluded. And as with previous releases we will release regular beta n releases until we are ready for RC. Target for Beta1 is 26.2.2019, see whole schedule from Qt 5.13 wiki.

    • Defaulting New Projects to Python 3

      New projects that are just getting started with Read the Docs will now use Python 3 by default. While it is still possible to configure your project to use Python 2.7 with our configuration file, we think it’s important to help push the Python ecosystem towards adopting Python 3.

      Our default Python version is currently Python 3.7. Projects can also select Python versions 3.6 and 3.5 using our default build image. We will eventually remove support for building projects with Python versions 3.3 and 3.4, however it is still possible to select a build image with support for either version.

      To select a specific version of Python, other than our default, you can use our configuration file to specify a Python version, using the python.version configuration option.

    • Real Python: Supercharge Your Classes With Python super()

      While Python isn’t purely an object-oriented language, it’s flexible enough and powerful enough to allow you to build your applications using the object-oriented paradigm. One of the ways in which Python achieves this is by supporting inheritance, which it does with super().

    • Two demos of programming inside the Web browser with Theia for Java and PHP, using Docker

      Theia is a Web IDE that can be used to offer a development environment displayed in a Web browser.

      I’ve recorded 2 screencasts of running Theia inside Docker containers, to develop Java and PHP applications, respectively using Maven and Composer (the latter is a Symfony application).

    • Why and how I have just redesigned my (other) website
    • How to Learn Python for Data Science In 5 Steps
    • Coding in Python 06 – Converting Data Types
    • Coding in Python 05 – Lists and Dictionaries
    • Developer’s Toolkit – The Most Useful Tools for Programmers

      The most useful tools that every programmer should know and use. These tools are essential to every coding working and also increase productivity.

Leftovers

  • Jeremy Hardy: an Irreplaceable Comedic Voice

    Jeremy Hardy during a recording of the BBC Radio 4 programme You’ll Have Had Your Tea

    The late British stand-up comedian, radio commentator, radio-show panelist, scriptwriter (early on he did scripts for the award-winning puppet show Spitting Image), and Guardian columnist Jeremy Hardy had no American, or indeed British, equivalent.

    If one can imagine an individual X with a politics well to the left of Michael Moore, who combined this politics with surrealistic alternations between the ferocity of a Lenny Bruce and an “oh so English” polite self-deprecation, there in an approximative nutshell was Jeremy Hardy and his comedy.

    There are of course other British comedians who share Hardy’s political orientation. The superb Alexei Sayle, for instance, joined the British Communist Party as a teenager in 1968, though he let his membership lapse subsequently (while retaining his Marxism).

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Validity of a Supplementary Protection Certificate. Testing the boundaries in a new ruling by the Swiss Tribunal Federal

      The two plaintiffs are Genzyme Corporation (holder of supplementary protection certificate No C00716606/01), and its licensee, Sanofi-Aventis (holder of the authorizations for the products Renagel and Renvela). The defendant, Salmon Pharma, commercializes a generic version of the product “Renvela”, which includes the same active ingredient and falls under the scope of protection for the SPC. After being sued for infringement, the defendant claimed the SPC is invalid, based on the fact that the plaintiff, having missed the deadline for filing an SPC, thereafter requested a reinstatement of the deadline. Although there is no statutory basis to reinstate the deadline for an SPC application, the Federal Institute of Intellectual Property (FIIP) did so, thereby allowing the application for the SPC to be submitted.

    • ‘No More Paying For The Rich World’s Medicine’ – White House

      The Trump administration yesterday made some firm statements about reducing health care and drug prices for American consumers and making costs more transparent. The statements again appear to focus on other countries paying more for US-made drugs but also promote generic drugs.

    • Malaysia Still Under Pressure To Make Hepatitis C Medicine More Expensive

      The government of Malaysia continues to face pressure from the United States pharmaceutical industry and potentially the US government to undo an action taken to make a key hepatitis C medicine more affordable in the country. Now Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF, Doctors Without Borders) has weighed in to defend the government’s right to use a patent flexibility in global trade law that allows them to take such actions on behalf of their citizens.

    • Americans Cross Border Into Mexico To Buy Insulin At A Fraction Of U.S. Cost

      When Michelle Fenner signed up to run this year’s Los Angeles Marathon, it got her thinking: Tijuana, Mexico, is only a 2½-hour drive from L.A. Why not take a trip across the border and buy some insulin for her son?

      “It’s so easy to just go across the border,” mused Fenner.

      This idea had been in the back of Fenner’s mind for a while. Her son was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes nine years ago, meaning he needs daily injections of insulin to live. The list price of the modern generation of insulin has skyrocketed since his diagnosis. On one trip to the pharmacy last year, Fenner was told that a three-month supply of insulin would cost her $3,700.

      That same supply would cost only about $600 in Mexico.

      So, when she booked her trip to Los Angeles, Fenner said, “I decided we need to update our passports and go and get more insulin.”

      Fenner is not the only one thinking like this. The U.S. government estimates that close to 1 million people in California alone cross to Mexico annually for health care, including to buy prescription drugs. And between 150,000 and 320,000 Americans list health care as a reason for traveling abroad each year. Cost savings is the most commonly cited reason.

    • Ralph Northam’s Yearbook Photo Is a Symptom of Racism in Medicine

      For centuries, this phrase has guided doctors as a solemn principle acknowledging the sacred trust placed in us by the communities we serve. When we violate this trust, we betray this intimate social contract.

      Dr. Ralph Shearer Northam, governor of Virginia and renowned pediatric neurologist and public servant, has betrayed this contract.

      Despite many calls from leaders and presidential candidates across the political spectrum, Governor Northam has refused to resign following the outrage erupting from a photo released recently from his 1984 Eastern Virginia Medical School “student-produced” yearbook. He has denied that he is either of the two young men posing, one in blackface and the other in a Ku Klux Klan hood and robe, though he has admitted to wearing blackface in the past. This comes as Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring also admitted wearing blackface in the past and now Governor Northam is embarking on his apology tour in attempts to focus on racial inequity and save his political career.

      However, the gesture is an affront to many African Americans, especially to those who elected Northam. Once lauded for his progressive policies, Northam’s confirmed participation in this racist image — and his subsequently bizarre “sorry-not-sorry” denial, complete with an abandoned Michael Jackson moonwalk — has made him the subject of a national embarrassment.

      While Northam is under political fire, his profession should be under fire as well.

    • Seeking Treatment for Mental Health Should be Applauded

      A few weeks ago, some friends and I planned to meet up for drinks. One person was cagey about what time she was available to hang out that evening, and another said nothing at all — and then didn’t join.

      Ultimately it turned out the former had an appointment for mental health counseling and she was embarrassed to admit it, and the latter was in recovery. She wanted to spend time with friends, but didn’t wish to risk her sobriety.

      In my view, neither friend should have any need to feel embarrassed. People who take their mental health into their own hands like they have should be applauded, not stigmatized.

      I respect each of these people more for taking care of themselves, not less. (Also, I would have been glad to switch to a non-alcoholic activity if it meant I could have enjoyed my recovering friend’s company that evening. Friends are worth more than wine or beer.)

    • The Red Cross Crossroad

      A recent interview in a local Geneva newspaper with the director general of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Yves Daccord, and a letter/response from a former ICRC delegate, Thierry Germond, represent the tip of the iceberg of a crisis at the ICRC and within the humanitarian community. While a superficial reading of the arguments could be summarized as “tradition vs. change,” there is much more below the surface.

      The focus of the controversy revolves around the ICRC’s President Peter Maurer’s membership on the Foundation Board of the World Economic Forum (WEF). The arguments for Maurer’s membership – access to decision-makers and potential donors – have been contrasted with the impartial, independent and neutral history of the Red Cross’ humanitarianism. Although ICRC founder Henry Dunant was searching for financial backing when he came upon the Battle of Solférino in 1859, humanitarianism has always prioritized the separation of the humanitarian from business and politics. Dunant never found sponsors, but he did start an organization that has won three Nobel Peace Prizes.

      Has Maurer’s membership sullied the ICRC’s image and put in peril the organization’s reputation? An article in Le Monde complements the Daccord interview and Germond’s response and highlights the importance of the controversy. The issue has even been raised in the Swiss parliament.

      The ICRC has a double mandate; to develop humanitarian law and make sure it is respected (“respecter et faire respecter”), and to have access to victims of war and other situations of armed violence.

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • We Are Not in Treblinka

      Because of my pronounced skepticism of war, my friends often prod me to consider whether there are any historic acts of mass violence that, given the opportunity, I actually would have supported. One such act always comes to mind, and its morally relevant characteristics are certainly not unique to it. This happened in 1943, well after the Nazis had made their genocidal intentions clear. The Allies had been faring well in battle, and prisoners in the Treblinka extermination camp—emboldened by Allied victories but simultaneously fearful that the embittered, flagging Nazis would move quickly to “finish the job” of Jewish annihilation—decided to strike their fascist captors before it was too late.

      Following months of anxious, painstaking preparation, a prisoner inaugurated the rebellion one August afternoon with a gunshot to the air. Several of the conspirators at that point lured Ukrainian sentinels into a death trap with offers of pilfered gold. After lighting buildings on fire and killing dozens of guards, hordes of prisoners bolted for their lives, many with weapons stolen from an arms cache that the rebels had opened with a counterfeit key. Although the surviving guards chased after them, roughly 70 prisoners avoided recapture and lived to see the end of the war.

    • “Bombing Toward Peace” in Afghanistan

      George Carlin said: “Fighting for peace is like screwing for virginity.” Given the timing I assume he was referring to how the Nixon Administration ramped up bombing in order to strengthen its hand against the North Vietnamese at the upcoming 1972 Paris peace talks. Thousands of residents of Hanoi were killed with no practical effect at the negotiating table. “The wording of the [final peace] agreement was almost exactly the same as it had been at the beginning of December—before the Christmas bombing campaign, Rebecca Cesby wrote for the BBC.

      Henry Kissinger, the chief U.S. negotiator in Paris, admitted as much. “We bombed the North Vietnamese into accepting our concessions,” said Nixon’s secretary of state, never missing a chance to be droll while bathing in the blood of innocents.

      Here Donald Trump goes again.

      “U.S. Heightens Attacks on Taliban in Push Toward Peace in Afghanistan,” read the headline in the New York Times on February 8th. One wag on my Facebook page commented: “It’s like the headline writers aren’t even trying anymore.”

    • U.S. Airstrikes Said to Kill at Least 10 Civilians in Afghanistan

      At least 10 civilians were killed and several others were wounded over the weekend during American airstrikes in southern Afghanistan, local officials and residents in Helmand Province said on Sunday.

      Two residents of the Sangin district of Helmand said eight members of a single family were killed by airstrikes in one house and two more in a nearby structure, among them women and children. Mohammad Hasim Alokozai, a member of Parliament from Helmand, put the death toll higher, saying in an interview that 14 civilians were killed and six wounded in the two houses.

    • What it Really Takes to Secure Peace in Afghanistan

      Hossein, a member of the Afghan Peace Volunteers, (APV), which hosted my recent visit to Afghanistan, rolled up his sleeve to show me a still-healing three-inch wound. Thieves had broken into his family home in Kabul. When they were discovered, one of the robbers stabbed Hossein.

      An APV coordinator, Zekerullah, was robbed and beaten by assailants in broad daylight. Ata Khan lost his camera and mobile phone to a gang of young thieves who accosted him and eight other people in a public park during the daytime. Habib, a recent young graduate of the APV Street Kids School program, suffered blows from several attackers a month ago.

      “I didn’t have anything they wanted to take,” he said, assuring me he is OK even though his lower back, where they beat him, is still sore.

      Attacks like these—which all happened within the last six months—are predictable in a chaotic war-torn city that absorbs new refugees every day. Some have been forced off their land by drought and food scarcity, while others flee the terror of violence carried out by various warring parties, including the United States. In 2018, the United States dropped 7,632 bombs on Afghanistan, more than any other full calendar year since the U.S. Air Force began documenting its attacks in 2006.

    • A Preference for Peace: Not the Same Thing as Support for the Bogeyman of the Week

      I’m not ashamed to admit it: I’m a peacenik. I think war is a bad thing. I’ve seen it up close and personal as an infantryman, and I’d like to see less of it, preferably none at all, either up close or from a distance.

      In part, this desire also makes me a “non-interventionist.” That is, in a world with 195 “sovereign nations,” it makes sense that the political officials in each one should mind his or her own state’s business and not try to decide who gets to run the other 194, or how they should do so.

      And this, in turn, leads to scolding claims that I am “soft on” politicians from states who happen to be at odds with the politicians from “my” country, the USA.

      If I don’t want a return to Cold War with what’s left of the former Soviet Union, I’m Vladimir Putin’s puppet.

      If I don’t support US sanctions on Iran, it must mean that I support whatever agenda my critic imputes to “Supreme Leader” Ali Khameni.

      If I don’t support the US invasion/occupation of Syria, I’m clearly a fan of president Bashar al-Assad.

      If I don’t think the US government should waste American treasure (and conceivably even American blood) trying to get Venezuelans to rally behind Juan Guiado’s “interim president” claim, it’s obvious that I want Nicolas Maduro and the Chavistas left in charge.

      Well, no, not at all. Not in any of those cases, nor in any of the other places around the world where American presidents, American Congresses, and American bureaucrats continuously try to seize control of the wheel from the people who, you know, live there.

    • London Gangs: a Tragic Remnant of British Colonialism

      London is plagued by street gangs. By the year 2016 there were an estimated 3,600 gangsters. According to government figures, these form some 225 gangs. Of these, 58 gangs are regularly active and are thought by police to be responsible for two-thirds of gang-related offences, including assault, theft, murder and, most of all, drugs. Ethnically, gangsters are mainly white, Asian, black and Eastern European. In the absence of official data, on-the-ground reports suggest that the majority of gangsters dealing in drugs, where the most violent crimes occur, are young black males, particularly Jamaican. This is not only a symptom of how successive British governments have failed young ethnic minorities, it reflects the tragic legacy of colonialism.

      The British Empire left Jamaica and its other regional colonies poor and devastated .One book on the topic notes that emancipation from slavery “removed the gross features of the slave system without basically upsetting the underlying class-colour differentiations.” Likewise, a London School of Economics report notes that although Jamaica’s Constitution of 1944 introduced so-called democracy, it was “overlaid onto a set of administrative structures and doctrines which had developed since the imposition of Crown Colony rule in 1866.”

      Jamaica’s pre-Independence gangs, like The Yardies, emerged from the poverty of the 1950s. Caribbeans experienced similar hardships when they and their parents moved to the UK after the Second World War. According to the British National Archives, between 1948 and 1970, almost half a million people from the West Indies (including the Caribbean) came to Britain, many of them on government initiatives, “to run the transport system, postal service and hospitals. Other West Indians were returning soldiers who had fought for Britain during the Second World War.” Most of the immigrants settled in London. One academic paper notes that “Britain’s experience of West Indian immigration” was “traumatic … Both first and second generations in the U.K. have experienced open hostility” from media, politicians and the public. Inner city violence, including white gangs vs. black gangs, affected Liverpool in the north, Handsworth in the Midlands and, in London, Brixton, Notting Hill and Tottenham.

    • Venezuela’s Maduro Denounces Warmongering by ‘White Supremacist’ Trump and His ‘Gang of Extremists’ Promoting Fascism Worldwide

      Calling President Donald Trump a person who is “publicly and openly” a white supremacist and accusing the current U.S. government of being run by a racist “gang of extremists,” Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro called on the people and leaders of the world to speak out against foreign intervention and instead back efforts for the nation to solve its problems peacefully from within.

      In an interview with the BBC that aired Tuesday night, Maduro characterized U.S. efforts—including recognizing opposition leader Juan Guaido as “interim president” and gestures of foreign aid—as part of a “political war of American empire” being pursued by the “interests of the extreme right” (which he equated with the Klu Klux Klan) who are “warmongering in order to take over” his country.

      Trump, said Maduro, “has encouraged fascist tendencies, the neo-fascists and the neo-Nazis, in the United States, in Europe, and Latin America. It’s an extremist grouping that hates the world. They hate us and they belittle us because they only believe in their own interests and in the interests of the United States.”

    • Venezuela Accuses U.S. of Secretly Shipping Arms After Weapons Found on Plane with Possible CIA Ties

      A North Carolina-based air freight company has halted flights to Venezuela following a report by McClatchy linking it to possible arms smuggling. Last week, Venezuelan authorities claimed they had uncovered 19 assault weapons, 118 ammunition cartridges and 90 military-grade radio antennas on board a U.S.-owned plane that had flown from Miami into Valencia, Venezuela’s third-largest city. The Boeing 767 is owned by a company called 21 Air based in Greensboro, North Carolina. The plane had made nearly 40 round-trip flights between Miami and spots in Venezuela and Colombia since January 11, the day after Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro was sworn in to a second term. The flights ended after McClatchy first reported on them. Venezuela accused the U.S. government of sending the arms as part of its attempt to topple the Maduro government. While no definitive links between 21 Air and the U.S. government have been established, McClatchy reports the chairman of 21 Air, Adolfo Moreno, as well as another employee at the company have ties to Gemini Air Cargo, which was involved in the CIA’s rendition program during the administration of George W. Bush. We speak to McClatchy reporter Tim Johnson, who broke the story. Johnson was part of a team that shared a 2017 Pulitzer Prize for its investigation of the Panama Papers.

    • The Deep Hurt: Lessons From American Coups

      Even swash-buckling Teddy Roosevelt was influenced, losing his zest for the idea of conquest. When he charged into the White House he held two views simultaneously, intervene to help other people, without oppressing them. Kinzer thinks that this dichotomy “torments our national psyche” (p. 229). In the early parts of the book Kinzer sets out the anti-imperialist (Mark Twain) and pro-imperialist visions (Henry Cabot Lodge). These speeches are worth gathering round for reflection.

      During the following hundred years much of what the anti-imperialists predicted has come to pass. The United States has become an “actively interventionist power. It has projected military or covert power into dozens of countries on every continent except Antarctica”(ibid.). George Frisbie Hoar was right, Kinzer points out, when he “warned that intervening in other lands would turn the United States into a ‘vulgar, commonplace empire founded upon physical force”” (ibid.).

      Anti-imperialists also predicted that an “aggressive foreign policy would have pernicious effects at home” (ibid.). Military budgets have soared to heights unimaginable in the days of fervent expansionism in the 1898 war with the Philippines. The armaments industries wield extraordinary clout. The wealth-soaked elites dominate politics. The invasion and overthrowing of distant regimes resides in the hands of a few decision-makers. And militaristic values and rituals saturate American life and expunge peaceful ones.

    • While State Leaders Make War, Spanish Children March for Peace

      Seven hundred and seventy primary and elementary school children, aged three to 12, walked and skipped three kilometers to the main square (Plaza de España) here in this town located n in Spain’s Andalusia province, and back to their municipal school, Jacaranda.

      On this 30th march for international peace in commemoration of the day that Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated (January 30, 1948), the children sang “No to War”, “Yes to Peace”, “Save the Children,” “Friendship Yes, Violence No”. (The event was postponed a week due to a storm.)

      They were accompanied by their 29 classroom teachers and about 100 parents and grandparents.

      For a week each January, these students study peace, solidarity and friendship values, and how to protect Mother Earth from man-made pollution. The day dedicated to “Save the Children” includes students asking their parents for donations of funds and clothing for poor children. Since 2011-2, they have raised some 7500 Euros ($8500). A committee of teachers and parents decides where to send the donations, sometimes in Spain and sometimes abroad.

      The students also make designs for banners and T-shirts. A committee of students and teachers decides what designs are used. The municipal marine sports and water firms donated 3000 Euros to manufacture 1000 T-shirts that the students and teachers wear.

    • ACTION ALERT: MSNBC’s ‘Resistance’ to Trump’s Venezuela Coup Ranges from Silence to Support

      Given MSNBC is the largest, most influential liberal platform in the US—one that has long marketed itself as a progressive counter to the lies and ruthless right-wing onslaught of the Trump government, one would think they’d be leading the charge against Trump’s old school, Cold War–style coup-mongering in South America.

      But a FAIR survey of MSNBC since Trump threw the US’s support behind self-proclaimed Venezuelan president Juan Guaidó (the effective start of the attempted coup) finds coverage has ranged from outright support to virtual silence—with only one five-minute segment on All In With Chris Hayes (1/29/19) broaching objections to Trump’s Venezuela policy. The only segment that comes close to criticizing Trump’s attempted coup, Hayes’ “Is Trump Moving Toward War in Venezuela?” largely framed his opposition as “just asking questions,” and had on Texas Rep. Joaquin Castro to insist the “timing” for sanctions and regime change wasn’t right.

    • ‘Don’t Listen to This War Criminal!’: Peace Activists Arrested at Elliott Abrams Hearing on Venezuela

      “Don’t listen to this war criminal!”

      So declared CodePink peace activists on Wednesday, as Trump-appointed special envoy to Venezuela Elliott Abrams testified before the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs, before they were ushered out of the room and arrested.

      “Venezuela needs negotiations, not a coup or military intervention,” said CodePink national co-director Ariel Gold, the first to be arrested, as she decried ongoing U.S. intervention in the Latin American country. “Don’t let Abrams take us down a path of war.”

    • Unhinged From Reality: the President and the Body-Slamming Congressman

      Last week Montana’s lone congressman, U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte, gave an address to the Montana Legislature. Perhaps best known for body-slamming a reporter, then lying about it and finally buying his way out of a serious and well-deserved assault charge, Gianforte echoed President Donald Trump’s agenda of cutting taxes and regulations as the path to a robust economy. Unfortunately, Gianforte appears as unhinged from reality as his fellow mega-millionaire now sitting in the White House.

      “Imagine if Montana took a page from our national pro-growth playbook,” said Trump parrot Gianforte, claiming that government should “get out of the way so all Montanans and Americans can prosper again.”

      Ironically — but actually rooted in reality — Gianforte’s call for getting government “out of the way” came only a day after Montana’s Department of Environmental Quality released a whopping estimate of at least $700 million to remediate Colstrip’s ash ponds. Perhaps Gianforte would like to step forward and pick up the tab since Colstrip’s ability to generate such an enormous sum to deal with the pollution the plants’ 50 years of operation has left behind is seriously in doubt.

      It’s even more incredulous that Gianforte claimed: “Government does not create prosperity, the private sector does.” Yet, what it actually appears the private sector has created in Montana are enormous, ongoing and incredibly expensive industrial pollution problems. There’s the largest Superfund site in the nation, the Butte-Anaconda-Clark Fork mining and smelting disaster now entering its fourth decade of so-called “cleanup” efforts with no end in sight — and not much “cleanup” either.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Voters Can’t Elect the Right Prosecutors if These Elected Officials’ Records Aren’t Made Public

      America’s locally elected prosecutors wield enormous and, all too often, unaccountable power. They have the authority to reinforce mass incarceration and racial disparities in the criminal legal system or combat these injustices. Across the country, voters are beginning to recognize the extent of this power, and they want them to use it for good.

      Nearly 90 percent of Americans want an elected prosecutor who will prioritize reducing incarceration and racial disparities in the criminal legal system. And we’re starting to see that impact at the ballot box. In recent years, voters in cities like St. Louis, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Dallas have all elected prosecutors who ran on platforms of reforming the criminal justice system so that fewer people go to jails and prisons. But change takes time, in large part because the vast majority of Americans represented by one of America’s 2,400 elected prosecutors have no way of knowing if their prosecutor shares their priorities.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • ‘This Is What Dem Leadership Looks Like’: Minnesota Gov. Praised for Backing Fight Against Line 3 Tar Sands Pipeline

      “Minnesotans have clearly voiced that they do not want this dirty pipeline, and Governor [Tim] Walz and Lieutenant Governor [Peggy] Flanagan showed today that they are listening,” declared Greenpeace USA tar sands campaigner Rachel Rye Butler.

      “By committing to refile the state’s appeal to Enbridge’s Line 3 tar sands pipeline expansion,” Butler said, “he’s rightly putting Indigenous rights, our global climate, and the water resources for thousands of Minnesotans before fossil fuel industry profits.”

    • Can California’s Iconic Redwoods Survive Climate Change?

      California’s most iconic trees can live for centuries — but can they survive in a warming world?

      Populations of the state’s two redwood species — coast redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens) and giant sequoias (Sequoiadendron giganteum) — have already declined by 95 percent since 1850 due to logging and development. Now scientists want to know how climate change and drought will affect them in the near future.

    • The Age of Environmental Breakdown: We need the Green New Deal Now!

      Laurie Laybourn-Langton, Lesley Rankin and Darren Baxter Februhe at the Institute for Public Policy Research in Britain are warning in a new study as frantically as they can that “the extent, severity, pace and closing window of opportunity to avoid potentially catastrophic outcomes has led many scientists to conclude that we have entered a new era of rapid environmental change. We define this as the ‘age of environmental breakdown’ to better highlight the severity of the scale, pace and implication.”

      That is, we are not understanding our planetary climate emergency and not swinging into action nearly fast enough given the epochal severity of the catastrophe.

      Half of the carbon being flooded into the atmosphere is being produced by the richest 10 percent of the world. The authors insist we need a rapid, thorough and transformational response, and that to be effective it most come above all in the industrialized nations.

    • ‘Bring It On’: Green New Deal Champions Welcome McConnell’s Cynical Ploy for Up-or-Down Vote

      After McConnell told reporters on Tuesday that he plans to hold a floor vote the Green New Deal plan unveiled last week by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), environmentalists and progressive members of Congress argued that rather than revealing deep rifts in the Democratic Party, an up-or-down vote will spotlight the GOP’s total opposition to a widely popular policy that represents the best hope of adequately confronting the climate crisis.

      “Republicans don’t want to debate climate change, they only want to deny it,” Markey said in a statement after McConnell’s announcement. “They have offered no plan to address this economic and national security threat and want to sabotage any effort that makes Big Oil and corporate polluters pay.”

      Since the Green New Deal resolution was introduced last week, President Donald Trump, Republican lawmakers, and right-wing pundits have spread hysterical falsehoods about the measure and decried it as a “socialist fever dream” that would be political suicide for Democrats to support.

    • Enbridge Gave Massachusetts Studies by Climate Denier, ALEC Associate in Gas Project Assessment

      As part of an ongoing health evaluation of a proposed and contested Boston metro area gas compressor station, the energy distribution company Enbridge shared with the State of Massachusetts materials from dubious and controversial sources. As documents obtained by DeSmog reveal, these include studies by a climate change denier and an official associated with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the Koch brothers-backed group working to undermine environmental regulations.

    • The Battle Lines Have Been Drawn on the Green New Deal

      “I REALLY DON’T like their policies of taking away your car, taking away your airplane flights, of ‘let’s hop a train to California,’ or ‘you’re not allowed to own cows anymore!’”

      So bellowed President Donald Trump in El Paso, Texas, his first campaign-style salvo against Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Ed Markey’s Green New Deal resolution. There will surely be many more.

      It’s worth marking the moment. Because those could be the famous last words of a one-term president, having wildly underestimated the public appetite for transformative action on the triple crises of our time: imminent ecological unraveling, gaping economic inequality (including the racial and gender wealth divide), and surging white supremacy.

      Or they could be the epitaph for a habitable climate, with Trump’s lies and scare tactics succeeding in trampling this desperately needed framework. That could either help win him re-election, or land us with a timid Democrat in the White House with neither the courage nor the democratic mandate for this kind of deep change. Either scenario means blowing the handful of years left to roll out the transformations required to keep temperatures below catastrophic levels.

      Back in October, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published a landmark report informing us that global emissions need to be slashed in half in less than 12 years, a target that simply cannot be met without the world’s largest economy playing a game-changing leadership role. If there is a new administration ready to leap into that role in January 2021, meeting those targets would still be extraordinarily difficult, but it would be technically possible — especially if large cities and states like California and New York escalate their ambitions right now. Losing another four years to a Republican or a corporate Democrat, and starting in 2026 is, quite simply, a joke.

      So either Trump is right and the Green New Deal is a losing political issue, one he can smear out of existence. Or he is wrong and a candidate who makes the Green New Deal the centerpiece of their platform will take the Democratic primary and then kick Trump’s ass in the general, with a clear democratic mandate to introduce wartime-levels of investment to battle our triple crises from day one. That would very likely inspire the rest of the world to finally follow suit on bold climate policy, giving us all a fighting chance.

    • On the Front Lines of the Climate Change Movement: Mike Roselle Draws a Line

      The beard is graying. The hair is clipped military-short. He is a large man, oddly shaped, like a cross between a grizzly and a javelina. It’s Roselle, of course, Mike Roselle—the outside agitator. He and a fellow activist have just spread an anti-coal banner in front of a growling bulldozer in West Virginia on a cold February morning in 2009. He’s in this icy and unforgiving land to oppose a brutal mining operation and will soon be arrested for trespassing. Massey Energy, the target of Roselle’s protest, is the fourth largest coal extractor in the United States, mining nearly 40 million tons of coal in Kentucky, West Virginia and Tennessee each year.

      The arrest was nothing new for Roselle, who cut his teeth in direct action environmental campaigns decades earlier as a co-founder of Earth First!, a top campaigner for Greenpeace US and later as the wit behind the tenacious Ruckus Society. Unlike most mainstream environmentalists, you are not likely to see Roselle sporting a suit and lobbying Washington insiders on the intricacies of mining laws—you are more apt to see this self-proclaimed lowbagger (one who lives light on the land, works to protect it and has few possessions to show for their hard work) engaged in direct, but nonviolent, confrontations with the forces of industrialization, using tactics honed during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s. And his dissent in West Virginia is more than justified.

      The mountaintops of the Appalachia region, from Tennessee up to the heart of West Virginia, are being ravaged by the coal industry—an industry that cares little about the welfare of communities or the land that it is chewing up and spitting out with its grotesque mining operations.

      The debris from the mining pits, often 500 feet deep, produce toxic waste that is then dumped in nearby valleys, polluting rivers and poisoning local communities downstream. Currently, no state or federal agencies are tracking the cumulative effect of the aptly named “mountaintop removal,” where entire peaks are being blown apart with explosives, only to expose tiny seams of the precious black rock.

  • Finance

    • Bitmain S15 Firmware “Very Buggy”, Will This Claim Affect BTC Prices?

      Although Bitmain is a central player in the ASIC mining sphere, their latest firmware S15 has a weakness, a Twitter user has revealed. Luckily, BTC prices are steady, and with a combination of favorable candlestick arrangements and fundamentals, Bitcoin may end up trending above $3,800.

    • To Fix System That Let Trump Stop Paying Social Security Taxes 40 Minutes Into 2016, Sanders Says ‘Time to Scrap the Cap’

      “Donald Trump claimed that he made $694 million in 2016,” Sanders said, with the caveat that the president doesn’t always tell the truth about his finances. “If that is accurate, he stopped paying Social Security payroll tax 40 minutes into January 1st of that year.”

      “Meanwhile, the average middle class person paid Social Security taxes for the entire year,” the Vermont senator continued. “That is absurd, and that has got to end.”

      Under the current system, all income above the $132,900 cap is completely exempt from the Social Security payroll tax. Denouncing this approach as “absolutely regressive,” Sanders declared on Wednesday, “It is time to scrap the cap.”

      The Social Security Expansion Act, which Sanders introduced on Wednesday alongside several congressional Democrats, would subject all income over $250,000 to the Social Security payroll tax—a far more progressive tax structure that would help fund more generous benefits to low-income retirees while also ensuring the popular program’s solvency for more than five decades.

    • Popular Russian game show is rocked by cheating allegations

      Ilya Ber, the chief editor behind the television game show “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” has accused “What? Where? When?” veteran contestant Alexander Drouz of trying to cheat his way to a large cash prize. In his show’s LiveJournal community, Ber wrote that Drouz contacted him ahead of taping in November 2018 and asked him for an advance copy of the questions and correct answers in exchange for a share of the 3-million-ruble ($45,630) winnings.

    • Here’s How Much America’s Rising Income Inequality Is Costing Social Security

      Just a few weeks into the 116th Congress, Democrats’ takeover of the House of Representatives has already exposed the huge gulf between what American voters want and what the previous House leadership and the Trump administration have thrust upon them in recent years. Congressional Democrats’ bold agenda—such as higher taxes on the rich, universal health care, and expanding Social Security—has strong support not just among progressives but also across party lines. This popularity is a direct rebuke to Trump’s and his congressional colleagues’ massive 2017 tax giveaway to the wealthy and corporations; Trump’s ongoing efforts to sabotage the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and Medicaid; and Trump’s and congressional Republicans’ continued efforts to cut Social Security.
      Perhaps nowhere is the gulf between voters’ wishes and the policies Trump and his colleagues in Congress are pursuing greater than when it comes to Social Security—a program that voters overwhelmingly want to see expanded rather than cut. A 2017 Pew Research Center poll found that 95 percent of Democrats and 86 percent of Republicans preferred to maintain or expand Social Security. Yet, despite promising not to cut Social Security on the campaign trail, President Donald Trump’s fiscal year 2019 budget would have slashed $72 billion from the program—cruelly targeting people with disabilities—over the coming decade. And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and then-House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) didn’t even wait until the ink was dry on their $2 trillion tax giveaway to begin insisting that everyday Americans face cuts to Social Security to pay for their deficit-busting tax bill.
      Fortunately, American voters finally have champions in the growing chorus of Democratic lawmakers calling for expanding Social Security. Their approach fits seamlessly into the growing calls for higher taxes on the wealthy from congressional leaders and 2020 presidential contenders: It pairs benefit increases with commonsense revenue raisers such as lifting the payroll tax cap so that higher earners pay into Social Security all year, just like other workers do. This is a move that more than two-thirds of Americans support and reflects the common desire of both voters and progressive policymakers to tackle the nation’s sky-high inequality by putting everyday workers and families—not the uber-rich—first.

    • The Robots Taking the Jobs Industry

      There is an old saying that the economy is too simple for economists to understand. There is plenty of evidence of this all around. After all, almost no economists could see the $8 trillion housing bubble, the collapse of which gave us the great recession. Back in the stock bubble days of the late 1990s, leading economists in both political parties wanted to put Social Security money in the stock market based on assumptions of returns which were at the least incredibly implausible, if not altogether impossible.

      The endless scare stories of robots taking all the jobs, or the threat of automation, fit this mode. While this is a recurring theme in major media outlets, it basically makes zero sense.

      Replacing human labor with technology is a very old story. It’s called “productivity growth.” We’ve been seeing it pretty much as long as we have had a capitalist economy. In fact, this is what allows for sustained improvements in living standards. If we had not seen massive productivity growth in agriculture, then the bulk of the country would still be working on farms, otherwise we would be going hungry.

      However, thanks to massive improvement in technology, less than 2 percent of our workforce is now employed in agriculture. And, we can still export large amounts of food.

    • Atlanta School Cheating Scandal: The Untold Story of Corporate Greed & Criminalization of Teachers

      As teacher strikes in Denver and Los Angeles join a wave of recent labor actions bringing attention to the plight of the American public school system, we take a fresh look at one of the largest public school scandals in U.S. history. Public schools in Atlanta, Georgia, were thrown into chaos in 2015 when 11 former educators were convicted in 2015 of racketeering and other charges for allegedly facilitating a massive cheating operation on standardized tests. Prosecutors said the teachers were forced to modify incorrect answers and students were even allowed to fix their responses during exams. The case has fueled criticism of the education system’s reliance on standardized testing, and elicited calls of racism. Thirty-four of the 35 educators indicted in the scandal were African-American. We speak with Shani Robinson, one of the 11 convicted teachers, who has written a new book on the cheating scandal with journalist Anna Simonton. It’s titled “None of the Above: The Untold Story of the Atlanta Public Schools Cheating Scandal, Corporate Greed, and the Criminalization of Educators.”

    • As Macron Prepares New Repressive Measures, Yellow Vests and Red Unions Strike Together

      On Tuesday, February 5, as the Macron government pushed harsh repressive laws against demonstrators through the National Assembly, the Yellow Vests joined with France’s unions for the first time in a day-long, nation-wide “General Strike.”

      At the very moment when in Paris the lower house was voting to implement Macron’s proposed laws designed to suppress public demonstrations (a legal right protected in both the French Constitution and the U.N. Human Rights Declaration) tens of thousands of their constituents were out in the streets all over the country demonstrating and striking against Macron’s authoritarian, neo-liberal government. The demonstrators’ demands ranged from better salaries and retirement benefits, restoration of public services, equitable tax codes, an end to police brutality, and banning the use of “flash-balls” on demonstrators, to Macron’s resignation and the instauration of participatory democracy.

      Deaf to the angry people’s legitimate grievances, unwilling to deal with them, Macron has given himself no other choice than to legislate new repressive legal restrictions to suppress their continued free expression. This resort to open repression can only serve to discredit the government’s handling of a crisis largely of his own making, treating a spontaneous social movement among the 99% as if it were a terrorist or fascist conspiracy. The unpopular President’s repressive tactics will inevitably backfire on him. The French are extremely jealous of their liberties, and Macron’s monarchical arrogance can only remind them of how their ancestors dealt with Louis XVI.

    • Are We Heading Towards a Synchronised Global Slowdown?

      When the International Monetary Fund (IMF) issued its World Economic Outlook Update in January 2018, the future looked bright. Indeed, even the title of the update was very optimistic: Brighter Prospects, Optimistic Markets, Challenges Ahead. And under the cheer-leadership of the IMF, an overwhelming consensus was formed. The cyclical upswing underway since mid-2016 had continued to strengthen, producing in 2017 the broadest synchronised global growth upsurge since 2010, and the growth would last as far as the eye could see. Here, what is meant by global growth is the growth of the world gross domestic product (GDP) or the world income.

      It turned out that 2018 was a major disappointment and the IMF’s World Economic Outlook Update in January 2019, A Weakening Global Expansion, was a bit cautious.

    • Millionaires of New York to Governor Cuomo: Raise Our Taxes
    • Tax Refund Amounts Take a Dive Under GOP Tax Plan

      When Congress passed the $1.5 trillion Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in late 2017, President Donald Trump bragged it had “reached an agreement on tax legislation that will deliver more jobs, higher wages and massive tax relief for American families and for American companies.” Tara Golshan, writing in Vox, was less bombastic, calling it “a far cry from the simplified tax code that Republicans have long been promising” but still “a substantial reshaping of the nation’s tax base.”

      By June of 2018, The Washington Post reported, the bill didn’t deliver higher wages. In fact, as reporter Philip Bump wrote, “Year-over-year, the real average hourly earnings number has dropped by 0.1 percent,” according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

      Now, as America enters the first tax season under the new tax plan, it’s a chance to see whether it has resulted in greater returns for American taxpayers. Early results, however, are not promising. As Lisa Lambert reported at Reuters on Monday, 2019’s tax season “got off to a slow start in the first week, with data released on Friday showing a significant drop in returns and refunds.”

    • How a 70 Percent Marginal Tax Rate on Top Earners Can Reduce Inequality

      In recent weeks and in quick succession Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez promoted a top marginal tax rate of 70 percent on the part of incomes of the super-rich over $10 million, Elizabeth Warren proposed a wealth tax on ultra-millionaires and billionaires, and Bernie Sanders revealed his “For the 99.8%” proposal that would expand the estate tax on the wealthiest 0.2 percent of families. These proposals are not schemes to soak the rich, nor are they primarily about collecting revenue. Rather, they provide the basis for meaningful tax reform whose twin goals are reducing extreme income and wealth inequality and protecting American democracy from the predations of wealthy plutocrats.

      In the 34 years between 1946 and 1980, New Deal policies that included progressive income and estate taxation as well as financial reforms that regulated the accumulation of wealth led to rising wages for ordinary workers, a decline in income inequality, and a more equal distribution of wealth. In the years since 1980, tax cuts for the wealthy, the near extinction of the estate tax, and the rollback of financial regulations have led to a boom in incomes and an explosion of wealth for America’s ultra-rich families. Together with the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision that allowed large political contributions, big corporations and rich individuals have used their wealth to protect their interests and to engage in philanthropy that indulges their impulses and imposes their preferences on society without any accountability to the public.

      The recent tax proposals seek to redress this situation by reducing income and wealth inequality, preventing the emergence of an aristocracy of inherited wealth, and defending American democracy against an army of lobbyists and lawyers paid to undermine it. Representative Ocasio-Cortez’s proposed 70 percent marginal tax rate on annual income above $10 million will begin to reverse this.

    • To Ensure Dignity for ‘Most Vulnerable’ Among Us, Bernie Sanders Introduces Bill to Expand Social Security

      In an effort to strengthen one of the nation’s most popular programs as the GOP pushes for cuts, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and several congressional Democrats on Wednesday introduced the Social Security Expansion Act to ensure that seniors can retire in dignity and “everyone with a disability can live with the security they need.”

    • Why Bezos Exposed Trump’s Pecker

      Jeff Bezos could be the world’s greatest exhibitionist.

      He’s certainly the world’s richest exhibitionist. He also might be the world’s smartest exhibitionist, having figured out how to make his (thus far) unseen dick pic into a cause célèbreof the Resistance and anyone whose privacy has been violated.

      In case you’ve been under a rock or that “log” that Jeff B. so majestically “rolled over” to “see what crawls out,” here’s the salacious and inspiring story in a nut (yep, those nuts) shell: A few hours after the Amazon founder and his wife of 25 years, MacKenzie, officially announced that they were amicably divorcing, the National Enquirer published an “exposé”of Jeff’s affair with media personality, Lauren Sanchez (who looks remarkably like MacKenzie, but that’s another fetish). The tabloid mentioned that it also had some photos in its possession that were “too” explicit to publish, though it did rummage up the moral justification (something to do with Bezos’ “fitness” to be a multi-billionaire) to publish a number of private, passionate sexts, such as:

      “I love you, alive girl. I will show you with my body, and my lips and my eyes, very soon”

      “I want to smell you, I want to breathe you in. I want to hold you tight.… I want to kiss your lips…. I love you. I am in love with you…”

    • Venezuela’s Popular Sectors and the Future of a Country

      Whereas protests in past years against the government have tended to be centered in wealthier neighborhoods, in January of this year, protests against Maduro began to break out across a number of poor and working-class neighborhoods, in places like Catia, La Vega, El Valle, and Petare. At the end of that month, we began conducting research on the recent turn of events connected to these protests.

      For some in the popular sectors, like previous confrontations between Chavismo and the opposition, this latest juncture is evidence that now more than ever one must stand firm against imperialism. Cristina, a single mother in her 30s who lives in the 23 de Enero neighborhood of Caracas and has supported the Bolivarian Revolution since her youth, says she has no more faith in Juan Guaidó—the current face of the opposition—than she did in Leopoldo López, leader of the hardline opposition party Voluntad Popular (Popular Unity), or Pedro Carmona, who the military appointed President during the two-day military coup in 2002. For her, they all represent a struggle to roll back the advances made by the revolution, to return power to the hands of the old guard.

      However, perhaps a more general sentiment in many popular sectors is that neither “side” can be trusted; in other words, the desconfianza (distrust) that made it difficult for some to support the opposition a few years ago has contaminated Chavismo as well. This is the sentiment that we have noted while conducting preliminary research in Catia, a poor and working-class sector in west Caracas, on perceptions of the current political situation in the country. As part of this research, we organized a conversation in Catia with eight women from the neighborhood of Los Magallanes about their thoughts on Maduro’s second inauguration amid allegations of unfair electoral practices, Juan Guaidó’s proclamation as president on January 24, and what it means for the future of the country. The women live in the same neighborhood but have diverse political histories. Two of the women, whom Hanson has known for eight years, were ardent Chavistas until a few years ago. Others had been long-time opposition supporters.

    • There’s Something Eerily Familiar About the West’s Approach to Venezuela

      The closest I ever came to Venezuela, many years ago, was a transit connection at Caracas airport. I noticed a lot of soldiers in red berets and a clutch of goons, and it reminded me, vaguely, of the Middle East.

      Now, sitting in the rain squalls of the wintry Levant, I flick through my newspaper clippings of our recent local autocrats – Saddam, Assad, al-Sisi, Erdogan, Mohammed bin Salman (you can fill in the rest for yourself) – and I think of Nicolas Maduro.

      The comparisons are by no means precise. Indeed, it’s not the nature of the “strongmen” I’m thinking about. It’s our reaction to all these chaps. And there are two obvious parallels: the way in which we sanction and isolate the hated dictator – or love him, as the case may be – and the manner in which we not only name the opposition as the rightful heir to the nation, but demand that democracy be delivered to the people whose torture and struggle for freedom we have suddenly discovered.

      And before I forget it, there’s one other common thread in this story. If you suggest that those who want presidential change in Venezuela may be a little too hasty, and our support for – let us say – Juan Guaido might be a bit premature if we don’t want to start a civil war, this means you are “pro-Maduro”.

      Just as those who opposed the 2003 invasion of Iraq were “pro-Saddam”, or those who thought the west might pause before it supported the increasingly violent opposition in Syria were labelled “pro-Assad”.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Media Promised Better Coverage of the 2020 Race, and All I Got Was Kirsten Gillibrand’s Fried Chicken

      But Gillibrand has struggled to gain traction in the ever-growing, just-list-who-isn’t-running field of Democratic candidates. Some of that might be rooted in concern over how the upstate New Yorker morphed from a pro-gun centrist into an avatar of the Trump Resistance, and that’s a valid question. But that’s not exactly how the journalists following the 2020 race framed any doubts over Gillibrand’s viability over the weekend. Instead, they presented voters with #FriedChickenGate.
      The political trope about the candidate awkwardly gobbling down ethnic food is as old as pastrami itself, probably dating back to the penny press ripping John Adams for the way he gnawed on a fried possum. OK, I made that up, but I’m not making up how reporters parlayed any serious coverage of how a President Gillibrand might get us out of the giant mess that’s been created at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue into an analysis of what happened when she met African-American leaders at a joint called Kiki’s Chicken and Waffles in the critical early-primary state of South Carolina.
      The fact that Gillibrand started eating her chicken with a knife and fork, but then switched to her fingers after noting that all her companions were using their hands, wasn’t portrayed as the natural awkwardness that every sentient human being has felt at some social gathering where messy could-be finger food like greasy chicken or slathered barbecued ribs is on the table. No, the moment was a Grand Metaphor for a candidate who was “contrived,” who changed her stance on the Fried Chicken Question just like she’d changed her position on amnesty for undocumented immigrants.

    • A Preliminary Ranking of the Democratic Primary Contenders

      Joe Biden leads Bernie Sanders by twelve points, and Sanders leads Kamala Harris, in third place, by ten points in this week’s #10at10 preliminary rankings. Launched on social media on January 14, the model emphasizes two particular factors – how a candidate is polling on average versus other announced or potential Democratic candidates and how she or he is polling on average against Donald Trump. The model also allows some wiggle room in a bonus points section. The #10at10 preliminary rankings will be updated each week on Monday on Twitter in this thread and usually also in a column here on Wednesdays.

    • ‘For Billionaires, Things Are Already Fine’: Ocasio-Cortez Pinpoints Why Howard Schultz Has No Serious Tax Plan

      It did not take Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) long to figure out why former Starbucks CEO and “independent centrist” Howard Schultz didn’t want to talk about the specifics of higher tax rates on the ultra-wealthy during his CNN town hall Tuesday night.

      The reason, she noted on Twitter, is because for billionaires like Schultz “things are already going fine”—and therefore, his real plan for higher taxation on the rich is that there is no plan at all.

    • Finally One of Trump’s Racist Dog-Whistles May Come Back to Bite Him

      As a study in contrasts, it will be educational to watch the Democratic contenders in next year’s primary debates. Unlike the 2016 Republican debates in which Donald Trump insulted, intimidated and lied his way to the GOP nomination while making up degrading nicknames for his various opponents, I strongly suspect U.S. senators Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand and Amy Klobuchar will refrain from calling each other insulting names and commenting on each others’ appearances.

      In the meantime we can expect to hear the commander-in-chief continue to employ racist and childish nicknames for the Democratic contenders, most famously, his penchant for calling U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas.”

      Warren had hoped to deter Trump from using the racist nickname by taking a genetic test to prove she has Native American DNA. And, indeed, the test did show “strong evidence” that Warren had a Native American ancestor approximately six to 10 generations ago.

      If there is one thing I have learned over the past two years it’s that Trump and his base don’t give a damn about 1. Science and 2. The Facts. So it was no surprise that the test turned out to be a huge public relations disaster for Warren and another win for Trump. Native American groups criticized Warren for the stunt, while the test only served to give Trump more ammunition. “She doesn’t have any Indian blood,” Trump told his supporters in the small Southern Illinois town of Murphysboro. “I have more than she does, and I have none. Right? I have none, but it’s more than her.”

      Now as we brace for another two years of dog-whistles, the dynamic may have changed slightly. The president last week gave Warren a gift in the form of another racist tweet. The tweet may show a way for Warren to fight back, a way that won’t backfire like the genetic test.

    • Unity and Exceptionalism: Trump’s State of Union Flurries

      “Trump is hated by everyone,” comes one unnamed former official in an account to Vanity Fair, one supposedly sourced after the President’s State of the Union Address. Another claimed that all was wretched in the White House: “It’s total misery. People feel trapped.” Off record stuff, unnamed and, as ever, doing nothing to concern a leader whose interests have always lain elsewhere. Whatever the chronic dysfunction affecting the West Wing, what mattered for Donald Trump was simply getting his State of the Union address going. And long it was too – 82 minutes, making it the third longest in history.

      The address saw Trump return to what he is most comfortable with: campaign mode. Governance is less important than combat. When there are troubles, and when there is crisis, he searches for the rally, the reassurances of his formidable and, it would seem, unshakeable base still ignored on either side of the coast. The speech was seen by Susan Glasser of The New Yorker as “sort of gauzy” with hints of “World War II triumphalism”.

      The language was, in the main, thin puffery, that of the exceptional nation which had “saved freedom, transformed science” and done more than its bit to redefine “the middle class standard of living for the entire world to see.” In a sense, this is true: the paradox of US living is that it supposedly reconciles middle class living with horrendous swathes of indigence and an active food stamp culture, a true glory to the distortions of Social Darwinism.

    • ‘The National Popular Vote Movement Is Winning”: Colorado Bill to Scrap Electoral College Advances

      The movement to end the electoral college and select the U.S. president by popular vote—reinvigorated after President Donald Trump won the 2016 election despite Hillary Clinton receiving more than 3 million more votes—is poised to claim another victory as a bill in Colorado is close to becoming law.

      A state House committee voted 6-3 for the state to join the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, voting on party lines. The bill now moves to the Democratic-controlled state House and, if approved, is expected to be signed by Demoocratic Gov. Jared Polis.

      As Common Cause noted on Twitter, the proposal is popular among Colorado voters, with 84 people volunteering to testify before the House committee in favor of joining the compact.

    • Why Ann Coulter Has Power: U.S. Politics are Authoritarian by Design

      Recently a correspondent from overseas wrote to ask me how it is that Donald Trump perseveres with his absurd nativist demand – replete with threats of a second government shut-down or a Declaration of National Emergency – for a completed wall to stop a fake and racist brown menace on the southern United States border despite the fact that his demand and his threats are opposed by a solid majority of U.S.-Americans.

      The demand and the threats are still very much on the table in the wake of a State of the Union Address in which Trump made literally not a single mention of the 35-day nativist shutdown he ordered (at no small cost to hundreds of thousands of federal workers) last December and January.

      The short answer to my correspondent’s question is that Trump has strong support for his terrible Know Nothing Wall from white-nationalist Republicans who are granted political leverage far beyond their numbers by the nation’s militantly undemocratic political system

    • What is Democratic Socialism and Does America Need to be “Protected” from Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez?

      That when you look around the world, you see every other major country providing health care to all people as a right, except the United States. You see every other major country saying to moms that, when you have a baby, we’re not gonna separate you from your newborn baby, because we are going to have – we are gonna have medical and family paid leave, like every other country on Earth.

      For Sanders, economic justice and leveling the opportunity and income gap between the rich and poor is what part of what it means to be a democratic socialist. Yet historically the term has meant more that economic justice, it also included democratic control of the economy.

      Democratic socialism emerges as a political movement in response to Karl Marx’s criticism of capitalism in the mid nineteenth century. To simplify, Marx had argued that the core problem of capitalism was a class exploitation and struggle between the bourgeoisie and proletariat where the latter sells labor power which is extracted as surplus value by the former. The bourgeoisie own the means of production and over time in their race to maintain profits they increasingly replace human labor power with machines, they drive down wages placing more and more individuals into poverty. This process creates an economic crisis, intensifying class struggle, and eventually creating conditions for a capitalist struggle. As the theory was eventually amended by Engels, it suggested an economic inevitability for the revolution. With Lenin, the communist party would serve as a vanguard movement to lead the revolution. As further amended by Stalin, this party in practice was highly undemocratic.

      Starting in the late nineteenth century individuals such as Eduard Bernstein in Evolutionary Socialism argued that the revolutionary tactics and economic inevitability of the revolution were not practical or certain. He and others agreed with much of the basic criticism of Marx but instead tied the future of a classless society to parliamentary democracy. Specifically, the emphasis was upon linking universal franchise to socialist ideals with the hope that socialism could be brought about by elections. For Bernstein, socialism was an ethical imperative, it was about treating everyone with respect, and it was grounded in the French Revolution ideas of promoting “Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity.” It was taking the ideals of political liberalism and translating them into economic democracy. In effect, workers would have democratic control not just of the government but of the economy.

      There was serious debate over whether parliamentary socialism was possible, with writers such as Rosa Luxemburg, Karl Kautsky, and Leon Trotsky reaching various conclusions. But the core argument about what constituted democratic socialism centered on democratic control of the marketplace–it was democratic control of capitalism. It was about ensuring that workers and not capitalists made decisions about what to invest, not letting the choice simply remain in the boardrooms of corporate executives.

    • New Hampshire Law Illegally Targets Young Voters Ahead of 2020 Primary

      The state wants students to face criminal penalties if they don’t pay to change their out-of-state licenses after voting.
      The New Hampshire 2020 primary is still almost a year away, but state legislators are already working to disenfranchise voters. HB 1264, a law set to go into effect in July 2019, will change the definition of what it means to be a “resident” of New Hampshire, forcing people with out-of-state driver’s licenses or car registrations to switch to the state versions if they register to vote.

      While it may sound like an archaic DMV issue, it’s actually a burden on the right to vote. In New Hampshire, students are lawfully permitted to vote in the town where they live while attending school.

      By requiring people to pay up to hundreds of dollars in vehicle registration fees if they register to vote, the law unconstitutionally restricts voting rights and, in particular, targets New Hampshire’s students and young people to dissuade them for voting. That’s why we just filed a lawsuit on behalf of two Dartmouth College students, both of whom were eligible to vote in the 2018 elections but now would be forced to update their driver’s licenses if they participate in 2020.

      For our plaintiffs, this fight is about having a voice in the issues that matter most to them. Caroline, a sophomore, is heavily involved in get-out-the-vote efforts on her campus. She’ll be living in New Hampshire until at least 2021 and wants to make sure her voice will be heard by legislators in New Hampshire on the issues she cares about.

    • Did the Senate find “no direct evidence” of collusion? That doesn’t mean what Trump wants it to

      Senate Intelligence Committee chair Richard Burr, a North Carolina Republican and former Trump campaign adviser, told CBS News last week: “If we write a report based upon the facts that we have, then we don’t have anything that would suggest there was collusion by the Trump campaign and Russia.” That comment didn’t garner much notice on its own, since Burr said exactly the same thing last September. But yesterday NBC News reported that the committee as a whole had concluded that there was no evidence of collusion and that Democrats on the panel were in agreement.

      [...]

      The NBC report’s headline said that the committee had found no “direct evidence” of conspiracy, which is a more specific legal term. Former U.S. attorney Chuck Rosenberg pointed out on MSNBC on Tuesday that it’s very rare to find “direct evidence” of conspiracy. He said, “In fact, in the dozens and dozens of cases I tried to a jury, only once ever did I have direct evidence of a conspiracy. You almost never see that.” He added that circumstantial evidence is just as important as direct evidence and “to say that there’s no direct evidence of a conspiracy is really not all that damning on the facts of the case.”

      This past week we learned that there may definitely be evidence of conspiracy that we haven’t heard about before — and it’s big. This report in Tuesday’s Washington Post compellingly lays out a narrative suggesting that former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort may have “directly” conspired with his former employee and suspected FSB officer Konstantin Kilimnik, who was likely working on behalf of Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, a close associate and ally of President Vladimir Putin.

