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Links 7/3/2018: KaOS 2018.03, Chrome 65, Microsoft ‘Jails’ Debian

Posted in News Roundup at 6:30 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • Exploring free and open web fonts

    There is no question that the face of the web has been transformed in recent years by open source fonts. Prior to 2010, the only typefaces you were likely to see in a web browser were the generic “web safe” core fonts from Microsoft. But that year saw the start of several revolutions: the introduction of the Web Open Font Format (WOFF), which offered an open standard for efficiently delivering font files over HTTP, and the launch of web-font services like Google Fonts and the Open Font Library—both of which offered web publishers access to a large collection of fonts, for free, available under open licenses.

    It is hard to overstate the positive impact of these events on web typography. But it can be all too easy to equate the successes of open web fonts with open source typography as a whole and conclude that the challenges are behind us, the puzzles solved. That is not the case, so if you care about type, the good news is there are a lot of opportunities to get involved in improvement.

  • Divisive Politics are destroying Open Source

    Divisive Politics are destroying Open Source. Many Open and Free Software projects have been ripped apart, just in the last year, by politics that seem to serve no purpose other than to divide us as people. I take a look at three recent, and noteworthy, examples: FreeBSD, Node.js (part of the Linux Foundation), and Mozilla. Three organizations that have a massive impact on our lives (even if we don’t know it) — that have had divisive politics cause significant turmoil and damage to not only themselves… but the entire Open Source and technology world.

  • 3 open source tools for scientific publishing

    One industry that lags behind others in the adoption of digital or open source tools is the competitive and lucrative world of scientific publishing. Worth over £19B ($26B) annually, according to figures published by Stephen Buranyi in The Guardian last year, the system for selecting, publishing, and sharing even the most important scientific research today still bears many of the constraints of print media. New digital-era technologies present a huge opportunity to accelerate discovery, make science collaborative instead of competitive, and redirect investments from infrastructure development into research that benefits society.

  • OrbTV: Telefónica’s Lopez on Open Source for Network Automation & Virtualization

    Patrick Lopez, VP of Networks Innovation at Telefónica, talks about how vendors and operators can utilize open source to take more control over the design and programming of networks. In addition, Lopez examines Telefónica’s approach to edge computing, and use cases for the technology such as in IoT and robotics.

  • Check out the now open-source code powering UI layout in Heaven’s Vault

    The dev shared the code powering SLayout on GitHub for fellow developers to download and play with. All in all, Inkle Studios says that SLayout can be used in Unity to provide an easier way to handle layout properties and animation for text and UI elements.

  • Crowdsourcing FOSS Project Success: Clearly defined project data, a smooth path to widespread adoption.

    Today the Open Source Initiative® (OSI) announced its Incubator Project, ClearlyDefined, a crowdsourced project aimed at boosting the success of FOSS projects by clearly defining their status. Absences or ambiguities around licensing or known security vulnerabilities can erode confidence and limit project success. Project teams often are not aware of these concerns or do not know how to address them. ClearlyDefined identifies the gaps and works with project teams to fill them.

    “This is an important project to amplify the success of FOSS projects through wider adoption and confidence. It aligns closely with OSI’s mission to educate and advocate for open source,” said Simon Phipps, President of the board of directors of the OSI, curator of the world’s open source licenses.

  • Web Browsers

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • Conference Recap: APRICOT 2018

      APRICOT is the largest annual internet community conference in the Asia-Pacific region. Nearly one thousand attendees show up for two weeks of workshops, tutorials and presentations. While the primary focus of the conference is on networking, the conference also attracts a sizable number of systems people. I also attended some of the APTLD conference which overlapped for a couple of days during the APRICOT workshop week. This was the first time I attended APRICOT.

    • BSDCan 2018 – selected talks
  • Licensing/Legal

    • GitHub makes open-source project licensing easier with an open-source program

      Open-source licensing can get … complicated. These days, many programs are 20 percent original code on top of 80 percent previously open-sourced code. To help address the resulting licensing complications, GitHub has open sourced Licensed, an internal tool they’ve used to automate some of GitHub’s open-source projects licensing process.

      That’s pretty impressive considering only a few years ago, GitHub’s laissez-faire attitude to licensing had led to 77 percent of all GitHub programs having no licenses at all. If that doesn’t sound important to you, then you’re a developer who’s never tried to commercialize their program.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Making climate models open source makes them even more useful

      Designing climate experiments is all but impossible in the real world. We can’t, for instance, study the effects of clouds by taking away all the clouds for a set period of time and seeing what happens.

      Instead, we have to design our experiments virtually, by developing computer models. Now, a new open-source set of climate models has allowed this research to become more collaborative, efficient and reliable.

  • Programming/Development

    • The top 10 programming languages and skills you need to work in open source

      On Tuesday, job search site Indeed announced that it has joined the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF), an open source software foundation dedicated to making cloud-native computing universal and sustainable.

      The CNCF is part of the The Linux Foundation, and is a vendor-neutral home for fast-growing projects. Indeed relies on open source technologies such as Python, Apache, Mesos, and OpenTracing to build and deliver its products, according to a blog post making the announcement.

    • Software for a service like archive.org

      Can anyone recommend software for running a web service similar to archive.org?

      We are looking for something similar to manage digital assets within the Computing History Special Interest Group.

    • Only code at work? That doesn’t make you a worse programmer

      At the end of the day you’re done with work, you go home—and you don’t spend any of your free time coding. And that’s fine, you have other things going on in your life. But your coworker does spend another 20 hours a week coding, and all that practice means they’ll end up better programmers than you, and so they’ll get promoted faster, and they’ll get paid more. And that’s not fine.

      It’s also not true.

    • A few things I’ve learned about computer networking

      But I thought it could maybe be useful to list a bunch of concrete skills and concepts I’ve learned along the way. Like anything else, “computer networking” involves a large number of different concepts and skills and tools and I’ve learned them all one at a time. I picked most of these things up over the last 4 years.


  • The Great AMP Debate: The Ethics of Google’s Mobile Traffic Boost

    A lot of websites are seeing mobile traffic growth from using Google’s open-source AMP protocol, but critics are raising some big ethical questions. Are those concerns enough to dissuade organizations from using AMP?

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Pharma, Nonprofits Collaborate On Affordable Hepatitis C Treatment In Latin America

      The Drugs for Neglected Disease initiative (DNDi), a nonprofit research and development organisation, today announced a collaboration with pharmaceutical companies and other nonprofits to manufacture and supply a “new, more affordable” hepatitis C treatment in Latin America. Hepatitis C medicines have been renowned for their high prices worldwide.

      From the press release: “A new collaboration between pharmaceutical companies and non-profit organizations will manufacture and supply a new, more affordable, hepatitis C treatment regimen in Latin America. An estimated 3.5 million people live with this viral disease in Latin America including around 325,000 in Argentina, with high treatment prices one of the many barriers to access for life-saving care.”

    • HP releases new germicide-resistant computers for hospitals

      The laptop lets you disable the keyboard and touchscreen while cleaning, so that nothing is accidentally inputted. All three products are built to withstand deterioration from being cleaned with germicidal wipes, which may help reduce the spread of health care-related infections.

  • Security

    • Security updates for Tuesday
    • Researchers detail new 4G LTE vulnerabilities allowing spoofing, tracking, and spamming

      4G LTE isn’t nearly as secure or private as you think it is. Mobile privacy and security are both at risk. Researchers from Purdue University and the University of Iowa have released a new research paper detailing ten attacks on 4G LTE networks. Some attacks allow fake emergency alerts to be sent to a phone, others allow for the spoofing or tracking of the target’s location. The attacks could be carried out with less than $4,000 of equipment and open source 4G LTE software.

    • Oracle Brings KPTI Meltdown Mitigation To Linux 4.1

      If for some reason you are still riding the Linux 4.1 kernel series, you really should think about upgrading to at least a newer LTS series in the near future. But if you still plan on riding it for a while longer, at least it’s getting page table isolation support for Meltdown mitigation.

      An Oracle kernel developer has posted patches bringing kernel page table isolation (KPTI, formerly known as KAISER) to the Linux 4.1 stable kernel series.

    • OpenIndiana Now Has KPTI Support Up For Testing To Mitigate Meltdown

      The Solaris-derived OpenIndiana operating system now has KPTI (Kernel Page Table Isolation) support for testing to mitigate the Intel Meltdown CPU vulnerability.

      Thanks in large part to the work done by Joyent on KPTI support for SmartOS/OmniOSce, the Illumos kernel used by OpenIndiana now has a KPTI implementation for testing. They have spun up some live install images for testing as well as an IPS repository containing a KPTI-enabled kernel build. With this KPTI work is also PCID (Process Context Identifier) support too.

    • A long two months

      I had a quiet New Year’s Eve and Day for the beginning of 2018. We had originally planned a trip away with my parents and some friends from southern California, but they all fell through — my father was diagnosed with cancer late in 2017 and their trip to visit us in the U.S. was cancelled, and our friends work in medicine and wound up being on call. One of Lou’s other friends came to visit us, instead: she was on a mission to experience midnight twice on January 1st by flying from Hong Kong to San Francisco. That might sound like an excuse to party hard, but instead we sat around an Ikea table playing board games, drinking wine and eating gingerbread. It was very pleasant.


      To mitigate Meltdown (and partially one of the Spectre variants), you have to make sure that speculative execution cannot reach any sensitive data from a user context.

    • Hackers Set New DDoS World Record: 1.7 Tbps

      Not even a week has passed since the code sharing platform GitHub suffered the world’s biggest DDoS attack recorded at 1.35Tbps. Just four days later, the world record of the biggest DDoS has been broken in an attempt to take down the systems of an unknown entity identified as a “US-based service provider”.

    • DDoS Record Broken Again as Memcached Attack Hits 1.7 Tbps

      The size of massive distributed denial-of-service attacks continues to grow, hitting yet another new high on March 5, with a report of a 1.7-Tbps attack.

      The attack was reported by Netscout Arbor and came just four short days after the March 1 report of the then largest DDoS attack at 1.35 Tbps against GitHub. Both of the record breaking DDoS attacks were enabled via improperly configured memcached servers that reflected attack traffic, amplifying the total volume.

    • Reproducible Builds: Weekly report #149
    • Hacking operation uses malicious Word documents to target aid organisations

      A newly uncovered ‘nation-state level’ cyber espionage operation has targeted humanitarian aid organisations around the globe via the use of backdoors hidden within malicious Word documents.

      Dubbed Operation Honeybee based on the name of lure documents used during the attacks, the campaign has been discovered by security researchers at security company McAfee Labs after a new variant of the Syscon backdoor malware was spotted being distributed via phishing emails.

    • Making security sustainable

      Perhaps the biggest challenge will be durability. At present we have a hard time patching a phone that’s three years old. Yet the average age of a UK car at scrappage is about 14 years, and rising all the time; cars used to last 100,000 miles in the 1980s but now keep going for nearer 200,000. As the embedded carbon cost of a car is about equal to that of the fuel it will burn over its lifetime, we just can’t afford to scrap cars after five years, as do we laptops.

    • US senator grills CEO over the myth of the hacker-proof voting machine

      Zetter unearthed a 2006 contract with the state of Michigan and a report from Pennsylvania’s Allegheny County that same year that both showed ES&S employees using a remote-access application called pcAnywhere to remotely administer equipment it sold.

  • Defence/Aggression

  • Finance

    • EU plans to tax big tech multinationals on local revenue

      French economy minister Bruno Le Maire says the EU has plans to tax big multinational technology companies — like Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon — between 2% and 6% of their revenue, with the figure being closer to the lower end.

    • Congress wants to gut Dodd-Frank banking regulations, a decade after a global meltdown

      A procedural vote to scale back banking regulations is set for this Tuesday in the Senate, only 10 years after the Great Recession — caused by some of the regulations that Dodd-Frank hoped to address. The Senate plan is staunchly supported by the Trump administration — and all signs point towards it becoming law.

      The issue exposes both the rifts within the Democratic Party and the extent to which the Trump administration is unashamed, as President Donald Trump’s entire campaign was built on the premise that he was an outsider who would drain the swamp.

    • Oregon Winds Up Giving Comcast A Huge Tax Break For Doing Nothing Differently

      A well-intentioned effort in Oregon to drive more competition to the broadband market has instead netted Comcast a $15 million annual tax break for effectively doing nothing differently.

      Back in 2014 the Oregon State Supreme Court issued a hugely-controversial ruling that allowed companies to be taxed based on “intangible” assets such as the value of their brands. Lobbied by Google, the state in 2015 signed a new law rolling back those assessments to try and incentivize competitors looking to deploy faster broadband networks.

    • When Prosecutors and Debt Collection Companies Become Business Partners

      Prosecutors are letting debt collectors hijack the justice system at the expense of people who cannot afford to pay bills.

      When Roz, a mother raising three children with special needs on a razor-thin budget in Washington, wrote a check for $41.19 to Goodwill to buy secondhand clothing for her children, she had no idea it would lead to threats of criminal prosecution and jail. But that’s exactly what happened when the check bounced, and her inability to pay a bill led to her being sucked into the criminal justice system.

      That the check bounced because of a banking mix-up didn’t matter. Roz received a letter in the mail that looked like it had been sent by her local prosecutor. The letter stated she had been accused of the crime of issuing a worthless check and she had to pay the amount of the check plus $185 in fees within 10 days “to avoid the possibility of criminal charges being filed.”

      The threats for failure of nonpayment did not end there.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • America’s Democracy Hypocrisy

      In late February, Venezuela’s government began accepting presidential candidate registrations and announced a snap legislative election for April.

    • No one will date right-wingers in DC and I am so here for it
    • Social Media and the Rise of the ‘Consistent Liberal’

      The Pew Research Center (3/1/18) recently released a survey on political attitudes by generation. “America is politically sorted by generations in a way it never has before,” was the takeaway of New York‘s Jonathan Chait (3/1/18).

      Well, sort of. The generational divide is a striking feature of US politics, but it’s not exactly breaking news. While as recently as the 2000 election, young people were the least likely age group to vote for the Democrat, and old folks the most, since 2008 the generations have voted the stereotype of left-leaning youth and conservative elders. That’s still happening, Pew finds.

    • Porn star Stormy Daniels files lawsuit against Trump, alleging ‘hush’ agreement invalid

      Stormy Daniels says the “hush” agreement she signed is invalid since President Trump didn’t sign it, according to a lawsuit.

    • Yet again, Kellyanne Conway violates Federal ethics rules
    • We’ve Updated ‘The Money Game,’ Our Illinois Governor’s Race Fundraising Widget

      We’ve updated “The Money Game,” our Illinois governor’s race fundraising widget, with improvements to the design and data, as well as the addition of automated cards to share on social media.

      The data changes are the most significant update. We’re now tracking campaign contributions across a four-year window, compared to two years in the previous version. That’s because many candidates stockpile and transfer money among multiple campaign funds over several campaign seasons.

    • Trump’s Company Removes Presidential Seal From Golf Course

      The Trump Organization says it has removed golf markers bearing the presidential seal from one of its golf courses.

      As ProPublica and WNYC reported yesterday, President Trump’s company recently ordered dozens of presidential seals to be used as golf tee markers. It is illegal to use the presidential seal for commercial purposes.

      In a statement Tuesday morning, a spokesman for the company said, “The plaques were presented to the club by a small group of members, who are incredible fans of the President, in honor of Presidents day [sic] weekend. They were temporary and have since been removed.”

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • PornHub owner shows off AgeID gatekeeping system for the UK

      PornHub’s owner Mindgeek this weekend revealed its UK plans for AgeID, an encrypted tool for users to unsurprisingly verify their age when accessing one of the largest porn sites in the world.


      AgeID has already been in operation since 2015 on porn sites in Germany. And while things seem to be hammering away nicely, there’re a few raised eyebrows over handing verification control over to Mindgeek and its family porn sites, which include YouPorn, Brazzers and RedTube.

    • Erdogan’s Next Target as He Restricts Turkey’s Democracy: The Internet

      Having already brought Turkey’s mainstream media to heel, and made considerable headway in rolling back Turkish democracy, the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has set its sights on a seemingly innocuous target: a satellite television preacher named Adnan Oktar.


      “It is just about control,” said Kerem Altiparmak, a human rights and media lawyer. “Considering what has been happening in Turkey, I have no doubt this is a hegemonic power, controlling newspapers, TV and the judiciary, that is now out to control the [I]nternet sector.”

    • Chinese Censorship Makes a Move Into Tech Realm

      Hi folks, it’s Shelly Banjo. Banned books and blocked websites are the norm in China. Now, as the tech industry and political leadership forge closer ties, there’s a growing sense here that we’re about to see a whole different level of censorship.

      This isn’t about the looming VPN ban, or President Xi Jinping’s bid to abolish term limits and cement his power. It’s about a deeper level of control and restrictions, encroaching into pop culture, entertainment and other seemingly apolitical content.

    • Lawsuit claims censorship as ASU caught up in Israel boycott controversy

      Claiming censorship, attorneys are claiming that Arizona State University is illegally blocking a Muslim academician from speaking on campus because of his political beliefs.

      The lawsuit filed in federal court here says the university won’t allow Hatem Bazian to speak on campus about the “boycott, divest, sanction” movement aimed at pressuring Israel to change its policies, particularly in regard to Jewish settlements on the West Bank. That’s because Bazian won’t sign an agreement certifying that he will not engage on a boycott of Israel.

    • Offline/Online Project Highlights How the Oppression Marginalized Communities Face in the Real World Follows Them Online

      People in marginalized communities who are targets of persecution and violence—from the Rohingya in Burma to Native Americans in South Dakota—are using social media to tell their stories, but finding that their voices are being silenced online.

      This is the tragic and unjust consequence of content moderation policies of companies like Facebook, which is deciding on a daily basis what can be and can’t be said and shown online. Platform censorship has ratcheted up in these times of political strife, ostensibly to combat hate speech and online harassment. Takedowns and closures of neo-Nazi and white supremacist sites have been a matter of intense debate. Less visible is the effect content moderation is having on vulnerable communities.

    • TEDxBrussels organizer drags presenter off stage during anti-censorship talk

      Get ready for your head to explode.

      In the middle of TEDxBrussels talk on March 5 that focused on censorship, a male event organizer walked onto the stage and physically dragged the female presenter off. And the kicker? The theme of the entire TEDx event was Brave New World — as in, yes, the Aldous Huxley book about a dystopian future wherein an all-powerful state controls the lives of its citizens.

      And it only gets worse from there.

    • Angry Pick-Up Artist Says He Won’t Issue Bogus YouTube Claim On Critic’s Video; Issues Bogus Claim On Critic’s Video

      Another case of YouTube’s copyright notification system being abused has filtered down through social media. A YouTuber whose channel specializes in game reviews was targeted by the developer of the game after some back-and-forth on the internet over his negative review.

      Chris Hodgkinson reviewed a game called Super Seducer, which supposedly teaches dudes how to pick up women through the magical art of full-motion video. Call it “edutainment.” (If you must…) The developer, Richard La Ruina, didn’t care for his game being featured on a video series entitled “This is the Worst Game Ever.” Nor did he care for Hodgkinson’s suggestion the game offered nothing to men in the way of usable pick-up artistry.

    • “Fake news” : bringing the European debate to the source of the problem

      The European Commission recently launched a consultation on “fake news and online disinformation” to which La Quadrature has responded. The current debate about these phenomena seems to be dominated by a prevailing confusion and risks to lead to measures restricting freedom of expression and the right to information. Nonetheless, the big platforms’ system of commercial surveillance needs to be addressed seriously, as it disrupts public debate by treating our attention as a commodity.

      A spectre is haunting American and European political leaders, the spectre of “fake news”. Early in January, Emmanuel Macron announced future legilsation in order to prevent the spread of ” false information “, especially during election period. The draft bill is supposed to be discussed in French National Assembly1 end of March.

      The European Commission’s consultation was closed on 23 February, and the results should lead up to a decision whether European legislation on this topic is needed or not. In parallel, the Commission appointed an expert group charged with submitting a report in March. Both measures exclusively target online content which is “lawful but false’, without defining “false”.

    • We are probably going back to Emergency era: Shyam Benegal

      Mumbai, Mar 6 Veteran filmmaker Shyam Benegal today said the kind of censorship and mood the country has with regards to cinema is reminiscent of the Emergency era.

      The veteran director was speaking at a panel discussion here at FICCI Frames, which was moderated by senior journalist Bhupendra Chaubey.

    • Shyam Benegal on censorship: We are probably going back to Emergency era
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Mike Godwin’s First Essay On Encryption And The Constitution

      Mike Godwin (you know who he is) was recently going through some of his earlier writings, and came across an essay (really an outline) he had written to the Cypherpunks email list 25 years ago, in April of 1993 concerning the Clipper Chip and early battles on encryption and civil liberties. If you don’t recall, the Clipper Chip was an early attempt by the Clinton administration to establish a form of backdoored encryption, using a key escrow system. What became quite clear in reading through this 25-year-old email is just how little has changed in the past 25 years. As we are in the midst of a new crypto war, Godwin has suggested republishing this essay from so long ago to take a look back at what was said back then and compare it to today.

    • Geek Squad’s Relationship with FBI Is Cozier Than We Thought

      After the prosecution of a California doctor revealed the FBI’s ties to a Best Buy Geek Squad computer repair facility in Kentucky, new documents released to EFF show that the relationship goes back years. The records also confirm that the FBI has paid Geek Squad employees as informants.

      EFF filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit last year to learn more about how the FBI uses Geek Squad employees to flag illegal material when people pay Best Buy to repair their computers. The relationship potentially circumvents computer owners’ Fourth Amendment rights.

      The documents released to EFF show that Best Buy officials have enjoyed a particularly close relationship with the agency for at least 10 years. For example, an FBI memo from September 2008 details how Best Buy hosted a meeting of the agency’s “Cyber Working Group” at the company’s Kentucky repair facility.

      The memo and a related email show that Geek Squad employees also gave FBI officials a tour of the facility before their meeting and makes clear that the law enforcement agency’s Louisville Division “has maintained close liaison with the Geek Squad’s management in an effort to glean case initiations and to support the division’s Computer Intrusion and Cyber Crime programs.”

    • Ex-GCHQ chief calls for brokers to help map cyber risk

      Insurance brokers must play a more direct role in helping financial institutions and energy companies map and quantify cyber risk, a former director of the UK security agency GCHQ has said.

      Speaking at a Marsh Energy Insurance Conference in Dubai, Iain Lobban said insurance brokers should attend cyber breach planning exercises held by insureds, along with representatives from intelligence agencies.

    • How GCHQ and British ISPs have been sharing your data for years and only a VPN can help

      It might like a contradiction in terms, but this week has seen a fascinating session of the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT). That’s because, after one witness from GCHQ had repeatedly given misleading evidence to the tribunal, Privacy International, who are challenging GCHQ’s bulk collection powers, were given permission to cross-examine him for the very first time.

    • Senate panel approves Trump’s NSA nominee

      The Senate Armed Services Committee unanimously approved President Trump’s choice to lead the National Security Agency on Tuesday morning.

      The committee held a brief voice vote on the nomination of Lt. Gen. Paul Nakasone, before holding a hearing on worldwide threats to the United States featuring testimony from Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and from Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley, the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency.

    • Should I Use Free VPN Services? Is It Safe To Use?

      VPNs are widely used to overcome geographical obstruction, to access a remote network securely, and other different purposes. They are extensively used by organizations to share resources across various office locations. In recent times, VPNs have gained widespread usage in bypassing country restrictions to access blocked services.

    • The Latest: Runoff to Replace Texas Congressman Hensarling

      A Republican activist subsequently revealed suggestive Facebook messages that the then-married congressmen sent her in 2012.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • In Reality Winner’s Case, Defense Seizes Upon FBI Testimony To Bolster Motion To Suppress Statements

      Winner is an NSA contractor accused of mailing a classified document on alleged Russian hacking [sic] of voter registration systems to The Intercept. She was charged with violating the Espionage Act and is currently in detention awaiting trial.

    • Free sex offer on social media lands 19-year-old bikini-clad blogger in jail for two weeks

      Eventually having had enough of people wandering the halls and calling the front desk, the Hilton called the police to complain. They arrived at around 10pm to find the 6316 room empty. It was later discovered that Yeye had left the hotel and checked into another at the Sanya Phoenix International Airport.

      She was arrested on Friday (2 March) and charged with prostitution and disruption (of the Hilton Hotel). All her social media accounts have been suspended.

    • Skripal is no Litvinenko

      There is a major difference between Alexander Litvinenko and Sergei Skripal, which is not being reflected in the media. Litvinenko was a good man who attempted to expose abuses of power within Russia, in defence of the rights of Russians. Skripal is a traitor who sold the identities of Russian agents abroad to the UK, in exchange for hard cash. This may very well have caused the deaths of some of those Russian agents operating in conflict zones. If this is indeed a poisoning, there are a great many people who may want Mr Skripal dead – nor in this murky world should we overlook the fact that he must have known interesting things about his MI6 handlers. “Litvinenko II” is rather too pat and obvious, and could be a false flag set-up.

    • Atomwaffen, Extremist Group Whose Members Have Been Charged in Five Murders, Loses Some of Its Platforms

      At least four technology companies have taken steps to bar Atomwaffen Division, a violent neo-Nazi organization, from using their online services and platforms to spread its message or fund its operations.

      The action comes after ProPublica reports detailing the organization’s terrorist ambitions and revealing that the California man charged with murdering Blaze Bernstein, a 19-year-old college student found buried in an Orange County park earlier this year, was an Atomwaffen member.

      Activists and journalists with other media outlets have criticized the tech firms — among them chat services, web merchants, social media channels and gaming platforms — for enabling the outfit, which has members in 23 states and Canada, records show.

    • This Is What Immigration Enforcement Looks Like Under President Trump

      In two consecutive SWAT-style raids, ICE and the U.S. Marshals’ agents raid a family’s home without a warrant.

      Around noon, on April 10, 2017, Alicia Amaya Carmona glanced through her partially closed blinds at the Wing Pointe apartment complex in Heber City, Utah. What the 48-year-old grandmother saw terrified her.

      A group of men in blue and green vests, carrying assault weapons and pistols, were running through the parking lot towards the apartment she shared with her son and her daughter-in-law. She grabbed her grandchildren who were awake and ran to the master bedroom where her other grandchildren were napping. Loud knocking ripped through the apartment. Suddenly the men burst into the apartment. “Come out with your hands up!” one shouted.

      Frightened, Carmona came out of the master bedroom into the living room with her hands up. Her four grandchildren, all U.S. citizens, stood behind her, screaming and crying out of fear. The men pointed their assault weapons and pistols at Carmona and the children. First, Carmona was ordered out of the apartment and told she could not touch nor speak to her grandchildren. The children, all barefoot, were then ordered out of the apartment, too. The temperature was in the 40s.

      The heavily armed men, members of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the U.S. Marshals, finally let Carmona know why they were there. They were after Carmona’s husband, Abel Ramirez Sr., who had been indicted for illegal reentry six years before. Illegal reentry is not a violent crime, yet the family saw this group of federal officers armed for war burst into the apartment without a warrant.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Namecheap Relaunches Move Your Domain Day to Support Internet Freedom

      The original Move Your Domain Day came into being in 2011 when popular domain name registrar GoDaddy spoke out in support of the hugely unpopular Internet blacklist bills SOPA and PIPA. The ensuing backlash from Internet users led to a call for customers to leave GoDaddy in favor of companies better-aligned with their online freedom goals. As a result, the first Move Your Domain Day raised over $64,000 for EFF’s work on this and other issues. The response reflected the overwhelming public sentiment that eventually toppled SOPA/PIPA and proved Internet users are powerful when they work together.

    • Six tech companies filing net neutrality lawsuit

      Six technology companies, including Kickstarter, Foursquare and Etsy, have launched a lawsuit against the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in an effort to preserve net neutrality rules.

      The companies, which also include Shutterstock, Expa and Automattic, on Monday filed their petition with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

    • Washington State Enacts Net Neutrality Law, in Clash with FCC

      Washington state Governor Jay Inslee Monday signed the nation’s first state law intended to protect net neutrality, setting up a potential legal battle with the Federal Communications Commission.

      The law bans broadband providers offering service in the state from blocking or throttling legal content, or from offering fast-lane access to companies willing to pay extra. The law doesn’t stop providers from imposing data limits, and doesn’t address the practice of allowing certain content to bypass data limits, known as “zero rating.”

    • Washington Becomes the First State to Approve Its Own Net Neutrality Rules

      Washington became the first state Monday to set up its own net-neutrality requirements after U.S. regulators repealed Obama-era rules that banned internet providers from blocking content or interfering with online traffic.

  • Intellectual Monopolies


Links 6/3/2018: Kodi 18 “Leia” Alpha, Systemd 238

Posted in News Roundup at 8:07 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • What’s fuelling open source adoption in organisations?

    What is behind the recent surge in innovative organisations using open source platforms? DevOps and Linux expert Karel Striegel explains.

    Not long ago, open source software (OSS) was dismissed as a cheap alternative to proprietary software. Today, open source is acknowledged as the future of software for innovative organisations, allowing IT departments to accelerate the process of bringing their ideas to market.

    Even Fortune 500 companies allow open source to drive their organisations by encouraging developers to use OSS to improve software packages constantly while reducing costs.

    Open source is cost-effective because companies save money and lessen technical debt by debugging and improving existing OSS.

  • OSI Celebration at Campus Party Brazil

    The Open Source Initiative (OSI) celebrated its 20th Anniversary at Campus Party Brazil 2018 during the first week of February. Campus Party Brazil is among the largest and most diverse tech events in the world. The eleventh edition of the event received a total of 120,000 attendees, of which 8000 were “campers” (participants who actually camp in tents inside this week long event). Approximately 40% of attendees were women, which is a very high mark for a tech event.

    The OSI was well represented at Campus Party. Patrick Masson, the general manager of the OSI, flew in from New York to meet staff member Nick Vidal and two former OSI Board members who live in Brazil: Bruno Souza, founder of SouJava (the world’s largest Java user group), and Fabio Kon, professor at USP university (the top higher education institution in Latin America).

  • Running for OSI board

    After serving in the board of a few technological Israeli associations, I decided to run as an individual candidate in the OSI board elections which starts today. Hoping to add representation outside of North America and Europe. While my main interest is the licensing work, another goal I wish to achieve is to make OSI more relevant for Open Source people on a daily basis, making it more central for communities.

  • Open source XenServer project is go after crushing crowdcash call

    XCP-ng, the effort to revive an open source version of XenServer, will go ahead after crushing its crowdfunding campaign.

    The project’s Kickstarter sought €6,000 but ended up with €38,531 from crowdfunding contributors. Project founder Olivier Lambert wrote to backers with news that their donations, plus more money from as-yet-un-named sponsors, brought the total fundraising effort to “around 50k€+”.

    The folk behind the project said that’s enough to help them create a first release by March 31st, then figure out “how to update XCP-ng (should be straightforward) but also how to upgrade it.” Also on the team’s to-do list is making it possible to upgrade a XenServer machine to XCP-ng.

  • Open Source: A revolution in technology, business and society

    Free and open source software is far more than just another way to develop code. In fact, the rise of the open source revolution represents a fundamental change in the way we use information to create a better world.

    Traditionally, individuals and organisations would tightly guard their intellectual property, hoarding it and protecting it from outsiders.

    Though it may have initially sprouted from the software development community, open source is now a movement, a philosophy. In this new way of thinking, we emphasise collaboration between brilliant minds, traversing different domains of knowledge, different countries and cultures – to ultimately tackle some of society’s most pressing challenges.

  • Events

  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

      • Clang is now used to build Chrome for Windows

        As of Chrome 64, Chrome for Windows is compiled with Clang. We now use Clang to build Chrome for all platforms it runs on: macOS, iOS, Linux, Chrome OS, Android, and Windows. Windows is the platform with the second most Chrome users after Android according to statcounter, which made this switch particularly exciting.

      • Google Finds Clang On Windows To Be Production-Ready For Building Chrome

        While Google has already been using LLVM’s Clang C/C++ compiler to build the release builds of the Chrome web-browser for Linux rather than GCC and has also switched to using Clang on other platforms, this open-source C/C++ compiler has now been able to replace Microsoft’s Visual C/C++ compiler for building Chrome on Windows.

      • Chrome on Windows ditches Microsoft’s compiler, now uses Clang

        Google’s Chrome browser is now built using the Clang compiler on Windows. Previously built using the Microsoft C++ compiler, Google is now using the same compiler for Windows, macOS, Linux, and Android, and the switch makes Chrome arguably the first major software project to use Clang on Windows.

        Chrome on macOS and Linux has long been built using the Clang compiler and the LLVM toolchain. The open-source compiler is the compiler of choice on macOS, making it the natural option there, and it’s also a first-class choice for Linux; though the venerable GCC is still the primary compiler choice on Linux, by using Clang instead, Google ensured that it has only one set of compiler quirks and oddities to work with rather than two.

    • Mozilla

      • Updates to Add-on Review Policies

        The Firefox add-ons platform provides developers with a great level of freedom to create amazing features that help make users’ lives easier. We’ve made some significant changes to add-ons over the past year, and would like to make developers aware of some updates to the policies that guide add-ons that are distributed publicly. We regularly review and update our policies in reaction to changes in the add-on ecosystem, and to ensure both developers and users have a safe and enjoyable experience.

      • How to Write CSS That Works in Every Browser, Even the Old Ones

        Let me walk you through how exactly to write CSS that works in every browser at the same time, even the old ones. By using these techniques, you can start using the latest and greatest CSS today — including CSS Grid — without leaving any of your users behind. Along the way, you’ll learn the advanced features of Can I Use, how to do vertical centering in two lines of code, the secrets to mastering Feature Queries, and much more.

      • Firefox 59 Beta 14 DevEdition Testday Results

        Friday 2nd of March we held 59.0b14 DevEdition testday.

      • These Weeks in Firefox: Issue 33
      • WebRender newsletter #15

        I was in Toronto (where a large part of the gfx team is) last week and we used this time to make plans on various unresolved questions regarding WebRender in Gecko. One of them is how to integrate APZ with the asynchronous scene building infrastructure I have been working on for the past few weeks. Another one is how to separate rendering different parts of the browser window (for example the web content and the UI) and take advantage of APIs provided by some platforms (direct composition, core animation, etc.) to let the window manager help alleviating the cost of compositing some surfaces and improve power usage. We also talked about ways to improve pixel snapping. With these technical questions out of the way the rest of the week -just like the weeks before that- revolved around the usual stabilization and bug fixing work.

      • This Week In Servo 106

        Windows nightlies no longer crash on startup! Sorry about the long delay in reverting the change that originally triggered the crash.

        In the last week, we merged 70 PRs in the Servo organization’s repositories.

  • Databases

    • PostgreSQL 10: a Great New Version for a Great Database

      PostgreSQL has long claimed to be the most advanced open-source relational database. For those of us who have been using it for a significant amount of time, there’s no doubt that this is true; PostgreSQL has consistently demonstrated its ability to handle high loads and complex queries while providing a rich set of features and rock-solid stability.

      But for all of the amazing functionality that PostgreSQL offers, there have long been gaps and holes. I’ve been in meetings with consulting clients who currently use Oracle or Microsoft SQL Server and are thinking about using PostgreSQL, who ask me about topics like partitioning or query parallelization. And for years, I’ve been forced to say to them, “Um, that’s true. PostgreSQL’s functionality in that area is still fairly weak.”

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • Java EE renamed ‘Jakarta EE’ after Big Red brand spat

      The open source version of Java Enterprise Edition (Java EE) has been renamed Jakarta EE to satisfy Oracle’s desire to control the “Java” brand.

      The renaming became necessary after Oracle moved Java EE to the Eclipse Foundation, a shift it hoped would see developers become more engaged with the project.

    • Good-bye JEE, hello Jakarta EE

      Remember when Oracle bought Sun? The one thing that seemed to make sense about this deal was Oracle’s acquisition of Java. Almost 10 years later, Oracle gave up on Java Enterprise Edition (JEE), aka J2EE, and started spinning Java’s still-popular enterprise middleware platform to the Eclipse Foundation. Now, under the aegis of the Eclipse Foundation, JEE has been renamed to Jakarta EE.

      Why? Because Oracle was never successful in monetizing Java. In large part, this was because of Sun and then Oracle’s failed attempts to steer the Java Community.

      As Oracle’s server-side Java evangelist, David Delabassee, admitted in August 2017: “We believe that moving Java EE technologies including reference implementations and test compatibility kit to an open source foundation may be the right next step, in order to adopt more agile processes, implement more flexible licensing, and change the governance process.”


      If Jakarta sounds familiar, it’s because it is not the first time that name has been applied to a JEE server. From 1999 to 2011, the Apache Software Foundation ran Apache Jakarta, which covered all of Apache’s open-source Java efforts.

    • LibreOffice Will (Finally) Use Native GTK Dialogs on Linux

      The next major release of LibreOffice will use native GTK3 dialogs on Linux desktops.

      “Wait —LibreOffice doesn’t already use GTK dialogs?!” you might be asking. It was certainly my own first reaction when I opened an e-mail about the news in our tip inbox this morning (btw – thanks Dee!)

      Admittedly I do not use LibreOffice properly. Like, at all. Nothing against the suite itself — it’s rather marvellous — it’s just that the only writing I tend to do takes place inside a WordPress editor.

  • CMS

    • The Best Open Source Content Management Systems

      One of the most important elements new website owners fail to give enough consideration to is in selecting the right open source content management system (CMS) for their website. Obviously some websites are put together without the inclusion of a full CMS. Yet those websites used in enterprise environments are almost always employing some kind of CMS for easy content handling. Continue reading for my recommended best CMS options.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

    • Open Source Code Flaws [Ed: Sonatype 'study' (FUD). Does proprietary software have flaws? Can they be fixed? Does it have back doors? Can they be closed?
      Oh, wait, it's just a marketing stunt from Sonatype, isn't it?]
    • SAS is on the brink of generation change

      As for open source, as mentioned above, SAS interoperates with it, mostly through Viya. However, dealing the lack of perception about SAS and ML, SAS should start contributing to open source.

  • BSD

    • John Carmack Goes On Coding Retreat With OpenBSD

      While id Software founder John Carmack has been known for his open-source and Linux interests over the years and even working on Utah GLX back in the day, he just wrapped up a self-driven “programming retreat” where he was using OpenBSD.

      These days Carmack is mostly accustomed to using Windows and Visual Studio, but decided to take a week long holiday where he was experimenting with C++ neural network implementations and doing all of his work strictly from a base OpenBSD operating system.


    • Fight for software freedom continues, FSF says

      The Free Software Foundation’s future is looking bright according to its Fiscal Year 2016 Annual Report. The report outlines efforts and accomplishments by the free “as in freedom” software advocacy group over the previous year, from activism to awards and growth in membership and infrastructure.

      With individual contributions to the non-profit totalling more than $1 million and additional funding from earned revenue, investments, interest and others, the organization was able to cleanly cover all operating expenses while setting over $56,000 aside, with a reported 81 percent of funds supporting the GNU project, free software and its other endeavors. An evaluation of the FSF’s financial health, accountability and transparency alongside over 8,000 other non-profits by Charity Navigator earned the FSF a top four-star rating.

      “[Charity Navigator] chose us, out of 8,000 charities, for their all-purpose list of “10 Charities Worth Watching,” demonstrating significant progress toward making user freedom an issue of general, widespread importance,” foundation executive director John Sullivan wrote in the opening letter of the report. “These accolades reflect the hard work of our small, dedicated team, and show that supporters are right to invest their dollars and time in the FSF.”

  • Licensing/Legal

    • License Scanning and Compliance for FOSS Projects: A Free Publication

      According to Winslow, “any project that implements license scanning and compliance should aim to make it sustainable” and should set realistic goals to avoid being overwhelmed by the number of options and issues that may arise.

      Winslow also explains how using tools, such as FOSSology for license scanning and Software Package Data Exchange (SPDX) to help package scan results into meaningful reports, can help projects succeed in compliance efforts.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Portable Guitar Amp – Is That A Linux In Your Pocket?

        When it comes to music production and audio engineering, Linux isn’t the most common choice. This isn’t for lack of decent tools or other typical open source usability issues: Ardour as a highly capable, feature-rich digital audio workstation, the JACK Audio Connection Kit for powerful audio routing, and distributions like Ubuntu Studio packing all the essentials nicely together, offer a great starting point as home recording setup. To add variation to your guitar or bass arrangement on top of that, guitarix is a virtual amp that has a wide selection of standard guitar effects. So when [Arnout] felt that his actual guitar amp’s features were too limiting, he decided to build himself a portable, Linux-based amp.

      • Customising a $30 IP Camera For Fun

        WiFi cameras like many other devices these days come equipped with some sort of Linux subsystem. This makes the life of a tinkerer easier and you know what that means. [Tomas C] saw an opportunity to mod his Xiaomi Dafang IP camera which comes configured to work only with proprietary apps and cloud.

      • Love Open Source but Hate People? Get OpenKobold

        [Tadas Ustinavičius] writes in to tell us of his latest project, which combines his two great loves of open source and annoying people: OpenKobold. Named after the German mythical spirit that haunts people’s homes, this tiny device is fully open source (hardware and software) and ready to torment your friends and family for up to a year on a CR1220 battery.

  • Programming/Development

    • Getting started with Python for data science

      Whether you’re a budding data science enthusiast with a math or computer science background or an expert in an unrelated field, the possibilities data science offers are within your reach. And you don’t need expensive, highly specialized enterprise software—the open source tools discussed in this article are all you need to get started.

      Python, its machine-learning and data science libraries (pandas, Keras, TensorFlow, scikit-learn, SciPy, NumPy, etc.), and its extensive list of visualization libraries (Matplotlib, pyplot, Plotly, etc.) are excellent FOSS tools for beginners and experts alike. Easy to learn, popular enough to offer community support, and armed with the latest emerging techniques and algorithms developed for data science, these comprise one of the best toolsets you can acquire when starting out.

    • A glimpse into R counterculture

      After many readers expressed their indignation, Milley wrote a follow-up blog post on the SAS website, which took on a considerably more diplomatic tone. She defended SAS as software that can be valued for its “support, reliability, and validation.” Recent history, however, has made it much more difficult to conflate proprietary software with reliability or functionality.

      R certainly presents a powerful case study in how an open source language has rendered long-dominant proprietary software, such as SAS, largely irrelevant. Although it is difficult to quantify the size of R’s user base, one interesting metric of popularity is its use in academic journal articles. In that court, R surpassed SAS in 2015. Additionally, although it is merely anecdotal, it is amusing to note a thread from 2017 on the Statistics subreddit, in which the original poster wonders why SAS is still around in substantial numbers. To paraphrase the prevailing response, companies still buy SAS because it’s what they have always used in the past and change is hard! Or as Woodrow Wilson put it, “If you want to make enemies, try to change something.”

      In contrast, there are developers and data science professionals who don’t want to make any concessions to functionality. They want the optimal tools for their analyses, even if it means having to dig through Stack Overflow every now and then. For them, there is R. It started as a statistical computing environment, but it’s had so many additions that it can now be classified as a general-purpose language.

    • 15 Most Popular Programming Languages Among Female Programmers

      It’s a known fact that there is a lack of gender diversity in the tech industry. While the companies and independent organizations are working to promote an open and inclusive environment, a lot of work needs to be done. However, a recent report from HackerRank suggests that things are slowly changing and the gender gap is slowly shrinking.

      Named Women in Tech 2018, this report is based on the response from more than 14,000 professional developers. Out of them, about 2,000 were female. Before digging up and finding the most popular programming languages among female programmers, let me tell you some encouraging facts about the ongoing change.


  • Google Search Could Get A Major “Material Design” Overhaul

    Google might be preparing a big visual change for its most popular product, Google Search. The company is testing a revamped version of Search which was spotted by a vigilant netizen who posted the screenshot on Reddit.

  • Science

    • Gene editing method produces perfect pluripotent stem cell twins

      Researchers led by Dr. Knut Woltjen report a new gene editing method that can modify a single DNA base in the human genome with absolute precision. The technique, which is described in Nature Communications, is unique in that it guides the cell’s own repair mechanisms by design, providing pairs of genetically matched cells for studying disease-related mutations.

      Single mutations in DNA, known as single nucleotide polymorphisms—or SNPs for short—are the most common type of variation in the human genome. More than 10 million SNPs are known, many of which are associated with ailments such as Alzheimer’s, heart disease and diabetes. In order to understand the role of SNPs in hereditary disease, scientists at Kyoto University’s Center for iPS cell Research and Application (CiRA) create induced pluripotent stem cells from patient donors.

    • Comparison shows value of DNA barcoding in selecting nanoparticles

      The first direct comparison of in vitro and in vivo screening techniques for identifying nanoparticles that may be used to transport therapeutic molecules into cells shows that testing in lab dishes isn’t much help in predicting which nanoparticles will successfully enter the cells of living animals.

      The new study demonstrated the advantages of an in vivo DNA barcoding technique, which attaches small snippets of DNA to different lipid-based nanoparticles that are then injected into living animals; more than a hundred nanoparticles can be tested in a single animal. DNA sequencing techniques are then used to identify which nanoparticles enter the cells of specific organs, making the particles candidates for transporting gene therapies to treat such killers as heart disease, cancer and Parkinson’s disease.

  • Hardware

    • U.S. security panel deals major blow to Broadcom’s bid for Qualcomm

      The U.S. government on Sunday ordered Qualcomm Inc (QCOM.O) to delay its March 6 shareholder meeting, a highly unusual request that will allow time for a national security review of the deal, but that also cast new doubt on Singapore-based Broadcom Ltd’s (AVGO.O) $117-billion bid for its U.S. semiconductor peer.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • The Price They Pay

      The burden of high drug costs weighs most heavily on the sickest Americans.

      Drug makers have raised prices on treatments for life-threatening or chronic conditions like multiple sclerosis, diabetes and cancer. In turn, insurers have shifted more of those costs onto consumers. Saddled with high deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs that expose them to a drug’s rising list price, many people are paying thousands of dollars a month merely to survive.

      For more than a year, President Donald Trump and Democrats in Congress have promised to take action on high drug prices, but despite a flurry of proposals, little has changed.

      These are the stories of Americans living daily with the reality of high-cost drugs. And there are millions of others just like them.

    • A Look At The Role Of Governments, Universities, Science In Health Innovation & Access

      Intellectual property rights, particularly patents, are considered by some as being a barrier in access to medicines despite being a stimulus for innovation. At a recent symposium co-organised by the World Health Organization, World Trade Organization and World Intellectual Property Organization, speakers also talked about the role of science, governments, and universities in health innovation and access, and how to address challenges such as secondary patents.

  • Security

    • Security updates for Monday
    • Ethereum responds to eclipse attacks described by research trio

      What is an “eclipse” attack? Amy Castor, who follows Bitcoin and Ethereum, walked readers in Bitcoin Magazine through this type of attack.

      “An eclipse attack is a network-level attack on a blockchain, where an attacker essentially takes control of the peer-to-peer network, obscuring a node’s view of the blockchain.”

      Catalin Cimpanu, security news editor for Bleeping Computer: “Eclipse attacks are network-level attacks carried out by other nodes by hoarding and monopolizing the victim’s peer-to-peer connection slots, keeping the node in an isolated network.”

      Meanwhile, here are some definitions of Ethereum. It is an open software platform based on blockchain technology.

    • 4G LTE Loopholes Invite Unwanted Phone And Location Tracking, Fake Emergency Alerts

      In a new paper, the researchers at Purdue University and the University of Iowa have discovered vulnerabilities in three procedures of the LTE protocol.

      The loopholes could be exploited to launch 10 new attacks, such as location tracking, intercepting calls and texts, making devices offline, etc. With the help of authentication relay attacks, an evil mind can connect to a network without credentials and impersonate a user. A situation of an artificial emergency can be created by issuing fake threat alerts, similar to the recent missile launch alerts in Hawai.

    • Compromised Guest Account

      Some of the workstations I run are sometimes used by multiple people. Having multiple people share an account is bad for security so having a guest account for guest access is convenient.

      If a system doesn’t allow logins over the Internet then a strong password is not needed for the guest account.

      If such a system later allows logins over the Internet then hostile parties can try to guess the password. This happens even if you don’t use the default port for ssh.

    • Security researchers’ warning over Linux feature used in biggest ever DDoS attack on Github [Ed: Crappy corporate media blames on Linux something which is neither Linux nor GNU. “Memcached is free and open-source software, licensed under the Revised BSD license. Memcached runs on Unix-like operating systems and on Microsoft Windows” -Wikipedia]

      The distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack targeting Github last week, which at its peak involved 1.3 terabits per second (Tbps) of traffic, has been attributed to the exploitation of a feature that was never intended to be exposed to the internet

      The eight-minute attack last Wednesday was more than twice the next-largest ever recorded DDoS attack. It took advantage of the Memcached feature of Linux in an attack described as “memcached amplification”.

      In these attacks, hackers inundate servers with small UDP-based packets. These are designed in a way so that they look like they were created by the target of the attack.

      Akamai helped GitHub fend off the attack. The company explained that Memcached techniques “can have an amplification factor of over 50,000, meaning a 203 byte request results in a 100 megabyte response.

    • Secure memcached server to avoid DDoS amplification attacks
    • Intel MKTME Support Being Prepped For The Linux Kernel: Total Memory Encryption

      Intel developers are working on bringing transparent memory encryption support to the Linux kernel that works in conjunction with upcoming Intel platforms.

    • Open Source Security Podcast: Episode 86 – What happens when 23 thousand certificates leak?
  • Defence/Aggression

    • Is MSNBC Now the Most Dangerous Warmonger Network?

      More than seven weeks after a devastating report from the media watch group FAIR, top executives and prime-time anchors at MSNBC still refuse to discuss how the network’s obsession with Russia has thrown minimal journalistic standards out the window.

      FAIR’s study, “MSNBC Ignores Catastrophic U.S.-Backed War in Yemen,” documented a picture of extreme journalistic malfeasance at MSNBC:

      — “An analysis by FAIR has found that the leading liberal cable network did not run a single segment devoted specifically to Yemen in the second half of 2017. And in these latter roughly six months of the year, MSNBC ran nearly 5,000 percent more segments that mentioned Russia than segments that mentioned Yemen.”

      — “Moreover, in all of 2017, MSNBC only aired one broadcast on the U.S.-backed Saudi airstrikes that have killed thousands of Yemeni civilians. And it never mentioned the impoverished nation’s colossal cholera epidemic, which infected more than 1 million Yemenis in the largest outbreak in recorded history.”

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Court Hands Jason Leopold A Partial Victory In Case Involving Sealed Dockets And Electronic Surveillance

      A half-decade’s worth of litigation by “FOIA terrorist” Jason Leopold is finally bearing fruit. The petition, filed in 2013 to peel back a few layers of opacity from the Feds’ favorite court (DC District Court), has been partially granted by Chief Judge Beryl Howell. (h/t Mike Scarcella)

      Nearly two years ago, substantial progress was made when Judge Howell ordered the US Attorney’s Office (USAO) to examine sealed dockets (of which there are many — the DC circuit is home to hundreds of dockets rendered invisible by government requests for secrecy) and to start unsealing anything that wasn’t related to ongoing investigations.

      The government fought back, but as the lengthy opinion [PDF] shows, there was much more cooperation between the USAO and Leopold than one would expect, given the government’s antipathy towards him goes so far the Pentagon once offered Leopold a stack of documents in exchange for him promising to never file another FOIA request.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Arizona Utility Opts for Solar and Storage to Meet Peak Demand

      Solar photovoltaic panels in the desert near Phoenix may seem unremarkable. After all, the southwestern United States offers some of the best solar conditions in North America.

      But a recently announced 65 megawatt (MW) project is making news by coupling solar PV with battery energy storage, a first for utility Arizona Public Service, which solicited proposals in 2017 for generation sources to provide electricity during peak demand hours.

      Perhaps more noteworthy is the fact that the solar-plus-storage bid beat out other generation sources, including multiple proposals for natural gas plants. (The utility has an agreement with an existing natural gas-fired plant for a total of 570 MW for the summers of 2020 through 2026.)

  • Finance

    • Chinese Investors Bet on Latin America for Next Tech Gold Rush

      Two years ago, Tang Xin had never set foot in Mexico and didn’t know a word of Spanish. While his grasp of the language hasn’t improved much since then, he has built one of the country’s hottest apps.

      Noticias Aguila, which translates as News Eagle, now has 20 million users and became the No. 1 news app in Google Play’s Mexico store late last year, according to App Annie. That has come as Tang and his development team remain based in Shenzhen, the Chinese technology hub just across the border from Hong Kong.

    • Analysis Finds TISA’s Benefits Are ‘Insignificant’, Points Out That Costs Of Deregulation Are Completely Ignored

      Back in 2014, Techdirt first wrote about TISA, the Trade in Services Agreement, another massive international trade deal that was being negotiated behind closed doors with no public scrutiny. Its central aim was to establish a common regulatory framework for services globally. But in doing so, it would circumscribe the ability of governments to bring in their own national laws, since many options would be forbidden by the agreement. For key areas, then, TISA would impose globally-agreed standards for services, with little freedom to diverge, whatever the local populace or democratically-elected politicians might think or want.

      During 21 rounds of talks, good progress was made on agreeing what should be in TISA, and it seemed that a final text was quite near. But with the election of Donald Trump, everything went quiet, as TISA negotiators waited to find out what his views on the deal would be. Since then, not much has happened, although TISA’s supporters are doubtless hoping that negotiations can be picked up again at some point.

    • Paypal Files Patent for Expedited Cryptocurrency Transaction System

      A recent patent filing reveals that Paypal might be considering expanding its exposure to the cryptocurrency ecosystem with a new system for speedy transactions. We shouldn’t however expect a Paypal Lightning Network or anything close to that any time soon. There is currently a global race to file patents for everything crypto or “blockchain” related and the company might just be strengthening its portfolio for future patent battles.

    • Meet the robot lending a cyber-hand to Cornwall’s cauliflower harvest [Ed: Replacing what's left of farmers/farming]

      Harvesting a cauliflower is not as simple as it looks.

      First it must be deemed firm, compact and white, before being gently prised from its main stem to prevent bruising, and plucked with a few outer leaves still attached to protect the head.

      So when scientists were looking for a robotic helper capable of taking on Britain’s brassica crop, they chose to mimic a tried and tested tool – the human hand.

    • Prof Hrdy: When Inventions Kill Jobs

      Prof. Hrdy has an interesting new blog post to accompany her paper titled Technological Un/employment. Her work focuses on the intersection between jobs and intellectual property – looking both historically and toward the future of automation. “[T]he impact of technology on employment has historically been “skill-biased”—demand for high skills workers rises; demand for low skill workers falls.”

    • Technological Un/employment

      The conventional wisdom is that intellectual property is good for innovation and good for jobs. But this is not quite right. In reality, a significant subset of the innovations protected by intellectual property, from self-service kiosks to self-driving cars, are labor saving, and in many cases also labor displacing innovations—meaning they drastically reduce the need for paid human labor. Therefore, to the extent intellectual property is successful at incentivizing innovation, intellectual property actually contributes to job loss. More specifically, intellectual property contributes to what this article terms “technological un/employment”—the simultaneous creation and elimination of jobs resulting from technological change. The normative question is what to do about this. Commentators like Bill Gates suggest using the tax system to slow down the pace of automation and provide aide to displaced workers. But this article yields another surprising insight: intellectual property law itself can be designed to effectuate similar goals, either alone or, more likely, in coordination with the tax system. At the least, intellectual property is guaranteed to play a prominent role in society’s current technological un/employment moment, both as part of the problem and as part of the solution.

    • Intellectual Property and Jobs

      During the 2016 presidential race, an op ed in the New York Times by Jacob S. Hacker, a professor of political science at Yale, and Paul Pierson, a professor of political science at the University of California, Berkeley, asserted that “blue states” that support Democratic candidates, like New York, California, Connecticut, and Massachusetts, are “generally doing better” in an economic sense than “red states” that support Republican candidates, like Mississippi, West Virginia, Kentucky, and (in some election cycles) Ohio. The gist of their argument is that conservatives cannot honestly claim that “red states dominate” on economic indicators like wealth, job growth, and education, when the research suggests the opposite. “If you compare averages,” they write, “blue states are substantially richer (even adjusting for cost of living) and their residents are better educated. Companies there do more research and development and produce more patents. Students score better on tests of basic science-oriented skills like math.”

      I am not here to argue over whether blue states do better than red states economically. What I do want to point out is how professors Hacker and Pierson use intellectual property – and in particular patents – in making their argument. Blue states, they write, “produce more patents” than red states. Indeed, “few of the cities that do the most research or advanced manufacturing or that produce the most patents are in red states.” How, they ask rhetorically, can conservatives say red states are doing better when most patents are generated in California? FN1

      Hacker and Pierson’s reasoning, which is quite common, goes like this. Patents are an indicator of innovation. Innovation is linked to economic prosperity. Therefore, patents – maybe even all forms of intellectual property – are linked to economic prosperity.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • ‘Trump, Inc.’ Podcast Extra: The Trump Organization Ordered Golf Course Markers With the Presidential Seal. That May Be Illegal.

      President Donald Trump loves putting his name on everything from ties to steaks to water — and, of course, his buildings. But now the Trump Organization appears to be borrowing a brand even more powerful than the gilded Trump moniker: the presidential seal.

      In recent weeks, the Trump Organization has ordered the manufacture of new tee markers for golf courses that are emblazoned with the seal of the president of the United States. Under federal law, the seal’s use is permitted only for official government business. Misuse can be a crime.

    • Putin’s Electoral Manifesto

      Putin claimed that Russia’s full parity with the United States in strategic weaponry has been restored. His blunt message to the United States to abandon its 16-year attempt to achieve a first strike capability and sit down for arms control talks drew the immediate attention of world media, even if the initial reading was confused.

    • The Six Stages of Trump’s Resistance

      In the grand scheme of his many legal and regulatory conflicts, President Donald Trump’s spats with state regulators over damaged wetlands and excess water use at his New Jersey golf courses seem almost trivial. Trump ultimately was fined $147,000 — less than he banks from a couple of new memberships at the two private country clubs where he was cited for breaking state law. Both disputes were resolved during his presidential campaign and went unnoticed in the press.

      Yet, as small as the sum was for a man like Trump, these two episodes are telling, not just because his resistance to oversight seems so disproportionate to the underlying allegations, but also because they provide a revealing anatomy of the five primary stages of Trump response. They could be summarized as Delay, Dissemble, Shift Blame, Haggle and Get Personally Involved. (The elements can be used in any order, more than once.) Often, there’s a sixth stage, too: Offer a job to one of the key players on the opposing side. Trump deployed those tactics again and again in his titanic real estate battles in New York, and his mega-dollar fights over casinos in New Jersey, according to Wayne Barrett’s biography, “Trump: The Deals and the Downfall.”

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Palestinians in Gaza protest Facebook censorship

      Dozens of Palestinian journalists on Monday staged a demonstration outside the UN’s Gaza City office to protest Facebook’s practice of unilaterally blocking Palestinian Facebook accounts.

      Demonstrators held banners aloft, reading, “Facebook is complicit in [Israel’s] crimes” and “Facebook favors the [Israeli] occupation”.

      According to Salama Maarouf, a spokesman for Hamas (which remains in de facto control of the Gaza Strip), Facebook blocked roughly 200 Palestinian accounts last year — and 100 more since the start of 2018 — “on phony pretexts”.

    • European Union demands Google, Facebook step up Internet censorship

      In a new attack on free speech, the European Union (EU) is calling on major social media and Internet firms including Facebook, Twitter and Google to automatically and immediately censor online material.

      On March 1, the EU Commission called on companies and EU states to ensure “the detection and removal of illegal content through reactive (so called ‘notice and action’) or proactive measures.” It also identified a vast amount of material targeted for censorship. According to the Commission, its recommendations apply to all forms of “content ranging from terrorist content, incitement to hatred and violence, child sexual abuse material, counterfeit products and copyright infringement.”

    • EU Commission Says Social Media Companies Must Take Down ‘Terrorist Content’ Within One Hour

      Once social media companies and websites began acquiescing to EU Commission demands for content takedown, the end result was obvious. Whatever was already in place would continually be ratcheted up. And every time companies failed to do the impossible, the EU Commission would appear on their virtual doorsteps, demanding they be faster and more proactive.

      Facebook, Twitter, Google, and Microsoft all agreed to remove hate speech and other targeted content within 24 hours, following a long bitching session from EU regulators about how long it took these companies to comply with takedown orders. As Tim Geigner pointed out late last year, the only thing tech companies gained from this acquiescence was a reason to engage in proactive censorship.

    • Chinese president Xi Jinping bans words ‘Animal Farm,’ ‘disagree,’ ‘I oppose,’ among others

      It seems the next generation of youth in China won’t be hearing of George Orwell’s famed “Animal Farm” anytime soon — at least online — according to California-based bilingual news website China Digital Times last Feb. 26. Censorship authorities started their work on limiting online discussion by banning a multitude of terms and words from the Chinese microblogging site Weibo — and the list is almost endless.

      The censorship move comes after Chinese state media released on Feb 25 a list of amendments to the Chinese constitution, which are to be carried out at the National People’s Congress Session in Beijing today. Among the 21 proposed amendments is the eradication of the current two-term limit of China’s presidents and vice presidents.

    • Blunt Measures on Speech Serve No One: The Story of the San Diego City Beat

      It’s no secret: Social media has changed the way that we access news. According to the Pew Research Center, two-thirds of Americans report getting at least some of their news on social media. Another study suggests that globally, for those under 45, online news is now as important as television news. But thanks to platforms’ ever-changing algorithms, content policies, and moderation practices, news outlets face significant barriers to reaching online readers.

      San Diego CityBeat’s recent experience offers a sad case in point. CityBeat is an alt-weekly focusing on news, music, and culture. Founded in 2002, the publication has a print circulation of 44,000 and is best known for its independence and no-holds barred treatment of public officials and demo tapes. The site is also known for its quirky—and, it turns out, controversial—headlines.

    • Wall Street Journal Explains Why SESTA Is A Terrible Idea And Is Unnecessary

      Here’s a bit of a surprise. The Wall Street Journal’s Editorial board has come out vehemently against SESTA. The reason this is surprising is that much of the push for SESTA has been a fairly obvious attack on internet companies, especially Google, by trying to undermine CDA 230. And the Wall Street Journal has spent years attacking Google at every opportunity.

      But, this time, the editorial gets the story right — highlighting that the effort is clearly being driven by anti-Google animus, even though it will create all sorts of other problems (problems that Google can mostly survive easily). However, the most important part of the editorial details why SESTA is not actually needed. Throughout the process, the backers of the bill always point to Backpage.com as the reason the bill is necessary. As we pointed out, when the bill was first released, nearly every quote from Senators backing it mentioned how it was necessary to take down Backpage.

    • Fake news and censorship

      Many media analysts have rightly identified the dangers posed by “fake news,” but often overlook what the phenomenon means for journalists themselves. Not only has the term become a shorthand way to malign an entire industry; autocrats are invoking it as an excuse to jail reporters and justify censorship, often on trumped-up charges of supporting terrorism.

      Around the world, the number of honest journalists jailed for publishing fake or fictitious news is at an all-time high of at least 21. As non-democratic leaders increasingly use the “fake news” backlash to clamp down on independent media, that number is likely to climb.

      The United States, once a world leader in defending free speech, has retreated from this role. President Donald Trump’s Twitter tirades about “fake news” have given autocratic regimes an example by which to justify their own media crackdowns. In December, China’s state-run People’s Daily newspaper posted tweets and a Facebook post welcoming Trump’s fake news mantra, noting that it “speaks to a larger truth about Western media.” This followed the Egyptian government’s praise for the Trump administration in February 2017, when the country’s foreign ministry criticized Western journalists for their coverage of global terrorism.

    • Anti-censorship bill for student journalists awaits Washington governor’s signature
    • LIVE: Offensive? Censorship? Inxeba in court over X18 rating
    • South Africa returns to apartheid-era censorship with the banning of Inxeba
    • High Court drops porn rating on Inxeba
    • South Africa returns to apartheid-era censorship with the ‘banning’ of Inxeba

      Censorship, one of the insidious strategies used by the apartheid government, has made an ominous comeback in South Africa with the recent X18 classification of the award-winning film Inxeba (The Wound). In South Africa the film can now only be shown in locations licensed to screen adult entertainment.

      The apartheid government tried to maintain its power over a racially segregated South African population through controlling the media. This included censoring films – initially international and then also local ones. The Publications Control Board had the power to ban a film outright, demand scenes be cut or, bizarrely, to restrict the screening of a film to certain (usually white only) audiences.

    • Censorship is illegal in India, says ‘S Durga’ director at first screening

      Censorship in India is illegal and yet a majority of India endorses it. Director Sanal Kumar Sasidharan from Kerala made this rather-startling revelation at the first screening of his controversial “S Durga” in Kolkata.

      Before the screening on Monday, Sasidharan spoke about his film’s longdrawn censorship battle at a seminar attended by Chitrabani director Father PJ Joseph and various other film scholars. A qualified lawyer, Sasidharan gave up practice in 2006. But thanks to his acumen in the field, he knew his film would eventually win the case though he himself didn’t participate as a lawyer. But the legal tussle left him exhausted—emotionally, physically and financially. “My film was made on a budget of Rs 10 lakh-Rs 12 lakh. But the ministry must spent more than that to fight me. A fight for censorship can’t be an individual’s battle. People should feel they have the right to see a film uncut,” he said during a seminar on censorship, moderated by Someswar Bhowmik, director at St Xavier’s College’s Educational Multimedia Research Centre.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Tough Talk On Transatlantic Privacy, Once Again

      The EU Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, Vera Jourova, ahead of her US visit announced “a tough tone” on remaining gaps in the implementation of the privacy shield, the arrangement that allows to transfers of data of EU citizens to the United States. Speaking before the EU Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties (LIBE), Jourova said while she had heard the privacy shield was not a priority of the US administration, “it will be a priority, if we make clear that we will suspend the system if it doesn’t work,” adding, “My patience is coming to an end.”

    • Today: UN Human Rights Council To Hear Rapporteur’s Report On Government Surveillance Online

      The United Nations Human Rights Council today (6 March) is expected to hear a report on government surveillance to be presented by the UN special rapporteur on the right to privacy. The report calls for the urgent development of a comprehensive legal framework on privacy and surveillance in cyberspace.

      On the agenda is presentation of a report by the Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy, Joseph Cannataci, addressing the issue of oversight of government surveillance.

      “There is no question that the global community needs to undertake urgent action … by developing a clear and comprehensive legal framework on privacy and surveillance in cyberspace, to operationalise the respect of this right, domestically and across borders,” the rapporteur’s report states.

    • Tor Mumbai meetup

      On 20th January, we had a Tor meetup in Mumbai. Hasgeek organized the event, with OML providing the meeting space. I noticed the announcement over Twitter, and made sure that I registered for the event. Two contributors from the core team, Sukhbir Singh and Antonela Debiasi, were present at the event.

    • Government Warned Legal Action Coming if Immigration Exemption Enacted

      Formal legal action has been launched against the UK Government today over the inclusion of a specific clause in the new Data Protection Bill which means at least three million people across the country would be unable to find out what personal data the Home Office or other related organisations hold on them under a clause the government claims is needed for ‘effective immigration control’.

      Lawyers from Leigh Day, who are acting on behalf of the3million ‐ the largest grassroots organisation of EU citizens living in the UK ‐ and the Open Rights Group (ORG) ‐ the UK’s only digital campaigning organisation working to protect the rights to privacy and free speech online ‐ have written to Home Secretary Amber Rudd outlining their concerns and asking for the clause to be removed from the bill.

    • The Data Protection Bill’s Immigration Exemption must go

      The government has introduced a sweeping “immigration exemption” in Schedule 2, Paragraph 4. The exemption will remove your right to data protection if it is likely to prejudice “effective immigration control” or the “investigation or detection of activities that would undermine the maintenance of effective immigration control”. What it won’t do is ensure effective immigration control.

      This immigration exemption will ensure that the Government will not need to face up to its mistakes. Currently, according to the Government’s Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration, mistakes and administrative errors are involved in 1 out of 10 immigration cases.

      What’s it like to one of those 1 in 10? You can ask any one of the hundred EU citizens, living in the UK entirely legally, who were sent letters demanding they leave or risk deportation in August last year.

    • Tencent CEO Urges ID Link for Hong Kong and Chinese Citizens

      Tencent Holdings Ltd. Chairman Ma Huateng called on the Chinese government to introduce an ID system that would link multiple sets of travel documents with a mobile phone as part of a plan to boost regional trade between Hong Kong and the mainland.

      China’s second-richest man said new technology systems and laws could let Hong Kong residents make electronic payments and cross the border more easily. Ma was speaking at a press conference in Beijing before the country’s legislative council convenes in the capital to set the year’s agenda. He was joined by fellow tech billionaires such as Baidu Inc. founder Robin Li, who expressed a willingness to list their companies’ shares in China.

      “It’s still very complicated and we’d need to make it work with the customs systems but from a technology point of view we can do it,” Ma said. “We have been talking to the chief executive in Hong Kong for quite some time about a number of these issues, including the electronic ID.”

    • Virtru’s new API brings encryption tech built by ex-NSA engineer to third-party developers [Ed: Virtru sounds like a dangerous joke to me not just because of the NSA connections but also the partnership with Microsoft (which is notorious for giving NSA back doors to everything, inc. crypto). Avoid.

      Virtru co-founder Will Ackerly developed the company’s underlying encryption technology while he was working as an engineer at the NSA, so it’s fair to say he knows a thing or two about the subject. The company has been delivering encryption products for email and files in transit for several years now, mainly through a partnership with Google GMail and Microsoft Office 365. Today, it announced it was opening up that technology to third party developers through the Virtru Data Protection Platform.

    • Data consents: lets get granular

      Consent is one of the six lawful bases that justify the processing of personal data. To be adequate, consent must be a freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous indication of the individual’s wishes by a statement or clear affirmative action – granular is the word the regulators use. It is not silence or a pre-ticked opt-in box. It is not a blanket acceptance of a set of terms and conditions that include privacy provisions. It can be ‘by electronic means’ – it could be a motion such as a swipe across a screen. But, where special category data (sensitive data such as health data) are processed and explicit consent is needed, this will be by way of a written statement.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • How the NSA and CIA Use Porn for Black Ops

      An internal NSA newsletter recently published by The Intercept records how the US government used pornography to debilitate and humiliate prisoners during the Iraq War. This is the latest in a string of revelations showing that the CIA and NSA regularly employ pornography as a tool in covert operations.

      The latest release from the Snowden cache describes how the NSA used pornography to debase and abuse Iraqi prisoners. An article from the NSA’s internal newsletter SID Today details how Marines brought in laptops, CDs, phones and hard drives belonging to detainees. The previously-secret document was written by an NSA volunteer working for the Iraq Survey Group, a joint CIA-DIA mission in Baghdad.