      We’ve seen previous hints pointing in this direction. But this latest information, gleaned from a redacted transcript of a court hearing about Manafort’s cooperation agreement, makes it appear as if Manafort met with Kilimnik during the heat of the campaign and may have given him some valuable polling data which Kilimnik presumably passed on to Deripaska. What they would or could have done with that information, we do not know.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Russian legislators hope to multiply fines for posting ‘fake news’ and disrespecting the government

      As two State Duma bills that would penalize spreading “fake news” or disrespecting authorities online approach their second reading, some deputies are asking for the proposals’ fines to be increased by several times. TASS reported on the proposed increases and circulated a copy of the amendments supported by a group of Duma deputies.

      The original bills proposed a fine of 3,000 – 5,000 rubles ($46 – $76) for ordinary citizens and 30,000 – 50,000 rubles ($460 – $760) for public figures who share “unreliable” stories online or show disrespect on the Internet for state symbols or government figures. Deputies are now hoping for fines of 30,000 – 100,000 rubles ($460 – $1,522) for private citizens who violate the bills and 60,000 – 200,000 rubles ($913 – $3,043) for public figures.

    • The ‘Peacekeeper’ Vigilante Website and Freedom of Speech in Ukraine

      The 2013-2014 pro-European Union protest movement in Ukraine known as the ‘Euromaidan’ is officially celebrated in Ukraine and is largely recognized in the West as a pro-democratic, peaceful, popular revolution against the ‘corrupt autocratic regime’ (according to the mainstream Western and Ukrainian media) of president Victor Yanukovych. Ukrainians should now breathe more freely, live better and enjoy the rule of law and freedom of speech. And yet today, under the supposedly democratic, post-Euromaidan government, there is much less freedom in Ukraine and much more political violence.

      Examples abound. They include the official banning of Russian social networks, movies, books and other cultural products; persecutions and imprisonment of citizens holding dissenting opinion; searches of the offices of media outlets that dare to criticize the new Ukrainian power holders; attacks by ultra-right nationalists against journalists and media offices with the connivance of the state; cyber-bullying of journalists and bloggers who hold alternative opinions, carried out by so-called porokhoboty – bloggers and opinion leaders who propagate the ‘official’ truth with the informal support by the administration of President Petro Poroshenko; increasing state control of television channels through the oligarchic owners of these channels. And the list goes on and on. (For a detailed and well-researched analysis on freedom of speech and opinion in Ukraine, I refer the reader to the recent report presented to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe by the Ukrainian human rights platform Uspishna Varta in September 2018.)

      One of the new forms of intimidation of journalists and citizens who do not agree with the ‘official’ version of what is happening is Ukraine is the public exposure of their personal data by anonymous denunciators using the snitch Ukrainian website with the telling name ‘Myrotvorets‘, which translates as ‘Peacekeeper’ from Ukrainian. The website lists the names of journalists, Ukrainian citizens and foreign citizens accused of holding anti-Ukrainian and ‘pro-Russian’ views, foreigners who joined the military forces of the non-recognized ‘peoples republics’ of Donetsk and Lugansk, names of Russian volunteers assisting the republics or fighting on their side, and people who have entered Crimea through the territory of Russia instead of Ukraine. The Myrotvorets vigilantes cast their net really large: even a reposting from a Facebook group supporting the Anti-Maidan resistance movement in Ukraine is grounds for accusation of “treason”. The listing of persons on the website includes his/her profile on social media, home address and phone number, and personal data of relatives.

    • Well-Known URI vs DNS-SD for routing distributed web service discovery around internet censorship

      In this article, I want to discuss the use of Well-Known URIs and DNS based service discovery (DNS-SD) methods for mapping domain names to resources on the distributed web. I’ll focus on the different method’s ability to route around internet censorship and their centralization, and talk about some suggestions for improving the current implementations used by distributed web projects.

      There are two primary methods used to auto-discover services offered on a domain: you either send it a web request to a predetermined service-discovery address or you can query the Domain Name System (DNS) for a predetermined service-discovery record. The distributed web, like the regular web, relies on these two methods to discover the resource addresses used to retrieve content by a domain name in various distributed networks. I’ll discuss each of these methods in turn.

      Well-Known URIs (RFC 5785) are really simple to implement on any web server where you control the root of the domain and can expose files on the domain root. The Dat project and the Beaker Browser uses this method to discover websites that offer a distributed Dat archive by requesting the archive’s hash fingerprint from a file served at https://example.com/.well-known/dat.

    • Why Do Some Websites Block VPNs?

      One of the only ways to protect your right to privacy and information online is to use a VPN. Some websites infringe on those rights by blocking VPNs, but they do it for a good reason.

      The big names that are notorious for blacklisting VPNs are Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and the BBC. It’s hard to figure out exactly how many websites block VPN access, but the number could be in the thousands. Most of these sites aren’t actively at war with VPNs, but they manage to blacklist a lot of VPN IP addresses over time passively.

    • Obsolete Hot News Doctrine Back In The News As Bloomberg Is Sued For Reporting Too Quickly

      It’s been a few years since we’ve really talked about the Hot News doctrine, which was a mostly obsolete and, frankly, bizarre attempt to turn the idea of publishing a similar news story too quickly after the original reporters broke the story into a form of “misappropriation.” It stems from the International News Service v. Associated Press case from a century ago (literally: 1918), in which the AP argued that even though there is no copyright in facts, having INS release a similar story too quickly to AP’s articles was a form of “misappropriation” of its “hot news.” Incredibly, the court agreed. However, multiple later cases, plus the entire rewriting of copyright law in 1976 had most people believing that the entire concept of “hot news” was obsolete and effectively dead.
      Indeed, in 2003, Judge Richard Posner suggested that the entire concept “can be jettisoned” and he later committed to that in some of his rulings. However, around 2010, a variety of hot news cases popped up, and yet basically all of them have been losers (the one exception I can think of being a default judgment where the defendant didn’t even show up).

    • Utter Bullshit: Reporter Maria Ressa Arrested Over Bogus Charges For Her Critical Reporting

      We’ve written about reporter Maria Ressa, who started the successful news site The Rappler in the Philippines. Ressa, herself, is a force of nature, who has upset a lot of people with her incredibly detailed and thorough reporting. Last year, we wrote about how the Duterte government was trying to intimidate and silence her with bogus charges, claiming that because she had accepted grant money from US foundations, she was engaged in tax evasion.

      Today things ramped up quite a bit with the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) (the Filipino equivalent of the FBI) coming to arrest Ressa at her offices, claiming that she violated a “cyberlibel” law. Incredibly, the article that the government claims is libelous… was written four months before the law they claim it violated actually became law.

      [....]

      This is why in the US (and other countries) we have what’s known as the single publication rule, in that the date of original publication is the date at which any statute of limitations clock starts ticking (mostly). Yet, it appears the Philippines is arguing for no single publication rule and that “continuous publication” means liability can last forever. Furthermore, even if this was libelous (which sounds questionable), shouldn’t libel be a civil matter between two private parties, rather than involving the criminal justice system?

    • Mozilla Open Policy & Advocacy Blog: Mozilla Foundation fellow weighs in on flawed EU Terrorist Content regulation

      As we’ve noted previously, the EU’s proposed Terrorist Content regulation would seriously undermine internet health in Europe, by forcing companies to aggressively suppress user speech with limited due process and user rights safeguards. Yet equally concerning is the fact that this proposal is likely to achieve little in terms of reducing the actual terrorism threat or the phenomenon of radicalisation in Europe. Here, Mozilla Foundation Tech Policy fellow and community security expert Stefania Koskova* unpacks why, and proposes an alternative approach for EU lawmakers.

      With the proposed Terrorist Content regulation, the EU has the opportunity to set a global standard in how to effectively address what is a pressing public policy concern. To be successful, harmful and illegal content policies must carefully and meaningfully balance the objectives of national security, internet-enabled economic growth and human rights. Content policies addressing national security threats should reflect how internet content relates to ‘offline’ harm and should provide sufficient guidance on how to comprehensively and responsibly reduce it in parallel with other interventions. Unfortunately, the Commission’s proposal falls well short in this regard.

    • Reddit Posts With Openload URLs Getting ‘Shadowbanned’
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Creeped out by Facebook’s algorithms? Just wait until you see this new facial recognition tool released by anonymous Russian programmers.

      On February 11, Russian Internet users discovered a website, searchface.ru, that allows anyone to search the massive social media network VKontakte using a single image. The site’s functionality was simple: after uploading a photograph that included someone’s face, users could see a list of links to VKontakte pages with photographs that may depict the same person. On February 13, after the social media network announced that it would sue SearchFace for “gross violations of [VKontakte’s] rules,” the algorithm’s creators removed profile links from the site’s search results but retained the rest of its functions.

    • How to Get Settlement Money If You Bought a Vizio Smart TV

      Last year, Vizio was sued for reportedly spying on customers and using this data to target ads. This resulted in a $17 million class-action lawsuit that is now paying customers who bought a Vizio smart TV between February of 2015 and February of 2017.

      Starting now, owners of Vizio smart TVs can sign up to be part of said lawsuit and get their piece of the pie. Don’t expect a huge take here, of course, as the average payout is expected to be $13 to $31. You’ll just need to give them your name, address, phone number (which is how you’ll get the payment), and email address. They also want to know when you purchased your TV and what model it is if you know those things, but they’re not required.

      To collect your coin, head over to the Vizio TV Settlement website, click the “File a Claim” button, then fill out out the form with all the aforementioned information.

      After that, you’re good to go—just hang out and wait for your lunch money to show up. You don’t even have to be in a hurry here, either, as you have until April 29th to get it done. If you don’t do it before then, you give up your right to get anything from the settlement or sue Vizio for this in the future.

    • Kushal Das: Tracking my phone’s silent connections

      The first thing to notice is how the phone is trying to find servers from Apple, which makes sense as this is an iPhone. I use the mobile Twitter app a lot, so we also see many queries related to Twitter. Lookout is a special mention there, it was suggested to me by my friends who understand these technologies and security better than me. The 3rd position is taken by Google, though sometimes I watch Youtube videos, but, the phone queried for many other Google domains.

      There are also many queries to Akamai CDN service, and I could not find any easy way to identify those hosts, the same with Amazon AWS related hosts. If you know any better way, please drop me a note.

      You can see a lot of data analytics related companies were also queried. dev.appboy.com is a major one, and thankfully algo already blocked that domain in the DNS level. I don’t know which app is trying to connect to which all servers, I found about a few of the apps in my phone by searching about the client list of the above-mentioned analytics companies. Next, in coming months, I will start blocking those hosts/domains one by one and see which all apps stop working.

    • As Trump Prepares Ban On Huawei, Few Notice The Major Holes In The Underlying Logic

      During the Trump era, the government has dramatically ramped up claims that Chinese hardware vendor Huawei is a nefarious spy for the Chinese government, blackballing it from the U.S. telecom market. From pressuring U.S. carriers to drop plans to sell Huawei phones to the FCC’s decision to ban companies from using Huawei gear if they want to receive federal subsidies, this effort hasn’t been subtle.

      This week, there are rumblings that the Trump administration is about to take things further with a total ban on Huawei gear anywhere inside of the United States. The news is to be formally announced ahead of the Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona, likely with a heavy emphasis on how the move will cement U.S. dominance in the “race to 5G,” a largely nonsensical concept drummed up by networking hardware vendor marketing departments.

      The problem: there’s still no public evidence Huawei uses its network gear to spy on Americans, and much of the motivation for this assault on Huawei has been proven to be largely about protectionism, not national security.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • ‘The US Government Has Scarred My Daughter and Me for Life’: Families Sue Trump Over Deliberate and ‘Inexplicable Cruelty’

      Accusing the Trump administration of deliberate and “inexplicable cruelty” perpetrated against them under it’s so-called “zero tolerance” immigration policy, six families have filed suit against the U.S. government for the harm and “lasting trauma” they continue to suffer.

      In the filing, six mothers described having their children torn away from them, with officials giving them little to no information about where their children were, if they were safe, and when they would be reunited—treatment that the lawyers involved in the suit argue fit the legal definition of intentionally inflicting emotional distress.

      “It was the worst moment of my life, when officers tore my crying daughter from my arms. I didn’t know where she was going or when I’d see her next—and I couldn’t tell her she’d be safe. It was four months and one day until I saw her again,” said Leticia, one of the mothers. “We came to the U.S. because we feared for our lives in Guatemala, but rather than offering us safety, the U.S. government has scarred my daughter and me for life.”

      The American Immigration Council and the National Immigrant Justice Center were joined by two law firms in filing the lawsuit against the Departments of Homeland Security (DHS) and Health & Human Services (HHS) on Monday.

      The families are demanding $3 million each in compensation for the suffering inflicted on them and their children, who were as young as five years old when they were separated—but advocates stressed that no amount of money can undo the harm caused by the family separation policy.

    • The Lure of the Past

      I recently read a very interesting but disturbing essay about history: past, present and the future. The author was the Russian writer Vladimir Sharov. He rejects any prospects we are capable of studying, much less learning, from history.

      He was probably so poisoned by his Soviet experience of enormous violence and death, he only sees manipulation of the past for the ephemeral needs of the present. As for the future, Sharov says, it is “cold, shorn of all detail, all the silliness and absurdity that distinguishes the living from the dead.”

      I don’t agree with the elimination or fabrication of history. In fifth-century BCE Athens, Euripides, a great dramatic poet, equated the study and learning of history with science and happiness and citizenship. People with historical knowledge, he said, are the protectors of democracy.

      The other reason I dispute the downgrading and indifference of history is that I earned a doctorate in history. So, I am biased in my love of history.

    • Google, Apple Called Out For Hosting Saudi Government App That Allows Men To Track Their Spouses’ Movements

      Seems like this would be something that would go without saying: if you’re an American tech company, don’t willingly assist oppressive regimes in the oppression of their populace. Twitter is forever helping the Turkish government silence critics and journalists. Facebook has allowed governments to weaponize its moderation tools, quite possibly contributing to government-ordained killings.

      Now, Ron Wyden is calling out both Apple and Google for making it easier for Saudi Arabian men to treat their spouses (and employees) like possessions, rather than people.

    • The Suffering of the Iranian People Has “Made in USA” Stamped on It

      So much terrible history rammed into one sentence: The brutal U.S.-backed regime of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi; the 1979 revolution and the 444-day hostage crisis that roiled the 1980 presidential election; four decades of turmoil, sanctions, secret deals and Cold War manipulation; a ray of hope after the Obama administration’s nuclear deal with Iran that was slapped down by the Trump administration; a return to ruinous sanctions; and, as ever over these 40 years, a looming threat of war.

      There is a name missing from that Al Jazeera report, just as there is a name missing from this Washington Post report on the anniversary that nearly drips derision from its deliberately hidebound rewrite of history. That name is Mohammad Mosaddegh, the democratically elected prime minister of Iran who was deposed and imprisoned at the behest of powerful interests by Dwight Eisenhower and Winston Churchill over access to Iranian oil.

      Western politicians and the mainstream journalists who cover them shy away from the name Mosaddegh, for his name is an incantation summoning the bloody specter of blowback and the carnage that comes whenever the game of thrones is played for petroleum in the battered birthing bed of civilization. “Mosaddegh” is a condemnation, a warning, and a lesson yet to be heeded by those in Washington, D.C., who believe their power and wealth means they can outrun consequences.

    • The Iranian Revolution Turns Forty: Dare to Know, Have the Courage to Act!

      Legend has it that in 1972 when the Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai was asked about the impact of the French Revolution his response was that “it’s too soon to say.” Although the accuracy of the story has been questioned, I believe that legendary response remains historically apposite. What revolutions do, their failure or success, their lasting impact, their tangible and intangible achievements are often expressed in contradictory terms and difficult to ascertain. The Iranian revolution of 1979 is not an exception. Iranians mark the fortieth anniversary of their revolution at a moment that cries of regret are commonly heard all over the country, in rural areas as well as in urban centers. These voices are openly heard on the streets of big cities and small towns, among the downtrodden and affluent classes alike. The discontent is also echoed and encouraged by a host of exilic media, American and European Persian TV and radio networks, mourning the revolution and romanticizing the ancien régime. These broadcasts highlight ongoing corruption, repression, cultural and social alienation, gender and ethnic discrimination, economic hardship, and regional destabilization. And of course, every year on the anniversary of the revolution the question is asked for how much longer the regime will last, a question that is as old as the revolution itself.

      Those grievances are legitimate, particularly the problem of corruption and the deepening of social inequality. This is not a secret. It is discussed in every single session of the Iranian Parliament and widely written about in newspapers and op-ed pieces inside Iran. Almost invariably in these discussions, intellectuals, pundits, government officials, and members of the parliament still invoke the authority of revolutionary discourse to warn about the growing cleavage between the promises of the revolution and the realities of everyday life in the country. Long are gone the days that Ayatollah Beheshti, the once powerful Vice Chair of the Constitutional Assembly and the influential Head of the Judiciary until his assassination in 1981, set goal of the distribution of wealth in society to a one-to-three ratio between the lowest and the highest income. That egalitarian mantra lives but only as a shibboleth with no correspondence with the facts of life.

      All that is true. But should one question the wisdom of revolutionary transformation that ended the autocratic rule of the Shah, repositioned Iran as a regional power, and turned Iran into a vibrant, rights-conscious, participatory, and engaged society? The revolutionary will that once toppled the fifth largest military in the world with bare hands and marching feet also brought a historical awakening to Iran that shapes the collective consciousness of the nation to this day. That consciousness continues to manifest itself in different forms of dissent and civic engagement.

    • Following recent jail sentence, prominent human rights activist’s organization is blacklisted as ‘foreign agent’ for second time

      The 77-year-old activist said the Justice Ministry’s decision to reinstate the foreign agent label stemmed from his arrest on December 5 for promoting an unsanctioned rally. Ponomarev posted on social media to express support for protesters, who were demanding the release of young Russians accused of extremism. The Justice Ministry’s document check began later that month, and Ponomarev pointed out that his name was “mentioned multiple times” in a meeting between Russia’s federal human rights council and President Vladimir Putin after the human rights activist was sentenced to 25 days in jail.

    • Incarcerated Immigrants Are Being Tortured

      In El Paso, Texas, not far from where President Trump delivered a speech riddled with falsehoods and jingoism at a pro-wall rally on Tuesday, at least nine Sikh men reportedly fleeing persecution in India have been on hunger strike in an immigration jail for weeks.

      The asylum seekers are protesting their detention and the conditions of the jail, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials have responded by force-feeding the men, throwing them in solitary confinement and threatening them with deportation when they refused the force-feeding, according to the Detention Watch Network.

      Force-feeding at the immigration jail involves tying the striker to a bed and pumping liquid nutrients down the nose and esophagus. Last week, human rights officials at the U.N. said the treatment of the strikers could constitute torture under international law. In a statement to Mother Jones, ICE denied placing the strikers in solitary confinement, but supporters of the striking Sikhs say they have continued to face abuse as retaliation for resisting the feeding tubes.

      Ruby Kaur, an attorney for the hunger strikers, said in a statement Friday that the hunger strikers have scars on their arms from IV needles, are suffering rectal bleeding and find blood in their vomit, in addition to experiencing “persistent stomach, chest and throat pain.” Liz Martinez, a spokesperson for Freedom for Immigrants, one of the groups supporting the strikers, told Truthout on Tuesday that the strikers are currently facing the same treatment.

      “We’re calling on lawmakers to conduct oversight in the facility,” Martinez said, adding that the strikers are demanding to be released and allowed to continue their asylum cases outside of jail. “We’ve got so many reports from there about not just force-feeding but other abuses by the staff.”

    • In Prison, the Power’s On, But There’s No Accountability

      The power is back on at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn and the street outside is relatively silent, but it shouldn’t take a week without heat during a polar vortex and hour after hour of hands hammering on windows, to sound an alarm about conditions in federal lock up.

      The Metropolitan Detention Center Brooklyn is a holding jail mostly for people awaiting federal trial, just a few miles from downtown Manhattan. It’s a grim, recreation-less place, more like warehouse than house, rife with abuse, including sexual abuse, even in the best of times.

      The end of January, as a record breaking freeze hit the Northeast, were not the best of times in the lock up. For at least a week, as far as we know, as many as1,600 inmates at MDC lost heat, light, electricity and access to phone and internet and attorneys and family visits.

      We don’t know for sure how many shivered in the cold for how long because although it’s a federal facility, which is to say, it’s publicly funded, it’s the opposite of public. City officials got access last week, but only after a protest, only after those hands started hammering on those walls and windows in panic.

    • Global Condemnation After Journalist Who Blamed Trump for Duterte’s Attacks on Free Press Arrested in Philippines

      Just a few months after directly blaming U.S. President Donald Trump for fueling crackdowns on the press in her country, award-winning Filipina journalist Maria Ressa—a long-time critic of the Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte—was arrested Wednesday for what reporters and media advocates around the world denounced as “trumped-up and politically-motivated” libel charges designed to intimidate and silence Ressa and her colleagues.

      In November, while accepting an award from the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Ressa said: “Our problems are partly caused by yours: American social media technology platforms, once empowering, now weaponized against journalists, activists, and citizens, spreading lies across borders; and, a president so much like ours whose attacks against the press (and women) give permission to autocrats (like ours) to unleash the dark side of humanity and extend their already vast powers with impunity, especially in countries where institutions have crumbled.”

    • Explaining Virginia’s Crisis (to Japanese People)

      The governor of the state of Virginia, Ralph Northam, is probably going to have to resign in a scandal involving a photo of him as a medical school student in 1984, either wearing blackface or dressed as a Klansman.

      This would normally mean that the vice-governor, Justin Fairfax, would succeed him. It was briefly speculated that the succession of an African-American might heal some of the pain caused by the revelations about his predecessor. But Fairfax may have to resign due to accusations of assault by two women in 2000 and 2004. The Virginia Senate looks set to impeach him, based on the allegations which he denies.

      Fairfax is thus probably out; this would normally mean that the state’s attorney general, Mark Herring, would succeed as governor. But Herring has admitted to wearing brown makeup “at a party” in 1980 as a nineteen-year-old while trying to imitate a rapper. This makes him as unsuitable as Northam for many.

      The Democrats have long since adopted a zero-tolerance level for people with these kinds of skeletons in their closets. This is to enhance the party’s appeal among voters most energized around—increasingly safe, uncontroversial, mainstreamed—identity politics, while diverting attention from the fundamental problems of capitalism and imperialism. (The party bosses are terrified by the election of “socialists” on their ticket, and scrambling to marginalize newcomers like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortezes.) Hence the immediate condemnation of Fairfax by all his colleagues.

    • Russian government begins charging young activists for including minors in protests

      Russia’s State Duma approved a bill in mid-December that created administrative penalties for those charged with involving minors in unsanctioned protests and rallies. Now, 18-year-old activist Ivan Luzin has become the first protester to be charged under the new law. Luzin volunteers for the national opposition politician Alexey Navalny in the city of Kaliningrad and is also a volunteer for Russia’s Libertarian Party.

      Alexander Dobralsky, Luzin’s attorney, said officials have accused the teenager of organizing a picket on February 7 that included two underage women. Dobralsky said both women were also volunteers from Navalny’s local headquarters.

    • Paris Live: Who Will Protect Us From the Police?

      We sat on the steps of the Madeleine while the sirens skrieked and the scene unfolded like a ritual with no humans, like one of those unhappy films about the future where everything moves in choreographed, hypnotic motion, the narrative pulsing to a high pitch of danger and fear. You would have thought that Paris was on terror alert or at least some European director with a fat account was restaging the Nazi ballet for the umpteenth time.

      It was Acte XII on the new French (Gilets Jaunes) calendar and the police were ready this time – no surprises! – from the Arc de Triomphe all the way to Concorde : flexible barriers you couldn’t drive a truck through on the Elysée, at other places barricades or fences, tanks, a cordon of police at entry points, Rue Royale almost completely deserted. (How to get to Maxim’s for that drink with F. Scott ? Scheisse.) You could stroll through the gardens, if you could somersault over the guardians of the peace. If the whole acronym army in their riot gear didn’t scare you off such a harmless pasttime.

      The only problem was – there were no demonstrators, no Gilet Jaunes anywhere. These humble spectres, apparitions of the anti-Etat, were elsewhere. It was strange to sit there and watch it unfold, this display carried out so shop owners could get an extra hour’s sleep and nervous tourists could stand on line for the museums without fretting

      that something extraordinary might happen to them on their harmless holiday. We stared down Royale which leads straight to Concorde, and from our vantage, the entry to the Champs, Saint Honoré where the shops were open but no one was going in, the pastisserie packed and everything at twice the price…Which of us was going to race down Royale, slip into Concorde and – supposing we got that far – stand on the spot where Louis XVI got his, give the rebel yell, scream something incomprehensively obscene ? Not worth the weekend in jail. We already know what it’s like to the cops on your tail.

    • The Disappearing of Generation X

      Generation X — Americans born between 1961 and 1974 — have been “disappeared“ from the media like a fallen-out-of-favor Soviet apparatchik airbrushed out of a picture from atop Lenin’s tomb.

      Gen X was an important facet of the start of my career. I used to write and draw a lot about Gen X. I authored a seminal Gen X manifesto, Revenge of the Latchkey Kids (1996). For a while there, it seemed like we were going to take our rightful place as the third-biggest generational cohort—not the biggest by any means but at least…extant.

      Now the Internet is talking about a CBS News infographic in which zero Americans were apparently born between Boomers and the Millennials. CBS listed four generations:

      “The Silent Generation: Born 1928-1945 (73-90 years old)”

      “Baby Boomers: Born 1946-1964 (54-72 years old)”

      “Millennials: Born 1981-1996 (23-37 years old)”

      “Post-Millennials: Born 1997-present (0-21 years old)”

    • Robert Reich: Trump’s Attacks on Warren Can’t Be Tolerated

      Elizabeth Warren is one of the most talented politicians and policy leaders in America. We must not allow Trump or anyone else to “swift-boat” her because she identified herself as an American Indian three decades ago.

      At worst, Warren may have stretched the bounds of the definition of whiteness. That’s understandable. She grew up in Oklahoma, a state created from Indian Territory. She probably witnessed the disrespect and occasional brutality that Native Americans were, and still are, subject to. Her own genetic test showed at least one Native American ancestor. She has stressed that she is not a member of a tribal nation.

      Warren didn’t call Mexicans rapists. She didn’t call nations populated primarily by black or brown people “shitholes.” She didn’t assume all Muslims are terrorists. She didn’t characterize black neighborhoods as war zones. She didn’t assert that an American president was born in Africa. She has not sexually assaulted anyone. She has not paid hush money to prostitutes. She hasn’t insulted Native Americans by calling a leading politician “Pocahontas” and joking about the Trail of Tears in the 1830s.

      Warren got no career benefit from her self-designation. At every step of her exceptional rise in the legal profession, those responsible for hiring her saw her as a white woman. The fact that she claimed Indian descent on a Texas bar form that was meant to be confidential is further evidence that her identification arose from sincere belief.

    • Howard Schultz and the Media’s Unlearned Lesson

      A BILLIONAIRE FLIRTS with a run for president and gets grossly disproportionate free airtime. We all know the punchline. Howard Schultz, the running-but-not-yet-running former CEO of Starbucks, has attracted intense media interest over the past two and a half weeks, sitting for a string of newspaper and broadcast interviews, including a profile on 60 Minutes. Last night, he became the second potential 2020 candidate, after Kamala Harris, to get CNN’s town-hall treatment. In the run-up, prominent media-watchers criticized the network’s decision to offer Schultz such an elevated platform; CNN’s own polls, they pointed out, have Schultz way down. “These decisions can have a big effect on a candidacy,” Jay Rosen, a professor at NYU, told The Daily Beast. “But there’s no coherent logic to them.”

      As had been the case in his recent interview round, Schultz offered little of substance last night: he repeatedly bashed “far left” and “far right” bogeymen without proposing specific, distinctive solutions of his own. It took 10 minutes of biographical soft soap to get to a policy question at all. When one came, on immigration, Schultz’s answer was clichéd and contradictory—“We should be building bridges and allow people in,” but also securing the border to “not allow bad people in”—yet no request for clarification was made. Much later in proceedings, Poppy Harlow, CNN’s moderator for the night, did start asking for details. When she pushed him, however, Schultz simply sidestepped, and the conversation moved on. “What would you do to fix it?” Harlow asked on veterans’ healthcare. “You have to put the quality people in charge,” Schultz replied.

    • Traffic Calming and Immigration

      I just saw two Central American women with one baby each standing on a speed bump in the semi-rural central Mexican town in which I live making gestures to passersby to indicate that they were hungry. I walked home and returned with about half of the little food that I had on hand. (This is not to say that I’m poor but that I am not well-organized enough to keep a lot of food in the house.)

    • Freedom for All Begins With Freedom for the Most Marginalized

      There were about 10 of us in the group. Some looked around wondering if it was a trick question, while others blurted out, “Abraham Lincoln!” After some time, the docent finally offered his response: “Enlisted slaves freed themselves, with the help of Union soldiers.”
      I had a powerful reaction to this response, because history tells a different story of Lincoln as the “Great Emancipator.”
      The truth is, President Lincoln knew the Union army would be unsuccessful in its Civil War campaign without more able bodies to defeat the Confederate army.
      When he issued his Emancipation Proclamation, he didn’t merely announce the end of slavery in rebel territories. Lincoln also asked Blacks to enlist in the Union army, inviting “people so declared to be free” to be “received into the armed service of the United States.” Lincoln knew he needed troops, but he also knew he couldn’t make such a request without freeing the slaves.
      My ancestors didn’t go to war to help the Union army, or to prevent the South from seceding. Nor did they fight alongside Union soldiers because of a shared cause for a country undivided. My ancestors fought in the Civil War because freedom was the reward after centuries of enslavement.
      Blacks knew what was at stake. This wasn’t about politics, nor was it about patriotism. This was about freedom — freedom for themselves, their grandchildren, their great grandchildren — and freedom for me, a distant descendant. There was no other way around it. Sadly, war was their only hope.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • On the General Architecture of the Peer Web (and the placement of the PC 2.0 era within the timeline of general computing and the greater socioeconomic context)

      There is a common misconception (perhaps owing to its stated aims or a conflation with the nature of some of the fundamental protocols of the Internet) that the World Wide Web is decentralised. It is not and never has been.

      The fundamental architecture of the Web has always been client/server. In other words, centralised. The Centralised Web era was, in effect, a return to mainframe computing. The only difference is that the mainframes are now global in reach. Our new mainframes are household names like Google, Facebook, and Snapchat (and lesser-known data brokers and surveillance companies that lurk behind the scenes like Acxiom and Palantir).

      The Web today is an oligopoly of multinational corporations with business models based on surveillance and ownership of people by proxy. It was the Centralised Web that ushered in the socioeconomic system we call surveillance capitalism. Capitalism, of course, has always relied on some level of surveillance and ownership of people, all the way back to its basis in slavery. What is different today is the nature and scope of the surveillance and ownership.

      It is crucial that we understand that even in the early days, the Web was centralised. The centres (the servers) were just closer to each other in size. That changed when the Web was commercialised. The injection of venture capital with its expectation of exponential returns for Vegas-style high-risk betting provided the enzymatic pool that incentivised the centres to grow in tumour-like fashion until we got the monopolies of Google, Facebook, and their ilk. A new era of people farming was born. And while we diagnosed the tumours early, instead of recognising them as a threat, we started celebrating them and paving the way for a new type of slavery by proxy to sneak in through this digital and networked backdoor. This new slavery, let’s call it Slavery 2.0, is not as crude as Slavery 1.0. In Slavery 2.0, we no longer need physical possession of your body. We can own you by proxy by obtaining and owning a digital copy of you.

      Here’s how it works: The so-called consumer technologies of today, with few exceptions, have two facets. There is the face you see: the addictive, potentially useful one that you interact with as “the user” and the one you don’t see. The one that’s watching you and taking notes and analysing your behaviour so that it can use the intimate insight it gleams from this constantly-evolving profile of you as a digital proxy with which to manipulate and exploit you. In retrospect, the World Wide Web is a most fitting name for the construct that enabled this. It’s a web with a giant spider in the middle. The spider goes by many names… Google, Facebook, Snapchat…

      It’s also no coincidence that the centralised Web evolved alongside a period of unprecedented global concentration of wealth and power within the hands of a tiny group of billionaires. Surveillance capitalism, after all, is the feedback loop between capitalism (accumulation of wealth) and surveillance (accumulation of information). Surveillance capitalism is what you get when those with accumulated wealth invest that wealth in systems that result in the accumulation of information within the same hands which they then exploit to accrue further wealth.

      The power differential between the haves and the have nots in surveillance capitalism is compounded not just by a widening gap in the wealth of the former versus the latter but also by the information the former has on the latter. To put it simply, if I know everything about you and you know nothing about me, I essentially own you by proxy. If, further, I dictate the tools you use to experience the world around you, I get to filter (and thus create) your reality. In the film The Matrix, people’s minds inhabit a virtual reality while their bodies are farmed in physical space. On Earth, circa 2019, we inhabit a physical space while our minds are farmed from a virtual reality. But, as in any good science fiction story, there is hope that a band of plucky rebels might just turn the tide in the face of overwhelming odds… and that brings us to the present day where we find ourselves witnessing and helping shape the next era of technology: the Personal Computing 2.0 era.

      [...]

      Hypha has no release date, no big reveal, and makes no promises. It’s what I’m calling my current work on as I continue to tackle the general problem I’ve been working on in one shape or other for the past six years. At this point, I’m not looking for collaborators as I’m still working through the basic concepts on my own. But if you’re a developer and you want to start playing with some of the code, please do. Although it would probably be a more useful introduction to the space if you take the Kappa Architecture Workshop and the Learn Crypto Workshop (find my work files here), start hanging out in the Dat chat room, exploring the Dat project, checking out the Dat blog and reading through the excellent documentation and reference material.

      We’re at the very beginning of the Peer Web (PC 2.0) era. I saw yesterday that my blog, which is also available over Dat (use Beaker Browser to view that link), is currently the most popular Dat site on the Internet. Out of the ten that the researcher was able to find by scouring the top 2.4 million domains, that is. And Ind.ie’s web site (dat link) is the third most popular. That tells you just how nascent this all is. If you want to help write the next chapter of the Internet, now is the time to pick up your quills and join us in hyperspace.

    • Distributed web not ready for Runet cutoff from the Internet

      Russia is preparing a nation-wide experiment where the whole country temporarily disconnects from the global Internet to see if the country can rely on Runet alone. The effort is supposed to help Russia prepare for potential digital warfare against the nation, but some analysts are also speculating whether this is the first step towards deploying a nation-spanning censorship machine like “the great firewall of China.”

      This will likely cause major disruption to online services in Russia. However, I’m more interested in looking at how prepared the distributed web is for such a cut off and whether these networks will even remain operational.

      The promise of the distributed web (dweb) is that it will make us less dependent on just a few huge internet infrastructure companies and enable anyone to publish globally available resources.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • 250 million consumers v. Qualcomm: trial in 2019 no longer realistic

      Only two things worked out well for Qualcomm on the litigation front this year: the Lasinski cross-examination and the fact that the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit allowed Qualcomm’s interlocutory appeal of Judge Lucy H. Koh’s certification of a class of up to 250 million consumers suing Qualcomm for a partial refund of what those people paid for their smartphones (seeking $5 billion in total, or roughly $20 on average per person who bought a smartphone in the U.S. during the relevant period, which started in March 2011).

      Other than that, the first month and a half of this year have been a near-total disaster for Qualcomm, especially since its Chinese and German injunctions appear to have been worked around and some of Qualcomm’s offensive cases have recently failed.

    • Case Dismissed: No Standing When Deal Fell Through

      In this recent decision, the Federal Circuit dismissed Momenta’s appeal — finding that the company lacks standing to appeal its loss before the PTAB. The decision stands on fairly controversial grounds and in some tension with Supreme Court jurisprudence on appellate jurisdiction requirements. Still, I suspect it will be cabined-in by its facts and not have a large precedential impact.

      In 2015, Momenta petitioned for inter partes review of US Patent 8,476,239 owned by BMS. The patent covers a particular immunosuppressive formulation sold as ORENCIA . At the time, Momenta was exploring an ORENCIA biosimilar as part of a partnership with Mylan. And, over the years, Momenta has apparently conducted clinical trials on aspects of the product. According to Momenta, during that time the ‘239 patent has been a clear obstacle to the project’s success.

    • Athena Diagnostics, Inc. v. Mayo Collaborative Services, LLC (Fed. Cir. 2019)

      Last week, in Athena Diagnostics, Inc. v. Mayo Collaborative Services, LLC, the Federal Circuit affirmed the decision by the District Court for the District of Massachusetts, holding claims 6-9 of U.S. Patent No. 7,267,820 invalid under 35 U.S.C. § 101. The Federal Circuit also affirmed the District Court’s dismissal under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) of a complaint filed by Athena Diagnostics, Inc., Oxford University Innovation Ltd., and the Max-Planck-Gesellschaft zur Forderung der Wissenschaften E.V. against Mayo Collaborative Services, LLC for infringement of the ’820 patent.

    • NPEs Continue To Leave Their (Land)mark On Small Businesses

      There were 3,447 new patent lawsuits in 2018. Of those, around 35% were filed against SMEs. And of that 35%, around 40% are filed by non-practicing entities (NPEs) like Landmark. That means that, in 2018 alone, there were around 480 patent lawsuits involving an SME being sued by an NPE. Even if we assume that the average expenditure by an SME defendant is $150,000, far less than the cost to take a case through the initial motions phases, that’s still $72,000,000 SMEs will have spent defending against NPE lawsuits—most of which will fail.

      And of course, that ignores the significant number of patent demands which don’t wind up with infringement litigation. By one estimate, around 70% of all patent demands are never litigated, meaning that those 480 lawsuits are likely to represent at least another 1,120 unlitigated demands. And even an unlitigated demand has significant economic impact on a targeted company. Combining our previous conservative estimate of $31,600 per unlitigated demand with the 1,120 additional demands, that’s another $36,000,000. The real total is likely higher, but $108,000,000 is a reasonable lower bound for the negative financial impact on SMEs created by NPEs.

      [...]

      The best estimates show that the AIA and Alice decision have only reduced patent litigation to levels similar to those around the time the AIA passed—they’ve stopped the increase, but haven’t eliminated the problem that already existed. Efforts (like the soon to be re-introduced STRONGER Patents Act) to roll back inter partes review, overturn Alice, or re-institute automatic injunctions would reverse those successful reforms and impose new burdens on all American innovators and businesses ranging from Azure to U.S. Safety to Zillow (another Landmark target, back in 2015.)

    • A burden to bear – a brief comparison of Lyrica and the test for sufficiency in Australia and UK

      Two recent decisions in the UK and Australia in the long-running pregabalin litigations demonstrate the different approaches in these jurisdictions to determine if a patent specification has sufficiently disclosed an invention. Readers will recall that the judgments concerned Warner-Lambert’s Swiss-style claims for the use of the compound pregabalin (marketed as Lyrica) in the treatment of pain.

      On 14 November 2018, the UK Supreme Court handed down its judgment in Warner-Lambert Company LLC (Appellant) v Generics (UK) Ltd t/a Mylan and another (Respondents) [2018] UKSC 56. The Court found that Warner’s Lambert’s claim for a second medical use failed for insufficiency as the relevant patent claims did not meet the threshold for plausibility for the treatment of neuropathic pain of any kind.

      However, on 23 February 2018, the Full Federal Court of Australia (Full Court) in Warner-Lambert Company LLC v Apotex Pty Limited (No 2) [2018] FCAFC 26 had found that the equivalent claim sufficiently disclosed the invention.

      [...]

      The “plausibility” requirement reflects UK case law’s harmonisation with the practice and decisions of European Patent Office (EPO). On the other hand, the Full Court clarified that “classical insufficiency” is the relevant test in Australia.

Links 13/2/2019: Plasma 5.15.0 and a Look at Linux Mint Debian Edition Cindy

Posted in News Roundup at 6:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • 2018 LinuxQuestions.org Members Choice Award Winners

    Desktop Distribution of the Year – Linux Mint (14.93%)
    Server Distribution of the Year – Slackware (25.69%)
    Live Distribution of the Year – antiX (24.70%)
    Database of the Year – MariaDB (44.59%)
    Browser of the Year – Firefox (57.63%)
    Desktop Environment of the Year – Plasma Desktop (KDE) (29.43%)
    Window Manager of the Year – Openbox (24.64%)
    Audio Media Player Application of the Year – VLC (24.10%)
    Digital Audio Workstation of the Year – Ardour (33.33%)
    Video Media Player of the Year – VLC (65.00%)
    Video Authoring Application of the Year – KDEnlive (41.67%)
    Network Security Application of the Year – Wireshark (20.25%)
    Host Security Application of the Year – AppArmor (31.25%)
    Network Monitoring Application of the Year – Nagios XI (30.51%)
    IDE of the Year – Visual Studio Code (19.08%)
    Text Editor of the Year – vim (24.92%)
    File Manager of the Year – Dolphin (25.68%)
    Open Source Game of the Year – SuperTuxKart / 0 A.D. tie (16.51%)
    Programming Language of the Year – Python (32.51%)
    Backup Application of the Year – rsync (43.36%)
    Log Management Tool of the Year – Logwatch (43.75)
    X Terminal Emulator of the Year – Konsole (20.94%)
    Browser Privacy Solution of the Year – uBlock Origin (31.21%)
    Privacy Solution of the Year – GnuPG (27.88%)
    Open Source File Sync Application of the Year – Nextcloud / Syncthing tie (25.93%)
    IRC Client of the Year – HexChat (47.67%)
    Universal Packaging Format of the Year – Appimage (38.89%)
    Single Board Computer of the Year – Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ (58.43%)
    Virtualization Application of the Year – VirtualBox (56.79%)
    Container of the Year – Docker (57.63%)
    Orchestrator of the Year – Kubernetes (74.19%)
    Linux/Open Source Podcast of the Year – GNU World Order (20.00%)
    Secure Messaging Application of the Year – Signal (40.00%)
    Video Messaging Application of the Year – Skype (44.90%)
    Raster Graphics Editor of the Year – GIMP (79.49%)
    Linux Desktop Vendor of the Year – System76 (55.17%)
    Linux Server Vendor of the Year – Dell (32.69%)
    Email Client of the Year – Thunderbird (61.54%)

  • Desktop

    • Run Linux On Windows 10 ARM Laptops With This Open Source Project

      Back in December 2017, Microsoft launched Windows 10 On ARM — a new operating system designed to run Windows 10 on laptops powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon chips. While the computers designed for this version of Windows have failed to make an impact on the market, they’ve surely attracted the attention of the open source community.

      Just recently, I came across a project named aarch64-laptops on GitHub. It’s a result of the desire of some Linux enthusiasts to bring distros like Ubuntu to ARM-running laptops. Currently, the Ubuntu 18.04 LTS images are available for Asus NovaGo TP370QL, HP Envy x2, and Lenovo Mixx 630.

    • Chrome OS 72 brings improved support for Android, Linux apps and more

      Chrome OS 72 is starting to roll out to users with a wealth of changes, including a tablet mode, improvements for Android apps and plenty more.

      For one, Chrome OS 72 brings native Google Assistant and Android Pie to more Chromebooks. Those features initially came with Chrome OS 71 but were limited to the Pixel Slate.

      Speaking of the Slate, it and Chromebooks like it now have access to a tablet mode that should improve usability.

    • Google Outs Chrome OS 72 with Android Improvements, Picture in Picture Support

      Google promoted the Chrome OS 72 operating system to the stable channel, a release that introduces several improvements to make your Chromebook experience better, more secure, and enjoyable.
      The Chrome OS 72 release introduces numerous improvements, especially for dealing with Android files. Among these, we can mention external storage access support for Android apps via /storage dir and MediaStore APIs, and the ability to search app shortcuts for Android apps in the Launcher.

      To find an app shortcut, you need to right-click or long-press on an Android app. Chrome OS 72 also introduces Picture in Picture (PiP) support and touchscreen support in tablet mode for the Chrome web browser, and the ability to view saved Google Drive through from Backup and Sync in the Files app under My Drive/Computers.

  • Server

    • The Modern Software Platform

      This is the first post in an ongoing series which will explore the changes, improvements, and additions we’re planning for the next big release of Red Hat OpenShift, version 4.0. Check in each week for more information that will prepare you for the shift to 4.0.

      From the time the fledgling Kubernetes community met at the Google office in Seattle for our first face-to-face meeting in the fall of 2014, I’ve believed that Kubernetes was a project that would transform how we build and run software. Over the last few years, we’ve seen countless others come around to that point of view (most enthusiastically, some grudgingly). At the same time, the public cloud providers have continued the massive investments in infrastructure and services that make IT and software easier, simpler, and available at a scale that few people anticipated when the decade began.

    • Red Hat CloudForms 4.7 released

      There’s an old, wise IT statement: “Never fix what’s broken.” Of course, there’s an equally true tech management thought, which goes: “You snooze, you lose.” So, trying to satisfy both the tortoises and hares of IT, Red Hat’s newest version of its old-school CloudForms management tool comes ready to integrate with Red Hat’s DevOps program of choice: Ansible Tower.

    • Blog: Building a Kubernetes Edge (Ingress) Control Plane for Envoy v2

      Kubernetes has become the de facto runtime for container-based microservice applications, but this orchestration framework alone does not provide all of the infrastructure necessary for running a distributed system. Microservices typically communicate through Layer 7 protocols such as HTTP, gRPC, or WebSockets, and therefore having the ability to make routing decisions, manipulate protocol metadata, and observe at this layer is vital. However, traditional load balancers and edge proxies have predominantly focused on L3/4 traffic. This is where the Envoy Proxy comes into play.

      Envoy proxy was designed as a universal data plane from the ground-up by the Lyft Engineering team for today’s distributed, L7-centric world, with broad support for L7 protocols, a real-time API for managing its configuration, first-class observability, and high performance within a small memory footprint. However, Envoy’s vast feature set and flexibility of operation also makes its configuration highly complicated – this is evident from looking at its rich but verbose control plane syntax.

      With the open source Ambassador API Gateway, we wanted to tackle the challenge of creating a new control plane that focuses on the use case of deploying Envoy as an forward-facing edge proxy within a Kubernetes cluster, in a way that is idiomatic to Kubernetes operators. In this article, we’ll walk through two major iterations of the Ambassador design, and how we integrated Ambassador with Kubernetes.

    • RIP Dr Peuto, Zilog and Sun’s bright SPARC

      The 16-bit Z8000 was the big brother of the 8-bit Z80, used in the first wave of low cost microcomputers like the Spectrum and TRS80, but had a starring role in its own right. As a 16-bit CPU it powered several Unix systems, including Commodore, Olivetti and Onyx, as well as Zilog’s own System 8000 machines.

      Astonishingly, the ambitious project began in early 1976, long before the personal workstation was a market.

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux 4.20.8

      I’m announcing the release of the 4.20.8 kernel.

      All users of the 4.20 kernel series must upgrade.

      The updated 4.20.y git tree can be found at:
      git://git.kernel.org/pub/scm/linux/kernel/git/stable/linux-stable.git linux-4.20.y
      and can be browsed at the normal kernel.org git web browser:

      http://git.kernel.org/?p=linux/kernel/git/stable/linux-st…

    • Linux 4.19.21
    • Linux 4.14.99
    • Linux 4.9.156
    • Removing Profanity from the Source Tree

      Linus Torvalds recently stepped away from kernel development temporarily in order to think about how to be less harsh with developers in certain situations. Simultaneous with his departure was a patch introducing a new Code of Conduct into the kernel source tree. The effects of this are beginning to be felt.

      Jarkko Sakkinen recently posted a patch to change a kernel comment containing the word “fuck” to use the word “hug” instead. So the code comment, “Wirzenius wrote this portably, Torvalds fucked it up” would become “Wirzenius wrote this portably, Torvalds hugged it up”.

      Steven Rostedt replied to this, saying that the code in question had changed so much that the original comment was out of date, and it should just be removed entirely. He said, “that will be an accurate change with or without CoC.”

      Jonathan Corbet remarked, “I’d much rather see either deletion or a rewrite over bleeping out words that somebody might not like.” And Jiri Kosina agreed, saying, “turning comments into something that often doesn’t make sense to anybody at all is hardly productive.”

      Sergey Senozhatsky pointed out that Linus was the author of the original self-deprecating comment. He asked, “Linus has made a comment, in his own words, about his own code. Why would anyone be offended by this?”

    • Google’s Chrome OS “Wilco” Driver Working Towards Mainline Linux

      For years now Google has been designing their own embedded controller (EC) for use within Chromebooks / Chrome OS devices.

      But after about five years of the “ChromeOS EC” (cros_ec), there is a new embedded controller they have been working on. Coming soon to the mainline Linux tree will be the kernel support for a new ChromeOS “Wilco” Embedded Controller.

      Wilco is Google’s new embedded controller wired up over an eSPI bus. The new driver doesn’t yield much to get excited about, however, but great that Google continues working on their own ECs and they are backed by open-source firmware and first-rate Linux support given their Chrome OS usage.

    • Radeon VII (Vega 20) Firmware Support Lands In Linux-Firmware.Git

      In addition to needing a recent version of the Linux kernel and Mesa (ideally, Linux 5.0 and Mesa 19.0 if enjoying the very best performance and features) for using a Radeon VII graphics card on Linux, you also need to have the necessary firmware binaries manually installed if not using the Radeon Software for Linux driver package. Those firmware bits are now in the linux-firmware.git repository.

    • Queued Linux Patches To Better Track AVX-512, Allowing For More Optimal Task Placement

      After going through several rounds of patch review in recent months, a patch series providing for tracking AVX-512 usage of tasks and exporting it to user-space is poised to be part of the upcoming Linux 5.1 kernel.

      As using complex AVX-512 operations can lead to lower turbo frequencies for those cores, the Linux kernel will be providing better tracking of AVX-512 usage of tasks that is readable by user-space for programs doing their own task placement. If keeping AVX-512 usage to particular core(s) and not intermixing them with non-AVX tasks, better performance can be achievable due to the differing turbo frequencies of CPUs when running Advanced Vector Extensions.

    • Qualcomm FastRPC Driver Going Mainline For Offloading Tasks To The DSP

      The latest Qualcomm driver working its way to the mainline Linux kernel is the FastRPC driver and should arrive with Linux 5.1.

      FastRPC is an in-kernel IPC mechanism for clients to make remote method invocations across DSP/APPS boundaries. The intent of Qualcomm FastRPC is allowing tasks to be easily offloading to the DSP hardware, such as easily punting work from the Snapdragon processor to the Qualcomm Hexagon on capable SoCs.

    • Benchmarks

      • GCC 8/9 vs. LLVM Clang 7/8 Compiler Performance On AArch64

        With Clang 8.0 due out by month’s end and GCC 9 due for release not long after that point, this week we’ve been running a number of GCC and Clang compiler benchmarks on Phoronix. At the start of the month was the large Linux x86_64 GCC vs. Clang compiler benchmarks on twelve different Intel/AMD systems while last week was also a look at the POWER9 compiler performance on the Raptor Talos II. In this article we are checking out these open-source compilers’ performance on 64-bit ARM (AArch64) using an Ampere eMAG 32-core server.

  • Applications

    • Better Bluetooth sound quality on Linux

      Over a year ago I got my first serious Bluetooth headphones. They worked with Fedora well, they paired, connected, sound was directed to them. Just the sound quality was not overwhelming. I learnt that because of limited bandwidth of Bluetooth a codec with audio compression has to be used. There are quite a few of them to pick from: AAC (very widely supported because it’s the only one iPhone supports, partly freely available), AptX (also very widely supported, but proprietary), AptX-HD (enhanced AptX with a higher bitrate, also proprietary), LDAC (probably the best codec available, highest bitrate, available in Android, supported mostly by Sony devices), MP3 (also possible, but supported by virtually no devices). And also SBC which is a native Bluetooth, first generation compression codec with rather bad sound quality.

      My headphones supported SBC, AAC, AptX, AptX-HD, LDAC, so all the advanced codecs. Sadly on Linux it fallbacked to the basic SBC because no other was available for Bluetooth, and headphones for €200 produced rather underwhelming sound. I mostly listen to music on Spotify. Listening to it on my headphones meant transcoding OGG 320 kbps to SBC and losing a lot of sound quality.

    • PulseAudio Plugin Allows For Better Bluetooth Audio Quality On Linux

      Right now on most Linux distributions when using higher-end Bluetooth headphones, the low-end SBC audio codec ends up being utilized by default which is subpar for the potential audio quality of the more expensive headphones. Fortunately, there are PulseAudio modules that allow for the higher-end codecs to be used.

      The low-complexity sub-band codec “SBC” is what ends up being used by default as it’s native to Bluetooth and not proprietary or encumbered by patents. But newer headphones on the premium end of the spectrum also support LDAC, AptX-HD, and others with higher bit-rates yielding better audio quality.

    • Top 10 Best Linux Media Server Software

      Did someone tell you that Linux is just for programmers? That is so wrong! You have got a lot of great tools for digital artists, writers and musicians.

      We have covered such tools in the past. Today it’s going to be slightly different. Instead of creating new digital content, let’s talk about consuming it.

      You have probably heard of media servers? Basically these software (and sometimes gadgets) allow you to view your local or cloud media (music, videos etc) in an intuitive interface. You can even use it to stream the content to other devices on your network. Sort of your personal Netflix.

    • Skrooge 2.18.0 released

      The Skrooge Team announces the release 2.18.0 version of its popular Personal Finances Manager based on KDE Frameworks.

    • Essential System Tools: QJournalctl – Graphical User Interface for systemd’s journalctl

      This is the latest in our series of articles highlighting essential system tools. These are small, indispensable utilities, useful for system administrators as well as regular users of Linux based systems. The series examines both graphical and text based open source utilities. For this article, we’ll look at QJournalctl, a Qt-based Graphical User Interface for systemd’s journalctl command. For details of all tools in this series, please check the table at the summary page of this article.

      For many years system and kernel logs were handled by a utility called syslogd. Most Linux-based operating systems have since moved to systemd, which has a journal. It’s a giant log file for the whole system. Various software and services write their log entries into systemd’s journalctl. To view the output, there’s the command-line journalctl utility.

      journalctl is a systemd utility. If your system doesn’t use systemd, you’ll have little interest in this utility. But given most popular Linux distros have adopted systemd, it’s likely you’ll need journalctl at one stage or another. It’s common sense to understand the system you’re running, and this utility will help you in this process.

    • BleachBit 2.1 Beta

      Designed for Linux and Windows systems, it wipes clean thousands of applications including Firefox, Internet Explorer, Adobe Flash, Google Chrome, Opera, Safari, and more. Beyond simply deleting files, BleachBit includes advanced features such as shredding files to prevent recovery, wiping free disk space to hide traces of files deleted by other applications, and vacuuming Firefox to make it faster. Better than free, BleachBit is open source.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Games

      • 6 Months With Linux: The Ugly Truth About Gaming Without Windows

        While I admire the work developers are doing to create open source driver solutions, no gamer in their right mind would want to use Nouveau instead of Nvidia’s proprietary driver. And Nouveau doesn’t have Vulkan support, which rules out a considerable number of games with Steam Proton and Lutris.

        This means Nvidia gamers need to install the proprietary driver. Fortunately, Linux distributions like Pop!_OS, Ubuntu and Mint made this a straightforward process. But is it?

      • Suffered crashes in CS:GO Danger Zone? They should now be fixed on Linux

        Valve has finally fixed the issue in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Danger Zone crashing for Linux gamers.

      • Wraithslayer looks like a pretty fun boss battle game, coming soon

        Wraithslayer could be an interesting one, a back to basics 2D action boss battler that’s releasing soon.

      • Unreal Engine 4.22 Preview 1 now available

        Unreal Engine 4.22 will be releasing soon with a number of fixes and updates. In the meantime, the first Preview is now available for download from the Epic Games launcher.

        Preview 1 includes support for real-time ray tracing, Editor Utility Widgets, Blueprint indexing optimizations, virtual production updates, Oculus Quest support and the Unreal Audio Engine is now on by default for new projects.

        A full list of the upcoming changes to this build are available on the Unreal Engine forums. We invite you to provide feedback on Preview 1, and all subsequent releases. Please keep in mind that Preview releases are intended only to provide a sample of what is going to be released in the update and are not production-ready.

      • Unreal Engine 4.22 Preview 1 Released With Real-Time Ray-Tracing

        Unreal Engine 4.21 back in November was a big update for Linux gamers in that this game engine now defaults to the Vulkan renderer and also had various other fixes. With today’s Unreal Engine 4.22 Preview 1 release, there are no Linux/Vulkan-specific changes mentioned, but some other interesting changes in general.

        The release notes as of Unreal Engine 4.22 Preview 1 don’t indicate any Vulkan or Linux focused changes, but aside from that there is some interesting changes. Arguably most interesting is having experimental support for real-time ray-tracing and path tracing though sadly that’s limited for now to Direct3D 12 with DXR and not yet any Vulkan ray-tracing support.

      • Warhammer 40,000: Mechanicus officially released for Linux, more content on the way

        Bulwark Studios and Kasedo Games have officially released Warhammer 40,000: Mechanicus for Linux after having a ‘soft launch’ in December last year.

      • The Humble Great GameMaker Games Bundle is out with some sweet Linux games

        It’s almost midweek, time to refresh that gaming collection of yours with The Humble Great GameMaker Games Bundle that has some Linux games available.

      • Fun platformer ‘Million to One Hero’ where you can make your own adventures is releasing soon

        Million to One Hero from Spanish developer Over the Top Games seems like a very promising platformer and they’ve announced the release is this month.

        We previously highlighted the game earlier this month, at that time they did not have a release date available. They’ve since announced that it’s going to be available on Linux right at release, which will be on February 27th.

      • Barotrauma, a co-op submarine adventure set on Jupiter’s moon Europa is promising, has a demo

        For those after a more sci-fi take on the co-op submarine adventure, Barotrauma seems like it could be quite fun.

        Currently in a closed-beta before an Early Access release on Steam, you can actually grab an earlier version direct from their website here. They’re not taking on any more for the closed-beta, so the demo should still give a small glimpse into what’s possible.

      • JUMPGRID is a fantastic 2D dodge-em-up that will give your fingers a workout

        Did you enjoy Super Hexagon? JUMPGRID is a brand new dodge-em-up with simple and addictive gameplay. Note: Key provided by the developer.

      • Moving the player object in Pygame

        In the last chapter we have created the animation effect for the player object and in this chapter, we will move the player object in the x-axis. We will leave the wall and boundary collision detection mechanism to the next chapter. In the last chapter we have already linked up the keyboard events with the game manager class and in this chapter, we only need a slight modification to move the player across the scene when the left or the right arrow key has been pressed. One of the problems with the pygame event module is that we need to activate the repeated event detection process by our-self with this single line of code before the module can send the repeated keypress event (which means when someone is holding the same key on the keyboard) to us.

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Plasma 5.15.0

        Today KDE launches the first stable release of Plasma in 2019: Say hello to Plasma 5.15.

        For the first production release of 2019, the Plasma team has embraced KDE’s Usability & Productivity goal and has been working on hunting down and removing all the papercuts that slow you down.

        With this in mind, we teamed up with the VDG (Visual Design Group) contributors to get feedback on all the annoying problems in our software, and fixed them to ensure an intuitive and consistent workflow for your daily use.

        Plasma 5.15 brings a number of changes to the configuration interfaces, including more options for complex network configurations. Many icons have been added or redesigned to make them clearer. Integration with third-party technologies like GTK and Firefox has been improved substantially.

        Discover, Plasma’s software and add-on installer, has received tonnes of improvements to help you stay up-to-date and find the tools you need to get your tasks done.

      • KDE releases a new version of the Plasma desktop environment

        Say hello to Plasma 5.15, the newest version of KDE’s acclaimed desktop environment.

        This February release of KDE Plasma comes with a wide range of new features and improvements. The main focus of developers has been stamping out all minor problems and papercuts of the desktop, aiming to make Plasma smoother and easier to use.

        Plasma’s configuration interfaces have been redesigned, expanded and clarified to cover more user cases and make it simpler to adapt Plasma to everybody’s needs. Plasma has also improved the integration of non-native applications, so Firefox, for example, can now optionally use native KDE open/save dialogs. Likewise, GTK and GNOME apps now respect the global scale factor used by high-DPI screens.

      • KDE Plasma 5.15 Desktop Environment Officially Released, Here’s What’s New

        Six months in development, the KDE Plasma 5.15 desktop environment comes with a lot of changes to make your Plasma experience more enjoyable. These include various refinements to the configuration interfaces, new options for complex network configurations, redesigned icons, improved integration with third-party technologies and apps, and a much-improved Discover package manager.

        “For the first production release of 2019, the Plasma team has embraced KDE’s Usability & Productivity goal and has been working on hunting down and removing all the papercuts that slow you down,” reads today’s announcement. “With this in mind, we teamed up with the VDG (Visual Design Group) contributors to get feedback on all the annoying problems in our software, and fixed them to ensure an intuitive and consistent workflow for your daily use.”

      • KDE Plasma 5.15 Released With Wayland Improvements, Fixes To “Annoying Problems”

        The KDE community is out with their first big update to the Plasma desktop for 2019.

        Plasma 5.15 is a big update for KDE and among the many changes include:

        - Many Wayland improvements. There is support for more Wayland protocols, support for Wayland virtual desktops, and touch drag-and-drop support.

  • Distributions

    • Screenshots/Screencasts

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • Engaging the openSUSE community

        And that the openSUSE community should have a better ‘Marketing strategy’ (for the lack of a better term) to make the Contributor Journey a smoother experience. To try to get the roadblocks out of the way for the people that want to be informed or be involved. It is an area where I could see myself contributing to in the future.

    • Debian Family

      • Reproducible Builds: Weekly report #198
      • Markus Koschany: My Free Software Activities in January 2019

        Welcome to gambaru.de. Here is my monthly report that covers what I have been doing for Debian. If you’re interested in Java, Games and LTS topics, this might be interesting for you.

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Nautilus Exif, PDF And Audio Metadata Tag Columns Extension For Ubuntu

            These metadata tags added by the Nautilus Columns extension are not only useful for a quickly look at some particular audio, pdf or image information from the Nautilus list view, but also to sort some files by a particular metadata tag column to easily identify the files you’re looking for.

            Nautilus Columns is currently maintained by Spanish blogger Atareao, and it only supports English, Spanish and Galician languages.

            Judging from the extension code, it’s also supposed to support some video formats as well, but no information was shown for such files on my Ubuntu 18.10 desktop, so it probably needs some fixes in this area. Audio, PDF and Exif metadata was displayed with no issues on my Ubuntu 18.10 desktop.

          • Ubuntu Developers Seem To Be Really Pursuing ZFS Root Partition Support On The Desktop

            Earlier this month I reported on how Ubuntu developers indicated they were looking at ZFS support on the desktop as part of their work developing the new Ubuntu desktop installer GUI. It’s quite clear now that they are indeed pursuing the work to allow Ubuntu desktop installs via their work-in-progress installer to support ZFS root installations.

            As outlined in the aforelinked article, the developers indicated they were looking at “zfs on the desktop” after they had already been supporting ZFS as a standard offering for Ubuntu servers for a while and making the ZFS On Linux packages readily available. But their current Ubuntu desktop “Ubiquity” installer doesn’t allow easily setting up a ZFS root partition with this out-of-tree file-system support.

          • Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter Issue 565
          • Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter Issue 565
  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • No, you can’t take open-source code back

    Some people are still unclear about what it means or what happens once they’ve published their program under an open-source license. In the most recent example, mikeeusa, the author of an obscure game called GPC-Slots 2, claimed he was rescinding the program’s GPLv2 license from some people and “from anyone who adds a ‘Code of Conduct’ anywhere near my code (to ‘fight sexism’.).”

    While this specific case doesn’t really matter — the text-based casino game hasn’t been updated in over a decade and appears to have no players — the issue of whether one can block users from using code once it’s been placed under the GPLv2 bothered enough people that it’s been one of the hottest stories on the Linux Kernel Mailing List (LKML) for over a week.

  • What Return of the Jedi taught me about open leadership

    No matter where you are in an organization, you can benefit from observing others and learning from them. We can all learn lessons from someone else.

    I like to look for leadership lessons wherever I go. Sometimes I learn a few tips on public speaking by watching a skilled presenter. Or I’ll learn how to improve my meeting management style by reflecting on meetings that go well.

  • Is your enterprise’s open source strategy risky?

    Accurately evaluating this risk means developing a thorough understanding of an open source solution’s licensing terms, the health of its ecosystem, and the business models of the commercial organisations attached to the solution.

  • Events

    • CIB visiting FOSDEM 2019

      A new edition of FOSDEM (Free and Open source Software Developers‘ European Meeting) just ended. Our CIB LibreOffice team this year was represented by Thorsten Behrens, Michael Stahl and Marina Latini.

      The event is held annually during the first weekend of February, at the „Université Libre de Bruxelles„. For our team, attending FOSDEM means to be involved in a full week of meetings and collateral events related to LibreOffice and other open source communities.

    • Cloud Foundry Building the Future

      Whether you’re a contributor or committer building the platform, or you’re using the platform to attain your business goals, Cloud Foundry North America Summit is where developers, operators, CIOs and other IT professionals go to share best practices and innovate together.

    • Linux Kernel Maintainer Summit

      The Linux Kernel Maintainer Summit brings together the world’s leading core kernel developers to discuss the state of the existing kernel and plan the next development cycle. This is an invite-only event.

      Linux Kernel Summit technical tracks are offered at Linux Plumbers Conference 2019 and are open to all LPC attendees. More information, including how to register, will be available in the coming months.

    • Announcing the first round of Red Hat Summit keynotes

      For the past 14 years, Red Hat Summit has delivered inspirational, educational and actionable content, industry-shaping news, and innovative practices from customers and partners from around the world and across industries. As we prepare for Red Hat Summit 2019, we wanted to share some of the exciting keynotes you can expect from our main stage.

      Attendees will hear keynotes on the future of enterprise technology from several Red Hat leaders including: Jim Whitehurst, president and CEO; Paul Cormier, president of Products and Technologies; DeLisa Alexander, executive vice president and chief people officer; Chris Wright, vice president and chief technology officer; and Stefanie Chiras, vice president and general manager, Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

  • Web Browsers

    • Best web browser: Chrome, Edge, Firefox, and Opera go head-to-head

      Let’s take a look at the four major browsers (including Edge) to see how they stack up in early 2019. You might be surprised to find that our favorite overall this year is Opera. Read on to find out why.

    • Mozilla

      • Making the Building of Firefox Faster for You with Clever-Commit from Ubisoft

        Firefox fights for people online: for control and choice, for privacy, for safety. We do this because it is our mission to keep the web open and accessible to all. No other tech company has people’s back like we do.

        Part of keeping you covered is ensuring that our Firefox browser and the other tools and services we offer are running at top performance. When we make an update, or add a new feature the experience should be as seamless and smooth as possible for the user. That’s why Mozilla just partnered with Ubisoft to start using Clever-Commit, an Artificial Intelligence coding assistant developed by Ubisoft La Forge that will make the Firefox code-writing process faster and more efficient. Thanks to Clever-Commit, Firefox users will get to use even more stable versions of Firefox and have even better browsing experiences.

      • Jingle Smash: Choosing a Physics Engine

        The key to a physics based game like Jingle Smash is of course the physics engine. In the Javascript world there are many to choose from. My requirements were for fully 3D collision simulation, working with ThreeJS, and being fairly easy to use. This narrowed it down to CannonJS, AmmoJS, and Oimo.js: I chose to use the CannonJS engine because AmmoJS was a compiled port of a C lib and I worried would be harder to debug, and Oimo appeared to be abandoned (though there was a recent commit so maybe not?).

      • Retailers: All We Want for Valentine’s Day is Basic Security

        This has been the case with smart dolls, webcams, doorbells, and countless other devices. And the consequences can be life threatening: “Internet-connected locks, speakers, thermostats, lights and cameras that have been marketed as the newest conveniences are now also being used as a means for harassment, monitoring, revenge and control,” the New York Times reported last year. Compounding this: It is estimated that by 2020, 10 billion IoT products will be active.

        Last year, in an effort to make connected devices on the market safer for consumers, Mozilla, the Internet Society, and Consumers International published our Minimum Security Guidelines: the five basic features we believe all connected devices should have. They include encrypted communications; automatic updates; strong password requirements; vulnerability management; and an accessible privacy policy.

      • Anyone can create a virtual reality experience with this new WebVR starter kit from Mozilla and Glitch

        Here at Mozilla, we are big fans of Glitch. In early 2017 we made the decision to host our A-Frame content on their platform. The decision was easy. Glitch makes it easy to explore, and remix live code examples for WebVR.

        We also love the people behind Glitch. They have created a culture and a community that is kind, encouraging, and champions creativity. We share their vision for a web that is creative, personal, and human. The ability to deliver immersive experiences through the browser opens a whole new avenue for creativity. It allows us to move beyond screens, and keyboards. It is exciting, and new, and sometimes a bit weird (but in a good way).

        Building a virtual reality experience may seem daunting, but it really isn’t. WebVR and frameworks like A-Frame make it really easy to get started. This is why we worked with Glitch to create a WebVR starter kit. It is a free, 5-part video course with interactive code examples that will teach you the fundamentals of WebVR using A-Frame. Our hope is that this starter kit will encourage anyone who has been on the fence about creating virtual reality experiences to dive in and get started.

  • LibreOffice

    • Tabbed Toolbar waste vertical space

      With default settings the standard toolbar need 110 px vertical space (menubar + 2 toolbar height), tabbed toolbar need 100 px and Groupedbar compact 72 px. So the default toolbare need most vertical space.

  • CMS

    • Drupal 6 – Security Support Continued

      Believe it or not, I just upgraded my old Drupal 6 instances serving e.g. my blog [1] to Drupal 6 LTS v6.49.

      Thanks a lot to Elliot Christenson for continuing Drupal 6 security support.

  • Funding

    • Paying money for things

      Sometimes it’s hard to make money from software. How do you make money from something that can be copied infinitely?

      Right now there are 3 software tools that I pay for. Each one is supplied by a small company, and each one charges a monthly or annual fee. I prefer software with this business model because it creates an incentive for careful, ongoing maintenance and improvement. The alternative (pay a large fee, once) encourages a model that is more like “add many new features, sell the new version and then move onto something else”.

    • Here’s why investors are throwing money at startups that give away their software for free

      OSS Capital founder Joseph Jacks, whose venture capital firm focuses on open source startups, reckons that there was roughly $70 billion in mergers and acquisitions, private equity and IPOs involving open source last year. And he estimates that there’s been another $2 billion in funding for commercial open source startups in the past year, as startups like Confluent, Neo4j, HashiCorp and GitLab raised money.

  • BSD

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • FSFE Newsletter – February 2019

      This month’s Newsletter is introducing our new expert policy brochure “Public Money? Public Code” and reflecting the importance of source code availability for trust and securitys…

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Data

      • EU’s New ‘Open By Default’ Rules For Data Generated By Public Funding Subverted At The Last Minute

        In December last year, the European Parliament proposed a version of the text that would require researchers in receipt of public funding to publish their data for anyone to re-use. However, some companies and academics were unhappy with this “open by default” approach. They issued a statement calling for research data to be “as open as possible, as closed as necessary”, which would include some carve-outs.

        According to Science|Business, that view has prevailed in the final text, which is not yet publicly available. It is now apparently permissible for companies and academics to invoke “confidentiality” and “legitimate commercial interests” as reasons for not releasing publicly-funded data. Clearly, that’s a huge loophole that could easily be abused by organizations to hoard results. If companies and academic institutions aren’t willing to share the fruits of their research as open data, there’s a very simple solution: don’t take public money. Sadly, that fair and simple approach seems not to be a part of the otherwise welcome revised PSI Directive.

  • Programming/Development

    • Next C++ workshop: Recursion (14 February at 19:00 UTC)

      Improve your C++ skills with the help of LibreOffice developers! We’re running regular workshops which focus on a specific topic, and are accompanied by a real-time IRC meeting. For the next one, the topics is recursion. Start by watching this presentation:

    • IBM Is Looking At Adding AIX Support To LLVM / Clang

      While IBM has their own in-house XL C/C++ compiler for their AIX operating system and GCC is also supported there too, IBM engineers are looking at adding AIX support to LLVM/Clang.

      As a move that’s “about time”, IBM engineers are looking at adding support for LLVM and the Clang C/C++ compiler to their AIX operating system. Besides having another C/C++ compiler option, having LLVM working on AIX will open more code to running on AIX given the growing number of open and closed-source systems leveraging the LLVM compiler stack.

    • Django bugfix release: 2.0.13
    • Python, For The love of It – part 2
    • small stuff about python3 print()
    • Introducing Cloud Playground: Even More Hands-On Training Features
    • Algorithms != Programs and Programs are not “One size fits all”
    • Return the list of the number and its power with python
    • PyPy 7 speeds up Python 2.7, Python 3.5, and Python 3.6 alik

      PyPy, the Python runtime that uses just-in-time compilation to achieve major performance improvements over the stock CPython distribution, is now available in version 7.0 releases supporting Python 2.7, Python 3.5, and Python 3.6.
      According to a post on the official PyPy Status Blog, all three versions use “much the same codebase, thus the triple release.” The Python 3.6 interpreter is “the first official release of PyPy to support Python 3.6 features, although it is still considered alpha quality.” Most of the improvements to PyPy over the last release involve memory management and interfacing with external C code built for Python.
      CPython provides programmatic hooks into its garbage collection subsystem. PyPy 7 goes a step further, running the garbage collector in incremental steps to prevent the garbage collection process from bringing programs to a halt for too long.

    • PyCon: Hatchery programs at PyCon 2019!

      The PyCon Hatchery program was introduced last year to allow for the addition to PyCon of new tracks, summits, demos, or any other imaginable events which share and fulfill the mission of the Python Software Foundation.

      The Hatchery program was first run as a trial in 2018, welcoming the PyCon Charlas as it’s inaugural program. This year we are happy to have built upon that trial and are delighted to have received so many proposals and to have accepted many more events!

    • The day you start to use rc builds in production – Kafka 2.1.1 edition

      tl;dr If you want to run Kafka 2.x use 2.1.1rc1 or later.

      So someone started to update from Kafka 1.1.1 to 2.1.0 yesterday and it kept crashing every other hour. It pretty much looks like https://issues.apache.org/jira/browse/KAFKA-7697, so we’re now trying out 2.1.1rc1 because we missed the rc2 at http://home.apache.org/~cmccabe/kafka-2.1.1-rc2/. So ideally you go with rc2 which has a few more fixes for unrelated issues.

    • Mike Driscoll: Creating a Calculator with wxPython

      A lot of beginner tutorials start with “Hello World” examples. There are plenty of websites that use a calculator application as a kind of “Hello World” for GUI beginners. Calculators are a good way to learn because they have a set of widgets that you need to lay out in an orderly fashion. They also require a certain amount of logic to make them work correctly.

    • Downloading Files using Python (Simple Examples)

      Also, you will learn how to overcome many challenges that you may counter such as downloading files that redirects, downloading large files, multithreaded download, and other tactics.

    • Hypha Spike: Persistence 1

      2019/02/12: This is a Work In Progress (WIP). I will be live-updating this post as I work on the spike. If you want to get streaming updates without having to refresh your browser, open the DAT version in Beaker Browser and toggle the live reloading feature. Please feel free to talk to me about this on the fediverse as I work on it, perhaps via Mastodon.

Leftovers

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Anti-vaxxers plan to subvert changes to vaccination laws

      Eliminating non-medical vaccine exemptions isn’t enough; CA medical exemptions tripled.

    • Study Shows Toxic Pesticide Levels in Families Dropped by 60% After One-Week Organic Diet

      “This study shows that organic works,” said study co-author Kendra Klein, PhD, senior staff scientist at Friends of the Earth. “We all have the right to food that is free of toxic pesticides. Farmers and farmworkers growing our nation’s food and the rural communities they live in have a right not to be exposed to chemicals linked to cancer, autism and infertility. And the way we grow food should protect, not harm, our environment. We urgently need our elected leaders to support our farmers in making healthy organic food available for all.”

      The study tested the urine of four diverse American families in Oakland, Minneapolis, Atlanta, and Baltimore after eating their typical diet of conventional food for six days and then after a controlled diet of all organic food for six days.

    • Can Russian children get vaccinated without their parents’ permission?

      In late January, the writer Andrea Phillips pointed out that children in the United States had been posting frequently on Reddit to ask how they could receive immunizations without their parents’ permission. U.S. law on the matter varies from state to state, but it typically prohibits children under 18 from requesting health care on their own. In some cases, exceptions can be made. For example, some states allow doctors to determine whether they believe a child is mature enough to make decisions about their own treatment.

      English-language media coverage on the issue has been extensive. Much of it has focused on the case of Ethan Lindenberger, an 18-year-old American whose story was first reported by the pop science publication Undark.

  • Security

    • Apple sued because two-factor authentication is inconvenient

      Class-action lawsuit, filed by one Jay Brodsky in California takes issue with the fact that two-factor authentication (2FA) can’t be disabled after two weeks of use, which “imposes an extraneous logging in procedure that requires a user to both remember password; and have access to a trusted device or trusted phone number.” Yep, that’s 2FA alright.

    • Apple being sued because two-factor authentication on an iPhone or Mac takes too much time

      The suit, filed by Jay Brodsky in California alleges that Apple doesn’t get user consent to enable two-factor authentication. Furthermore, once enabled, two-factor authentication “imposes an extraneous logging in procedure that requires a user to both remember password; and have access to a trusted device or trusted phone number” when a device is enabled.

    • 617M Hacked Accounts Up For Sale To Make “Life Easier” For Hackers

      A hacker is selling 617 million stolen accounts online collected from 16 popular websites on Dream Market Cybersouk which can be accessed on the Tor network.

      As reported by The Register, the data can be purchased for less than $20,000 Bitcoin and comprises of account holder names, passwords, and email IDs. Buyers need to crack the hashed, one-way encrypted passwords before using them.

    • 620 million accounts stolen from 16 hacked websites now for sale on dark web, seller boasts

      Some 617 million online account details stolen from 16 hacked websites are on sale from today on the dark web, according to the data trove’s seller.

      For less than $20,000 in Bitcoin, it is claimed, the following pilfered account databases can be purchased from the Dream Market cyber-souk, located in the Tor network:

      Dubsmash (162 million), MyFitnessPal (151 million), MyHeritage (92 million), ShareThis (41 million), HauteLook (28 million), Animoto (25 million), EyeEm (22 million), 8fit (20 million), Whitepages (18 million), Fotolog (16 million), 500px (15 million), Armor Games (11 million), BookMate (8 million), CoffeeMeetsBagel (6 million), Artsy (1 million), and DataCamp (700,000).

      Sample account records from the multi-gigabyte databases seen by The Register appear to be legit: they consist mainly of account holder names, email addresses, and passwords. These passwords are hashed, or one-way encrypted, and must therefore be cracked before they can be used.

    • Researchers Warn of Malicious Container Escape Vulnerability

      A new serious vulnerability in container technology was publicly reported on Feb. 11, one that could potentially enable an attacker to gain unauthorized access to the host operating system.

      Container technology led by the Docker engine has become increasingly popular in recent years as a way to build and deploy applications into isolated segments, on top of a server operating system. At the core of the modern container technology stack is a low-level component known as runc, which spawns and runs containers. The new CVE-2019-5736 vulnerability is a flaw in runc that could enable a malicious container to escape the confines of its isolated process segment.

    • PyPy v7.0.0, Vulernability Affecting runc and Container Technologies, Ubuntu for ARM-based Windows Laptops, antiX MX v18.1

      A vulnerability was just discovered (CVE-2019-5736) affecting runc and the management of container technologies which include Docker, cri-o, containerd, Kubernetes, etc. Learn more about this security hole and the ways it is being patched here.

    • Container Bug Allows Attackers to Gain Root Access on Host Machine
    • Apple acknowledges UCR grad student for locating flaws in OS security, receives international recognition
    • How to Protect Sensitive Financial Data from Ransomware with Next-Gen Cloud Infrastructure
    • Container Escape Flaw Hits AWS, Google Cloud, Linux Distros

      A vulnerability recently addressed in runc could allow malicious containers to gain root-level code execution on the host.

      Introduced in 2015, runc is a lightweight, portable container runtime that includes all of the code used by Docker to interact with system features related to containers. The runtime is used in most containers out there, including cri-o, containerd, Kubernetes, Podman, and others.

    • CVE-2019-5736: runc container breakout

      Hello,

      I am one of the maintainers of runc (the underlying container runtime
      underneath Docker, cri-o, containerd, Kubernetes, and so on). We
      recently had a vulnerability reported which we have verified and have a
      patch for.

      The researchers who found this vulnerability are:
      * Adam Iwaniuk
      * Borys Popławski

      In addition, Aleksa Sarai (me) discovered that LXC was also vulnerable
      to a more convoluted version of this flaw.

      == OVERVIEW ==

      The vulnerability allows a malicious container to (with minimal user
      interaction) overwrite the host runc binary and thus gain root-level
      code execution on the host. The level of user interaction is being able
      to run any command (it doesn’t matter if the command is not
      attacker-controlled) as root within a container in either of these
      contexts:

      * Creating a new container using an attacker-controlled image.
      * Attaching (docker exec) into an existing container which the
      attacker had previous write access to.

      This vulnerability is *not* blocked by the default AppArmor policy, nor
      by the default SELinux policy on Fedora[++] (because container processes
      appear to be running as container_runtime_t). However, it *is* blocked
      through correct use of user namespaces (where the host root is not
      mapped into the container’s user namespace).

      Our CVSSv3 vector is (with a score of 7.2):

      AV:L/AC:H/PR:L/UI:R/S:C/C:N/I:H/A:H

      The assigned CVE for this issue is CVE-2019-5736.

      [++]: This is only the case for the “moby-engine” package on Fedora. The
      “docker” package as well as podman are protected against this
      exploit because they run container processes as container_t.

      == PATCHES ==

      I have attached the relevant patch which fixes this issue. This patch is
      based on HEAD, but the code in libcontainer/nsenter/ changes so
      infrequently that it should apply cleanly to any old version of the runc
      codebase you are dealing with.

      Please note that the patch I have pushed to runc master[1] is a modified
      version of this patch — even though it is functionally identical
      (though we would recommend using the upstream one if you haven’t patched
      using the attached one already).

      == NON-ESSENTIAL EXPLOIT CODE ==

      Several vendors have asked for exploit code to ensure that the patches
      actually solve the issue. Due to the severity of the issue (especially
      for public cloud vendors), we decided to provide the attached exploit
      code. This exploit code was written by me, and is more generic than the
      original exploit code provided by the researchers and works against LXC
      (it could likely be used on other vulnerable runtimes with no
      significant modification). Details on how to use the exploit code are
      provided in the README.

      As per OpenWall rules, this exploit code will be published *publicly* 7
      days after the CRD (which is 2019-02-18). *If you have a container
      runtime, please verify that you are not vulnerable to this issue
      beforehand.*

      == IMPACT ON OTHER PROJECTS ==

      It should be noted that upon further investigation I’ve discovered that
      LXC has a similar vulnerability, and they have also pushed a similar
      patch[2] which we co-developed. LXC is a bit harder to exploit, but the
      same fundamental flaw exists.

      After some discussion with the systemd-nspawn folks, it appears that
      they aren’t vulnerable (because their method of attaching to a container
      uses a different method to LXC and runc).

      I have been contacted by folks from Apache Mesos who said they were also
      vulnerable (I believe just using the exploit code that will be
      provided). It is quite likely that most container runtimes are
      vulnerable to this flaw, unless they took very strange mitigations
      before-hand.

      == OTHER NEWS ==

      We have set up an announcement list for future security vulnerabilities,
      and you can see the process for joining here[3] (it’s based on the
      Kubernetes security-announce mailing list). Please join if you
      distribute any container runtimes that depend on runc (or other OCI
      projects).

      [1]: https://github.com/opencontainers/runc/commit/0a8e4117e7f…
      [2]: https://github.com/lxc/lxc/commit/6400238d08cdf1ca20d49ba…
      [3]: https://github.com/opencontainers/org/blob/master/securit…


      Aleksa Sarai

    • Linux container bug could eat your server from the inside – patch now!

      If you’re a fan of retro gaming, you’ve probably used an emulator, which is a software program that runs on computer hardware of one sort, and pretends to be a computer system of its own, possibly of a completely different sort.

      That’s how your latest-model Mac, which has an Intel x64 CPU, can run original, unaltered software that was written for a computer such as the Apple ][ or the Nintendo GameBoy.

      One advantage of emulators is that even though the running program thinks it’s running exactly as it would in real life, it isn’t – everything it does is controlled, instrumented, regimented and mitigated by the emulator software.

    • Latest Linux Crypto-Mining Malware Terminates Other Malicious Miners on Installation [Ed: The issue here isn't "Linux" but machines already compromised by something else]
    • Security updates for Tuesday
  • Defence/Aggression

    • Facts Don’t Interfere With Propaganda Blitz Against Venezuela’s Elected President

      The Miami Herald (2/8/19) reported, “Venezuelan leader Nicolás Maduro continues to reject international aid—going so far as to blockade a road that might have been used for its delivery.“

      The “Venezuelan leader” reporter Jim Wyss referred to is Venezuela’s elected president. In contrast, Wyss referred to Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s “interim president.”

      Guaidó, anointed by Trump and a new Iraq-style Coalition of the Willing, did not even run in Venezuela’s May 2018 presidential election. In fact, shortly before the election, Guaidó was not even mentioned by the opposition-aligned pollster Datanálisis when it published approval ratings of various prominent opposition leaders. Henri Falcón, who actually did run in the election (defying US threats against him) was claimed by the pollster to basically be in a statistical tie for most popular among them. It is remarkable to see the Western media dismiss this election as “fraudulent,” without even attempting to show that it was “stolen“ from Falcón. Perhaps that’s because it so clearly wasn’t stolen.

    • Why Does the United States of America Want to Overthrow the Government of Venezuela?

      Since 1998, the United States of America has tried to overthrow the government of Venezuela. What threatened the government of the United States since then was the Bolivarian dynamic set in motion by the election of Hugo Chávez as president of Venezuela that year. Chávez won the elections with a mandate from Venezuela’s workers and poor to overhaul the country to tend to their long-neglected needs.

      Venezuela, with the world’s largest proven oil reserves, had enriched the U.S.-based oil companies and its own oligarchy. Venezuela’s key oil minister in the early 1960s (and architect of OPEC—the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) Juan Pablo Pérez Alfonso rightly called oil the “devil’s excrement.” It promised so much and delivered so little. Chávez arrived as the embodiment of popular hope. He threatened the oil companies and the oligarchy, which is why the United States tried to overthrow him.

      The first attempt at a coup came in 2002, when the United States egged on the military and the oligarchy to overthrow Chávez. They failed. He was supremely popular, the Chavista base eager for change that would improve their lives. They had no faith in the United States or the oligarchy, both of whom had suffocated them for the past century.

      Never has the Monroe Doctrine—which the United States invoked to control the American hemisphere—done much good for the millions of people from the southern tip of Argentina to the northern reaches of Canada. It has helped along the big corporations and the oligarchs, but not the ordinary people—the base of the Chavistas.

    • The Most Dangerous Weapon Ever Rolls Off the Nuclear Assembly Line

      Last month, the National Nuclear Security Administration (formerly the Atomic Energy Commission) announced that the first of a new generation of strategic nuclear weapons had rolled off the assembly line at its Pantex nuclear weapons plant in the panhandle of Texas. That warhead, the W76-2, is designed to be fitted to a submarine-launched Trident missile, a weapon with a range of more than 7,500 miles. By September, an undisclosed number of warheads will be delivered to the Navy for deployment.

      What makes this particular nuke new is the fact that it carries a far smaller destructive payload than the thermonuclear monsters the Trident has been hosting for decades — not the equivalent of about 100 kilotons of TNT as previously, but of five kilotons. According to Stephen Young of the Union of Concerned Scientists, the W76-2 will yield “only” about one-third of the devastating power of the weapon that the Enola Gay, an American B-29 bomber, dropped on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. Yet that very shrinkage of the power to devastate is precisely what makes this nuclear weapon potentially the most dangerous ever manufactured. Fulfilling the Trump administration’s quest for nuclear-war-fighting “flexibility,” it isn’t designed as a deterrent against another country launching its nukes; it’s designed to be used. This is the weapon that could make the previously “unthinkable” thinkable.

      There have long been “low-yield” nuclear weapons in the arsenals of the nuclear powers, including ones on cruise missiles, “air-drop bombs” (carried by planes), and even nuclear artillery shells — weapons designated as “tactical” and intended to be used in the confines of a specific battlefield or in a regional theater of war. The vast majority of them were, however, eliminated in the nuclear arms reductions that followed the end of the Cold War, a scaling-down by both the United States and Russia that would be quietly greeted with relief by battlefield commanders, those actually responsible for the potential use of such ordnance who understood its self-destructive absurdity.

      Ranking some weapons as “low-yield” based on their destructive energy always depended on a distinction that reality made meaningless (once damage from radioactivity and atmospheric fallout was taken into account along with the unlikelihood that only one such weapon would be used). In fact, the elimination of tactical nukes represented a hard-boiled confrontation with the iron law of escalation, another commander’s insight — that any use of such a weapon against a similarly armed adversary would likely ignite an inevitable chain of nuclear escalation whose end point was barely imaginable. One side was never going to take a hit without responding in kind, launching a process that could rapidly spiral toward an apocalyptic exchange. “Limited nuclear war,” in other words, was a fool’s fantasy and gradually came to be universally acknowledged as such. No longer, unfortunately.

    • Not-So-Veiled Threat of War as John Bolton Says Iran May Not Have ‘Many More Anniversaries to Enjoy’

      In video posted to the White House’s official Twitter page on Monday, Bolton echoed false assertions and repeatedly debunked claims by the Trump that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons and described the Iranian government as the “central banker of international terrorism.”

      Responding to Bolton’s video, Sen. Chris Murphy warned in a tweet on Tuesday that Trump’s hawkish national security adviser is knowingly lying to build momentum for a U.S. military attack on Iran.

      “Here Bolton says Iran is seeking nuclear weapons. This simply isn’t true. The intelligence says the opposite and he knows it,” Murphy wrote. “He is laying the groundwork for war and we all must be vigilant.”

    • Senate Committee Grills Navy Official Over 2017 Collisions, Seeking Data to Prove Conditions Have Changed

      A member of the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday called on Navy officials to provide hard data showing they have improved conditions on their ships in the months since two destroyers were involved in back-to-back collisions that left 17 sailors dead.

      The senator, Angus King of Maine, made the demand of Adm. Philip Davidson, the top military commander in the Pacific, days after ProPublica published an investigation into the deadly mishaps in 2017, the Navy’s worst accidents at sea in four decades. The investigation showed that the Navy’s most senior leaders, uniformed and civilian, had failed to act on repeated warnings that the 7th Fleet, based in the Pacific and renowned as the largest armada in the world, was at risk — its sailors poorly trained and overworked, its ships in physical decline.

      The Navy since the accidents has pledged a host of reforms, from improved staffing to better training.

      “I want real numbers. I don’t want general ‘We’re working on staffing’ or ‘We’re working on more training,’ because these were avoidable tragedies,” King, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, said during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing. “I would like to see specific responses from the Navy. Not promises and not good feelings.”

      Davidson was in charge of ensuring that the Navy’s fleets were properly manned at the time of the collisions, and he personally drafted a reform plan. He praised the Navy’s track record by pointing out that most ships were not colliding.

      “The fact of the matter is 280-odd other ships weren’t having collisions,” Davidson said. “More than a dozen of those ships were performing exceptionally well.”

      King interrupted Davidson.

    • Juan Guaidó: The Man Who Would Be President of Venezuela Doesn’t Have a Constitutional Leg to Stand On

      Donald Trump imagines Juan Guaidó is the rightful president of Venezuela. Mr. Guaidó, a man of impeccable illegitimacy, was exposed by Cohen and Blumenthal as “a product of a decade-long project overseen by Washington’s elite regime change trainers.” Argentinian sociologist Marco Teruggi described Guaidó in the same article as “a character that has been created for this circumstance” of regime change. Here, his constitutional credentials to be interim president of Venezuela are deconstructed.

      Educated at George Washington University in DC, Guaidó was virtually unknown in his native Venezuela before being thrust on to the world stage in a rapidly unfolding series of events. In a poll conducted a little more than a week before Guaidó appointed himself president of the country, 81% of Venezuelans had never even heard of the 35-year-old.

      To make a short story shorter, US Vice President Pence phoned Guaidó on the evening of January 22rd and presumably asked him how’d he like to be made president of Venezuela. The next day, Guaidó announced that he considered himself president of Venezuela, followed within minutes by US President Trump confirming the self-appointment.

    • Canada vs. Venezuela: The Murky Background

      Following the closed-door, Feb. 4th meeting of the Lima Group in Ottawa, Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland was holding a press conference to issue “the Ottawa Declaration for Venezuela” when suddenly protestors swarmed in front of her podium, unfurled a banner and began chanting “Hands off Venezuela!”
      As security guards removed the protestors, Freeland deftly moved off-script to say that the Lima Group’s plans for Venezuela would uphold “the kind of democracy which political protestors in Canada do enjoy and I’m sad to say that political protestors in Venezuela do not.”

      It was a bizarre statement for a variety of reasons – including the recent RCMP arrests of 14 peaceful land and water-protectors in Indigenous territory in B.C. – but especially because Freeland’s words coincided (but conflicted) with current mainstream media claims of massive protest marches taking place in Venezuela against president Nicolas Maduro and in favour of opposition figure Juan Guaido, who emerged from obscurity to declare himself interim president on January 23.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • HUD’s System for Processing Public Records Requests Died During the Shutdown

      The partial federal shutdown ended weeks ago, but one lingering effect turns out to be citizens’ ability to get public records from a government agency.

      The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s public records management and tracking system has been offline since early January, when a contract to run it lapsed.

      Four Freedom of Information Act officers at HUD said the lack of a system has drastically slowed their ability to process requests and has presented challenges in tracking the dozens of them the agency receives each week.

      Members of the public can no longer submit requests via HUD’s website or track their status. Late last week, the agency updated its website to include new instructions for filing a FOIA request via email, fax or mail.

      “We knew the government was going to go dark during the shutdown, but we did not anticipate that the machinery would literally be removed while it was shut down,” said Austin Evers, executive director of American Oversight, a nonprofit ethics watchdog that has filed numerous Freedom of Information Act lawsuits against federal agencies during the Trump administration.

    • Meme showing Julian Assange posing with UK newspaper is doctored
  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Senate Backs Massive Public Lands, Conservation Bill

      The Senate on Tuesday approved a major public lands bill that revives a popular conservation program, adds 1.3 million acres of new wilderness, expands several national parks and creates four new national monuments.

      The measure, the largest public lands bill considered by Congress in a decade, combines more than 100 separate bills that designate more than 350 miles of river as wild and scenic, create 2,600 miles of new federal trails and add nearly 700,000 acres of new recreation and conservation areas. The bill also withdraws 370,000 acres in Montana and Washington state from mineral development.

    • New York Like Arkansas? Bay Area Like L.A.? Warming May Make It Feel So

      The climate in New York City in 60 years could feel like Arkansas now. Chicago could seem like Kansas City and San Francisco could get a Southern California climate if global warming pollution continues at the current pace, a new study finds.

      In 2080, North Carolina’s capital, Raleigh, could feel more like Florida’s capital, Tallahassee, while the nation’s capital will have a climate more akin to just north of the Mississippi Delta, if the globe stays on its current carbon pollution trend. Miami might as well be southern Mexico and the beautiful mornings in future Des Moines, Iowa, could feel like they are straight out of Oklahoma.

      That’s according to a study Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications that tries to explain climate change better.

    • Greenwashing the Climate Catastrophe

      It is hard not to notice a stirring of consciousness regarding humanity’s dire ecological predicament beginning to seep into the mainstream these days. How can it not? Year after year records are shattered. Month after month scientists continue to be shocked and demoralized by more and more evidence of rising seas, a climate careening into a chaotic and terrifying unknown, and countless species succumbing in a biosphere perpetually under siege. Even the corporate media which has been designed as a mouthpiece of capitalist interests cannot completely veil our collective crisis. Unsurprisingly, the ruling class has begun to react, not in a way that meaningfully addresses the death cult of the current socioeconomic order, but to ensure its survival albeit with a greener face. Their cynical approach to what is the biggest existential crisis of our age is using youthful optimism and justified outrage and terror to cloud their machinations.

      One such prominent youth these days is Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish girl who delivered a rousing speech at the UN Climate Change Conference and before the world’s wealthiest at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Indeed, her speech was inspiring and I do not doubt her passion or honest devotion to climate activism for a minute, but to ignore the powerful machine looking to co-opt her message would be a grave mistake. For instance, Thunberg has been given interviews in the corporate press, has been endorsed by a tech start-up company (We Don’t Have Time), and has been lauded by industry for promoting “sustainable development.”

      Now certainly Thunberg is not the one manipulating any of these actors, and she should not face any kind of criticism for her part in addressing the greatest existential issue of our times. But it should be clear that most people who get interviews in the corporate media are generally not deemed to be a serious challenger to the status quo political/economic order. Corporate approved dissent is a form of censorship that gives the illusion of a lively debate, but essentially establishes a firm line in the sand when if comes to radically questioning or opposing the capitalist framework itself. And if finance companies are behind something we can be pretty sure that they are primarily in it for the money. In addition to this, the term sustainable development is a meaningless on a planet that is literally on the edge of a cliff, but under the dominant economic dictatorship of money the co-opted mainstream environmental movement has pumped out these tropes making them a form of collective social conditioning.

      And this ties into the notion of personal responsibility. Solutions to our environmental crisis have been reduced to “life style changes” which have also become the en vogue activism of the day. It is a line of thinking that is accepted and even endorsed by corporations, banks and neoliberal governments because it poses no real challenge to their power or their ongoing destructive practices. To the mainstream, tweaking one’s lifestyle is all that is needed. Buy an electric vehicle or use a bicycle. Don’t take a plane on your vacation. Buy reusable bags. Choose organic only. Go vegan. Buy reusable straws. While there is nothing wrong with doing these things in general, they must be understood as individual choices that are based on privilege and that have little impact in addressing urgent crisis our biosphere is facing right now.

    • World is halfway through its hottest decade

      Here is a climate forecast that climate scientists, meteorologists, politicians, voters and even climate sceptics can check: the next five years will be warm, and will probably help to complete the hottest decade ever.

      They will on a global average be at least 1°C higher than the average temperature of the planet 200 years ago, before the accelerating combustion of fossil fuels.

      That is because the planet is already midway through what may well prove to be its warmest 10 years since records began on a planetary scale in 1850. There is even a possibility that within the next five years, the global temperature rise could tip 1.5°C above the long-term average for human history.

      [...]

      Climate is what people can reasonably bank on; weather is what they get. The forecast is significant because it is evidence of swelling confidence in the understanding of global warming and climate change science.

      Climate researchers began warning at least 40 years ago of the potentially calamitous consequences of climate change: they were, at the time, unwilling to link any single weather event – flood, drought, windstorm or heat wave – to long-term global warming as a consequence of the steady increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, released from power stations, factory chimneys and vehicle exhausts.

    • Green Party responds to IPPR report on climate change

      The Green Party of England and Wales have today responded to the report – This is a Crisis: Facing up to the Age of Environmental Breakdown – released by the Institute for Public Policy Research.

    • Ambitious Danish island ends fossil fuel use

      Tackling climate change is urgent. It’s too urgent to be feasible, say some critics. But as one Danish island ends fossil fuel use, its story shows it may be time to think again.

      In five years, by 2023, the UK Met Office says, global warming could temporarily rise by more than 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, the target agreed by 195 governments in 2015. So the world needs to switch fast from fossil fuels to renewable energy.

      The island of Samsø, off Denmark’s east coast, has wasted no time. Between 1998 and 2007 it abandoned its total dependence on imported fossil fuels and now relies entirely on renewables, mainly wind and biomass. It’s been singled out as the world’s first 100% renewable island by the Rapid Transition Alliance (RTA), which says Samsø can teach the world some vital lessons about changing fast and radically.

    • Meduza explains the controversy surrounding a pipeline that could cut Ukraine out of Europe’s gas business

      On February 12, European Union officials will discuss the status of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which is currently being built from the Russian town of Ust-Luga to the German city of Greifswald along the bottom of the Baltic Sea. The United States and many European countries oppose the project, but it seems Russia and her main ally in this undertaking — Germany — are nearly at the finish line, following a compromise reached late last week in the EU. Meduza takes a closer look at Nord Stream 2 and why it’s fueled so much international tension.

    • Guest Post — Rising Carbon Dioxide Levels: Capture Methods & Patent Trends [Ed: Some patent monopolies that merely exacerbate global warming]

      While there are multiple methods for incorporating CO2 capture into the fossil-fuel based power generation processes currently utilized, the approach that is most amenable to existing infrastructure is a post-combustion approach where the flue gas exiting a coal or natural-gas fired power plant, consisting primarily of CO2 and water vapor, is subjected to a CO2 capture process. Currently, this is most frequently performed using aqueous solutions of chemical compounds with amine functionalities, such as monoethanolamine, in a CO2 capture unit, also known as a CO2 scrubber. During the operation of a CO2 scrubber, post-combustion flue gas is sent through an adsorption column that contains the lean amine solution, where lean indicates low CO2 content. The lean amine undergoes a reversible chemical reaction with CO2, resulting in the formation of rich amines, which are composed primarily of carbamate or bicarbonate.3 Rich amines are then transferred to a desorber system that converts rich amines back to lean amines via competitive water adsorption using steam. This process releases CO2, which can be collected for later conversion steps.

    • The End of Ice: Dahr Jamail on Climate Disruption from the Melting Himalayas to Insect Extinction

      A new report finds at least a third of the Himalayan ice cap will melt by the end of the century due to climate change, even if the world’s most ambitious environmental reforms are implemented. The report, released by the Hindu Kush Himalaya Assessment earlier this month, is the culmination of half a decade’s work by over 200 scientists, with an additional 125 experts peer reviewing their work. It warns rising temperatures in the Himalayas could lead to mass population displacement, as well as catastrophic food and water insecurity. The glaciers are a vital water source for the 250 million people who live in the Hindu Kush Himalaya range, which spans from Afghanistan to Burma. More than 1.5 billion people depend on the rivers that flow from the Himalayan peaks. We speak with Dahr Jamail, independent journalist and author of the new book “The End of Ice: Bearing Witness and Finding Meaning in the Path of Climate Disruption.”

    • ‘We Have Entered the Age of Environmental Breakdown’: Report Details World on Edge of Runaway Collapse

      The two-part transformational response envisioned by the authors would mean a socioeconomic overhaul “to bring human activity to within environmentally sustainable limits while tackling inequalities and providing a high quality life to all” as well as major steps to boost resilience to the impacts of environmental breakdown, including improvements to “infrastructure, markets, political processes, social cohesion, and global cooperation.”

      However, as lead author Laurie Laybourn-Langton emphasized to the Guardian, even considering a response that matches the scope of the crisis requires first raising public awareness: “People are not frank enough about this. If it is discussed at all, it is the sort of thing mentioned at the end of a conversation, that makes everyone look at the floor, but we don’t have time for that now… It’s appearing more in media, but we are not doing enough.”

    • Because Society ‘Leaps Forward’ When People Take Action, UK Headteachers Union Backs Student #ClimateStrike

      As students across the United Kingdom prepare to join the global “climate strike” movement later this week by walking out of class, the nation’s union of headteachers—representing principals, headmasters, and other school leaders—has endorsed the coordinated actions as a demonstration to be “applauded.”

      The National Association of Head Teachers in a statement offered their support to students in at least 30 towns and cities nationwide who have vowed to strike.

      “Society makes leaps forward when people are prepared to take action,” a spokesperson for the union said. “When you get older pupils making an informed decision, that kind of thing needs to be applauded. Schools encourage students to develop a wider understanding of the world around them, a day of activity like this could be an important and valuable life experience.”

    • Fatal Rail Accident ‘Eerily Similar’ to Lac-Mégantic Oil Train Disaster

      The only way to have a rail accident that is “eerily similar” to the Lac-Mégantic oil train disaster that killed 47 people and wiped out the small Quebec downtown is if a massive regulatory failure did not address the causes of that 2013 tragedy.

      Which is exactly what has happened. And is why a fatal train accident on February 4 in Field, British Columbia, was dubbed “eerily similar” to the one in Lac-Mégantic by Garland Chow, a professor and transportation expert at the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business.

    • Youth Movements Changing Tactics in the Face of Climate Crisis

      Back in 2015, a group of youth warriors bravely filed a lawsuit against the federal government for failing to protect their right to life and liberty by willfully ignoring the dangers of climate change. Last month, the 21 plaintiffs of Juliana v. United States gathered under the same roof for the first time in quite a while at the New York Society for Ethical Culture. The group convened with leaders of the most powerful movements of our time to share their experiences and discuss what need to be done to address our climate crisis.

      The youth plaintiffs were joined at the “Changing Tactics in the Face of Climate Emergency” by leaders of the most vivid movements of our time, lifting up organizing systems that are multiracial, where women hold primary positions of power and political leadership. Vic Barrett, one of the youth plaintiffs, was on the panel with Julia Olson, the executive director of Our Children’s Trust and the legal representation in the lawsuit, 350.org communications manager Thanu Yakupitiyage, and Sara Blazevic, the co-founder and managing director of the Sunrise Movement.

      Sunrise is building the power of youth to urge the country to take climate change seriously while reclaiming democracy. Addressing the crisis, Sunrise says, means ending the influence of fossil fuel profiteers on American politics and creating good jobs to update national infrastructure. The group skyrocketed to national headlines after occupying House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office to demand Congress pass a Green New Deal. Blazevic told the crowd that Sunrise organizers had dedicated months of time to winning back the House of Representatives for Democrats. “We thought they owed us more than lip service on the biggest issue facing our generation,” she said.

      “We need to transform our entire economy to prevent [the climate crisis] and we also have an incredible opportunity to create millions of good jobs and actually increase equity and justice in this country in the process,” Blazevic said. “Sunrise is protesting to bring the crisis to the forefront of the minds of every American and bring the urgency of those fires, floods and droughts we hear the plaintiffs talk about from our television screens to our politicians’ scripts.”

  • Finance

    • Governments in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh & Nepal look up to India’s digital transformation

      A recent industry report stated that almost half of the Fortune 500 companies that existed in the year 2000 have now shut down. There is a huge transformation of business happening at every level; not just related to IT. [...]

    • Sweden’s Cashless Experiment: Is It Too Much Too Fast?

      In 2018, only 13 percent of Swedes reported using cash for a recent purchase, according to a nationwide survey, down from around 40 percent in 2010. In the capital, Stockholm, most people can’t even remember the last time they had coins jingling in their pockets.

      [...]

      Another concern is that the majority of local bank branches have stopped letting people take out cash or even bring cash into the bank. Even Sweden’s central bank — the Riksbank — which largely supports the transformation of the country’s payment system, has also argued that going completely cashless can be risky.

    • Universal income study finds money for nothing won’t make us work less

      The experiment ended on 31 December 2018 and preliminary results were published this morning. It compared the income, employment status and general wellbeing of those who received the UBI with a control group of 5000 who carried on receiving benefits.

    • Denver Teachers Strike over Bonus-Based Pay System, Demanding Reliable Salary Plan & Better Wages

      Public school teachers in Denver, Colorado, are striking for the second day, after negotiations between the teachers’ union and the school district failed to reach a contract over the weekend. The Denver Classroom Teachers Association is demanding an increase in teachers’ base salaries rather than putting money in incentives and bonuses. The Denver teachers walked out Monday following 15 months of negotiations over a controversial bonus-based pay system that educators say leaves them unable to predict their salaries and guarantee financial security. The starting salary for a Denver teacher for the 2019-2020 school year is $43,255, according to The Denver Post. This is the district’s first teacher strike in 25 years. We speak with Henry Román, a Denver elementary school teacher and president of the Denver Classroom Teachers Association.

    • SEC’s Action Against Decentralized Exchange Raises Constitutional Questions

      A recent public statement from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission implied that those engaged in writing and publishing code might need to worry about running afoul of securities laws. In its statement about the cease and desist order against the co-founder of decentralized cryptocurrency exchange EtherDelta, the SEC indicated that someone who simply “provides an algorithm” might be found to be running a securities exchange. In the order itself, the SEC stated that EtherDelta’s creator had violated securities laws because he “wrote and deployed” code that he “should have known” would contribute to EtherDelta’s alleged violations. EFF today sent a public letter reminding the agency that writing and publishing code is a form of protected speech under the First Amendment, and that the courts don’t take kindly to government agencies requiring people to obtain licenses before exercising their free speech rights.

      EtherDelta was founded by Zachary Coburn. The SEC charged Coburn with running an unregistered national securities exchange, and he settled and agreed to pay over $300,000. While EFF takes no position on whether other aspects of EtherDelta violated the law or SEC regulations, EFF urged the SEC to clarify its dangerously broad language regarding potential liability for merely writing and publishing code.

    • A tax on wealth is long overdue

      What if the final blow for French President Emmanuel Macron came not from the yellow vests but from US Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts? Warren, who announced her candidacy for president on Saturday, has proposed what will doubtless be one of the key points of her campaign — the creation of a genuine federal progressive wealth tax.

      Carefully calculated by Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman, the Warren proposal sets a rate of 2 percent on fortunes valued between $50 million and $1 billion, and 3 percent above $1 billion. The proposal also provides for an exit tax equal to 40 percent of total wealth for those who relinquish their American citizenship. The tax would apply to all assets, with no exemptions, with dissuasive sanctions for people and governments that do not transmit appropriate information on assets held abroad.

    • Universal income study finds money for nothing won’t make us work less

      The most robust trial of universal basic income yet shows that it boosts well-being and doesn’t decrease employment, as some had feared

    • America’s Widening Inequality of PlaceYou’ve heard me talk…

      You’ve heard me talk about inequalities of income and wealth and political power. But another kind of inequality needs to be addressed as well: widening inequalities of place.

      On the one hand, booming mega-cities. On the other hand, an American heartland that’s becoming emptier, older, whiter, less educated, and poorer. Trump country.

      To understand what’s happening you first need to see technology not as a thing but as a process of group learning – of talented people interacting with each other continuously and directly, keying off each other’s creativity, testing new concepts, quickly discarding those that don’t work, and building cumulative knowledge.

      This learning goes way beyond the confines of any individual company. It now happens in geographic clusters – mostly along the east and west coasts in places like Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Boston and suburban Washington D.C.

      Bright young college graduates are streaming into these places, where their talents generate more value–and higher wages–together than they would separately.

      [...]

      California, now inhabited by almost 40 million people, gets two senators – as does Wyoming, with just 579,000.

    • Beyond Corporate Power

      The problem is not that the corporations are “out of control,” the problem is that the corporations are so much “in control.” By seeing neoliberalism as Free Market Fundamentalism (FMF) rather than Corporate Power we underestimate the challenges ahead. FMF does not help us to know what tactics and strategies are best because it cannot tell us about the enemy we face: Corporate Power.

      If the corporations have merged with the state, then the liberal-regulatory state is finished and our faith in its ability to protect us is a poor substitute for self-knowledge and self-determination. Instead, we should realize that we are finally on our own. Mass movements making revolutionary demands and organizing projects aimed at building independent people power will have the best chance at overthrowing the corporate power.

      The tension between seeing the problem as FMF or as corporate power will only be resolved by the highest stakes gamble imaginable. Can we dismantle corporate power and stop climate change through normal electoral means or will revolutionary upheavals provide the answers we need?

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • National Enquirer parent company AMI asked Justice Dept. if it should register as foreign lobbyist

      Remember that weird glossy magazine that came out last year promoting Saudi crown prince Mohammed Bin Salman? Daily Beast called it Saudi propaganda, and it was.

      AMI, the parent company of The National Enquirer, produced it.

    • National Enquirer’s parent firm asked U.S. if it should register as foreign agent for Saudis

      The company that publishes the National Enquirer was concerned enough that it may have acted as an agent of Saudi Arabia that it asked the Department of Justice last year whether it needed to register as a foreign lobbyist, a person with knowledge of Saudi Arabia’s lobbying efforts in the United States confirms to NBC News.

      [...]

      But in its letters to the Justice Department in May and June 2018, AMI acknowledged that it had asked a Saudi adviser to submit content for the magazine, given the adviser an early draft to review and then made changes to the final version that were suggested by the Saudi adviser.

    • Tencent Buys Stake In Another U.S. Social Network — Reddit

      Reddit also started to sell cost-per-click ads, cost-per-impression ads, promoted posts, and video ads. Its revenue surpassed $100 million in 2018, according to CNBC, fueled by a 22% jump in engagement and 30% increase in total views. However, Reddit’s heavy dependence on venture capital suggests that it isn’t profitable, and its workforce of roughly 350 is based in pricey San Francisco.

      Tencent will reportedly invest $150 million in Reddit, which would make it one of the social platform’s top stakeholders. Publisher Condé Nast acquired a majority stake in 2006, and that stake now belongs to its parent company, Advance Publications. Reddit still operates independently from both companies.