    • Is It Constitutional to Lock Up Immigrants Indefinitely?

      Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in Jennings v. Rodriguez, a class action lawsuit challenging the federal government’s practice of jailing immigrants for months or years while they litigate their deportation cases. The ACLU had argued that neither the immigration laws nor the Constitution permit such detention unless a judge determines, at a hearing, that the immigrant will pose a danger or flight risk if released.

      In a 5-to-3 decision (Justice Kagan was recused), the court overturned a 2015 ruling from the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit that required the government to give immigrants a custody hearing after six months of imprisonment. But in doing so the court only addressed one of the two arguments advanced by the ACLU. It rejected the ACLU’s claim that the immigration laws require hearings. But the ACLU had also asked the Supreme Court to rule on whether the Constitution permitted lengthy imprisonment without hearings, and on that question, the court sent the case back to the Ninth Circuit to address first.

    • The East Mississippi Correctional Facility Is ‘Hell on Earth’

      At the East Mississippi Correctional Facility, where Mississippi sends some of the most seriously mentally ill people in the state prison system, even the most troubled patients are routinely ignored and the worst cases of self-harm are treated with certain neglect. The conditions at EMCF have cost some prisoners their limbs, their eyesight, and even their lives.

      In 2013, the ACLU, Southern Poverty Law Center, and prisoner rights attorney Elizabeth Alexander filed a class-action complaint on behalf of all the prisoners held at EMCF. As the case heated up, the law firm of Covington & Burling LLP joined as co-counsel, providing major staffing and support. Despite years of attempts by Mississippi to derail the lawsuit before our clients even saw the inside of the courtroom, the case will finally proceed to trial Monday.

      The lawsuit against EMCF describes horrific conditions at the facility: rampant violence, including by staff against prisoners; solitary confinement used to excess, with particular harm to prisoners with mental illnesses; and filthy cells and showers that lack functional toilets or lights. It also sheds light on a dysfunctional medical and mental healthcare delivery system that puts patients at risk of serious injury and has contributed to deaths in custody.

    • After Controversial Traffic Stop, Police Chief Says He Won’t Release Recordings To ‘Anti-Police’ Requesters

      The Chesterfield County Police Department is willing to violate your rights. If it’s not your Fourth Amendment rights, it’ll be your First. And this is fine with the department’s chief, who’s gone on record as a supporter of rights violations.

    • Two Governments That Remained Silent — and Three Women Who Refuse to Be Quiet

      At a D.C. event, survivors of a Mexican drug cartel massacre, triggered by a botched DEA operation, tell their story.

    • Welcome to the baton ball

      As well as flogging sniper rifles, shotguns, batons and handcuffs, the exhibition promotes cyber-spying firms that have been accused of helping repressive governments. Exhibitors include Gamma Group, which offers “strategic communications intelligence (network-based interception)”. The Bahraini security services used Gamma Group software to hack phones and computers of pro-democracy activists and lawyers (Eye 1373).

      Another exhibitor, Grey Heron Technologies, has strong links with Hacking Team, the notorious Milan-based surveillance company. At the fair Grey Heron will be selling “state-of-the-art software for legal surveillance of digital devices”. It gives a Milan address and its chief marketing officer is former Hacking Team spokesman Eric Rabe.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • After Chat With Ethics Lawyers, FCC Boss Declines NRA Gun Award For Killing Net Neutrality

      Last month you might recall that the NRA gave FCC boss Ajit Pai the Charleton Heston Award for Courage for his decision to dismantle popular net neutrality rules. The tone-deaf celebration was a pretty hollow attention seeking move, but was also an ouroboros of blistering idiocy. One, the NRA appears oblivious to the fact that net neutrality rules would have helped it as well, since the entire point is to ensure the internet is a level playing field for all competitors and voices. Net neutrality protects free speech (even speech you don’t agree with), something you’d think the folks at the NRA would be able to appreciate.

      Two, there’s simply nothing courageous about teaming up with Comcast to screw over the public and the nation’s small businesses and startups. Pai’s decision is widely derided as the dumbest decision in the history of modern tech policy. And while ISPs like to frame net neutrality as partisan to sow division and prevent meaningful rules, surveys repeatedly indicate the rules had broad bipartisan support.

      It didn’t take long for ethics experts to point out that the award and the NRA’s gift to Pai (a Kentucky long rifle) was over $200 and therefore violated ethics rules and lobbying restrictions:

    • The Decentralized Internet Is Here, With Some Glitches

      “The best entrepreneurs, developers, and investors have become wary of building on top of centralized platforms,” Chris Dixon, a partner with investor Andreessen Horowitz wrote last month, in a kind of manifesto for a more decentralized internet. Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web has similar concerns. Graphite Docs and some other early DApps are far from perfect, but show there’s something to the hype. A life less dependent on cloud giants is possible, if not yet easy.

  • DRM

    • MPAA Opposes Several Filmmaker Associations Request For Expanded Circumvention Exemptions

      Over the past few weeks, we’ve mentioned in a couple of posts that the Copyright Office is currently taking public commentary for changes to the DMCA’s anti-circumvention exemptions provisions. While we’ve thus far limited our posts to the Museum of Art and Digital Entertainment’s bid to have those exemptions extended to preserving online video games and the ESA’s nonsensical rebuttal, that isn’t the only request for expanded exemptions being logged. A group of filmmaker associations put in a request last year for anti-circumvention exemptions to be extended to filmmakers so that they can break the DRM on Blu-ray films in order to make use of clips in new works. At issue is the fact that these filmmakers are able to make use of clips in these new works thanks to fair use but cannot readily get at them due to the DRM on the films themselves.

    • Wireless Carriers, Hardware Companies Use Flimsy IOT Security To Justify Attacks On Right To Repair Laws

      A few years ago, anger at John Deere’s draconian tractor DRM birthed a grassroots tech movement. The company’s lockdown on “unauthorized repairs” turned countless ordinary citizens into technology policy activists, after DRM and the company’s EULA prohibited the lion-share of repair or modification of tractors customers thought they owned. These restrictions only worked to drive up costs for owners, who faced either paying significantly more money for “authorized” repair, or toying around with pirated firmware just to ensure the products they owned actually worked.

      The John Deere fiasco resulted in the push for a new “right to repair” law in Nebraska. This push then quickly spread to multiple other states, driven in part by consumer repair monopolization efforts by other companies including Apple, Sony and Microsoft. Lobbyists for these companies quickly got to work trying to claim that by allowing consumers to repair products they own (or take them to third-party repair shops) they were endangering public safety. Apple went so far as to argue that if Nebraska passed such a law, it would become a dangerous “mecca for hackers” and other ne’er do wells.

      Wary of public backlash, many of these companies refuse to speak on the record regarding their attacks on consumer rights and repair competition. But they continue to lobby intensely behind the scenes all the same. The latest example comes courtesy of the “The Security Innovation Center,” a new lobbying and policy vehicle backed by hardware vendors and wireless carriers. The group issued a new “study” this week that tries to use the understandable concerns over flimsy IOT security to fuel their attacks on right to repair laws.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • OfflineBay: A Pirate Bay Alternative That Works Without Internet

        The Pirate Bay, known as TPB for short, is a known name trying to preserve the existence of torrent indexing sites. But TPB doesn’t run all the time flawlessly. However, it has shown persistence while withstanding against the pressure in the past. But, it can be any day TPB can face a downtime, possibly because the feds want so.


Links 5/3/2018: Linux 4.16 RC4, Linux From Scratch 8.2

Posted in News Roundup at 6:58 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Tips for top: Monitoring CPU load on Linux

    Where should you look for answers? The top program is a great place to start. It can give you a rich, self-updating overview of the processes running on your system.

    The figure below shows a typical screen of top data. The first line provides the current time, the elapsed time since the most recent system boot, the number of users currently logged in, and load averages for the last minute, five minutes, and 15 minutes. This information can also be returned by running uptime.

  • A curiosity for Linux leads to an unexpected career

    The first time I saw Fedora, I was 15 or 16 years old. Someone I knew was trying (and failing) to install it on their computer. I’d never seen an OS other than Windows. I was intrigued and started asking the person many questions. He told me this OS was free to download and install—and I could even install it on my computer—but I did not believe an OS could be “free as in free beer.”

    I went home and started poking around on the internet for more information, but I was too nervous to download it. The reason? The internet in India was not very fast (at least not in my apartment), and it had a data cap that could have been exhausted by downloading an OS. Yes, I know it was probably a gig or less, but I did fear of using up all my internet, so I moved on.

  • Desktop

    • Windows 10 has had no overall growth in the last month. None

      This month’s Netmarketshare figures are almost static, but are still worth a look. The very fact that they are so static will be frustrating, particularly for Microsoft, which is still desperately trying to find the carrot to bring businesses on to Windows 10.

      Unlike with Windows 8, which was just terrible for businesses, Windows 7 remains not broken and so there’s no rush to fix it. Mild threats like Office 2019 not being available outside Windows 10, or withdrawing the old Skype client, are just not a big enough deal to a big enough group to get people invested in the switch.

    • Windows 10 Browser’s Struggle Continues for Another Month

      Microsoft is betting big on Edge browser in Windows 10, and this is one of the reasons the company has become rather aggressive in its attempt to convince users to give it a try, but all these efforts seem to be failing due to the popularity of Google Chrome.

    • Is Microsoft Getting Ready to Kill Off Windows Media Player?

      Windows Media Player appears to be the next name on the list of features to be deprecated from Windows 10, as Microsoft has started pushing users to the Movies & TV UWP app that comes pre-installed on the operating system.

      A screenshot posted on reddit reveals that Microsoft is now showing popups to users launching Windows Media Player to highlight the capabilities of Movies & TV app, most likely in an attempt to migrate them to the new app in anticipation of a possible demise of the classic player.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

  • Kernel Space

    • Cilium 1.0.0-rc4 Released: Transparently Secure Container Network Connectivity Utilising Linux BPF

      Cilium is open source software for transparently securing the network connectivity between application services deployed using Linux container management platforms like Docker and Kubernetes. Cilium 1.0.0-rc4 has recently been released, which includes: the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF)-hosted Envoy configured as the default HTTP/gRPC proxy; the addition of a simple health overview for connectivity and other errors; and an improved scalable kvstore interaction layer.

      Microservices applications tend to be highly dynamic, and this presents both a challenge and an opportunity in terms of securing connectivity between microservices. Modern approaches to overcoming this issue have coalesced around the CNCF-hosted Container Network Interface (CNI) and the increasingly popular “service mesh” technologies, such as Istio and Conduit. According to the Cilium documentation, traditional Linux network security approaches (such as iptables) filter on IP address and TCP/UDP ports. However, the highly volatile life cycle of containers and IP addresses cause these approaches to struggle to scale alongside the application as the large number of load balancing tables and access control lists must be updated continually.

    • Latest AMDKFD Kernel Patches For Radeon dGPU VM Support

      For those of you excited by the prospects of running ROCm compute and OpenCL off a mainline Linux kernel build with a discrete Radeon GPU, there is an updated patch-set this weekend for testing.

      Linux 4.17 is shaping up to be another exciting kernel for Radeon GPU owners with finally having WattMan support and the AMDKFD HSA driver being in good shape for discrete GPUs to begin allowing these graphics processors to run with the open-source ROCm compute stack without needing any kernel changes.

    • The boot-constraint subsystem

      The fifth version of the patch series adding the boot-constraint subsystem is under review on the linux-kernel mailing list. The purpose of this subsystem is to honor the constraints put on devices by the bootloader before those devices are handed over to the operating system (OS) — Linux in our case. If these constraints are violated, devices may fail to work properly once the kernel starts reconfiguring the hardware; by tracking and enforcing those constraints, instead, we can ensure that hardware continues to work properly until the kernel is fully operational.

      The bootloader is a piece of code that loads the operating system, normally after initializing a number of hardware components that are required during the boot process, such as the flash memory controller. More than one bootloader may take part in booting the OS; the first-stage bootloader loads the second-stage bootloader, and the second-stage bootloader loads the OS. Some of the most common bootloaders used with Linux are LILO (LInux LOader), LOADLIN (LOAD LINux), GRUB (GRand Unified Bootloader), U-Boot (Universal Bootloader) and UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface).

    • Dynamic function tracing events

      For as long as the kernel has included tracepoints, developers have argued over whether those tracepoints are part of the kernel’s ABI. Tracepoint changes have had to be reverted in the past because they broke existing user-space programs that had come to depend on them; meanwhile, fears of setting internal code in stone have made it difficult to add tracepoints to a number of kernel subsystems. Now, a new tracing functionality is being proposed as a way to circumvent all of those problems.

      Whether tracepoints are part of the kernel ABI is not an insignificant issue. The kernel’s ABI promise states that working programs will not be broken by updated kernels. It has become clear in the past that this promise extends to tracepoints, most notably in 2011 when a tracepoint change broke powertop and had to be reverted. Some kernel maintainers prohibit or severely restrict the addition of tracepoints to their subsystems out of fear that a similar thing could happen to them. As a result, the kernel lacks tracepoints that users would find useful.

    • BPF comes to firewalls

      The Linux kernel currently supports two separate network packet-filtering mechanisms: iptables and nftables. For the last few years, it has been generally assumed that nftables would eventually replace the older iptables implementation; few people expected that the kernel developers would, instead, add a third packet filter. But that would appear to be what is happening with the newly announced bpfilter mechanism. Bpfilter may eventually replace both iptables and nftables, but there are a lot of questions that will need to be answered first.

      It may be tempting to think that iptables has been the kernel’s packet-filtering implementation forever, but it is a relative newcomer, having been introduced in the 2.4.0 kernel in 2001. Its predecessors (ipchains, introduced in 2.2.10, and ipfwadm, which dates back to 1.2.1 in 1995) are mostly forgotten at this point. Iptables has served the Linux community well and remains the firewalling mechanism that is most widely used, but it does have some shortcomings; it has lasted longer than the implementations that came before, but it is clearly not the best possible solution to the problem.

      The newer nftables subsystem, merged for the 3.13 kernel release in early 2014, introduced an in-kernel virtual machine to implement firewall rules; users have been slowly migrating over, but the process has been slow. For some strange reason, system administrators have proved reluctant to throw away their existing firewall configurations, which were painful to develop and which still function as well as they ever did, and start over with a new and different system.

    • New tricks for XFS

      The XFS filesystem has been in the kernel for fifteen years and was used in production on IRIX systems for five years before that. But it might just be time to teach that “old dog” of a filesystem some new tricks, Dave Chinner said, at the beginning of his linux.conf.au 2018 presentation. There are a number of features that XFS lacks when compared to more modern filesystems, such as snapshots and subvolumes; but he has been thinking—and writing code—on a path to get them into XFS.

    • Linux 4.16-rc4

      Hmm. A reasonably calm week – the biggest change is to the ‘kvm-stat’
      tool, not any actual kernel files.

      But there’s small changes all over, with architecture updates (x86,
      s390, arm, parisc) and drivers (media, md, gpu, sound) being the bulk
      of it. But there’s some filesystem fixes (mostly btrfs),
      documentation updates etc too.

    • Linux 4.16-rc4 Released, Marks The End Of Another Calm Week
    • Graphics Stack

      • Trying Out AMDGPU Overdrive Radeon Overclocking On Linux 4.15

        A premium patron recently requested some fresh tests on Polaris and Vega trying out the AMDGPU OverDrive overclocking functionality on the latest Linux kernel… Here are those tests with a Radeon RX 580 and RX Vega 64.

      • RandR Leases Support For AMDGPU DDX Driver

        The xf86-video-modesetting DDX within the X.Org Server 1.20 code-base already has its support wired in for dealing with RandR leases while now Keith Packard has posted the patches for xf86-video-amdgpu.

        With the X.Org Server side bits and the generic modesetting DDX having received their work on RandR leases, non-desktop quirk handling, etc, as part of Keith’s work for Valve on improving VR headset support under Linux, he’s now posted the patches so xf86-video-amdgpu can deal with the new RandR leasing functionality.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Plasma secrets: digital clock

        Pretty simple and straightforward, but then some people might struggle figuring out how to change the clock. The most obvious approach is to tweak the existing one, and indeed, a popular question could be: how to change the vertical height of the clock? But that’s a hardcoded widget feature, and you can’t do that easily. So you need a new widget – or use Plasma 5.12.1, which you can find in KDE neon. Lots of sweet reading right there.

        I believe Event Calendar, additional features notwithstanding, does a pretty good job, and it gives the system an ever so slightly more professional look. Once you’re neck deep in tweaks and loving it, then it becomes an important part of the overall equation. Art can be like that. A blessing and a curse. I hope you like this little guide. More Plasma secrets coming your way soon.

      • This week in Discover, part 8

        This was a week of polish and preparation for Discover. We’ve got some nice new features in the pipeline but we’re not quite ready to announce them just yet. One is implemented but needs more polish, and another is under construction. I think you’ll like ’em once they’re ready!

      • What’s New in Netrunner Rolling 2018.01

        Netrunner Rolling 2018.01 is the latest release of Netrunner Linux Distributions, it first snapshot in 2018 with the latest update and some new features. As KDE-Focused Linux Distribution this relase ships with the KDE Plasma 5.11.5 as default desktop environment, including KDE Frameworks 5.41 software suites, KDE Applications 17.12, and Qt 5.10.

        Based on Manjaro Linux and powered by long-term support of Linux Kernel 4.14, Netrunner 2018.01 also introducing the YaRock Qt music player for streaming online radio, KDE Discover has been pulled back into the default application set, it allow users to install a wide range of packages and it also comes with built-in update capabilities.

      • This week in Usability & Productivity, part 8

        The wheels of the Usability & Productivity initiative chug along, knocking out issue after issue!

      • Plasma Volume Widget Can Now Transfer Audio Streams Between Devices

        Development on KDE Plasma 5.13, KDE Applications 18.04, and KDE Frameworks 5.44 continues at full-speed.

        I recently mentioned some of the work on how KDE Plasma 5.13 will be starting even faster and is getting smarter/better monitor hot-plug handling but there are some more minor improvements to mention now.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

  • Distributions

    • Top 10 Best Linux Distros For 2018 — (The Ultimate Distro Choosing Guide)

      We’re well into 2018 and I think some of you might have boarded the Linux train in the recent past. While the world of Linux does offer tons of choice, it might get overwhelming at first. That’s why we’ve prepared this guide to help you select the best Linux distro to suit your needs.

    • Reviews

      • Review: Enso OS 0.2

        Enso is a young distribution based on Xubuntu. Enso features the Xfce desktop environment running on the Gala window manager; Gala has been used with good effect on the elementary OS distribution. Enso also features the Panther application menu and the Plank dock. The Enso website mentions the project is trying to have a positive environmental impact: “Help plant trees while you search the web with Ecosia, the search engine that plants trees with it’s ad revenue, included in Enso.”

        The project’s latest release, Enso OS 0.2, is based on Xubuntu 16.04 and is available in just one edition for 64-bit x86 computers. The ISO we download is approximately 1.5GB in size. The downloaded media boots to a graphical screen where a window appears and asks if we would like to try Enso’s live desktop environment or immediately begin the installation process. This window also lets us select our preferred language from a list.

        While the live desktop uses Xfce components running on the Gala window manager, the desktop has a certain GNOME-like appearance. There is a thin top panel which includes an application menu, clock and system tray. At the bottom-left corner of the screen there is a dock (powered by Plank) which acts as both a quick-launch bar and task switcher. Enso uses bright colours for the window control buttons and the minimize, maximize and close buttons are presented in blue, green and yellow. The busy mouse cursor is shown as the macOS-style beach ball.

    • New Releases

      • 4MLinux 24.0 STABLE released.

        The status of the 4MLinux 24.0 series has been changed to STABLE. Edit your documents with LibreOffice and GNOME Office (AbiWord 3.0.2, GIMP 2.8.22, Gnumeric 1.12.38), share your files using DropBox 43.4.49, surf the Internet with Firefox 58.0.2 and Chromium 64.0.3282.119, stay in touch with your friends via Thunderbird 52.6.0 and Skype for Web, enjoy your music collection with Audacious 3.9, watch your favorite videos with VLC 3.0.0 and MPlayer SVN-r37946, play games powered by Mesa 17.1.4 and Wine 3.1. You can also setup the 4MLinux LAMP Server (Linux 4.14.18, Apache 2.4.29, MariaDB 10.2.12, PHP 5.6.33 and PHP 7.2.2). Perl 5.26.0 and Python 2.7.13 are also available.

      • LFS and BLFS Version 8.2 are released

        The Linux From Scratch community is pleased to announce the release of LFS
        Version 8.2, LFS Version 8.2 (systemd), BLFS Version 8.2, and BLFS Version

      • Linux From Scratch 8.2 Released

        For fans of Linux From Scratch for assembling your own operating system, LFS and BLFS 8.2 are released in time for some weekend adventures.

      • Pardus 17.2 Çıktı! [Ed: New release of Turkish GNU/Linux distribution]
    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandriva Family

      • Chemnitz Linux Days 2018 – And Mageia is part of it.

        We are happy to announce, that, as in previous years, we will present our amazing distribution at the Chemnitz Linux Days 2018 (Chemnitzer Linux Tage, CLT) on the 10th and 11th of March. This is one of the biggest OpenSource exhibitions in Germany. This year also a very special year, as it’s the 20th anniversary. We are happy to celebrate this anniversary together, as we have been part of Chemnitzer Linux Days many times before.

      • The March 2018 Issue of the PCLinuxOS Magazine

        The PCLinuxOS Magazine staff is pleased to announce the release of the March 2018 issue. With the exception of a brief period in 2009, The PCLinuxOS Magazine has been published on a monthly basis since September, 2006. The PCLinuxOS Magazine is a product of the PCLinuxOS community, published by volunteers from the community. The magazine is lead by Paul Arnote, Chief Editor, and Assistant Editor Meemaw. The PCLinuxOS Magazine is released under the Creative Commons Attribution- NonCommercial-Share-Alike 3.0 Unported license, and some rights are reserved. All articles may be freely reproduced via any and all means following first publication by The PCLinuxOS Magazine, provided that attribution to both The PCLinuxOS Magazine and the original author are maintained, and a link is provided to the originally published article.

        In the March 2018 issue:

        * Short Topix: iOS Bootloader Leaked, ET vs BitCoin
        * ms_meme’s Nook: How I Love The Sandbox
        * Tip Top Tips: Make An Easy Calendar In Scribus
        * GIMP Tutorial: Another Simple Animation
        * PCLinuxOS Family Member Spotlight: Ratt Salad
        * So You Want To Be A YouTuber? With PCLinuxOS You Can
        * PCLinuxOS Recipe Corner
        * DigiKam: Photo Management Basics
        * LibreOffice 6.0 Released
        * And much more inside!

        This month’s magazine cover image was designed by parnote and Meemaw.

        Download the PDF (9.5 MB)


        Download the EPUB Version (6.2 MB)


        Download the MOBI Version (6.8 MB)


        Visit the HTML Version


    • Arch Family

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Next Tails Anonymous OS Release Will Be Powered by Linux Kernel 4.15, Tor 3.2.9

          Tails 3.6 recently entered development, and a first release candidate image is now ready for public testing, suggesting the upcoming release will be the first to be powered by the latest Linux 4.15 kernel and ship with the most recent TOR 3.2.9 client/server technologies for accessing the dark web.

          The upcoming Tails OS release is also the first to ship with screen locking support, which apparently can be used even without the root (system administrator) password. Also, there are several upgraded components included, starting with the tails-additional-softwares package, which no longer blocks the desktop.

        • UBPorts Is Working On Unity 8 For Debian

          The UBPorts community continues pushing Unity 8 for their mobile/convergence vision in the absence of Canonical as well as making other improvements. Besides offering Unity 8 to Ubuntu users, they are also working on Debian support.

          In today’s latest Ubuntu Touch Q&A, there is a small reference near the end that they are working on the Unity 8 desktop environment as an option for Debian too. “Yes… But shhh this is a secret…”

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Where Ubuntu 18.04 LTS “Bionic Beaver” Is Heading

            ​As most of you guys might already know that Ubuntu 18.04 “Bionic Beaver” has entered in Freeze state and we are going to get the very 1st beta build of Ubuntu 18.04 on 8th of this march. I decided to take a quick look at the latest daily build released. There are significant new things to be excited about as well as few bugs which are expected. Now without wasting time, let’s get started.

          • Xubuntu/Flavours and Variants

            • Testing for Xubuntu

              Xubuntu 18.04 “Bionic Beaver” is just around the corner. The first beta milestone arrives next week, and the final release is a little over a month away. 18.04 is an LTS release, meaning it has a 3-year support cycle and is definitely recommended for all users. Or it would be, if we knew it was ready. Stick around… this is a bit of a long read, but it’s important.

              The ISO Tracker has seen little activity for the last few development cycles. We know we have some excited users already using and testing 18.04. But without testing results being recorded anywhere, we have to assume that nobody is testing the daily images and milestones. And this has major implications for both the 18.04 release and the project as a whole.

            • Parole Media Player 1.0.0 Released

              It’s here, it’s finally here! The first 1.0 release of Parole Media Player has finally arrived. This release greatly improves the user experience for users without hardware-accelerated video and includes several fixes.

            • Xfce Settings 4.12.2 Released

              Xfce has been steadily heading towards it’s GTK+ 3 future with Xfce 4.14, but that doesn’t mean our current stable users have been left behind. We’ve got some new features, bug fixes, and translations for you!

            • Exton|OS Claims to Be First Distribution Based on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS, Linux 4.16

              Tagged as Build 180301, the new Exton|OS release is based on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS and features the lightweight and modern Budgie desktop environment created by the Solus devs. Budgie 10.4 is on-board this release, which comes with the renowned Calamares universal installer framework by default.

              According to the developer, Exton|OS is now fully compatible with the software repositories of Ubuntu 18.04 LTS, which means that users can install any upstream package they need. Also, Arne Exton claims Exton|OS would be the first GNU/Linux distro to be based on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver), due for release on April 26, 2018.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Haiku OS Working On Better Address Space Protection

    Adding to the list of operating systems working on memory protection improvements in wake of recent CPU vulnerabilities is Haiku OS.

    One of the Haiku OS developers, Jérôme Duval, has been working on address space protection improvements the past 2+ months. In particular on better protecting the kernel memory by using the user_memcpy() user memory copy function when appropriate. Over February he converted more USB, PCI, SCSI, and ACPI kernel code to using user_memcpy and related functions where appropriate.

  • Events

  • Web Browsers

  • Databases

    • Confessions of an ex-Oracle customer: “The costs were phenomenal”

      Speaking at M18 – the customer conference for the open source database MariaDB – William Wood, director of database architecture at Financial Network said: “We looked into extending our Oracle footprint but the cost meant we wouldn’t be able to provide a competitive cost base using Oracle, so we started looking at other solutions.”

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice 6.1 Getting GTK3 Native Message Dialogs

      For the past few years McNamara has been working on the GTK3 bits for LibreOffice as well as Wayland and other fun features like OpenGL flicker-free transitions. While the GTK3 support for LibreOffice is largely in good shape, one of the notable areas where it wasn’t quite well integrated is with message dialogs.

    • native GTK3 message dialogs

      In LibreOffice 6.1, when the GTK3 backend is in use, the message dialogs are now native GTK3 message dialogs rather than vcl message dialogs using GTK theming.

  • CMS

    • 30% of all sites now run on WordPress

      The folks at San Francisco-based Automattic have a good reason to celebrate this Monday: its WordPress content management system (CMS) now powers 30 percent of all sites on the web.

      That’s according to W3Techs, a service run by Austrian consulting firm Q-Success that surveys the top 10 million sites ranked on Alexa. Its numbers are updated daily, and today it sees WordPress accounting for 60 percent of the CMS market.

    • WordPress is now 30 per cent of the web, daylight second

      The web-watchers at W3Techs have just noted a milestone: WordPress now accounts for 30 per cent of the world’s web sites.

      W3Techs crawls the top ten million websites as determined by Amazon’s Alexa rating service and peers into their innards to figure out what they’re running, and sells details reports on its findings. It also publishes public data on its findings.

      And on Monday March 5th that public data ticked recorded that WordPress’ share of the top ten million web sites ticked over from 29.9 per cent to 30 per cent. The firm put some context on that data by noting that 50.2 per cent of the world’s web sites don’t run a content management system (CMS) at all. That means WordPress has over 60 per cent share among web sites that do run a CMS. That’s a dominance few products in any category can claim.

    • WordPress now powers 30% of websites

      WordPress now powers 30 percent of the web, according to data from web technology survey firm W3Techs.

      This represents a 5 percentage point increase in nearly two and a half years, after WordPress hit the 25 percent mark in November 2015.

    • Hiveway.io shamelessly rips off of Mastodon and slaps a blockchain on top, for some reason

      The Hiveway platform raised more than a few eyebrows today with an announcement by none other than John McAfee, unveiling the startups rebrand from Etherhive to Hiveway. At this time, McAfee’s affiliation with the project remains unclear, but he nevertheless appears to be providing consultation to the team.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Funding

  • BSD

    • Looking at Lumina Desktop 2.0

      A few weeks ago I sat down with Lead Developer Ken Moore of the TrueOS Project to get answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about Lumina Desktop from the open source community. Here is what he said on Lumina Desktop 2.0. Do you have a question for Ken and the rest of the team over at the TrueOS Project? Make sure to read the interview and comment below. We are glad to answer your questions!

      Ken: Lumina Desktop 2.0 is a significant overhaul compared to Lumina 1.x. Almost every single subsystem of the desktop has been streamlined, resulting in a nearly-total conversion in many important areas.

      With Lumina Desktop 2.0 we will finally achieve our long-term goal of turning Lumina into a complete, end-to-end management system for the graphical session and removing all the current runtime dependencies from Lumina 1.x (Fluxbox, xscreensaver, compton/xcompmgr). The functionality from those utilities is now provided by Lumina Desktop itself.

      Going along with the session management changes, we have compressed the entire desktop into a single, multi-threaded binary. This means that if any rogue script or tool starts trying to muck about with the memory used by the desktop (probably even more relevant now than when we started working on this), the entire desktop session will close/crash rather than allowing targeted application crashes to bypass the session security mechanisms. By the same token, this also prevents “man-in-the-middle” type of attacks because the desktop does not use any sort of external messaging system to communicate (looking at you `dbus`). This also gives a large performance boost to Lumina Desktop

    • Lumina Desktop 2.0 Is A Big Overhaul, Fully Leveraging QML
    • How to patch Meltdown vulnerability on OpenBSD Unix

      I read that OpenBSD is the first BSD family of the operating system to release updates for its stable releases to mitigate the Meltdown vulnerability. How do I patch Meltdown on OpenBSD Unix operating system?

    • TrueOS Rules of Conduct
      • Treat each other with respect and professionalism.
      • Leave personal and TrueOS unrelated conversations to other channels.

      In other words, it’s all about the code.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • Licenses and contracts

      Some days it seems that wherever two or more free-software enthusiasts gather together, there also shall be licensing discussions. One such, which can get quite heated, is the question of whether a given free-software license is a license, or whether it is really a contract. This distinction is important, because most legal systems treat the two differently. I know from personal experience that that discussion can go on, unresolved, for long periods, but it had not previously occurred to me to wonder whether this might be due to the answer being different in different jurisdictions. Fortunately, it has occurred to some lawyers to wonder just that, and three of them came together at FOSDEM 2018 to present their conclusions.

      The talk was given by Pamela Chestek of Chestek Legal, Andrew Katz of Moorcrofts, and Michaela MacDonald of Queen Mary University of London. Chestek focused on the US legal system, Katz on that of England and Wales, while MacDonald focused on the civil law tradition that is characteristic of many EU member states. The four licenses they chose to consider were the “Modified” or “three-clause” BSD, the Apache License, the GNU General Public License (their presentation was not specific to GPLv3, but the passage they quoted to make a point was from GPLv3), and the Fair License. The first three are among the most common free-software licenses currently in use. The latter is the shortest license the Open Source Initiative has ever approved, and though it is used by hardly any free software, it was included as an example of the maximum possible simplicity in a license.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

  • Programming/Development

    • Why Do We Do It?

      I studied Electronic Engineering (EE) in school, learning the very basics of what makes good hardware design. I put together resistors, capacitors, transistors, operational amplifiers, microprocessors and more onto breadboards and, in turn, observed the miracle of my creations. It didn’t stop there—next came the programming of such devices, writing microcode and eventually “operating systems” in their simplest of forms (using a lot of assembly language) to extend the functionality of my creations. The hardware gave these “creatures” life, but the software gave them brains. The excitement. The thrill. The adrenaline of never knowing what to expect. Was there a flaw in my design? And if so, how will I address it? Will I need an oscilloscope or a JTAG debugger? This new sense of responsibility gave me purpose. It gave me the motivation to persist and move on to bigger and greater challenges.

    • Java EE Becomes Jakarta EE As Oracle Wouldn’t Let Eclipse Keep The Name

      You may recall from last year that Oracle was looking to offload Java EE to someone else. They ended up putting the code on GitHub for Java Enterprise Edition and offering Java EE to the Eclipse Foundation, but that didn’t include the name.


  • Re-Live 90s Computing In Your Browser Right Now
  • And now for something completely different: Make that Power Mac into a radio station (plus: the radioSHARK tank and AltiVec + LAME = awesome)

    As I watch Law and Order reruns on my business trip, first, a couple followups. The big note is that it looks like Intel and some ARM cores aren’t the only ones vulnerable to Meltdown; Raptor Computer Systems confirms that Meltdown affects at least POWER7 through POWER9 as well, and the Talos II has already been patched. It’s not clear if this is true for POWER4 (which would include the G5) through POWER6 as these processor generations have substantial microarchitectural differences. However, it doesn’t change anything for the G3 and 7400, since because they appear to be immune to Spectre-type attacks means they must also be immune to Meltdown. As a practical matter, though, unless you’re running an iffy program locally there is no known JavaScript vector that successfully works to exploit Spectre (let alone Meltdown) on Power Macs, even on the 7450 and G5 which are known to be vulnerable to Spectre.

  • Science

    • Ice Apocalypse

      In the past few years, scientists have identified marine ice-cliff instability as a feedback loop that could kickstart the disintegration of the entire West Antarctic ice sheet this century — much more quickly than previously thought.

    • Electric wave engulfs brain at first blush of consciousness

      Our brains are bombarded with information about events around us, but we only become conscious of a few of them. Yale researchers have captured what happens in the split second before the emergence of consciousness, a fundamental state of human life.

      “There is a very tight window of a few milliseconds when we come aware of stimuli and before the experience is passed on to be coded in our memory and analyzed,” said Dr. Hal Blumenfeld, the Mark Loughridge and Michele Williams Professor of Neurology and senior author of the research published in the journal Cerebral Cortex.

    • Giant Family Tree of 13 Million People Just Created

      The researchers, who sifted through 86 million profiles of people on the public genealogy site Geni.com, were interested in how human migrations and marriage choices had changed over the past 500 years.


      After downloading the 86 million profiles, the researchers used mathematical graph theory to organize and double-check the accuracy of the information. In addition to smaller family trees, they put together the giant one of 13 million people, connected by ancestry and marriage, spanning an average of 11 generations. If the data had gone back another 65 generations, the researchers could have identified the group’s common ancestor and completed the tree, the researchers noted.

    • Newly discovered giant viruses have ‘the most complete translational apparatus of known virosphere’

      A team of researchers with members from several institutions in France, Brazil and Sweden has discovered two new strains of giant viruses, which they note have “the most complete translational apparatus of the known virosphere.” In their paper published in the journal Nature Communications, the group describe characteristics of the viruses including details about their genomes.