    • Reddit valued at $3 billion after raising $300 million in latest funding round

      The series D funding round saw a $150 million investment from Tencent and the company’s former investors, including Sequoia, Fidelity, Tacit and Snoop Dogg.

    • 50,000 Heck*ng Facebook Ad Variants?!

      So, I just slid on over to the Facebook Ad Archive to see some of the ads the Harris campaign had been running recently (note this was running for only about 24 hours). And, as I’ve highlighted above, there are really about 8 pieces of the ad you can tweak to create your total number of ad variants, that you then bulk upload and let the Facebook robots sort out for you, culling the ones that don’t generate the most response (most of them), and displaying more the of the ones that do, generating happier customers for Facebook, and vast numbers of email signups and filthy lucre for the political advertiser.

    • 83% Of Consumers Believe Personalized Ads Are Morally Wrong, Survey Says

      A massive majority of consumers believe that using their data to personalize ads is unethical. And a further 76% believe that personalization to create tailored newsfeeds — precisely what Facebook, Twitter, and other social applications do every day — is unethical.

      At least, that’s what they say on surveys.

    • Trump supporter attacks BBC cameraman at El Paso rally

      He has claimed journalists are “the enemy of the people” and slammed the “fake news” for reports he deems unfavourable.

      Mr Skeans said the man almost knocked him and his camera over twice before he was wrestled away by a blogger.

    • BBC cameraman victim of ‘violent attack’ during Donald Trump rally

      Mr O’Donoghue said Mr Trump’s 2020 election campaign, which he thinks has begun, will be as “hostile and ill-tempered and divisive as the one we saw last time”.

    • BBC cameraman suffers ‘incredibly violent attack’ during Trump rally

      Rod Skeans was filming a rally in El Paso, Texas, when he was suddenly shoved by a Trump supporter who got onto the reporters’ platform.

    • White House Correspondents Condemn Attack on BBC Cameraman at Trump Rally

      Olivier Knox, the president of the WHCA, condemned the attack and said that they were “relieved that, this time, no one was seriously hurt. The president of the United States should make absolutely clear to his supporters that violence against reporters is unacceptable.”

    • BBC Journalist Violently Attacked at Texas Rally After Crowd ‘Whipped Up Into a Frenzy’ by Trump’s Anti-Press Rhetoric

      A BBC correspondent shared on social media a video of his colleague being attacked at President Donald Trump’s rally in El Paso, Texas Monday night, laying blame with the increasingly anti-press rhetoric the president spouts at his public appearances, including at this one.

      Around the time Trump told the crowd that a wall at the southern U.S. border would cut down on violent crime in the U.S., cameraman Ron Skeans was violently shoved by a Trump supporter wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat. The attacker was filmed shouting, “Fuck the media!” as he stormed the press area.

      Correspondent Gary O’Donoghue shared footage of the attack, saying it followed Trump’s “goading” of the crowd against journalists and others he considers opponents.

    • Russian lawmakers just passed legislation designed to kick soldiers off social media

      Lawmakers in the State Duma have passed the second reading of legislation banning soldiers from using any electronic recording devices and from talking online about their military service. In the bill’s explanatory note, the authors say the law is necessary because soldiers’ posts on social media have allowed investigative journalists to write about the actions of Russian troops in Syria. The legislation would also reduce the information available about fighting in eastern Ukraine, hazing in armed forces, and military training exercises. Read Meduza’s report on this legislation from September 2018.

    • Bernie 2020 Campaign Has Corporate Democrats Running Scared

      Bloomberg News supplied the typical spin in a Feb. 8 article headlined “Sanders Risks Getting Crowded Out in 2020 Field of Progressives.” The piece laid out the narrative: “Sanders may find himself a victim of his own success in driving the party to the left with his 2016 run. The field of Democratic presidential hopefuls includes at least a half-dozen candidates who’ve adopted in whole or in part the platform that helped Sanders build a loyal following . . .”

      Yet Bernie is also being targeted as too marginal. The same Bloomberg article quoted Howard Dean, a long-ago liberal favorite who has become a hawkish lobbyist and corporate mouthpiece: “There will be hardcore, hard left progressives who will have nobody but Bernie, but there won’t be many.”

      So, is Bernie now too much like other Democratic presidential candidates, or is he too much of an outlier? In the mass media, both seem to be true. In the real world, neither are true.

      Last week, Business Insider reported on new polling about Bernie’s proposal “to increase the estate tax, the tax paid by heirs on assets passed down by the deceased. Sanders’ idea would lower the threshold to qualify for the tax to $3.5 million in assets, down from the current $11 million. The plan would also introduce a graduating scale of tax rates for the estates of wealthier Americans, eventually reaching a 77 percent marginal rate for assets over $1 billion.”

    • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is under fire because she’s right

      The big guns are out for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the charismatic first-term legislator from New York.

      In an apparent swipe at Ocasio-Cortez, Donald Trump used part of his rambling State of the Union address to say he was “alarmed by new calls to adopt socialism in our country.”

      Billionaire former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz cited Ocasio-Cortez’s support for a 70 percent tax rate on income above $10 million a year as one reason he may decide to run as an independent for president, and not as a Democrat.

      [...]

      Dr. Martin Luther King used to teach that “cowardice asks the question, is it expedient? And then expedience comes along and asks the question, is it politic? Vanity asks the question, is it popular? Conscience asks the question, is it right? There comes a time when one must take the position that is neither safe nor politic nor popular, but he must do it because conscience tells him it is right.”

      Politicians worry about donors. They hear from lobbyists, from special interests, from corporations that can spend unlimited money in political campaigns without revealing it.

    • ‘Ah, Yes,’ Says Ocasio-Cortez of Trump After Jab at Green New Deal, ‘A Man Who Can’t Even Read Briefings Written in Full Sentences’

      Responding to a comment President Donald Trump reportedly made to Breitbart News denigrating the Green New Deal resolution she introduced to Congress last week, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) late Monday night offered no quarter to buffoonery of the president and reminded people on Twitter the president is a person who famous for not reading things and someone who fails to prove basic comprehension of complex (and simple) subjects on a near constant basis.

      [...]

      Though perhaps a low blow, Trump—despite making claims he’s “like, really smart” and a “stable genius” with a “very, very large brain”—is notoriously heckled for not being that bright. As Chicago Tribune columnist Steve Chapman wrote in 2017: “Trump has many serious flaws, including incorrigible dishonesty, rampant narcissism, contempt for women and a fashion sense that makes him think that hairstyle of his is flattering. But nothing compares to his most prominent, crippling and incurable defect: He’s dimmer than a 5-watt bulb.”

    • Resisting the Weaponization of Ignorance in the Age of Trump

      Ignorance now rules the U.S. Not the simple, if somewhat innocent ignorance that comes from an absence of knowledge, but a malicious ignorance forged in the arrogance of refusing to think hard about an issue. We most recently saw this exemplified in Donald Trump’s disingenuousness 2019 State of the Union address in which he lied about the amount of drugs streaming across the southern border, demonized the immigrant community with racist attacks, misrepresented the facts regarding the degree of violence at the border, and employed an antiwar rhetoric while he has repeatedly threatened war with Iran and Venezuela. Willful ignorance reached a new low when Trump — after two years of malicious tweets aimed at his critics — spoke of the need for political unity.

      Willful ignorance often hides behind the rhetoric of humiliation, lies and intimidation. Trump’s reliance upon threats to impose his will took a dangerous turn given his ignorance of the law when he used his speech to undermine the special council’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. He did so with his hypocritical comment about how the only things that can stop the “economic miracle” are “foolish wars, politics or ridiculous partisan investigations,” to which he added, “If there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation.” According to Trump, the Democrats have a choice between reaching legislative deals and pursuing “ridiculous partisan investigations” — clearly the country could not do both.

      William Rivers Pitt is right in claiming that in one moment Trump thus tied “the ongoing Robert Mueller investigation inextricably to terrorism, war and political dysfunction.” As Mike DeBonis and Seung Min Kim point out, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi added to this criticism by “accusing Trump of an all-out threat to lawmakers sworn to provide a check and balance on his power.”

    • The Last Time the U.S. Wanted a Wall, 70,000 People Were Sterilized

      Since his presidential campaign, Donald Trump has been advocating for the construction of a wall along the southern U.S. border. Amid continuously fanning the flames of racism and xenophobia, from the moment of his election to the present, this has been one campaign promise that keeps eluding him. In a desperate attempt to construct his wall, Trump even forced a government shutdown.

      While many might think this policy suggestion is new, historical examination reveals it has been proposed at least once before. Over 100 years ago, a group of wealthy white men advocated creating a wall around the entire United States to keep out those they called “degenerates,” “defectives” and the “unfit.” But this was only part of their advocacy.

      These individuals were part of a movement that promoted eugenics, which, over the course of the 20th century, led to the forced sterilization of more than 70,000 individuals. To understand Trump’s call for a border wall, we must understand the history of a movement that advocated for a wall before Trump was even born.

    • This Country Belongs To The People

      In need of a reprieve from the El Paso derangement – journalists attacked, babies executed, teachers as losers, fictional numbers, a Green New Deal that will ban cows and end “a little thing called air travel” – let us honor Abraham Lincoln, born on this day in 1809. So was Charles Darwin, another moral and intellectual giant, but he’s happily escaped the fate of our idiotpretender comparing himself to him, probably ’cause he’s never heard of him. We take enormous solace in Beto and his ilk. But we also celebrate the enduring wisdom and self-evident truths of Lincoln, whose prescience in this time and place resonates more than ever. To wit:

      “If you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”

      “No man has a good enough memory to be a successful liar.”

      “Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves.”

      “The time comes upon every public man when it is best for him to keep his lips closed.”

    • Disappointment (and a Little Hope) in First Foreign Policy Test of the New Congress

      The “Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act of 2019,” which passed on a 77 to 23 vote, also increases unconditional taxpayer-funded arms transfers to Israel, strengthens military ties with the autocratic Kingdom of Jordan and endorses state government efforts to punish socially conscious businesses that choose to boycott illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied territories.

      Besides receiving near-unanimous support from Senate Republicans, a slight majority of Democrats also backed the contentious bill, introduced by Republican Senator Marco Rubio as the very first bill (S.1) placed before the Senate this session.

      Yet, in a surprising development with possible future political implications, seven out of the eight Democratic Senators running or considering running for President voted no.

      In a rebuke to arms control analysts who have long argued that the Middle East has been overly militarized, Congress is insisting there are not enough armaments in the region and the United States needs to send even more. In reauthorizing the U.S.-Jordan Defense Cooperation Act and pledging more than $33 billion in additional arms and weapons systems to Israel, the bill has sent a clear message of bipartisan support for continuing the arms race in a violent and unstable region.

    • The Moderates

      A multibillionaire met his first appointment of the day, a political candidate looking for a donation to his party before an upcoming election. “So just where do you stand on taxes”, the billionaire inquired of his guest as they were waiting for the pheasant soufflé to arrive.

      “Well, Sir, our party doesn’t believe that wealth creators should be taxed at all”.

      “Excellent”, the billionaire said as he rubbed his gnarled fingertips together in glee. “May I ask what your stance is on fossil fuels?”

      “We are wholly committed, Sir, to extracting every last drop of them. We fully intend to push pipelines wherever we damn please. Preferably up the asses of the Chinese, if you’ll pardon my French. As for the so-called endangered species and coral reefs, they can complain to the Board of Extinction . As far as we’re concerned, they can get in line behind the autoworkers, licensed taxi drivers, and brick-and-mortar retail staff.”

      After a hearty, minute-long chuckle, the billionaire composed himself and barked, “Nuclear Disarmament!”

    • Will Trump Resign Before the 2020 Election?

      As Donald Trump gave his 2019 “State of the (Dis)Union” speech, an unasked question haunted the event – will he be forced to resign before the 2020 election? Much media attention is focused on “Russia Gate” and the Mueller investigation as well as the dozen or so investigations getting underway by the new Democrat-controlled Congress. However, Trump’s real threat may come from the investigations of his – and his family’s – business practices being separately undertaken by the governments of New York, New Jersey, Washington, DC, and Maryland.

      Trump’s leading biographer, David Cay Johnston, pulls no punches in his assessment of Trump’s questionable business practices. “He comes from a family of criminals,” Johnston explains. “His grandfather made his fortune running whorehouses in Seattle and in the Yukon Territory. His father, Fred, had a business partner named Willie Tomasello, who was an associate of the Gambino crime family. Trump’s father was also investigated by the U.S. Senate for ripping off the government for what would be the equivalent of $36 million in today’s money.” Following the family line, Johnston notes, “Donald got his showmanship from his dad, as well as his comfort with organized criminals.”

      Since the 2016 presidential campaign and election, a growing number of business scandals have undercut Trump’s self-promoted image of a successful real-estate tycoon. The dubious practices of Trump University (TU) shadowed him during the primary and, shortly after he took office, the case was settled with Trump agreeing to pay a $25 million settlement to resolve outstanding suits.

    • The Kids Are Alright In Denver

      Proclaiming their school district “can’t put students first when they put teachers last” and “I’d rather be teaching but this is important,” Denver teachers stayed out on strike into a third day to protest some of the country’s lowest wages, an arbitrary merit pay bonus system, corporate-driven privatization and other “reforms” they say fail to meet the needs of either teachers or students, especially low-income kids of color. The long-gestating strike, one of a record number last year by educators, has garnered support from Democrats like Warren, Sanders, and Harris as well as Democratic Socialists, who have set up a strike solidarity fund. Officials say about 2,630 teachers, or roughly 60%, went out on Monday; perhaps galvanized by Little Donnie Douchebag’s ignorant “loser teacher” crack in El Paso, both more teachers and more supporters joined them Tuesday as talks dragged on. Meanwhile, three-quarters of the district’s 92,000 students showed up at school; many left because classrooms were chaotic, unskilled subs were giving them busywork, or they wanted to join the picket lines.

      To an impressive extent, like the gun reform and climate change movements, students – notably working class kids of color – have taken the organizing lead. In the days before the strike, over 1,000 high schoolers held discussions, protests and sit-ins to support union demands; once picket lines went up, students at one school walked out en masse and at another they held a rowdy pro-strike dance party. Officials are pushing back: Tuesday, administrators were trying to ban students from school as “agents of a media source” for sharing protest photos; the kids say they’re “just trying to get the word out.” They’ve also “started to feel our power,” blasting “people in charge (who are) turning a system that’s supposed to be for us (into) a way to make profits for themselves.” Junior Jhoni Palmer is supremely cogent on the subject: “I don’t understand how not paying Denver teachers is helping us students of color. What we really need is more funding and a better curriculum.” In a wealthy state and a country that seems always able to afford war, she adds, “We know the money is there – but it’s just not going to those who need it.”

    • “Second Shutdown” Theatrics: Heads Trump Wins, Tails America Loses

      Unless Congress and the Trump administration reach a new spending deal by February 15, the federal government will go back into “partial shutdown” status. As of February 10, congressional negotiators seem to be nearing agreement on a deal that includes about $2 billion in funding for President Trump’s “border wall” project. Trump, as before the recent shutdown, is seeking $5.7 billion.

      My prediction: There are three ways this can come out. One is highly unlikely, and both of the other two would constitute a victory for Trump and a loss for Congress in general, even more so for congressional Democrats, and most of all for the American people.

      Let’s get the unlikely outcome out of the way first: There’s probably not going to be another shutdown. Trump is going to sign whatever deal lands on his desk.

      If the deal includes the $5.7 billion he’s demanding (it won’t), he’s obviously the winner. Expect a lavish White House Rose Garden signing ceremony, even if there’s snow on the ground.

      If the deal offers a lesser amount (it will), congressional Democrats will have lost anyway, by buckling on their previous opposition to funding the wall at all. That’s a bad outcome for a new Democratic majority in the House. It signals a lack of political will to take on the Republican agenda.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Twitch Streamer Claims She Was Banned for Saying There Were Two Genders

      During a recent YouTube broadcast, which can be seen above, Helena detailed the situation, stating that the comments in question were in regards to her belief that “there are only two genders.” This did not go over very well with everyone in the community, which led to Twitch informing Helena that her partnership had been terminated. In the same email, it was noted that this was not the only cause for her account being banned, as the streamer had previously been reported twice “for hateful conduct in the last two months.”

    • Russian court orders report of illegal fishing by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev to be deleted

      A court in Sochi, Russia, has ordered the investigative outlet The Insider to delete a 2018 article that exposed illegal hunting and fishing in a Caucasian nature preserve, Svobodnye Media reported. Fishing, hunting, and gathering are all prohibited in the area, which is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

      The Insider’s report accused Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev of participating in illegal fishing on the preserve. The preserve’s director, Sergei Shevelev, sued the publication for defamation. He demanded that the article be replaced with a public denial and requested 100,000 rubles ($1,518) in damages. The court reduced that amount to 10,000 rubles ($158).

    • Stephen Cohen on War with Russia and Soviet-style Censorship in the US

      On stage at Busboys and Poets in Washington, D.C. this past week was Princeton University Professor Emeritus Stephen Cohen, author of the new book, War with Russia: From Putin & Ukraine to Trump & Russiagate.

      Cohen has largely been banished from mainstream media.

      “I had been arguing for years — very much against the American political media grain — that a new US/Russian Cold War was unfolding — driven primarily by politics in Washington, not Moscow,” Cohen writes in War with Russia. “For this perspective, I had been largely excluded from influential print, broadcast and cable outlets where I had been previously welcomed.”

      On the stage at Busboys and Poets with Cohen was Katrina vanden Heuvel, the editor of The Nation magazine, and Robert Borosage, co-founder of the Campaign for America’s Future.

      During question time, Cohen was asked about the extent of the censorship in the context of other Americans who had been banished from mainstream American media, including Ralph Nader, whom the liberal Democratic establishment, including Borosage and Vanden Heuvel, stiff armed when he crashed the corporate political parties in the electoral arena in 2004 and 2008.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Hearing Wednesday: EFF Asks Court to Unseal Phone Tap Order That Was Among Hundreds of Questionable Wiretaps Approved By California Court

      EFF Client Targeted As Record Number of Wiretap Orders Raised Questions About the Legality of Riverside County’s Wiretapping Process
      Riverside, California—On Wednesday, February 13, at 10:00 am, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) will ask a state court to unseal a wiretap order issued against individuals with no criminal records to learn why the phones were tapped and whether the warrant authorization process was legitimate.

      The order was among hundreds of questionable wiretaps issued by a single county in 2015, which accounted for over half of all reported wiretaps from California, and over one-fifth of all state wiretaps issued nationwide. The individuals were never notified that their phones were being tapped, despite a law requiring such notice within 90 days of the wiretap’s conclusion, and were never charged with any wrongdoing.

      EFF and Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP represent a targeted individual whose phone was ordered tapped by Judge Helios J. Hernandez. The judge authorized a record number of wiretaps during the 2015 calendar year, not a single one of which resulted in either a trial or conviction. After a series of stories in USAToday uncovered Riverside County’s massive surveillance campaign and questioned the legality of the surveillance, watchdogs warned that the wiretaps likely violated federal law.

    • Lauri Love begins legal battle to retrieve computers seized by the NCA
    • Minnesota Judges Spent Only Minutes Approving Warrants Sweeping Up Thousands Of Cellphone Users

      Given the scope of the area covered and the imprecise nature of location data, each warrant has the potential to generate a ton of false positives — people who happen to live, work, or travel through these busy areas. If a map had been provided, there’s a good chance judges would have taken a little longer considering these requests.

    • Apple, Google slammed for sporting app that allows Saudi men to track women

      According to a report in Insider on Friday, the app called ‘Absher’ lets men to give women permission to travel, and also get SMS when a woman uses her passport at the border.

      For making the apps available on Google Play and Apple’s App Store, the US-based tech giants have been accused of facilitating misogyny and helping “enforce gender apartheid”.

    • Apple and Google accused of helping ‘enforce gender apartheid’ by hosting Saudi government app that tracks women and stops them leaving the country

      Apple and Google have been accused of helping to “enforce gender apartheid” in Saudi Arabia, by offering a sinister app which allows men to track women and stop them leaving the country.

      Both Google Play and iTunes host Absher, a government web service which allows men to specify when and how women can cross Saudi borders, and to get close to real-time SMS updates when they travel.

    • When Did Mark Zuckerberg Learn Facebook Targeted Children?

      “These findings point to a problematic culture of putting profits ahead of your users’ financial wellbeing and raise serious concerns regarding the company’s willingness to engage responsibly in its interactions with children,” U.S. Sens. Edward Markey and Richard Blumenthal wrote in their joint letter to Zuckerberg.

      The Reveal story was based on more than 135 pages of internal Facebook memos, secret strategies and employee emails that paint a troubling picture of how the social media giant targeted children as it looked to grow revenue from games such as Angry Birds, PetVille and Ninja Saga.

    • What would happen if Facebook was turned off?

      Those booted off enjoyed an additional hour of free time on average. They tended not to redistribute their liberated minutes to other websites and social networks, but chose instead to watch more television and spend time with friends and family. They consumed much less news, and were thus less aware of events but also less polarised in their views about them than those still on the network. Leaving Facebook boosted self-reported happiness and reduced feelings of depression and anxiety.

      It also helped some to break the Facebook habit. Several weeks after the deactivation period, those who had been off Facebook spent 23% less time on it than those who had never left, and 5% of the forced leavers had yet to turn their accounts back on. And the amount of money subjects were willing to accept to shut their accounts for another four weeks was 13% lower after the month off than it had been before. Users, in other words, overestimate how much they value the service: a misperception corrected by a month of abstention. Even so, most are loth to call it quits entirely. That reluctance would seem to indicate that Facebook, despite its problems, generates lots of value for consumers, which would presumably vanish were the network to disappear.

    • Govt wants encryption bill powers for anti-corruption bodies

      The Federal Government will try to push amendments to the encryption law on Wednesday to give anti-corruption bodies the right to use its powers, while Labor will try to get an amendment through to define a systemic weakness.

    • India Seeks Access to Private Messages in WhatsApp Crackdown

      In the latest skirmish, the government is targeting Facebook Inc.’s WhatsApp, the popular messaging service increasingly important to its parent’s bottom line. Frustrated that the service has been used to incite violence and spread pornography, the government is pressing WhatsApp to allow more official oversight of online discussions, even if that means giving officials access to protected, or encrypted, messages. Facebook has refused, risking punitive measures or even the possibility of a shutdown in its biggest market.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • U.S. Islamists Cry Martyr

      CAIR and other American Islamist groups are now using Khashoggi’s terrible fate to attack Saudi Arabia, and steer American politicians towards the agendas of Western Islamist movements and those financing it — particularly the Qatari regime.

    • [Reposted] AP Exclusive: Undercover spy exposed in NYC was 1 of many

      When mysterious operatives lured two cybersecurity researchers to meetings at luxury hotels over the past two months, it was an apparent bid to discredit their research about an Israeli company that makes smartphone hacking technology used by some governments to spy on their citizens. The Associated Press has now learned of similar undercover efforts targeting at least four other individuals who have raised questions about the use of the Israeli firm’s spyware.

    • Nearly 15,000 Counter Trump Event With El Paso Rally to Reject ‘Hatred and Bigotry’

      Less than a mile away from the El Paso, Texas stadium in which President Donald Trump delivered what critics described as a bigoted and lie-filled case for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, as many as 15,000 Texans rallied and marched Monday night in a powerful display of opposition to both the wall and the broad anti-immigrant agenda it represents.

      “This is the strong and resilient border community I proudly grew up in,” Cynthia Pompa, advocacy coordinator with the ACLU’s Border Rights Center, said as the “March for Truth” kicked off early Monday evening. “No boots. No detention beds. No border walls. No more dollars for DHS.”

    • One Minute to Midnight

      Late last month, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists unveiled its “Doomsday Clock” for the 26th time since its creation in 1947, declaring that the hands on the clock would remain where they had been at the last setting, in 2018. Rachel Bronson, the bulletin’s president, described the environment in which the bulletin assesses the threats faced by the world today (which have expanded beyond nuclear to include climate change and cyber) as the “new abnormal,” and noted that no one should take comfort from the fact that the hands of the clock have not moved.

    • Presidential Primaries Are Racist. Period.

      More than a year out from the 2020 presidential Democratic primary, hopefuls have begun to put their names in the hat as the best bet in kicking Trump out of the White House. The US left is ready to do battle, no matter how fresh the wounds of the 2016 election may still be.

      Whether or not opposing Trump should be Democrats’ one and only concern is a conversation worth having; but before the Democrats have that conversation, there is something more urgent to consider: candidates must fight through an inherently racist presidential primary cycle.

      For instance, Sen. Cory Booker and Tom Steyer are already spending valuable political capital in Iowa testing the waters. Presidential 2020 hopefuls Senators Elizabeth Warren, Tulsi Gabbard, Kirsten Gillibrand and others have likewise been reaching out to campaign staffers in Iowa, who are suddenly a hot commodity.

      What could be so important about Iowa? It’s not super politically representative of the nation as a whole, unlike, for example, the very purple state of Virginia. It doesn’t have massive amounts of voters; its population is 3.1 million and it has only six electoral votes. So, what’s the catch? Iowa is the most important stop in any primary run because the state holds the very first caucus, and the winner of the Iowa caucus is most often the winner of the primary. Let’s take an honest look at the state.

    • Anti-corruption activist is beaten to death outside Moscow

      An anti-corruption activist has been beaten to death in a town outside Moscow. Late on February 11, masked assailants attacked Dmitry Gribov, the regional head of the Combatting Government Corruption Center, crushing his head with metal rods. The incident reportedly occurred in Vinogradovo, north of the capital.

    • California Court Says New Records Law Covers Past Police Misconduct Records

      The battle over public records in California continues. A new law made records of police misconduct releasable to the public, kicking off predictable legal challenges from law enforcement agencies not accustomed to accountability.
      These agencies believe the law isn’t retroactive. In essence, they think the passage of the law allows them to whitewash their pasts by only providing records going forward from the law’s enactment. None other than the law’s author, Senator Nancy Skinner, has gone on record — with a letter to the Senate Rules Committee and the state Attorney General’s office — stating the law applies retroactively.

      This has been ignored by the state AG, who has stated in records request denials that he believes the law can’t touch pre-2019 misconduct files. This is exactly what agencies challenging the law want to hear. Unfortunately for them, they’ve just been handed a loss by a California court.

    • Key Supporter Of FOSTA, Cindy McCain, Misidentifies ‘Different Ethnicity’ Child; Claims Credit For Stopping Sex Trafficking That Wasn’t

      In the wake of 9/11, the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) in New York City hired an ad agency, Korey Kay & Partners, to come up with a “creative exercise” in dealing with the post-9/11 world. They came up with slogan “If you see something, say something” and plastered it all over subways. Incredibly, the MTA trademarked the term (despite its lack of “use in commerce”) and later licensed it to DHS (insanely, the MTA has been known to threaten others for using the slogan). However, despite now sounding like common wisdom, the program has been an utter disaster that has not stopped a single terrorist, but has created massive hassles for innocent people, and law enforcement who have to deal with busybodies freaking out about “weird stuff.”

      Take, for example: Cindy McCain. The wife to the late Senator John McCain, recently decided she had seen something and had to say something. Specifically, as she herself claims, she was at an airport and saw a woman with a child of a “different ethnicity.”

    • Moscow State University student officially detained after repeated arrests and alleged torture

      A district court in Moscow has ordered Moscow State University graduate student Azat Miftakhov to be held under guard until March 7 or later. Prosecutors said Miftakhov, who is suspected of anarchist activity, participated in a 2018 attack on the Moscow office of Russia’s ruling political party, United Russia.

      Miftakhov, a student of mechanics and mathematics, was first arrested on February 1 after a raid on multiple Moscow residences. He was accused of planting an explosive device near a gas line, but the device was found to be fake, and Miftakhov claims it was planted.

    • Russian Supreme Court chief doubles down on Jehovah’s Witnesses ban

      The Chair of Russia’s Supreme Court, Vyacheslav Lebedev, argued today that the country’s ban on Jehovah’s Witnesses is not motivated by religious animus. His statement came several days after an elder in the organization was sentenced to six years in prison on charges of organizing an extremist group.

    • Latest allegations of sexual assault show how the legal system discourage victims from coming forward

      Virginia’s Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax is refusing to resign after denying charges by two women who have said that he sexually assaulted them.

      The first woman to come forward was Vanessa Tyson, a politics professor at Scripps College. She initially contacted The Washington Post after Fairfax’s election in December 2017, alleging that Fairfax forced her to perform oral sex in 2004.

      The Post stated it did not publish a story at that time because it “could not corroborate Tyson’s account or find similar complaints of sexual misconduct.”

      So Tyson’s story did not make national headlines until this week, when it was first published by the conservative blog Big League Politics.

      The second woman to come forward is Meredith Watson, who alleges Fairfax raped her while they were both students at Duke University in 2000. According to a statement written by her attorneys, Watson told a dean at the school about the rape, and the dean “discouraged her from pursuing the claim further.”

      On Feb. 9, Fairfax asked the FBI to investigate their allegations. While it’s not clear that the FBI will investigate, the controversy raises important questions about how the legal system deals with cases of sexual assault.

    • New Mexico Governor Orders National Guard Away From Border

      Editor’s note: Yesterday, California’s governor joined New Mexico in withdrawing National Guard troops from the US-Mexico border. He announced the withdrawal of almost 400 of California’s troops.
      While the United States suffered through an excruciatingly long State of the Union address on Tuesday, an interesting piece of news quietly dropped: New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grishman ordered most of the National Guard recalled from the border in her state.

      It was a sharp rebuke to the president, who has been heatedly insisting that the U.S.-Mexico border is a hotbed of crime that can only be controlled with a wall — or metal barrier. Trump has wasted considerable resources on security theater at the border, and the governor’s move signaled that she was disinterested in being used as a pawn in the ongoing conversation about border security.

      Some of the slightly over 100 troops posted at the border will be left in place for humanitarian work, with the governor noting that groups of migrant families in very poor health are in need of medical attention. Troops being used as law enforcement, however, will be sent home — and not just to New Mexico.

    • Shutdown Deal Corners Trump — But He Could Still Wreak Havoc

      Another week, another adult dose of whiplash chaos. Is that even a thing? It is now.

      Sunrise on Tuesday morning brought news that the “shutdown committee” had cobbled together a bipartisan agreement “in principle” to avoid yet another government closure. According to reports, the deal will include $1.375 billion for 55 miles of border fencing and caps the overall number of detention beds Immigration and Customs Enforcement will be allowed to maintain. Democrats dropped their demand to cap the number of immigrants who could be detained within U.S. borders.

      There is no steel and concrete border wall present in the existing deal, a fact that represents yet another stinging defeat for Donald Trump should he accept the proposal as it stands. Speaking at a Monday night rally in El Paso, Texas, the president feigned ignorance of the proposed deal and the wall it vividly lacks, choosing instead to whip up the partisan crowd with his standard-issue lather of lies and exaggerations. “They say that progress is being made with this committee,” Trump told the audience at one point. “Just so you know, we’re building the wall anyway.”

      That does not bode well.

    • ‘We Will Be That Lantern on the Shore’: Ocasio-Cortez, Pressley Rally With TPS Holders Outside Trump White House

      Immigrant rights advocates and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders from Nepal and Honduras—joined by Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.) and Ayanna Pressley (Mass.)—rallied outside the White House on Tuesday morning to protest the Trump administration’s moves to revoke protected status from people residing in the United States due to dangerous conditions in their home countries.

      Critics charge that the ongoing efforts to end TPS are motivated by President Donald Trump’s racism against “non-white, non-European immigrants.” The TPS holders, activists, and lawmakers who turned out for the March for TPS Justice despite the winter weather called on Congress to “take action to #SaveTPS and create permanent protections that give residency to immigrant youth and TPS holders.”

    • Showdown in El Paso: Trump and Beto’s Dueling Rallies and the Uncertain Future of the Wall

      On Monday night, while Donald Trump was holding his campaign rally at the El Paso County stadium to tout his plan for a border wall, about 7,000 citizens in the diverse, Democratic-leaning city marched in the streets, holding an ebullient celebration of the diversity, cultural richness, and, yes, safety, of their border town.

      Former Congressman and progressive rock star Beto O’Rourke made a speech at the end of the march, which CBS broadcast live, apparently straight from someone’s shaky iPhone camera. O’Rourke extolled the virtues of his diverse community and denounced the cruelty and senselessness of the Trump Administration’s attacks on migrants and refugees.

      “In El Paso, we are secure because we treat one another with dignity and respect,” O’Rourke said at the event. “We know that walls do not save lives. Walls end lives.”

    • ‘Policing For Profit’ Is Alive and Well in South Carolina

      An investigative series finds that police have amassed millions through civil asset forfeiture, mostly affecting the poor and people of color.
      In Conway, South Carolina, a 72-year-old widow hides inside, her curtains drawn, fearing that local law enforcement will attempt to take away her home for a third time. Ella Bromell has never been convicted of a crime. So how has her house been at risk of seizure for over a decade?

      The answer is simple, but the process is obscure, discriminatory, and all-too commonplace: civil asset forfeiture.

      Civil asset forfeiture grants law enforcement officers the authority to take possession of property simply because they suspect that the property was used to commit a crime. Property owners don’t have to be suspected, charged, or convicted of criminal conduct for law enforcement to take their belongings. But, of course, property doesn’t commit crimes.

      Perhaps it’s unsurprising that a system built on such a silly legal fiction is so corrupt and abusive. So even though Bromwell has never been convicted of a crime, her home is at risk because neighbors sell small quantities of drugs on her front yard while she is away or sleeping without her consent.

    • Chicago Activists Demand Candidates For Mayor Back Civilian Police Accountability

      The chant “16 shots and a cover-up” is one that has echoed through the streets of Chicago for several years. It refers to the killing of Laquan McDonald, a black teenager killed by a white Chicago police officer. McDonald’s death came less than three months after Michael Brown, another black teenager, was shot dead in St. Louis by a white police officer and sparked national protests.
      The grim details of McDonald’s death laid buried for more than a year. But as they emerged, details amplified an already deafening call for police accountability both in Chicago and America, one which shaped elections and shook seats of power.

      “There are 34 sitting alderman that are worried about their reelection. I’m here to let them know that we don’t give a fuck about your reelection,” declared Tanya Watkins of Southsiders Organizing for Unity and Liberation during a demonstration outside Chicago City Hall in October.

      Watkins was with hundreds who gathered for the verdict in the trial of former Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke, who was later sentenced to a little more than six years in prison on second-degree murder charges for killing McDonald.

      “We hope this will reverberate through this police department,” said Watkins. “We hope that they will understand that we won’t stop until we win.”

    • Giving Trump Far Too Much in Shutdown Deal, Progressives Warn Democrats ‘Throwing Immigrants Under the Bus’

      After Democratic negotiators dropped their demand for a limit on how many immigrants the Trump administration can detain and agreed to provide over $1.3 billion for fencing and other barriers at the U.S.-Mexico border, immigrant rights advocates warned on Tuesday that Democrats are conceding far too much to President Donald Trump and handing “Nativist Republicans more money to jail and deport immigrants.”

    • ‘MBS Has Ushered in an Era of Unprecedented Crackdowns and Repression of Political Speech’ – CounterSpin interview with Sarah Aziza on Saudi repression of women

      You actually saw reporters swarming on the photo-op of Saudi women driving. And one can see why: It’s both a symbolic and a material change that seems to say that Saudi Arabia, under the influence particularly of Mohammed bin Salman, is on the road to reform. But subsequent and even previous events should tell us that that’s not really the story here. What should we know about bin Salman as liberator of Saudi women?

    • Appeals Court Rules Key Anti-Age Discrimination Protections Don’t Apply to Job Seekers, Only Employee

      In a decision last month, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago has sharply limited a federal law that protects workers who are 40 and older from age bias by ruling that key provisions only apply to those who already have jobs, not those seeking them.

      The 8-4 decision, written by Circuit Judge Michael Scudder, a Trump administration appointee, said the “plain language” of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act shows that in enacting the measure, Congress aimed its sweeping prohibition against discrimination at employees but “did not extend that same protection to outside job applicants.”

      The ruling prompted a fierce dissent from Circuit Judge David Hamilton, an Obama administration appointee, who accused the majority of taking a “deliberately naïve approach” to the law and “closing its eyes to fifty years of history, context and application.”

      The ADEA’s anti-discrimination language originally matched that of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which covers race, gender, religion and other categories. And for much of the last half-century, federal courts have treated provisions of the two laws as largely interchangeable.

      The ruling came in a lawsuit brought by an Illinois lawyer, Dale Kleber, who was 58 in 2014 when he applied for a senior attorney position with CareFusion Corp., a unit of medical device maker Becton Dickinson & Co., but was passed over for an interview. The job eventually went to a 29-year-old candidate.

    • Roaming Charges: Back in Blackface
    • Activists at the Local and Global Levels

      Mickey interviews two activists who work at the local and global levels, respectively. High School student Lucia Garay explains how she became motivated to work for social justice, and the challenges that young people face even in a “liberal” region. Then Steven Jay returns to the show to explain his latest project, Mobilized.news.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • This net neutrality rule has real consequences for cellular data bills

      A lack of net neutrality rules can have real-world consequences on wireless data prices, according to a new study by Epicenter.works. The new data from dozens of countries in the European Union suggest that when a country allows zero-rating programs, it ends up seeing an increase in wireless prices over time.

    • What Happens If Russia Cuts Itself Off From the Internet

      The [Internet] was invented in the United States, and US companies now control a significant portion of the infrastructure that powers it. It’s possible that Russia simply wants to gain more autonomy over Runet, but Russian president Vladimir Putin could also be seeking to beef up his cyberwar capabilities or to further censor the online information available to his citizens. While its motives are fuzzy, what’s clear is that Russia has been preparing for greater [Internet] independence for years. In fact, it first proposed disconnecting from the global net back in 2014.

    • Russia Is Considering An Experiment To Disconnect From The Internet

      The bill would require Internet providers to make sure they can operate if foreign countries attempt to isolate the Runet, or Russian Internet. It was introduced after the White House published its 2018 National Security Strategy, which attributed cyberattacks on the United States to Russia, China, Iran and North Korea.

    • Russian lawmakers pass first draft of Internet-isolation legislation

      The State Duma has passed the first reading of legislation co-authored by Senator Andrey Klishas that would allow the federal authorities to take control over the connection points linking Russia to the global Internet. Ostensibly as a defensive measure, lawmakers want to build the technical infrastructure necessary to sustain the Russian segment of the Internet in isolation from the rest of the world.

    • Russia plans to ‘unplug’ from internet

      The test will mean data passing between Russian citizens and organisations stays inside the nation rather than being routed internationally.

    • Zero Rating Actually Costs Broadband Customers More, EU Study Finds

      For years now we’ve discussed how large ISPs have (ab)used the lack of competition in the broadband market by imposing completely arbitrary and unnecessary monthly usage caps and overage fees. ISPs have also taken to exempting their own content from these arbitrary limits while still penalizing competitors — allowing them to use these restrictions to tilt the playing field in their favor. For example an AT&T broadband customer who uses AT&T’s own streaming service faces no penalties. If that same customer uses Netflix or a competitor they’re socked with surcharges.

      The anti-competitive impact of this should be obvious.

      But large ISPs have muddied the water by claiming that zero rating is the bits and bytes equivalent of a 1-800 number for data or free shipping. Customers who don’t understand that usage caps are arbitrary nonsense from the get go often buy into this idea that they’re getting something for free. And Ajit Pai’s FCC has helped confuse the public as well by trying to claim that this model is somehow of immense benefit to low income communities.

      Guess what: it’s not. Studies from Mozilla have shown that zero rating isn’t some mystical panacea. You might recall that Facebook has spent years trying to offer a walled-garden internet service to developed nations where select content is “zero rated,” something that was banned in India when regulators realized that letting Facebook determine which content was most widely accessed was a decidedly stupid idea. Facebook’s altruism on this subject was ultimately revealed to be a ham-handed attempt to dominate advertising in developing nations.

    • Internet freedom expert says Russia lacks the means to pull off an isolated Web like China’s

      On February 12, 2019, the State Duma has passed the first reading of legislation that will allow the federal authorities to take control over the connection points linking Russia to the global Internet. Ostensibly as a defensive measure, lawmakers want to build the technical infrastructure necessary to sustain the Russian segment of the Internet in isolation from the rest of the world.

      In an interview with Meduza, Internet freedom activist and “Roskomsvoboda” technical director Stanislav Shakirov argues that Russia lacks the domestic investment infrastructure to develop its own tech startups the way China does. Not only are Russian Internet users accustomed to having their pick of Western online services, but Russia’s domestic market isn’t big enough to sustain competition in isolation, and its unfriendly business climate remains a major hindrance, Shakirov says.

    • Google Fiber Leaves Louisville As Alphabet Retreats From Telecom

      When Google Fiber launched in 2010, it was lauded as a game changer for the broadband industry. Google Fiber would, we were told, revolutionize the industry by taking Silicon Valley money and disrupting the viciously uncompetitive and anti-competitive telecom sector. Initially things worked out well; cities tripped over themselves offering all manner of perks to the company in the hopes of breaking free from the broadband duopoly logjam. And in markets where Google Fiber was deployed, prices certainly dropped thanks to Google Fiber market pressure. The free marketing courtesy of press coverage was endless.

      That was then, this is now.

      In late 2016 Alphabet began getting cold feet about the high costs and slow return of the project, and effectively mothballed the entire thing — without admitting that’s what they were doing. The company blew through several CEOs in just a few months, laid off hundreds of employees, froze any real expansion, and cancelled countless installations for users who had been waiting years. And while Google made a lot of noise about how it would be shifting from fiber to wireless to possibly cut costs, those promises so far appear stuck in neutral as well.

  • DRM

    • IP and the Right to Repair

      I thought this was an interesting and provocative paper, even if I am skeptical of the central thesis. I should note that the first half of the paper or so makes the normative case, and the authors do a good job of laying out the case.

      Many of the topics are those you see in the news, like how laws that forbid breaking DRM stop others from repairing their stuff (which now all has a computer) or how patent law can make it difficult to make patented repair parts.

      The treatment of trade secrets, in particular, was a useful addition to the literature. As I wrote on the economics of trade secret many years ago, my view is that trade secrecy doesn’t serve as an independent driver of innovation because people will keep their information secret anyway. Thus, any innovation effects are secondary, in the sense that savings made from not having to protect secrets so carefully can be channeled to R&D. But there was always a big caveat: this assumes that firms can “keep their information secret anyway,” and that there’s no forced disclosure rule.

      So, when this article’s hypothesized right to repair extended to disclosure of manuals, schematics, and other information necessary to repair, it caught my eye. On the one hand, as someone who has been frustrated by lack of manuals and reverse engineered repair of certain things, I love it. On the other hand, I wonder how requiring disclosure of such information would change the incentive to dynamics. With respect to schematics, companies would probably continue to create them, but perhaps they might make a second, less detailed schematic. Or, maybe nothing would happen because that information is required anyway. But with respect to manuals, I wonder whether companies would lose the incentive to keep detailed records of customer service incidents if they could not profit from it. Keeping such records is costly, and if repairs are charged to customers, it might be better to reinvent the wheel every time than to pay to maintain an information system that others will use. I doubt it, though, as there is still value in having others repair your goods, and if people can repair their own, then the market becomes even more competitive.

    • Intellectual Property Law and the Right to Repair

      In recent years, there has been a growing push in different U.S. states towards legislation that would provide consumers with a “right to repair” their products. Currently 18 states have pending legislation that would require product manufacturers to make available replacement parts and repair manuals. This grassroots movement has been triggered by a combination of related factors. One such factor is the ubiquity of microchips and software in an increasing number of consumer products, from smartphones to cars, which makes the repair of such products more complicated and dependent upon the availability of information supplied by the manufacturers. Another factor is the unscrupulous practices of large, multinational corporations designed to force consumers to repair their products only through their own offered services, and ultimately, to manipulate consumers into buying newer products instead of repairing them. These factors have rallied repair shops, e-recyclers, and other do-it-yourselfers to push forward, demanding a right to repair.

      Unfortunately, though, this legislation has stalled in many of the states. Manufacturers have been lobbying the legislatures to stop the enactment of the right to repair laws based on different concerns, including how these laws may impinge on their intellectual property rights. Indeed, a right to repair may not be easily reconcilable with the United States’ far-reaching intellectual property rights regime. For example, requiring manufacturers to release repair manuals could implicate a whole host of intellectual property laws, including trade secret. Similarly, employing measures undercutting a manufacturer’s control of the market for replacement parts might conflict with patent exclusivity. Nonetheless, this Article’s thesis holds that intellectual property laws should not be used to inhibit the right to repair from being fully implemented.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Trademarks

      • Owner Of Harry Caray’s Restaurants Finds You Can’t Just Trademark A Widely Used Hashtag

        As someone who spends a great deal of time writing about trademark law and trademark disputes, I am often repeating that trademark law was put in place specifically to keep the public from being confused as to the source of affiliations of a particular good or service. This is a necessary repetition, as far too many people think that trademark law was designed to allow opportunists to lock up language for commerce simply because they thought to do so. While the USPTO has historically been far too lenient on trademark matters, it is a fact that a mark that doesn’t function to inform the buying public as to the source of a good or service is an invalid mark.

    • Copyrights

      • Fix the Gaping Hole at the Heart of Article 13: Users’ Rights

        What’s significant there is the mention of users’ rights. Discussions about them have been conspicuous by their absence most of the time the EU’s Copyright Directive has been under development. That is truly scandalous, and highlights just how one-sided the proposed legislation is. It is all about giving yet more rights to the copyright industry, with no regard for the negative impact on everyone else. That overriding consideration is so extreme that the dire consequences Article 13 will have on the Internet in the EU were first denied, and then ignored.

        One of the most obvious manifestations of that indifference to the facts, and contempt for EU citizens, concerns memes. As we explained some months back, it is not true that memes will be unaffected by Article 13, as many politicians have insisted. There is no EU-wide copyright exception for memes: in some countries memes would be covered by some of the existing exceptions, in others not.

      • Article 13 Negotiations Move Ahead, Artists Slam Labels For Disrespecting Them

        EU governments will press ahead with Article 13 based on the deal struck by France and Germany, despite calls by music labels and other content groups for it to be scrapped. Meanwhile, representatives for artists are hitting back at their paymasters for “disregarding” their interests.

      • Article 13 is Not Just Criminally Irresponsible, It’s Irresponsibly Criminal

        In a previous editorial, I pointed out that at the heart of Article 13 in the proposed EU Copyright Directive there’s a great lie: that it is possible to check for unauthorised uploads of material without inspecting every single file. The EU has ended up in this absurd position because it knows that many MEPs would reject the idea of imposing a general monitoring obligation on online services – not least because the e-Commerce Directive explicitly forbids it. Instead, the text of Article 13 simply pretends that technical alternatives can be found, without specifying them. The recently-issued “Q and A on the draft digital copyright directive” from the European Parliament then goes on to explain that if services aren’t clever enough to come up with other ways, and use upload filters, then obviously it’s their own fault.

        Imposing legal obligations that are impossible to fulfil is deeply irresponsible law-making. But there is another aspect of Article 13 that is even worse: the fact that it will encourage a new wave of criminality. It’s hard to think of a greater failure than a law that increases lawlessness.

        The problem arises once more from the flawed idea of forcing companies to install upload filters. Just as EU lawmakers seem unable to grasp the fact that online services will be obliged to conduct general monitoring in order to comply with Article 13, so their lack of technical knowledge means that they don’t understand the tremendous practical challenges of implementing this form of general monitoring.

      • Project Brand Integrity Aims to Purge Ads From Pirate Sites

        The Trustworthy Accountability Group, an anti-piracy certification program operated by giants including Google, Facebook, Disney and Warner, has launched Project Brand Integrity in Europe. With the assistance of the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit and Europol, the aim will be to purge ads from pirate sites.

02.12.19

Links 12/2/2019: PyPy 7.0.0, HHVM 4.0.0 and CVE-2019-5736

Posted in News Roundup at 8:03 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • Open source project aims to make Ubuntu usable on Arm-powered Windows laptops

      Back in December 2017, 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 criticized for poor performance and app compatibility in Windows 10, due in large part to an inline x86 emulator for apps written for Windows on Intel or AMD processors.

      Now, a group of programmers and device hackers are working to bring proper support for Ubuntu to Arm-powered Windows laptops, starting with first-generation Snapdragon 835 systems, like the HP Envy x2 and Asus NovaGo. The aarch64-laptops project on GitHub provides prebuilt images for the aforementioned notebook PCs, as well as the Lenovo Miix 630.

    • It’s Becoming Possible To Run Linux Distributions On The HP/ASUS/Lenovo ARM Laptops

      We’ve been looking forward to the possibility of having a nice 64-bit ARM Linux laptop with decent power and nice build quality. Several major vendors having been rolling out Windows ARM laptops powered by Qualcomm chips and the like with decent specs and quality, unlike some of the cheap ARM Linux laptop efforts we’ve seen. For those Windows ARM laptops, headway is being made in being able to run Linux on them.

      A Phoronix reader pointed out the aarch64-laptops on GitHub effort that is spinning Ubuntu Linux images that work on some of the more prominent Windows ARM laptops. Prebuilt images are currently available for the ASUS NovaGo TP370QL, HP Envy x2, and Lenovo Mixx 630.

    • Now you can run Linux on (some) ARM laptops designed for Windows 10 on ARM

      The first Windows 10 laptops and tablets with ARM processors shipped in 2018… to mixed reviews.

      The Asus NovaGo, HP Envy x2, and Lenovo Miix 630 are relatively thin and light devices with long battery life and support for 4G LTE. But they’re also relatively sluggish computers… especially when Windows has emulate x86 architecture to run software that wasn’t designed for ARM chips.

      But that’s Windows. What if you want to run a different operating system on these computers? Up until recently there hasn’t been a good way to do that. But now the folks behind the AArch64 Laptops open source project on github have come up with a way to install Ubuntu 18.04 LTS on some of the first Windows 10 on ARM laptops.

    • Dark Mode on Apple’s macOS? Linux did it First

      Last year, Apple introduced the highly anticipated “dark mode” feature on their macOS (Mojave) desktop operating system. Many Apple fans regarded it as a cool and useful enhancement to their desktop user interface. It allowed users to turn on the system-wide dark color scheme and encouraged third-party app developers to offer a dark mode for their Mac apps. If you are thinking that Apple is the first to use this feature on the desktop, think again.

      As far as I can remember, Linux is the first desktop OS that lets users easily customize the UI and provided plenty of dark theme options. I think Ubuntu started the trend in using darker themes out of the box several years ago, and they did it in a more elegant way when compared to other Linux distros. Elegant in a way that the dark scheme UI was consistently used and built-in apps were using dark themes.

    • Best Chromebooks you can buy today

      With the rise of Android and Linux app support on Chrome OS, the possibilities for a high-end Chromebook have never been greater. Combined with the new tablet form factor, Chrome OS is becoming quite the all-in-one operating system. Let’s take a look at the best Chromebooks on the market today.

  • Server

    • Measuring user experience success with building blocks

      PatternFly is an open source design system used by Red Hat to maintain visual consistency and usability across the product portfolio. When the PatternFly team started work on PatternFly 4, the next major version of the system, they focused a large part of their effort on evolving the visual language. But how would users respond to the new look and feel?

      To get the raw and unfiltered feedback the team needed, Sara Chizari, a UXD user researcher, planned a reaction study with a fun twist and then headed to Red Hat Summit in San Francisco.

    • Backup partners target Red Hat Ceph Storage

      Red Hat Ceph Storage provides object, block and file data services for organizations modernizing their hybrid-cloud and data analytics infrastructures. With the release of Red Hat Ceph Storage 3.2, improved performance and functionality is driving new storage use cases in the modernized datacenter.

      In addition to data security and integrity, organizations must consider their strategy around data protection, backup and archiving. Whether you are backing up your enterprise application data as part of a disaster recovery strategy, or you are performing deep archives of sensitive records, rich media, or regulated data, Red Hat works with industry-leading backup, recovery and archiving partners to certify Ceph as a backup target for your most important data.

    • Effortless API creation with full API lifecycle using Red Hat Integration (Part 1)

      Nowadays, API development with proper lifecycle management often takes days if not weeks to get a simple API service up and running. One of the main reasons behind this is there are always way too many parties involved in the process. Plus there are hours of development and configuration.

    • Announcing Kubernetes-native self-service messaging with Red Hat AMQ Online

      Microservices architecture is taking over software development discussions everywhere. More and more companies are adapting to develop microservices as the core of their new systems. However, when going beyond the “microservices 101” googled tutorial, required services communications become more and more complex. Scalable, distributed systems, container-native microservices, and serverless functions benefit from decoupled communications to access other dependent services. Asynchronous (non-blocking) direct or brokered interaction is usually referred to as messaging.

      Managing and setting up messaging infrastructure components for development use was usually a long prerequisite task requiring several days on the project calendar. Need a queue or topic? Wait at least a couple weeks. Raise a ticket with your infrastructure operations team, grab a large cup of coffee, and pray for them to have some time to provision it. When your development team is adopting an agile approach, waiting days for infrastructure is not acceptable.

    • Settling In With IBM i For The Long Haul

      If nothing else, the IBM i platform has exhibited extraordinary longevity. One might even say legendary longevity, if you want to take its history all the way back to the System/3 minicomputer from 1969. This is the real starting point in the AS/400 family tree and this is when Big Blue, for very sound legal and technical and marketing reasons, decided to fork its products to address the unique needs of large enterprises (with the System/360 mainframe and its follow-ons) and small and medium businesses (starting with the System/3 and moving on through the System/34, System/32, System/38, and System/36 in the 1970s and early 1980s and passing through the AS/400, AS/400e, iSeries, System i, and then IBM i on Power Systems platforms.

      It has been a long run indeed, and many customers who have invested in the platform started way back then and there with the early versions of RPG and moved their applications forward and changed them as their businesses evolved and the depth and breadth of corporate computing changed, moving on up through RPG II, RPG III, RPG IV, ILE RPG, and now RPG free form. Being on this platform for even three decades makes you a relative newcomer.

    • Kiwi TCMS 6.5.3

      We’re happy to announce Kiwi TCMS version 6.5.3! This is a security, improvement and bug-fix update that includes new versions of Django, includes several database migrations and fixes several bugs. You can explore everything at https://demo.kiwitcms.org!

    • How to explain Kubernetes Operators in plain English
    • The State of High-Performance Fabrics: A Chat with the OpenFabrics Alliance

      The global high-performance computing (HPC) market is growing and its applications are constantly evolving. These systems rely on networks, often referred to as fabrics, to link servers together forming the communications backbone of modern HPC systems. These fabrics need to be high speed and highly scalable to efficiently run advanced computing applications. Often, there is also a requirement that the software that runs these fabrics be open source. It turns out that this description of high-performance fabrics is increasingly applicable to environments outside classical HPC, even as HPC continues to serve as the bellwether for the future of commercial and enterprise computing. Fortunately, the mission of the OpenFabrics Alliance (OFA) has recently been updated to include accelerating the development of advanced fabrics and importantly to further their adoption in fields beyond traditional HPC.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • Linux Action News 92

      A week of nasty security flaws, and a lack of patches… For some of us. Raspberry Pi opens a physical store, our thoughts on the new LibreOffice interface, and the new round of nasty flaws hitting all versions of Android.

      Plus new disk encryption coming to Linux, Intel releases their open source encoder for future video on the web, and more.

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux 5.0, Canonical Update, openSUSE Board Elections, Woman and Girls in Science, European Astro-Pi Challenge

      The release candidate 6 for the highly anticipated 5.0 Linux kernel was just released. You can view the changeset for 5.0-rc6 here. Canonical issued an update (USN-3878-3) and a formal apology for a recent kernel update regression that prevented systems with certain graphics chipsets from booting. A stable version of Chrome OS 72 was just released on Friday which introduces better access to external storage, touchscreen optimizations for tablet mode and more.

    • Linux Foundation

      • Gain Valuable Kubernetes Skills and Certification with Linux Foundation Training

        Quick, what was the the most dominant technology skill requested by IT firms in 2018? According to a study from job board Dice, Kubernetes skills dominated among IT firm requests, and this news followed similar findings released last year from jobs board Indeed. The Dice report, based on its available job postings, found that Kubernetes was heavily requested by IT recruiters as well as hiring managers. As SDX Central has reported: “Indeed’s work found that Kubernetes had the fastest year-over-year surge in job searches among IT professionals. It also found that related job postings increased 230 percent between September 2017 and September 2018.”

      • ODPi Announces New Egeria Conformance Program to Advance Open Metadata Exchange Between Vendor Tools

        ODPi, a nonprofit Linux Foundation project, accelerating the open ecosystem of big data solutions, today announced the ODPi Egeria Conformance Program, which ensures vendors who ship ODPi Egeria in their product offerings are delivering a consistent set of APIs and capabilities, such that data governance professionals can easily build an enterprise-wide metadata catalog that all their data tools can easily leverage.

        Egeria is one of the open source projects under the ODPi umbrella. ODPi aims to be a standard for simplifying, sharing and developing an open big data ecosystem.

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

        The Open Mainframe Project (OMP) announced today that Zowe, an open source software framework for the mainframe that strengthens integration with modern enterprise applications, is now production ready less than six months after launching. Any enterprise or solution developer can access the Zowe 1.0 source code or convenience build and incorporate it into their products or services with the agility and scalability of a cloud platform.

        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.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Pixman 0.38 Released With Meson Build System Support

        Pixman 0.38 is out this morning to kick off a new week of open-source software releases. Pixman is the pixel manipulation library used by the X.Org Server, Cairo, and other Linux software projects.

        The Pixman 0.38 release isn’t the most exciting update and in fact only a handful of changes over Pixman 0.36 from last November, which itself was the first update to this library in three years. Pixman doesn’t see too much activity these days thanks in part to more software using Vulkan and OpenGL to benefit from GPU hardware acceleration. The two primary changes of Pixman 0.38.0 is introducing Meson build system support and implementing floating point gradient computation.

      • Vulkan 1.1.100 Released Ahead Of Vulkan’s Third Birthday

        Vulkan 1.1.100 was published this morning as the latest version of this high-performance, multi-platform graphics and compute API.

        While the patch version rolled over to 100, that’s about as exciting as this update gets to Vulkan API with no major changes to mark this milestone. There aren’t any great new extensions or major changes to this version number, but just some documentation/specification clarifications and corrections.

      • Sway 1.0 Close To Release For This Very Promising Wayland Compositor

        Out today is the second release candidate of the feature-packed Sway 1.0 Wayland compositor that continues to be inspired by the i3 window manager.

        Since last week’s Sway 1.0 RC1, the compositor entered its feature freeze until the stable release happens. As such, in today’s Sway 1.0 RC2 update is just a variety of bug/regression fixes.

        The Sway 1.0 development over the past number of months has brought a lot of improvements and new features from multi-GPU support, support for new Wayland protocols, video capture support, integration around the WLROOTS library, tablet support, and many other additions.

      • NVIDIA’s VDPAU Picks Up HEVC 4:4:4 Support

        While NVIDIA is no longer active promoting their Video Decode and Presentation API for Unix “VDPAU” in favor of the cross-platform, CUDA-focused Video Codec SDK with NVENC/NVDEC, the VDPAU library still sees some rare activity from time to time.

        As the first commits since November, last week libvdpau added support for the HEVC 4:4:4 profile to the VDPAU API. This support for H.265 4:4:4 video decoding was added to the libvdpau API and presumably will be exposed by the NVIDIA proprietary driver shortly if it’s not already in place with its own VDPAU library build.

    • Benchmarks

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • 21 Excellent KDE Plasma Widgets

        After desktop hopping for many years, I’m fairly settled on KDE Plasma 5. It’s a lightweight and responsive desktop which is full-featured and beguiling to the eye. In my opinion, one of the aspects that stands KDE Plasma head and shoulders above its desktop peers is extensibility. Plasma lets you configure the desktop to your specific preferences.

        KDE Plasma widgets (also known as plasmoids) are a smart way of customizing the desktop. There’s an abundance of widgets available that act like building blocks, constructing a desktop that’s perfect for your needs and requirements. I’ve tried the vast majority of KDE Plasma widgets. In this article, I recommend 21 of them. There should be something for everyone. And there’s a few fun widgets along the way!

        The vast majority of my recommendations can be installed using the Plasma Add-On Installer (see image below). There’s a few that need a bit of effort to install, but I’ll provide details to get them working. This can involve downloading the widget’s source code, compiling that code, and installing it. Widgets can also be installed from a local file.

      • KDE Frameworks 5.55 Released for KDE Plasma 5.15, Improves Android Notifications

        Just in time for the February 12 release of the highly anticipated KDE Plasma 5.15 desktop environment, the KDE Frameworks 5.55.0 open-source software suite is now available with dozens of improvements, updates, new features, and countless bug fixes. First and foremost, the Breeze icon theme received lots of new icons, so you should see a pleasing refresh after updating your KDE Plasma desktop to KDE Frameworks 5.55.

        Moreover, the exiv2extractor utility received support for BMP, GIF, WebP, and TGA image formats, taglibwriter received support for additional mimetypes, the KIconThemes, KService, KXMLGUI, and Solid components are now built without D-Bus on Android, KNotification received Android notification channel support and support for Android API level < 23, and KTextEditor got a bunch of improvements too.

      • KDE Frameworks 5.55 Released With Android Notifications, KWayland Fixes
      • KDE Plasma 5.16 Desktop to Improve Multi-Screen Support, System Settings Pages

        Renowned KDE developer Nate Graham published another weekly report on the new features and improvements he and his team worked on for upcoming versions of the KDE Plasma desktop environment, as well as the KDE Applications and KDE Frameworks software suites. The good news is that the issue is already fixed in KDE Plasma 5.15.

        First and foremost, the developer reveals the fact that a KDE Plasma 5.14.5.1 bugfix release will be available this week to address a critical issue in the latest KDE Plasma 5.14.5 desktop environment which prevents users from updating their system via the Plasma Discover package manager.

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

      • antiX MX 18.1 Distro Released with Latest Debian GNU/Linux 9.7 “Stretch” Updates

        Based on Debian GNU/Linux 9.7 “Stretch,” antiX MX 18.1 updates the mx-installer, which is based on gazelle-installer, to address bug that lead to crashes during installation of the GRUB bootloader, adds support in mx-repo-manager to lists even more repository mirrors, and improves MX-PackageInstaller and MX-Conky.

        Another important area improved in antiX MX 18.1 is the antiX live-USB image, which now features persistence up to 20GB of disk space, as well as much better UEFI boot capabilities, especially when running it on 64-bit UEFI systems. The devs consider creating a “full-featured” antiX live-USB for 32-bit UEFI systems as well.

    • Screenshots/Screencasts

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandriva Family

      • OpenMandriva 4.0 LX Beta Run Through
      • OpenMandriva 4.0 Enters Beta with Linux 4.20, KDE Plasma 5.15 & LibreOffice 6.2

        The OpenMandriva project finally kicked of 2019 with the beta release of their upcoming and long-anticipated OpenMandriva Lx 4.0 operating system.
        A few months in the works, the OpenMandriva Lx 4.0 Beta release is now ready for public testing, shipping with lots of updated packages and numerous improvements. The Live ISO image got refreshed a bit and it now features new entries for language and keyboard preference in the boot menu and the KPatience card game.

        Also added in the Live ISO image is the KBackup utility as a replacement for draksnapshot to help users backup directories or files, Dnfdragora GUI package manager as a replacement for rpmdrake, Plasma Software Updates applet for applying packag updates using PackageKit, and KUser tool for managing users and groups as a replacement for userdrake.

        Among the main components included in OpenMandriva Lx 4.0 Beta, we can mention the KDE Plasma 5.15 Beta desktop environment, which is accompanied by the KDE Frameworks 5.54.0 and KDE Applications 18.12.1 software suites, as well as Qt 5.12 application framework. Updated apps include the recently released LibreOffice 6.2 office suite, Mozilla Firefox 65, digiKam 6.0, and Krita 4.1.7.101.

    • Fedora

      • Fedora 30 Will Get Bash 5.0 But Yum’s Death Sentence Postponed To F31

        Fedora’s Engineering and Steering Committee approved new work around the in-development Fedora 30.

        Originally Fedora 29 was going to drop the old Yum package manager bits now that the DNF package manager has been in good shape for years and is largely a drop-in replacement to Yum. That didn’t happen for Fedora 29 and just recently was proposed to drop Yum 3 for Fedora 30, but with that change coming in late and some tooling bits not ready in time, that has been diverted to Fedora 31. FESCo approves of dropping Yum 3 for Fedora 31 and is hoping it will be removed right after Rawhide branches for F30, giving plenty of time to fix any issues that may come up or other unexpected problems.

      • Fedora 31 Should Be Out Around The End of November

        While Fedora 31 was once talked about to never happen or be significantly delayed to focus on re-tooling the Linux distribution, they opted for a sane approach not to throw off the release cadence while working on low-level changes around the platform. A draft of the release schedule for Fedora 31 has now been published and it puts the release date at the end of November.

        Rather than delaying or cancelling the Fedora 31 release, it will go on like normal and the developers will need to work in their changes to the confines of their traditional six month release cadence.

      • Draft Fedora 31 schedule available

        It’s almost time for me to submit the Fedora 31 schedule to FESCo for approval. Before I do that, I’m sharing it with the community for comment. After some discussion before the end of the year, we decided not to go with an extended development cycle for Fedora 31. After getting input from teams within Fedora, I have a draft schedule available.

        The basic structure of the Fedora 31 schedule is pretty similar to the Fedora 30 schedule. You may notice some minor formatting changes due to a change in the tooling, but the milestones are similar. I did incorporate changes from different teams. Some tasks that are no longer relevant were removed. I added tasks for the Mindshare teams. And I included several upstream milestones.

    • Debian Family

      • An Everyday Linux User Review Of Debian 9

        Over the past few months I have been working my way through the top Linux distributions and writing a review for each one.

        Thus far I have covered Manjaro, Linux Mint, Elementary, MX Linux and Ubuntu. These reviews are based on the top 5 distributions as listed at Distrowatch. Number 6 on that list is Debian which is the distribution I am reviewing here.

        The list of distributions at Distrowatch include every distribution that you may or may or not have heard of and it is worth pointing out that not every distribution on the list is suitable for everybody’s needs. For example Kali is very popular with penetration testers and security experts because it comes with a whole range of tools for testing networks and for searching for vulnerabilities. Kali however is not suitable for the average Joe who primarily uses their system for web browsing and casual gaming.

        The Everyday Linux User blog is about looking at Linux distributions from the point of view of an average computer user. What this means is that it isn’t specifically for developers, for hackers, for artists, musicians or video bloggers. The reviews are aimed at showing off a standard desktop operating system that by and large should be easy to install, easy to use and should either provide a good variety of applications or the ability to easily install those applications.

        With this in mind whilst reviewing certain distributions I will state where that distribution is or isn’t necessarily suitable for the Everyday Linux User.

      • Derivatives

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Google open sources ClusterFuzz

    The fuzzing software is designed to automatically feed unexpected inputs to an application in order to unearth bugs.

    Google originally wrote ClusterFuzz to test for bugs in its Chrome web browser, throwing 25,000 cores at the task. In 2012, Google said that ClusterFuzz was running around 50 million test cases a day on Chrome. So far it’s helped find some 16,000 bugs in the web browser.

    [...]

    ClusterFuzz has been released under version 2.0 of the Apache License.

  • Google open-sources ClusterFuzz, a tool that has uncovered 16,000 bugs in Chrome

    Ever heard of “fuzzing”? It’s not what you think — in software engineering, the term refers to a bug-detecting technique that involves feeding “unexpected” or out-of-bounds inputs to target programs. It’s especially good at uncovering memory corruption bugs and code assertions, which normally take keen eyes and a lot of manpower — not to mention endless rounds of code review.

    Google’s solution? Pass the fuzzing work off to software. Enter ClusterFuzz, a cheekily named infrastructure running on over 25,000 cores that continuously (and autonomously) probes Chrome’s codebase for bugs. Two years ago, the Mountain View company began offering ClusterFuzz as a free service to open source projects through OSS-Fuzz, and today, it’s open-sourcing it on GitHub.

  • 2018 Open Source Yearbook: Download the PDF

    The 2018 Open Source Yearbook is the 4th annual community-contributed collection of the past year’s top open source projects, people, tools, and stories.

    Submit the form below to download the free PDF to read the complete collection.

  • Events

    • Last week of early birds!

      We do have some parts of the schedule fixed: the trainings and some initial speakers.

      The trainings are open enrollment courses at a bargain price, where parts of the dividends goes to financing the conference. This year we have two great trainers: Michael Kerrisk of manpage and The Linux Programming Interface fame, and Chris Simmonds, the man behind the Mastering Embedded Linux Programming book and a trainer since more than 15 years. The trainings held are: Building and Using Shared Libraries on Linux and Fast Track to Embedded Linux. These are both one day courses held in a workshop format.

    • linux.conf.au 2019

      Along with a number of other Canonical staff I recently attended linux.conf.au 2019 in Christchurch, New Zealand. I consider this the major Australia/New Zealand yearly conference that covers general open source development. This year the theme of the conference was “Linux of Things” and many of the talks had an IoT connection.

      One of the premium swag items was a Raspberry Pi Zero. It is unfortunate that this is not a supported Ubuntu Core device (CPU a generation too old) as this would have been a great opportunity to show an Ubuntu Core device in action. I did prepare a lightning talk showing some Ubuntu Core development on a Raspberry Pi 3, but this sadly didn’t make the cut.

    • Video: Speeding up Programs with OpenACC in GCC

      In this video from FOSDEM’19, Thomas Schwinge from Mentor presents: Speeding up Programs with OpenACC in GCC.

    • Tobias Mueller: Speaking at FOSDEM 2019 in Belgium, Brussels

      This year I spoke at FOSDEM again. It became sort of a tradition to visit Brussels in winter and although I was tempted to break with the tradition, I came again.

      [……

      I had two talks at this year’s FOSDEM, both in the Security track. One on my work with Ludovico on protecting against rogue USB devices and another one on tracking users with core Internet protocols.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Change look & feel of Firefox pinned tabs

        Here’s a curious corner case for you. About a year ago, Firefox Quantum introduced a whole bunch of radical changes in how it works and behaves, the biggest among them the switch to WebExtensions. This move made a lot of friendly, powerful extensions not work anymore, including a range of tab management addons. On the upside, Firefox also brought about the integrated tab pinning feature. It works nicely. But.

        Pinned tabs will detach from the tab bar and position themselves to the left, somewhat like a typical desktop quicklaunch icon area. So far so good, but the corner case be here! As it happens, the pinned tabs are relatively narrow, which means quick stab ‘n’ open action isn’t quite possible. You need to be accurate positioning your mouse cursor, and that could slow you down. There does not seem to be a trivial option to change the width of the pinned tabs. Hence this guide.

      • Mozilla Open Letter: Facebook, Do Your Part Against Disinformation

        Is Facebook making a sincere effort to be transparent about the content on its platform? Or, is the social media platform neglecting its promises?

        Facebook promised European lawmakers and users it would increase the transparency of political advertising on the platform to prevent abuse during the elections. But in the very same breath, they took measures to block access to transparency tools that let users see how they are being targeted.

        With the 2019 EU Parliamentary Elections on the horizon, it is vital that Facebook take action to address this problem. So today, Mozilla and 32 other organizations — including Access Now and Reporters Without Borders — are publishing an open letter to Facebook.

  • LibreOffice

    • Community Member Monday: Khaled Hosny

      With LibreOffice 6.2 now available, we return to our regular chats with LibreOffice community members! Today we’re talking to Khaled Hosny, who is working on the software’s font handling and user interface…

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • FSF Fiscal Year 2017 Annual Report now available

      The Annual Report reviews the FSF’s activities, accomplishments, and financial picture from October 1, 2016 to September 30, 2017. It is the result of a full external financial audit, along with a focused study of program results. It examines the impact of the FSF’s events, programs, and activities, including the annual LibrePlanet conference, the Respects Your Freedom (RYF) hardware certification program, and the fight against Digital Restrictions Management (DRM).

      “Software filters the information we receive about the world, the messages we put out into the world, and even the way we physically move in the world,” said FSF executive director John Sullivan in his introduction to the FY2017 report. “If the software is not free ‘as in freedom’… the consequences for the rest of us will be loss of democracy, privacy, security, freedom of speech, freedom of movement — and even loss of life.”

      The FSF publishes its financials and annual report as part of their commitment to transparency. Along with its strong financial health, accountability and transparency are the reasons the FSF is a Charity Navigator Four Star Charity.

    • FSFE Planet has been refurbished

      If you are reading these lines, you are already accessing the brand-new planet of the FSFE. While Björn, Coordinator of Team Germany, has largely improved the design in late 2017, we tackled many underlying issues this time.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • Closing AGPL cloud services loop-hole: a MongoDB approach

      The problem comes with software-as-a-service. Large cloud or hosted services providers have found ways to commercialise popular open source projects without giving anything back, thus limiting software freedom intended by the licensors. The business model primarily focuses on offering managed services, e.g. customisation, integration, service levels and others, to a freely available open source component and charging a fee for this. Open source projects do not usually have the scale to effectively withstand such competition by providing similar offerings. To say the least, this pattern incentivises the writing of the software in closed source code.

      AGPL is not enough to capture such a services scenario. Commercial entities rarely modify open source components and, if they do, releasing corresponding source code to such modifications does not affect their proprietary interests or revenue flow.

  • Programming/Development

    • Tryton Unconference 2019: In Marseille on the 6th & 7th of June

      We will go in the sunny city of Marseille in south of France on the 6th and 7th of June. Contrary to previous editions of the Tryton Unconferences the coding sprint will be organized during the two days preceding the conference.

    • Argonne Looks to Singularity for HPC Code Portability

      Scaling code for massively parallel architectures is a common challenge the scientific community faces. When moving from a system used for development—a personal laptop, for instance, or even a university’s computing cluster—to a large-scale supercomputer like those housed at the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility, researchers traditionally would only migrate the target application: the underlying software stack would be left behind.

      To help alleviate this problem, the ALCF has deployed the service Singularity. Singularity, an open-source framework originally developed by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) and now supported by Sylabs Inc., is a tool for creating and running containers (platforms designed to package code and its dependencies so as to facilitate fast and reliable switching between computing environments)—albeit one intended specifically for scientific workflows and high-performance computing resources.

    • Mitogen v0.2.4 released

      Mitogen for Ansible v0.2.4 has been released. This version is noteworthy as it contains major refinements to the core libary and Ansible extension to improve its behaviour during larger Ansible runs.

      Work on scalability is far from complete, as it progresses towards inclusion of a patch held back since last summer to introduce per-CPU multiplexers. The current idea is to exhaust profiling gains from a single process before landing it, as all single-CPU gains continue to apply in that case, and there is much less risk of inefficiency being hidden in noise created by multiple multiplexer processes.

    • Introducing kids to computational thinking with Python
    • The Factory Method Pattern and Its Implementation in Python
    • PyDev of the Week: Paolo Melchiorre
    • Create a filter for the audio and image files with python
    • Some simple CodeWars problems
    • PyPy 7.0.0 released

      All the interpreters are based on much the same codebase, thus the triple
      release.

      Until we can work with downstream providers to distribute builds with PyPy,
      we
      have made packages for some common packages `available as wheels`_.

      The `GC hooks`_ , which can be used to gain more insights into its
      performance, has been improved and it is now possible to manually manage the
      GC by using a combination of “gc.disable“ and “gc.collect_step“. See the
      `GC blog post`_.

    • PyPy 7.0 Released – The Alternative Python Interpreter Now With Alpha 3.6 Support

      PyPy, the popular Python implementation alternative to the de facto CPython and often faster thanks to its JIT compiler, is up to version 7.0 as of this morning.

      PyPy 7.0 continues offering Python 2.7 support via its Python2 interpreter and there is still PyPy3.5 as the Python 3.5 support target. New to the game is an alpha of PyPy3.6 that provides Python 3.6 features but not yet considered a stable release.

    • PyPy v7.0.0: triple release of 2.7, 3.5 and 3.6-alpha

      All the interpreters are based on much the same codebase, thus the triple release.
      Until we can work with downstream providers to distribute builds with PyPy, we have made packages for some common packages available as wheels.

      The GC hooks , which can be used to gain more insights into its performance, has been improved and it is now possible to manually manage the GC by using a combination of gc.disable and gc.collect_step. See the GC blog post.

    • Easier Python paths with pathlib

      Working with files is one of the most common things developers do. After all, you often want to read from files (to read information saved by other users, sessions or programs) or write to files (to record data for other users, sessions or programs).

      Of course, files are located inside directories. Navigating through directories, finding files in those directories, and even extracting information about directories (and the files within them) might be common, but they’re often frustrating to deal with. In Python, a number of different modules and objects provide such functionality, including os.path, os.stat and glob.

      This isn’t necessarily bad; the fact is that Python developers have used this combination of modules, methods and files for quite some time. But if you ever felt like it was a bit clunky or old-fashioned, you’re not alone.

    • AVR ATMEGA328P support in avr-gcc

      I can save £0.40 per device if I move from the ATMEGA328P to an ATMEGA328PB, given that I am expecting to use around 4000 of these microcontrollers a year this looks like a no brainer decision to me… The ATMEGA328P has been around for a few years now and I did check that the device was supported in avr-gcc *before* I committed to a PCB. The device on the surface appears to be a simple B revision, with a few changes over the original part as described in Application Note AN_42559 – AT15007: Differences between ATmega328/P and ATmega328PB. There are potential issues around the crystal drive for the clock (but I am pretty sure that I have done the appropriate calculations so this will work – famous last words I know).

    • Django 2.2 beta 1 released

      Django 2.2 beta 1 is now available. It represents the second stage in the 2.2 release cycle and is an opportunity for you to try out the changes coming in Django 2.2.

      Django 2.2 has a salmagundi of new features which you can read about in the in-development 2.2 release notes.

    • Episode 15: Learning Python
    • Less than 2 Days to Go on wxPython Book Kickstarter
    • Python IDEs and Code Editors
    • Python Architecture Stuff: do we need more?
    • How to write a Python web framework. Part I.
    • Computational Musicology For Python Programmers – Episode 198
    • Python Community service award Q3: Mario Corchero
    • Python Programming in Interactive vs Script Mode
    • A Steady Leader of the Python Community, Alex Gaynor, Receives Community Service Award
    • Zato: A successful Python 3 migration story
    • 6 lessons we learned building Measure, a contributor relationship management system

      At its core, Measure is, for lack of a better term, a contributor relationship management system. Measure consists of easy-to-understand widgets that can be arbitrarily displayed to build dashboards. It allows you to visualize and understand how people, both as individuals and as organizations, are interacting with open source projects on GitHub. It produces metrics that focus not only on code but also on contributors.

    • Asm-goto Support Added To LLVM, Helping Out Clang’ing Kernel Efforts

      LLVM has merged its support finally for supporting “asm goto” with this inline Assembly support needed for building the Linux x86/x86_64 kernel.

      The LLVM asm-goto support was merged over the weekend while patches are pending against Clang to add the necessary bits to the C/C++ compiler front-end.

      This satisfies a eight year old bug / feature request for handling “asm goto” by LLVM. This addition is notable since it’s now one less barrier for being able to build the mainline Linux kernel off a vanilla LLVM/Clang compiler on x86_64 as an alternative to GCC. Unfortunately, some items still need to be addressed in reaching this mainline support goal.

    • Facebook Releases HHVM 4.0 With PHP No Longer Supported

      HHVM, formerly known as the HipHop Virtual Machine and what was born at Facebook as a higher-performance PHP implementation only to shift focus to running their own PHP-derived Hack programming language, has reached version 4.0 as it officially no longer supports PHP.

      HHVM 4.0 doesn’t drop support for executing PHP scripts entirely, which will likely happen in their next release when dropping the PHP tag. But in this release already they have removed functionality from PHP arrays that are not present in Hack arrays, deprecation of references, and dropping functions that inspect or alter the caller frame.

    • HHVM 4.0.0
    • 12 Best Android Development Courses

Leftovers

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Patent Policy Regulation and Public Health

      This paper analyzes the impact of the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement on social welfare, when the effects on public health are taken into account.

    • US Military Fuel Tanks Threaten Aquifer in Hawaii

      A massive complex of 20 U.S. military storage tanks is buried in a bluff called Red Hill that overlooks Honolulu’s primary drinking water supply, 100 feet below.

      The walls on the 75-year-old jet fuel tanks are now so thin that the edge of a dime is thicker. Each of the underground tanks holds 12.5 million gallons of jet fuel; 225,000,000 gallons in total.

      In 2014, 27,000 gallons of jet fuel leaked through a weak spot on a tank that had been repaired with a welded patch. The welding gave way and the fuel entered the the water supply.

    • John Dingell Kept the Faith, From the New Deal to ‘Medicare for All’

      The veteran congressman, who has died at age 92, always understood that health care is a right.

    • Daily Dose of Protest: Heavy As Lead – Leyla McCalla

      Back in April 2014, the Flint water crisis began when the decision was made to switch from a treated water to an untreated water source for the sake of saving money. This resulted in lead contamination that adversely affected over 100,000 residents. Residents in Flint, Michigan still do not have clean drinking water.

      Even though this crisis may be the most publicized incident, there are several communities that grapple with lead contamination.

    • Trump’s Pledge to Defeat AIDS Is Belied by His Policies

      In his State of the Union address, President Trump pledged to end the HIV epidemic by 2030. In that same speech, he also pledged brutal new measures to punish and vilify people who migrate simply seeking safety for themselves and their families.

      The death of Roxsana Hernandez shows, quite simply, that he cannot do both.

      Hernandez was an HIV-positive transgender woman from Honduras who presented herself at the border last May for asylum. US Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers took her into custody, and in under a month, she was dead. A private autopsy revealed evidence that she may have been beaten while handcuffed in detention, and that her death, resulting from dehydration and complications related to HIV, was entirely preventable.

      The Trump administration’s actions violently exacerbated the conditions that led to Hernandez’s death. His policies promote violence, sexual assault and denial of health care for trans women of color, particularly immigrants already in dangerous situations that they are migrating to escape. Addressing HIV requires an understanding of and commitment to addressing the conditions trans women of color face — not a denial of our existence and humanity.

      A recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study estimated that one in four Latina trans women are HIV-positive, and that a shocking 44 percent of Black trans women live with HIV. Trans women of color are 49 times more likely to contract HIV in our lifetimes than the general population, and violence and migration play large roles in many of our stories. Yet our voices, leadership and needs are rarely centered in government strategies to address the crisis.

    • Trump Administration Salutes Parade Of Generic Drug Approvals, But Hundreds Aren’t For Sale

      The Trump administration has been trumpeting a huge increase in FDA generic drug approvals the past two years, the result of its actions to streamline a cumbersome process and combat anti-competitive practices. But nearly half of those newly approved drugs aren’t being sold in the United States, Kaiser Health News has found, meaning that many patients are deriving little practical benefit from the administration’s efforts.

      The administration’s aggressive push to approve more generics is designed to spur more competition with expensive brand-name drugs, and drive prices lower, President Donald Trump noted at a White House event last month. The Food and Drug Administration has approved more than 1,600 generic drug applications since January 2017 — about a third more than it did in the last two years of the Obama administration.

      But more than 700, or about 43 percent, of those generics still weren’t on the market as of early January, a KHN data analysis of FDA and drug list price records shows. Even more noteworthy: 36 percent of generics that would be the first to compete against a branded drug are not yet for sale. That means thousands or even millions of patients have no option beyond buying branded drugs that can cost thousands of dollars per month.

      “That’s shockingly high,” said former congressman Henry Waxman, who co-sponsored the 1984 law that paved the way for the generic approval process as we know it today. He said he’d like to know more, but suspects anti-competitive behavior is at least partly to blame and that revisions to the so-called Hatch-Waxman Act might be needed.

  • Security

    • Security updates for Monday
    • SS7 Cellular Network Flaw Nobody Wants To Fix Now Being Exploited To Drain Bank Accounts

      Back in 2017, you might recall how hackers and security researchers highlighted long-standing vulnerabilities in Signaling System 7 (SS7, or Common Channel Signalling System 7 in the US), a series of protocols first built in 1975 to help connect phone carriers around the world. While the problem isn’t new, a 2016 60 minutes report brought wider attention to the fact that the flaw can allow a hacker to track user location, dodge encryption, and even record private conversations. All while the intrusion looks like ordinary carrier to carrier chatter among a sea of other, “privileged peering relationships.”

      Telecom lobbyists have routinely tried to downplay the flaw after carriers have failed to do enough to stop hackers from exploiting it. In Canada for example, the CBC recently noted how Bell and Rogers weren’t even willing to talk about the flaw after the news outlet published an investigation showing how, using only the number of his mobile phone, it was possible to intercept the calls and movements of Quebec NDP MP Matthew Dubé.

      But while major telecom carriers try to downplay the scale of the problem, news reports keep indicating how the flaw is abused far more widely than previously believed. This Motherboard investigation by Joseph Cox, for example, showed how, while the attacks were originally only surmised to be within the reach of intelligence operators (perhaps part of the reason intelligence-tied telcos have been so slow to address the issue), hackers have increasingly been using the flaw to siphon money out of targets’ bank accounts, thus far predominately in Europe…

    • Doomsday Docker Security Hole Uncovered

      Red Hat technical product manager for containers, Scott McCarty, warned: “The disclosure of a security flaw (CVE-2019-5736) in runc and docker illustrates a bad scenario for many IT administrators, managers, and CxOs. Containers represent a move back toward shared systems where applications from many different users all run on the same Linux host. Exploiting this vulnerability means that malicious code could potentially break containment, impacting not just a single container, but the entire container host, ultimately compromising the hundreds-to-thousands of other containers running on it. While there are very few incidents that could qualify as a doomsday scenario for enterprise IT, a cascading set of exploits affecting a wide range of interconnected production systems qualifies…and that’s exactly what this vulnerability represents.”

    • Doomsday Docker security hole uncovered
    • It starts with Linux: How Red Hat is helping to counter Linux container security flaws

      The disclosure of a security flaw (CVE-2019-5736) in runc and docker illustrates a bad scenario for many IT administrators, managers, and CxOs. Containers represent a move back toward shared systems where applications from many different users all run on the same Linux host. Exploiting this vulnerability means that malicious code could potentially break containment, impacting not just a single container, but the entire container host, ultimately compromising the hundreds-to-thousands of other containers running on it. A cascading set of exploits affecting a wide range of interconnected production systems qualifies as a difficult scenario for any IT organization and that’s exactly what this vulnerability represents.

      For many Red Hat end users, it’s unlikely that this flaw gets that far. IT organizations using Red Hat Enterprise Linux to underpin their Linux container and cloud-native deployments are likely protected, thanks to SELinux. This vulnerability is mitigated by the use of SELinux in targeted enforcing mode, which prevents this vulnerability from being exploited. The default for SELinux on Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 is targeted enforcing mode and it is rarely disabled in a containerized environment.

    • Patch this run(DM)c Docker flaw or you be illin’… Tricky containers can root host boxes. It’s like that – and that’s the way it is

      Aleksa Sarai, a senior software engineer at SUSE Linux GmbH, has disclosed a serious vulnerability affecting runc, the default container runtime for Docker, containerd, Podman, and CRI-O.

      “While there are very few incidents that could qualify as a doomsday scenario for enterprise IT, a cascading set of exploits affecting a wide range of interconnected production systems qualifies…and that’s exactly what this vulnerability represents,” said Scott McCarty, principal product manager for containers at Red Hat, in a blog post.

    • Kubernetes, Docker, ContainerD Impacted by RunC Container Runtime Bug

      The Linux community is dealing with another security flaw, with the latest bug impacting the runC container runtime that underpins Docker, cri-o, containerd, and Kubernetes.

      The bug, dubbed CVE-2019-5736, allows an infected container to overwrite the host runC binary and gain root-level code access on the host. This would basically allow the infected container to gain control of the overarching host container and allow an attacker to execute any command.

    • Red Hat announces container flaw CVE-2019-5736
    • Thunderbolt preboot access control list support in bolt

      Recent BIOS versions enabled support for storing a limited list of UUIDs directly in the thunderbolt controller. This is called the pre-boot access control list (or preboot ACL), in bolt simply called “bootacl”. The devices corresponding to the devices in the bootacl will be authorized during pre-boot (and only then) by the firmware. One big caveat about this feature should be become obvious now: No device verification can happen because only the UUIDs are stored but not the key, so if you are using SECURE mode but enable preboot ACL in the BIOS you effectively will get USER mode during boot.

      The kernel exposes the bootacl via a per-domain sysfs attribute boot_acl. Every time a device is enrolled, boltd will automatically add it to the bootacl as well. Conversely if the device is forgotten and it is in the bootacl, boltd will automatically remove it from the bootacl. There are is small complication to these seemingly straight forward operations: in BIOS assist mode, the thunderbolt controller is powered down by the firmware if no device is connected to it. Therefore when devices are forgotten boltd might not be able to directly write to the boot_acl sysfs attribute. In a dual boot scenario this is complicated by the fact that another operating system might also modify the bootacl and thus we might be out of sync. As the solution to this boltd will write individual changes to a journal file if the thunderbolt controller is powered down and re-apply these changes (as good as possible) the next time the controller is powered up.

    • Django security releases issued: 2.1.6, 2.0.11 and 1.11.19
    • Django bugfix releases: 2.1.7, 2.0.12 and 1.11.20
    • Linux Miner Removes Competing Malware From Infected Systems [Ed: As if the worst that can happen to already-compromised (because these were vulnerable) machines is Turf Wars. They keep sticking "Linux" in headlines...]
    • New Linux Crypto-Mining Malware Kills Other Malicious Miners Upon Installation [Ed: Media keeps calling "Linux" all sorts of malicious things that are not Linux.]
    • Good Guy Malware: Linux Virus Removes Other Infections to Mine on Its Own [Ed: The "Linux" section of SoftPedia is now composed by a longtime Microsoft propagandist, Bogdan Popa, who uses the section to spread FUD about "Linux"]
    • Hackers Are Using Windows .EXE File To Infect MacOS
    • Protecting the Logical Security of a Network Environment

      Microsoft Has Made Home Users More Vulnerable by Removing Local Security Policy Editor

      For years, Microsoft Windows provided two key methods for implementing logical security: Local Security Policy Editor (Group Policy Editor in the server environment) and the Advanced Firewall. Unfortunately, Microsoft has now removed the Local Security Policy Editor from Windows 10 Home edition. Microsoft provides it only in the Professional edition, which is a huge security mistake.

    • Runc and CVE-2019-5736

      This morning a container escape vulnerability in runc was announced. We wanted to provide some guidance to Kubernetes users to ensure everyone is safe and secure.

    • Reasonably secure Linux

      Put a lock on your door and they get in through a window. Lock the window and they’ll just smash it. Put bars on the windows and they pick your door lock. Deadbolt the door and they will trick their way in pretending to be the gas man. An analogy, how quaint!
      Computer security can, at times, feel like an arms race between global superpowers. Yet at least with the Linux kernel and open source everything’s out in the open. Indeed, there’s an entire world of developers whose livelihoods depend on the FOSS ecosystem being secured.

    • Meaningful 2fa on modern linux

      So there are a few parts here. AD is for intents and purposes an LDAP server. The <product> is also an LDAP server, that syncs to AD. We don’t care if that’s 389-ds, freeipa or vendor solution. The results are basically the same.

      Now the linux auth stack is, and will always use pam for the authentication, and nsswitch for user id lookups. Today, we assume that most people run sssd, but pam modules for different options are possible.

      There are a stack of possible options, and they all have various flaws.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • U.S. appeals court to revisit open carrying of guns

      A federal appeals court has decided to reconsider its recent decision that the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects the right to openly carry guns in self-defense.

    • How Washington Funded the Counterrevolution in Venezuela

      On February 4, more than a dozen European countries recognized the president of Venezuela’s National Assembly, Juan Guaidó, as the country’s legitimate president. This decision came almost two weeks after the United States, Canada, and most countries in Latin America backed Guaidó’s claim to the presidential office. Despite continued Chinese and Russian support for Nicolás Maduro’s government, the international community is quickly isolating it, as never before.

      A strange coalition of left- and right-wing political parties has formed to assist Guaidó, and knee-jerk support from both pundits and politicians who profess concern about the country’s humanitarian crisis has generated an allegiance to this little-known politician and his call for Maduro’s resignation. Many of Guaidó’s supporters have cited Article 233 of the Venezuelan Constitution as grounds for his assumption of the presidency, arguing that the unfair nature of the 2018 presidential election has rendered the Maduro government illegitimate.

      There is no question that Venezuelans are suffering and want to see a change in governance. Maduro is wildly unpopular, even among the working class, and many have grown tired of the economic crisis that has exploded under his watch. This doesn’t mean, though, that citizens necessarily support the opposition or, worse, US military intervention. Many continue to identify as chavista, and even those who have shed this identification continue to acknowledge that the Bolivarian Revolution once improved their livelihoods. Those improvements, though, have largely evaporated under Maduro.

      Since some of the most powerful countries in the world have now decided to back Guaidó, there is good reason to ask who he is, what sort of future he represents for Venezuela, and whether domestic support for Guaidó’s call for Maduro’s resignation equals support for him as leader of the country.

    • AP Exclusive: Undercover spy exposed in NYC was 1 of many
    • Trump Says ISIS is Defeated, But He Ignores the Much Bigger and More Troubling Picture

      President Trump says that in the coming week the US and its allies will announce that they have captured all of the land previously controlled by Isis. He claims that US-led forces “have liberated virtually all of the territory previously held by Isis in Syria and Iraq … we will have 100 per cent of the caliphate.“

      The prediction has sparked a sterile and misleading debate about whether or not Isis is finally defeated, something which will remain unproven since the movement is unlikely to run up a white flag and sign terms of surrender. The discussion has – like all debates about foreign policy in the US – very little to do with the real situation on the ground in Syria and Iraq and everything to do with the forces at play in Washington politics.

    • Trump’s at War With Intelligence…and For Once He’s Right

      In the end, after consulting his conscience, Kirkman changes his mind and goes the military route. “He made the hard decision but the right one,” the advisor exults. “I think the president’s back.”

      It’s a truism in Washington as in Hollywood that military might makes the man. Mind you, Designated Survivor is a liberal TV fantasy about the White House. Tom Kirkman decries America’s treatment of Native Americans, pushes for gun control, and reaches across the aisle time and again to forge bipartisan consensus. He is thoughtful, patient, and committed to doing the right thing.

      And yet, when he cuts U.S. troop presence overseas by half, his advisors see it as a sign that he’s lost his moral compass. Only when he shakes off his paralyzing grief can he see that, as Barack Obama once argued in his Nobel Peace Prize speech, nations sometimes “find the use of force not only necessary but morally justified.”

      That’s how deep the imperial impulse resides in the American psyche.

    • Where Is Elizabeth Warren’s Fire in the Realm of Foreign Policy?

      As Americans spend the next two years debating who should be the next president of the United States, domestic issues are likely to take the forefront of media discussion. Should we establish a single-payer health care system? How should we address climate change? What should the US’s immigration policy look like?

      But in each of these areas, the composition of Congress is likely to be more decisive in terms of the actual policy the next president enacts. However, there is one role the next president will play where the individual sitting in the Oval Office will make almost all of the important decisions: that of the commander-in-chief.

      The presidency has become increasingly more powerful in determining the course of the foreign affairs of the country, particularly since Congress has stepped back from its traditional role of asserting war powers. Almost every day, the president is briefed on international threats and covert operations, and a massive overseas menu of life-or-death choices. As President Barack Obama showed, the modern White House can even engage in an extensive war of choice — as he did in Libya — without the consent of Congress.

    • Greenwald: How Can Democrats Support Trump’s Push for Regime Change to Seize Venezuela’s Oil?

      The U.S. and Russia have proposed opposing draft resolutions at the U.N. Security Council as the leadership crisis in Venezuela deepens. The U.S. is calling for elections in Venezuela and for international aid deliveries to be allowed to enter the country. The Russians called out international intervention in the affairs of Venezuela and the threat of foreign military action. The Venezuelan government of Nicolás Maduro is accusing the United States of attempting to stage a coup. We speak to The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald about the actions of Washington and of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.

    • WATCH: Parkland Survivor Slams USA Today for Giving Mass Murderer Notoriety He Killed to Achieve

      In response to USA Today’s feature on the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida, published as the one-year anniversary of the deadly attack approaches, survivor and gun control advocate David Hogg called on media outlets to “stop making mass shooters famous” by including coverage and commentary on them in their reporting on shootings.

      “The real people in these shootings that should be remembered after shootings are people like Chris Hixon and Aaron Feis and others,” said Hogg, naming two teachers who were killed in the shooting. “The heroes in these situations, and the victims like Joaquin Oliver and others at my school…Those are the people whose stories should be remembered.”

      USA Today’s story, published Sunday, included a section with a photo and biographical details about the shooter who killed 17 people and injured 17 more on Valentine’s Day last year.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Met still waiting as Assange offers sicknote to end seven-year detention

      The “deteriorating health” of the UK’s most high-profile refugee may trigger a legal clash with the Met Police over an outstanding historical arrest warrant.

    • Julian Assange is Dying in Darkness While The Washington Post Pats Itself on The Back

      During Sunday’s Super Bowl, American and many international viewers witnessed the debut of an advertisement for the Washington Post. The Tom Hanks narrated advertisement spoke of the ideal values of honest journalism, before paying tribute to journalists who had lost their lives in recent years, including the Saudi born Jamal Khashoggi who had worked for the Washington Post prior to his murder inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.

    • What is extradition?

      The problem, at least for the requesting state, is that extraditions are not fool-proof or fast. Governments can refuse to comply, as Hong Kong did last year at the urging of the Chinese government when it turned down an American request for the extradition of Iat Hong on charges of hacking the computers of two American law firms and trading on the information. Those facing extradition can evade arrest. Julian Assange, of WikiLeaks fame, has been at the Ecuadorean embassy in London since 2012. He claimed asylum there after Sweden issued an international arrest warrant following allegations of rape and sexual assault, and also feared onward extradition to the United States in relation to the leaking of diplomatic cables. (The Swedish investigation has now been dropped—and Mr Assange denies the allegations of assault—but he still risks arrest by the British for breaching the conditions of his bail.) And those with deep pockets and good lawyers can launch legal battles that drag on for years. Rakesh Saxena, an Indian citizen, fought extradition to Thailand from Canada for 13 years. All of which suggests we will not soon see the end of another extradition story in the news, that of Meng Wanzhou of Huawei. She is under house arrest in Vancouver while Canadian authorities consider an American request to hand her over to face trial on fraud charges linked to American sanctions against Iran.

    • The Londoner: Aussie concerns for sickly Julian Assange
    • Julian Assange could be given ASYLUM in Switzerland after vote held in Geneva

      The Geneva City Parliament adopted a motion to give the controversial Wikileaks founder a safe haven in the country nearly seven years after he first entered the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

      An hour-long debate was held in the Swiss city this week to discuss how whistleblowers can be protected.

      At the end of the debate, right-wing People’s Party politician Eric Bertinat proposed a measure to offer the Wikileaks founder asylum – something that was backed by the majority of the chamber.

    • Geneva politicians vote to propose Julian Assange asylum

      The Geneva city parliament has adopted a motion demanding that the Swiss government offer asylum to controversial WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
      The somewhat surprising resolution was the result of an hour-long debate on Wednesday evening, framed in the context of providing better protection for whistleblowers.
      The text was proposed by Eric Bertinat of the conservative right People’s Party – a party not usually known for backing acts of “civil disobedience”, in the words of Social Democratic politician Albane Schlechten.
      Nevertheless, the proposition picked up enough support from left-wing politicians to withstand opposition from the centre-right Radical Liberals.

    • Australian workers and youth support March rallies in defence of Julian Assange

      Over the past days, workers, students, young people and retirees have expressed their support for Socialist Equality Party (SEP) rallies in defense of WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange in Sydney on March 3 and in Melbourne on March 10.

      Many of those who have spoken to SEP campaigners have backed the demand, upon which the demonstrations have been called, that the Australian government immediately use its diplomatic powers and legal discretion to secure Assange’s return to Australia, with a guarantee against extradition to the United States.

      These sentiments stand in stark contrast to the actions of the federal Liberal-National Coalition government and the Labor Party, which have participated in the US-led vendetta against Assange. They are also an indictment of the Greens, pseudo-left organisations such as Socialist Alternative and the entire media establishment, which have abandoned Assange amid stepped-up attempts to prosecute him for WikiLeaks’ exposures of war crimes, illegal diplomatic intrigues and mass spying.

    • CN Radio: Australian Ambassador Tony Kevin’s Plan to Free Assange

      Tony Kevin, a former Australian ambassador, defends Julian Assange & WikiLeaks & reveals a plan to get him safely from Ecuador’s London embassy back to Australia. He is interviewed by CN Editor Joe Lauria for Unity4J.

    • John Pilger to speak at March 3 Sydney rally to defend Julian Assange

      The Socialist Equality Party (SEP) is pleased to announce that highly respected journalist and filmmaker John Pilger will address the March 3 demonstration at the Martin Place Amphitheatre in Sydney, which will demand that the Australian government immediately act to secure the freedom of persecuted WikiLeaks’ publisher and Australian citizen Julian Assange. The following week, on March 10, the SEP will hold a demonstration at the State Library in Swanston Street, in the centre of Melbourne. Both rallies will be live-streamed via Facebook to a world audience.
      John Pilger is a trustee of the Courage Foundation, which is committed to the defence of persecuted journalists and whistleblowers. Pilger has been, and remains, at the forefront of the fight to defend Julian Assange. On June 17, 2018, he delivered a widely circulated speech at the rally organised by the SEP at Sydney Town Hall Square. He told the audience present and watching online: “Assange’s ‘crime’ is to have broken a silence. No investigative journalism in my lifetime can equal the importance of what WikiLeaks has done in calling rapacious power to account.”

    • Julian Assange’s lawyers appeal to WikiLeaks publisher’s native Australia for aid amid impasse
    • OAS Requests Info on Assange’s Asylum Conditions in Ecuadorian Embassy in UK

      The Ecuadorian Foreign Ministry said it had been asked by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (part of the Organization of American States), to provide the information related to the WikiLeaks founder’s asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in light of the recently filed motion asking the commission for protection.

    • Wikileaks Publishes Crucial Papal Letter on Order of Malta Affair

      Wikileaks today published a confidential letter confirming that Pope Francis strongly opposed the Order of Malta distributing contraceptives as part of its humanitarian work and that he wished the issue be “completely resolved.”

      In the letter, dated Dec. 1, 2016, and addressed to Cardinal Raymond Burke, the patron of the Order of Malta, the Holy Father stressed that the Order “must ensure that the methods and means it uses in its initiatives and healthcare works are not contrary to the moral law.”

      He added that if, “in the past, there has been a problem of this nature, I hope that it can be completely resolved.”

    • Wikileaks takes a swipe at the famously secret Vatican

      Wikileaks, the tell-anything anti-secrecy organization, on Wednesday, Jan. 30, took aim at one of the world’s most secretive institutions, the Vatican, releasing a small collection of documents about a power struggle involving Pope Francis, a leading traditionalist cardinal, and a medieval Catholic order of knights.

      The documents offered little new about a fight that two years ago was widely covered in the media. Their contents seem especially paltry at a time when the Vatican is embroiled in full-fledged scandals on multiple continents. But the release represented the first time Wikileaks has turned its spotlight on the often-acrimonious internal affairs of the Holy See, and some Vatican watchers wondered whether more damaging secrets might start to escape the city-state walls.

    • Wikileaks Releases “Pope’s Orders,” Private Letters & Documents from Inside The Vatican

      Believed to comprise of tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of individuals, controversially so, dating back to the Middle Ages the Order of Malta has always been known to affiliate with various outside groups and/or political associations, such as the Free Masons. However, this is something that the Catholic Church has always condemned and on through to today, the Vatican continues to do as much as possible to dissuaded the Order of Malta from their outside affiliations and activities – unsuccessfully at that.

    • WikiLeaks releases documents on Knights of Malta controversy

      Internal documents relating to the public crisis that led to the resignation of the grand master of the Knights of Malta in 2017 were released by WikiLeaks.

    • Wikileaks docs suggest Cdl. Burke followed Pope’s directives in Knights of Malta condom scandal
    • WikiLeaks Releases Documents on Vatican Power Struggle
    • WikiLeaks releases documents on Knights of Malta controversy

      Internal documents relating to the public crisis that led to the resignation of the grand master of the Knights of Malta in 2017…

    • Catholic controversy exposed by Wikileaks

      This letter concerns the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, also known as the Order of Malta or the Knights of Malta, originally founded in Jerusalem during the Crusades in 1099. As the name indicates, it has been widely recognised as a sovereign entity in itself despite theoretically being subject to papal authority as a Catholic institution.

      This ambiguous status cuts to the heart of the dispute as it reached a fever pitch after Pope Francis forced the abdication of Matthew Festing as Prince and Grand Master of the Order in January 2017. A month earlier Festing had dismissed the Order’s Grand Chancellor Albrecht Freiherr von Boeselager.

    • ‘Opportunistic, xenophobic’: WikiLeaks mocks Rachel Maddow’s latest Russia scare story
    • Shot at Assange says volumes about media’s self-importance

      It was comical to see Renée Loth work herself into a lather, outraged that Julian Assange could be considered a “journalist,” which thus would impugn “mainstream reporters” such as herself (“Assange may be a hero to some, but he’s no journalist,” Opinion, Feb. 1). Loth maligns Assange and his kind as being “more like couriers,” disseminating data and facts, unlike intrepid Globe journalists who provide “expert analysis.” This really amounts to the left’s belief that the public cannot be trusted with the truth, with the facts, and it is up to the storytellers at places like the Globe to colorize and spin stories to comply with their ideology. Real journalists indeed.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • ‘Now Is the Time to Be Bold and Unapologetic’: Progressives Building ‘Unprecedented Political Coalition’ Around Green New Deal

      Progressive organizers are mobilizing behind the Green New Deal resolution—unveiled last week by Rep. Alexandria Ocastio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.)—with renewed energy to build “an unprecedented political coalition” to radically transform the nation’s energy system and address the climate crisis while also facilitating a just transition to a new, greener economy.

      Since initial backers hailed the introduction of the historic resolution as a huge accomplishment on Thursday, a growing number of labor, economic justice, racial justice, indigenous, environmental, and community organizations have lined up behind the bold proposal and vowed to pressure lawmakers to pass it. The youth-led Sunrise Movement, which has spearheaded grassroots organizing in favor of the deal, is planning more than 600 congressional office visits this week to garner support.

    • Energy Transfer Pipeline Projects on Hold in Pennsylvania After String of Violations

      Plans for a pipeline network to export petrochemical ingredients from fracked gas wells in Pennsylvania hit a major roadblock, as state environmental regulators announced Friday that they were suspending all permit reviews for pipeline builder Energy Transfer until further notice.

      “There has been a failure by Energy Transfer and its subsidiaries to respect our laws and our communities,” Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf, who has supported fracking in the state, said in a statement when the suspension was announced. “This is not how we strive to do business in Pennsylvania, and it will not be tolerated.”

    • Polar bears unable to reach the ocean have invaded two Russian villages
    • Insects are going extinct eight times faster than other animals

      “Unless we change our ways of producing food, insects as a whole will go down the path of extinction in a few decades,” says a study published in the journal Biological Conservation. “The repercussions this will have for the planet’s ecosystems are catastrophic to say the least.”

    • New Legislation Aims to Avert Arctic Giveway to ‘Corporate Polluters’ Sneaked Into GOP Tax Scam

      Conservation groups are cheering the introduction on Monday of a measure to stop fossil fuel extraction in a section of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).

      “This bill calls a halt to the administration’s headlong rush to sell off this special wilderness to corporate polluters,” said John Bowman, senior director for federal affairs at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “And it preserves the fundamental human rights of the Gwich’in people whom these lands have sustained for thousands of years, and who—among two-thirds of all Americans—oppose drilling in the Arctic Refuge.”

    • Scientists Warn Crashing Insect Population Puts ‘Planet’s Ecosystems and Survival of Mankind’ at Risk

      “If insect species losses cannot be halted, this will have catastrophic consequences for both the planet’s ecosystems and for the survival of mankind,” report co-author Francisco Sánchez-Bayo, at the University of Sydney, Australia, told the Guardian. Sánchez-Bayo wrote the scholarly analysis with Kris Wyckhuys at the China Academy of Agricultural Sciences in Beijing.

      Calling the current annual global insect decline rate of 2.5 percent over the last three decades a “shocking” number, Sánchez-Bayo characterized it as “very rapid” for insects worldwide. If that continues, he warned: “In 10 years you will have a quarter less, in 50 years only half left and in 100 years you will have none.”

      Isn’t this a bit alarmist? Anticipating that concern, Sánchez-Bayo said the language of the report was intended “to really wake people up,” but that’s because the findings are so worrying.

      Not involved with the study, Professor Dave Goulson at the University of Sussex in the UK, agreed. “It should be of huge concern to all of us,” Goulson told the Guardian, “for insects are at the heart of every food web, they pollinate the large majority of plant species, keep the soil healthy, recycle nutrients, control pests, and much more. Love them or loathe them, we humans cannot survive without insects.”

    • ‘Mass Invasion’: Russian Islands in State of Emergency as Hotter Planet Drives Polar Bears to Hunger

      As human activity continues to drive the climate crisis that is causing rapid ice loss at both poles and in other cold regions, destroying the habitats of animals who live there, Russian islands in the Novaya Zemlya archipelago have declared a state of emergency in response to a “mass invasion” of dozens of starving polar bears who have been “chasing people and entering residential buildings.”

      With rising temperatures increasingly destroying the bears’ Arctic habitats, interactions with humans are becoming more common. As Liz Greengrass, a director at the U.K.-based Born Free Foundation, told CNN last year: “Polar bears are reliant on seals for food and seals rely on sea ice. Global warming is melting the ice so it has a chain reaction on how polar bears can survive.”

    • Arctic Refuge Protectors: An Open Letter from Teachers and Scholars

      Fossil fuel development in the Coastal Plain would devastate an Arctic nursery of global significance. It would violate human rights, jeopardize food security, and threaten the health and safety of Indigenous communities. It would contribute to the escalating crises of climate change and biological annihilation. The Arctic Refuge is an irreplaceable ecological treasure. Its fate should not be decided on an expedited timeline that prioritizes outcome over process to benefit the oil industry and its allies.

      Ever since drilling proponents snuck an Arctic Refuge leasing provision into the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the Trump administration has been moving aggressively to rush through the required Environmental Impact Statement. During the scoping phase of the EIS, the BLM held only one public hearing outside of Alaska—in Washington, DC, on a Friday night in mid-June 2018. Still, a large number of people showed up to voice their concerns about the ecological, cultural, and climate impacts of drilling in the Arctic Refuge.

      Dismissing the concerns raised by the public and Indigenous peoples and “relying on outdated and incomplete science,” the BLM hastily assembled a draft EIS and released it on December 20, 2018, the day before the longest government shutdown in US history began.

    • How Removing One Maine Dam 20 Years Ago Changed Everything

      More than 1,000 people lined the banks of the Kennebec River in Augusta, Maine, on July 1, 1999. They were there to witness a rebirth.

      The ringing of a bell signaled a backhoe on the opposite bank to dig into a retaining wall. Water trickled, then gushed. The crowd erupted in cheers as the Edwards Dam, which had stretched 900 feet across the river, was breached. Soon the whole dam would be removed.

      [...]

      Building the Edwards Dam was never a popular idea. Even in the 1830s there was concern that the robust fisheries of the lower Kennebec River would be wiped out. But the cheerleaders of industrialism prevailed, and the dam was built in 1837 to bring power to local mills.

      The consequences were immediate.

      The dam’s construction shut the door on the migration of nearly a dozen sea-run fish species that used to swim up more than 40 miles from the Atlantic Ocean in search of prime spawning habitat in the Kennebec and its tributaries.

      “The river was transformed from being a thriving producer of millions of fish such as shad, herring, striped bass, Atlantic salmon, sturgeon and alewives and supporting a wide cornucopia of other species ranging from otters to eagles — into a wastewater drainage system,” Jeff Crane, a dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Saint Martin’s University, wrote in a paper published in 2009.

    • Global Poll Reveals Surging Fear of Climate Crisis and US Power Under Trump

      While a rapidly rising number of people across the globe are worried about the climate crisis—prompting warnings from scientists, demands for robust action, and sweeping legislative proposals such as the Green New Deal—there are also mounting concerns about the United States in the era of President Donald Trump, according to new polling from the Pew Research Center.

      The survey results, released Monday, show that while U.S. power and influence still isn’t the primary worry among people beyond the United States, concern about it has skyrocketed since Trump took office. As Pew’s report (pdf) noted, “In 2013, only a quarter across 22 nations saw American power as a major threat to their country, but that jumped substantially to 38 percent in 2017, the year after Trump was elected president, and to 45 percent in 2018.”