      It has been only a little more than a decade since a team of researchers identified Mimivirus, a giant virus that caused biologists to rethink the nature of viruses. That effort will likely heat up as two new strains of a giant virus have been discovered, both in Brazil—one in Soda Lake, the other off the coast of Rio de Janeiro. Together, the two new strains have been named Tupanvirus, after the Brazilian god Tupã.

    • In an Era of ‘Smart’ Things, Sometimes Dumb Stuff Is Better

      It still feels magical to light up your living room by saying “Alexa, turn on the lights.” But with all the hype surrounding so-called smart things — everyday devices that are connected to the internet — it’s easy to forget that sometimes the dumb stuff is just better.

      Tech companies are adding internet connections to just about everything you can imagine so that they can be controlled with smart speakers or phones. Thermostats, surveillance cameras, mosquito zappers, coffee makers — you name it.

      And smart devices are becoming more popular. In 2017, 15 percent of American households owned a home automation device, up from 10 percent in April 2016, according to NPD Group, a research firm.

      But before we get carried away setting up the Wi-Fi connections on all our appliances, lights and fashion accessories, let me play Luddite for a second. Some of the most mundane devices are designed to accomplish a simple task extremely well — and in some cases they still execute those duties better than their high-tech brethren.

    • What happens when you put evolution on replay?

      A team of scientists from the University of Arizona have engineered an instant replay switch for evolution. The technique, known as ancestral gene resurrection, inserts ancient genes into modern E. coli bacteria. It gives researchers the opportunity to watch evolution unfold again and again, providing insights into how life evolved on early Earth, and what it might potentially look like on other planets.

      “Organisms can function just fine even when they’ve been engineered with an essential gene that is over 700 million years old,” the study’s lead author Betül Kaçar, an astrobiologist at the University of Arizona, tells Astrobiology Magazine. “This work is a proof of concept. The next questions are: How far back can we go? And would we expect the sequences to evolve and function the same way that they did? Just because sequences are similar doesn’t mean that the gene will function in the same way.”

  • Health/Nutrition

    • EPA scientists find black communities disproportionately hit by pollution

      African-Americans faced the highest impact, with the community facing a 54 percent higher health burden compared to the overall population, the study found. Non-white communities overall had a 28 percent higher health burden and those living under the poverty line had a 35 percent higher burden.

    • Former water plant operator says Flint rushed to use flawed treatment plant

      Michael Glasgow, who also previously served as the operator in charge of the Flint water plant, testified Thursday, Feb. 22, that he asked city officials for more time to prepare for full-time water treatment in early 2014, had his request denied, and finally turned to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality for help.

      Glasgow told Genesee District Court Judge Jennifer Manley that he made his concerns known in emails to Michael Prysby and Stephen Busch, two of the DEQ employees facing charges of criminal wrongdoing related to the water crisis, but neither replied.

    • The ‘water war’ brewing over the new River Nile dam

      There’s been talk about a dam on the Blue Nile for many years, but when Ethiopia started to build, the Arab Spring was underway and Egypt was distracted.


      He understands that Egypt is worried, as the UN predicts the country will start suffering water shortages by 2025.

    • Cape Town Water Crisis Highlights Deep-Running Inequality

      South Africa’s seaside city of Cape Town is mired in a three-year drought and is poised to become the world’s first major city to run out of water. The city will shut off municipal taps on “Day Zero,” which is projected to be July 9.

      But for many residents of the city’s sprawling, low-income townships, water has always been a rare commodity. Cape Town resident Welekazi Rangana says she’s struggling to understand how some residents of this seaside town are chafing under tight new water restrictions.

    • Are we poisoning our children with plastic?

      The problem is that BPA can be ingested or absorbed through skin contact, meaning that humans are regularly exposed through the chemical leaching out of packaging into food and drink – and over the past 20 years various studies have linked BPA to a variety of adverse health effects. The biggest concerns have been the impact on foetuses and young children, who have underdeveloped systems for detoxifying chemicals – the consequences being that the younger you are, the higher the levels of BPA in your body.

      Once in the human body, BPA mimics the action of the hormone oestrogen and disrupts the endocrine system – the glands that produce hormones regulating, among other things, metabolism, growth, sexual function and sleep. Studies examining the effects of very high doses of BPA in mice have shown that this can cause problems with liver and kidney function, and mammary gland development. While these studies involve much higher doses than the general public would ever be exposed to, there are concerns that the levels of BPA that accumulate in infants can still have adverse developmental consequences, leading to neurobehavioural and immune system abnormalities.

    • Ocean plastic tide ‘violates the law’

      But a new report – to be presented to a Royal Geographical Society conference on Tuesday – says littering the sea with plastics is already prohibited under existing agreements.

    • Pharmaceutical corporations need to stop free-riding on publicly-funded research

      That’s not how it works; lifesaving medicines aren’t more expensive here because they cost less elsewhere. They’re priced out of reach everywhere because pharmaceutical corporations are charging exorbitant prices simply because they can—and the U.S. government lets them.

  • Security

    • Cryptographers Urge People to Abandon IOTA After Leaked Emails

      This past weekend, multiple prominent security researchers and academic cryptographers took to Twitter to paint a big black mark on the cryptocurrency project, IOTA. The posts implore investors not to hold the currency and researchers not to collaborate on enhancing the security of the system.

      An outcry was triggered shortly after a chain of private emails sent among the IOTA team and a group of external security researchers was made public, exposing the developers’ response to the disclosure of a critical flaw in one of their cryptographic building blocks. The correspondence, which ended with vague threats of legal action by IOTA founder, Sergey Ivancheglo, against a member of the Boston University security group, has prompted many academic researchers to denounce the entire project.

    • Ethereum’s smart contracts are full of holes

      Computer programs that run on blockchains are shaking up the financial system. But much of the hype around what are called smart contracts is just that. It’s a brand-new field. Technologists are just beginning to figure out how to design them so they can be relied on not to lose people’s money, and—as a new survey of Ethereum smart contracts illustrates—security researchers are only now coming to terms with what a smart-contract vulnerability even looks like.

    • GitHub Survived the Biggest DDoS Attack Ever Recorded

      On Wednesday, at about 12:15 pm ET, 1.35 terabits per second of traffic hit the developer platform GitHub all at once. It was the most powerful distributed denial of service attack recorded to date—and it used an increasingly popular DDoS method, no botnet required.

      GitHub briefly struggled with intermittent outages as a digital system assessed the situation. Within 10 minutes it had automatically called for help from its DDoS mitigation service, Akamai Prolexic. Prolexic took over as an intermediary, routing all the traffic coming into and out of GitHub, and sent the data through its scrubbing centers to weed out and block malicious packets. After eight minutes, attackers relented and the assault dropped off.

    • It’s begun: ‘First’ IPv6 denial-of-service attack puts IT bods on notice

      What’s claimed to be the first IPv6-based distributed denial-of-service attack has been spotted by internet engineers who warn it is only the beginning of what could become the next wave of online disruption.

      Network guru Wesley George noticed the strange traffic earlier this week as part of a larger attack on a DNS server in an effort to overwhelm it. He was taking packet captures of the malicious traffic as part of his job at Neustar’s SiteProtect DDoS protection service when he realized there were “packets coming from IPv6 addresses to an IPv6 host.”

      The attack wasn’t huge – unlike this week’s record-breaking 1.35Tbps attack on GitHub – and it wasn’t using a method that is exclusive to IPv6, but it was sufficiently unusual and worrying to flag to the rest of his team.

    • Shadow Brokers the reason why Kaspersky Lab is in the US doghouse

      At times, it does not pay to be the brightest kid on the block. But Kaspersky Lab, which has been in forefront of A-V research for some time, would have got away even with this, had it not been for a catastrophic leak of Windows vulnerabilities crafted by the NSA via a group that has called itself the Shadow Brokers.

    • 1.35Tbps: GitHub Faced World’s Biggest Ever DDoS Attack

      Just recently, GitHub, the most famous code sharing and hosting platform, faced the world’s most powerful DDoS attack. As per GitHub, the website was unavailable for about 5 minutes (17:21 to 17:26 UTC) on February 28th as a result of this massive torrent of 1.2 Tbps traffic targetting the site all at once.

    • SgxSpectre Exploits Recent Intel CPU Flaw And Leaks “Enclave” Secrets
    • Powerful New DDoS Method Adds Extortion

      Memcached communicates using the User Datagram Protocol or UDP, which allows communications without any authentication — pretty much anyone or anything can talk to it and request data from it.

      Because memcached doesn’t support authentication, an attacker can “spoof” or fake the Internet address of the machine making that request so that the memcached servers responding to the request all respond to the spoofed address — the intended target of the DDoS attack.

      Worse yet, memcached has a unique ability to take a small amount of attack traffic and amplify it into a much bigger threat. Most popular DDoS tactics that abuse UDP connections can amplify the attack traffic 10 or 20 times — allowing, for example a 1 mb file request to generate a response that includes between 10mb and 20mb of traffic.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • After Parkland, Students Across the Country Are Walking Out in Solidarity
    • Parkland Survivor Morgan Williams Called Out Donald Trump for Using His Hospital Visit as a Photo Op

      “Don’t you f*cking dare use a photo of one of my best friends for your benefit,” Morgan said in a retweet of The Hill’s coverage of the story. “If you truly cared, maybe you would have stayed at the hospital longer than 20 minutes.”

    • Plano parents whose sons joined ISIS are sentenced to prison for lying to federal agents

      Sumaiya Ali was sentenced to 30 months in prison, while her husband, Mohommad Hasnain Ali, was sentenced to 12 months plus one day. Both paid a $5,000 fine and will serve three years of supervised release after prison.

    • Al-Shabaab plundering starving Somali villages of cash and children

      Intelligence documents, transcripts of interrogations with recent defectors and interviews conducted by the Guardian with inhabitants of areas in the swath of central and southern Somalia controlled by al-Shabaab have shone a light on the severity of its harsh rule – but also revealed significant support in some areas.

      Systematic human rights abuses on a par with those committed by Islamic State in Iraq and Syria are being conducted by the al-Qaida-affiliated Islamist militants as the west largely looks away because most analysts do not see the group as posing a threat to Europe, the UK or the US.

    • ISIS Tells Muslims to Kidnap and Murder Christians in Russian-Occupied Areas
    • Turkey summons Dutch charge d’affaires over Armenian ‘genocide’ motions

      Turkey summoned the Dutch charge d‘affaires to Ankara on Saturday to express its unhappiness with a pair of proposed bills that would see the Netherlands recognize as genocide the 1915 killing of as many as 1.5 million Armenians.

    • Army says troops being sent to Saudi Arabia

      Saudi Arabia has been demanding deployment of Pakistani troops since the start of the Yemen conflict in 2015, but Pakistan has been struggling to evade the demand despite a unanimously adopted parliamentary resolution affirming the country’s “neutrality” in the conflict.

    • Russia Shooting: ISIS claimed deadly attack on church in Dagestan, five killed

      The small republic in the Caucasus mountains borders Chechnya, where Moscow has led two wars against separatists and radical religious groups since the 1991 Soviet collapse and which has seen a large number of people join Islamic State.

      Russian news agencies said the attack occurred as churchgoers celebrated Maslenitsa, a Christian holiday marking the last day before Lent according to the Eastern Orthodox calendar.

    • Man, sons dump headless body of landlord in river
    • Hindu Women Molested & Assaulted by Muslim Youth in Sawai Madhopur, Rajasthan – 3 Injured

      A group of Hindu women on their way to perform Chak Pujan, a pre-marriage ritual, were molested & assaulted by a group of Muslims who allegedly objected to music being played as the procession was crossing a mosque, Patrika has reported.

    • Minya Martyrs Church opens in memory of 21 Copts beheaded in Libya

      20 of the Coptic martyrs had once been residents in Minya’s Samalut and Mattay villages, before they were kidnapped by militants in January 2015. A republican decree was subsequently issued in 2015 to open a church in their memory.

    • Iraq’s reconstruction after ISIL defeat to cost $88 bln

      Rebuilding Iraq after three years of war with Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) will cost $88.2 billion, with housing a particularly urgent priority, Iraqi officials told an international conference on Feb.12

    • Infidel Women: Spoils of War

      To put it differently, all the Hollywood stars, militant feminists and social-justice warriors who are forever raging against “sexism” in the West — but who have nothing to say about Islam’s female victims — are not “defenders of women’s rights,” but “useful idiots” dedicated to subverting Western civilization no less than the terrorists they have been apologizing and covering for.

    • Stockholm attacker may use trial to spread propaganda, experts warn

      Rakhmat Akilov, who has has confessed to driving the truck in the April 2017 attack that killed five and injured many others in central Stockholm, will use his upcoming testimony to spread Isis propaganda, legal experts warned on Saturday.

    • Finally, a Likely Explanation for the “Sonic Weapon” Used at the U.S. Embassy in Cuba

      Last August, reports emerged that U.S. and Canadian diplomats in Cuba had suffered a host of mysterious ailments. Speculation soon arose that a high-frequency sonic weapon was to blame. Acoustics experts, however, were quick to point out the unlikeliness of such an attack. Among other things, ultrasonic frequencies—from 20 to 200 kilohertz—don’t propagate well in air and don’t cause the ear pain, headache, dizziness, and other symptoms reported in Cuba. Also, some victims recalled hearing high-pitched sounds, whereas ultrasound is inaudible to humans.

      The mystery deepened in October, when the Associated Press (AP) released a 6-second audio clip, reportedly a recording of what U.S. embassy staff heard. The chirping tones, centered around 7 kHz, were indeed audible, but they didn’t suggest any kind of weapon.

    • Florida lawmakers declare porn a ‘health risk’ but block assault rifle ban
    • ‘They Put Lethal Weapons Into the Hands of 13-Year-Olds’

      In the wake of lethal gun violence like that in Parkland, Florida, we talk about the specific details of this shooting and this killer, and we talk about the US culture of violence: imperialist, domestic, statutory. Sometimes overlooked are what you might call the “bridges” between these things.

      What are some of the mechanisms that convey ideas, about the rightness of violence and the value of weapons, to individuals like the 19-year-old who killed 14 of his former classmates, two staff members and a teacher? The young man was a member of the Army Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps program at the high school before he was expelled. He was wearing his JROTC shirt when he carried out the attack. Our guest says, whatever the role here, the presence of military recruiters in high schools around the country calls out for challenge.

    • Saudi Arabia replaces military commanders in late-night reshuffle
    • Municipality approves Terrafame uranium extraction

      Terrafame, the state-owned firm now running the mine that previously went bankrupt under the Talvivaara name, has taken a step towards getting official approval for its plans to extract uranium.

    • All Fire and Fury in Ukraine

      The still decidedly volatile situation in Ukraine – resulting from another in a long line of U.S.-inspired regime changes that have done destabilized the geopolitical landscape over the past few decades – is worth revisiting for a number of reasons. With the fourth anniversary of the coup just passed, the sudden, shock passing of veteran investigative journalist Robert Parry and Consortium News founder/editor also affords even greater impetus for doing so. This is especially given his incisive body of reportage on the crisis since 2014; the larger issue of America’s worsening relationship with Russia; and the geopolitical implications going forward of these developments. Australian blogger Greg Maybury reports.

    • Why Putin’s Latest Weapons Claims Should Scare Us

      Don’t be afraid that he has any intention of using them. Don’t even be afraid that most of the weapons he demonstrated through animated simulations are operational.

      Be afraid, rather, that armchair Cold Warriors in the United States will shamelessly exploit Putin’s speech to justify billions—no, trillions—of dollars in needless spending on a pointless nuclear arms race.

      Achieving their agenda was made easier by media coverage of the speech, which reported that Putin “threatened the West” (New York Times) and “represented an escalated level of martial rhetoric even by his pugnacious standards” (Washington Post).

      Putin in fact explicitly and repeatedly emphasized that his claimed new weapons are not offensive, but rather designed to maintain Russia’s nuclear deterrent in the face of growing U.S. anti-missile systems.

    • How ‘Operation Merlin’ Poisoned U.S. Intelligence on Iran

      Jeffrey Sterling, the case officer for the CIA’s covert “Operation Merlin,” who was convicted in May 2015 for allegedly revealing details of that operation to James Risen of the New York Times, was released from prison in January after serving more than two years of a 42-month sentence. He had been tried and convicted on the premise that the revelation of the operation had harmed U.S. security.

    • Putin Claims Strategic Parity, Respect

      Vladimir Putin’s announcement of new weapons systems to achieve nuclear parity was the result of the erosion arms control regimes, such as the ill-advised U.S. withdrawal from the ABM treaty in 2002, Ray McGovern explains.

    • The ignored war within: America’s addiction to violence starts young
    • Putin’s Ultimatum Is The Next Stage Of The War
    • Windows blown out in explosion at home in southern Sweden

      The man who lives at the building was not home at the time of the blast, but his car had previously exploded on New Year’s Eve, one of his colleagues at the emergency services in Skåne told SVT.

    • Is Putin’s new nuclear systems source of mysterious radioactivity in the air?

      Flexing his nuclear muscles like never before, the Russian President in his annual state-of-the-nation speech presented two new nuclear-powered delivering systems for warheads.

      Several times over the last two years, tiny small traces of radioactive iodine-131 have been measured in Europe, especially in the Scandinavian countries. National radiation agencies have been unable to direct the source of release, speculating in everything from leakages at a medical isotope production facility to leakages from operative nuclear reactors.

      In Norway and Finland, radioactive isotopes were discovered at monitoring stations in January and March last year, as well as in January and February this year. The first cloud of radioactivity last year was first detected at Svanhovd air filter station on Norway’s border to Russia in the north, but spread over most of Europe south to France and Spain over the following two weeks.

    • Ex-NSA Official: North Korea Funding Nuclear Program with Cryptocurrency

      North Korea remains unsurprisingly persistent with its nuclear program in the face of new US sanctions — and one former top NSA official claims cryptocurrencies are to blame.

    • More than 100 girls missing after raid on Nigerian school, father says

      More than 100 girls are missing after suspected Boko Haram militants attacked their school in northeastern Nigeria Monday night, according the father of one of those missing.

      Bashir Manzo told CNN that his daughter Fatima was among at least 104 schoolgirls unaccounted for after the raid on the Government Girls Science Technical College in Dapchi, Yobe.

    • Nigerian government reveals names of 110 girls kidnapped by Boko Haram

      The Nigerian government has released the names of the 110 missing girls, some as young as 11 years old, who have not been seen since a raid on their school in Dapchi last week.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Using mosquito nets for fishing potential threat to both humans and nature

      Mosquito nets distributed to combat malaria are often used for fishing instead, impacting fish populations and human health in developing countries.

      The first-ever global assessment of mosquito net fishing (MNF), published today in the journal PLOS ONE, reveals full scale of the practice and calls for collaborative solutions.

      One of the major impacts of MNF is that it traps young fish, which affects the growth of future stock. This can undermine fisheries management efforts and impact communities that depend on fish as their main source of food.

    • Arctic temperatures surge in the dead of winter

      In the past, it was not unusual for the Arctic to see days where temperatures would peak above minus 10 C (14 F), but what we are seeing now is different. Those peaks are becoming more frequent and long-lasting.

      More worryingly, the warming weather pattern is producing a circular affect.

    • Wastewater injections set off a Kansas earthquake binge

      In the past decade, Oklahoma has turned heads as it has joined the list of places where earthquake insurance is a prudent investment. The sudden uptick in seismic activity is due to injections of foul wastewater into deep disposal wells—triggering what are known as “human-induced earthquakes.”

    • Embattled company plagiarized bid for Puerto Rico hot meal contract, senators say

      Democratic Sens. Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Gary Peters of Michigan say that Tribute Contracting LLC — which lost its contract in October after just 20 days because it had delivered only 50,000 of the 30 million meals promised — lifted paragraphs from two other companies related to logistics and delivery. The senators sent the letter through their spots on the Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs, on which McCaskill is the top Democrat.

      According to the letter dated Thursday to FEMA administrator Brock Long, Tribute had no experience in delivery contracts of this scale, and a history of canceled federal contracts that were smaller than the one in Puerto Rico. The senators also accuse Tribute of lying about its relationship with a logistics company.

    • Britain and Europe must ban palm oil in biofuel to save forests, EU parliament told

      The pushback has been strong, particularly in south-east Asia, the origin of 90% of the world’s palm oil exports, which is used in hundreds of supermarket products. Palm oil can also be blended with diesel to power engines, which is what the ban would halt.


      But indigenous and other communities who are negatively affected by the plantations urge the EU to push ahead with the ban and to go further by tightening other supply chain controls to prevent damage to their land, rights and environment.

    • Scientists tracked commercial fishing in real-time and found over half the world’s oceans fished

      Researchers found that over half the world’s oceans, 55%, is now being industrially fished. That is around four times the land area that is covered by agriculture. The new research also found that in 2016, 70,000 ships of the global fishing fleet travelled across 460 km, almost the same as travelling to the moon and back to Earth 600 times.


      The researchers believe that the total area of the world’s oceans being fished may actually be higher than the estimated 55%. This is because the research did not include some areas with poor satellite coverage.

    • The flowers that give us chocolate are ridiculously hard to pollinate

      Those flowers make nothing easy. Each petal curves into a tiny hood that fits down around the male, pollen-making structure. A honeybee trying to reach the pollen would be a useless, giant blimp. Instead, flies not much bigger than a poppy seed, in the biting midge subfamily Forcipomyiinae, crawl up into the hoods and do — something.

      But what? The flower offers no nectar for the midges to collect. So far, researchers haven’t even demonstrated that there’s an odor luring in the midges. Some biologists have mused that red spikes on the flowers offer nutritious nibbling for midges, but Kearney knows of no tests of this notion.

    • Judge finds written attack on climate scientist too ludicrous to be libel

      But the judge also decided that the derogatory statements aimed more clearly at Weaver failed to meet the legal standard for defamation. His reason? No one could take them seriously. Citing a list of careless inaccuracies in Ball’s article, the judge said it lacked “a sufficient air of credibility to make them believable and therefore potentially defamatory.”

    • Mich. utility to phase out electricity production by coal by 2040

      Consumers Energy told The Associated Press it will phase out electricity production from coal over the next 20 years in an effort to cut emissions that cause global warming.

    • Dramatic decline in Borneo’s orangutan population as 150,000 lost in 16 years

      While the steepest percentage losses occurred in regions where the forest has been cut down to make way for palm oil and acacia plantations, more animals were killed by hunters who ventured into the forest, or by farm workers when the apes encroached on agricultural land, a study found.

      Researchers estimate that the number of orangutans left on Borneo now stands at between 70,000 and 100,000, meaning the population more than halved over the study period which ran from 1999 to 2015. Without fresh efforts to protect the animals, the numbers could fall at least another 45,000 in the next 35 years, the conservationists predict. The real decline could be worse, because the prediction is based only on habitat loss, and does not include killings.

    • After rising for 100 years, electricity demand is flat. Utilities are freaking out.

      The US electricity sector is in a period of unprecedented change and turmoil. Renewable energy prices are falling like crazy. Natural gas production continues its extraordinary surge. Coal, the golden child of the current administration, is headed down the tubes.

      In all that bedlam, it’s easy to lose sight of an equally important (if less sexy) trend: Demand for electricity is stagnant.

    • Dramatic declines in snowpack in the western US

      Mountain snowpack stores a significant quantity of water in the western US, accumulating during the wet season and melting during the dry summers and supplying much of the water used for irrigated agriculture, and municipal and industrial uses. Updating our earlier work published in 2005, we find that with 14 additional years of data, over 90% of snow monitoring sites with long records across the western US now show declines, of which 33% are significant (vs. 5% expected by chance) and 2% are significant and positive (vs. 5% expected by chance). Declining trends are observed across all months, states, and climates, but are largest in spring, in the Pacific states, and in locations with mild winter climate. We corroborate and extend these observations using a gridded hydrology model, which also allows a robust estimate of total western snowpack and its decline. We find a large increase in the fraction of locations that posted decreasing trends, and averaged across the western US, the decline in average April 1 snow water equivalent since mid-century is roughly 15–30% or 25–50 km3, comparable in volume to the West’s largest man-made reservoir, Lake Mead.

    • 1.5 million penguins discovered on remote Antarctic islands

      A thriving “hotspot” of 1.5 million Adelie penguins, a species fast declining in parts of the world, has been discovered on remote islands off the Antarctic Peninsula, surprised scientists said Friday.

      The first bird census of the Danger Islands unearthed over 750,000 Adelie breeding pairs, more than the rest of the area combined, the team reported in the journal Scientific Reports.

    • Rumble in the jungle: mother bear fights off Indian tiger

      Tourists on a wildlife safari in central India were treated to a rare and vicious fight for survival between a sloth bear defending its young and a huge Bengal tiger.

      A tour guide in Maharashtra was able to capture on film the ferocious battle between the jungle giants. The tour guide had a ringside seat to the 15-minute brawl as the mother fought off the predator.

      Her instincts kicked into gear as the male tiger stalked her cub in Tadoba National Park, igniting a rarely seen flare of aggression from the shaggy black bears not known for being territorial.

  • Finance

    • The Supreme Court Case That Could Give Tech Giants More Power

      Big tech platforms — Amazon, Facebook, Google — control a large and growing share of our commerce and communications, and the scope and degree of their dominance poses real hazards. A bipartisan consensus has formed around this idea. Senator Elizabeth Warren has charged tech giants with using their heft to “snuff out competition,” and even Senator Ted Cruz — usually a foe of government regulation — recently warned of their “unprecedented” size and power. While the potential tools for redressing the harms vary, a growing chorus is calling for the use of antitrust law.

      But the decision in a case currently before the Supreme Court could block off that path, by effectively shielding big tech platforms from serious antitrust scrutiny. On Monday the Court heard Ohio v. American Express, a case centering on a technical but critical question about how to analyze harmful conduct by firms that serve multiple groups of users. Though the case concerns the credit card industry, it could have sweeping ramifications for the way in which antitrust law gets applied generally, especially with regards to the tech giants.

    • Uber and Lyft drivers’ median hourly wage is just $3.37, report finds

      Researchers did an analysis of vehicle cost data and a survey of more than 1,100 drivers for the ride-hailing companies for the paper published by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research. The report – which factored in insurance, maintenance, repairs, fuel and other costs – found that 30% of drivers are losing money on the job and that 74% earn less than the minimum wage in their states.

    • Study: Most Uber, Lyft drivers paid under minimum wage

      Uber and Lyft drivers make a median $3.37 an hour before taxes, according to a new Massachusetts Institute of Technology study, less than the federal minimum wage.

      According to the research, 30 percent of drivers actually lose money from Uber and Lyft when the costs of maintenance and other expenses for their cars are factored in.

    • The Role of Luck in Life Success Is Far Greater Than We Realized

      What does it take to succeed? What are the secrets of the most successful people? Judging by the popularity of magazines such as Success, Forbes, Inc., and Entrepreneur, there is no shortage of interest in these questions. There is a deep underlying assumption, however, that we can learn from them because it’s their personal characteristics–such as talent, skill, mental toughness, hard work, tenacity, optimism, growth mindset, and emotional intelligence– that got them where they are today. This assumption doesn’t only underlie success magazines, but also how we distribute resources in society, from work opportunities to fame to government grants to public policy decisions. We tend to give out resources to those who have a past history of success, and tend to ignore those who have been unsuccessful, assuming that the most successful are also the most competent.

    • Tech Mogul Gets $12 Billion Richer Just by Leaving New York for China

      Zhou Hongyi did just that, relocating his online security firm to China and merging it into a shell company, which soared as much as 550 percent since he announced the plan in November. Qihoo 360 Technology Co. delisted from the New York Stock Exchange in July 2016 and began trading Wednesday in Shanghai as 360 Security Technology Inc. The move boosted Zhou’s net worth to $13.6 billion, making him China’s 12th-richest person, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

    • Chinese government planning $31.5bn in investments to make China a global player in semiconductors

      The Chinese government is planning a large-scale assault on the semiconductor industry, with ambitions to direct investment of some 200 billion yuan – $31.5 billion – into Chinese chip makers.

      That’s according to Bloomberg, which claims that the investments are intended to make China a leader in the global semiconductor industry.

      Bloomberg’s sources claim that the China Integrated Circuit Industry Investment Fund Co is currently in talks with government officials to raise money.

    • China spent an estimated $279 billion on R&D last year

      China’s total spending on research and development is estimated to have hit 1.76 trillion yuan ($279 billion) last year — a year-on-year increase of 14 percent, China’s science minister said on Monday.

    • Goodbye Copycat: China Returns to Its Innovation Roots

      China has long been considered the copycat nation of the world. For generations, its goal was not to build on what the competition has done, but rather play catch-up by piggybacking on other people’s technological advances and underpricing the competition. For years, Chinese copycat knockoff products have flooded western markets.

      This raised concerns about brand infringement and intellectual property theft. The Chinese government has failed to protect intellectual property rights. To get a sense of the scale of this, consider the fact that China is home to fake Apple stores filled with employees who think they work for the U.S. company.

    • Is Amazon Too Big to Tax?

      This year, like every other year, is shaping up to be a triumphant one for Amazon. It is on the cusp of becoming the first trillion dollar company ever. In the coming months it will announce the opening of a second headquarters—and likely bank billions in tax breaks and other incentives from the lucky city it chooses to grace with its presence. The company’s founder and CEO Jeff Bezos will continue to be the richest person in the history of the world. Amazon will continue to grow at a rapid clip, gobbling up e-commerce market share and posting staggering revenues. It will even post profits. And it will pay next to nothing, and possibly nothing at all, in federal taxes.

    • The biggest company you may not know all that much about

      It’s easy for brands to have their stories obscured by the mountain of press given to behemoths like Amazon.com Inc., UPS Inc., FedEx Corp., Walmart Inc., and Alibaba. But there’s a company not especially well known outside its home market that appears to have put everything together in such a way that it may come to dominate everyone.

      Its name is JD.com. Based in Beijing, it has, in the 14 years since it launched its e-commerce site, developed and executed such a formidable model that it could easily threaten the market share of any rival it chooses to take on. For now, JD remains China-centric, although it is expanding into Thailand, Indonesia, and Vietnam. It has no plans at this time to take on Amazon or anyone else in the domestic U.S. market. Most of its shares are in public hands, though Chinese firm Tencent, which runs the ubiquitous “WeChat” Chinese messaging platform, owns 20 percent, and Walmart owns 10 percent.

    • EU Threatens Iconic U.S. Brands After Trump Opens Door to Trade War

      President Donald Trump set the stage for a trade war after slapping tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, daring other countries to retaliate and leading the European Union to warn that it would target iconic American brands.

      Hours after Trump tweeted that “trade wars are good, and easy to win,” European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said the bloc is prepared to respond forcefully by targeting imports of Harley-Davidson Inc. motorbikes, Levi Strauss & Co. jeans and bourbon whiskey from the U.S.

    • Someone tell Trump the trade war is over. China won

      Nine years ago it was car tyres followed by chicken feet. Now it’s washing machines and solar panels followed by sorghum. Aluminium and steel may soon be tossed in the mix.

      The familiar trade skirmishes between the United States and China usually end with a whimper. But American presidents have traditionally been like the proverbial cartoon character who gets dropped off a cliff, run over with a steam roller and blown up with dynamite; he gets up, arches an angry eyebrow and declares: “Next time, I’m going to get really mad!”

    • Biss throws himself under the bus answering gov debate question on CTA pass

      State Sen. Daniel Biss – who promises to be the “Middle Class Governor” in ads running throughout the state — endured a “The Price is Right” question Thursday night at a gubernatorial forum in Chicago.

      And he didn’t quite pass the test.

      Biss, D-Evanston, was asked by WBEZ reporter Dave McKinney what the full price of a monthly CTA pass is during a lightning round of questions to test the six Democratic candidates on their knowledge of prices regular voters pay in everyday expenditures.

      “This campaign has been framed as a battle for the heart of middle and low-income voters, and since that’s the case, we’re going to do a simple test to see how connected each of you is to average Illinoisans,” McKinney said.

    • How Did America Go Bankrupt? Slowly, At First, Then All At Once!!!

      Typically, the metrics of total debt or federal debt divided by GDP (Gross Domestic Product or the total value of goods produced and services provided in the US annually) are used (chart below). Still, that’s a bit ethereal to most folks.

      So, I thought I’d make this simpler. The chart below shows federal debt (red line) versus total full time employees (blue line) since 1970. Clearly, debt has surged since 2000 and particularly since 2008 versus decelerating net full time jobs growth. The number of full time employees is economically critical as, generally speaking, only these jobs offer the means to be a home buyer or build savings and wealth in a consumer driven economy. Part time employment generally offers only subsistence level earnings.

    • Al Rayan debuts sharia-compliant bond backed by UK mortgages
  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Why Americans are such easy targets for [astroturfers] and bots

      But it isn’t just our knowledge base that’s the problem; it’s the fact that the United States has effectively abandoned the notion that investing in education is critical for the future of our nation.

    • Facebook to End News Feed Experiment in 6 Countries That Magnified Fake News

      News organizations in the countries — Slovakia, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Bolivia, Guatemala and Serbia — had said they were blindsided by the Facebook experiment when it began in October and complained that it had led to a surprising rise in misinformation.

    • Facebook is not getting any bigger in the United States

      It’s starting to feel official: Facebook’s U.S. audience is as big as it’s going to get.

      Facebook is massive in this country. More than two-thirds of Americans, specifically 68 percent, use the service, according to new research from Pew Research Center.

    • How long does China’s President Xi Jinping plan to hold power? Here’s the magic number

      As overseas media and analysts scramble to assess the implications and query the development, the answer to one of the biggest questions can in fact be inferred from his landmark marathon speech at the Communist Party’s 19th congress – a speech that gave him a stronger mandate for his second term as the party chief. On October 18, when Xi strode to the podium of the Great Hall of the People and delivered the extraordinarily long address that lasted nearly 3½ hours, he laid out an ambitious vision for the next 30 years. While his speech of more than 34,000 words was littered with landmark goals, the magic number was 2035 – the year Xi has promised China will basically achieve socialist modernisation, 15 years ahead of the schedule set by late paramount leader Deng Xiaoping back in the 1980s.

    • What is the Einstein visa? And how did Melania Trump get one?

      Melania Trump obtained US citizenship on a visa reserved for immigrants with “extraordinary ability” and “sustained national and international acclaim”, according to a report in the Washington Post.
      Nicknamed the “Einstein Visa”, the EB-1 is in theory reserved for people who are highly acclaimed in their field – the government cites Pulitzer, Oscar, and Olympic winners as examples – as well as respected academic researchers and multinational executives.
      Mrs Trump began applying for the visa in 2000, when she was Melania Knauss, a Slovenian model working in New York and dating Donald Trump. She was approved in 2001, one of just five people from Slovenia to win the coveted visa that year, according to the Post.
      Becoming a citizen in 2006 gave her the right to sponsor her parents, Viktor and Amalija Knavs, who are now in the US and in the process of applying for citizenship.
      The reports of how Mrs Trump obtained her EB-1 visa will rankle with some, at a time when her husband is railing against immigrants and attempting to scrap the right of new citizens to sponsor family members. And questions have been raised about her suitability for the extraordinary ability category.

    • Will Al Jazeera Air The Lobby Before AIPAC Meets?

      The Israel lobby has a lot of levers it can push and pull to curry favorable news coverage from media organizations. These range from denying access to the limited pool of top-tier pundits and Israeli government officials, to crippling economic boycotts. This power is visible in the battle to punish and shutter Al Jazeera, the Qatari state-funded news organization.