    • The World Is on the Brink of Widespread Water Wars

      Mark’s words should be a call to attention, and a call to action. The plight of farmers in Australia illustrates a larger reality: As planetary temperatures continue to increase and rainfall patterns shift due to human-caused climate disruption, our ability to grow crops and have enough drinking water will become increasingly challenged, and the outlook is only going to worsen.

    • Leading Progressive Organizations Back Rep. Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Markey’s Green New Deal Resolution; Plan to Assemble Unprecedented Coalition.
    • Food webs alter as warmer seas change colour

      The Blue Planet is to get a little bluer as the world warms and climates change. Where the seas turn green, expect an even deeper verdant tint, new research suggests.

      Since humans began increasing the levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere – by burning the fossil fuels that have provided the energy for both economic growth and a population explosion – the oceans have warmed in ways that affect marine life. They have grown ever more acidic, in ways that affect coral growth and fish behaviour.

      But when US and British scientists tested a model of ocean physics, biogeochemistry and ecosystems – intending to simulate changes in the populations of marine phytoplankton or algae – they also incorporated some of the ocean’s optical properties. Since green plants photosynthesise, they absorb sunlight, and change reflectivity.

    • Greens: Time to put HS2 out of its misery

      The Green Party has responded to news the Government is considering scrapping HS2, ahead of a broadcast of Channel 4’s Dispatches tonight.

  • Finance

    • $2.2 Billion and Climbing: How Litecoin Surged 10% Overnight to Become the 4th Largest Cryptocurrency

      Litecoin (LTC) has increased by more than 10 percent in value in the past 3 hours from $33 to $38, becoming the 4th largest currency in the global crypto market.

      EOS, which secured its position as the 4th most valuable cryptocurrency behind Bitcoin, Ripple, and Ethereum since 2018, was surpassed by Litecoin.

    • Yosemite X Announces New Open Source Blockchain With No Cryptocurrency Coin Needed

      Yosemite X has recently announced the launch of their public blockchain. What gives them an edge is that they did not rely on the need for a native token. According to the claims made, their goal is to resolve the hindrance caused by volatile tokens, which is known to result in poorly operating businesses.

      To prevent the aforementioned, the team trusts that stablecoins is the way to go (i.e. tokens that are pegged to government money). This has supposedly been done through the blockchain’s built-in YOSEMITE Standard Token Model, which ensures that the token is interoperable.

    • OECD pushes for a global minimum corporate tax rate by 2020, but is it wishful thinking?

      For more than five years, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has been trying to get countries to reach global consensus on its plan to end multinational tax avoidance.

      Since the 2013 publication of the OECD/G20 Base Erosion Profit Shifting (BEPS) plan, nations including Australia, frustrated with the glacial pace of change pushed by the Paris-based institute, have introduced their own laws to try and get a greater share of the tax pie.

      The problem that the OECD has tried to solve — without much success to date — is how to bring the international tax system in line with changes in the digital era which have seen the likes of Google, Apple and Facebook test the boundaries of global tax rules.

    • Research: Mere 10% Of Ethereum (ETH) DApps Are Active Daily

      Decentralized applications (DApps) were long hailed as one of the leading use cases for blockchain technologies. Through smart contracts, whether it be on Ethereum, EOS, Tron, or otherwise, the worlds’ current processes could be put on a blockchain, thus creating a society built on decentralization.

    • The End of the Age of Billionaires

      Every month or so there’s a stunning new headline statistic about just how stark our economic divide has become.
      Understanding that this divide exists is a good start. Appreciating that a deeply unfair and unequal economy is problematic is even better. Actually doing something about it — that’s the best.
      As 2020 presidential hopefuls start trying to prove their progressive bona fides, serious policies to take on economic inequality are at the forefront. These ideas don’t stand much of a shot of becoming law in the Trump era, of course. But if the balance of power shifts, so too does the potential for these paradigm-shifting new programs.
      Let’s take a closer look at the problems they’ll have to address.
      A new billionaire is minted every two days, according to a recent Oxfam study. As a result, the top 0.1 percent owns a greater share of the nation’s wealth than the bottom 90 percent combined.
      The richest dynastic families in the United States have seen their wealth expand at a dizzying pace. The three wealthiest families — the Waltons, the Kochs, and the Mars — increased their wealth by nearly 6,000 percent since 1983.

    • When Politicians Say “Free Trade,” They Mean Upward Redistribution

      In Washington policy circles, being a supporter of free trade is pretty much comparable to saying you believe in evolution. All reasonable people say they accept the doctrine and agree that tariffs and other forms of protectionism are evil and dirty.

      While there are good arguments for free trade as an economic policy, in the real world what passes for “free trade” is pretty much any policy that redistributes income upward, even if it is directly at odds with free trade. I have long harped on patent and copyright protection, both because I think that these government-granted monopolies are bad policy (at least in their current form), and because they are 180 degrees at odds with free trade.

      The rationale for patents and copyrights is they provide incentives for innovation and creative work, but there is a rationale for every form of protectionism. This doesn’t change the fact that patent and copyright protection are still forms of protectionism. And, the imposition of stronger patent and copyright protections, which has been a central component of every trade deal for the last quarter-century, is a very costly form of protectionism.

      Needless to say, the beneficiaries of this protectionism tend to be in the high end of income distribution. The list includes folks like Bill Gates, the pharmaceutical industry and the entertainment industry.

      But, this is hardly the only situation where the “free traders” depart from free trade. The Export-Import Bank, which provides loans and loan guarantees to exporters, has generally received strong support from self-described free traders.

      On its face, this is difficult to understand, since the bank is providing an explicit subsidy to exporters by allowing them to get loans at below-market interest rates. In the textbook, government subsidies for exports are 180 degrees at odds with free trade.

      It is also important to note that the vast majority of the bank’s loans and guarantees benefit a very small number of companies such as Boeing, Caterpillar and GE. In some years, Boeing alone has accounted for close to 90 percent of its loans.

    • ‘For Our Students and For Our Profession’: Denver Educators Strike for First Time in 25 Years

      “We will strike Monday for our students and for our profession, and perhaps then DPS will get the message and return to the bargaining table with a serious proposal aimed at solving the teacher turnover crisis in Denver,” said Henry Roman, president of the Denver Classroom Teachers Association (DCTA), in a statement Saturday, after the union rejected Denver Public Schools’ latest offer to reform compensation.

      Outside the district’s schools on Monday, many students braved the cold to join their teachers in demanding fair pay. Demonstrators carried signs reading “On strike for our students” and “I’d rather be teaching but I can’t afford it.” Many chanted, “What do we want, fair pay! When do we want it? Now!”

    • Rahm Emanuel’s Non-Apology Apology for Being a School Privatization Cheerleader

      Rahm Emanuel’s recent op-ed in The Atlantic may be one of the dumbest things I have ever read.

      The title—“I Used to Preach the Gospel of Education Reform. Then I Became the Mayor”—seems to imply Emanuel has finally seen the light.

      The outgoing Chicago Mayor USED TO subscribe to the radical right view that public schools should be privatized, student success should be defined almost entirely by standardized testing, teachers should be stripped of union protections and autonomy and poor black and brown people have no right to elect their own school directors.

      But far from divorcing any of this Reagan-Bush-Trump-Clinton-Obama crap, he renews his vows to it.

      This isn’t an apologia. It’s rebranding.

    • ‘The Distribution of Income Depends on How We Structure the Economy’

      One in three GoFundMe campaigns in this country are for medical expenses. One in five households have zero or negative wealth. Millions of people are one paycheck away from hardship. And this is the same society in which there are people who can’t remember how many houses they own, or are puzzled about why furloughed federal workers would be going to food banks.

      Inequality is a life or death issue, which makes it especially disconcerting that some folks with media megaphones seem proudly ignorant of the basic mechanisms by which resources are distributed. Some myths and misunderstandings are being thrown into relief as we’re seeing a strikingly bold (for recent times) conversation about progressive taxation, occasioned by proposals from New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, among others. But if the present debate goes further than we’re used to, does it go far enough?

    • Google now pays more in EU fines than it does in taxes

      INTERNET GIANT Google now pays more in European fines than it does in taxes., the firm’s fourth-quarter earnings have revealed.

      Google owner Alphabet company reported Q4 revenues up 22 per cent to $39.28bn, while annual revenues were up 23 per cent to $136.8bn.

      The company also took the time to separate out “European Commission fines” in its consolidated statements of income in the company’s accounts. These increased from $2.7bn in 2017 to $5.1bn in 2018, with a further €50m already set to be added to the bill for its first quarter and 2019 accounts, thanks to French data protection authority CNIL.

      That compares to a provision for income taxes of just $4.2 billion for 2018, or 12 per cent of its pre-tax income.

    • America’s Egregious Economic Inequality in a Single Statistic

      As egregious as America’s economic inequality may appear, the reality is somehow even worse. Those are the findings of the University of California, Berkeley’s Gabriel Zucman, whose latest research reveals that the .00025 percent now own more than the bottom 60 percent. To put that statistic in perspective, 400 individuals control more wealth than 150 million combined.

      “After a period of remarkable stability in the 1950s and 1960s, the top 0.1% wealth share reached its low-water mark in the 1970s, and since the 1980s it has been gradually rising to close 20% in recent years,” Zucman writes. “U.S. wealth concentrations seem to have returned to levels last seen during the Roaring 20s.”

      The numbers tell the story of our neoliberal age. Citing data from the World Inequality Database, whose executive committee includes Zucman and “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” author Thomas Piketty, among other economists, The Washington Post reports that those in the lower economic bracket mentioned above saw their share of the nation’s wealth dip from 5.7 to 2.1 percent between 1987 and 2014.

      While the U.S. offers a dramatic data point, this ongoing redistribution upward is a worldwide phenomenon. According to an Oxfam International report published last month, the combined wealth of the world’s billionaires is growing $2.5 billion per day while the poorer half of the planet grows progressively poorer. Just 226 individuals are now worth as much as 3.8 billion ($1.4 trillion). At the same time, the total number of billionaires—2,208—has nearly doubled since the global financial crisis of 2008.

    • Trump Wants Socialism for the Rich, Harsh Capitalism for the Rest

      “America will never be a socialist country,” Donald Trump declared in his State of the Union address. Someone should alert Trump that America is now a hotbed of socialism. But it is socialism for the rich. Everyone else is treated to harsh capitalism.

      In the conservative mind, socialism means getting something for doing nothing. That pretty much describes the $21 billion saved by the nation’s largest banks last year thanks to Trump’s tax cuts, some of which went into massive bonuses for bank executives. On the other hand, more than 4,000 lower-level bank employees got a big dose of harsh capitalism. They lost their jobs.

      Banks that are too big to fail – courtesy of the 2008 bank bailout – enjoy a hidden subsidy of some $83 billion a year, because creditors facing less risk accept lower interest on deposits and loans. Last year, Wall Street’s bonus pool was $31.4 billion. Take away the hidden subsidy and the bonus pool disappears.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • He Lies (Again) and El Paso’s Pissed

      The Great Pretender’s ongoing hysteria about a wall to keep out his fictional “tremendous onslaught” of brown people is happily, increasingly running into its own wall – knowledgeable people in border areas pushing back and arguing #WallsDontWork.” The resistance ranges from officials in the border town of Nogales, Arizona taking down his newly installed, flesh-slicing, maximum-security-prison-flavored coils of razor wire on an existing border fence – WTF on the U.S. side yet – universally blasted as “inhuman” to New Mexico’s governor withdrawing most National Guard troops from the border, condemning Trump’s “charade (of) fear-mongering” and even making a wild video in which she hurls herself through multiple walls to show what she thinks of the whole ignoring-real-problems-to-build-a-stupid-racist-wall thing.

      Monday, Trump heads to El Paso, where he won 25.7% of the 2016 vote and enraged everyone in a SOTU speech falsely declaring it a hell-hole of crime – a reality officials say only exists in “Sicario,” given they boast one of the lowest crime rates of any big city. The sheriff: “Trump continues to give a false narrative.”

    • Trump Aims to Turn Border Debate His Way With El Paso Rally

      President Donald Trump is trying to turn the debate over a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border back to his political advantage as his signature pledge to American voters threatens to become a model of unfulfilled promises.

      Trump will hold his first campaign rally since November’s midterm elections in El Paso, Texas, on Monday as he faces a defining week for his push on the wall — and for his presidency and his 2020 prospects. Weakened by the disastrous government shutdown and facing a fresh deadline Friday, Trump is trying to convince people that that he’ll continue to push to build his long-promised wall, even though there’s no way it would be anywhere near complete by the time voters have to decide whether to give him another term.

      A bipartisan group of lawmakers was negotiating ahead of Friday’s deadline, but on Sunday people familiar with the talks said the mood among the bargainers had grown sour amid an impasse over migrant detention policies. They spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private talks.

    • Does Kamala Harris Deserve to Call Herself a Progressive?

      “I think [marijuana] gives a lot of people joy and we need more joy in the world,” said Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., on The Breakfast Club radio show Monday, explaining that she supports legalizing the drug. It was a fairly lighthearted interview with the 2020 presidential candidate, but as Addy Baird writes in ThinkProgress, Harris the presidential candidate’s views on marijuana are “basically unrecognizable compared with the Harris of just a few years ago.” In 2010, while running for attorney general of California, she came out against legalization, claiming it would, according New York Magazine, encourage “driving while high.”

      Harris’s progressive shift since 2016 on this and a number of issues, including criminal justice and health care, has, as Briahna Joy Gray writes in The Guardian, “left some progressives skeptical,” especially since her change of heart is not, according to Gray, ideologically consistent.

      Since announcing her presidential run, Harris told a CNN town hall that “I feel very strongly about this, we need to have ‘Medicare for All’, ” before backtracking the next day, saying she did not necessarily mean eliminating private insurance entirely.

      “There’s a persistent tension,” Gray continues, “between the firmness with which Harris commits herself to her catchphrases and the shallowness of her political commitments (and her record).” Gray notes that Maya Harris, Kamala’s sister and policy adviser, also advised Hillary Clinton in 2016, and that year, Clinton said in a speech that a single payer health care system would “never, ever come to pass.”

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • How sex censorship killed the internet we love
    • A new wave of Internet censorship may be on the horizon

      Of chief concern in the UK are several initiatives within the Government’s grand plan to “make Britain the safest place in the world to be online”, known as the Digital Charter. Its founding document proclaims “the same rights that people have offline must be protected online.” That sounds a lot like Open Rights Group’s mission! What’s not to like?

      Well, just as surveillance programmes created in the name of national security proved detrimental to privacy rights, new Internet regulations targeting “harmful content” risk curtailing free expression.

      The Digital Charter’s remit is staggeringly broad. It addresses just about every conceivable evil on the Internet from bullying and hate speech to copyright infringement, child pornography and terrorist propaganda. With so many initiatives developing simultaneously it can be easy to get lost.

      To gain clarity, Open Rights Group published a report surveying the current state of digital censorship in the UK. The report is broken up into two main sections – formal censorship practices like copyright and pornography blocking, and informal censorship practices including ISP filtering and counter terrorism activity. The report shows how authorities, while often engaging in important work, can be prone to mistakes and unaccountable takedowns that lack independent means of redress.

    • UK Cop Calls Up 74-Year-Old Woman To Ask Her To Stop Tweeting Mean Things

      The policing of tweets continues in the UK. The literal policing of tweets.

      Because there’s apparently not enough people being stabbed on a daily basis, local law enforcement agencies have decided making house calls over reports of “hateful” tweeting is a worthwhile use of resources. This fairly recent law enforcement tradition dates back to at least 2014, but in recent weeks police have ramped up efforts to… well, it’s unclear exactly what the endgame is.

      Irish writer Graham Linehan was recently visited by a Scottish police officer over supposed harassment of a trans rights activist. There didn’t appear to be any actual harassment. Instead, it appeared the alleged harassee wasn’t satisfied with the Mute and Block options offered by Twitter, and decided to file a formal complaint about speech he didn’t like.

      The end result was a stupefying mix of force and futility. The officer asked Linehan to stop engaging with Adrian Harrop (the offended party). Linehan refused to do so. The officer left and Linehan got back on Twitter to talk about this bizarre waste of everyone’s time.

    • Google Caves On Russian Censorship

      Late last year, we were among those disappointed by leaked news from Google that it was toying around with a censored search engine for China — a country that the company had mostly left nearly a decade ago. After loud complaints both from people outside the company and many within, reports in late December said that the company had quietly halted efforts to build a censored Chinese search engine.

      But now… the company may be dipping its toe in the evil pool again, as it has apparently agreed to cooperate with Russia’s censors. This is a battle that’s been going on for some time. Over the last few years, Russia has passed a number of internet censorship laws, and there have been lots of questions about how Google and other tech giants would respond. A year ago, we noted that Facebook/Instagram had decided to cave in and that ratcheted up the pressure on Google.

      It should be noted that Russia has been on Google’s case for a while, and the company had been resisting such pressure. Indeed, the company actually shut down its Russian office a few years back to try to protect itself (and its employees) from Russian legal threats.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Chicago Public Schools Monitored Social Media for Signs of Violence, Gang Membership

      In January 2017, after a social media analyst for the Chicago Public Schools reviewed the Facebook profile of a Roosevelt High School student and began to suspect he might be in a gang, a police officer was summoned to the school to conduct an intervention. There wasn’t any imminent threat of violence, but the officer and a school district security official met with the student. They asked if he was in a gang.

      “That is my business,” the student replied, according to a report from the intervention.

      The officer, a member of the Chicago Police Department’s Gang School Safety Team, told the student he needed to be more respectful. The student said he was not in a gang but did hang around gang members.

      The officer asked for their names, but the student wouldn’t give them. The officer asked if the student was considering joining a gang. He said he wasn’t sure. The student, the report concludes, “seemed to not be motivated and provided very short answers.”

      Over the past four school years, more than 700 CPS students have been called into interventions like this one based on social media activity that points to their possible gang involvement. The interventions are one result of a $2.2 million award the district received in 2014 through the U.S. Department of Justice’s Comprehensive School Safety Initiative, which provides grants for violence prevention efforts.

    • Facebook Has A ‘Game Of Thrones’ Culture: Former Executive

      A former Facebook executive says that the highest levels of leadership at the company have a “Game of Thrones” like culture.

      In an interview with CNN’s Laurie Segall, ex-Facebook security chief Alex Stamos, explained how the inner workings of Silicon Valley’s social media giant reminded him of the HBO show which is famous for its political games and the backstabbing nature of the characters.

      [...]

      However, Stamos believes that the root cause of this “Westerosi court” influence lies with Mark Zuckerberg as CEO. He further added that “Facebook wasn’t measuring the bigger impact and thinking about the ways people could twist it to be misused. And in the end, that is Mark’s responsibility.”

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • The ACLU Report on CIA and Torture

      It would be difficult to understate the overall effect that 9/11 had on the way that the U.S. government views potential threats, and the freedoms and rights of the overall American public.

    • How The Report Turned a 6,700-Page Torture Investigation Into a Political Thriller [Ed: Now we have televised revisionism of "a 6,700-Page Torture Investigation" (never released to the public) done by the foremost CIA contractor, Amazon.]

      For more than six years, the former Senate staffer Daniel J. Jones led an investigation into the CIA’s detention and interrogation programs after 9/11, sifting through thousands of pages documenting torture, abuses of power, and the lack of accountability during the George W. Bush administration. But when Jones talks about his experience, he doesn’t come off as a cynic about the United States. “Over the years, you travel a lot, you talk to a lot of foreign governments, you talk to a lot of citizens,” he said Monday at the Sundance Film Festival, reflecting on a career that also included a stint as an international FBI agent. The United States is “a beacon, whether you want us to be or not … The building of post–World War II institutions, we’re responsible for that. In the War on Terror, we slipped.”

      Jones is the subject of a new film written and directed by Scott Z. Burns called The Report, which debuted at Sundance on January 26 and has already been acquired by Amazon for a reported $14 million. A frequent collaborator of Steven Soderbergh, Burns is best-known for his meticulous, fact-based screenplays for films including The Informant! and Contagion. In his new movie, Burns takes Jones’s 6,700-page report and somehow boils it down to a comprehensible narrative. Adam Driver stars as Jones, while Annette Bening plays his boss, Senator Dianne Feinstein. Burns and Jones spoke with The Atlantic’s editor in chief, Jeffrey Goldberg, in Park City, Utah, on Monday about the making of the film, the delicate political lines it crosses, and the Obama administration’s role in trying to suppress the report.

    • British doctor nicknamed the ‘godfather of modern torture’ worked in secret CIA wing

      A Scottish doctor nicknamed ‘the godfather of modern torture’ who worked in a secret wing funded by the CIA has been made the focus of a new documentary.

      Dr Ewen Cameron took part in the Nuremberg Trials of Nazi war criminals and went on to create horrifying torture methods used in Iraq, Guantanamo Bay and Northern Ireland.

      The new documentary – Eminent Monsters – will premier at the Glasgow Film Festival next month and tells the story of the scientists who advanced the study of torture.

    • Scots doctor became the ‘godfather of modern torture’ working in secret wing funded by CIA

      Dr Ewen Cameron’s name belongs alongside the likes of Kelvin, Watt, Fleming, Bell and Clerk Maxwell – in that he’s a Scot whose work in science changed the world.

      But although there is no doubting his impact, the psychiatrist born in Bridge of Allan is rarely celebrated, for obvious reasons.

      Cameron is one of the godfathers of modern torture, whose work has been utilised in places like
      Iraq, Guantanamo Bay, Northern Ireland, the Philippines and Chile, to name just a few.

      In the 1950s, Cameron, who was working in the United States and Canada, was funded by the CIA to develop and research sensory deprivation (blindfolds, hoods, earmuffs) and sensory overload (high-decibel white noise, shouting or aggressive music). Both have been cornerstones of moder “enhanced interrogation” ever since.

    • Dennis Marek: What we don’t know about torture
    • Peter Jackson’s Cartoon War

      When director-producer Peter Jackson’s World War I film, “They Shall Not Grow Old,” which miraculously transforms grainy, choppy black-and-white archival footage from the war into a modern 3D color extravaganza, begins, he bombards us with the clichés used to ennoble war. Veterans, over background music, say things like “I wouldn’t have missed it,” “I would go through it all over again because I enjoyed the service life” and “It made me a man.” It must have taken some effort after the war to find the tiny minority of veterans willing to utter this rubbish. Military life is a form of servitude, prolonged exposure to combat leaves you broken, scarred for life by trauma and often so numb you have difficulty connecting with others, and the last thing war does is make you a man.

      Far more common was the experience of the actor Wilfrid Lawson, who was wounded in the war and as a result had a metal plate in his skull. He drank heavily to dull the incessant pain. In his memoirs “Inside Memory,” Timothy Findley, who acted with him, recalled that Lawson “always went to bed sodden and all night long he would be dragged from one nightmare to another—often yelling—more often screaming—very often struggling physically to free himself of impeding bedclothes and threatening shapes in the shadows.” He would pound the walls, shouting “Help! Help! Help!” The noise, my dear—and the people.

      [...]

      There is no mention in the film of the colossal stupidity of the British general staff that sent hundreds of thousands of working-class Englishmen—they are seen grinning into the camera with their decayed teeth—in wave after wave, week after week, month after month, into the mouths of German machine guns to be killed or wounded. There is no serious exploration of the iron censorship that hid the realities of the war from the public and saw the press become a shill for warmongers. There is no investigation into how the war was used by the state, as it is today, as an excuse to eradicate civil liberties. There is no look at the immense wealth made by the arms manufacturers and contractors or how the war plunged Britain deep into debt with war-related costs totaling 70 percent of the gross national product. Yes, we see some pictures of gruesome wounds, digitalized into color, yes, we hear how rats ate corpses, but the war in the film is carefully choreographed, stripped of the deafening sounds, repugnant smells and most importantly the crippling fear and terror that make a battlefield a stygian nightmare. We glimpse dead bodies, but there are no long camera shots of the slow agony of those dying of horrific wounds. Sanitized images like these are war pornography. That they are no longer jerky and grainy and have been colorized in 3D merely gives old war porn a modern sheen.

    • Negotiations Hit Snag as Shutdown Deadline Approaches

      With a Friday deadline approaching, the two sides remained separated over how much to spend on President Donald Trump’s promised border wall. But rising to the fore on Sunday was a related dispute over curbing Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, the federal agency that Republicans see as an emblem of tough immigration policies and Democrats accuse of often going too far.

      The fight over ICE detentions goes to the core of each party’s view on immigration. Republicans favor rigid enforcement of immigration laws and have little interest in easing them if Democrats refuse to fund the Mexican border wall. Democrats despise the proposed wall and, in return for border security funds, want to curb what they see as unnecessarily harsh enforcement by ICE.

      People involved in the talks say Democrats have proposed limiting the number of immigrants here illegally who are caught inside the U.S. — not at the border — that the agency can detain. Republicans say they don’t want that cap to apply to immigrants caught committing crimes, but Democrats do.

    • The Uses of a Well-Regulated Militia by an Unregulated President

      A young friend is seriously considering joining her state’s National Guard. She’s a world-class athlete, but also a working-class woman from a rural background competing in a rich person’s sport. Between seasons, she works for a local farm and auctioneer to put together the money for equipment and travel.

      Each season, raising the necessary money to compete is a touch-and-go proposition, so she’s now talking to the National Guard. If, after basic training, she joins the Army’s World Class Athletes Program as a reservist, her service will essentially consist of competing in her sport. She’ll get an annual salary, health care, college tuition — all to do what she loves and wants to do anyway. What could possibly go wrong?

      Well, she could end up fighting in one of this country’s forever wars.

      That’s what happened to thousands of National Guard troops and reservists when Washington discovered its all-volunteer forces were woefully inadequate for the project of occupying Iraq after the 2003 invasion. As then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld famously explained, Washington went to war with the Army it had, “not the Army you might wish you have.” So the National Guard filled in the gaps, supplying up to 41% of the troops deployed there by 2005. By 2011, more than 300,000 Guards had deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan as well.

    • Oh good, Donald Trump is back: A rally near the border and bizarre new “facts” on immigration

      Steve M at NMMNB helpfully pointed out that many Americans say they want to migrate too. That number is up from 10 percent during the Obama years to 16 percent today. That adds up to about 52 million people. Yet only about 9 million Americans actually live abroad.

    • Black Lives Matter Is Making Single Moms Homeowners

      In May, Tiffany Brown and her children will move into a new home in the historic Black neighborhood of West Louisville, Kentucky.

      A single mother of three, Brown has spent most of her adult life in public housing. Her first shot at homeownership comes courtesy of a new project by the Louisville chapter of Black Lives Matter to help provide permanent housing to transient families and low-income single-mother households like hers.

      She had recently relocated to Section 8 housing because of involuntary displacement in her previous location, the result of ongoing practices of segregation and unequal access to housing based on race.

      The BLM project means Brown and her children not only have access to affordable housing, but now can finally own their home—at no initial cost to them. Her only financial obligations will be to pay the taxes and utilities on the home. She has no mortgage.

    • In Twitter Thread, Rep. Jayapal Rips Trump’s “Wild Claims and Lies” on Manufactured Border Crisis

      Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) took to social media on Monday to debunk President Donald Trump’s “wild claims and lies” about asylum-seekers at the southern border.

      The congresswoman’s morning Twitter thread comes as another Democrat—California Gov. Gavin Newsom—refuses to be part of Trump’s “political theater” and is set to order the withdrawal of the majority of the state’s National Guard troops now at the border.

    • Report Shows ICE Almost Never Punishes Contractors Housing Detainees No Matter How Many Violations They Rack Up

      ICE continues to make its own case for abolishment. The agency busies itself with neglecting detainees when not acting as the extension of major corporations to shut down infringing panties/websites. ICE is too big and it’s getting bigger at a rate it can’t sustain. To achieve the ends the President has set down for it, it’s wearing itself thin trying to find the dangerous immigrants Trump keeps talking about or the bound-and-gagged women he insists are being brought across the border by the truckload.

      It seemingly doesn’t have the manpower to even capture just dangerous foreigners. Instead of using its resources more carefully, it’s doing things like setting up fake colleges to capture dangerous criminals immigrants seeking educational opportunities. And it’s continuing to outsource its responsibilities while taking an apparent hands-off approach to third party detention.

      ICE’s Inspector General released a report last summer stating the agency was failing to inspect detention facilities often enough or well enough. It found contractors performing government work were doing the job poorly. Detainees weren’t being interviewed properly or given translators to overcome speech barriers. In some cases, detention personnel were not giving detainees access to services like phone calls to the ICE officers handling their cases. In some facilities, dangerous detainees were intermingled with non-criminals. In almost every case, ICE issued a waiver for deficiencies it actually observed. As far as the OIG could tell, dozens of deficiencies went unnoticed thanks to ICE’s inability (or unwillingness) to perform mandatory inspections.

    • Prosecutors Seek New Sentence in Laquan McDonald Case

      Prosecutors on Monday asked Illinois’ highest court to review the less than seven year prison sentence for the white Chicago police officer who fatally shot black teenager Laquan McDonald — an unusual move in what was already a rare case.

      Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul and the special prosecutor who won a murder conviction against former officer Jason Van Dyke, Kane County State’s Attorney Joseph McMahon, said they believe Cook County Judge Vincent Gaughan improperly applied the law last month when he sentenced Van Dyke to six years and nine months in prison. Raoul and McMahon filed a request with the Illinois Supreme Court seeking an order that could ultimately result in the court forcing Gaughan to impose a longer sentence.

    • The Supreme Court Is Playing Favorites With Religion

      Last week, the Supreme Court permitted the state of Alabama to execute a Muslim man, Domineque Ray, without his religious advisor present. The court’s 5-4 decision reversed an emergency lower-court order that had temporarily delayed the execution because of grave concerns that Alabama’s practice of allowing only the state’s Christian chaplain to be present in the execution chamber unconstitutionally favored Christian prisoners.

      Without even acknowledging those concerns, the court issued a brief, callous decision that is, as Justice Kagan noted in dissent, “profoundly wrong.” It is also the latest example of a disturbing trend of religious favoritism, in which minority faiths — particularly Islam — are given second-class legal status.

      The Supreme Court has repeatedly emphasized that the “clearest command” of the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause “is that one religious denomination cannot be officially preferred over another.” The strict rule against denominational preference lies at the heart of American religious liberty, and it dates back to the founding of our nation. The constitutional framers recognized that “religion is too personal, too sacred, too holy, to permit its ‘unhallowed perversion’ by a civil magistrate.” When the government officially favors one faith over others, it intrudes on matters of conscience and religious autonomy, fosters religious division and animosity, and tramples our national commitment to equality among faiths.

    • Apple and Google Caught Hosting Saudi Govt App That Tracks Women

      Afew days ago, the Insider published an article regarding the existence of Absher: an app that tracks movements of women. The report also included the story of a teen that successfully evaded Saudi Arabia.

      The Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have accused Apple and Google of helping “gender apartheid” in Saudi Arabia by harboring such a sinister app on the Google Play Store as well as App Store.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Sprint Sues AT&T Over Its Fake 5G, Says AT&T’s Tricking Consumers

      Big telecom operators haven’t been exactly honest when it comes to the looming fifth-generation wireless standard (5G). Eager to use the improvements to charge higher rates and sell new gear, carriers and network vendors are already dramatically over-hyping where the service is actually available, and what it can actually do. Some, like AT&T, have gone so far as to actively mislead customers by pretending that its existing 4G networks are actually 5G. AT&T took this to the next level recently by issuing phone updates that change the 4G icon to “5GE” on customer phones, despite the fact that actual 5G isn’t really available.

      In a country with functioning regulatory oversight, a competent regulator would at least issue a statement pointing out that misleading consumers in this fashion is false advertising. Instead, AT&T executives, FCC regulatory capture in tow, have quite literally expressed glee at the consternation their 5G head fake is creating among consumers and competitors alike…

    • EU should resist Washington’s coercion on 5G

      As US ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland is tasked with helping to maintain good ties between the United States and the EU. However, he has been busy lately trying to sabotage relations between the EU and China.

      Sondland told media group Politico that the US and EU should overcome their current trade tensions and join forces against the Chinese to “check China in multiple respects: economically, from an intelligence standpoint, militarily” and “we want to keep critical infrastructure in the Western world out of Chinese malign influence”.

      Sondland is just one of many US diplomats lobbying and coercing allies to ban China’s Huawei Technologies from its 5G networks, to advance US commercial and geopolitical interests.

      “Someone from the Politburo in Beijing picks up the phone and says,’I wanna listen in on the following conversation, I wanna run a certain car off the road that’s on the 5G network and kill the person that’s in it,’ there’s nothing that company legally can do today in China to prevent the Chinese government from making that request successfully,” Sondland was quoted as saying.

    • Enough of the 5G Hype

      Wireless carriers are working hard to talk up 5G (Fifth Generation) wireless as the future of broadband. But don’t be fooled—they are only trying to focus our attention on 5G to try to distract us from their willful failure to invest in a proven ultrafast option for many Americans: fiber to the home, or FTTH.

      A recent FCC report on competition found that the future of high-speed broadband for most Americans will be a cable monopoly. Without a plan to promote fiber to the home, that’s not likely to change. In fact, because the 5G upgrade relies on fiber infrastructure, even 5G will be possibly limited to areas that already have FTTH – meaning, they already have a competitive landscape and, therefore, better service. The rest of us get monopolistic slow lanes.

      Regulators and policymakers focusing only on 5G wireless are setting us up to fail. Only aggressive promotion of competitive high-speed wireline infrastructure can ensure that the 68 million Americans that currently have access to only one high-speed ISP will have options (and, in turn, the ability to vote with their wallets if service is slow), and that the 19 million Americans with no access at all can leapfrog into the 21st century of broadband access.

  • DRM

    • Review of Igalia’s Multimedia Activities (2018/H2)

      EME is a specification for enabling playback of encrypted content in Web bowsers that support HTML 5 video.

      In a downstream project for WPE WebKit we managed to have almost full test coverage in the YoutubeTV 2018 test suite.

      We merged our contributions in upstream, WebKit and GStreamer, most of what is legal to publish, for example, making demuxers aware of encrypted content and make them to send protection events with the initialization data and the encrypted caps, in order to select later the decryption key.

      We started to coordinate the upstreaming process of a new implementation of CDM (Content Decryption Module) abstraction and there will be even changes in that abstraction.

    • MiUnlockTool unlocks Xiaomi phones’ bootloader on macOS and Linux

      MiUnlockTool is a third party bootloader unlock utility which runs on Linux and macOS. The official Xiaomi tool for unlocking bootloader is Windows only.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • South Korea’s Supreme Court vacates 2009 antitrust fine imposed on Qualcomm by the Korea Fair Trade Commission: unrelated to 2016 ruling

      So let’s put all of this into perspective. The old 2009 matter, which apparently took almost a decade to make its way up to South Korea’s top court, was about incentive payments by Qualcomm “to Samsung Electronics Co. and LG Electronics Inc. between 2000 and 2009 on condition that they only use Qualcomm chips for certain smartphone models” (quoting Yonhap). That decision was affirmed by the Seoul High Court in 2013 for its anticompetitive effect. According to Yonhap, the Seoul High Court determined the incentive payments “effectively forced Korean buyers [= Samsung and LG] from exploring other deals with [Qualcomm's] competitors,” and the Seoul High Court took particular issue with some of what was paid to LG because it “undermined fair competition.”

      Today, however, South Korea’s Supreme Court determined that LG’s share in the (presumably Korean) smartphone market in the years 2006-2008 was “well below the 40 percent level,” which in the top court’s opinion makes it “less likely” that these exclusive dealings had anticompetitive effects.

      So what’s the actual impact of this decision to vacate the 2009 fine, apart from being unrelated to the 2016 case (in which the fee is almost four times as high)?

    • Apple has already defeated Qualcomm’s first ITC complaint with a workaround in iOS 12.1 and later, blessed by Qualcomm’s CTO

      Qualcomm’s patent enforcement campaign against Apple, which started in the spring of 2017, has produced some headlines but no real results. What Qualcomm wanted was to gain leverage over Apple well in advance of the Apple & contract manufacturers v. Qualcomm trial that will take place in San Diego in April. Qualcomm furthermore wanted to demonstrate the strength of its patent portfolio to the industry at large. But it has failed to achieve the former (practically zero leverage over Apple), and with respect to the latter, the very opposite is the case: the longer Qualcomm keeps litigating against Apple without real results, the less its royalty demands for non-standard-essential patents (a premium of 1.75% as Qualcomm charges 5% for its entire portfolio vs. 3.25% for only its standard-essential patents) will be accepted by the rest of the industry going forward.

      On Friday, Dr. Ron Katznelson, a former Professor of Electrical Engineering at the University of California in Qualcomm’s home town of San Diego, told the United States International Trade Commission (USITC, or just ITC) in a public-interest statement that there are dozens of alternative technologies to the asserted claim 31 of U.S. Patent No. 9,535,490 on “power[-]saving techniques in computing devices.” That’s the one Qualcomm patent an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) deemed Apple to infringe, though the ALJ recommended (for public-interest considerations) that no import ban be ordered.

      Dr. Katznelson was right. Qualcomm’s sole remaining patent-in-suit in the investigation of its first ITC complaint against Apple is apparently as useful as having a fence on only one side of a property: anybody can just walk around it.

    • Why China’s impressive patent rates don’t tell the whole story [Ed: China just games the patent system by granting lots of rubbish one. Corrupt WIPO is OK with it.]

      Figures released last month by UHY Hacker Young showed that China is leading the way in global patent filing for AI and blockchain, with the US trailing close behind. According to the report, China was responsible for 73 per cent of AI and 32 per cent of blockchain patent filings with the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) in 2017.

      These two technology areas were, presumably, chosen because they are two of the most exciting sectors of emerging innovation. However, it’s wrong to assume that China’s vanguard position for patent applications in these fields necessarily means they really are leading when it comes to innovation. These figures, while impressive at first glance, should be viewed in the right context.

      Taking a step back, it is worth noting that the total number of patent applications in China in all sectors has dramatically increased over the past decade. Between 2008 and 2017, the number of patent applications filed in China rose from 204,000 to 1.3m: a staggering increase of 600 per cent.

      [...]

      A lack of quality is also indicated in the hesitancy of Chinese companies to file counterpart patent applications in foreign markets, demonstrated by figures ranking China in fifth place globally. Any organisation seeking to protect its innovations with a patent needs to file an application in each territory it wishes to protect their invention. If the majority of Chinese patents filed have no protection outside of the country, we therefore have to question their potential on a global scale. It’s, therefore, another indicator that quality is falling foul to a game of numbers with the Chinese IP system.

      The lack of quality over quantity is very likely to be mirrored in the high number of blockchain and AI filings as, globally, China is the largest patent filer in both these sectors.

      Meanwhile, legal checks and balances have arguably tapered any attempts by the US to mirror China’s IP window dressing. The decision in Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank International, a supreme court case in 2014 – which increased the benchmark for what can be considered ‘patentable’ – had a direct effect on lowering the total number of patent applications, and causing only a slight increase in those for trademarks. If such measures were introduced in China, without state encouragement, you can only speculate how many applications would be filed – and succeed.

    • Trademarks

      • Monster Energy Loses Appeal On Monsta Pizza Trademark Ruling

        Monster Energy, maker of caffeinated liquid crank, has a long and legendary history of being roughly the most obnoxious trademark bully on the planet. It faces stiff competition in this arena of bad, of course, but it has always put up quite a fight to win that title. The company either sues or attempts to block trademarks for everything that could even possibly be barely linked to the term “monster” in any way. One such case was its opposition to a trademark registration for Monsta Pizza in the UK. Pizza is, of course, not a beverage, but that didn’t stop Monster Energy from trying to keep the pizza chain from its name. It lost that opposition, with the IPO pointing out that its citizens are not stupid enough to be confused between drinks and pizza.

        And that should have been the end of the story, except that this is Monster Energy we’re talking about, so of course it appealed its loss. Its grounds for appeal amounted to “Nuh-uh! The public really might be confused!” Thankfully, Monster Energy lost this appeal as well.

    • Copyrights

      • Article 13 Was Purposefully Designed To Be Awful For The Internet; EU Moves Forward With It Anyway

        As was widely expected, even if it’s unfortunately, on Friday evening the EU Council voted to move forward with the latest draft of the EU Copyright Directive, including the truly awful “compromise” version of Article 13 hacked out by the Germans and the French. This happened despite the fact that there’s basically no one left who supports this version of Article 13. The public is widely against it. The internet companies are against it. And, perhaps surprisingly, even the legacy copyright companies — who pushed so hard for this — are still angry about the result, which they insist is too lenient on the internet.

        I’ve been left scratching my head over why the copyright holders are still pushing for more here. To be clear, the version that the EU Council approved last week would fundamentally change the internet in a massive way. It would, effectively, make it nearly impossible for any website to ever host any user-generated content. In nearly all cases it would require expensive and problematic upload filters. In the few “exceptions” to that, it would still require a massive amount of concessions from internet platforms to avoid liability.

      • Nearly 4,000 Pirate Sites Are Blocked by ISPs Around The World

        The Motion Picture Association has provided a fresh overview of worldwide pirate site blocking efforts. At the moment, close to 4,000 websites are blocked in 31 countries. The movie industry group notes that site blocking, while not perfect, has proven to be an effective enforcement tool.

02.10.19

Links 10/2/2019: Linux 5.0 RC6, Project Trident 18.12 Reviewed

Posted in News Roundup at 10:29 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • Stable version Chrome OS 72 arrives: Here’s what you need to know

      First up is USB support for Crostini, the containerized instance of a full Linux distro; Debian is the default. This opens up the ability to mount a USB or SD card drive in Chrome OS and share it with Linux. To share it, find the external storage in the Chrome OS Files app, right-click it, and choose “Share with Linux”. The external storage device will then appear as a file mount available at /mnt/chromeos/removable/[name of storage] with the name of the card or USB drive inserted where I have brackets (don’t include the brackets when accessing your mount in Crostini).

      Also, there’s no longer a need to move downloaded .deb package files for Linux apps from the Chrome OS filesystem over to the Linux files. That step is gone because the Chrome OS package installation process has been updated to work securely and directly from your Chromebook files, right in the native Files app.

  • Server

    • When I was sleepy

      One day I came back from the lunch (a good one), and was feeling a bit sleepy. I had taken down the tomcat server, pushed the changes to the application, and then wanted to start the server up again.

      [...]

      From that day on, before doing any kind of destructive operation, I double check the command prompt for any typo. I make sure, that I don’t remove anything randomly and also make sure that I have my backups is place.

    • Video: OpenHPC Update

      In this talk I want to give an introduction about the OpenHPC project. Why do we need something like OpenHPC? What are the goals of OpenHPC? Who is involved in OpenHPC and how is the project organized? What is the actual result of the OpenHPC project? It also has been some time (it was FOSDEM 2016) since OpenHPC was part of the HPC, Big Data and Data Science devroom, so that it seems a good opportunity for an OpenHPC status update and what has happened in the last three years. In addition to previous mentioned topics I would also like to give an outlook about upcoming releases and plans for the future.”

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • Open Source Security Podcast: Episode 133 – Smart locks and the government hacking devices

      Josh and Kurt talk about the fiasco hacks4pancakes described on Twitter and what the future of smart locks will look like. We then discuss what it means if the Japanese government starts hacking consumer IoT gear, is it ethical? Will it make anything better?

    • SMLR Episode 300 “Linux is Obsolete” ?
    • Episode 54 | This Week in Linux

      On this episode of This Week in Linux, the new Radeon VII beast from AMD is out and we’ll check out some benchmarks from our friends at Phoronix. A new version of KDE Plasma is coming out soon, in just a couple of days, so we will have a look at what is coming in KDE Plasma 5.15. We got some new app releases from LibreOffice and Flowblade and there was a bunch of Distro News this week from Fedora, SystemRescueCd, Redcore Linux, and some new distros or at least new to me with Linux Kodachi & Refracta. Later in the show, we’ll cover some Gaming Sales from Humble Bundle and Steam. All that and much more!

    • GNU World Order 13×7
  • Kernel Space

    • Linux Sees Driver Finally For Lighting Up The LEDs With Whiskey Cove PMIC

      One bit of Intel consumer hardware support not currently handled by the Linux kernel was for their Cherry Trail Whiskey Cove PMIC LEDs — that’s for the LEDs connected to their power-management IC on various laptops.

      The Linux kernel has already supported the Whiskey Cove PMIC on Intel Cherry Trail (and the since cancelled Broxton) for GPIO, thermal, charger, and other power management features handled by this IC. But for any attached LEDs to this chip there hasn’t been any support.

      Of course with Intel having shifted course as well as cancelling the Broxton successor to Cherry Trail, this PMIC LED support hasn’t been a priority but now an independent Linux developer has decided to tackle it. The Cherry Trail PMIC is used by various notebooks / low-power-devices with Atom x5/x7 from prior years.

    • Linux Might Finally See Mainline Support For The Current Apple MacBook Keyboard/Touchpad

      The Apple MacBook / MacBook Pro laptops of the past few years have been notoriously bad on Linux at least as far as the mainline / out-of-the-box support is concerned. The current MacBook’s keyboard and touchpad don’t even work out-of-the-box on Linux. There has been an out-of-tree driver available for changing that while coming soon it might finally be merged to the mainline kernel.

      The MacBook / MacBook Pro keyboard and trackpad of the past two~three years has relied upon an SPI controller rather than being the traditionally USB-based input devices. Apple hasn’t publicly documented the protocol even for properly supporting the keyboard/trackpad on non-macOS/Windows platforms. But thankfully the open-source Linux developer community has been able to largely reverse-engineer this support.

    • Linux 5.0-rc6

      It’s Sunday afternoon, which means it’s time for the usual release candidate.

      Things are fairly normal, although rc6 is a bit bigger than I would
      have liked to see. There’s no single reason for that, it’s just
      various changes all over.

      Networking (both drivers and core) is perhaps the most noticeable
      part, at roughly a quarter of the changes, but there’s a little bit of
      everything in there outside of that: other drivers (gpu, dma, iio,
      sound, usb, misc..), the usual architecture updates (arm, mips, x86,
      powerpc), along with a few filesystem and core kernel updates. And
      another batch of selftest updates.

    • Linux 5.0-rc6 Released – Still On Track For A Normal Release
    • Linux Foundation

      • Sony Pictures Has Open-Sourced Software Used to Make ‘Into the Spider-Verse’

        Sony Pictures Imageworks has contributed a software tool used to create movies like “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” “Hotel Transylvania 3,” “Alice in Wonderland” and “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” to the open source community.

        OpenColorIO, a tool used for color management during the production process, has become the second software project of the Academy Software Foundation , an industry-wide open source association spearheaded by the Linux Foundation.

        [...]

        The Academy Software Foundation was founded in August of 2018 as an industry-wide effort to advance the development and use of open source software in Hollywood. Founding members include Autodesk, Cisco, DreamWorks, Epic Games, Foundry, Google Cloud, Intel, Walt Disney Studios and others. Sony Pictures Entertainment/Sony Pictures Imageworks, Warner Bros., the Blender Foundation and the Visual Effects Society (VES) joined the group last fall.

      • The CNCF 2018 annual report
      • Decipher Technology Studios Announces Silver Membership with the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF)

        Decipher Technology Studios, the leader in cognitive service mesh operations for the enterprise, announced it is now a silver member of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF), a sub-foundation of the Linux Foundation.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Running The RadeonSI NIR Back-End With Mesa 19.1 Git

        It’s been a number of months since last trying the RadeonSI NIR back-end, which is being developed as part of the OpenGL 4.6 SPIR-V bits for this AMD OpenGL driver, but eventually RadeonSI may end up switching from TGSI to NIR by default. Given the time since we last tried it out and the increasing popularity of NIR, this weekend I did some fresh tests of the NIR back-end with a Radeon Vega graphics card.

        The RadeonSI NIR support isn’t enabled by default but requires setting the R600_DEBUG=nir environment variable for activating. They have been pursuing this support to re-use existing code as part of the long-awaited OpenGL 4.6 SPIR-V ingestion support, which is still ongoing.

      • GreenWithEnvy 0.11 Released For More Overclocking Potential Of NVIDIA GPUs On Linux

        GreenWithEnvy v0.11 has been released, the latest version of this third-party, open-source utility for altering the power limits of NVIDIA graphics cards on Linux as well as more overclocking information/controls than what is exposed through the NVIDIA Settings panel with the NVIDIA proprietary driver.

        GreenWithEnvy depends upon the proprietary NVIDIA Linux driver as well as the CoolBits extension for doing the actual overclocking, but allows overclockers to make more informed choices thanks to historical charts of the thermal/power/clock data and other information not otherwise readily exposed from Linux GUI utilities for NVIDIA graphics processors. GreenWithEnvy also allows manipulating the fan curve and more.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • This week in Usability & Productivity, part 57

        Get ready for a humongous monster week 57 for KDE’s Usability & Productivity initiative and there’s a metric tonne of stuff!!! So go make yourself a cup of tea or coffee and settle in for a long list of improvements.

        But first I want to mention that we’re working on fixes for Discover users in Plasma 5.14.5 who are stuck unable to update. We’ve pushed a fix into the 5.14 branch that should cause the stuck backend to time out after one minute, allowing everything else to work. We’ll be releasing a Plasma 5.14.5.1 bugfix release, inclusing this fix. Fear not, we won’t leave you out in the icy cold blackness of night… alone, hungry, and unable to upgrade your software using a GUI application?

        Also it’s already fixed in Plasma 5.15.

      • KDE Applications 19.04 To Support eBook Thumbnails, Allow Ripping CDs To Opus

        With the feature freeze for KDE Applications 19.04 happening next month in order to meet the planned 18 April release date, KDE developers are busy getting their new features ready and reviewed for this next round of application updates.

        The newest feature that has made its way into KDE Applications 19.04 is finally allowing the ability to rip audio CDs to the Opus audio format with that support working its way into the KIO code as a new plugin. That Opus codec support honors a feature request that had been open since January 2013. This applications bundle also will now support thumbnails on eBook epub/fb2 files. Also on the thumbnail front is supporting some Windows XPS / Office files with thumbnail support.

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

      • NuTyX 10.94 Available

        I have the great pleasure to offer you the new ISO Mate 64 bit systemd.

      • MX-18.1 Continuum Official Release (iso refresh)

        MX-18.1 is a refresh of our MX-18 release, consisting of bugfixes and application updates since our original release of MX-18.
        Note: Existing users do not need to reinstall. All bugfixes and additions will come through the regular update channel.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • Only a Few Days Left to Cast Your Ballot in the Board Elections

        With only a few days left to go in the Board Elections, openSUSE enthusiast Ahmad Romadhon would like to urge all openSUSE Members who have not yet voted to cast their ballots before voting closes Friday, February 15, 2019 at 12h00 UTC.

        The Gajah Mada University Indonesian Literature student from Yogyakarta, Indonesia, has contributed a new Poster for the openSUSE Elections with this goal in mind, as a healthy Community depends entirely on the active participation of its Members.

        The ballots were sent out last week for the voting process to choose three Board Members in the 2018-2019 openSUSE Board Elections from a total of seven top quality Candidates in the running.

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Canonical Apologizes for Boot Failure in Ubuntu 18.10 & 18.04, Fix Available Now

            Canonical released a new kernel update for Ubuntu 18.10 (Cosmic Cuttlefish) and Ubuntu 18.04.1 LTS (Bionic Beaver) systems to address a regression introduces by the last kernel security patch.
            After patching a nasty Linux kernel regression in the Ubuntu 18.04 LTS operating system series, Canonical now addressed another regression affecting the Linux 4.18 kernel packages of Ubuntu 18.10 and Ubuntu 18.04.1 LTS systems, which was introduced by an important kernel security update released earlier this week.

            The kernel security update that Canonical published on February 4th was available for Ubuntu 18.10, Ubuntu 16.0.4 LTS, and Ubuntu 14.04 LTS systems, but only Ubuntu 18.10 machines were affected by a regression that could prevent them from booting when certain graphics chipsets are used.

          • Flavours and Variants

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Google: We’ve open-sourced ClusterFuzz tool that found 16,000 bugs in Chrome

    The so-called fuzzing tool, or rather infrastructure, is adept at finding memory-corruption bugs that often end up requiring a security patch.

    Until now, only Google engineers and select open-source projects have been able to use ClusterFuzz. But now any software developer can use the automated bug hunter, Google has announced.

  • The next big challenge for Google’s A.I. is a card game you’ve never heard of
  • NVIDIA Open-Sources Hyper-Realistic Face Generator StyleGAN

    The Flickr-Faces-HQ (FFHQ) dataset used for training in the StyleGAN paper contains 70,000 high-quality PNG images of human faces at 1024×1024 resolution (aligned and cropped).

  • NVIDIA Opens Up The Code To StyleGAN – Create Your Own AI Family Portraits

    This week NVIDIA’s research engineers open-sourced StyleGAN, the project they’ve been working in for months as a Style-based generator architecture for Generative Adversarial Networks.

    The machine learning technology is for generating new images that mimic the appearance of real images. With StyleGAN, unlike (most?) other generators, different aspects can be customized for changing the outcome of the generated images. StyleGAN is able to yield incredibly life-like human portraits, but the generator can also be used for applying the same machine learning to other animals, automobiles, and even rooms.

  • Abe Chen, Byton VP Of Security, On The Importance Of Security In Early Design Stages — #CleanTechnica Interview

    I asked why not more automotive companies embrace open source. Abe feels the biggest problem is their lack of understanding of the licensing process. Open source is about taking and giving back. That can be daunting for many focused on bottom line return on investment (ROI). Mostly, certain carmakers feel more comfortable with an off-the-shelf product with a straightforward support system. Unfortunately, that is an expensive solution for the consumer. To do a good job, a mobility company needs to dedicate an entire team to open source.

    How Open Source Can Make Mobility More Efficient & Lower Costs

    Asked about Byton’s security philosophy, Abe feels most in the automotive industry rely on IT scripting and applies it to the auto industry. From his personal experience, it can’t always work well. It has to be part of a core, in-house automotive security foundation that is developed from a mobility standpoint. He used the analogy of how it’s one thing to hack into a phone or computer and lose data. It’s another thing when it comes to a car and human lives are at stake. Automotive security has to be part of the original design and not an afterthought. There is no such thing as 100% security, but you can put into place compensating technologies as well as redundant systems to come as close as possible to that.

  • Yosemite X announces first open-source public blockchain without native cryptocurrency

    Businesses can reap the benefits of blockchain, without the risks commonly associated with cryptocurrencies

    Yosemite X, a blockchain technology company, today announced the release of its open-source public blockchain that operates without a native cryptocurrency, giving developers and businesses the ability to build solutions and reduce costs, without the price volatility of crypto.

    This approach enables companies to reap the benefits of blockchain – greater transparency, enhanced security, increased efficiency, speed of transactions at scale – and pay for their network usage with more stable fiat currencies.

    While the idea of using the blockchain technology to cut down the cost of operation has intrigued many businesses, few have proved to be practical due to the technology’s reliance on volatile native cryptocurrency. Even those that have been implemented in enterprises are often based on permissioned blockchains, which are really a glorified centralized server system with shared access to the control room amongst agreed/pre-determined partners. With Yosemite Public Blockchain, which is designed to operate and transact with fiat-backed stablecoin, businesses can – for the first time on a public blockchain – accurately project their operating costs, which are expected to be significantly lower than other financial transaction systems.

  • Engineer Spotlight: Open Source Signal Integrity Engineering with Davi Correia and David Banas

    Signal Integrity Engineers David Banas and Davi Correia share their thoughts on the future of electrical engineering, the freedom of giving code away for free, and the importance of professional curiosity.

    The electrical engineering community is a tightknit group full of cooperation and support, and two great examples of that are David Banas and Davi Corriea. They’ve achieved a high level of success in their careers, but they also give back to their fellow engineers. Banas, of Haskware and eASIC, is the developer of PyBERT, an open-source serial communication link bit error rate tester, and Correia, of Carlisle Interconnect Technologies, developed many tools to automate parts of the product design process, increasing efficiency for his company and the EE community at large.

  • Should your company be open to open sourcing its software?

    Developing software can be a long, expensive process for a company, yet there are many advantages to open sourcing, which may seem counterintuitive at first.

    For Salesforce, sharing means a lot more than caring. In fact, last year, Salesforce announced that it was open sourcing the machine learning technology behind its Einstein AI platform.

    “Three years ago when we set out to build machine learning capabilities into the Salesforce platform, we learned that building enterprise-scale machine learning systems is even harder,” stated Shubha Nabar, senior director of data science on the Salesforce Einstein team, in a detailed Medium post.