      Al Jazeera’s undercover investigative series The Lobby stunned both U.K. and US viewers last year. The product of a six-month 2016 undercover investigation, the four-part series revealed the Israeli embassy’s close guidance of allegedly “independent” pro-Israel UK domestic organizations, unfounded accusations of anti-Semitism lodged against Labour Party members, and coordinated efforts to take down lawmakers deemed hostile to Israel. The series led to the dismissal of Shai Masot, a shadowy Israeli embassy official profiled in part four of the series, and apologies from the Israeli embassy.

    • Left-wing, right-wing: The case for realignment of political labels
    • Trump’s transubstantiation of falsehood into truth
  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Comcast’s Protected Browsing Blocks TorrentFreak as “Suspicious” Site

      Website blocking is a common tool for copyright holders to keep people away from pirate sites. While these measures are often mandated by court order, ISPs also offer voluntary blocking tools, to prevent subscribers from accessing dangerous sites. Comcast’s Xfinity, for example, offers “protected browsing” which, ironically, will prevent users from reading this article.

    • Good Night, and Good Luck: Freedom of speech in Sweden

      Another change in the Basic Laws of Sweden, currently being prepared for the next term of office, is SOU 2017:70, a new law on foreign espionage. In this law, which is primarily aimed at news reporting on military or police operations impacting Sweden’s relationship with a foreign power, the government reserves the right to impose extensive coercive measures even if there is merely suspicion that a journalist intends to write an article for publication. Several elements of whistleblower protection are rescinded and the law is written in such a way that, in practice, all relationships that Sweden maintains with states or intergovernmental organizations affected by a news report are covered if it can be accommodated within the term “Peace and Security.” Without a doubt, reporting on the Swedish aid industry is included in this term. The enforcement measures that the government can use against journalists are:

      Phone surveillance

      Data surveillance

      Placing trojans inside the suspected journalist’s devices

      Placing hidden cameras in vehicles, homes and offices used by the suspected journalist

      Placing hidden microphones in vehicles, homes and offices used by the suspected journalist

      These enforcement measures will be available to prosecutors and police already at the suspicion of the individual journalist working on an article that may be published. Just the suspicion will suffice.

    • Swedenstan: Näthats behind ‘witch-hunt’ arrests of people expressing political opinions

      The number of Swedish citizens prosecuted and convicted of writing posts about immigrants on Facebook has increased significantly over the past year. Behind a large part of the reports and prosecutions is an organization called Näthats.

    • Pornhub’s owner reveals its age verification tool for the UK
    • How ‘sex trafficking’ just opened the censorship floodgates

      That’s because its backers and proponents are waging an effective disinformation campaign. They’re saying it will help sex trafficking victims when it plainly won’t. They have literally combined sex work and sex trafficking under a single, catch-all umbrella. And that includes all the at-risk populations represented by sex workers across the divides of race, gender, orientation, and social class.

    • House overwhelmingly passes a bill that conflates sex work and sex trafficking

      On Tuesday, the House voted 388-25 in favor of a bill that advocates say conflates sex trafficking and sex work, and would result in more dangerous conditions for sex workers. Eleven Democrats and 14 Republicans voted no, with 18 abstentions.

    • Suspect from Shahdara blasphemy case in critical condition after mysterious fall

      A man suspected to have been involved in the Shahdara blasphemy case, which erupted earlier this week is fighting for his life after allegedly having “fallen off” the fourth floor of the Federal Investigation Agency’s (FIA) Punjab headquarters building, during an investigation.

    • Twitter asks for help fixing its toxicity problem

      Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey tweeted today that the company isn’t proud of how some have taken advantage of its service, specifically calling out troll armies, misinformation campaigns and bots. And he added that Twitter has been accused of apathy, censorship and political bias as it has attempted to fix [sic] its problems.

    • Can you hear me?

      The lack of silence is paradoxically a silencing force, because it ensures that nobody is heard above the din. The ability of debates to smother any feedback is such that it is effectively becoming another censor that prevents meaningful or constructive discussion on any topic. Democratic debates are thus ironically becoming the most effective ways to throttle a sustained discussion on topics which can prove inconvenient to the power centres.

    • EC will give Facebook, Google et al one hour to remove illegal content, or else

      In a bid to “monitor progress in tackling illegal content online”, the EC recommended the new set of operational measures on Thursday, accompanied by necessary safeguards, to be taken by companies and Member State.

      Any tech company that is responsible for people posting content online will have three months from now to report back to the EU on what they were doing to meet the new targets it has set.

    • Rightsholders & Belgian ISPs Cooperate to Block 450 ‘Pirate’ Domains

      Rightsholders and ISPs in Belgium have agreed to present a list of 450 domains to a judge alongside allegations they facilitate illegal downloading. With the ISPs keen to assist but without accepting any liability, it appears that the collaborative process will lead to the blocking of the domains while avoiding complex and costly legal proceedings.

    • Letters: Neither censorship nor hate is acceptable

      David Haskell’s recent piece misrepresents positions taken by the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM).

      The NCCM in no way seeks to shield the Islamic faith, or any other belief system, from criticism. Moreover, the NCCM didn’t endorse the initial definition of Islamophobia used by the Toronto District School Board in its educator’s guidebook. In fact, our organization advised that the definition used by the Ontario Human Rights Commission should be adopted, and referenced this very definition in our testimony before the heritage committee.

      Even a cursory examination of the Islamic tradition demonstrates Muslims themselves have a long history of self-critique and debate about their faith. Criticism of faith or religious practices is expected, and goes to the heart of our constitutional right to freedom of expression that we all must enjoy and safeguard.

    • Lantern Festival Riddles Outwit and Enrage Chinese Censorship Authorities

      The above poem was circulated on one of my WeChat groups during the Lantern Festival on March 2, 2018, and was immediately viewed as a Lantern Riddle for people to decode. Everyone in the group knows that it is a mockery of the recent constitutional amendment proposal put forward by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) regarding the abolition of the two-term limit on the state’s presidency.

      Of course, no one posts the answer, knowing that it would trigger the webcensor. They just give a thumbs up. This Lantern riddle is just one of the many examples of Chinese netizens’ recent attempts to circumvent censorship on the constitutional amendment. Here’s how: The answer to the riddle is a new term — “Xi forever” (習到永遠) — which, ever since the constitutional amendment proposal was made public on February 25, 2018, replaces the common expression of “Forever and ever” (直到永遠).

      The announcement was made on February 25. The Central Committee of the CCP suggested deleting a line from the country’s constitution which states that the president and vice-president “shall serve no more than two consecutive terms”. The proposal would pave the way for Chinese President Xi Jinping to rule indefinitely.

    • The internet cannot be easily censored

      With no end in sight to the rule of the ever-more-autocratic Xi Jinping, China’s efforts to command and control the thought of its people have shifted into overdrive. Online, censorship is reaching what appear to be terrifying new heights. But a calmer view strongly suggests that the internet is not nearly as easy to bring to heel as Beijing — or many Americans — believe.

      The news is this: online censors have recently cracked down on everything from George Orwell’s Animal Farm to — literally — the letter N. Sino Weibo, equivalent to Twitter in China, now blocks users from searching for such terms as “personality cult,” “disagree,” and, perhaps most ominously of all, “emigrate.”

    • A ‘political hit job’? Why the alt-right is accusing big tech of censorship

      In January, Charles C “Chuck” Johnson filed a suit contesting his ban from Twitter back in May 2015.

      Johnson, an American rightwing provocateur, has a long history of smearing and hunting political opponents. He runs a scurrilous news site, GotNews, and another that crowdsources bounties for damaging information on his self-selected foes. He was eighty-sixed from Twitter following outrage from other users after a tweet appealing for crowdsourcing to “take out” Black Lives Matter activist, DeRay McKesson.

      It was an early example of Twitter appearing to accede to user pressure in scrubbing rightwing accounts.

    • Kim Dotcom proposes Twitter alternative over ‘censorship of Seth Rich tweets’

      Kim Dotcom has called on Twitter to stop ‘censoring’ tweets, saying he’ll create an alternative to the social network if it continues. Dotcom told RT he believes Twitter is targeting tweets about late DNC staffer Seth Rich.

      Tweeting early Saturday, the Megaupload founder urged Twitter’s Jack Dorsey to “stop messing with our free speech” and warning that if Dotcom creates an alternative platform, “Twitter could be toast within a year”.

    • After netizens criticized Xi Jinping, China banned a Quora-like app for not censoring enough content

      Local China Q&A app Zhihu has been temporarily banned from app stores following intense censorship in China over the country’s plan to scrap presidential term limits.

      The Quora-like app ran afoul of the Beijing Cyberspace Administration for “lax supervision and the spread of illegal information” and was ordered to be removed from app stores for seven days.

      The administration did not clarify what the illegal information was. However, last week censorship flared up across popular platforms Weibo and WeChat as netizens criticized Xi Jinping’s plan to rule the country indefinitely. Dozens of words were censored, including, at times, Xi’s name and even the letter ‘N.’

    • The Gray Market: Why Art Censorship Is Built Into Facebook’s DNA (and Other Insights)

      On Tuesday, The Art Newspaper reported that, in late December, Facebook censored an Italian user’s personal post featuring an image of the Venus of Willendorf, one of art history’s oldest and best-known depictions of the nude female form. The petite limestone sculpture dates from the Paleolithic period and has been the defining work held by Vienna’s Naturhistorisches Museum since its discovery in the nearby town of Willendorf during a 1908 dig headed by the institution’s archaeologists.

      The following day, the museum lashed out at Facebook by releasing an official statement that reads in part, “an archaeological object, especially such an iconic one, should not be banned from Facebook because of ‘nudity,’ as no artwork should be.”

      By Thursday, a spokesperson for the social media titan apologized for the incident, saying that its community standards forbidding nudes contain “an exception for statues, which is why the post should have been approved.”

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Brexit and data protection

      Anyway, much of the information here comes from the Open Rights Group, albeit the editorialising is mine. Full disclosure: I’ve just stepped down from the Board of ORG and am still on their advisory list. ORG is compiling information relevant to yesterday’s speech here.

    • Privacy Risks with Facebook’s PII-based Targeting: Auditing a Data Broker’s Advertising Interface

      Recently, most advertising platforms have begun allowing advertisers to target users directly by uploading the personal information of the users who they wish to advertise to (e.g., their names, email addresses, phone numbers, etc.); these services are often known as custom audiences.


      There has been surprisingly little academic study of custom audiences. The most recent related study by Minkus et al. [23] empirically examined how offline information (such as voter records) could be matched to public Facebook profiles, thereby enabling the inference of features such as the user’s residential address, date and year of birth, and political affiliation. Tucker [33] investigated how users’ perception of control over their personal information affects how likely they are to click on online advertising on Facebook, and found that giving users control over their private information can benefit advertising on Facebook. This implies that users want to control their own data used in online advertising; however, the current privacy settings [8] give users very few options. Even worse, users do not have control over their offline data, which can be used in the custom audiences feature. [...]

    • Which VPN Services Keep You Anonymous in 2018?

      In response to a growing threat of Internet surveillance and censorship, VPN services have surged in popularity in recent years. Encrypting one’s traffic through a VPN connection helps to keep online communications private, but what more does your VPN provider do to keep you anonymous? We take a look at the logging policies and other privacy features of dozens of VPN providers.

    • TCRA launches biometric sim card registration

      Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA), yesterday, launched a pilot project for biometric sim card registration that is set to involve six regions.

    • How Canvas Fingerprint Blockers Make You Easily Trackable

      Thought your canvas fingerprint blocker made you incognito? Think again.

    • Dropbox and Google sign a deal for for cross-platform [sic] compatibility

      Dropbox is partnering with Google to bring cross-compatibility with G Suite for the first time.

      This will mean users will be able to use Gmail, Docs, Sheets, Slide and Hangouts with Dropbox, instead of Google Drive, if they so wish.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Uzbekistan Releases Journalist After 19 Years in Prison

      You may never have heard of him, but by our count, Ruzimuradov, 64, was one of the world’s longest imprisoned journalists. His crime? Working for an independent newspaper, Erk, or Freedom.

    • How a reporter’s #NoDAPL photo wound up in the Russia investigations

      Never did I imagine a photo I took would be used by Russian [shills] to try to manipulate the pipeline debate. But as all journalists and photographers know, controlling your images once they’re posted online is nearly impossible.

      In reading through the congressional report, one point jumped out at me. Russia’s Internet Research Agency spread posts both attacking the protesters and trying to drum up sympathy for them:

    • A smuggler’s chilling warning

      We are posing as would-be migrants attempting to reach Italy with the help of our “pusherman” — one of an army of brokers who work alongside smugglers on the Nigerian end of the migrant route from Africa to Europe.


      When the migrants fail to pay, they are held in grim living conditions, deprived of food, abused by their captors, and sold as laborers in slave auctions.

    • Here’s the tight wing plan to destroy unions and hinder Democratic fundraising

      That case is Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, which will determine whether public-sector unions can collect fees from non-union employees.

      It sounds like a simple and technical issue, but the outcome could change the fate of public-sector unions, the strongest-standing bulwark of labor organizing in a time when many private unions have largely faded.

    • These Cities Aren’t Waiting for the Supreme Court to Decide Whether or Not to Gut Unions

      Today the US Supreme Court will take up a case that may pose the biggest test to the labor movement that we’ve seen in our lifetimes. Janus v. AFSCME, which takes direct aim at the heart of public-sector unions, could make it much harder for working people to organize for better wages, benefits, and working conditions.

    • Christian couple publicly caned in Indonesia’s Banda Aceh for gambling

      The couple were found guilty of violating a jinayat (Islamic bylaw) on gambling. The caning took place outside the Babussalam Mosque in Lampaseh Aceh, Meuraxa.

    • China rights lawyer dies in ‘mysterious’ circumstances, supporters say

      Li was admitted to the No. 81 Military Hospital with a minor stomach ache, but had been otherwise healthy, Fu said, citing a relative of Li’s. He was declared dead hours later from liver complications, according to the activist.

    • China portrays racism as a Western problem

      Chinese officials often try to portray racism as primarily a Western problem. Yet there is a widespread tendency in China to look down on other races, especially black people.

    • How to survive prison: New documentary tackles horrors of wrongful conviction

      Every day, thousands of Americans languish in prison due to wrongful convictions. Advocacy group the Innocence Project estimates that anywhere from 40,000 to over 100,000 people in U.S. prisons have never actually committed a crime. According to the National Registry for Wrongful Convictions, the average time served for the people in the registry is more than nine years.

    • Amarillo man accidentally shot by police speaks out about the shooting

      “There were other people there,” said Garces. “I just took the gun away from him. I got shot. I got the bad part. It’s life.”


      Garces and Blackburn are working with the city to ensure the medical bills are paid, [...]

    • Girls as young as 12 conceived babies: Social worker whistleblower İclal Nergiz

      Asked why they do not report such cases, Nergiz said: “They do not care! And that is the problem. According to their beliefs, it is normal for an underage girl to have a baby. My conservative estimate is that the hospital treated at least 115 underage pregnant girls. Given the fact that some doctors never report such cases to the social services unit, the real figure is much much higher.”

    • Operation Sanctuary review finds adult abuse ‘extensive’

      In the Newcastle case, most of the men were British-born but all came from Bangladeshi, Pakistani, Indian, Iraqi, Iranian or Turkish communities.

    • Ban private schools from teaching Arabic: Danish People’s Party

      “We don’t have any problems with, for example, Chinese or Hebrew, because Chinese people or Jews do not create parallel societies or integration problems,” the MP said in reference to underprivileged areas given the designation of ‘ghettos’ by the government.

    • Somaliland set to ban FGM but activists fear new law will fall short

      Somaliland has one of the world’s highest rates of FGM, with Unicef estimating that 98% of women aged 15 to 49 in the east African state have undergone the procedure. According to the World Health Organization, FGM is also often performed on girls under the age of 15, resulting in complications that range from bleeding and infection to problems with urination and complications with childbearing.

    • No More Child Genital Mutilation: If You Were A Modern Aztec, We Wouldn’t Let You Sacrifice Somebody’s Baby To The Gods

      Your child is your child, but they are not a coffee mug or a lamp. You don’t own your child. He or she is a person — one who has a right to bodily integrity, to not have others make decisions for him or her to have body parts hacked off for any reason other than medical necessity.

    • Moroccan Imam Sexually Assaults Children in a Mosque

      An imam in the Temara region has been accused of raping six children inside of a mosque. Amid the parents’ outrage and the childrens despair, the authorities have little help to offer.

    • ‘It was madness’: Couple kicked off Emirates flight because woman had period pain
    • My Speech at the Losing Your Religion Conference in Melbourne 10/02/2018

      I hate the niqab. It is one of the most dehumanising and alienating pieces of clothing a woman can wear. It puts a literal barrier between her and the rest of the world. I would beg my mother to let me remove it but she would refuse saying that I was a disappointing her or be cruel and say I would look like a sharmoota or whore.

    • Top Bangladesh sci-fi writer Zafar Iqbal stabbed in head at seminar

      One of Bangladesh’s top writers was stabbed in the back of the head during a seminar in the northern city of Sylhet on Saturday (March 3), police said, the latest in a series of attacks on authors and bloggers.

      Police said Zafar Iqbal, a celebrated secular activist and bestselling science fiction writer, was rushed to hospital in Sylhet after the attack.

    • Malaysia wishes wrong New Year with a barking rooster
    • In long-secular Turkey, sharia is gradually taking over

      Over the past few weeks, Turkish officials have broken with decades of precedent in what is still, at least nominally, a secular republic: they have begun describing the country’s military deployment in Syria as “jihad.”

    • Morocco adopts law on violence against women
    • Iran environmentalist’s suicide in jail challenged

      The 64-year-old Seyed-Emami was the managing director of the Persian Wildlife Foundation, one of Iran’s most important conservationist organisations focused on protecting the country’s biodiversity.

      Last Friday (9 February), prison authorities urgently called the scholar’s wife to inform her that he had taken his own life.

      Family and friends have challenged the official version and do not believe that he committed suicide in his cell.

    • Iranian wrestler who threw match to avoid Israeli banned for 6 months

      The United World Wrestling in a statement on Friday said that Alireza Karimi violated regulations when he intentionally lost to a Russian competitor in the quarter final of the U-23 World Championship in Poland last November.

      Karimi’s coach, Hamidreza Jamshidi, was also banned from the sport for two years for instructing his wrestler to lose so he would not face Israel’s Uri Kalashnikov in the following round.

    • Turkey: View: Slowly but surely, Turkey is becoming the next Pakistan. Just look at these signs
    • France to seal off 1,500 radicalized inmates in prisons

      The French government said on Friday said it would seal off extremists within prisons and open new centres to reintegrate returning jihadists into society as part of a new plan to halt the spread of radical Islam.

    • Death in Beijing

      On a November morning, elite investigators of the Communist Party of China (CPC) arrived at the Beijing home of a People’s Liberation Army General. Zhang Yang — for years one of the top-ranking PLA generals who served on the Central Military Commission (CMC) under former leader Hu Jintao — had for several weeks been questioned by investigators for corruption, although he hadn’t been formally charged. But when the investigators showed up at his Beijing home in November, they found he had hanged himself.

      What is perhaps most surprising about the suicide of General Zhang is that it was by no means rare. Between 2012 and 2017-the first term of Xi Jinping, who in October began his second five-year stint in office after emerging at the 19th Party Congress as China’s tallest leader in decades-158 Chinese officials have committed suicide, according to official figures. Insiders say the actual number may be far higher, considering the officially “natural” deaths of many officials who were being investigated or were under detention.


      According to one of the few official studies into suicides of party officials, more than 243 officials have killed themselves since 2009. According to the Institute of Psychology at CASS, the average number doubled in the period after 2013, to around 40 a year. The number peaked at 59 in 2014, coinciding with the height of the crackdown. The opacity of China’s system means the real number is possibly higher. The study found that of the 243, 140 killed themselves by jumping off buildings, either at their workplace or at home, and 44 hanged themselves. Twenty-six consumed poison, 12 drowned and six cut their wrists. Most were in the 45-55 age group, suggesting they were relatively experienced or senior. Not all were under investigation. Most were male. Only three were female-including a customs director accused of corruption, a director of a foreign affairs department in Anhui province, and an official in northeastern Shandong.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • donating.tech

      We hand-picked 10 projects where individual donations can have a direct impact on Internet freedom, underfunded infrastructure and inclusivity.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Protecting And Promoting Copyright Balance In NAFTA

        The ongoing NAFTA renegotiation presents a prime opportunity to move the ball on protecting and promoting general public interest copyright exceptions. All three countries have such exceptions to varying degree. And all three are under threat from an agenda to cabin their use through international law. NAFTA negotiators can and should include the best models from prior international agreements that protect and promote the ability of countries to have general exceptions, writes Professor Sean Flynn. [article updated]

      • California Court Dismisses Copyright Suit Against BBC Over Cosby Documentary Over Lack Of Jurisdiction

        Late last year, we covered a very odd lawsuit brought against the BBC by the production team for The Cosby Show centering around a BBC documentary covering Bill Cosby’s fall from grace in America. Bill Cosby: Fall of an American Icon used several short clips from The Cosby Show, altogether totaling less than four minutes of run-time, and all of them used to provide context to Cosby’s once-held status as an American public figure in good standing. Despite the BBC distributing the documentary exclusively overseas, production company Casey-Werner filed its suit in California. Whatever the geography around the legal action, we argued at the time that the BBC’s actions were as clear a case of fair use as we’d ever seen.

      • Torrent Seedbox Veterans Bow Out of Changing Market

        The meteoric rise of BitTorrent in the last decade led to an explosion of companies offering so-called ‘seedboxes’, servers which carry out file-sharing from a remote location. Now, however, there are signs that the market might not be as healthy as it was, with long-standing player SeedStuff shutting down. TF caught up with its operator to find out more about the decision to leave the business.


Links 2/3/2018: Ubuntu 18.04 LTS Enters Feature Freeze and Ubuntu 16.04.4 LTS Released, Wine 3.3 is Out

Posted in News Roundup at 7:35 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Desktop

    • Google Updates: I/O is go, Linux in Chrome, free apps by the load

      IN A WEEK when so much attention has been focused on Barcelona, there’s a few stories that still managed to sneak in under the radar, Google-wise. For everything we’ve already covered you can go here.

      Firstly, there’s indications that we’re going to start seeing Linux containers that can run in Chrome OS, much as Snaps do for Windows in Linux.

      Its’ been possible through a hack for a while, but this appears to be the real deal, with a “Project Crostini” being the name for the integration.

    • Project Crostini: Chrome OS prepares to support Linux apps

      Similar to Microsoft’s attempts, it’s clear Google believes supporting Linux will ensure developers spend as much time on their respective platforms as possible. While it may seem counterintuitive, it means developers are more likely to make native apps for the platform they’re using in their spare time.

  • Server

    • The Kubernetes Lesson

      When Kubernetes was first announced in 2014, reactions were mixed. Some pointed to its pedigree and that of its creators, Brendan Burns, Craig McLuckie and Joe Beda, as reason enough to pay attention. Others focused on the fact that it was derived from Google’s Borg software but was not itself Borg, dismissing it as “Borg-lite” or little more than an interesting science project. Both camps were forced to acknowledge, however, that it was entering a crowded and fragmented software market. It was one project among a rapidly expanding array of options.

      In this first quarter of 2018, however, Kubernetes is arguably the most visible of core infrastructure projects. Kubernetes has gone from curiosity to mainstream acceptance, crossing any number of chasms in the process. The project has been successful enough that even companies and projects that have competing container implementation strategies have been compelled to adopt it.

  • Kernel Space

    • Intel Titan Ridge Thunderbolt 3 Controller Support Getting Squared Away For Linux

      Back in January was the announcement of Intel’s “Titan Ridge” Thunderbolt 3 controllers that offer DisplayPort 1.4 support and optional USB-C computer port compatibility while retaining backwards compatibility.

      It will still probably be some time before you find a Titan Ridge Thunderbolt controller in your device, but Linux support for these Alpine Ridge successors is getting wrapped up. Mika Westerberg posted the latest set of 18 patches today for adding Intel Titan Ridge support to the Linux kernel’s Thunderbolt driver. With this Titan Ridge support comes a new USB-only security level, a new attribute for indicating whether devices were connected automatically during boot, and a pre-boot ACL for indicating devices that the firmware automatically connects during boot.

    • DTrace on Oracle Linux

      I like to joke that “all performance problems are either trivial or unsolvable”, but that’s really not true. While many performance issues can be diagnosed using standard tools like vmstat, mpstat, iostat, prstat, perf, and so on, sometimes you need to inspect the internal behavior of the system to understand what’s going on. DTrace, the fantastic dynamic tracing tool introduced with Solaris, is ideal for this. While I haven’t focussed on DTrace, I’ve blogged in the past on how I used it to discover interesting things about Oracle VM Server for SPARC live migration and internal workings of the Hercules emulator. In one of those blogs I refer to the ‘*stat’ tools as a stethoscope, while DTrace is the MRI you deploy when needed for deep information.

    • A Guide To Making Use Of The DTrace Basics On Linux

      Oracle is still working on DTrace for the Linux kernel and last year allowed the kernel code to be under the GPLv2+ license. While there are other options these days for dynamic tracing on Linux like SystemTap, eBPF, KTrace, etc, for those wanting to use DTrace, an Oracle developer has posted a new guide for doing so under Linux.

    • Bareflank 2.0 Hypervisor Being Worked On With Better Memory Management, UEFI Support

      The Bareflank Hypervisor is nearly two years old and its version 2.0 release happens to be baking.

      Bareflank is a Linux hypervisor written in C++11/14 with VMM isolation and Windows support as well as other features. Bareflank 2.0 is now stepping closer to release as its next big step forward.

    • Linux Foundation

      • New Linux Video Series from Jack Wallen and Swapnil Bhartiya

        Swapnil and Jack started the video series in order to have a mature conversation about Linux, open source, and related topics. “With so many related topics, we felt it had become a challenge to have or find sensible, immediate, dialog with those involved, as each distinct community had become either too entrenched in their microcosm or disconnected from reality. Hence, ‘Let’s Get Serious,’” Jack said.

      • Linux Foundation continues to help shape telecoms industry

        In its latest move that will have a major impact on the telecoms industry, the Linux Foundation has announced a new open source project that is intended to create an open source software stack to support high-availability cloud services that are optimised for edge computing systems and applications.

        To seed the new project, Akraino Edge Stack, AT&T – the world’s largest telecommunications company – is contributing code designed for carrier-scale edge computing applications running in virtual machines and containers to support reliability and performance requirements.

      • Xen Project Member Spotlight: DornerWorks

        The Xen Project is comprised of a diverse set of member companies and contributors that are committed to the growth and success of the Xen Project Hypervisor. The Xen Project Hypervisor is a staple technology for server and cloud vendors, and is gaining traction in the embedded, security and automotive space. This blog series highlights the companies contributing to the changes and growth being made to the Xen Project, and how the Xen Project technology bolsters their business.

      • EdgeX Foundry Continues Momentum with ‘California Code’ Preview

        EdgeX Foundry is still a few months away from its one-year anniversary. For those unfamiliar, EdgeX Foundry is a vendor-neutral, open source IoT edge computing framework project under The Linux Foundation. At the heart of EdgeX is a microservice architecture which allows the platform to be distributed, updated, replaced, improved and even provided by commercial third parties for additional value add where it makes sense. Its goal is to provide an interoperable platform (hardware and OS agnostic) to accelerate the deployment of industrial IoT solutions.

    • Graphics Stack

      • OpenChrome DRM Still Aiming For Mainline Kernel, But Initially Will Lack 2D Acceleration

        It’s been several months since last hearing anything about OpenChrome as the open-source driver project still working to create a free software driver for VIA’s aging x86 graphics hardware. There remains ambitions for getting this driver to the mainline Linux kernel, but 2D acceleration for now is out, and their DDX driver has been delayed indefinitely.

      • Intel Mesa OpenGL Driver Lands 48-bit Addressing Support, Lets Up To ~256TB Of vRAM

        Intel’s i965 Mesa OpenGL driver now allows for 48-bit addressing, which greatly expands the GPU memory limits.

        Intel developer Kenneth Graunke landed his support in the i965 Mesa driver for 48-bit addressing. 48-bit address space for most GPU objects is allowed with Broadwell “Gen 8″ graphics hardware and newer.

      • DXVK v0.30 Released For Offering Better Direct3D 11 Over Vulkan Experience

        A new release is available of DXVK, the Vulkan-based implementation of Direct3D 11 intended to offer a faster experience for running 3D games/applications under Wine.

      • MSAA Fast Clears Flipped On For Intel ANV Vulkan Driver

        Going back to last November has been MSAA fast-clear patches for the Intel “ANV” Vulkan driver while today they were finally merged.

        The Intel ANV Vulkan driver has already supported fast clears but not when making use of multi-sample anti-aliasing. But that’s now changed as of the latest Git for Mesa 18.1-devel.

      • Using AMD Open Source and the amdgpu-pro OpenCL driver for image processing

        I have a AMD grahpics card and use the great Open Source driver which comes with my Linux distribution. However for image processing I want the OpenCL support of my graphics card. Currently that’s only provided by the amdgpu-pro driver.

      • AMDGPU 18.0 X.Org Driver Released

        It had been a half-year since the release of the last AMDGPU DDX release, xf86-video-amdgpu 1.4.0, but today that has been succeeded by xf86-video-amdgpu 18.0 as they also embark on a year-based versioning scheme.

        xf86-video-amdgpu 18.0.0 was released today as they move to a year-based versioning scheme with X.Org/DDX driver releases becoming less frequent thanks to the maturing xf86-video-modesetting generic driver and also more users moving to Wayland-based Linux desktops.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Kubuntu 16.04.4 LTS Update Available

        The fourth point release update to Kubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus) is out now. This contains all the bug-fixes added to 16.04 since its first release in April 2016. Users of 16.04 can run the normal update procedure to get these bug-fixes. In addition, we suggest adding the Backports PPA to update to Plasma 5.8.8.

      • KDiff3 Joining kde
      • KDiff3 Project Revived For Showing File/Folder Differences, Now Part Of KDE

        KDiff3 is a long-time Qt-powered program for showing compares and merges between 2_ text files or directories. It’s basically a nice graphically-driven diff viewer and has automatic merge abilities, Unicode handling, etc.

      • Polishing Gwenview

        Gwenview is a core KDE app, and an important tentpole of the Usability & Productivity initiative.

        However, a few months ago Gwenview had no maintainer and few contributions. It was still a jewel, but was starting to bit-rot. Fast-forward to today: a lively crew of interested contributors are improving it daily, fixing bugs and resolving UI papercuts. Check out the Gwenview Phabricator project; it’s a hotbed of activity!

      • The Blue Blobs Return! Getting into Community Data Analytics

        Anyway, he was doing that for other communities than KDE, but he almost stopped now. For instance, he did it only once for Habitat in all of 2017. Luckily he published the scripts he was using in his git-viz repository so not all the knowledge was lost.

        Earlier this year, I decided to take the torch and try to get into community data analytics myself. I got in touch with Paul to talk a bit about my plans. My first step was to try to modernize his scripts while staying true to his original visualization.

      • Kdepim2017 Activity
      • Kdepim2017 Network
    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Recipes hackfest

        The Recipes application started as a celebration of GNOME’s community and history, and it’s grown to be a great showcase for what GNOME is about…

      • Recipes hackfest, day 1

        It has been a bit quiet around GNOME recipes recently, since most of us have other obligations. But this is about to change; we’re currently having a hackfest about GNOME recipes in Jogyakarta, Indonesia, and we’ve already made some interesting plans for for future work in this app.

  • Distributions

    • Reviews

      • Hands-On: Installing five different Linux distributions on my new HP laptop

        I’ve just picked up a new laptop, and I have to say at first glance, it looks like a real beauty. It’s an HP 15-bs166nz, which I got at one of the large electronic chains here in Switzerland for CHF 649.- (approximately £500 / €560 / $685). That’s supposedly half-price, if you believe their list prices. It’s a bit difficult to judge, really, because HP makes so many different models with similar numbers but very different configurations, but after digging around on this one for a while I decided it is a very good price for this configuration.

    • Gentoo Family

      • SystemRescueCd

        If you accidentally delete data or format a disk, good advice can be expensive. Or maybe not: You can undo many data losses with SystemRescueCd.

        The price for mass storage devices of all types has been falling steadily in recent years, with a simultaneous increase in capacity. As a result, users are storing more and more data on local storage media – often without worrying about backing it up. Once the milk has been spilled, the anxious search begins for important photos, videos, correspondence, and spreadsheets. SystemRescueCd can help in these cases by providing a comprehensive toolbox for every computer, with the possibility of restoring lost items.

    • Arch Family

      • Namib Linux Makes Arch Linux a Dream for New Users

        Let’s not mince words here. Arch Linux is a challenge to install. If it weren’t, we wouldn’t have so many distributions, such as Anarchy, which we covered previously, claiming to make Arch accessible for any user. Some of those distributions succeed and some fall flat. But few do as remarkable (albeit someone confusing) of a job as does Namib Linux. Not only does Namib Linux make installing and using Arch Linux as simple as can be, it also offers everything desktop Linux should have…

      • First Arch Linux ISO Snapshot Powered by Linux Kernel 4.15 Is Here, Download Now

        The Arch Linux 2018.03.01 ISO snapshot for March 2018 is here, available for download right now from the official website, and it looks like it’s the first to be powered by the Linux 4.15 kernel by default, which means all new Arch Linux installations will now be powered by Linux kernel 4.15.

        Linux kernel 4.15 was already available in Arch Linux’s repos since last month for existing users who wanted to upgrade and enjoy its new features, such as patches for Meltdown and Spectre security vulnerabilities, support for the RISC-V architecture, AMD Secure Encrypted Virtualization support, and much more.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • A site for reviews of Tumbleweed snapshots

        As leading-edge rolling distributions go, OpenSUSE Tumbleweed is relatively stable, but it is still true that some snapshots are better than others. Jimmy Berry has announced the creation of a web site tracking the quality of each day’s snapshot.

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Petter Reinholdtsen: Debian used in the subway info screens in Oslo, Norway

        Today I was pleasantly surprised to discover my operating system of choice, Debian, was used in the info screens on the subway stations. While passing Nydalen subway station in Oslo, Norway, I discovered the info screen booting with some text scrolling.

      • When distributions get it wrong

        So this story starts with Debian removing XChat from its repo on 2016-01-30 which is not terrible in comparison to other distros but the problem arises when on 2017-08-08 it was accepted back into the repository to my surprise. Since then the maintainer has backported a few patches from HexChat including some CVE fixes and making UI changes to the input box totaling up to 44 patches as of today. Since no other upstream exists this project is no longer XChat really it is a Debian specific fork and due to timing this will land in Ubuntu 18.04 meaning this is theoretically “supported” (by the community) until 2023.


        I have no real conclusion for this story as I cannot solve it but I hope users of these distros don’t just accept that software in the repos is maintained or safe and I hope members of the Debian and Ubuntu community can recognize that pulling in completely dead software into their repositories is a bad idea.

      • BOB Konferenz’18 in Berlin

        Recently Pranav Jain and I attended Bob Conference in Berlin, Germany. The conference started with a keynote on a very interesting topic, A language for making movies. Using Non Linear Video Editor for making movies was time consuming, ofcourse. The speaker talked about the struggle of merging presentation, video and high quality sound for conferences. Clearly, Automation was needed here which could be achieved by 1. Making a plugin for non linear VE, 2. Writing a UI automation tool like an operating system macro 3. Using shell scripting. However, dealing shell script for this purpose could be time consuming no matter how great shell scripts are. While the goal to achieve here was to edit videos using a language only and let the language get in the way of solving this. In other words a DSL Domain-Specific Language was required along with Syntax Parse. Video (https://lang.video/)is a language for making movies which integrated with Racket ecosystem. It combines the power of a traditional video editor with the capabilities of a full programming language.