    Nabar went on to explain why Salesforce decided to bring this project to the open source (OS) community stating, “Machine learning has the potential to transform how businesses operate, and we believe that barriers to adoption can only be lowered through an open exchange of ideas and code. By working in the open we can bring together diverse perspectives to continue to push the technology forward and make it accessible to everyone.”

  • The ‘Big Bang’ of Data Science and ML Tools

    The tools used for data science are rapidly changing at the moment, according to Gartner, which said we’re in the midst of a “big bang” in its latest report on data science and machine learning platforms.

  • ICTFax Version 4.0 Released, Open Source Fax Over IP server software
  • Google open sources ClusterFuzz, a scalable fuzzing tool

    Google made its scalable fuzzing tool, called ClusterFuzz available as open source, yesterday. ClusterFuzz is used by Google for fuzzing the Chrome Browser, a technique that helps detect bugs in software by feeding unexpected inputs to a target program. For fuzzing to be effective, it should be continuous, done at scale, and integrated into the development process of a software project.

    ClusterFuzz can run on clusters with over 25,000 machines and can effectively highlight security and stability issues in software. It serves as the fuzzing backend for OSS-Fuzz, a service that Google released back in 2016. ClusterFuzz was earlier offered as free service to open source projects through OSS-Fuzz but is now available for anyone to use.

  • Automated Radiosonde Tracking Via Open Source

    Meteorological organisations across the world launch weather balloons on a regular basis as a part of their work in predicting whether or not it will rain on the weekend. Their payloads are called radiosondes, and these balloons deliver both telemetry and location data throughout their flightpath. Hobbyists around the globe have devoted time and effort to tracking and decoding these signals, and now it’s possible to do it all automatically, thanks to Radiosonde Auto RX.

    The basis of the project is the RTL-SDR, everyone’s favourite low-cost software defined radio receiver. In this case, software is used to first hunt for potential radiosonde signals, before then decoding them and uploading the results to a variety of online services. Some of these are designed for simple tracking, while others are designed for live chase and recovery operations. Currently, the software only covers 3 varieties of radiosonde, but the team are eager to expand the project and have requested donations of other radiosondes for research purposes.

  • Events

    • FOSS-North Is Coming Up In Two Months As A Leading Scandinavian Linux/Open-Source Event

      If you missed out on last weekend’s FOSDEM event for your fix of Linux technical talks or are just looking for a Linux/open-source event taking place in the beautiful Scandinavia, FOSS-North is coming up now in less than two months.

      FOSS-North 2019 is running from 7 to 10 April in Gothenburg, Sweden. While I haven’t attended this event personally, many Phoronix readers have and encouraged mentioning this year’s event.

  • LibreOffice

    • The Document Foundation announces LibreOffice 6.2 with NotebookBar

      The NotebookBar is available in Tabbed, Grouped and Contextual flavors, each one with a different approach to the menu layout.

    • LibreOffice 6.2 Released – Here’s What’s New

      LibreOffice, the best free and open source office suite released the latest version 6.2 with some radical changes. The major improvements is the “Notebookbar” which is a ribbon style menu with tabbed, grouped bar for better and easy user experience.

      Being the only free office suite for professional and production use, LibreOffice’s notebookbar helps users who is more proficient with popular office suites such as Microsoft Office.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

    • Why Apple is Patenting Swift Features, Even Though It’s Open Source

      Many think of ‘open source’ the same way they do free software: totally free and open for everyone to use. And Swift is indeed open and free. Released under the Apache license, Swift is also gaining LSP support, which will give it the ability to compile in just about any IDE you’d want to use (and even some you don’t).

      Apple still drives Swift’s progress. Swift.org, the site dedicated to Swift’s open-source roadmap and release history, is owned and managed by Apple. Those who contribute most to the language’s success are typically Apple staffers, or were (Swift creator Chris Lattner, who is now at Google, is still heavily involved with the language).

  • Funding

    • HashiCorp attracts huge venture capital investment by helping companies link different cloud technologies [Ed: HashiCorp is somewhat of a Microsoft proxy]
    • Databricks’ Recent $250 Mn Funding Shows How The Spark Creators Are Ahead In The AI Game

      If there is one key takeaway from Databricks’ recent and much talked about $250 million funding — that there is a dramatic increase in venture financing of big data, cloud and AI technologies. In fact, analysts have pointed out that these three sectors — artificial intelligence, big data and cloud — have significantly exceeded valuation since the technology holds tremendous potential to transform a wide range of industries.

      Ali Ghodsi and Matei Zaharia, inventors of Spark and the founders of Databricks, capitalised on the shifting nature of big data by providing a unified analytics platform. In fact, last week the San Francisco-based company saw another blockbuster funding round of $250 million, which put Databricks’ valuation at $2.75 billion. Interestingly, the company that has been dubbed more “evolutionary rather than revolutionary” in terms of putting Spark in the cloud and also providing tools tailored for AI pipelines and multi-cloud environments has managed to stay current by keeping a pulse on where the market is heading and what customers required.

  • BSD

    • Review: First impressions of Project Trident 18.12

      I have a lot of mixed feelings and impressions when it comes to Trident. On the one hand, the operating system has some great technology under the hook. It has cutting edge packages from the FreeBSD ecosystem, we have easy access to ZFS, boot environments, and lots of open source packages. Hardware support, at least on my physical workstation, was solid and the Lumina desktop is flexible.

      However, there were a lot of problems I ran into during this trial. Some of them are matters of taste or style. The installer looks unusually crude, for example, and the mixed icon styles weren’t appealing. Similarly, switching themes made some icons in toolbars disappear. These are not functional issues, just presentation ones. There were some functional problems too though. For example, needing to close and re-open AppCafe to see available packages, or the desktop not resizing when running Trident in a virtual machine, which required that I change the display settings at each login.

      Lumina has come a long way and is highly flexible and I like the available alternative widgets for desktop elements. This is useful because Lumina’s weakest link on Trident seems to be its defaults as I had some trouble with the “Start” application menu and I think some work to polish the initial impression would be helpful.

      The biggest issues though were with security. Trident ships with some extra security features in place, but most of them can be easily bypassed by any user by simply opening the Control Panel to view or kill processes or even add or remove packages. Some systems intentionally give the user full access by running everything as root, but in those cases at least the administrator knows they have complete access. This situation seems worse since Trident gives the illusion of security and limited access, but any curious user can run administrator tools. I think the project needs time to mature before I would recommend using it.

  • Programming/Development

    • The Rust Vulkan Gfx-rs Portability Initiative Reaches New Milestone

      Gfx-rs Portability is the library being developed within the Rust programming language that implements the Vulkan Portability Initiative as an effort akin to MoltenVK for easily getting Vulkan applications running on macOS and other platforms where Vulkan API support may not be natively available.

      Saturday marked a new release of gfx-rs/portability that implements version 0.2 of the VK_EXT_portability_subset extension. This release also offers improvements to the back-end for Apple’s Metal graphics/compute API.

    • A Tiny IDE For Your ATtiny

      When writing code for the ATtiny family of microcontrollers such as a the ATtiny85 or ATtiny10, people usually use one of two methods…

    • Why is cross-language cooperation so hard?

      My previous blog post on the future of Meson was a smashing hit (with up to five(!) replies on Twitter), so I figured I’d write a bit more in depth article about the issue. I’d like to emphasize that like previously, this article only mentions Rust by name, but the issues raised are identical for all new programming languages such as D, Go, Nim, and all the others whose names I don’t even know.

    • Riccardo Padovani: Glasnost: yet another Gitlab’s client.

      Among the others features, I’d like to highlight support for multiple Gitlab hosts (so you can work both on your company’s Gitlab and on Gitlab.com at the same time), two different themes (a light one and a dark one), a lite version for when your data connection is stuck on edge, and support for fingerprint authentication.

      The application is still in an early phase of development, but it already has enough features to be used daily. I am sure Giovanni would love some feedback and suggestions, so please go on the Glasnost’s issues tracker or leave a feedback on the PlayStore.

      If you feel a bit more adventurous, you can contribute to the application itself: it is written in React+Redux with Expo: the code is hosted on Gitlab (of course).

    • Python, For The love of It – part 1

Leftovers

  • Science

  • Hardware

    • Apple is squirreling away money to pay for lawsuits related to its iPhone ‘batterygate’ throttling scandal

      Users had said for years that Apple slowed down their older iPhones through software updates. When one maker of benchmark software produced data and an analysis that showed a few notable software updates seemed to slow down the iPhone’s processor, criticism exploded.

      Apple said the processor slowdown was related to aging batteries, and that the processor-throttling software was introduced to prevent older iPhones from shutting down unexpectedly. But there was a lot of consumer anger, leading to class-action lawsuits and even investigations from the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Navy Sonar Is Literally Scaring Whales to Death

      While scientists have already linked naval sonar with mass strandings of some whales, like beaked whales, they haven’t understood exactly what the cause was – until now. Turns out, it’s literally scaring them to death.

      Beaked whales are among the deepest diving marine mammals on earth, with Cuvier’s beaked whales hitting some of the deepest depths – going nearly 10,000 feet below the surface. Their bodies have adapted to allow them to go so deep to forage; Their heartrate slows, blood flow is restricted and oxygen is conserved.

      Oddly enough, scientists have found that stranded whales have nitrogen bubbles in their tissues, which is a telltale sign of compression sickness, otherwise known as “the bends.” It’s a painful condition often associated with scuba divers who rise to the surface too quickly, so it’s strange that whales would be suffering from it.

      However, in a new study just published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, scientists have found that naval sonar In certain frequencies is scaring them so badly, or inducing a “flight or fight response” that their fear alters their diving behavior and quickens their heartrate, which in turn gives them the bends.

      “In the presence of sonar they are stressed and swim vigorously away from the sound source, changing their diving pattern,” lead author Yara Bernaldo de Quiros, a researcher at the Institute of Animal Health at the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain, told AFP.

    • Stronger Drug Patents in New NAFTA To Cost U.S. Manufacturing Workers Jobs

      These provisions include a requirement of a period of ten years of marketing exclusivity for biotech drugs before a biosimilar is allowed to enter the market. The deal also requires Canada to grant a period of exclusivity for existing drugs when new uses are developed. In addition, it requires that the period of patent monopoly be extended beyond 20 years when there have been “unreasonable” delays in the granting of the patent.

    • Why some people are worried about drug patent protections in the new NAFTA

      The new NAFTA — or as it’s officially known, the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement — is already raising some complaints from north of the border. Canadians are worried their drug prices will go up.

      That’s because one piece of the deal gives years of extended patent protection to high-end, expensive drugs known as biologics. That means the trade deal could delay the time it takes for cheaper generics to get to market.

    • ‘People Shouldn’t Be Going Bankrupt and Dying’: Nationwide Week of Action Aims to Build Mass Movement Behind Medicare for All

      From Texas to Kansas to California—around 150 total locations across the country—Medicare for All supporters gathered to discuss the necessity of a single-payer system that leaves no one behind, at a time when over 30 million Americans are uninsured and two-thirds of personal bankruptcies are caused by medical bills.

      “I know of people with diabetes literally dying because they cannot afford their insulin. It’s very scary and very real,” said 30-year-old Medicare for All organizer Briana Moss, who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 12.

      Robyn Gottlieb, who hosted a barnstorm Saturday night in Portland, Oregon, described the U.S. healthcare system as “terrible.”

      “We are so far behind,” she added. “I feel so passionate about this movement and winning Medicare for All. People shouldn’t be going bankrupt and dying. We’re the generation that’s going to get this done.”

    • ‘Shame on Sackler’: Massive Protest Breaks Out Over Guggenheim Museum’s Ties to Big Pharma

      Demonstrators inside New York’s Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum staged a “die in” and dropped thousands of paper slips designed to look like of OxyContin prescriptions Saturday night to protest the facility’s ties to the billionaire Sackler family, which owns Purdue Pharma and has been accused of deliberately fueling the opioid epidemic for profit.

      “Education facilities at the Guggenheim, including a theater and an exhibition gallery, are housed inside the 8,200-square-foot Sackler Center for Arts Education, identified by the museum as ‘a gift of the Mortimer D. Sackler Family,’” the New York Times reported.

      “The cloud of white slips, created by a group founded by the photographer Nan Goldin, was a response to a recently disclosed statement by Richard Sackler, the son of a Purdue founder, who said years ago that OxyContin’s launch would be ‘followed by a blizzard of prescriptions that will bury the competition,’” the Times continued.

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Saudi Arabia’s Threadbare Cover-Up of Khashoggi’s Killing Unravels Further

      More than four months have passed since Mr. Khashoggi was savagely throttled and dismembered in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul and then discarded, but the bald lies told by the Saudi government to protect the prince — including the attempt to pin the murder on 11 anonymous Saudis, of whom five are said to face execution — and the cynical argument by President Trump that Saudi largesse is more important than justice, have only intensified demands for a full reckoning.

    • New pressure over Khashoggi death, Trump silent at deadline

      Under an existing human rights accountability law, the letter gives the president 120 days to designate and punish those responsible.

    • Year Before Killing, Saudi Prince Told Aide He Would Use ‘a Bullet’ on Jamal Khashoggi

      The conversation, intercepted by American intelligence agencies, is the most detailed evidence to date that the crown prince considered killing Mr. Khashoggi long before a team of Saudi operatives strangled him inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul and dismembered his body using a bone saw. Mr. Khashoggi’s murder prompted weeks of outrage around the world and among both parties in Washington, where senior lawmakers called for an investigation into who was responsible.

    • Blackwater’s Erik Prince, China and a new controversy over Xinjiang

      Erik Prince, the former Navy Seal who founded Blackwater, hardly seems like the type who dwells on corporate niceties. He was, after all, America’s foremost mercenary executive.
      But there he was in Beijing, bearing an unlikely gift for a man who might open China to a freelancer known for his band of private contractors. It was a copy of his Blackwater memoir, Civilian Warriors.
      With that 2013 introduction to Chang Zhenming, chairman of China’s powerful Citic investment conglomerate, Prince gained entry to a lucrative new market – and, now, new controversy.
      Prince, brother of US Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, has made no secret about his ambitions in China. But since he became chairman of Frontier Services Group in Hong Kong five years ago, Citic, his mainland benefactor, has slowly cemented its grip on the firm. Prince stepped down as FSG chairman in December to make way for a new boss from the conglomerate, which has amassed a bigger stake than Prince’s 9 per cent.

      [...]

      Prince’s push into China began in 2013, the same year Chinese President Xi Jinping unveiled a key plank of China’s foreign policy: the “Belt and Road Initiative”. China is moving to project its money and influence by linking economies in Asia, Europe and Africa with power grids, highways and other strategic infrastructure.
      Prince, 49, had travelled to Hong Kong that year to raise private-equity money to invest in Africa. He pitched the idea to Johnson Ko, an investor whose boutique investment bank had caught the eye of Alibaba’s Jack Ma. Ko suggested another tack: a publicly traded company to capitalise on China’s coming push across Asia and Africa. Alibaba owns the South China Morning Post.
      Enter FSG, which was created to provide logistical, aviation and security services. By 2014, Prince and Ko had secured a Hong Kong listing with the backing of Citic, which has US$972 billion in assets.
      Since then, FSG has engaged in variety of ventures, from providing security in a Somalian free zone to running air ambulances out of Kenya. For its shareholders, it is hardly been a standout investment. FSG has yet to report a profit, and its stock gained 14 per cent over the past five years, half of the increase for Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Climate Emergency: Australian Judge Strikes down Coal Mine in Part because of its Carbon Emissions

      In what is likely to be the first of many such rulings, an Australian court has ruled against a coal mine in part on grounds of the environmental damage that burning coal does by contributing to the climate emergency. Burning coal releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, a powerful greenhouse gas that keeps the sun’s heat from escaping into space once it has struck the earth.

      Gloucester Resources, Ltd., had proposed an open-cut coal mine near the town of Gloucester, a 3-hour drive north of Sydney along Australia’s east coast. The New South Wales ministry for planning had denied the request on more conventional grounds. Open-cut mines are environmental nightmares and eyesores, and thousands of residents had written in to complain about all that and also the possibility that the proposed mine would negatively affect other land use in the vicinity.

      But then Gloucester Resources, Ltd., made the mistake of appealing the turn-down, and the case went to chief judge Brian Preston of the NSW Land and Environment Court. (Australia has courts for Land and Environment?)

    • Michael Bloomberg Versus the Green New Deal

      The Green New Deal proposed by the likes of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the Sunrise Movement has dominated national discussion of climate policy over the past month. It’s an ambitious idea that pushes back against decades of neoliberal policy prescriptions – a massive federal jobs program to rapidly decarbonize the U.S. and promote economic and racial equity.

      This makes the Green New Deal directly threatening to some. The fossil fuel industry and conservative politicians are of course opposed to it. And it’s been roundly condemned from the airwaves of Fox News to the pages of the Wall Street Journal.

      But there’s another, more subtle source of opposition to the Green New Deal: that of political centrists and professed climate advocates who oppose its radicalism and want to dilute its content so it’s less threatening to the political and economic status quo.

      Enter Michael Bloomberg.

      The billionaire business mogul, who is pondering a 2020 presidential run, made headlines last week when he criticized the Green New Deal as unrealistic. “I’m a little bit tired of listening to things that are pie in the sky, that we never are going to pass, are never going to afford,” Bloomberg said. “I think it’s just disingenuous to promote those things. You’ve got to do something that’s practical.” That same day, he announced that he planned to outline his own Green New Deal.

    • Sen. Chris Murphy to Doubters: Green New Deal ‘Absolutely Realistic’ and the Kind of Plan Needed to Avert Climate Disaster

      Addressing head-on those claiming that the Green New Deal plan unveiled last week by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) is impractical, Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) declared on Sunday that the proposal is “absolutely realistic” and represents the kind of ambitious thinking that will be necessary to avoid climate catastrophe.

      After CNN’s Jake Tapper invoked objections raised by Sen. Angus King (I-Maine.) and former Obama Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz—both of whom have suggested the goals outlined in the Green New Deal resolution are unrealistic—Murphy strongly disagreed with their assessment.

      “I frankly think we need to set our sights high,” said the Connecticut senator, who co-sponsored the Green New Deal resolution along with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and dozens of congressional Democrats. “I think there were a lot of people who said it wasn’t realistic for the United States to get a man on the moon by the end of the 1960s, when President Kennedy initially outlined that goal. But we did it.”

      “I have a 10-year-old and a seven-year-old,” he continued. “Global warming is an existential threat to the planet, so if we don’t command this country to think big about saving our nation and our world from destruction, then I don’t think we’re gonna get close to meeting the mark.”

  • Finance

    • How Amazon’s Booming NYC Neighborhood Got Tax Perks Meant for the Poor

      Because the tax benefits are tied to capital gains incurred when assets rise in value, critics worry that these gentrifying neighborhoods will receive the lion’s share of new investment and that the tax perks will go to projects that would have been developed anyway. Because states could only pick a fixed number of tracts, selecting a gentrifying zone meant a poorer area would be left out.

    • Meet the Militant Flight Attendant Leader Who Threatened a Strike—And Helped Stop Trump’s Shutdown

      The government shutdown introduced America to an audacious new voice in the labor movement: Sara Nelson. While receiving the MLK Drum Major for Justice Lifetime Achievement Award from the AFL-CIO on January 20, Nelson, the International President of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, called for a general strike to support the 800,000 federal employees who were locked out or forced to work without pay. “Dr. King said, ‘their destiny is tied up with our destiny,’” Nelson told a cheering crowd of labor leaders. “We cannot walk alone.”

      Absences among air traffic controllers on the 35th and final day of the shutdown, causing ground stops at LaGuardia Airport in New York and elsewhere, contributed to the eventual resolution of the standoff. Before the shutdown ended, flight attendants were mobilizing to walk out as well—as Nelson said, “if air traffic controllers can’t do their jobs, we can’t do ours.” Simply floating the idea of labor unrest raised the stakes. Nelson, who took over leadership of the AFA in 2014, broke an unwritten rule by expressing the logical endpoint of the power workers hold in their hands.

      “I was very aware when writing that speech that it was going to be a moment and it was going to make a lot of things possible,” she told In These Times during an interview last week in Los Angeles. “There has been this hopelessness, this feeling that the problems are out of our reach. So setting a bold course and being bold about the action that we need to take was something that I knew people would respond to.”

    • The Left Cannot Afford to Ignore the Global Workers’ Struggle

      In his new book, The Left Case Against the EU, University of London School of Oriental and African Studies economics professor Costas Lapavitsas analyzes the current status quo within the European Union (EU) and attempts to map out an opposition strategy for the European left. The Left Case Against the EU examines how the EU got where it is today and, in this framework, looks at how German hegemony was developed and established, outlining the EU’s response mechanisms to crises. Finally, Lapavitsas introduces a proposal for how the left can move forward, pointing out that specific circumstances of each European country need to be considered in such a process. This discussion is especially relevant given the ongoing Brexit crisis in the UK. As Theresa May’s Brexit deal faced a historic defeat that led to a vote of no-confidence, the real challenge for the left is bringing forth concrete counterproposals.

    • Cities Across US Are Stripping Homeless People of Their Autonomy

      One of the world’s richest cities is waging war on disabled and homeless people.

      In February 2018, an unsigned flyer was posted in San Francisco’s Mission District, warning the homeless: “If you are still here after dark tonight, the hunters will become the hunted. We will pound you, burn you, beat you, and fuck you up if you are within a 100 yards of this park starting after sun down tonight.”

      The flyer was eventually tied to Jason Perkins, a local club owner. In its everyday practice, the government of San Francisco sides with Perkins as it routinely dumpsters homeless peoples’ tents (famously reprimanding a city worker who refused to throw them away); builds “hostile” architecture to discourage poor people from spending time in public spaces; and uses water hoses on those who don’t move along quickly enough.

      The city’s latest weapon against the homeless is a law that recalls the era of insane asylums. In San Francisco and other major metro areas across the country, governments are pressing pause on disabled and homeless peoples’ ability to make the most basic of decisions, through a scheme called “conservatorship.”

      Conservatorship, also known as “guardianship,” puts decision-making for “conserved” people in the hands of strangers who are assigned to them by the courts, or sometimes in the hands of relatives with whom they may or may not have good relationships. The process takes away their self-determination and often leaves them locked up in jail-like facilities, allegedly for their own protection.

      Susan Mizner is a San Francisco-based lawyer who helped create the ACLU’s Disability Rights Program in 2012 and previously headed up the San Francisco government’s Office on Disability. At an October meeting of a coalition of California civil and disability rights groups called Voluntary Services First, Mizner called “conservatorship the biggest deprivation of civil rights aside from the death penalty.”

    • Study Shows Richest 0.00025% Owns More Wealth Than Bottom 150 Million Americans

      As survey data continues to show that raising taxes on the wealthy is extremely popular among the U.S. public, new research by inequality expert and University of California, Berkeley economist Gabriel Zucman found that the richest 0.00025 percent of the American population now owns more wealth than the 150 million adults in the bottom 60 percent.

      Zucman, who helped Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) develop her “Ultra-Millionaire Tax” proposal, observed in a working paper (pdf) that “U.S. wealth concentration seems to have returned to levels last seen during the Roaring Twenties.”

      According to Zucman’s research, the richest 0.00025 percent—just 400 Americans—have seen their share of America’s national wealth triple since the 1980s, while the wealth of much of the U.S. population has stagnated or declined.

    • Denver Teachers to Strike as Educators Continue to Lead Labor Movement

      Teachers in Denver are preparing to strike Monday over wages and working conditions after failing to reach agreement after 14 months of negotiations with the school district.

      The planned strike could help cement teachers’ leading role in the labor movement, following a recent victory for Los Angeles educators, who reached a deal on a variety of issues after a weeklong strike in January. Teachers in the California cities of Oakland and Sacramento may be preparing to walk off the job next.

      Last year, the number of workers who went on strike was the highest in 32 years. The vast majority—more than 90 percent—were members of education, health care and social assistance groups. The 20 biggest work stoppages in 2018 involved 485,000 workers, according to data released Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

      Denver teachers union lead negotiator Rob Gould expressed frustration Saturday over the solutions offered by Denver Public Schools Superintendent Susana Cordova: “I think we’re at this point where you keep asking teachers to compromise over and over. What else do you want from us, Susana? We give you our lives. What are you willing to give us?”

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Russian-Style Kleptocracy Is Infiltrating America

      In other words, the United States has legitimized a political economy of shadows, and it has done so right in step with a global boom in people hoping to escape into the shadows.

      American collusion with kleptocracy comes at a terrible cost for the rest of the world. All of the stolen money, all of those evaded tax dollars sunk into Central Park penthouses and Nevada shell companies, might otherwise fund health care and infrastructure. (A report from the anti-poverty group One has argued that 3.6 million deaths each year can be attributed to this sort of resource siphoning.) Thievery tramples the possibilities of workable markets and credible democracy. It fuels suspicions that the whole idea of liberal capitalism is a hypocritical sham: While the world is plundered, self-righteous Americans get rich off their complicity with the crooks.

    • Western Media Fall in Lockstep for Cheap Trump/Rubio Venezuela Aid PR Stunt

      All of the above articles—and scores more like it—repeated the same script: Maduro was blocking aid from the US “out of refusal to relinquish power,” preferring to starve “his own people” rather than feed them. It’s a simple case of good and evil—of a tyrannical, paranoid dictator not letting in aid to feed a starving population.

      Except three pieces of key context are missing. Context that, when presented to a neutral observer, would severely undermine the cartoonish narrative being advanced by US media.

      [...]

      It’s true the Venezuelan government appears to have placed an oil tanker and cargo containers on the bridge to prevent incursion from the Colombian side, but the other barriers, as writer and software developer Jason Emery noted, have been in place since at least 2016. According to La Opinion (2/5/16), after its initial construction in 2015, the bridge has never been open to traffic. How can Maduro, as the BBC suggested, “reopen” a bridge that was never open?

      The reality is BBC and other Western media were just going along with the narrative pushed by Sen. Marco Rubio and Trump Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, not bothering to check if their primary visual narrative was based on a bad faith, context-free PR stunt.

      This point is a relatively superficial one, but in a long term PR battle to win over Western liberals for further military escalation, the superficial matters a lot. Rubio and the Trump administration cooked up a gimmicky visual metaphor, and almost every outlet uncritically passed it along, often making factually inaccurate assumptions along the way—assumptions the Trump State Department and CIA coordinating the effort knew very well they would make.

      (3) The Venezuelan government has an entirely rational reason to suspect the US would use humanitarian aid as a cover to smuggle in weapons to foment armed conflict: The person running quarterback for Trump on the current Venezuela operation, Elliot Abrams, literally did just that 30 years ago.

      [...]

      It’s literally the same person. It’s not that Maduro is vaguely paranoid the US, in general, would dust off its 1980s’ Contra-backing Cold War playbook, or some unspecified assumption about a higher-up or two at State. It’s literally the exact same person in charge of the operation who we know—with 100 percent certainty, because he admitted to it—has a history of using aid convoys as a cover to smuggle in arms to right-wing militias.

      It’s all playing out right now, in real time. The same actors, the same tricks, the same patently disingenuous concern for the starving poor. And the US media is stripping it of all this essential context, presenting these radical regime-change operators as bleeding heart humanitarians.

      The same US media outlets that have expressly fundraised and run ad campaigns on their image as anti-Trump truth-tellers have mysteriously taken at face value everything the Trump White House and its neoconservative allies have said in their campaign to overthrow the government of Venezuela. The self-aggrandizing “factchecking” brigade that emerged to confront the Trump administration is suddenly nonexistent as it rolls out a transparent, cynical PR strategy to delegitimize a Latin American government it’s trying to overthrow.

    • ‘He’s Making Fun of Genocide’: Trump Appears to Joke About Trail of Tears in Tweet Mocking Elizabeth Warren

      In a tweet on Saturday mocking Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) with the racist nickname “Pocahontas,” President Donald Trump appeared to make a joke about the Trail of Tears, the forced relocation of Native Americans in the 1800s that led to thousands of deaths.

      “Today Elizabeth Warren, sometimes referred to by me as Pocahontas, joined the race for president. Will she run as our first Native American presidential candidate, or has she decided that after 32 years, this is not playing so well anymore? See you on the campaign TRAIL, Liz!” Trump wrote.

      [...]

      Trump’s tweet, with its all-caps emphasis on “trail,” was immediately interpreted as an intentional joke about the Trail of Tears.

      “He’s making fun of genocide. Putting particular emphasis on the word ‘TRAIL’ when mocking Natives is a sure nod to the Trail of Tears where thousands of Native people died,” wrote journalist Ruth Hopkins.

      While some pointed out that there are plenty of reasons to question Trump’s knowledge of history, Politico reporter Cristiano Lima and others highlighted the president’s recent joke about the Wounded Knee massacre and his idolization of President Andrew Jackson as evidence that the “trail” reference was deliberate.

    • Threat to Bezos Not Extortion, National Enquirer Lawyer Says

      The National Enquirer committed neither extortion nor blackmail by threatening to publish intimate photos of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, an attorney for the head of the tabloid’s parent company said Sunday.

      Elkan Abromowitz, an attorney for American Media Inc. chief executive David Pecker, said on Sunday a “reliable source” well-known to Bezos and his mistress provided the story about the billionaire’s extramarital affair.

      Bezos has said AMI threatened to publish the explicit photos of him unless he stopped investigating how the Enquirer obtained his private exchanges with his mistress, former TV anchor Lauren Sanchez, and publicly declare that the Enquirer’s coverage of him was not politically motivated. Bezos also owns The Washington Post.

    • Unprecedented spending by outside groups already fueling Trump’s 2020 bid

      Outside groups supporting President Donald Trump’s re-election bid kicked off 2019 with a barrage of spending, an early opening salvo with the 2020 general election still nearly 21 months away.

      Independent expenditures for multiple hybrid-PACs advocating for Trump’s candidacy totaled over $1.27 million since the start of this year. As outside spending for former President Barack Obama at this time in 2011 only totaled a few hundred thousand dollars, the ongoing push for Trump is an unprecedented blitz in outside spending for an incumbent president.

      And the three outside spending groups dominating this effort are all linked to the same man.

      Dan Backer, principal attorney for the law firm political.law, signed off on spending for two of the groups which are clients of his firm: The Committee to Defend the President and the Great America PAC, according to FEC records.

      The Great America PAC spent $821,280 since the start of this year, with the Committee to Defend the President spending $441,038.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Facial recognition is about to end your privacy. How do you feel about that?

      Entering Alibaba’s new FlyZoo Hotel in Huangzhou brings one thought: where are all the staff? The decor is a mixture of art gallery and moon base. Check-in is by facial scan for the 290 rooms at a waist-high podium with a glowing base that reflects on the glossy floor. Calling a lift to get to your room is a matter of peering into a camera which recognises your face and takes you to the right floor. Another face scan opens your room. You can sink onto your bed without speaking to a single person.

      Elsewhere in the world, our features are already being used for a multitude of purposes. In Los Angeles, pop star Taylor Swift deployed facial recognition secretly at a concert to detect stalkers. And in New Delhi, almost 3000 missing children were found, living in children’s homes, in a four-day period last year – hopefully now reunited with their families. Increasingly, our features are how we will access services, pay for things and secure our most precious possessions.

      More widely, object recognition and analytics can count the number of people in areas for safety or logistical reasons, detect criminal behaviour, trespassers and vandals, and spot accidents, speeding, jaywalkers, flytipping, loitering, the homeless, and more. Its use in multibillion-dollar “smart cities” projects enable stretched budgets to stretch that much further by, essentially, creating obedient, ever-alert electric people who’ll watch out for something to happen, and raise the alarm when it does.

    • Should you be scared of your laptop’s webcam?

      Last week, WSJ’s Joanna Stern posted a piece in the Personal Tech column that pondered an interesting question related to the cameras that are now embedded into modern laptops – “How secure are these tiny eyes into our private lives?”

    • Facebook is still trying to figure out what teens are interested in

      Facebook even made headlines last week for paying some users, including teenagers, as much as $20 per month to use an app that collected data on how they used their smartphone. Facebook called it “market research.”

      That data collection actually violated an agreement Facebook had with Apple and led to a chaotic day at Facebook’s Menlo Park headquarters after Apple blocked the special Facebook apps that are used by internal employees. The apps were restored less than 48 hours later.

    • The big DNS Privacy Debate at FOSDEM

      We’ve previously established that users do not have strong or informed opinions on the source of their DNS, so whatever happens will be decided by browser vendors, on behalf of internet users.

      Given what we now know about the relative risks and benefits of DoC, it seems utterly unwarranted to decide that users should give their DNS to Google or Cloudflare because there is no credible claim it will actually improve their
      lives.

    • Jeff Bezos Protests the Invasion of His Privacy, as Amazon Builds a Sprawling Surveillance State for Everyone Else

      The National Enquirer has engaged in behavior so lowly and unscrupulous that it created a seemingly impossible storyline: the world’s richest billionaire and a notorious labor abuser, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, as a sympathetic victim.

      On Thursday, Bezos published emails in which the Enquirer’s parent company explicitly threatened to publish intimate photographs of Bezos and his mistress, which were apparently exchanged between the two through their iPhones, unless Bezos agreed to a series of demands involving silence about the company’s conduct.

      In a perfect world, none of the sexually salacious material the Enquirer was threatening to release would be incriminating or embarrassing to Bezos: it involves consensual sex between adults that is the business of nobody other than those involved and their spouses. But that’s not the world in which we live: few news events generate moralizing interest like sex scandals, especially among the media.

      The prospect of naked selfies of Bezos would obviously generate intense media coverage and all sorts of adolescent giggling and sanctimonious judgments. The Enquirer’s reports of Bezos’ adulterous affair seemed to have already played at least a significant role, if not the primary one, in the recent announcement of Bezos’ divorce from his wife of 25 years.

      Beyond the prurient interest in sex scandals, this case entails genuinely newsworthy questions because of its political context. The National Enquirer was so actively devoted to Donald Trump’s election that the chairman of its parent company admitted to helping make hush payments to kill stories of Trump’s affairs, and received immunity for his cooperation in the criminal case of Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, while Bezos, as the owner of the steadfastly anti-Trump Washington Post, is viewed by Trump as a political enemy.

    • I Cut the ‘Big Five’ Tech Giants From My Life. It Was Hell

      A couple of months ago, I set out to answer the question of whether it’s possible to avoid the tech giants. Over the course of five weeks, I blocked Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Apple one at a time, to find out how to live in the modern age without each one.

      To end my experiment, I’m going to see if I can survive blocking all five at once.

    • Amazon’s Home Security Company Is Turning Everyone Into Cops

      Beyond creating a “new neighborhood watch,” Amazon and Ring are normalizing the use of video surveillance and pitting neighbors against each other. Chris Gilliard, a professor of English at Macomb Community College who studies institutional tech policy, told Motherboard in a phone call that such a “crime and safety” focused platforms can actively reinforces racism.

    • Hindu Temple Vandalised In Pakistan, Holy Books, Idols Burnt; PM Imran Khan Orders Probe

      Khan Tuesday night took to Twitter to call upon the provincial authorities to take swift action against the culprits.

    • WhatsApp Says It May Cease To Exist In India If New Govt Regulations Kick In

      Facing flak from the government over dozens of lynching incidents in the country last year which were linked to rumours spread on WhatsApp, the Facebook-owned messaging service introduced several new measures including limiting the number of messages that a user can forward to five and appointing for the first time a country head for the organisation.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Journalist’s Arrest: In Manipur, Judic­iary Is Being Progressively Dwarfed By Executive

      Kishorechandra was booked twice for the same Facebook post. The first was on November 20 on sedition charges but was set free on November 25 after a chief judicial magistrate’s court ruled that the post was just an “expression of private opinion in street language”. Then, in what was seen as vengeful overkill, the government re-arrested him on November 27, overruling the court’s verdict, this time under the NSA. How a man’s criticism of the government and his foul language are a threat to national security has not been explained.

      This is, however, not the first time this journalist invited the ire of the government. In August, he had been detained by the police, again for a Facebook post in which he translated BJP as the “‘Buddhu Joker Party’ high on animal urine”. On that occasion, the editor of the cable TV network he worked for apologised to the chief minister and negotiated his release. How a chief minister, and not the court, can have people arrested or released is again a mystery.

    • All Schools Should Teach Students That Black Lives Matter

      With testimonies like these shared across social media platforms, last week, educators, parents, administrators, students and teacher unions celebrated a week of dynamic social justice learning. Powerful and empowering poetry readings, art shows, performances and discussions have centered the experiences of African Americans and the quest for recognition of our full humanity. For other students of color and white students, too, this learning has awakened a commitment to equity and inclusion. This action-oriented approach to learning about social justice took place all around the US as part of a week-long initiative called Black Lives Matter at School.

      First launched in the 2017-2018 school year after a group of educators formed a national committee to engage and organize for racial justice, Black Lives Matter at School has garnered support from unions, school districts, Teaching Tolerance, Teaching for Change and the NEA. This year, the campaign animated young people across racial and ethnic lines, encouraging them to actively think about and participate in the pursuit of their own freedom.

      In the Old Town area of Alexandria, Virginia, the Jefferson-Houston School is distinguished as the community’s first Pre-K to 8th grade International Baccalaureate (IB) school, and is attended by a diverse array of students. Jefferson-Houston is approximately 60 percent African American, 20 percent Latinx, 13 percent white and 7 percent Asian and Mixed-Race according to staff. Jefferson-Houston educators say that Black Lives Matter at School awakened excitement and joy in their students. For three Muslim first graders in particular, this joy was especially affirming.

    • Blackface, Other Insensitivities Ran Rampant in ’80s Culture

      At the time Virginia’s future political leaders put on blackface in college for fun, Dan Aykroyd wore it too — in the hit 1983 comedy “Trading Places.”

      Sports announcers of that time often described Boston Celtics player Larry Bird, who is white, as “smart” while describing his black NBA opponents as athletically gifted.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Texas bill would ban internet throttling in disaster areas

      This Texas bill, HB 1426, doesn’t go any further to codify net neutrality rules, only prohibiting carriers from restricting internet access in disaster areas. It does not ban behaviors like throttling in any other scenarios.

    • Texas Bill Aims To Stop Companies From ‘Throttling’ Internet Service During Disasters

      When the Federal Communications Commission ended net neutrality, it essentially allowed internet providers to throttle, or block access, to certain internet services or websites. HB 1426 joins more than 100 other bills introduced in state legislatures around the country aimed at protecting internet access.

      [...]

      HB 1426 was filed by Edinburg Democratic State Rep. Bobby Guerra. He was not available for comment.

    • Study shows that countries that permit Facebook’s beloved “zero rating” programs end up with more expensive wireless data

      Now, a careful, comprehensive study of 30 European countries by Epicenter.works finds that zero-rating encourages carriers to collude with Facebook to raise prices on non-zero-rated services, making it much harder to escape Facebook’s orbit (and other big incumbents).

    • Cable lobby asks for net neutrality law allowing paid prioritization

      “Net neutrality rules have moved into the courts now four different times, each taking years of exhausting and expensive litigation to complete,” Powell said.

      But that “infinite loop” didn’t just come from nowhere—the cable industry helped create it. Comcast challenged the FCC’s authority to prevent throttling a decade ago, ultimately leading to the imposition of net neutrality rules. NCTA and other industry groups sued the FCC to overturn the rules but lost in 2016.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • District court’s pretrial ruling on damages and ITC scheduling order: no good news for Qualcomm in Apple dispute

      A few months after Apple sued Qualcomm two years ago, the chipmaker started a patent enforcement campaign in three jurisdictions (U.S., Germany, and China). Almost two years have passed, but Qualcomm has yet to prove two thirds of its enterprise value (that’s what the company’s patent licensing business accounts for as was stated repeatedly during last month’s FTC antitrust trial) in litigation. If one focused on only a few mainstream media headlines, one might be (mis)led to believe that Qualcomm gained serious leverage in China and Germany, and had a decent chance of achieving the same in the U.S., but headlines can answer only some of the world’s most important questions. Patent enforcement isn’t one of them.

      It’s one thing to obtain a favorable ruling. It’s another to obtain a favorable and impactful ruling on a lasting basis. As fast-paced as this industry undoubtedly is, ephemeral results don’t get major disputes settled.

      There’s no indication (otherwise the stock market would know) of Qualcomm’s Chinese injunctions having had an impact on Apple’s ability to sell or make products there. At least for the time being it appears that software updates have indeed solved the problem, which is plausible since that’s what usually happens when non-standard-essential software patents are enforced. I’ve been interested in this subject since my NoSoftwarePatents campaign, which I started in 2004, and I’ve never seen a case where a software patent killed an entire product. The response has always been a software update. There’s no reason to assume it shouldn’t work in China.

    • Software Bypasses Drug Patents

      Pharmaceutical companies rely on holding patents to the latest blockbuster drugs that they invent, but these patents are a little different. To patent a drug you have to patent the steps needed to create it and perhaps aspects of its molecular structure. If another company finds a way to make the drug using different steps then the patent is usually still valid because they are making the same compound.

    • Qulacomm asks German court for ‘significant fines’ on Apple for non-compliance with iPhone ban

      Qualcomm has asked a Munich court to impose “significant fines” on Apple for insufficient compliance with a ban on the sale of iPhones in Germany obtained before Christmas, Bloomberg reports.

      Qualcomm says Apple failed to properly recall the devices from sellers and some phones were still available in Apple stores in early January. Qualcomm’s lawyers wrote in the filings that Apple “intentionally defy the court order”, therefore “significant fines must be imposed to put a check on that”, according to the report.

    • Printing Industry Leader Heidelberg Joins the OIN Community in Support of its Digital Future

      Open Invention Network (OIN), the largest patent non-aggression community in history, announced today that Heidelberger Drucksmachinen (Heidelberg) has joined as a community member. As a global leader in prepress, printing and finishing, service and consumables, and software solutions, with a strong focus on a digital future, Heidelberg is demonstrating its commitment to open source software as an enabler of innovation across the printing industry.

      ?Heidelberg?s decision to join OIN is indicative of the global trend towards increased value creation through software, not only in the printing industry but across all industrials. Forward looking industrial companies realize that open source software is the most efficient way to transform their business through software,? said Keith Bergelt, CEO of OIN. ?We?ve clearly seen this in the automotive industry with Automotive Grade Linux, and there is promise in energy via LF Energy. We are pleased that an industry thought leader such as Heidelberg, which is driving the digital transformation of the printing industry, is joining OIN.?

    • Heidelberg Joins the Open Invention Network in Support of its Digital Future

      Open Invention Network (OIN), the largest patent non-aggression community in history, announced that Heidelberger Drucksmachinen (Heidelberg) has joined as a community member. As a global leader in prepress, printing and finishing, service and consumables, and software solutions, with a strong focus on a digital future, Heidelberg is demonstrating its commitment to open source software as an enabler of innovation across the printing industry.

    • Trademarks

      • Drinking wine from a Pringles can: parody or trade mark infringement?

        Now, I know that the first question that occurred to all of you (or “y´all” as they would say in Texas), is not: “What is a drunk woman doing at 6.30 a.m. in the Walmart park lot riding an electric cart?”, but, rather: “Why have I never thought of drinking wine out of a Pringles can?”. This actually seems to properly function as a wine ‘dispenser’, as it is water resistant, provided of a plastic lid that prevents any spillage, and shaped to hold it comfortably (here you can find further details on the testimony of drinking wine from a Pringles can). I must admit I tried myself to drink from it, but the smell of the sour sauce and onion chips put me off. Maybe, next time.

        Unsurprisingly this event happened to become one of the most popular pieces of news in the US over the past few weeks. As a result, an artist called Celeste Powers created and marketed the “20oz Skinny tumbler” Pringles cans, selling them at approx $30 each on platform Etsy.com.

    • Copyrights

      • Music Industry Asks EU to Scrap Article 13

        A powerful group of organizations in the music, broadcasting, and sports industries have called on the EU to cancel the proposed Article 13. Headed by IFPI, the worldwide voice of the music industry and formerly the most vocal supporter of the legislation, the groups say that “no directive at all” is better than a bad one.

      • Dutch ISP Does Not Have to Expose Alleged Pirates, Court Rules

        Internet provider Ziggo doesn’t have to hand over the personal details of 377 alleged pirates, a Dutch court has ruled. The information was requested by movie distributor Dutch Filmworks. The court pointed out various uncertainties, including the fact that account holders are not necessarily the ones who pirate.

      • Indian Government Approves Prison Sentences For ‘Cam’ Pirates

        As envisioned earlier this year, proposals to India’s Cinematograph Act to deter piracy have now been approved by the Union Cabinet. Anyone recording or transmitting movies without permission now faces a three-year prison sentence and/or a US$14,000 fine. Whether this will have any effect on the mighty TamilRockers torrent site will remain to be seen.

      • UK ISPs Sent a Million Piracy Alert Emails

        For the first time, data about the UK Government-backed “Get it Right” campaign has been shared in public. Over the past two years, UK ISPs sent roughly a million email notifications to subscribers whose connections were allegedly used to pirate content. These “alerts” educate copyright infringers about legal alternatives and according to the early data, they may indeed help to decrease piracy.

      • Spotify will now suspend or terminate accounts it finds are using ad blockers

        During its fourth-quarter earnings report yesterday, Spotify reported positive operating profit, net income and free cash flow for the first time since it was founded in 2006. The company, which went public in May 2018, fell below analysts’ expectations for revenue, but is continuing to grow quickly despite intense competition from other streaming services, with subscribers increasing 36 percent to 96 million. Revenue from paid subscriptions now account for nearly all of Spotify’s turnover, or 88 percent. Ad-supported revenue makes up a much smaller slice, but as a public company, Spotify is under more scrutiny to prevent ad blocking, piracy or anything else that might cut into its earnings or subscriber growth.

      • Tech Giants Warn US Govt. Against Onerous Copyright Laws

        The CCIA, which represents global tech firms including Cloudflare, Google, and Facebook, is warning the U.S. Government against “onerous” copyright laws other countries are implementing. These laws lead to increased liability for US companies and create an increasingly hostile environment for them to operate in.

02.09.19

Links 9/2/2019: Linux 4.4.174 and GTK+ No More (Now Just GTK)

Posted in News Roundup at 11:56 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • Some System76 Hardware Beginning To See Coreboot Support

      Several System76 laptops are beginning to see Coreboot support! This is a nice sign of progress in making System76 hardware more attractive to Linux/open-source users though they aren’t yet shipping Coreboot on the systems by default.

      Felix Singer has begun work on porting Coreboot for various motherboards used by different System76 laptops. It’s exciting to see and hopefully will expand to most of their product portfolio.

    • System76′s Most Powerful Linux Laptop to Get Major Refresh with RTX 20 GPUs

      System76, the American computer manufacturer specialized in the sale of Linux-powered laptops, desktops, and servers, informs Softpedia about the upcoming major refresh of its most powerful laptop, Serval WS.

      The Serval WS is already the most powerful Linux laptop you can buy from System76, but starting next week, it will get even more powerful as the computer manufacturer has refreshed the series with 9th generation Intel processors, 4K QFHD displays, and Nvidia GeForce RTX 20 graphics card series.

      “A pinnacle of performance, the workstation class Serval WS is a powerhouse enveloped in an exceptionally high-quality finish,” says System76. “The Serval WS is unlike any laptop you’ve ever experienced. A full desktop processor and the fastest GeForce GPUs available mean you can accomplish more complex tasks in less time.”

    • Challenge Accepted: An Adventure in Linux Part 2

      One week into this challenge and I must say that I have been enjoying this experience. Though the shortcuts configured for Elementary OS have given me a bit of a trying time.

      I know that in an ideal world every operating system would magically be configured in the exact way that we wanted right from install. However, as we all have different workflows, this may be an unrealistic hope. Once I incorporate the shortcuts into my workflow, I am sure I will enjoy a smooth transition between workspaces and applications overall. If you are following along on the Elementary OS challenge, I would recommend that you take some time to read over the workspace documentation. Over the last week, I have made quite a few changes regarding which hotkeys I am using and adjusting what actions hot-corners will be configured to perform. I am enjoying the experience and can already say I have noticed an increase in my productivity.

    • Defaulting to legacy Internet Explorer just to keep that one, weird app working? Knock it off

      Oddly enough, for the second time this week, Microsoft has been spotted telling the world that its software is, er, not very good.

    • I finally upgraded Windows 10 to Build 1809 – Results

      Build 1803 was the first Windows update ever where I had big glitches and errors. Then, Build 1809 came, went, came back, and I never actually got it. A sign of clear deterioration in quality. Microsoft’s software used to be the stuff of legends. Rock solid. I guess another old truth got eroded, another scar to my soul added.

  • Server

    • Party pooper Microsoft pulls plug on Party Cluster [Ed: Azure is dying, partly…]

      Microsoft has additionally lobbed the Service Fabric technology at Linux and will also cheerfully allow the creation of Service Fabric clusters on computers running the open source OS (although only Ubuntu and Red Hat Enterprise Linux are officially supported at present) as well as its own, so there are several options to keep the party going.

    • Singapore embraces AI with open source libraries and talent development

      THE economy of Singapore thrives on the back of the nation’s efficient services industry, especially since the industry makes up 72% of the country’s gross domestic product and 74% of national employment. With the benefits of automation embraced widely, Singapore has identified artificial intelligence (AI) as one of the frontier technologies to power its digital economy.

    • Red Hat CodeReady Workspaces Enables Full Kubernetes-Native Development

      Red Hat’s CodeReady Workplaces aims to save time and improve projects by enabling OpenShift developers to conduct entire projects in Kubernetes.

      The new product is based on the open source Eclipse Che integrated development environment (IDE) project. The key is creating efficiencies.

    • Kubernetes IDE Offered by Red Hat

      Kubernetes, getting more popular by the minute for its container orchestration expertise, now has its own integrated development environment (IDE) thanks to open source champion Red Hat.

    • Red Hat Extends Datacenter Infrastructure Control, Automation with Latest Version of Red Hat CloudForms
    • Organisations Will Embrace Open Source To Avoid Lock-In & Boost Interoperability: Subram Natarajan, IBM

      2018 was a landmark year for cloud business in India, with enterprises moving away from the “one-cloud-fits-all approach” and moving towards a multi-cloud or hybrid approach. Most companies were seen choosing multiple cloud providers and clouds such as public, private, software-as-a-service, to best meet their needs. As most companies are integrating cloud with existing IT to get more value, we had a detailed chat with Subram Natarajan, CTO of IBM India to understand trends that are relevant for the Indian enterprises and give insights into how cloud adoption is evolving in India.

    • Traditional banks should turn to open source to save themselves, argues expert

      Toine Van Beusekom, Head of Payments at consulting firm Icon Solutions, has compared the situation faced by banks today to that of tech giant IBM, as described by former IBM CEO Lou Gerstner in his book ‘Who Says Elephants Can Dance’. In the book, Gerstner describes how he transformed IBM in the 1990s and argued that veteran companies can adapt and prosper. Van Beusekom contends that banks are at a similar fork in the road today.

      [...]

      Van Beusekom said that the banking market will increasingly be distinguished between those who are innovators and those who are not: “Payment transformation will be a pivotal point for those wanting to go further than glossy exteriors to deep and lasting transformation,” he added. “Those that embrace new technology models will lead the market. Those that continue to lean on legacy systems will become laggards and fall behind. It’s a simple choice, but it couldn’t be more important to the future of our industry.”

    • Intel Nauta: for Deep Learning on Kubernetes

      In an attempt to answer these challenges, we can look to Nauta as a new open source platform for distributed DL using Kubernetes.

    • Will The Harmonic Convergence Of HPC And AI Last?

      As Christopher Nguyen, a former Googler, pointed out to us four years ago, big data is precisely as much data as it takes for machine learning training to work, and the GPU is, at least thus far, the engine of choice for creating the neural networks because it has the right mix of threads and bandwidth – metrics that keep going up and up with each Moore’s Law jump – to allow the GPUs to handle more data and ever deeper neural networks that perform the machine learning training. This is why GPU-accelerated systems are, with a few exceptions, the default platform on which machine learning training runs today. If some other device comes along that can do it better, you can bet that the hyperscalers will port their machine learning frameworks to it in a heartbeat, and they have the technical chops to do it fast.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux 4.4.174

      I’m announcing the release of the 4.4.174 kernel.

      All users of the 4.4 kernel series must upgrade.

      Many thanks to Ben Hutchings for this release, it’s pretty much just his
      work here in doing the backporting of networking fixes to help resolve
      “FragmentSmack” (i.e. CVE-2018-5391).

      The updated 4.4.y git tree can be found at:
      git://git.kernel.org/pub/scm/linux/kernel/git/stable/linux-stable.git linux-4.4.y
      and can be browsed at the normal kernel.org git web browser:

      http://git.kernel.org/?p=linux/kernel/git/stable/linux-st…

    • Google Launches ‘Adiantum’ To Faster Encrypt Low Spec Devices

      Google has unveiled a new form of encryption called Adiantum, which is specifically designed to encrypt data on budget smartphones and other devices that come with low processing power.

      Encryption is essential for security and privacy but it always comes with a trade-off in the form of speed as it can take a toll on the system resources. This issue can slow down a device to an extent where the device becomes practically unusable.

    • Linux Foundation

      • Linux Foundation’s LF Edge looks beyond telcos for a common framework

        Conventional standards bodies are often at their weakest when two separate worlds converge. When the mobile network also became an IP and data network, it required a massive adjustment by its core standards body, the 3GPP, and uneasy cooperation with previously alien groups like the IETF (Internet Engineering Taskforce, the main Internet standards body). Into that breach, proprietary solutions can too easily step, but so can open source initiatives.

      • Academy Scientific and Technical Award Winning OpenColorIO Joins Academy Software Foundation

        The Academy Software Foundation (ASWF), a neutral forum for open source software development in the motion picture and media industries hosted at the Linux Foundation, today announced that OpenColorIO (OCIO) has been approved as the Foundation’s second hosted project. Initially developed by Sony Pictures Imageworks, OCIO is an Academy Scientific and Technical Award winning color management solution for creating and displaying consistent images across multiple content creation applications during visual effects and animation production.

        “OpenColorIO is one of the fundamental open source projects in the motion picture industry, and it has become a critical resource for the entire visual effects (VFX) and animation community,” said David Morin, Executive Director of the Academy Software Foundation at the Linux Foundation. “Many developers across the industry already contribute to OpenColorIO, and we hope to make it easier for them to do so.”

      • [Older] Testing, one two three: How these OPNFV tools can help any open infrastructure project

        As the number of open-source projects booms, so does the need for resiliency and interoperability testing.
        The Open Platform for NFV (OPNFV) community spent about four years of collective brainpower developing testing tools that can come in handy for open-source projects.

        These tools can be run against many different types of deployments as well as test different components of a system (VIM, Vswitch, storage, etc.). They can also perform different types of testing including infrastructure verification, feature validation, stress and resiliency testing, performance benchmarking and characterization.

        OPNFV is a collaborative open-source platform for network functions virtualization. This niche specialty — even in the open-source community — explains why people from other communities weren’t aware what was being developed in this “weird telco NFV domain” says Georg Kunz, a senior systems designer at Ericsson, who gave a talk about the tools at the Berlin Summit. “That’s a little unfortunate. Most of the test cases and tools that we’ve developed and the methodology around them is actually valuable for for everybody.”

      • The Future of Edge Computing

        More data is being creating now than ever before, and enterprises need to analyze that data in real time. Edge computing has emerged as the latest solution to enable real-time insights of data.

        In January 2019, the non-profit Linux Foundation launched a new umbrella organization aimed at providing harmonization to accelerate deployment among the rapidly growing number of edge computing devices. Named LF Edge, the organization is establishing a unified open source framework for edge computing that is vendor agonistic.

        The development could help enterprises leverage the future of edge computing and the Internet of Things (IoT). It provides a horizontal framework with open APIs that have full central visibility and control.

      • Building trust in open source: a look inside the OpenChain Project

        Open source software provides businesses with a number of benefits including cost, flexibility and freedom. This freely distributed software can also be easily altered by any business that is familiar with its source code.

        However, licensing issues do arise which could present a major hurdle for an organisation’s legal team. This is why the OpenChain Project was set up to help introduce common standards regarding how companies declare their open source efforts are compliant with licensing standards.

        TechRadar Pro spoke with OpenChain’s General Manager, Shane Coughlan to gain a better understanding of how open source licenses work and to learn how the Linux Foundation is making it easier for businesses to take advantage of open source software.

      • Sony Pictures Has Open-Sourced Software Used to Make ‘Into the Spider-Verse’ [Academy Software Foundation]
    • Graphics Stack

      • IGT Is Helping Keep Intel’s Display Driver & Other DRM/KMS Drivers In Good Shape

        Formerly known as Intel GPU Tools, the scope of “IGT” has been expanding now for providing tools and functionality testing not only around the Intel DRM/KMS driver but also the other mainline Linux display drivers.