        This is just a summary of our experiences and what we were able to grasp at the conference and also share our individual experience with Debian on GSoC and Outreachy.

      • trains & snow

        unsurprisingly, my work was mostly focussed on Debian Perl Group stuff. we managed to move our repos from alioth to salsa during the weekend, which involved not only importing ~3500 repositories but also e.g. recreating our .mrconfig setup.

      • February 2018 report: LTS, …

        This is my monthly Debian LTS report. This month was exclusively dedicated to my frontdesk work. I actually forgot to do it the first week and had to play catchup during the weekend, so I brought up a discussion about how to avoid those problems in the future. I proposed an automated reminder system, but it turns out people found this was overkill. Instead, Chris Lamb suggested we simply send a ping to the next person in the list, which has proven useful the next time I was up.

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu 16.04.4 LTS released

            The Ubuntu team is pleased to announce the release of Ubuntu 16.04.4 LTS
            (Long-Term Support) for its Desktop, Server, and Cloud products, as well
            as other flavours of Ubuntu with long-term support.

            Like previous LTS series’, 16.04.4 includes hardware enablement stacks
            for use on newer hardware. This support is offered on all architectures
            except for 32-bit powerpc, and is installed by default when using one of
            the desktop images. Ubuntu Server defaults to installing the GA kernel,
            however you may select the HWE kernel from the installer bootloader.

            As usual, this point release includes many updates, and updated
            installation media has been provided so that fewer updates will need to
            be downloaded after installation. These include security updates and
            corrections for other high-impact bugs, with a focus on maintaining
            stability and compatibility with Ubuntu 16.04 LTS.

          • Ubuntu 16.04.4 LTS released
          • Ubuntu 16.04.4 LTS (Xenial Xerus) Officially Released, Here’s What’s New

            Canonical released today the fourth of fifth maintenance updates to its long-term supported Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus) operating system series with new kernel and graphics stacks.

            After it’s been delayed a couple of weeks due to the severe Meltdown and Spectre security vulnerabilities that affect billions of devices, Ubuntu 16.04.4 LTS maintenance update is finally here for existing users running Ubuntu 16.04.3 LTS and earlier versions.

            As expected, Ubuntu 16.04.4 LTS incorporates refreshed kernel and graphics stacks based on those of the Ubuntu 17.10 (Artful Aardvark) operating system. These include the Linux 4.13 kernel and Mesa 17.2.2 graphics stack for Intel and AMD GPUs.

          • BeagleWire, GitHub DDoS Attack, Open Source Bonus Winners and More

            Ubuntu 16.04.4 LTS (Xenial Xerus) was released yesterday. The update includes “security updates and corrections for other high-impact bugs, with a focus on maintaining stability and compatibility with Ubuntu 16.04 LTS”. See the release announcement for more info and links to downloads.

          • Ubuntu 16.04.4 LTS Released, Makes Use Of Ubuntu 17.10′s Kernel/Mesa Stack

            After being delayed due to Spectre and Meltdown with the Canonical developers busy mitigating those CPU security vulnerabilities, the Ubuntu 16.04.4 LTS release was rolled out a few minutes ago.

            Ubuntu 16.04.4 LTS is the latest installment to the Xenial Xerus and the last point release prior to this April’s release of Ubuntu 18.04 LTS “Bionic Beaver.” Ubuntu 16.04.4 offers a new hardware enablement stack of the Linux kernel, Mesa, and other components found within Ubuntu 17.10. This is particularly good news for updated open-source graphics driver support and performance along with the Linux 4.13-based kernel generally working better with more modern PCs.

          • Lubuntu 16.04.4 has been released!

            Thanks to all the hard work from our contributors, we are pleased to announce that Lubuntu 16.04.4 LTS has been released!

          • OpenStack Queens for Ubuntu 16.04 LTS
          • Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver) Enters Feature Freeze, First Beta Lands March 8

            The feature freeze stage in the development of a Linux-based operating system means that the upcoming release won’t receive any new features or major updated packages except for those that fix critical bugs. As such, the Ubuntu Release Team uploaded all packages to the bionic-proposed repository before the feature freeze deadline on March 1, 2018.

            The problem is, over 800 packages are currently stuck in the bionic-proposed repo. In comparison, there were only 110 packages waiting in the proposed repo at the end of Ubuntu 17.10 (Artful Aardvark)’s development cycle. As such, Canonical urges all developers and contributors to resolve any issues and free as many packages as possible until next week’s beta release.

          • Ubuntu 18.04 LTS Enters Its Feature Freeze
          • Microsoft and Canonical to Offer Enhanced VM Experiences for Ubuntu 18.04 LTS
          • Thread-optimized IoT gateway adds Ubuntu Core support

            Rigado announced that its i.MX6 UL based Vesta IoT Gateway, which offer Ethernet, WiFi, BT, Thread, and optional LTE, LoRa, and PoE, will soon be available with Ubuntu Core and Canonical’s IoT app store.

            Starting this summer, Portland, Oregon-based Rigado will offer its Edge Connectivity gateway solutions with Canonical’s IoT-focused, transactional Ubuntu Core distribution. Rigado is referring to its low-cost, Yocto Project powered Vesta IoT Gateway, which launched in Dec. 2016 without the Vesta name. The new Ubuntu Core support will enable “sophisticated control, monitoring and tracking applications,” as well as “connected guest experiences,” says Canonical in its version of the announcement.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • How to decide if open source or proprietary software solutions are best for your business

    Open source software debuted 20 years ago in February. While arguments attempting to define its actual purpose (free speech versus free beer) sometimes seem perpetual, it has opened up new possibilities for organizations looking for affordable and customizable software code to help run their businesses and drive innovation.

    Initial skepticism regarding free software and questions about the business model (“Why would programmers work for free?”) have led to steadfast enterprise adoption of open source software, with an array of options such as “completely free,” “free to a certain number of users/functions” and “free but with paid support licenses.”

  • 5 open source software tools for supply chain management

    If you manage a business that deals with physical goods, supply chain management is an important part of your business process. Whether you’re running a tiny Etsy store with just a few customers, or a Fortune 500 manufacturer or retailer with thousands of products and millions of customers worldwide, it’s important to have a close understanding of your inventory and the parts and raw materials you need to make your products.

    Keeping track of physical items, suppliers, customers, and all the many moving parts associated with each can greatly benefit from, and in some cases be totally dependent on, specialized software to help manage these workflows. In this article, we’ll take a look at some free and open source software options for supply chain management and some of the features of each.

  • Beyond metrics: How to operate as team on today’s open source project

    How do we traditionally think about community health and vibrancy?

    We might quickly zero in on metrics related primarily to code contributions: How many companies are contributing? How many individuals? How many lines of code? Collectively, these speak to both the level of development activity and the breadth of the contributor base. The former speaks to whether the project continues to be enhanced and expanded; the latter to whether it has attracted a diverse group of developers or is controlled primarily by a single organization.

    The Linux Kernel Development Report tracks these kinds of statistics and, unsurprisingly, it appears extremely healthy on all counts.

  • New OpenStack Queens release provides support for GPUs, containers to meet edge, NFV and machine learning workload demands

    The OpenStack community released on Wednesday Queens, the 17th version of the open source cloud infrastructure software. A packed release resulting from a six-month development cycle, Queens offers advancements benefiting for both enterprises with mission-critical workloads as well as organizations investing in emerging use cases like containers, NFV, edge computing and machine learning. The software now powers 60 public cloud data centers and thousands of private clouds at a scale of more than six million physical cores.

  • OpenStack Queens, RedDrop Android Spyware, Oracle’s VirtualBox and More

    OpenStack Queens was released yesterday. The 17th version of the open-source cloud infrastructure software “offers a packed release with advancements benefiting not only enterprises with mission-critical workloads but also organizations investing in emerging use cases like containers, NFV, edge computing and machine learning”.

  • ​Open-source cloud royalty: OpenStack Queens released

    The cloud is growing faster than ever, and OpenStack, the open-source cloud for the enterprise, is growing with it.

    By next year, 60 percent of enterprise workloads will run in the cloud, according to 451 Research’s Voice of the Enterprise: Cloud Transformation, Workloads and Key Projects survey. While much of that growth is in the public cloud, OpenStack enterprise adoption is expanding, with enterprises in nearly all businesses turning to private and hybrid cloud models for their mission-critical workloads. Indeed, as OpenStack moves toward making more than $6 billion in 2021, OpenStack’s private clouds are expected to deliver more revenue than its public cloud implementations.

  • Events

    • foss-north – the count down

      We are approaching the count down to foss-north 2018 – at least from an organizer perspective. This year we will be at Chalmers Conference Centre, in the centre of Gothenburg – the world’s most sociable, friendliest city. So, save the date – April 23 – and make sure to drop by.

    • 3 Ansible videos from DevConf.cz 2018

      The recent DevConf.cz conference in Brno, Czechia is a great example of an event by and for developers and open source community members. Hundreds of speakers showed off countless technologies and features advancing the state of open source in Linux and far beyond. One of today’s most popular technologies is Ansible. Here’s a taste of how it was represented among the many excellent sessions at the conference.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla Firefox 59 Web Browser Promises New Privacy and Security Features

        Firefox is known as one of the most secure browsers on the market, but Mozilla wants it to be more privacy-aware and secure than ever before. That’s why it looks like Firefox 59 will be coming with new privacy settings that won’t allow intrusive sites to access your camera, microphone or location, nor to ask you if you want to receive any notifications.

        In Firefox’s Preferences panel, under Privacy & Security, there’s a Permissions section that lets users choose which websites will have access tp location, camera, microphone, and notification and which won’t. These settings are already present in the current stable Firefox version and are essential for protecting your privacy and keep your online presence secure from hackers.

      • Test Pilot No More 404s Graduation Report

        Last winter, some folks from the Test Pilot team got together with some folks from the Internet Archive and hatched a plan. On the Test Pilot side of things, we were busy building our platform and getting experiments out into the wild. Meanwhile, the team at the Internet Archive was prototyping an add-on to help users avoid dead ends on the Web by checking if they had archived versions of sites available in the Wayback Machine for users who encountered 404 errors.

      • Firefox Nightlies
      • Firefox Performance Update #2

        So I’ve had my eyes out, watching for bugfixes that are landing in the Firefox code base that will speed it up for our users.

      • Fun with Themes in Firefox

        Last year, I started work on a new Test Pilot experiment playing with themes in Firefox.

        So far, we’ve been calling it ThemesRFun – though we’re in the process of coming up with an official name.

      • Announcing Rust 1.24.1

        The Rust team is happy to announce a new version of Rust, 1.24.1. Rust is a systems programming language focused on safety, speed, and concurrency.

      • March’s Featured Extensions
      • Things Gateway – Part 5

        In Part 4 of this series, I showed how to link the Things Gateway with a quartet of Philips Hue bulbs via the Hue Bridge. There are advantages and disadvantages to using the Hue Bridge. On the plus side, the Hue Bridge enables the mobile device app, a mature controller for Hue lights with plenty of bells and whistles. On the downside, the Hue Bridge is an Internet capable device, and I’m just not sure I can trust that.

  • SaaS/Back End

    • Why it might be time for Big Cloud to share the wealth with open-source startups

      There’s no longer any point in ignoring the truth: during the age of open-source software, which was supposed to democratize software development and usher in a new era of community-driven advancement, the most powerful companies in technology have consolidated their power and become the most important economic forces on the planet.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • Collabora Online 3.1

      Collabora Productivity, the driving force behind putting LibreOffice in the Cloud, is proud to announce a new release of its flagship enterprise-ready cloud document suite – Collabora Online 3.1, including new features and improvements. This is the first release after the major Collabora Online 3.0 release a few weeks ag

    • TDF Chairwoman and Deputy Chairman announced

      The Board of Directors of The Document Foundation has confirmed Marina Latini in the role of Chairwoman and appointed Bjoern Michaelsen in the role of Deputy Chairman.

      I have used their own words – from the email they have sent to present their candidacy – to describe themselves, although they are both very well know both in the LibreOffice community and in the wider FOSS community.

  • CMS

    • DotCMS Updates, TYPO9 9.1 Released, More Open Source News

      Miami-based dotCMS has rolled out dotCMS 4.3, featuring new Static Publishing features as well the new “Four Eyes” workflow approval.

      DotCMS’ Static Publishing feature — which was released last year — has been updated so users can save comprehensive static HTML versions of their websites in multiple locations, including local folders, AWS S3 buckets, or any external location or cloud service accessible via SCP or SFTP. According to the dotCMS press release, “these new Static Publishing features mean more customers can take advantage of the performance, disaster recovery, compliance, and security benefits that Static Publishing offers.”

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Funding

  • BSD

    • a2k18 Hackathon Report: Ken Westerback on dhclient and more

      Once in Dunedin the hacking commenced. The background was a regular tick of new meltdown diffs to test in addition to whatever work one was actually engaged in. I was lucky (?) in that none of the problems with the various versions cropped up on my laptop.


  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • New York Genome Center Researchers Create Low-Cost Open Source 3D Printed Device for Single-Cell Analysis

        So many of the benefits of 3D printing—and often all of them—allow for innovative strides to be made in a variety of industries today. Some of the most undeniable and significant impacts are being made in the medical field though, as researchers and manufacturers become more interested in manipulating the 3D realm to bioprint, create laboratory and medical devices, and more. As researchers continue to delve deeper on the cellular level, they also continue to become more successful in improving the quality of lives for patients around the world, including work with microfluidic devices.

  • Programming/Development

    • Qt 3D Studio 1.1 Released

      We are happy to announce that Qt 3D Studio 1.1 has now been released. This release introduces many improvements to the user interface and introduces an improved way to define data driven UI content.

    • Qt 3D Studio 1.1 Brings UI Improvements

      Qt 3D Studio 2.0 is coming this summer, but today marks the Qt 3D Studio 1.1 release as an incremental upgrade for those using this 3D user-interface authoring system that originated out of NVIDIA’s open-source code.

    • The journey back to C
    • RcppArmadillo 0.8.400.0.0

      RcppArmadillo release 0.8.400.0.0, originally prepared and uploaded on February 19, finally hit CRAN today (after having been available via the RcppCore drat repo for a number of days). A corresponding Debian release was prepared and uploaded as well. This RcppArmadillo release contains Armadillo release 8.400.0 with a number of nice changes (see below for details), and continues our normal bi-monthly CRAN release cycle (slight delayes in CRAN processing notwithstanding).


  • Science

    • Why Are There Few Women in Tech? Watch a Recruiting Session

      Tech companies have employed a host of tactics to help lift the scant number of women and minorities who work within their ranks, like anti-bias training, affinity groups, and software that scans job postings for gendered language. Yet the numbers remain dire. Of men with science, technology engineering, or math (STEM) degrees, 40 percent work in technical careers; only 26 percent of women with STEM degrees do. That means that qualified women are turning away from the field before they even get started.


      Similarly, the follow-up question-and-answer periods were often dominated by male students who commandeered the time, using it to show off their own deep technical know-how in a familiar one-upmanship. Rather than acting as a facilitator for these sessions, male presenters were often drawn into a competitive volley. Wynn and Correll describe one session in which men asked 19 questions and women asked none. Of the five presenters, the two men fielded all the questions while the two female engineers spoke very little; finally, a female recruiter jumped in at the end with application instructions. This clearly didn’t entice female attendees. Of the 51 men attending, only one left the room during the q&a. Four of the 15 women left.

  • Hardware

    • Archival Media: Not a Good Business

      Why is this? The upper layers of the hierarchy generate revenue; the archival layer is purely a cost. If the data are still generating revenue, at least one copy is on flash or hard disk. Even if there is a copy in the archive, that one isn’t generating revenue. Facebook expects the typical reason for a read request for data from their Blu-Ray cold storage will be a subpoena. Important, but not a revenue generator. So archival media are a market where customers are reluctant to spend, because there is no return on the investment.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Medicines Vastly Overpriced, Generics Too: Discussion At WTO-WIPO-WHO Symposium

      The price of hepatitis C medicine marked a turning point in the discussion on access to medicines, with developed countries suddenly confronted to prices they could not afford. This week, a symposium jointly organised by the World Health Organization, the World Trade Organization, and the World Intellectual Property Organization explored the question of the pricing of medicines. A number of suggestions were made to alleviate the issue, such as ensuring wide use of generic medicines, encouraging competition, and alerting countries about the cost of medicine production so they negotiate better with pharmaceutical companies.

    • WHO Joint Tropical Disease Program Issues Report On Research Fairness

      The World Health Organisation’s Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR) has published the first report on research fairness under a new initiative. The report includes an analysis of how TDR manages intellectual property rights in a positive way.

      The Research Fairness Initiative (RFI) was developed by the Council on Health Research for Development (COHRED). It is a “first attempt at creating a systematic global evidence-based assessment of fairness in the field of global health.”

    • Pfizer liable for £500 million NHS damages if court bid is unsuccessful, says study

      There could be more at stake for Pfizer in its UK Supreme Court pregabalin patent dispute than was previously thought. A recently-released study argues that if the pharma company loses the case, it will be liable to pay the National Health Service (NHS) £502 million in compensation.

      The study highlights a danger for pharma innovators: if they are unsuccessful in seeking to maintain or enforce patents, they could be sued by third-party healthcare providers seeking to recoup excess prescribing costs. Such an approach is already established government policy in Australia; and, if it were to become more common in other markets, such as the UK, it would create new enforcement headaches for Pfizer and other innovators.

    • Your Daily Reminder That It’s Not Just Flint

      I sure am glad it’s Infrastructure Week again because, as we regularly note here in the shebeen, the country’s water systems are pretty much shot to hell. For example, in Kentucky, there’s one small county that simply doesn’t have any that’s fit to drink

    • The water runs milky and can feel like fire. In this impoverished county, Trump’s $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan may not help

      As residents in this sparsely populated pocket of Appalachia struggled — some boiling rainwater to bathe and melting snow to flush toilets — local schools canceled classes for three days and volunteers fanned out to deliver bottled water to the sick and elderly.

    • EU citizens reject Bayer-Monsanto merger, says new polling

      New polling shows citizens are against the planned merger of agribusiness giants Bayer and Monsanto, with a majority (54%) thinking it is “very” or “fairly important” that the European Commission blocks it – more than three times the number who think it would be unimportant [1].

    • Video Gaming Industry Issues Attack On WHO’s Proposed Gaming Disorder Classification

      Teens’ (and others’) life-altering obsession with video gaming is well-known to almost any parent in most countries around the world, and the World Health Organization recently identified it as an addiction called “gaming disorder.” Today, the self-acclaimed $36 billion video gaming industry hit back with a statement about a new paper from “preeminent researchers and scientists” that it says casts doubt on the WHO’s efforts.

    • Cutting Down Prior Appropriation: How Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Water Knife Warns Us About Water Rights in the West

      Paolo Bacigalupi’s novel The Water Knife depicts the American Southwest in the not-so-distant future. Climate change has exacerbated an already scarce water supply, corporate interests have severely weakened the federal government, and states fight for water rights in ways that put Don Corleone to shame. State water agencies send employees to engage in guerrilla warfare-style tactics, like blowing up water-treatment plants and bombing dams, to make sure their territories come out on top. The places that do not manage to secure enough precious water rights, like Arizona, house masses of refugees desperate to escape to water-wealthy havens.


      A book like The Water Knife that highlights the dangers of the Western water rights system and water insecurity in general makes an approach like the one advocated for by Larson more salient, and it sends a clear warning about what the future could hold. Whether the United States heeds that warning remains to be seen.

    • Study: TRIPS Flexibilities Widely Used By Countries, Contrary To Reports

      The study titled “Medicine procurement and the use of flexibilities in the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights [TRIPS], 2001-2016,” [pdf] was published in the latest Bulletin of the World Health Organization and authored by Ellen ‘t Hoen, Jacquelyn Veraldi, Brigit Toebes, and Hans Hogerzeil.

      The study is highlighted by an editorial [pdf] in the same edition of the WHO Bulletin, written by Prof. Carlos Correa of the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina.


      The study found 176 instances of possible use of TRIPS flexibilities by 89 countries between 2001 to 2016, 100 of which involved compulsory licences or public non-commercial use licences, and 40 involving the least-developed countries pharmaceutical transition measure. One of those instances was parallel importation, three were research exceptions, and 32 were non-patent related measures.

      Some 152 out of 176 of those instances were implemented, the study says, adding that out of the 100 instances of compulsory licencing, 81 were implemented, but 19 were not because of different factor. These included: the patent holder offered a price reduction or donation; the patent holder agreed to a voluntary licence allowing the purchase of a generic medicine; no relevant patent existed that warranted the pursuit of the measure; and the application was rejected on legal or procedural grounds.

  • Security

    • Security updates for Thursday
    • [Older] Balancing security and innovation in open source
    • New PS4 Jailbreak Hits Firmware 4.55, Excites the Masses

      A few pieces of exciting news in the space of a few hours have many PlayStation 4 owners hot under the collar today. Following yesterday’s release of a kernel exploit for firmware v4.55 by developer ‘Qwertyoruiop’, a few hours ago a full implementation of the exploit landed on Github courtesy of SpecterDev. On top, there’s news of an interesting ‘payload’ quietly circulating.

    • ‘Chafer’ Uses Open Source Tools to Target Iran’s Enemies

      Iran’s hacking activity has increased against targets in its geographical neighborhood and one group has taken aim at commercial air travel and transport in the region.

      Symantec says the group, which it calls Chafer, has increased both its level of activity and the number of tools used against organizations in the Middle East.

    • Security updates for Friday
    • [Slackware] Security updates for OpenJDK 7 and 8
    • The Linux Kernel Prepares To Be Further Locked Down When Under UEFI Secure Boot

      For more than the past year we have reported on kernel work to further lock down the Linux kernel with UEFI Secure Boot and it’s looking now like that work may finally be close to being mainlined.

      Among the further restrictions that would be placed on the Linux kernel when running with UEFI Secure Boot enabled is blocking access to kernel module parameters that end up dealing with hardware settings, blocking access to some areas of /dev that could manipulate the kernel or hardware state, etc.

    • ​Memcached DDoS: The biggest, baddest denial of service attacker yet

      We’ve been seeing a rise of ever bigger Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks for years now. But, now a new attack method, Memcrashed, can blast your site with over a terabyte of traffic. Good luck standing up to that volume of abuse!

      Memcrashed works by exploiting the memcached program. Memcached is an open-source, high-performance, distributed, object-caching system. It’s commonly used by social networks such as Facebook and its creator LiveJournal as an in-memory key-value store for small chunks of arbitrary data. It’s the program that enables them to handle their massive data I/O. It’s also used by many to cache their web-server-session data to speed up their sites — and that’s where the trouble starts.

    • Security in the Modern Data Center
    • One in Eight Open Source Components Contain Flaws [Ed: What about proprietary software? Not worth ever debating in the media? Phil Muncaster uses dramatic headline as a form of marketing for Sonatype.]

      For example, 145,000 downloads of vulnerable versions of Apache Commons Collections were recorded in the UK in 2017 – vulnerabilities connected to ransomware attacks in the wild.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Trump Stuns Lawmakers With Seeming Embrace of Comprehensive Gun Control
    • New resolution would pull U.S. support from Saudis in Yemen war

      A bipartisan resolution was introduced in Congress on Thursday by Sens. Bernie Sanders, Chris Murphy, and Mike Lee, to end U.S. support for the Saudi-led coalition in the war in Yemen.

      Why it matters: Yemen has been completely torn apart by the conflict between the Houthi rebel forces and the Saudi-led coalition which supports President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi. The U.S. military has been supporting the Saudi coalition since the Obama administraiton. Sanders, Lee, and Murphy argue that Congress did not approve involvement, and therefore the U.S. should not be involved “beyond providing desperately needed humanitarian aid.”

    • It’s Very Easy to Bypass Google Shopping’s Block on Guns

      The ease of access to weapons is back in the spotlight after the recent Parkland school shooting. Naturally, one way potential gun owners may try to source a weapon is on the internet, and Google has, for years, blocked its shopping results from displaying results for searches of firearms.

      Turns out that block is trivial to circumvent, however, simply by misspelling the word ‘gun’.

    • Polish gov’t adopts bill to demote communist-era army officers

      The Polish government on Thursday adopted a bill that could see top communist-era military officers posthumously stripped of their rank.

    • North Korea, Iran and U.S. Intelligence that Neither Hears Nor Sees

      On North Korea, for example, the agencies that hear everything cannot seem to hear anything North Korea has said; on Iran, the agencies that see everything cannot seem to see what they have long known.

      The Worldwide Threat Assessment is a regular ritual of the intelligence community in which it shares a declassified summary of threats to U.S. national security with Congress. The current assessment is published under the name of Daniel R. Coats, Director of National Intelligence. In theory, the assessment is the result of input from all of America’s sixteen intelligence agencies.

    • First Responders in Florida Aren’t Covered for PTSD. That May Change After Parkland.

      A Florida bill to assist first responders suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder has found new life in the aftermath of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting.

      At least three first responders to the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, which killed 49 people, have publicly disclosed that they have a PTSD diagnosis, and advocates have been trying to expand workers’ compensation coverage in Florida since then. A bill to address that failed in Florida’s Republican-dominated Legislature last year, and a similar measure’s prospects were uncertain this year.

      After the Feb. 14 high school shooting in Parkland, in which 17 people died, the bill gained momentum, though only a few days are left in the legislative session. On Monday, the measure unanimously cleared its final committee hearing in the Florida House, the last step before a floor vote. Today, it passed its final Senate committee.

    • State Department Likely to Extend Cuts to U.S. Embassy in Cuba

      The Trump administration is poised to permanently extend the drastic cuts it made to the United States diplomatic staff in Cuba last fall after mysterious incidents in which 24 Americans were injured there, State Department officials said.

      The staff reductions would have a major impact on U.S. diplomacy toward Cuba, the officials said, obscuring Washington’s view of a historic political transition on the island and limiting the contacts of American diplomats with Cuban officials, political dissidents and others. U.S. officials said the State Department has already informed the Castro government that it will likely not meet its annual commitment to admit at least 20,000 Cubans under a 1994 migration agreement. That deal was meant to discourage Cubans from trying to reach the United States aboard homemade rafts and boats.

    • Over 80,000 stolen guns worsen crime in Florida

      Over the last ten years, more than 82,000 guns stolen in Florida remain missing, Laura Morel reported in November 2017 in joint reports for the Tampa Bay Times and the Center for Investigative Journalism’s program, Reveal. The study, based on a ten-month investigation of “thousands of law enforcement records,” found that in Tampa Bay alone at least 9,000 stolen guns are missing. In one recent year, 2016, on average at least one gun was reported stolen every hour.

      Those guns turn up in the hands of drug dealers and felons, Morel wrote, and some wind up killing people.

    • ‘The NRA Has Basically Become Part of the Republican Party’

      Mass shootings, like the February 14 killing of 17 people at a high school in Parkland, Florida, are actually a small fraction of gun deaths in the United States, but they hold a particular horror. And their wake, in which politicians and pundits tangle themselves in knots, arguing about the real cause and why other people’s ideas for responses won’t work, generates an enervating sense of frustration with the political process.

      The students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are looking to break the stasis around gun restrictions, planning walkouts and demonstrations. They don’t look like fading soon. Our guest suggests that’s one of the elements that might allow this mass shooting to actually spur substantive change.

    • Teen Who Made A Dumb School Shooting Joke On Snapchat Ordered By Judge To Not Play Violent Video Games

      As predictable as the sun rising in the east, whenever a tragedy occurs, such as the recent school shooting in Florida, entirely too many people trot out their favorite whipping posts and put on a public show. One of those whipping posts is violent media, with video games for some reason taking on a particularly large portion of the backlash. We’ve already seen grandstanding politicians jump into this fray, all the way up to America’s current Dear Leader, but it isn’t only at the highest levels that this occurs. In the suburbs of Chicago, a 16 year old recently made a dumb comment in the wake of local threats of a school shooting that was essentially him being exasperated about all the commentary on his preferred social media channels.

    • ‘Annoyed’ sophomore charged with threat against Lake Park High School in Roselle

      In response to the talk about the closing, the youth posted a clip on Snapchat of himself playing a violent video game and wrote, “Y’all need to shut up about school shootings or I’ll do one.”

      On Monday morning, one of the Roselle Police Department’s school resource officers “learned of a (Lake Park) student who made specific threats” against the school, according to a post on the department’s Facebook page. Police and school officials “acted quickly to curtail any chance of danger to our kids,” the department wrote in the post.

      The youth appeared Tuesday afternoon in DuPage County juvenile court, where he is charged with felony disorderly conduct.

    • For Both Mainstream Camps in the Gun Debate, Violence Is Good for Fundraising

      One thing is certain about the gun debate: Americans are willing to spend a lot of money on it. What they get in return is a different story, one that is contoured by the raw emotions, partisan politics and brutal realities of gun violence that make the debate so frustrating and polarizing to begin with.

      Major gun control organizations bring in millions of dollars in donations a year, and they typically see a surge in donations and new memberships in the wake of well-publicized tragedies such as the recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida that left 17 people dead.

      Everytown for Gun Safety, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s gun control group that funds Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, brought in $48 million in donations during 2015 fiscal year and easily exceeded $52 million in 2016, according to available tax filings. The well-established Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and its advocacy center in Washington, DC, brought in more than $8 million in 2015.

    • Missile-gate: U.S. Intel Misses Russia’s Big Advances in Nuclear Parity

      Putin’s address was a “shock and awe” event. I leave to others, more competent than I in military technology to comment on the specific capabilities of the various systems rolled out yesterday. Whether short range or unlimited range, whether ground launched or air launched, whether ballistic missiles or cruise missiles, whether flying through the atmosphere or navigating silently and at high speed the very depths of the oceans, these various systems are said to be invincible to any known or prospective air defense such as the United States has invested in heavily since it unilaterally left the ABM Treaty and set out on a course that would upend strategic parity.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Bureau Of Land Management Decides It’s Going To Be A Lot Less Receptive To FOIA Requests

      The new administration’s plan to undo everything Obama ever did (along with lots of stuff other presidents put in place) continues. Fighting leakers and multiple investigations, the Trump administration is steamrolling regulation by slashing through red tape and common sense with equal aplomb. This administration may have a reputation for inadvertent openness, but its new directives aren’t so much draining the swamp as building a swamp in its own image.

      The Bureau of Land Management is apparently viewed as the Fed version of Greenpeace. Previously-protected federal lands are being opened up for business, starting with the removal of environmental impact reviews. This should speed up the return of the government’s land to certain people — mining companies, the CBP’s inland expeditions, wall builders, etc. This affects nearly 950 million acres of federal land. A raft of exclusions would make it easier for the Bureau of Land Management to manage land however it sees fit.

    • Government Says FISA Court Should Stop Wasting Time Considering The ACLU’s Request For Greater Transparency
    • Displacing Wikileaks: Is Securedrop a Government Leak Graveyard?

      A concerted effort is being put forth to discredit Wikileaks and its founder as a reliable option for whistleblowers. But as Whitney Webb reveals, the alternatives being put forth are leaving leakers vulnerable.

    • Assange still has the power to affect world politics from his computer

      When Wikileaks published the Iraq War Logs, Afghan War Diaries, and in particular the Collateral Murder video, Laura immediately wanted to make a film about the people who were doing this kind of journalism that we weren’t getting but we needed, especially in the US. She saw those wars, she had been to Iraq and filmed a documentary, My Country, My Country. When WikiLeaks published Collateral Murder, Laura was immediately drawn to them. In 2011 she started filming with Assange and Wikileaks, and only later did Snowden contact her.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Obama tried to close a big pollution loophole. Trump wants to keep it.

      The mix-and-match trucks end up polluting 40 to 55 times more than new trucks, releasing compounds like soot and nitrogen dioxide that cause smog and hurt breathing. Since gliders contain refurbished engines, they aren’t held to the same pollution control standards as new trucks with new motors.

    • High levels of microplastics found in Northwest Atlantic fish

      The team found a wide array of microplastics in the fish stomachs—with a whopping 73% of the fish having ingested the pollutants. “We recorded one of the highest frequencies of microplastics among fish species globally,” says Wieczorek. “In particular, we found high levels of plastic fibers such as those used in textiles.”

    • South Dakota Keystone Pipeline spill cleanup is on schedule, TransCanada says

      Last November, the pipeline leaked 210,000 gallons of crude oil onto agricultural land in Marshall County, one of the largest on-shore oil spills in the U.S. since 2010.

    • High Tide Bulletin: Spring 2018

      The rising and falling of the sea is a phenomenon upon which we can always depend. Tides are the regular rise and fall of the sea surface caused by the gravitational pull of the moon and sun and their position relative to the earth.There are some factors that cause the tides to be higher than what is “normally” seen from day to day. This bulletin tells you when you may experience higher than normal high tides for the period of time between March and May 2018.

    • Months away from Malaysian election, EU’s move stirs discontent in palm groves

      Around 10 per cent of Malaysia’s 30 million people belong to families who own smallholdings dedicated to harvesting palm oil, and they account for the majority of voters in nearly a quarter of the national assembly’s 222 seats.

    • Orangutan numbers in Borneo plummet by more than 100,000 in just 16 years

      About half of the orangutans on the island of Borneo were either killed or removed between 1999 and 2015, according to new research.

  • Finance

    • Top NYT Editor: ‘We Are Pro-Capitalism, the Times Is in Favor of Capitalism’

      Media criticism is, more often than not, a practice of inference: seeing patterns and inferring from those patterns the political make-up of media. Occasionally, however, decision-makers from major media outlets come right out and openly declare their ideology. This is what New York Times editorial page editor James Bennet—likely the most influential gatekeeper in all of media—did when he told Times staffers in a closed-door meeting last December that the paper of record was “pro-capitalism.”


      The most pernicious ideology of our media class, as FAIR has noted time and again, is the belief they don’t have an ideology; the belief that the American ruling class and its media auxiliaries have reached the End of History, that capitalism is a non-negotiable good, and the job of media curators is to manage how best to implement this good. That there could be another way of looking at things, or that these assumptions should be challenged on a fundamental level, is tantamount to Flat-Eartherism or Holocaust denial.


      Instead, as FAIR (4/20/17, 6/20/17) noted of the New York Times last year, the so-called liberal media drifts further and further right even as the Democratic Party base grows more and more progressive. On the dubious altar of “ideological diversity,” the Times seeks out right-wing provocateurs like Bret Stephens and Bari Weiss—those who have mastered the careerist trick of being offensive without ever being subversive—but Bennet mysteriously can’t find anyone further left than anti-Sanders partisan Paul Krugman.

      “Ideological diversity” at the Times has time and again meant augmenting their pro-Israel, pro-capitalist, pro-bombing liberals with pro-Israel, pro-capitalism, pro-bombing conservatives. This is the scope of discourse at the paper of record, and one now openly acknowledged by its top opinion shaper.

    • Brexit and the contest between process and publicity

      When historians one day seek to make sense of Brexit what will be the most useful documents for them to look at so as to understand the respective approaches of the UK and the EU?

      For the EU, it will be straight-forward.

      To understand how the EU approached the UK’s departure from the EU, the historian will be able to look at position papers and other official documents.

      Of course, these documents will need to be supplemented by other evidence not in the public domain. But there has been a remarkable consistency between what the EU has said about Brexit and what has done. One set of public statements has led to another.

      For example, you can trace most parts of the draft Withdrawal Agreement back to the December joint report, and then in turn back to the position papers from the negotiation.

    • Blockchain: 3 things people get wrong

      Blockchain has been all the rage as a trend for the past couple of years. It’s widely viewed as an important technological development – and I agree with that view. But that doesn’t mean we should all give ourselves over to the hype and think blockchain is going to be the answer for everything. (CIOs, displaying their skeptical side, already see this trend a bit differently than analysts do, according to several recent data points.)

    • How Senior Daddies — Like Donald Trump — Are Eligible For a Social Security Bonus

      Would you believe that President Donald Trump is eligible for an extra Social Security benefit of around $15,000 a year because of his 11-year-old son, Barron Trump? Well, you should believe it, because it’s true.

      How can this be? Because under Social Security’s rules, anyone like Trump who is old enough to get retirement benefits and still has a child under 18 can get this supplement — without having paid an extra dime in Social Security taxes for it.

      The White House declined to tell us whether Trump is taking Social Security benefits, which by our estimate would range from about $47,100 a year (including the Barron bucks) if he began taking them at age 66, to $58,300 if he began at 70, the age at which benefits reach their maximum.

    • The blockchain market is hot; here’s how to learn the skills for it

      The job of developing blockchain distributed ledgers for businesses was recently ranked second among the top 20 fastest-growing job skills, and postings for workers with those skills grew more than 200% last year.

      Salaries for blockchain developer or “engineer” positions are accordingly high, with median salaries in the U.S. hovering around $130,000 a year; that compares to general software developers, whose annual median pay is $105,000, according to Matt Sigelman, CEO of job data analytics firm Burning Glass Technologies.

    • When You Can’t Afford to Go Bankrupt

      A ritual of spring in America is about to begin. Tens of thousands of people will soon get their tax refunds, and when they do, they will finally be able to afford the thing they’ve thought about for months, if not years: bankruptcy.

    • This Bitcoin-Trading Family Man Faced Years in Prison. Now He’s Telling His Story

      Referenced in court documents only as “Undercover Agent #1,” the guy seemed normal enough at first, Klein says: He presented himself as a business person, someone fascinated with bitcoin and wanting to learn more. They met at an Einstein Bros. Bagels shop and Klein sold him $1,000 worth of bitcoin, making his usual commission of about 10%. Then the guy asked if he could bring in a business partner who also wanted to understand what this bitcoin business was all about. “Unbeknownst to me,” Klein says, that person was Undercover Agent #2.


      During one meeting these contacts suggested they would use the bitcoin to buy “Girl Scout cookies,” a reference to drugs that Klein says he didn’t understand at the time. Then, one day in late 2015, he met them to do a trade and afterward the pair outright said they were going to use the digital tokens to buy cocaine, suggesting they were drug dealers.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Dianne Feinstein Isn’t Too Old—but She Is Too Out of Touch

      Dianne Feinstein is the oldest sitting senator in America. She entered Congress in 1992 (when I was 4 years old). Today, at age 84, she is running for a fifth term in office, and a lot of people in the Golden State are unhappy about it—enough to deny Feinstein the state Democratic Party endorsement at this past Saturday’s convention.

      Feinstein spent a great deal of that convention serving scrambled eggs to the delegates and giving speeches about her decades of legislative experience—which suggests that she still doesn’t get why her reelection bid hasn’t been embraced by all. Her primary opponent, State Senate President Kevin de León, put it bluntly during the convention when he proclaimed that “it’s time for a new generation to lead.”

      He’s right.

    • Nota bene: The arbitrage that won the 2016 election

      The arbitrage was recently revealed by Antonio García Martínez, the first product manager for Facebook’s Custom Audiences. Underlying the trade is an inversion of what used to be considered a timeless, universal truth: that direct marketing would always cost more than brand advertising, on a per-person-reached basis. That wasn’t true, in 2016. The result was that Donald Trump got millions and possibly billions of dollars’ worth of brand advertising from Facebook for free, while Hillary Clinton was largely left out in the cold.

    • Kobach’s Proof-of-Citizenship Law Heads to Trial

      Kansans will have their day in court to challenge Kobach’s law that blocked more than 35,000 voter registrations.

    • An Industry Group Says the Trump Administration Is Run “Like a Bad Family Owned Small Business” — And They Love It

      What does American business really think of President Donald Trump?

      One candid glimpse emerges in a pair of PowerPoint presentations delivered last year by top executives of the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), one of the construction industry’s national trade groups.

    • Trump administration hired more than 75 lawyers with ties to agencies they oversee

      More than 75 Trump administration lawyers either represented clients in the industries they regulate or had clients with business before the government, according to a report released Thursday by the liberal watchdog group Public Citizen.

      The group looked at the background of 127 senior attorneys in the executive branch and found that 76 had connections to their agencies in the private sector. The analysis excluded lawyers from independent agencies like the Federal Communications Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

    • How Big Law Has Captured the Trump Administration

      Big Law is a scourge of modern politics we don’t often hear about—-the collection of 200 or so giant law firms, populated with hundreds of partners, that jostle for prominence in Washington and the nation. Firms like Kirkland & Ellis and Jones Day have become a way station between government and business where partners can advocate for corporate clients while awaiting appointment to Executive Branch offices. Once inside government, they push to collaborate with corporate power rather than offer resistance. In many cases they oversee the same industries they once worked for. We elect politicians and then we get corporate-approved policies churned out by Big Law; it’s a kind of policy deep state. Big Law provides the oil that makes the revolving door spin.

      This cozy relationship knows no one party; Covington & Burling famously held open a corner office for Eric Holder while he negotiated settlements with many of their banking clients. But the Trump administration has taken merging with Big Law to new heights. A new report from Public Citizen, provided first to The Nation, “Big Law, Big Conflicts,” identifies 76 different lawyers working or nominated to work at cabinet agencies or inside the White House who either worked for Big Law firms or directly in the legal departments of corporations. These lawyers, seeded across the government, “either previously represented companies with business before the government, or worked in the same field they now oversee,” writes report author Alan Zibel.

    • When fighting fake news aids censorship

      Many media analysts have rightly identified the dangers posed by “fake news,” but often overlook what the phenomenon means for journalists themselves. Not only has the term become a shorthand way to malign an entire industry; autocrats are invoking it as an excuse to jail reporters and justify censorship, often on trumped-up charges of supporting terrorism.

      Around the world, the number of honest journalists jailed for publishing fake or fictitious news is at an all-time high of at least 21. As non-democratic leaders increasingly use the “fake news” backlash to clamp down on independent media, that number is likely to climb.

      The US, once a world leader in defending free speech, has retreated from this role. President Donald Trump’s Twitter tirades about “fake news” have given autocratic regimes an example by which to justify their own media crackdowns. In December, China’s state-run People’s Daily newspaper posted tweets and a Facebook post welcoming Trump’s fake news mantra, noting that it “speaks to a larger truth about Western media.” This followed the Egyptian government’s praise for the Trump administration in February 2017, when the country’s foreign ministry criticized Western journalists for their coverage of global terrorism.

    • MSNBC’s Big Names Completely Ignore West Virginia Teachers Strike

      Eight days into the first wildcat strike by West Virginia teachers in 27 years—organized by rank-and-file union members in all 55 West Virginia counties—America’s largest liberal cable network, MSNBC, is a virtual no-show in reporting on the momentous labor unrest.

      Save for one two-minute throwaway report from daytime show Velshi and Ruhle (2/27/18), MSNBC hasn’t dedicated a single segment to the strike—despite the strike’s unprecedented size and scope, which garnered major coverage from major outlets like CNN (3/1/18), the New York Times (3/1/18), Washington Post (3/2/18), Vox (2/24/18) and dozens of others.

      The most glaring omission is from the three highly paid primetime hosts: Rachel Maddow, Lawrence O’Donnell and former In These Times and Nation writer Chris Hayes. None of the three big hosts have tweeted about it, much less mentioned the subject on air.

    • Italy’s Choice: Shock or Stagnation

      In 2017, populist sentiment helped outsiders increase their support in Holland, France, Germany and Austria, although none of them won any elections outright. This led European elites to breath a major sigh of relief, in the hope that the nationalist and populist broadsides against neoliberal E.U. economic policies and tensions around undocumented immigration, would not force an actual change in the institutions.

      Geert Wilder’s Freedom Party in Holland came in a distant second, and Marine Le Pen of the National Front in France was soundly defeated in a run-off election with Emmanuel Macron. Yet the effects of the voters’ revolt that emerged forcefully in the 2016 Brexit vote and the U.S. Presidential elections were subsequently felt in two more unexpected locations: Germany and Austria.

      In Germany the largest two parties, the Social Democrats and the Christian Democrats both lost a considerable number of votes. This drop, coupled with the rise of the anti-E.U. Alternative for Deutschland (Afd), had major repercussions, forcing Chancellor Angela Merkel to engage in months of talks for a new Grand Coalition with the Social Democrats. Before the election, almost all commentators had predicted an easy win for Merkel.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Judge Tells Prosecutors They Need To Prove Contractor Knew He Had Classified Docs In His 50-Terabyte Stash

      The federal judge presiding over the prosecution of a government contractor who took home 50 terabytes of sensitive national security documents home with him has sent a message. And the message is this: collect it all.

      Harold Martin did what surveillance agencies do best. He built himself a haystack of government documents, some of them designated “top secret.” The prosecution is counting on this haystack to put Harold Martin in prison on espionage charges. But the judge has just ordered prosecutors to prove the few “top secret” needles justify a conviction for the entire haystack. Josh Gerstein at Politico has the details.

    • Mother of Accused NSA Leaker Reality Winner: My Daughter Wasn’t Read Her Miranda Rights

      On Tuesday, former U.S. intelligence contractor Reality Leigh Winner appeared in court in Augusta, Georgia, where her lawyers asked the judge to exclude her statements to FBI agents on the day she was arrested, arguing she was denied her Miranda rights. Winner is a former National Security Agency contractor who has pleaded not guilty to charges she leaked a top-secret document to The Intercept about Russian interference in the 2016 election. She is facing up to 10 years in prison on charges she violated the Espionage Act. For more, we speak with two guests. In Chicago, we’re joined by Kevin Gosztola, a journalist and managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He was in the courtroom in Augusta on Tuesday, and his recent article is titled “In Reality Winner’s Case, Defense Seizes Upon FBI Testimony to Bolster Motion to Suppress Statements.” And in Augusta, Georgia, we speak with by Reality Winner’s mother, Billie Winner-Davis. She’s joining us from her daughter’s house, where Reality Winner was questioned and arrested by FBI agents on June 3.

    • Australian Government Continues To Push Encryption Backdoors It Refuses To Call Encryption Backdoors

      The Australian government has decided it can beat math at its own game. The laws of math will be defeated by the laws of Australia, the government declared last year. In an effort to tackle something this article calls “terror encryption,” the Home Office says laws punching holes in encryption for government access are just around the corner.

      Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull may not understand the laws of mathematics or how signing a bunch of words into law doesn’t actually suspend them, but he does know tech companies are going to figure it out for him. Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton agrees: the government just needs to mandate broken encryption and the tech companies will handle the rest. It’s for the good of the country, if not the world.

    • Prosecution of NSA Whistleblower Reality Winner Hinges on FBI Interrogation

      The case against ex-NSA employee Reality Winner, accused of leaking intelligence documents, hinges on a defense motion to suppress statements she made to FBI agents where she admitted being responsible for the leak. Winner’s lawyers have argued her comments shouldn’t be admitted as evidence against her, as she was not under arrest at the time.

    • Facebook’s creepy file on EVERY internet user – how YOU can find yours
    • The weird and surprising things I found in the file Facebook has on me

      Since the moment I, and everyone else signed up, the social media service has been collecting and keeping everything — I seriously mean everything — we have ever done on the site. All the conversations, videos, pictures and documents we have shared or have had sent to us are all held on a server somewhere with space specially dedicated to each of us.

    • How London’s 7/7 Bombings Led to “Unprecedented” Surveillance Tactics

      It was early-morning rush hour in London on Thursday, July 7, 2005, when a series of explosions shut down the city’s transport network. At first, the authorities suspected an electricity fault was to blame. But it soon emerged that four Islamist suicide attackers had detonated bombs on three underground trains and a bus, killing 52 people and injuring more than 700.

    • Norway Used NSA Technology for Potentially Illegal Spying

      Behind an abandoned military facility 40 miles northwest of Oslo, Norway built a surveillance base in close collaboration with the National Security Agency. Its bright, white satellite dishes, some of them 60 feet in diameter, stand out against the backdrop of pine-covered hills and red-roofed buildings that scatter the area.

      Classified documents describe the facility as “state-of-the-art,” with capabilities “previously not released outside of NSA.” Despite a hefty price tag of more than $33 million paid by Norwegian taxpayers, the Norwegian Intelligence Service has kept the operations at the site beyond public scrutiny.


      Norwegian intelligence sent employees on multiple trips to receive training and test equipment at the NSA, and a delegation from a now-defunct NSA Yakima facility in Washington state traveled to Norway. Meanwhile, NSA employees based in Oslo took delivery of more than 90 containers crammed with electronic equipment, which were sent by boat and airplane, according to an October 2005 article in SIDtoday, an internal NSA newsletter. Two months later, on December 15, 2005, the Norwegian Intelligence Service’s director, Torgeir Hagen, declared VICTORYGARDEN operational. An NSA article describing the base’s opening ceremony concluded: “We have only begun to see future possibilities to benefit both our nations and the free world.”

    • The Powerful Global Spy Alliance You Never Knew Existed

      It is one of the world’s most powerful alliances. And yet most people have probably never heard of it, because its existence is a closely guarded government secret.

      The “SIGINT Seniors” is a spy agency coalition that meets annually to collaborate on global security issues. It has two divisions, each focusing on different parts of the world: SIGINT Seniors Europe and SIGINT Seniors Pacific. Both are led by the U.S. National Security Agency, and together they include representatives from at least 17 other countries. Members of the group are from spy agencies that eavesdrop on communications – a practice known as “signals intelligence,” or SIGINT.

      Details about the meetings of the SIGINT Seniors are disclosed in a batch of classified documents from the NSA’s internal newsletter SIDToday, provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden and published today by The Intercept. The documents shine light on the secret history of the coalition, the issues that the participating agencies have focused on in recent years, and the systems that allow allied countries to share sensitive surveillance data with each other.

    • ‘NSA-proof’ Tor actually funded by US govt agency, works with BBG, FBI & DOJ – FOIA docs

      The Tor Project, hailed as a bulwark against the encroaching surveillance state, has received funding from US government agency the BBG and cooperates with intelligence agencies, newly released documents reveal.

      Tor, free software which enables anonymous communication over the internet, is a “privatized extension of the very same government that it claimed to be fighting,” claims journalist Yasha Levine, who obtained 2,500 pages of correspondence about the project via Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.

    • Privacy project Tor claimed to be in US Government’s pocket

      In an explosive revelation, the Tor Project, which produces a browser said to be the gold standard for privacy, is being funded by the US Government agency BBG and co-operates with American intelligence agencies, a report claims.

    • Tor Project “Almost 100% Funded By The US Government”: FOIA

      The FOIA documents also suggest that Tor’s ability to shield users from government spying may be nothing more than hot air. While no evidence of a “backdoor” exists, the documents obtained by Levine reveal that Tor has “no qualms with privately tipping off the federal government to security vulnerabilities before alerting the public, a move that would give the feds an opportunity to exploit the security weakness long before informing Tor users.”

    • Man involved in shooting cop and was found via stingray given 20 years

      On Wednesday afternoon, US District Judge Phyllis Hamilton ordered the lead defendant, Purvis Ellis, to 20 years in prison. Ars chronicled the Ellis case more than two years ago in a lengthy feature and described how Ellis was located via the use of cell-site simulators. These devices, which spoof ordinary cell towers, are often used by police to locate criminal suspects. However, in recent years, judges nationwide have increasingly scrutinized use of the surveillance tool.

    • Detroit Police Are Playing ‘Big Brother’ at Local Businesses

      If you’ve been to Detroit recently, you may have seen flashing green lights outside liquor stores, gas stations, and other businesses. The lights, according to police, are supposed to act as a deterrent, warning criminals that cameras are present, streaming real-time images of everyone entering or leaving the premises straight into police headquarters. This is the Motor City’s two-year-old surveillance program, Project Green Light, which its evangelists argue reduces crime at minimal expense to the city’s taxpayers.

      The problem with that optimistic prediction is that study after study has shown that there is little evidence, if any, that programs like this work. But there is something we do know for sure: Programs like these violate our constitutional right to privacy by allowing police to peer into our lives without having to bother to get a search warrant.

      Constant video streaming to the authorities amounts to an open-ended warrant without probable cause, enabling Detroit police as well as state and federal law enforcement agencies — including the FBI; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; and Immigration and Customs Enforcement — to view and record the comings and goings of innocent Americans. This means that even when not open to the public, cameras would capture the inside and outside of restaurants, book stores, and coffee shops, which are common meeting places for many organizations, such as unions, immigrant rights advocates, and religious congregations.

    • 22 illegal immigrants hiding in truck discovered by infrared photographs

      The thermography images show how the immigrants were captured in the Emirate of Sharjah, in the north east of the United Arab Emirates.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Radical Islamic cleric charged with inciting terror attacks

      Radical Islamic cleric Aman Abdurrahman faces the death penalty after being charged yesterday with inciting others to commit various terror attacks in Indonesia, including an attack in Jakarta in 2016 that left four bystanders dead.

    • Fighting sexism, India’s police ask: When is ‘women only’ good for women?

      Jaipur’s 28 all-female units, among the first in India, are just one manifestation of a deep national soul-searching over the scourges of sexual harassment and gender-based violence – and police’s role in fighting them. Along with all-female police stations, they’re meant to encourage more women to come forward and report abuse. But the question for many women’s groups is whether such “all women” initiatives can change the underlying attitudes that so often allow it to go unchecked. Many argue they are little more than window dressing, letting top brass contend they are addressing women’s safety while in fact shunting it aside.

    • Woman injured in #NoDAPL clash sues federal government for evidence

      “On information and belief, over the past fourteen months, the government has not issued any indictments or made a single arrest related to Sophia’s injury,” the complaint states. “Wayne has repeatedly requested that the government honor its agreement and return Sophia’s possessions, or at least make them available to Sophia’s forensic chemist for nondestructive analysis. The government continues to refuse to do so.”

    • Injured DAPL protest files suit for clothing, shrapnel

      Attorneys for 22-year-old Sophia Wilansky, of New York, filed the lawsuit Friday, Feb. 2, alleging unlawful deprivation of property, lack of due process and unreasonable seizure.


      Wilansky has undergone numerous surgeries to her left forearm from the explosion, which left her “permanently disfigured and disabled.”

    • NSA Used Porn to “Break Down Detainees” in Iraq — and Other Revelations From 297 Snowden Documents

      He was an NSA staffer but also a volunteer, having signed up to provide technical expertise for a wide-ranging, joint CIA mission in Iraq. He did not know what he was getting himself into.

      After arriving in Baghdad “grungy and tired,” the staffer would later write, he discovered that the CIA and its partner, the Defense Intelligence Agency, had moved beyond talking to locals and were now intent on looking through their computer files. Marines would bring the NSA man “laptops, hard drives, CDs, phones and radios.” Sometimes the devices were covered in blood — and quite often they contained pornography, deemed “extremely useful” in humiliating and “breaking down” for interrogation the people who owned them.

    • Time has come to save mentally ill inmates from solitary confinement

      The first thing that hits you is the smell—an acrid stench that knocks you back a few paces.

      When you see inside the cells, you understand. Men, often nude, are covered in filth. Their cell floors are littered with rancid milk cartons and food containers. Their stopped-up toilets overflow with waste.

      These are the living conditions that prisoners with acute mental illness endure in the Maricopa County Jail’s Special Management Unit (SMU) in downtown Phoenix. In my 23 years of visiting prisons and jails nationwide, it is the single worst unit I have ever seen.

    • Five Years After His Arrest, Prosecutors Try To Push Back Justin Carter’s ‘Terroristic Threat’ Trial

      Way back in the summer of 2013, Justin Carter, a teen living in Texas, made a joke on Facebook while chatting with other League of Legends players. Responding to facetious comments he was insane, Carter sarcastically agreed, using a very regrettable choice of words.

    • Shock as Islamic Fundamentalist Gets Green Light to Start School in Sweden

      Behind the divisive initiative is Conservative MP Abdirizak Waberi, who notoriously called for banning music and dancing, prohibiting boys and girls from socializing and allowing men to beat their four wives with sticks when they became disobedient.

      After protracted deliberations, the Islamic School Foundation has been ultimately granted the right to open a contested Muslim “free school” in the city of Borås, the newspaper Dagens Nyheter reported. The Borås municipality has long fought to stop the school that, it contended, would impede the integration process and cement segregation.

    • Old Speech, Photo Used In False FBI Muslim Crackdown Story

      A story that falsely reports President Donald Trump ordered the FBI in all 50 U.S. states to take action immediately against Muslim people is based largely on a speech 10 months ago by the then-head of the Department of Homeland Security, and also misquotes that speech.

    • Al-Ain’s Caio becomes latest UAE league player to receive fine for ‘unethical haircut’

      The Brazilian midfielder, who joined the UAE side in 2016, was fined AED1,000 ($272) by the UAE FA’s disciplinary committee for the haircut.

      It comes just a week after the federation punished Moroccan Murad Batna of Al Wahda with a similar fine for exactly the same offense.

    • She Owed $102,158.40 in Unpaid Tickets, but She’s Not in the Story

      At first, we thought it was a typo, a misplaced decimal. Bankruptcy records showed that a woman from Chicago’s South Side owed the city $102,158.40 for unpaid tickets. Could one person really rack up that much ticket debt?

      “Nobody will believe me,” she later told me. “But every single year, they send me 30 pages in an envelope with all the tickets. I just throw it away. I don’t look at it. It’s really stressful. You don’t understand how stressful it is to be in debt.”

      I’ve spent the past five months going down one avenue after another to figure out why thousands of Chicago drivers turn to Chapter 13 bankruptcy to cope with debt stemming from parking and traffic camera tickets. We published our story this week in partnership with Mother Jones.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Telecom Sector Can’t Stop Falsely Claiming That Net Neutrality Will Harm The Sick, Derail Smart Cars

      If you’ve paid attention to the net neutrality debate, you’ll recall that large ISPs routinely threaten to hold back on network investment if governments pass rules protecting an open, healthy internet. They also routinely try to claim that the passage of such protections cause a massive slowdown in overall sector investment, something that simply isn’t supported by actual facts (remember them?). Such rhetoric is fear mongering designed to scare regulators away from imposing “job killing regulations,” even if those regulations make sense for a telecom market where limited competition fails to keep bad actors in check.

      This hollow fear mongering has played a starring role as carriers worldwide begin to deploy faster fifth-generation wireless (5G) networks. You’ll recall that both American and European telcos have routinely tried to claim that the deployment of these faster, more efficient wireless networks will be derailed by net neutrality.

      Usually, this rhetoric is accompanied by claims that 5G will be the centerpiece of the smart cities of tomorrow, and that net neutrality rules will prevent ISPs from using these networks to provide prioritized connectivity for health and other related services. Ignored is the fact that this has never been a problem, since any well-crafted net neutrality rules carve out massive loopholes for all manner of essential services, especially on the medical front. Of course that doesn’t stop ISPs from routinely claiming that net neutrality hurts sick people all the same.

    • Sprint’s CEO Thinks This Whole Killing Net Neutrality Thing Is Pretty Nifty

      So when the FCC’s 2015 net neutrality rules were passed, we warned how the agency’s failure to include zero rating (exempting an ISP’s own content or the content of a deep-pocketed partner) was going to let ISPs creatively engage in anti-competitive behavior. And sure enough, companies like Verizon and AT&T began exempting their own content from usage caps, giving them a leg up in the market. Carriers like Sprint similarly began to fracture the internet experience, at one point charging users more money if they wanted to enjoy music, video and games without having their connection throttled.

      T-Mobile pushed these creative barriers further with its Binge On offering, which exempted only the biggest and most popular video services from the company’s usage caps. This automatically put thousands of smaller video providers, non-profits, educational institutions and startups at a notable market disadvantage, but by and large nobody outside of the EFF and academia gave much of a damn because a) ill-informed consumers are happy laboring under the illusion that they’re getting something for free and b) the public (and by proxy media) was lazy and tired of debating net neutrality.

    • Washington State Laughs In The Face Of FCC Attempts To Ban States From Protecting Net Neutrality

      In the wake of the FCC’s net neutrality repeal, nearly half the states in the union are now in the process of passing new net neutrality rules. Some states are pushing for legislation that mirrors the discarded FCC rules, while others (including Montana) have signed executive orders banning states from doing business with ISPs that engage in anti-competitive net neutrality violations.

      Of course incumbent ISPs saw this coming, which is why both Verizon and Comcast successfully lobbied the FCC to include language in its repeal that tries to “preempt” state authority over ISPs entirely. But this effort to ban states from protecting consumers (not just from net neutrality violations) rests on untested legal ground, which is why some ISPs are also pushing for fake net neutrality laws they hope will preempt these state efforts.

    • Defying Pai’s FCC, Washington state passes law protecting net neutrality

      The bill comes in response to the Federal Communications Commission decision in December 2017 to scrap federal net neutrality rules. The state bill still needs the signature of Governor Jay Inslee, who previously pledged to enforce net neutrality “under our own authority and under our own laws,” calling it “a free speech issue as well as a business development issue.”

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Fair Use Protects So Much More Than Many Realize

        With copyright being abused to shut down innovation and speech, and copyright terms lasting for generations, fair use is more important than ever. Without fair use, we’d see less creativity. We’d see less news reporting and commentary. And we’d see far less innovation.

        Fair use allows people to use copyrighted materials for certain purposes without payment or permission. If something is fair use, it is not infringing on a copyright.

        A video remix or a story that critiques culture by incorporating famous characters and giving them new meaning or context is an example of fair use in action. Culture grows because creators are constantly reworking what’s in it. If Superman is portrayed as someone other than a white man, that is a clearly a commentary on the symbol of “truth, justice, and the American way.”

        Commentary also relies on fair use. Criticism is made stronger when the material being interrogated can be included in the critique. It is difficult to show why someone was wrong or add context to someone else’s report without including at least part of it. We recently wrote about the Second Circuit’s decision that part of the service offered by TVEyes, a subscription company that provides searchable transcripts and video archives of television and radio, was not fair use. In particular, the court seemed to say that what makes TVEyes so objectionable was that it made material available without Fox News’ permission. One of the reasons fair use is so important to the First Amendment is because it doesn’t require permission. Who would let researchers, academics, and journalists get access to their material for the purpose of saying if and how they’re wrong?

        The ways fair use improves our creative culture and our commentary are apparent every time we see fan art on the Internet or watch news commentary. The ways fair use protects innovation can be more subtle.

      • The Post-TPP Future of Digital Trade in Asia

        On March 8, trade representatives from eleven Pacific rim countries including Canada, Mexico, Japan, and Australia are expected to ratify the Trans-Pacific Partnership, now known as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). The agreement has been slimmed down both in its content—22 items in the text have been suspended, including the bulk of the intellectual property chapter—and also in its membership, with the exclusion of the United States which had been the driver of those suspended provisions.

        What remains in the CPTPP is the agreement’s Electronic Commerce (also called digital trade) chapter, which will set new, flawed rules for the region on topics such as the free flow of electronic data, access to software source code, and even rules applicable to domain name privacy and dispute resolution. But it’s not the only Asian trade agreement seeking to set such rules. There’s another lesser-known but equally important agreement under negotiation by sixteen countries, called the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP).

        Like CPTPP, RCEP would cover issues that are critical to the digital economy such as custom duties on electronic products, supply of cross-border services, paperless trading, telecommunications, intellectual property, source code disclosure, privacy and cross-border data flows. But unlike CPTPP, RCEP includes the giants of China and India, meaning that the agreement would represent a massive 28.5 percent of global trade. While India’s commitment to the deal has become somewhat equivocal, RCEP holds an important place in China’s ambitions to consolidate its leadership role in the region.

      • The 2nd Circuit Contributes To Fair Use Week With An Odd And Problematic Ruling On TVEyes

        For years, we’ve quoted a copyright lawyer/law professor who once noted that the standards for fair use are an almost total crapshoot: nearly any case can have almost any result, depending on the judge (and sometimes jury) in the case. Even though there are “four factors” that must be evaluated, judges will often bend over backwards to twist those four factors to get to their desired result. Some might argue that this is a good thing in giving judges discretion in coming up with the “right” solution. But, it also means that there’s little real “guidance” on fair use for people who wish to make use of it. And that’s a huge problem, as it discourages and suppresses many innovations that might otherwise be quite useful.

        Case in point: earlier this week the 2nd Circuit rejected a lower court decision in the Fox News v. TVEyes case. If you don’t recall, TVEyes provides a useful media monitoring service that records basically all TV and radio, and makes the collections searchable and accessible. It’s a useful tool for other media companies (which want to use clips), for large PR firms tracking mentions, and for a variety of other uses as well. The initial ruling was a big win for fair use (even when done for profit) and against Fox News’ assertion of the obsolete doctrine of “Hot News” misappropriation. That was good. However, that initial ruling only covered some aspects of TVEyes’ operations — mainly the searching and indexing. A second ruling was more of a mixed bag, saying that archiving the content was fair use, but allowing downloading the content and “date and time search” (as opposed to content search) was not fair use.

      • EU Commission Proposes Measures Against Illegal Online Content Including IP Infringement

        The European Commission today recommended a set of operational measures against a wide range of online content considered illegal, lumping intellectual property rights-infringing material in with that of terrorists, child sexual abusers, hate speech, and commercial scams.

      • Dotcom: Obama Admitted “Mistakes Were Made” in Megaupload Case

        Kim Dotcom is claiming that an associate was able to hire a friend of the Obamas to ask about the Megaupload case. “Mistakes were made. It hasn’t gone well. It’s a problem. I’ll see to it after the election,” Barack Obama reportedly said. With Obama due to land in New Zealand next month, Dotcom says he’ll have a court subpoena waiting for the former president.

      • Switzerland Hopes New Law Will Keep it Off U.S. ‘Pirate Watchlist’

        Switzerland hopes that its newly proposed copyright law will be enough to keep the country off the United States’ Special 301 Report watchlist. The Swiss Government notes that the law addresses two of the main piracy concerns previously identified by the US.


Links 1/3/2018: X.Org Server 1.20 RC1, Qt 5.11 Beta

Posted in News Roundup at 11:49 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • OpenStack ‘Queens’ Release Expands Support for GPUs and Containers to Meet Edge, NFV and Machine Learning Workload Demands
  • OpenStack gets support for virtual GPUs and new container features
  • OpenStack’s Latest Release: All Hail to Queens
  • OpenStack Queens Accelerates Open-Source Cloud With New Capabilities

    The OpenStack Queens platform was officially released on Feb. 28, marking the 17th release of the open-source cloud platform, originally started by NASA and Rackspace in 2010. OpenStack today is widely used by large organizations, including Walmart, as well as serving as the underlying infrastructure for multiple cloud providers, including platforms from IBM and Oracle, among others.

    Multiple new and enhanced capabilities have landed in the OpenStack Queens release, including virtual GPU (vGPU) support and improved container integration. Several new projects also have made an appearance in the OpenStack Queens milestone, including Cyborg, which provides a framework for managing hardware and software acceleration resources.

  • Openstack community releases Queens with support for vGPUs

    The latest – and 17th – version of open source infrastructure software Openstack, named Queens, is now available.

    Six months on from the previous release, among the new features in Queens is full support for virtual graphic processing units (vGPUs) in the Nova provisioning component, so if a user is running Nova cloud or has physical servers with GPUs in them, those can now be tracked or provisioned out.

  • Coding Freedom

    Subtitled The Ethics and Aesthetics of Hacking, Coding Freedom is a rare beast in my personal reading: an academic anthropological study of a fairly new virtual community. It’s possible that many books of this type are being written, but they’re not within my normal reading focus. It’s also a bit of an awkward review, since the community discussed here is (one of) mine. I’m going to have an insider’s nitpicks and “well, but” reactions to the anthropology, which is a valid reaction but not necessarily the intended audience.

    I’m also coming to this book about four years after everyone finished talking about it, and even longer after Coleman’s field work in support of the book. I think Coding Freedom suffers from that lack of currency. If this book were written today, I suspect its focus would change, at least in part. More on that in a moment.

  • Sprint’s Open Source Strategy Is an Evolution

    Sprint is gradually incorporating open source into its network. Like most service providers, the company sees the value of moving to a more open source model, but it also has a limited amount of resources — both people and money — that it can devote to open source projects.

    “We don’t have all the resources as some of our competitors so we have to approach it in a targeted manner,” said Ron Marquardt, vice president of technology at Sprint, in an interview with SDxCentral here at the Mobile World Congress 2018 conference. “We don’t just want to contribute for the sake of it. We want to contribute to things that will be a differentiator for us or something that we want to influence.”

  • Elastic to Release Source Code for X-Pack

    Elastic customers who pay for high-end enterprise features like machine learning in the X-Pack extension will no longer be relegated to a “second-class citizen” experience when working with the vendor to track down bugs or other issues. That’s because the source code for commercial software that Elastic developed to extend the stack will soon be opened, CEO Shay Banon announced yesterday.

    “This is a big change for us,” Banon said during his keynote address before an announced crowd of 2,500 attendees at the company’s ElasticON conference in San Francisco. “I’m super excited about it. I can’t begin to explain how simple this will make things for us.”

  • Release notes for the Genode OS Framework 18.02

    After being developed for over a decade, Genode remained a mystery for many people who looked at the project from a distance as it does not seem to fit any established category of software. In 2018 – declared as the Year of Sculpt on our roadmap – this will hopefully change. Genode 18.02 features the first revision of Sculpt, which is a Genode-based operating system for general-purpose computing. After being used as day-to-day OS by the entire team of Genode Labs for several months, we feel that the time is right to share the system with a broader audience (Section Sculpt for Early Adopters).

    One fundamental feature of Sculpt is the ability to install and deploy software from within the running operating system, which is universally expected from any modern general-purpose OS. Section On-target package installation and deployment presents Genode’s unique take on the topic of software installation and deployment.

    Besides Sculpt, the current release has no shortage of other improvements. Genode’s growing arsenal of 3rd-party software received profound updates and additions, including VirtualBox, Muen, seL4, several GNU packages, and libraries. Also the user-level networking stack – including the Linux-based LxIP stack and our custom NIC-router component – received a lot of attention. Thanks to the added network driver for i.MX-based hardware, this networking infrastructure becomes usable on embedded platforms based on this SoC. Furthermore, the current release continues the cultivation of the Nim programming language for Genode components.

  • Sculpt Aims To Be A General-Purpose OS Built Atop Genode

    The Sculpt operating system that aims for day-to-day / general purpose use-cases and built atop the Genode OS Framework is now available.

    Sculpt is a Genode-powered operating system for general purpose computing. At this stage it’s quite rudimentary but they are working towards making it resemble a traditional operating system, ready-to-use ISO images will come in the future, they are still to develop their interactive GUI, and further down the road — possibly by the end of 2018 — they hope it will be ready for a community experience.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Analysis of the Alexa Top 1M Sites

        Prior to the release of the Mozilla Observatory in June of 2016, I ran a scan of the Alexa Top 1M websites. Despite being available for years, the usage rates of modern defensive security technologies was frustratingly low. A lack of tooling combined with poor and scattered documentation had led to minimal awareness around countermeasures such as Content Security Policy (CSP), HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS), and Subresource Integrity (SRI).

      • Things Gateway, Part 4
      • Discontinuing support for beta versions

        addons.mozilla.org (AMO) has supported a way for developers to upload beta versions of their add-ons. This allowed power users to test upcoming features and fixes before they are published to all users. It has been a useful feature to have for some developers.