        The tool goes just by IGT these days with the scope expanding beyond just supporting the Intel driver, but the focus remains on providing good test coverage and various features for testing DRM/KMS code. IGT ships with tests around various hardware/driver-specific interfaces as well as PRIME buffer sharing, kernel mode-setting, GEM memory management, and other test/tooling programs.

      • Intel Sends In Their Last Batch Of Graphics Driver Feature Updates For Linux 5.1

        As anticipated with the DRM-Next feature cutoff upon us for the next kernel cycle, Intel’s open-source developers today sent out their last planned set of feature changes slated for the Linux 5.1 kernel cycle.

        In preparation for the Linux 5.1 kernel cycle that will officially get underway when Linux 5.0 debuts around the end of February, Intel has already queued a lot of new material into the DRM-Next staging area. That earlier work most notably includes enabling Fastboot graphics by default for newer generations of graphics hardware for enhancing the boot experience. That Fastboot support by default is for Skylake and newer as well as various Atom SoCs. Also notable is Coffeelake GVT support for graphics virtualization. And the pull requests to DRM-Next over recent weeks have also included various Icelake fixes and other low-level improvements and code clean-ups.

      • AMDGPU Sends In More Linux 5.1 Updates With Seamless Boot Bits, FreeSync Fixes

        With the cutoff this weekend of new material in DRM-Next that hopes to make it in the upcoming Linux 5.1 cycle, besides Intel sending in a last batch, so has AMD with some more AMDGPU changes for this next version of the Linux kernel.

        The Linux 5.1 material for AMDGPU already queued include PCI Express bandwidth utilization being exported to user-space now via sysfs, initial BACO (Bus Active, Chip Off) support for Vega, exposing shader and memory clocks via hwmon, delta color compression on scan-out surfaces, and other changes. A secondary pull brought Vega 20 fixes and other miscellaneous fixes.

      • Gallium Nine Is Working On NIR Support So It Can Be Used With Intel Iris, Zink Vulkan

        Developers working on the “Gallium Nine” Direct3D 9 state tracker are working on supporting the NIR intermediate representation as an alternative option to the default TGSI IR used traditionally by Gallium3D drivers. In supporting NIR, Gallium Nine opens up to some interesting new possibilities.

      • After more than 10 years in development Wayland still hasn’t replaced X.org

        For over 10 years, a display server protocol called Wayland has been in development. Its goal is to offer Linux-based systems a streamlined alternative to the widely adopted X Window System.

        Windowing systems like Wayland and X provide an interface for programs to draw graphics on your screen.

        This includes desktop environment software that offers similar functionality to the macOS and Windows desktops, as well as applications like games.

        The X Window System, also referred to as X11 or X, was developed at MIT as part of a project to create a graphics system that was hardware and vendor independent.

        X version 11 (X11) was released on 15 September 1987, and Xfree86, a version of X11 for IBM PC Compatibles based on Intel’s 386 architecture, was released in 1992.

    • Benchmarks

      • GCC 8/9 vs. LLVM Clang 7/8 Compiler Performance On POWER9 With The Raptor Talos II

        Earlier this week I delivered the results of our largest-ever GCC vs. LLVM Clang Linux x86_64 compiler comparison with a dozen systems from various generations of Intel and AMD CPUs and using 62 benchmarks tested on GCC 8/9 and Clang 7/8 releases. In this article the compiler performance is being looked at for the IBM POWER9 architecture with the benchmarks done on a Raptor Computing Systems Talos II workstation running Ubuntu Linux.

        All of these POWER9 compiler benchmarks were done using the Raptor Talos II with that being our lone POWER9 system at the moment for testing, which was kindly sent over by Raptor Computing Systems. This Talos II configuration has dual 22-core POWER9 processors yielding 44 cores / 176 threads, 64GB of RAM, Samsung 960 EVO NVMe SSD 500GB, and for this testing was running a daily snapshot of Ubuntu 19.04 PPC64LE with the Linux 4.18 kernel.

      • NVIDIA’s Jetson AGX Xavier Carmel Performance vs. Low-Power x86 Processors

        Back in our NVIDIA Jetson AGX Xavier benchmarks from December, besides looking at the incredible Carmel+Volta GPU compute potential for machine learning and other edge computing scenarios, we also looked at the ARMv8 Carmel CPU core performance against various other ARM SoCs on different single board computers. But how do these eight NVIDIA Carmel CPU cores compare to x86_64 low-power processors? Here are some of those benchmarks for those curious about the NVIDIA CPU potential.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Stream Videos, Music And Pictures From Gnome To Chromecast With Cast To TV Extension (v6 And v7 Released)

        If you own a Chromecast device and you’re using Gnome Shell, you should give Cast to TV a try. This Gnome Shell extension adds a new entry in the system menu which allows casting local files to Chromecast or other devices over the local network.

      • Report from the GTK hackfest in Brussels

        Thanks to the GNOME Foundation, various GTK developers were able to meet in Brussels right after FOSDEM, for one of our yearly hackfests.

      • GTK+ No More – It’s Just GTK As Developers Prepare For This Year’s GTK 4.0

        Beyond the FOSDEM conference itself this past week in Brussels, GNOME developers also used the occasion once again for hosting a developer “hackfest” as they prepare for the home stretch in GTK 4.0 development.

        First up, the developers did decide this week to do away with “GTK+” with the project formally just going by “GTK” now… The “plus” is no more. “The “plus” was added to “GTK” once it was moved out of the GIMP sources tree and the project gained utilities like GLib and the GTK type system, in order to distinguish it from the previous, in-tree version. Very few people are aware of this history, and it’s kind of confusing from the perspective of both newcomers and even expert users; people join the wrong IRC channel, the URLs on wikis are fairly ugly, etc.”

      • GTK+ renamed to GTK

        The GTK+ toolkit project has, after extensive deliberation, decided to remove the “+” from its name.

      • GNOME Photos: an overview of zooming

        One thing that I really wanted from the beginning was smooth zooming. When the user clicks one of the zoom buttons or presses a keyboard shortcut, the displayed image should smoothly flow in and out instead of jumping to the final zoom level — similar to the way the image smoothly shrinks in to make way for the palette when editing, and expands outwords once done. See this animated mock-up from Jimmac to get an idea.

        For the zooming to be smooth, we need to generate a number of intermediate zoom levels to fill out the frames in the animation. We have to dish out something in the ballpark of sixty different levels every second to be perceived as smooth because that’s the rate at which most displays refresh their screens. This would have been easier with the 5 to 20 megapixel images generated by smart-phones and consumer-grade digital SLRs; but just because we want things to be slick, it doesn’t mean we want to limit ourselves to the ordinary! There is high-end equipment out there producing images in excess of a hundred megapixels and we want to robustly handle those too.

        Downscaling by large factors is tricky. When we are aiming to generate sixty frames per second, there’s less than 16.67 milliseconds for each intermediate zoom level. All we need is a slightly big zoom factor that stresses the CPU and main memory just enough to exceed our budget and break the animation. It’s a lot more likely to happen than a pathological case that crashes the process or brings the system to a halt.

      • MPSC Channel API for painless usage of threads with GTK in Rust

        A very common question that comes up on IRC or elsewhere by people trying to use the gtk-rs GTK bindings in Rust is how to modify UI state, or more specifically GTK widgets, from another thread.

        Due to GTK only allowing access to its UI state from the main thread and Rust actually enforcing this, unlike other languages, this is less trivial than one might expect. To make this as painless as possible, while also encouraging a more robust threading architecture based on message-passing instead of shared state, I’ve added some new API to the glib-rs bindings: An MPSC (multi-producer/single-consumer) channel very similar to (and based on) the one in the standard library but integrated with the GLib/GTK main loop.

  • Distributions

    • Reviews

      • Parrot Security OS: Product Review

        Generally, Parrot OS is pretty great user friendly and lightweight distro. While using it, you’ll find it nearly equal to Kali Linux except for some minor differences. It may not offer a lot of tools that are present in Kali Linux but overall collection of tools is amazing. It also offers some tools that are not present in Kali and other similar distros. Parrot Security OS isn’t just for Ethical Hacking and Pentesting, it is also for development, anonymity and privacy

    • New Releases

      • Kodachi 6.0

        Linux Kodachi operating system is based on Xubuntu 18.04 it will provide you with a secure, anti-forensic, and anonymous operating system considering all features that a person who is concerned about privacy would need to have in order to be secure.

        Kodachi is very easy to use all you have to do is boot it up on your PC via USB drive then you should have a fully running operating system with established VPN connection + Connection established + service running. No setup or knowledge is required from your side we do it all for you. The entire OS is functional from your temporary memory RAM so once you shut it down no trace is left behind all your activities are wiped out.

    • Screenshots/Screencasts

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandriva Family

      • A promise for the best until OpenMandriva does better: OMLx 4.0 Beta

        Our first release in 2019 is OpenMandriva Lx 4.0 Beta, a close preview of the upcoming final release.
        Since Alpha1, OMLx 4.0 got a huge number of fixes and improvements.
        You may already be aware of some of them having read OpenMandriva Lx 4.0 Alpha1 follow-up, some more came afterwards.

      • OpenMandriva Lx 4.0 Beta Brings Installer Improvements, Dnfdragora GUI Package Manager

        The long-awaited OpenMandriva Lx 4.0 distribution update entered alpha for Christmas and this weekend was finally succeeded by the Lx 4.0 Beta 1 milestone.

        The OpenMandriva Lx 4.0 cycle prior to reaching alpha transitioned from RPM5 to RPM4, now employs DNF as the software package manager, makes use of LLVM Clang 7.0 as the default system compiler, began shipping AMD znver1 “Zen” optimized binaries, introduced AArch64 (ARM 64-bit) support, and offered a wealth of updated system packages.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • OpenSUSE Looking At Blacklisting Legacy & Less Secure File-Systems

        Following a move by SUSE blacklisting legacy / less-used file-systems in SUSE Linux Enterprise, OpenSUSE is looking at doing the same to blacklist the kernel modules for a number of esoteric file-systems as well as the likes of JFS and F2FS.

        While users will be able to adjust their modprobe configuration files to override these kernel module blacklist entries, OpenSUSE is looking at following SLES’ lead into trying to ween users off these legacy file-systems or file-systems that have history of security issues or other concerns.

    • Fedora

      • Microsoft Joins the OpenChain Project, Google Open-Sources ClusterFuzz, New Android Vulnerability, FSF Gives the Vikings D8 Mainboard and Workstation Its “Respect Your Freedom” Endorsement, and Fedora Is Redesigning Its Logo

        Fedora is redesigning its logo due to issues with its current logo, including “the lack of a single colour variant”, “the logo not working well on dark backgrounds”, “confusion with other well-known brands, and the use of a proprietary font.” See this article by Máirín Duffy for more on the history of the Fedora logo and other details on the change, and also see this post to join the discussion on the new options.

      • Fedora Logo Redesign Update (Spoiler: It’s Looking Great)

        Last month we mentioned that the folks involved with Fedora were scoping out feedback on a potential redesign of the Fedora logo and typeface.

        A number of possible designs were put forward, and based on the reaction the post got it’s clear a lot of you had very strong opinions on the revamp ideas!

        Well, things have moved on a bit since then.

      • Fedora Community Blog: FPgM report: 2019-06

        I’ve set up weekly office hours in #fedora-meeting-1. Drop by if you have any questions or comments about the schedule, Changes, elections, or anything else.

      • New openQA tests: update live image build/install

        Hot on the heels of adding installer image build/install tests to openQA, I’ve now added tests which do just the same, but for the Workstation live image.

        That means that, when running the desktop tests for an update, openQA will also run a test that builds a Workstation live image and a test that boots and installs it. The packages from the update will be used – if relevant – in the live image creation environment, and included in the live image itself. This will allow us to catch problems in updates that relate to the build and basic functionality of live images.

    • Debian Family

      • Mike Gabriel: My Work on Debian LTS/ELTS (January 2019)

        In January 2019, I have worked on the Debian LTS project for 10 hours and on the Debian ELTS project for 2 hours (of originally planned 6 + 1 hours) as a paid contributor. The non-worked 5 ELTS hours I have given back to the pool of available work hours.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Nextcloud 15 review

    Overall, we can’t help but be impressed with Nextcloud.

    It provides almost all the features that you can get from Google, Microsoft or Dropbox, at a fraction of the cost and with the flexibility that only self-hosting provides.

    The only caveat to self-hosting is that backing up the storage is the responsibility of the business, not the software provider.

    Therefore, anyone implementing this might want to merge it with an off-site secure storage solution for those scenarios where the worst happens.

    For those wanting to explore what Nextcloud has to offer, they have a free evaluation version where they do the hosting and an instant trial.

    Have a look around the evaluation, as you might find that it is substantially better fit for your business than what the big providers have.

  • The dangers of proprietary software

    Let us consider what would have happened if Apple was an open source software or project. First, you would not need to wait for the main developers to patch the issue. You could review the code, make changes and update them as you wish. You could also submit the change to the project’s repository – GitHub or GitLab – and if accepted, the updated code would be implemented for all people to benefit from.

    You wouldn’t need a resume or an interview to see if you are worthy to contribute. You would be judged based on your work. You could be a 10-year-old living in the Arctics, it would not matter.

    As for the reporting of bugs in an open source environment, you can use the available social media channels, messaging platforms or the repository management system to directly reach the main development team. A common practice within open source communities, whether it is involving public blockchains or open source software and projects.

    Such communities are openly available for collaboration, suggestions or participation via an array of social platforms – such as Telegram, Slack, Discord and IRC. This is why they are so powerful, adaptable and robust.

  • Keeping the Big Picture In Sight at H2O World

    In his time at H2O.ai, Ambati has made a big mark. The core of the operation is the open source H2O software itself, a package of supervised and unsupervised machine learning algorithms, such as K-means clustering, random forests, gradient boosting machines, Word2Vec, and others.

  • SD Times Open-Source Project of the Week: Presto

    It was designed to be maintained by an open source community, and in 2013, Presto was released under the Apache License and its development was opened up to the public.

    [...]

    The Presto Software Foundation will be led by its three original creators: Martin Traverso, Dain Sundstorm, and David Phillips. Founding members of the foundation include engineers from Starburst Data, Treasure Data, Qubule, and Verada.

  • Google makes Chrome bug detection tool open-source

    In its latest effort to aid developers in finding bugs in their software, Google has announced that its scalable fuzzing tool ClusterFuzz will now be open-source and available to all.

    The search giant has been using the tool internally for some years now and it has allowed developers to find over 16,000 bugs in Chrome.

    A few years ago, Google launched its OSS-Fuzz service which utilised ClusterFuzz, though it was only available to open-source projects.

  • Google open sources ClusterFuzz

    Google today announced that it is open sourcing ClusterFuzz, a scalable fuzzing tool that can run on clusters with more than 25,000 machines.

    The company has long used the tool internally, and if you’ve paid particular attention to Google’s fuzzing efforts (and you have, right?), then this may all seem a bit familiar. That’s because Google launched the OSS-Fuzz service a couple of years ago and that service actually used ClusterFuzz. OSS-Fuzz was only available to open-source projects, though, while ClusterFuzz is now available for anyone to use.

  • Bring Marie Kondo tidying to your Twitter feed with this simple tool

    Created in Glitch, the open-source app lets you go through each account you follow one by one, showing the most recent tweets from that account and asking you if the tweets still spark joy or feel important to you.

  • Kboard is an open-source, programmable keyboard designed to be used alongside your regular keyboard

    When you think of a keyboard on an Android device you generally only picture an image with a row of letters for typing. Some keyboards as of late have added in additional features such as searching for a GIF (to be inserted into a messaging app) or doing an actual web search with Google (Gboard) or Bing (SwiftKey). You can do a lot more with a keyboard on Android and this is especially true with Kboard from XDA Junior Member adgad. In fact, Kboard is actually meant to be used alongside your regular keyboard of choice.

  • An influential group sponsored by the Silicon Valley tech titans warns that efforts are underway to ‘undermine the integrity of open source’

    For hundreds of years, the definition of a kilogram has stayed exactly the same. It’s a measure of standardization that allowed traders from all over the world to know exactly what they were buying, and how they could sell it.

    Now, one of Silicon Valley’s most important industry groups warns that the definition of the term “open source” must be guarded just as zealously as that of the kilogram — and that “recently there have been efforts to undermine the integrity of open source” by stretching the definition to suit their own self-interest.

    “These efforts are motivated by the interests of a few rather than the benefit of all, and are at odds with the principles that have so demonstratively served us well in the past decades,” writes the board of directors of the Open Source Initiative, in an open letter published earlier this week.

    “If allowed to continue, these efforts will erode the trust of both users and contributors, and hinder the innovation that is enabled by open source software, just as surely as having multiple definitions of a kilogram would erode and undermine commerce,” the OSI board wrote. The letter is co-signed by industry groups including the Mozilla Foundation.

  • Yosemite X Announces the First Open Source Public Blockchain without a Native Cryptocurrency

    Yosemite X, a blockchain technology company, today announced the release of its open source public blockchain that operates without a native cryptocurrency, giving developers and businesses the ability to build solutions and reduce costs, without the price volatility of crypto. This approach enables companies to reap the benefits of blockchain – greater transparency, enhanced security, increased efficiency, speed of transactions at scale – and pay for their network usage with more stable fiat currencies.

  • Blockstream Open Sources Development of Its Proof of Reserves Tool

    On February 4, 2019, blockchain tech company Blockstream announced the development of a “proof of reserves” tool to standardize the authenticity of exchanges’ crypto reserves. The Bitcoin development company has submitted a Bitcoin Improvement Proposal (BIP) to the bitcoin-dev mailing list for consideration.

    Blockstream stated that it is “open-sourcing the development of the tool for feedback from the industry.” Citing high-profile hacks as a reason why such services would be in demand, Blockstream is hoping to create a “best-practice standard Proof of Reserves for the industry, that offers broad compatibility with the way most Bitcoin exchanges are storing their users’ funds.”

  • Blockstream’s tool to prove the exchanges’ reserves goes open source

    Blockstream is working on a more secure version of Bitcoin proof of reserves and is currently open-sourcing the tool to get much-needed feedback, the company announced. Traditionally, a proof of reserves is different for each exchange and requires movements of all funds an exchange possesses, creating a serious security risk.

    Blockstream’s Proof of Reserves tool is based on “tried-and-tested methods” that are already in use, while addressing the issues they present. The significant change the tool offers is that the exchange can prove how much in assets it has without actually making any transactions—providing transparency without posing a possible threat to the assets. All it needs to do is to create a transaction spending all of the exchange’s bitcoin UTXO and include an extra invalid input. The invalid input renders the entire transaction invalid; however, it can still be used as a proof.

  • Tesla Hacker Launches Open-Source Project ‘FreedomEV’ To Run On Rooted Teslas, Bring New Wi-Fi Hotspot and Anti-Tracking Features

    The Tesla Hacker, Jasper Nuyens — who uncovered Tesla’s “unconfirmed lane change” last year — now launched at FOSDEM an open-source project called “FreedomEV” to run on top of rooted Teslas. It adds new features to the vehicles, such as a “Hotspot Mode” for in-car Wi-Fi and a “Cloak Mode” to prevent all location tracking and more. It hopes to become available for other cars too. Full presentation video can be found here. The Github project and the website. He is looking for contributors and support from Tesla.

  • Guide for GPlus refugees to choose a new social network in the Fediverse

    Time is running out for GPlus refugees. G+ will close on April 2nd. So to help people that haven’t decided yet where to go in the Fediverse I made some pointers.

    I divided this guide in a number of sections. Each section describes a certain use of social networks and which networks are most suitable for this specific use. Combine this with your preferred use of a social network and you should be able make a decision.

  • Events

    • Ekaterina Gerasimova: Organising the FOSDEM stand

      Since my first FOSDEM, one of the most prominent features of the biggest F/LOSS European conference for me has been the GNOME stand. At my first FOSDEM it was in the packed building H, nowadays it’s moved to the not-quite-as-badly-packed building K. I started off as an attendee, then eventually got into merchandise printing and handling the GNOME events box as I was helping out with other events anyway.

    • Christof Damian: Fosdem 2019

      This year I managed for the first time to attend Fosdem in Brussels. Since I started to be involved in open source software I always wanted to go, but somehow something else always came up. This time I made an early effort to book my vacation days, hotel and flight.

    • 2019 OSEHRA Summit Dates Announced
    • FOSDEM 2019 and Plasma Mobile Sprint

      FOSDEM was fun and inspiring as usual, even if actually getting to see talks has become almost impossible, due to the limit amount of space and the ever growing amount of attendees. However the real value of FOSDEM for me is meeting people anyway, you can’t move a few meters without running into someone you know and want to catch up with.

      Adrian and Agustín have already written about KDE’s presence. My personal highlight was Alistair’s work of bringing Plasma Mobile to RISC-V. Open Source harware and Free Software are a perfect team, and it was also very nice to see our work on bringing KDE components to Yocto being used for this.

    • The Browser Tutorial

      Last week I was invited to give a talk at the first edition of the “Jornadas Tecnológicas Insert Coín” in Coín (Málaga, Spain) to the students of the high school I.E.S. Los Montecillos and other high schools of the area. The subject of the talk was cross-platform development with KDE and Qt. I think the talk was very well received and the students seemed to like it (at least, I think they did). I organized the talk in two sections, first some slides about Qt and KDE (mostly about KDE Frameworks), and then some “live” development to show how use Qt Creator to develop a small web browser with Qt in C++ and then how to use KDevelop to develop the same application in Python.

  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

      • Using AVX2 With Android’s Bionic Library Can Yield Much Better Chromebook Performance

        Intel’s Open-Source Technology Center has published a whitepaper looking at the Android application performance impact on Intel-powered Chromebooks when the Android Bionic Library is optimized for AVX2.

        To little surprise considering the AVX (Advanced Vector Extensions) performance benefits we have seen on the Linux desktop when binaries are built with AVX support, and especially on platforms like Clear Linux that really exploit the potential of these instruction set extensions in modern CPUs, the performance improvement on Chromebooks can be quite profound.

      • Chrome 73 Beta: Constructable stylesheets, a new RegExp function, and passive mouse events

        Unless otherwise noted, changes described below apply to the newest Chrome Beta channel release for Android, Chrome OS, Linux, macOS, and Windows. View a complete list of the features in Chrome 73 on ChromeStatus.com. Chrome 73 is beta as of February 8, 2019.

      • Chrome 73 Rolls Out Into Beta With Linux Improvements & More

        Google developers on Friday pushed Chrome 73 into their beta channel as they prepare to button up this web browser update for debuting as stable around 12 March.

        On the Linux front with Chrome 73, they enabled the mojo video decoders. There are also more Wayland improvements within the Chrome 73 release, but sadly nothing new to report on the Linux desktop video acceleration front.

      • Google introduces Media key functionality with new Chrome 73 Update

        Google, while having a significant impact on how we interact with the internet, has established itself quite well in the market. Perhaps it was when they introduced their web browser, Chrome, back in 2008. Since then, their browser has evolved quite a bit to what it will be, come its update 73.

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla Open Policy & Advocacy Blog: Kenya Government mandates DNA-linked national ID, without data protection law

        Last month, the Kenya Parliament passed a seriously concerning amendment to the country’s national ID law, making Kenya home to the most privacy-invasive national ID system in the world. The rebranded, National Integrated Identity Management System (NIIMS) now requires all Kenyans, immigrants, and refugees to turn over their DNA, GPS coordinates of their residential address, retina scans, iris pattern, voice waves, and earlobe geometry before being issued critical identification documents. NIIMS will consolidate information contained in other government agency databases and generate a unique identification number known as Huduma Namba.

        It is hard to see how this system comports with the right to privacy articulated in Article 31 of the Kenyan Constitution. It is deeply troubling that these amendments passed without public debate, and were approved even as a data protection bill which would designate DNA and biometrics as sensitive date is pending.

        Before these amendments, in order to issue the National ID Card (ID), the government only required name, date and place of birth, place of residence, and postal address. The ID card is a critical document that impacts everyday life, without it, an individual cannot vote, purchase property, access higher education, obtain employment, access credit, or public health, among other fundamental rights.

        Mozilla strongly believes that that no digital ID system should be implemented without strong privacy and data protection legislation. The proposed Data Protection Bill of 2018 which Parliament is likely to consider next month, is a strong and thorough framework that contains provisions relating to data minimization as well as collection and purpose limitation. If NIIMS is implemented, it will be in conflict with these provisions, and more importantly in conflict with Article 31 of the Constitution, which specifically protects the right to privacy.

      • Immersive Media Content Creation Guide

        Firefox Reality is ready for your panoramic images and videos, in both 2D and 3D. In this guide you will find advice for creating and formatting your content to best display on the immersive web in Firefox Reality.

      • 15 Firefox Addons To Consider Using Right Now

        Firefox is a hugging amazing browser. It’s fast, smooth and respects your privacy & security very much. Firefox also comes by default on most Linux distributions, such as Ubuntu/Fedora/openSUSE. It also has the ability to add addons, which will allow you to boost your productivity a lot depending on your user setup.

        In this post, we’ll take a tour on some extremely important Firefox addons that you should check right now.

      • Session Sync – A nice session manager for Firefox Quantum

        Back in the good ole days, Firefox had a wealth of excellent, powerful extensions. Among them, Tab Mix Plus with a superb built-in session manager. Come Firefox Quantum (57 onwards) and WebExtensions, a lot of goodies have gone away, forever. We are left with diminished functionality.

        One of the things that I’ve been hunting after the most is a flexible session manager akin to the old stuff, with the ability to manage multiple sessions in a smart, simple, elegant way. I think I’ve finally found an addon that does the trick. It’s called Session Sync, and I’m happy enough to actually write a whole article about this.

  • SaaS/Back End

    • MapR Open Source Analytics Pack Boosts Kafka and Kubernetes, Adds C#, Go

      Updated quarterly, MEP releases are bundled MapR Ecosystem projects labeled with specific versions. In the new v6.1 offering, MapR — now an “AI and analytics” company — said developers and data scientists gain maximum flexibility in accessing data and building artificial intelligence/machine learning, real-time analytics and stateful containerized applications.

    • MapR ecosystem pack amplifies Kubernetes connections

      Data analytics firm MapR Technologies has sealed the cellophane on the MapR Ecosystem Pack (MEP) at its 6.1 version iteration.

      The toolpack is meant to give developers (and data scientists, unless they happen to be the same person) flexibility in terms of how they access data and build AI/ML real-time analytics and, also, flexibility for building stateful containerised applications.

    • Red Hat gives thanks for Turkcell virtualization win

      Turkish operator Turkcell has launched a virtualization platform called Unified Telco Cloud that’s based on Red Hat’s OpenStack Platform.

      As the name implies this new platform is all about centralising all its services onto a single virtualized infrastructure. This NFVi then allows east selection and implementation of virtual network functions, or so the story goes. Examples of operators going all-in on this stuff are still sufficiently rare for this to be noteworthy.

      As a consequence this deal win is also a big deal for Red Hat, which has invested heavily in attacking the telco virtualization market from an open source direction, as is its wont. Red Hat OpenStack Platform is its carrier-grade distribution of the open source hybrid cloud platform. Turkcell is also using Red Hat Ceph Storage, a software-defined storage technology designed for this sort of thing.

    • Turkcell Catalyzes Digital Services Innovation Through its Unified Telco Cloud on Red Hat OpenStack Platform
    • 2018 OpenStack Foundation Annual Report

      As one looks back at the passing year, the events which often come to mind first are sometimes surprising. As I thought about 2018 while enjoying a hot cup of holiday cheer, the Dublin PTG was top of mind. As everyone who attended will recall, the event encountered the “Beast from the East.” This sudden, century level storm paralyzed the country, closed the airports, street cars, trains, taxis and of most critical to us Stackers – the PTG venue. Yet what pulled all of us out of our comfort zone turned out to be a very positive demonstration of the strengths of the OpenStack open source community. It was a defining moment for me, and a revealing one for the strength of our community.

    • The Taloflow Instance Manager (Tim)

      Taloflow is a Vancouver- and California-based startup, offering a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platform that seamlessly integrates into your preferred cloud service provider to set up alerts, capture metrics and automate a list of useful actions. The company is focused solely on bringing artificial intelligence (AI) automation and intelligence to cloud services. Currently, Taloflow is an operation of at least eight talented engineers coming from all business backgrounds (from startups to enterprises).

    • Databricks Continues To Grow Big Data Platform For Enterprise Apps

      Demand for advanced data analytics is helping to push Databricks and the open source Apache Spark project forward.

      At the core of many modern enterprise apps and services is a fundamental need for data analytics. It’s a need that Databricks and the open source Apache Spark project that it leads both help to fill.

      It’s also a need that a lot of organizations are willing to pay for. On Feb. 5, Databricks announced that it now generates over $100 million in annual revenue. Databricks still wants to grow more, and to that end the company raised a $250 million Series E funding round led by Andreessen Horowitz, Coatue Management, Microsoft, and New Enterprise Associates (NEA). Total funding to date for Databricks now stands at $498.5 million, and the company has a publicly stated valuation of $2.75 billion.

  • LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice 6.2 brings new interfaces, performance improvements to the open source office suite

      New interface styles and feature improvements are available in version 6.2 of LibreOffice—the most popular open-source office suite—released Thursday by The Document Foundation. As with any software update, bug fixes and feature enhancements are present, making this release a significant upgrade, particularly for users coming from Microsoft Office, or working with files created with those programs.

    • LibreOffice patches RCE flaw – Apache OpenOffice doesn’t
    • LibreOffice 6.2 released

      LibreOffice 6.1.5 also released, for enterprise class deployments and
      mainstream users looking for robust productivity

      Berlin, February 7, 2019 – The Document Foundation announces LibreOffice
      6.2 with NotebookBar, a significant major release of the free office suite
      which features a radical new approach to the user interface – based on the
      MUFFIN concept [1] – and provides user experience options capable of
      satisfying all users’ preferences, while leveraging all screen sizes in the
      best way.

      The NotebookBar is available in Tabbed, Grouped and Contextual flavors,
      each one with a different approach to the menu layout, and complements the
      traditional Toolbars and Sidebar. The Tabbed variant aims to provide a
      familiar interface for users coming from proprietary office suites and is
      supposed to be used primarily without the sidebar, while the Grouped one
      allows to access “first-level” functions with one click and
      “second-level” functions with a maximum of two clicks.

      The design community has also made substantial changes and improvements to
      icon themes, in particular Elementary and Karasa Jaga.

      LibreOffice 6.2 new and improved features:

      The help system offers faster filtering of index keywords, highlighting
      search terms as they are typed and displaying results based on the selected
      module.
      Context menus have been tidied up, to be more consistent across the
      different components in the suite.
      Change tracking performances have been dramatically improved, especially
      in large documents.
      In Writer, it is now possible to copy spreadsheet data into tables instead
      of just inserting them as objects.
      In Calc, it is now possible to do multivariate regression analysis using
      the regression tool. In addition, many more statistical measures are now
      available in the analysis output, and the new REGEX function has been
      added, to match text against a regular expression and optionally replace
      it.
      In Impress & Draw, the motion path of animations can now be modified by
      dragging its control points. In addition, a couple of text-related drawing
      styles have been added, as well as a Format Table submenu in Draw.
      LibreOffice Online, the cloud-based version of the suite, includes many
      improvements too. On mobile devices, the user interface has been
      simplified, with better responsiveness and updates to the on-screen
      keyboard.

      Interoperability with proprietary file formats has also been improved, as
      with every major and minor version of LibreOffice, for better compatibility
      with Office documents, including old versions which have been deprecated by
      Microsoft. The focus has been on charts and animations, and on document
      security features, with agile encryption and HMAC verification.

      LibreOffice 6.2′s new features have been developed by a large community of
      code contributors: 74% of commits are from developers employed by companies
      sitting in the Advisory Board like Collabora, Red Hat and CIB and by other
      contributors such as the City of Munich and SIL, and 26% are from
      individual volunteers.

      In addition, there is a global community of individual volunteers taking
      care of other fundamental activities such as quality assurance, software
      localization, user interface design and user experience, editing of help
      system and documentation, plus free software and open document standards
      advocacy at a local level.

      A video summarizing the top new features of LibreOffice 6.2 is available on
      YouTube:

      http://documentfoundation.hosted.phplist.com/lists/lt.php…

      LibreOffice 6.1.5 for enterprise class deployments

      The Document Foundation has also released LibreOffice 6.1.5, a more mature
      version which includes some months of back-ported fixes and is better
      suited for enterprise class deployments, where features are less important
      than robustness as the main objective is individual productivity.

      Enterprises willing to deploy LibreOffice on a professional basis should
      source value-added services – related to software support, migrations and
      training – from certified people
      (http://documentfoundation.hosted.phplist.com/lists/lt.php…
      and a
      LibreOffice LTS (Long Term Supported) versions provided by one of the
      companies sitting on TDF Advisory Board
      (http://documentfoundation.hosted.phplist.com/lists/lt.php…

      Sourcing enterprise class software and/or services from the ecosystem of
      certified professionals are the best support options for organizations
      deploying LibreOffice on a large number of desktops. In fact, these
      activities are contributed back to the project under the form of
      improvements to the software and the community, and trigger a virtuous
      circle which is beneficial to all parties, including users.

      Availability of LibreOffice 6.2 and LibreOffice 6.1.5

      LibreOffice 6.2 and LibreOffice 6.1.5 are immediately available from the
      following web page:

      http://documentfoundation.hosted.phplist.com/lists/lt.php…

      Builds of the
      latest LibreOffice Online source code are also available, released as
      Docker images:

      http://documentfoundation.hosted.phplist.com/lists/lt.php…

      LibreOffice Online is fundamentally a server service, and should be
      installed and configured by adding cloud storage and an SSL certificate. It
      might be considered an enabling technology for the cloud services offered
      by ISPs or the private cloud of enterprises and large organizations.

      LibreOffice users, free software advocates and community members can
      support The Document Foundation with a donation at

      http://documentfoundation.hosted.phplist.com/lists/lt.php…

      LibreOffice 6.2 is built with document conversion libraries from the
      Document Liberation Project:

      http://documentfoundation.hosted.phplist.com/lists/lt.php…

      Press Kit

      The press kit is here:

      http://documentfoundation.hosted.phplist.com/lists/lt.php…

      [1]

      http://documentfoundation.hosted.phplist.com/lists/lt.php…

    • LibreOffice 6.2 is here: Running up a Tab at the NotebookBar? You can turn it all off if you want

      While Microsoft was upending the scorn bucket on its own productivity tools, The Document Foundation shoved out an update of LibreOffice, replete with user interface tweaks and improved Office compatibility.

      Originally forked from OpenOffice back in 2010, LibreOffice comprises a word processor in the form of “Writer”, a spreadsheet in “Calc” and “Impress” for PowerPoint-esque presentations. It also includes tools for vector drawing, database and formula editing.

      The new version 6.2 is the first release in 2019. 6.0 appeared just over a year ago and 6.1 turned up in August. It remains free and can be downloaded in Windows, Linux and Mac flavours.

      We took a look at the Windows 10 version, the installation of which proved a little problematic.

    • LibreOffice 6.2 will protect you from Office 2019

      OPEN SOURCE Microsoft spoiler LibreOffice has released a major new edition, with a whole crop of new features and tweaks.

      The Document Foundation, custodians of the brand, announced LibreOffice 6.2, which brings a tabbed interface for the first time and even more file format compatibility.

      This is great news for Microsoft, which recently launched a series of adverts saying how you really shouldn’t buy Office 2019, though this is probably not what they had in mind.

    • Cyber Security Today: U.S. restaurant chain hacked, attack uses real document, patch open office suites

      U.S. restaurant chain has been hacked, an attack uses a real document to trip uses and patch open office suites

      [...]

      Speaking of patching, some people and businesses are saving money by using open source productivity suites like LibreOffice or Apache OpenOffice for Windows, Linux or Macs. Well, they’re not immune from being attacked, just like Microsoft Office. A security researcher has discovered a severe vulnerability in the two open source suites. He reported them months ago, and LibreOffice was patched — which is another reason why you should update to the latest version if you haven’t done so already. OpenOffice, which may be vulnerable. hasn’t yet issued a fix. For technical details here’s a link to the researcher’s blog.

    • LibreOffice 6.2 is Here: This is the Last Release with 32-bit Support

      LibreOffice is my favorite office suite as a free and powerful alternative to Microsoft Office tools on Linux. Even when I use my Windows machine – I prefer to have LibreOffice installed instead of Microsoft Office tools any day.

      Now, with the recent LibreOffice 6.2 update, there’s a lot of good stuff to talk about along with a bad news.

  • Networking

    • The role of open source in networking

      Technology is always evolving. However, in recent time, two significant changes have emerged in the world of networking. Firstly, the networking is moving to software that can run on commodity off-the-shelf hardware. Secondly, we are witnessing the introduction and use of many open source technologies, removing the barrier of entry for new product innovation and rapid market access.

      Networking is the last bastion within IT to adopt the open source. Consequently, this has badly hit the networking industry in terms of slow speed of innovation and high costs. Every other element of IT has seen radical technology and cost model changes over the past 10 years. However, IP networking has not changed much since the mid-’90s.

    • Ericsson becomes newest member of O-RAN Alliance

      The vendor said that it will “actively support and drive discussions and development of network architecture evolution”

      Ericsson has joined the O-RAN Alliance, which focuses on evolving the radio access network (RAN) architecture and orchestration toward open-source, rather than proprietary, implementations.

      Ericsson said that joining the O-RAN Alliance “reinforces [its]commitment to network evolution, openness, and industry collaboration” and that it will “focus on the open interworking between RAN and network orchestration and automation, with emphasis on AI-enabled closed-loop automation and end-to-end optimization, with the aim of lowering operating cost and improve end-user performance.”

    • AT&T Inks ’8-Figure’ Kubernetes & OpenStack 5G Deal With Mirantis

      AT&T needs Kubernetes and OpenStack to provide the flexibility and agility required for a cutting edge, continent-spanning 5G network. “There really isn’t much of an alternative,” Van Wyk says. “Your alternative is VMware. We’ve done the assessments, and VMware doesn’t check boxes we need.”

      He adds, “We’re progressive, we’re on the bleeding edge. The 5G core and architecture we’re implementing — we’re doing it for the first time in the world. When you’re pushing the capabilities of the available software and you’re in the front end of that, you need to innovate fast. We believe the communities around open source projects are the way to do that.”

    • Mirantis signs huge networking deal with AT&T

      This is an eight-figure, three-year deal to build out AT&T 5G’s infrastructure using Airship. Airship is a project originally founded by AT&T, SKT, and Intel. It was launched as a pilot Open Infrastructure Project under the OpenStack Foundation in May 2018. Airship is designed to enable telcos to take advantage of on-premises Kubernetes infrastructure to support their SDN infrastructure builds.

      Mirantis will collaborate with AT&T and other core contributors to develop Airship’s critical features. This work will then be rapidly deployed in production at scale via AT&T’s Airship, Kubernetes, and OpenStack-based Network Cloud infrastructure.

    • Charter Might Paint Its Home Gateways & Devices ‘Prpl’

      Charter Communications is giving serious consideration to Prpl, a new open source software stack for broadband gateways and other devices, as the MSO mulls its next-gen plans for gateways and other broadband devices that can support and run a mix of new value-added smart home and IoT services and applications, multiple industry sources said.

      Prpl, an open source software effort run by the Prpl Foundation , has some linkages to OpenWrt, a generic platform that’s on millions of retail routers and has gained some traction with various telcos. As it’s been retail-focused, OpenWrt itself doesn’t have a service provider layer, but Prpl is adding those key elements, providing hooks into service provider backend systems. That effort emerges as carriers seek out open source software options that can provide consistency across different OEMs and establish a way for them to manage and orchestrate new services across their population of devices.

    • CPU Selection for uCPE Is About More Than Architecture

      I’ve often said that network functions virtualization (NFV) is about bringing cloud technologies to the telco network. One of the biggest benefits of such a transition is the replacement of closed appliances with open servers. The most common of these servers are built on Intel architecture (IA), but other architecture options are available, including ARM.

    • Coders and developers: The new heroes of the network?

      The news announcements came thick and fast, and at every turn, they were software-defined. From the extension of its intent-based networking (IBN) platform to the edge of the enterprise to support application innovation around the internet of things (IoT), to the introduction of HyperFlex for Branch, which supports “datacentre-class app performance” in branch offices and remote sites, software is on the march at Cisco, and is now well on its way to becoming firmly established at the core of Cisco’s customers’ networks.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Funding

    • What matters most to open-source chat plat Mattermost? To shove this fresh $20m into security, privacy

      Slack-for-engineers Mattermost has said it plans to plough its $20m Series-A funding into privacy and security.

      Mattermost is open source and, its CEO Ian Tien told The Register, is “by developers for developers” – words that usually strike fear into the heart of UI designers.

      However, the messaging platform has proved popular with engineering teams, enamored by access to the code as well as the many, many add-ons published. A quick look at GitHub shows more than a thousand in various stages of development.

    • Slack Competitor Mattermost Raises $20 Million in Funding

      Mattermost, an open source messaging platform, this week announced it has closed a $20 million series A funding round led by Redpoint Ventures, with participation from S28 Capital and Y Combinator.

    • Slack competitor Mattermost raises $20 million for its workplace chat app

      Private, open source Slack competitor Mattermost today closed a $20 million funding round to help members of its community create new plugins and integrations.

      The news comes a day after Slack shared plans to go public and workplace collaboration app Coda launched out of beta.

      Mattermost has shaped itself in Slack’s image. Like that popular real-time workplace messaging app, Mattermost began as a provider of communications for gamers, CEO Ian Tien told VentureBeat in a phone interview, but was later sold as a team communications service to enterprise customers.

    • How open source Mattermost is sneaking up on Slack’s messaging empire

      Slack may be making the headlines with its confidential, $8 billion filing to go public, but there’s another, under the radar open source phenomenon playing in that same enterprise messaging market. Mattermost, which just announced a $20 million, Redpoint-led Series A venture round, started as a gaming platform, like Slack, but unlike Slack Mattermost delivers enterprise messaging flexibility through open source, to the tune of 10,000 downloads per month, each of which supports hundreds of Slack-sized teams.

      While this may sound like an underdog story, Mattermost already boasts large customers as varied as Amazon, Uber, and the US Department of Defense. Indeed, Mattermost offers an interesting case study on how to do open source right as a component of a business strategy.

    • This Is How Open Source Companies And Programmers Keep The Cash Flowing

      Over the years, the popularity of open source has skyrocketed, and companies dealing with open source products are making a chunk of revenue. When we talk about open source, many believe that open source technologies are free. However, that is not always true; companies like Red Hat have built business models on open source technologies.

      Furthermore, it is widely believed that people create open source software out of their love for programming. But there is another question that needs to be answered. “How do open source companies and programmers make money?” So, in this article, we will give you an idea about the business model of an open source company. Open source also helps enterprises and small businesses benefit from tech innovations.

  • BSD

  • Public Services/Government

    • How open source drives innovation in the UK public sector

      In the last decade or so, the UK public sector has accelerated through a sea change of tech-driven modernisation under the banner of digital transformation. A report released last week revealed that mobiles and tablets now account for the majority of internet traffic to GOV.UK services.

      Mobile access has been non-negotiable for most modern businesses for a number of years. Yet the figure truly crystallises the progress made in a segment not known for being on the pulse of tech trends, and one often satirised for lagging remarkably behind wider industry. Last July, in a dish seemingly readymade for farce-hungry twitter trolls, the Government’s new Digital Secretary was revealed to have not tweeted since 2015.

      To say that Government ministers are overflowing with enthusiasm for solutions that improve the speed, efficiency and quality of their services would be to put it mildly. The fervour is best exemplified by the new UK Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, who since taking on the role has embarked on a PR stroke evangelical mission to eulogise how AI and other technologies can transform the NHS once and for all.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • Free Software Foundation Europe Calls for Open Source 5G License

      The Free Software Foundation Europe has said the recent controversy surrounding Huawei shows governments and consumers don’t trust tech giants. However, FSFE believes one potential fix would be for companies to publish code through the Free and Open Source Software license.

      Huawei has been a long-time target of regulators around the world. The company is believed to be using its technology to backdoor spy for the Chinese government. There is an ongoing debate around Huawei’s 5G networks and concerns over privacy.

      Canada could block Huawei 5G and the Chinese government has responded. It seems China suspects Huawei will be blocked, and the country’s ambassador said Ottawa will face repercussions if a bad is imposed.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Researchers committed to open-science efforts

      Placing collaboration above competition, Western researchers are giving 300 labs around the world the opportunity to gain a better understanding of the mouse brain in hopes of unlocking the secrets Alzheimer’s disease and other disorders in humans. Led by BrainsCAN, this is the latest and largest project undertaken by the neuroscience initiative in a push for open-science research.

    • New Computer Program Aims to Reduce DNA Contamination in Microbial Samples

      A new, open-source software package created by researchers at NC State and Stanford could help reduce contamination in microbial samples.

    • New Version of HLN’s Award Winning Open Source Immunization Forecaster Released
    • Open Data

    • Open Access/Content

      • UI senate handily OKs resolution to lower textbook, classroom costs

        A measure to give University of Illinois students relief from rising textbook prices and classroom costs won overwhelming approval from the campus Academic Senate on Monday, though one provision was dropped at the urging of faculty voters.

        Also Monday, senators handily approved a resolution highlighting the tools professors can use to deal with disruptive students in their classes, which evolved from an earlier measure aimed at classroom “trolls.” Senate leaders said a separate task force is needed to study the emerging threat of cyberharassment.

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • This guy created an open source 3D printable solution to A7III overheating issues

        We thought with the Sony A6500 that the overheating issue days with Sony would be over, but apparently not.

      • Someone Made an Open-Source Body Cooler for Overheating Sony Cameras

        Sony’s mirrorless cameras have been known to have overheating issues, prompting Sony to release firmware fixes and photographers to come up with novel solutions such as mounted sunshades. Now one guy has created an open-source design for a Sony camera body cooler.

        Brian Windle of Wilmington, Delaware, has shared a design for a Sony a7 III body cooler over on Thingiverse, where you can download all the files needed to 3D print and assemble your own.

      • Industry leaders to present Open Source on Arm insights at Linaro Connect Bangkok 2019

        Linaro Ltd, the open source collaborative engineering organization developing software for the Arm® ecosystem, announced today the keynote speakers for Linaro Connect Bangkok 2019. Joining the hundreds of engineers at the Centara Grand in Bangkok, Thailand 1-4 April 2019, will be industry leaders invited to share their insights into different segments and topics relating to the Arm ecosystem.

      • Open Source LIDAR Lets You Get Down To The Nitty Gritty

        If you’re unfamiliar with LIDAR, you might have noticed it sounds a bit like radar. That’s no accident – LIDAR is a backronym standing for “light detection and ranging”, the word having initially been created as a combination of “light” and “radar”. The average person is most likely to have come into contact with LIDAR at the business end of a police speed trap, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Unruly is the open source LIDAR project you’ve been waiting for all along.

        Unlike a lot of starter projects, LIDAR isn’t something you get into with a couple of salvaged LEDs and an Arduino Uno. We’re talking about measuring the time it takes light to travel relatively short distances, so plenty of specialised components are required. There’s a pulsed laser diode, and a special hypersensitive avalanche photodiode that operates at up to 130 V. These are combined with precision lenses and filters to ensure operation at the maximum range possible. Given that light can travel 300,000 km in a second, to get any usable resolution, a microcontroller alone simply isn’t fast enough to cut it here. A specialized time-to-digital converter (TDC) is used to time how long it takes the light pulse to return from a distant object. Unruly’s current usable resolution is somewhere in the ballpark of 10 mm – an impressive feat.

      • DIY Arduino weather station is open source, tweets and more

        Hackster.io member Jonty has published a new project providing details on how to build your very own DIY Arduino weather station. Aptly named TWIST the open source environmental monitoring system is capable of sending tweets and collecting meteorological data thanks to its include gas, rain, light, temperature and humidity sensors. The weather station takes approximately two hours to build and has been classed at an intermediate skill level project.

        Powered by the Intel Edison Board the Internet of Things weather station can be modified further and is compatible with a variety of sensors. All code, design files, schematics and PCB layouts are open source enabling those interested to share their modifications and new sensor support with others.

        “Ever wanted to monitor your city’s Current Weather Conditions, Carbon Footprint, Noise and Pollution levels? Do you want be a Climate Change Crusader or set-up your own Tweeting Weather Station and share your local weather conditions with the world?”

      • Internet, meet things: This starter kit is perfect for makers

        Spend any time at all around creative-minded techies, and you’ll likely hear about Arduino. Whether you’re making a simple motion sensor or a fully internet-controlled robot, Arduino is the platform of choice. If you’re just diving in, we can’t think of a better entry point than the Arduino Uno Ultimate Starter Kit & Course Bundle.

      • Arduino Enters the Cloud

        Love it or hate it, for many people embedded systems means Arduino. Now Arduino is leveraging its more powerful MKR boards and introducing a cloud service, the Arduino IoT Cloud. The goal is to make it simple for Arduino programs to record data and control actions from the cloud.

        The program is in beta and features a variety of both human and machine interaction styles. At the simple end, you can assemble a dashboard of controls and have the IoT Cloud generate your code and download it to your Arduino itself with no user programming required. More advanced users can use HTTP REST, MQTT, Javascript, Websockets, or a suite of command line tools.

        The system relies on “things” like temperature sensors, LEDs, and servos. With all the focus on security now, it isn’t surprising that the system supports X.509 authentication and TLS security for traffic in both directions.

      • SmartDV Supports RISC-V Movement with TileLink Verification IP for RISC-V Based Systems
  • Programming/Development

    • Write nbdkit plugins in Rust

      The news is you can now write nbdkit plugins in Rust. As with the OCaml bindings, Rust plugins compile to native *.so plugin files which are loaded and called directly from nbdkit. However it really needs a Rust expert to implement a more natural and idiomatic way to use the API than what we have now.

    • GCC 9 Status Report (2019-02-08)
    • GCC 9 Continues Stabilizing While GCC 8.3 Will Slip In Soon

      The GCC 9.1.0 release as the first stable version of GCC 9 is stabilizing at a rate where it should debut by/around April. For those sticking to the GCC 8 series a bit longer, the GCC 8.3.0 compiler update is also on the way.

      Red Hat’s Jakub Jelinek sent out a status report for GCC 8.3 with that release about due based upon its traditional timing. However, there was recently a P1 regression (the most severe) recently recorded. Once that regression gets tackled, the GCC 8.3.0 release will likely be tagged. There’s also a call for back-porting of any other relevant fixes back to the GCC8 stable series.

    • Clazy 1.5 released

      Clazy 1.5 is now available. This is a small release, mainly focused on bug fixing.

    • Machine learning with sparse, high-dimensional and large datasets
    • PyCon 2020-2021 Location [Ed: “Keystone Level” (highest level) sponsor is only Microsoft (with ad added to the page) because they hope to ‘hijack’ the project]
    • Wing Python IDE 7.0.0.6 Early Access

      The second beta release of Wing Python IDE version 7 is now available through our Early Access Program. Although you may find minor problems, this release is stable and usable for real work.

      [...]

      This release also improves display on high DPI monitors on Windows and Linux. On Linux, Wing may now suggest a scale factor configuration based on inspection of your primary display.

    • Counts the points of our team in the championship
    • Best Python open source projects for beginners

      For beginners, trying themselves in a Python open source project may become quite a cognitive time spending. Taking into account that during the last five years the Python is widely recognized as a “Most popular coding language”, in many, thanks to the high readability extent and the efficiency it gained the extensive fan-audience of developers. But how to start working with the Python if you have never had the luck to get closer to it? The answer is simple. Nothing is capable of teaching you to understand the Python code better than contributing to some of the open source projects.

      The open source project is a project publicly available. Everyone can take existing open-source projects, read its code, modify it, use it, and publish their own changes again under the relevant Open Source licenses.

      For the newbies, the open source is first of all the opportunity to get practice in a real project and a good chance to find help in exchange for their own time dedicated to the project.

    • Create a player object in pygame
    • 10 Machine Learning Projects Every Tech Aficionado Must Work On In 2019

      Machine learning and artificial intelligence have had a high impact on the evolving future of technology as well as human lives.

    • Clojure devs are all about Java 8 and functional programming

      What’s the state of the Clojure ecosystem in 2019? According to Clojure’s annual survey, Clojure devs are still in love with Java 8 and use it for web development and open source. We take a closer look at the 2019 results to see what’s really going on in this functional programming language.

    • Electron Apps Are Bad, So Now You Can Create Desktop Apps With HTML5 + Golang

      The Electron software framework that allows creating desktop GUI application interfaces using JavaScript and relies upon a bundled Chromium+Node.js run-time is notorious among most Linux desktop users for being resource heavy, not integrating well with most desktops, and generally being despised. For those that are fond of using web standards for creating desktop GUIs, now there is a way to create desktop application front-ends using HTML5 and Golang but with less baggage.

      Developer Serge Zaitsev presented at FOSDEM 2019 last weekend in Brussels about his work on the Webview and Lorca libraries. These libraries allow building modern desktop applications within the Go programming language while writing the interfaces in HTML5.

    • Return the day in a week with python

      In this example, we are going to develop a method which will receive a number from the user input and returns which day in a week is that numbers refer to. For example, 1 is Sunday and 2 is Monday. If the number is too large or too small then the program will return an error message. Below is the solution to this question, if you have a better solution don’t forget to leave your answer on the below tweet.

    • The Zen of Python
    • Moving iterators in C++

      This will be a short post about a feature in STL that seems to be not as well-known as it should be.

      Imagine we want to create a small function that collects files in the subdirectories of the current directory. So, a list that would be returned by ls */*.

      Note that namespace fs = std::filesystem; is used in the examples.

    • Catching up with the Anaconda distribution

      It’s time to catch up with the Anaconda crew and see what’s new in the Anaconda distribution. This edition of Python was created to solve some of the stickier problems of deployment, especially in the data science space. Their usage gives them deep insight into how Python is being used in the enterprise space as well. Which turns out to be a very interesting part of the conversation.

    • Düsseldorf Sprint Report 2019

      We are happy to report a successful and well attended sprint that is wrapping up in Düsseldorf, Germany. In the last week we had eighteen people sprinting at the Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf on various topics.

Leftovers

  • Does The Spotify Gimlet Purchase Signal The End Of The Open World Of Podcasting?

    If you follow this kind of news at all, you probably have heard that Spotify has recently purchased two podcasting companies: Gimlet Media and Anchor. Gimlet makes a ton of high quality, highly produced podcasts (it’s like the HBO of podcasting), while Anchor is a combination of a podcasting advertising network and a set of tools to let anyone create their own podcasts easily (it’s like the SqaureSpace of podcasts). On the one hand, it’s good to see podcasts getting some attention and interest, and Spotify is clearly one of the largest services for listening to audio files — though much more so on the music side.

    My concern, however, is about the potential walling off of the podcast world. The whole concept of podcasts from the early days was the idea that anyone could create them and anyone could access them. That’s been changing a bit of late. There have been a growing number of exclusive and walled off podcasts, including on Spotify (but also on Stitcher with its Stitcher Premium and Slate with its Slate Plus program — and likely others as well).

  • Science

    • Sizzling interest in lab-grown meat belies lack of basic research

      Private investment in lab-grown meat is soaring as companies chase the promise of boundless — and delicious — nuggets, steaks and burgers cultured in vitro rather than reared on the hoof. Clean-meat start-ups have raked in tens of millions of dollars in the last two years from billionaires such as Bill Gates and Richard Branson, and the agriculture giants Cargill and Tyson.

      But funding for academic research on lab-grown meat has lagged behind, and some researchers say that it is sorely needed. Despite the booming commercial interest in developing meat that is eco-friendly and ethically sound, critics argue that the industry lacks much of the scientific and engineering expertise needed to bring lab-grown meat to the masses. And any advances made by commercial firms are often protected as trade secrets.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Profit-Driven Healthcare Is Killing the Dreams of Young People. Young People Are Fighting Back.

      Briana Moss, 30, grew up in Dyersville, Iowa, site of the “field of dreams” (from the 1989 movie). Despite the reputation of her hometown, her own life dreams feel on hold. At age 30, when many young people are getting their careers off the ground, Moss’ life choices are guided by one thing: the need for insulin.

      “I know of people with diabetes literally dying because they cannot afford their insulin. It’s very scary and very real,” says Moss, who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 12. She hadn’t yet finished college when her family insurance ended at 26, and after a few frantic months of insulin rat