      • Dear Mick Mulvaney: Don’t Let Equifax Off Easy

        Today, Mozilla is visiting the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) in Washington, D.C. with 27,052 signatures and a loud message: “Mick Mulvaney, don’t let Equifax off easy.”

        Last year’s Equifax data breach was a seismic event: Tens of millions of Americans had their personal information — from Social Security numbers to home addresses — pilfered by hackers, exposing them to fraud and identity theft. Equifax customers in other countries, like the UK and Canada, were also affected.

        Then, earlier this month, we learned the breach may have been worse than expected, with Americans’ tax IDs and driver’s license numbers swept up in the hack, too.

        This bad news broke just days after an astonishing development: The CFPB is not pursuing an investigation into the 2017 breach.

      • The 5 Stages of Experiment Analysis

        I’ve been thinking about experimentation a lot recently. Our team is spending a lot of effort trying to make Firefox experimentation feel easy. But what happens after the experiment’s been run? There’s not a clear process for taking experimental data and turning it into a decision.

        I noted the importance of Decision Reports in Desirable features for experimentation tools. This post outlines the process needed to get to a solid decision report. I’m hoping that outlining this process will help us disambiguate what our tools are meant to do and identify gaps in our tooling.

      • How to Try Firefox CSD on Linux, Right Now

        Firefox support for client-side decorations (better known as CSD) is coming to its Linux app — but if you can’t live without it, we’re gonna show you how to enable it.

        As we’ve mentioned before, a CSD toggle is present in nightly builds of the browser. When enabled on GTK3 desktop it merges the title bar and tab bar into one unified bar.

        This gives the browser a neat, compact look, and is in keeping with other GTK3 apps that use header bars (like, basically, all of them).

      • Firefox Media Playback Team Review Policy

        Reviews form a central part of how we at Mozilla ensure engineering diligence. Prompt, yet thorough, reviews are also a critical component in maintaining team velocity and productivity. Reviews are also one of the primary ways that a distributed organization like Mozilla does its mentoring and development of team members.

        So given how important reviews are, it pays to be deliberate about what you’re aiming for.

        The senior members of the Firefox Media Playback team met in Auckland in August 2016 to codify the roadmap, vision, and policy for the team, and and one of the things we agreed upon was our review policy.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice 6.0 – Goodness, Gracious, Great Fonts of Fire!

      LibreOffice 6.0 is a phenomenal release. Pro-am if you will. The very first version that can proudly wear its laurels. It’s almost a completely different product. More elegant, more efficient, with better and smarter layout and work logic, improved functionality with pretty much everything. Most importantly, Microsoft Office supports is very good. It was also stable and fast.

      Technically, LibreOffice is playing catchup with Microsoft Office. We probably may never achieve parity, as office suites take millions of dollars to develop and maintain. But still, in this game of hare and armadillo, the open-source beastling is making great strides forward. LibreOffice 6.0 has an expensive, elegant, refreshing feel to it. An office suite reborn. Official release notes are often three quarters hyperbole and one quarter nonsense, but in this case, it’s all awesome stuff. I am extremely happy, and I urge you to install and test LibreOffice 6.0. There are few free products that warrant this much joy. 10/10. Font away.

    • Oracle Adds Support for Linux Kernel 4.15 to Its Latest VirtualBox Release

      VirtualBox 5.2.8 is now available to download, finally bringing support for the latest Linux 4.15 kernel series for Linux-based guest operating systems you might want to run on your virtual machines. Also, this means that various of VirtualBox’s modules can now be compiled against Linux kernel 4.15.

      Also, VirtualBox 5.2.8 finally addresses that annoying black screen issue that occurred when 3D was enabled in some Linux guests, and adds support for suppressing setuid and setgid in shared folders. For Windows guests, the update fixes an incorrect function error that occurred when using shared folders with certain apps.

    • VirtualBox 5.2.8 Released With Linux 4.15 Kernel Support, PCID For Guests

      For those of you making use of Oracle VM VirtualBox, the 5.2.8 point release is now available as a rather large point release.

      While this is just another VirtualBox point release, VirtualBox 5.2.8 is larger than their usual point releases from Oracle. Besides adding support for the latest stable kernel (Linux 4.15) and other fixes, there are some more prominent changes too.

    • VirtualBox 5.2.8 Released with Support for Linux 4.15

      A new version of VirtualBox is available to now download. VirtualBox 5.2.8 supports the latest Linux kernel 4.15 in Linux guest machines, making it perfect for those looking to try the latest Bionic Beaver daily builds.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)


    • Free Software Foundation releases FY2016 Annual Report

      The Annual Report reviews the Foundation’s activities, accomplishments, and financial picture from October 1, 2015 to September 30, 2016. 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 programs, and FY2016′s major events, including LibrePlanet, the creation of ethical criteria for code-hosting repositories, and the expansion of the Respects Your Freedom computer hardware product certification program.

      “More people and businesses are using free software than ever before,” said FSF executive director John Sullivan in his introduction to the FY2016 report. “That’s big news, but our most important measure of success is the support for the ideals. In that area, we have momentum on our side.”

      As with all of the Foundation’s activities, the Annual Report was made using free software, including Inkscape, GIMP, and PDFsam, along with freely licensed fonts and images.

    • Fun with gcc plugins
  • Public Services/Government

    • Disruptive by Design: Invigorating Government Open Source Contributions

      The U.S. government is likely the largest combined producer and consumer of software in the world. The code to build that software is volatile, expensive and oftentimes completely hidden from view. Most people only see the end result: the compiled and packaged application or website. However, a massive worldwide community, the Open Source Initiative, centers on the exact opposite.

      Open source enables a development method for software that harnesses the power of distributed peer review and transparency of process. Although open source technology is not new, its effects can still be disruptive in many ways. The government has only recently been serious about contributing to this initiative, a nonprofit formed in 1998 as an educational, advocacy and stewardship organization. The Department of Defense has traditionally treated the majority of source code as sensitive, nonexportable information. This attitude has placed most open projects behind heavy use restrictions and government-access-only barriers.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Keyboardio Hits a High Point in Open Hardware

        My expectations for Keyboardio’s Model 01 were high. I pre-ordered the keyboard during its 2015 crowdfunding campaign, and waited for over two years with increasing frustration as one delay in manufacturing followed another. Then, in 2017, the first Model 01s shipped — but not mine. By the time mine arrived in February 2018, my expectations were so high that I was sure that the reality could not possibly match my expectations.

        I was dead right.

        Reality exceeded my expectations, and by more than I could possibly imagine. The Model 01 is not the first programmable keyboard. Nor is it the first open source keyboard, the first keyboard with mechanical switches, or the first ergonomic keyboard. However, so far as I’m aware, no other keyboard has combined all these features at once. Combining aesthetics, ergonomics, hardware customization, and software customization, Keyboardio’s Model 01 is a keyboard in a class of its own.

      • Trinamic Licenses Codasip’s Bk3 RISC-V Processor for Next Generation Motion Control Applications

        Brno, Czech Republic and Hamburg, Germany, 28th February 2018. – Codasip, the leading supplier of RISC-V® embedded processor IP, announced today that Trinamic, the global leader in embedded motor and motion control ICs and microsystems, has selected Codasip’s Bk3 processor for its next-generation family of products.

      • GreenWaves Puts Another Spin on IoT Chips

        Rather than using the ubiquitous Arm Cortex-A or -M cores, GreenWaves relies on the potentially ubiquitous RISC-V design. The benefits here are twofold: RISC-V is free (as in free beer), and RISC-V permits user-defined extensions. GreenWaves took advantage of both characteristics to build itself a complex multicore MCU that’s tweaked for image, audio, and sensor processing. The idea is to make the edge-node processor smart enough that it doesn’t have to upload raw data to a smarter device upstream. Do your data-capture, analysis, filtering, and massaging right at the point of collection and you’ll save yourself time, money, and power.

        GAP8 has nine identical RISC-V cores: one for overall housekeeping and eight for massaging incoming data. The housekeeping side looks like a very traditional MCU, with a UART, SPI and I2C interfaces,

  • Programming/Development

    • Why Python devs should use Pipenv
    • #17: Dependencies.

      As R users, we are spoiled. Early in the history of R, Kurt Hornik and Friedrich Leisch built support for packages right into R, and started the Comprehensive R Archive Network (CRAN). And R and CRAN had a fantastic run with. Roughly twenty years later, we are looking at over 12,000 packages which can (generally) be installed with absolute ease and no suprises. No other (relevant) open source language has anything of comparable rigour and quality. This is a big deal.

    • On the unoptimalities of language specific build systems

      A fairly big recent trend has been the emergence of new programming languages that are meant to be compiled into machine code. The silent (and sometimes not so silent) goal of these languages has been to replace C and C++ as the dominant systems programming language.

      All of these languages come with their own build system and dependency management optimised for that particular language. This makes sense as having a good developer experience is important and not having 20-30 years of legacy to carry with you means you can design and develop slick systems relatively easily. But, as always, there is a downside. Perhaps the main issue comes up pretty quickly when trying to combine said code with projects in other languages.

      A common approach is for the programming language in question to bundle up all its dependencies as source in a big clump. Then the advocates will say that “it’s simple, just call our build system from yours and it gets built”. This seems simple but it uses the weasieliest of all weasel words: just. Whenever someone tells you to “just” do something, what they almost always do is trying to trivialise away the hardest part of the entire operation. So it is here as well.

    • How to hire the right DevOps talent

      DevOps culture is quickly gaining ground, and demand for top-notch DevOps talent is greater than ever at companies all over the world. With the annual base salary for a junior DevOps engineer now topping $100,000, IT professionals are hurrying to make the transition into DevOps.

    • Eclipse Open J9 – an Open Source Java Virtual Machine Based on the Eclipse OMR Project

      IBM has been working hard on their own flavor of the Java Virtual Machine (JVM) — J9 JVM — since 1997. J9 was built as a closed source (proprietary) independent implementation of the JVM whose class libraries were based on the licensed Sun (now OpenJDK) implementation. J9 has many enhancements and flag-bearing optimizations including: tiered compilation; shared classes; escape analysis; hardware specific optimizations, such as selecting the correct large page size; soft real-time garbage collector; API optimizations via Apache Harmony, dynamic ahead-of-time (AOT) compilation; several object locking specific optimizations; and more.

    • J2EE and JavaEE are Gone. Enterprise Java is Now Called Jakarta EE

      The popular enterprise application framework now has a new name – and a new direction.

      In the world of enterprise applications, few (if any) frameworks have ever been as widely adopted and deployed as Java and specifically enterprise flavors of Java.

      The first big incarnation of enterprise Java was known as J2EE. In 2006, Sun rebranded J2EE as JavaEE. Now in 2018, enterprise Java is being re-branded again, though this time it’s losing the Java name.

    • On well executed releases and remote teams

      After some blood, sweat and tears, we finally brought Stacksmith into the world, yay!

      It’s been a lengthy and intense process that started with putting together a team to be able to build the product in the first place, and taking Bitnami’s experience and some existing tooling to make the cloud more accessible to everyone. It’s been a good week.

      However, I learnt something I didn’t quite grasp before: if you find really good people, focus on the right things, scope projects to an achievable goal and execute well, releases lack a certain explosion of emotions that are associated with big milestones. Compounded with the fact that the team that built the product are all working remotely, launch day was pretty much uneventful.


  • Norbert Preining: Ten Mincho – Great font and ugly Adobe

    I recently stumbled upon a very interesting article by Ken Lunde (well known from CJKV Information Processing book) on a new typeface for Japanese called Ten Mincho, designed by Ryoko Nishizuka and Robert Slimbach. Reading that the Kanji and Roman part is well balanced, and the later one designed by Robert Slimbach, I was very tempted to get these fonts for my own publications and reports.

  • Science

    • Evidence of quantum state in spin cluster chain predicted by Nobel Prize recipient found in magnetic mineral

      Nuclear techniques at ANSTO have helped to confirm a quantum spin phenomena, a Haldane phase, in a magnetic material, that has potential to be used as a measurement model for quantum computation.

      Although there has been experimental evidence of the Haldane phase in other types of one dimensional antiferromagnetic materials, it is believed to be the first evidence in a cluster-based material.

    • Scientists discover how to distinguish beams of entangled photons

      A team from the Faculty of Physics, MSU, has developed a method for creating two beams of entangled photons to measure the delay between them. In the future the results of the study may be used in high-precision measurements, material studies, and informational technologies. The article was published in Optics Letters journal.


      Thus, the scientists managed to experimentally register the smallest possible shift between twin beams of entangled photons that may be observed by measurement devices. According to the team, it is possible to further reduce this value, but to do so, the scheme of the experiment would be more complex. “Right now, 90 femtoseconds is a record-setting value, but it can be reduced, and we know how,” explained Prudkovskii. He says that the wave period of laser emission is only several femtoseconds, so it is possible to reduce the length of such a delay down to a dozen or so.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • AI Beats Dermatologists in Diagnosing Nail Fungus

      It’s still relatively rare for artificial intelligence to deliver a crushing victory over human physicians in a head-to-head test of medical expertise. But a deep neural network approach managed to beat 42 dermatology experts in diagnosing a common nail fungus that affects about 35 million Americans each year.

      The latest successful demonstration of AI’s capabilities in the medical field relied heavily upon a team of South Korean researchers putting together a huge dataset of almost 50,000 images of toenails and fingernails. That large amount of data used to train the deep neural networks on recognizing cases of onychomycosis—a common fungal infection that can make nails discolored and brittle—provided the crucial edge that enabled deep learning to outperform medical experts.

  • Security

    • “Medjacked”: Could Hackers Take Control of Pacemakers and Defibrillators—or Their Data?

      Are high-tech medical devices vulnerable to hacks? Hackers have targeted them for years, according to a new article in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. But Dr. Dhanunjaya Lakkireddy, senior author of the paper, says hackers have harmed no one so far.

    • Exploding e-Cigarettes Are a Growing Danger to Public Health

      Whatever their physiological effects, the most immediate threat of these nicotine-delivery devices comes from a battery problem called thermal runaway


      Exploding cigarettes sound like a party joke, but today’s version isn’t funny at all. In fact, they are a growing danger to public health. Aside from mobile phones, no other electrical device is so commonly carried close to the body. And, like cellphones, e-cigarettes pack substantial battery power. So far, most of the safety concerns regarding this device have centered on the physiological effects of nicotine and of the other heated, aerosolized constituents of the vapor that carries nicotine into the lungs. That focus now needs to be widened to include the threat of thermal runaway in the batteries, especially the lithium-ion variety.

    • Uh, oh! Linux confuses Bleeping Computer again

      The tech website Bleeping Computer, which carries news about security and malware, has once again demonstrated that when it comes to Linux, its understanding of security is somewhat lacking.

      What makes the current case surprising is the fact that the so-called security issue which the website chose to write about had already been ripped to pieces by senior tech writer Stephen Vaughan-Nicholls four days earlier.

      Called Chaos, the vulnerability was touted by a firm known as GoSecure as one that would allow a backdoor into Linux servers through SSH.

    • Are Mac and Linux users safe from ransomware?

      Ransomware is currently not much of a problem for Linux systems. A pest discovered by security researchers is a Linux variant of the Windows malware ‘KillDisk’. However, this malware has been noted as being very specific; attacking high profile financial institutions and also critical infrastructure in Ukraine. Another problem here is that the decryption key that is generated by the program to unlock the data is not stored anywhere, which means that any encrypted data cannot be unlocked, whether the ransom is paid or not. Data can still sometimes be recovered by experts like Ontrack, however timescales, difficulty and success rates depend on the exact situation and strain of ransomware.

    • Security updates for Wednesday
    • Open Source Security Podcast: Episode 85 – NPM ate my files
    • Protecting Code Integrity with PGP — Part 3: Generating PGP Subkeys
    • From DevOps to DevSecOps: Structuring Communication for Better Security [Ed: From one buzzword to another buzzword]

      Security has long been considered an afterthought in the software development process, with ad hoc measures typically tacked on just before release. This approach is no longer adequate in sustaining today’s expectations for rapid and reliable service.

    • How to build a business case for DevOps transformation [Ed: How to build a business case for buzzwords]
    • “Nobody cared about security”

      In the long run, however, the more significant reason why the ARPAnet and early Internet lacked security was not that it wasn’t needed, nor that it would have made development of the network harder, it was that implementing security either at the network or the application level would have required implementing cryptography. At the time, cryptography was classified as a munition. Software containing cryptography, or even just the hooks allowing cryptography to be added, could only be exported from the US with a specific license. Obtaining a license involved case-by-case negotiation with the State Department. In effect, had security been a feature of the ARPAnet or the early Internet, the network would have to have been US-only. Note that the first international ARPAnet nodes came up in 1973, in Norway and the UK.

    • ​The 10 best ways to secure your Android phone

      The most secure smartphones are Android smartphones. Don’t buy that? Apple’s latest version of iOS 11 was cracked a day — a day! — after it was released.

      So Android is perfect? Heck no!

      Android is under constant attack and older versions are far more vulnerable than new ones. Way too many smartphone vendors still don’t issue Google’s monthly Android security patches in a timely fashion, or at all. And, zero-day attacks still pop up.

    • Not Getting Android OS Updates? Here’s How Google Is Updating Your Device Anyway

      Android updates are a still a point of contention among die-hard fans, because most manufacturers don’t keep updated with the latest offerings from Google. But just because your phone isn’t getting full OS updates doesn’t mean it’s totally out of date.

      While some major features still require full version updates, Google has a system in place that keeps many handsets at least somewhat relevant with Google Play Services. The company can squash certain bugs and even introduce new features just by updating Play Services.

    • Intel Finally Releases Spectre Patches for Broadwell and Haswell Processors
    • How to Defend Servers Against Cryptojacking

      Cryptojacking has become one of the most active and pervasive threats in recent years. In a cryptojacking attack, a cryptocurrency mining script is injected into a server or a webpage to take advantage of the victim system’s CPU power.

    • 8 Startups Raise Money to Secure Everything From ICS to Home Networks
    • Sonatype Makes Nexus Firewall Available to 10 Million Developers
  • Defence/Aggression

    • Guns and Liberty

      The proliferation of guns in American society is not only profitable for gun manufacturers, it fools the disempowered into fetishizing weapons as a guarantor of political agency. Guns buttress the myth of a rugged individualism that atomizes Americans, disdains organization and obliterates community, compounding powerlessness. Gun ownership in the United States, largely criminalized for poor people of color, is a potent tool of oppression. It does not protect us from tyranny. It is an instrument of tyranny.

      “Second Amendment cultists truly believe that guns are political power,” writes Mark Ames, the author of “Going Postal: Rage, Murder, and Rebellion: From Reagan’s Workplaces to Clinton’s Columbine and Beyond.” “[They believe that] guns in fact are the only source of political power. That’s why, despite loving guns, and despite being so right-wing, they betray such a paranoid fear and hatred of armed agents of the government (minus Border Guards, they all tend to love our Border Guards). If you think guns, rather than concentrated wealth, equals political power, then you’d resent government power far more than you’d resent billionaires’ power or corporations’ hyper-concentrated wealth/power, because government will always have more and bigger guns. In fact you’d see pro-gun, anti-government billionaires like the Kochs as your natural political allies in your gun-centric notion of political struggle against the concentrated gun power of government.”

    • Resisting Calls to ‘Do Something’ About Syria

      A common refrain is that the West must “do something” to help Syria, but this is like arguing that the gasoline that was used to start a fire can also be used to extinguish it, explains Caitlin Johnstone.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Report: Roger Stone communicated with WikiLeaks during 2016 campaign [Ed: No, Wikileaks told Stone to STOP claiming that he had communicated]

      Conservative provocateur and on-again-off-again Trump adviser Roger Stone was reportedly in communication with WikiLeaks during the 2016 election.

    • Report: Roger Stone communicated directly with Wikileaks, despite denials
    • Assange continues attack on UK judiciary, citing report where Judges bemoan ‘inappropriate pressure’

      Julian Assange has questioned the impartiality of the UK’s judicial system. The Wikileaks founder cited an EU study wherein 43% of UK judges state that the government has not respected their independence in the last two years.

      The 2016-2017 European Network of Councils for the Judiciary (ENCJ) report, entitled Independence, Accountability and Quality of the Judiciary, details that some 43% of judges in the UK felt the government failed to respect their judicial independence. 29% said they felt their independence was disrespected by parliament.

      Assange pointed out that the study further reports that 5% of UK judges say that, over the past two years, they have been under “inappropriate pressure” to decide a particular case in a specific way.

    • Wikileaks cable reveals U. N. looked into Georgia prison torture allegations

      Cries of brutal torture in Georgia prisons have prompted one man to file more than 40 lawsuits against Georgia Department of Corrections Correctional Emergency Response Team (CERT) members.

      The claims not only piqued the attention of local advocates, but compelled the United Nations to get involved.

      Georgia attorney McNeill Stokes said he believes he put a stop to torture in Georgia prisons or at least curbed it substantially.

      Stokes filed lawsuits about incidents that inmates said occurred between 2003 and 2008. Similar cases were still navigating the Georgia court system as recently as three years ago.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Arctic temperatures are so high they’re shocking scientists

      The Arctic winter lasts from October to March and leaves much of the region in almost permanent darkness. During that time, the average temperature hovers around minus 4 degrees Fahrenheit. But so far in 2018, the Cape Morris Jesup meteorological site, at the northern tip of Greenland, has seen a record-breaking 61 hours of temperatures above freezing.

  • Finance

    • Tencent Is Said to Lead $115 Million Deal in India’s Gaana

      The investment in Gamma Gaana Ltd. totals $115 million, and Times Internet Ltd., the Indian media and technology company that started the business, will also participate, said the person, who wasn’t authorized to discuss the information publicly and asked not to be identified. Tencent and Gaana confirmed the deal was taking place in an emailed statement Wednesday.

    • India-based music streaming service Gaana raises $115M led by Tencent

      Chinese internet giant Tencent is continuing to put its money in India and in music streaming services after it agreed to lead a $115 million investment in India’s Gaana.

      Gaana is a music streaming service that was started by Times Media, the company behind the Times of India newspaper and tech incubator Times Internet among other things, seven years ago. Gaana didn’t reveal its user metrics, but CEO Prashan Agarwal said the company is “only 10 percent of the way towards building a business useful for 500 million Indians.”

    • Tech companies should stop pretending AI won’t destroy jobs [Ed: He means "computers", not "AI". Why is AI trending all of a sudden? Who/what triggered it?]

      I took an Uber to an artificial-­intelligence conference at MIT one recent morning, and the driver asked me how long it would take for autonomous vehicles to take away his job. I told him it would happen in about 15 to 20 years. He breathed a sigh of relief. “Well, I’ll be retired by then,” he said.

      Good thing we weren’t in China. If a driver there had asked, I would have had to tell him he’d lose his job in about 10 years—maybe 15 if he was lucky.

    • Advice to Washington from Ancient China

      What preserves a state is humaneness and rightness. If a state lacks rightness, even if it is large, it will certainly perish.

    • Cryptocurrency and the IRS

      My parting advice is please take taxes seriously—especially this year. The IRS has been working hard to get information from companies like Coinbase regarding taxpayer’s gains/losses. In fact, Coinbase was required to give the IRS financial records on 14,355 of its users. Granted, those accounts are only people who have more than $20,000 worth of transactions, but it’s just the first step. Reporting things properly now will make life far less stressful down the road. And remember, if you have a ton of taxes to pay for your cryptocurrency, that means you made even more money in profit. It doesn’t make paying the IRS any more fun, but it helps make the sore spot in your wallet hurt a little less.

    • EU targets US web giants with digital sales tax

      European finance ministers are fed up with companies like Facebook, Google and Twitter. The US internet giants are making more and more money from their European customers’ data, but none of it finds its way into government coffers. Because the web firms have no headquarters in the EU, local tax authorities don’t get a look in.

      But now the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, wants to change this and force web-based companies with global sales of €750 million ($916 million) or more to pay a digital sales tax. In an analysis of “taxation of digital activities in the single market,” dated February 26 and seen by Handelsblatt, it says all transactions generated by the “exploitation of user data” should be taxed. This includes revenues from the sale of data such as personal details and the provision of advertising space in social networks or search engines. The revenues of online marketplaces such as Uber or Airbnb should also be subject to the tax, the document adds.

    • Exclusive: Public wants Big Tech regulated

      That’s a seismic shift in the public’s perception of Silicon Valley over a short period of time. It shows how worried Americans are about Russian meddling in the 2016 election, but it also reflects a growing anxiety about the potentially addictive nature of some of the tech companies’ products, as well as the relentless spread of fake news on their platforms.

    • Media Parroting ‘$1000 Bonus!’ Stories Helped Give Trump’s Tax Cuts Majority Support

      A New York Times/Survey Monkey poll last week revealed that, for the first time, a slim majority of Americans support last December’s Republican tax cuts—cuts that disproportionately benefit the rich, redistributing money from the poor to the wealthiest Americans.

      How was the impressive feat of reality-inversion achieved? How did a tax cut that, once it’s all said and done, mainly benefits a small group of top earners become broadly popular? One reason is the nonstop deluge of stories over the past two months, cheerleading alleged “tax cut bonuses” from large corporations.

      Democratic-leaning cable network MSNBC and its colleagues NBC, it should be noted, have mostly been the exception, avoiding the talking point for the most part. But Fox News, CNBC, Fox Business, CNN and dozens of local media outlets joined the messaging charge, singing the bill’s money-saving praises.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • What Facebook Isn’t Saying About Trump and Clinton’s Campaign Ads

      While this chart does show that the Trump campaign paid higher rates overall than the Clinton campaign did—and that how competitive the ad market gets as the election approaches—it doesn’t tell the full story. Much of the public outcry centered around the idea that Facebook’s system prioritizes more provocative or outrageous political ads. That, in turn, has stoked fears about whether Facebook’s ad algorithms reward mudslinging and fear-mongering. The chart Bosworth shared sheds no light on this question, because it contains no information about the content of the ads on any given day.

    • Facebook’s algorithm has wiped out a once flourishing digital publisher

      The media industry’s worst fears about Facebook’s huge algorithm tweak are coming true.

      The women-focused publisher LittleThings is shutting its doors, in large part because of Facebook’s recent move, the company’s CEO, Joe Speiser, told Business Insider.

    • More Russiagate Rubbish

      An RT interview about the over-reaction around the head of the CIA, Mike Pompeo, meeting his Russian counter-part…

    • ‘Trump, Inc.’ Podcast: David Fahrenthold and the Mysterious Loan Trump Made to Himself

      Listeners have been sending us lots of questions about President Donald Trump and his businesses. So we sat down with one of the best in the business to answer them. The Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold has been digging into Trump for nearly two years. And he’s involved readers from the get-go.

      Among the questions Fahrenthold takes on: How much money has the government spent on Trump properties? How much does it cost taxpayers and does Trump profit when he visits Mar-a-Lago? And who is Trump literally indebted to?

    • California Dems Withhold Endorsement of Sen. Feinstein

      This passed weekend, California democrats refused to endorse Senator Feinstein, in a major rebuke of California’s senior senator, opening the door wide for de León to run.

      According to the Sacramento Bee, “As a child, de León spent time on both sides of the border, in Tijuana, Baja California, and Logan Heights in San Diego and identifies strongly with Mexican culture, though he doesn’t know where his grandparents are from.”

      Senator de León recently led a coalition to sponsor legislation “that addresses lapses in our justice and labor systems creating serious challenges for the California’s immigrant community, including stronger wage theft laws, securing u-visas from law enforcement, and providing healthcare for undocumented children.”

    • NSA Head: Trump Has Not Directed Him to Counter Russian Election Meddling

      The outgoing head of the NSA, Michael Rogers, says the Trump administration has not directed him to try to counter Russian election meddling. This is Rogers answering questions by Rhode Island Senator Jack Reed.

    • Did Turnbull Ask Trump About the Elephant in The Room?

      A gushing sycophantic Australian press pack has hailed Malcolm Turnbull’s visit with Donald Trump as a “great diplomatic success.”

      I’m not quite sure how they arrive at that conclusion.

      Yes, Trump rolled out the red carpet and treated Malcolm like a good little lackey, and Malcolm will undoubtedly return with some crumbs and even some sort of hope that he might yet convince Trump to join the TPP(If you can call that an achievement). But, in all honesty, these “visits” are not diplomatic, they are exercises in pledging loyalty and fealty to the great power that the United States is.

      When Malcolm left Trump’s presence, you can bet that Trump’s mind would have switched to other more pressing matters and the box marked obligatory glad handing of vassal was ticked off.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Google breaks down data on the 2.4 million right to be forgotten requests it’s received

      Google’s latest reports show it has actioned 43.3 per cent of all the requests it has received to date. The search giant noted that less than half of the right to be forgotten requests are actioned due to some requests being overridden by public interest and other information factors.

    • How Employers Already Compel Speech From Workers

      The US Supreme Court heard arguments this week in Janus v. AFSCME, and most observers believe the justices are prepared to strike down agency fees for government employees—that is, the mandatory dues that public-sector workers pay to the unions that represent them. The implications of this decision could be staggering: Recent research suggests that “right-to-work laws” (which prevent agency fees from being imposed on all workers) dramatically reduce Democratic vote share, shift policy to the right, and reduce working-class representation in legislatures.

    • House passes online sex trafficking bill

      The main concern for groups like Engine, a trade association for internet startups, is that the bill will hamper innovation by forcing smaller web companies to devote too many resources to monitoring content for which they should not be held liable. They also worry that the measure will not do enough to actually crack down on online sex trafficking.

    • Controversial sex-trafficking bill passes the House of Representatives
    • House passes anti-online sex trafficking bill, allows targeting of websites like Backpage.com

      The bill now goes to the Senate, which already has passed a similar version out of committee. If approved, it would go to the White House, where supporters are hopeful that President Trump will sign it. His daughter, Ivanka Trump, tweeted her approval of the legislation on Tuesday.


      The final vote in the House was 388-25.

    • Goodlatte Statement on FOSTA Passage

      Creates a New Federal Crime: websites that have the intent to promote or facilitate illegal prostitution can be prosecuted under the new 18 U.S.C 2421A created by the bill

    • China’s web censors go into overdrive as President Xi Jinping consolidates power

      China’s web scrubbers have been busy banning a collection of terms and dropping the hammer on user accounts after the Xi Jinping, the country’s premier, got the all-clear to become ‘President For Life’ after the Communist Party moved to amend the constitution to remove an article that limits Presidential terms to two five-year terms.

      Limits were introduced more than 30 years ago ostensibly to prevent a repeat of the Mao dictatorship. The proposed removal understandably stoked anger among many Chinese internet users, who have already voiced concern at Xi’s rise and his moves to quash free speech online in China.

    • Sensitive Words: Emperor Xi Jinping to Ascend His Throne

      Following state media’s announcement, censorship authorities began work to limit online discussion. CDT Chinese editors found the following terms blocked from being posted on Weibo: [...]

    • China censors social media responses to proposal to abolish presidential terms

      Negative social media reactions in China toward the government’s interest in abolishing presidential term limits have sparked a crackdown on memes since Sunday evening. China’s constitution currently restricts the president and vice-president to 10 years of leadership, meaning that President Xi Jinping would have been out of power by 2023.

    • China drowns out critics of lifetime Xi presidency

      China’s propaganda machine kicked into overdrive on Tuesday to defend the Communist Party’s move to lift term limits for President Xi Jinping as criticism persisted on social media in defiance of censorship.

    • China’s war on words: Anything — be it a phrase or picture — that can be used to insult Xi has been banned

      Since claiming the eternal throne of an Emperor earlier this week, he’s clamped down — hard — on any hint of dissent.

    • Ce*sored! China bans letter N (briefly) from internet as Xi Jinping extends grip on power

      It is the 14th letter in the English alphabet and, in Scrabble, the springboard for more than 600 8-letter words.

    • China Bans ‘Re-Election,’ ‘I Don’t Agree’ from Social Media Following Xi Term Limit Repeal

      Freedom of speech is tenuous at best in China, but censors are cracking down especially hard on criticism of President Xi Jinping’s consolidation of power, particularly his effort to remove term limits so he can rule indefinitely.

    • Now It’s The Turn Of Mercedes-Benz To Grovel Before China, Over An Instagram Post Quoting The Dalai Lama

      A couple of weeks ago, Techdirt wrote about Marriott International kowtowing to China because of a drop-down menu that dared to suggest that Tibet might be a country. We noted that a newly-confident and increasingly aggressive China might well start finding more of these alleged “insults” to use as pretexts for asserting itself internationally. And sure enough, that’s already happened again, this time with Mercedes-Benz. As a New York Times story explains, the German car maker posted an image of a white car parked on a beach, along with a quotation popularly ascribed to the Dalai Lama — “Look at the situations from all angles, and you will become more open. #MondayMotivation” — to its official Instagram account.

    • UK’s New ‘Extremist Content’ Filter Will Probably Just End Up Clogged With Innocuous Content

      For now, it’s a one-way ride. Content deemed “extremist” vanishes and users have no vehicle for recourse. Even if one were made available, how often would it be used? Given that this is a government process, rather than a private one, wrongful takedowns will likely remain permanent. As Killock points out, no one wants to risk being branded as a terrorist sympathizer for fighting back against government censorship. Nor do third parties using these platforms necessarily have the funds to back a formal legal complaint against the government.

      No filtering system is going to be perfect, but the UK’s new toy isn’t any better than anything already out there. At least in the case of the social media giants, takedowns can be contested without having to face down the government. It’s users against the system — something that rarely works well, but at least doesn’t add the possibility of being added to a “let’s keep an eye on this one” list.

      And if it’s a system, it will be gamed. Terrorists will figure out how to sneak stuff past the filters while innocent users pay the price for algorithmic proxy censorship. Savvy non-terrorist users will also game the system, flagging content they don’t like as questionable, possibly resulting in even more non-extremist content being removed from platforms.

      The UK government isn’t wrong to try to do something about recruitment efforts and terrorist propaganda. But they’re placing far too much faith in a system that will generate false positives nearly as frequently as it will block extremist content.

    • State Lawmakers Want to Block Pornography at the Expense of Your Free Speech, Privacy, and Hard-Earned Cash

      More than 15 state legislatures are considering the “Human Trafficking Prevention Act” (HTPA). But don’t let the name fool you: this bill would do nothing to address human trafficking. Instead, it would only threaten your free speech and privacy in a misguided attempt to block and tax online pornography.

      EFF opposed versions of this bill in over a dozen states last year, and the bill failed in all of them. Now HTPA is back, and we have written in opposition against the bill again to urge lawmakers to oppose it this year.

      The gist of the model legislation is this: Device manufacturers would be forced to install “obscenity filters” on cell phones, tablets, computers, and any other Internet-connected devices. Those filters could only be removed if consumers pay a $20 fee. In addition to violating the First Amendment and burdening consumers and businesses, this would allow the government to intrude into consumers’ private lives and restrict their control over their own devices.

      On top of that, the story of this bill’s provenance is bizarre and highly recommended reading for any lawmakers considering it. In short, the HTPA is part of a multi-state effort coordinated by the same person behind a bill to delegitimize same-sex marriages as “parody marriages.” In this post, however, we’ll be focusing on the policy itself.

      Read EFF’s opposition letter against HB 2422, Missouri’s iteration of the Human Trafficking Prevention Act.

    • The End of American Film Censorship

      When the Oscars began in 1929, the Supreme Court didn’t even consider movies art.

      Fourteen years earlier, in 1915, the Court ruled that film was not entitled to legal protection as free speech. The state of Ohio had passed an ordinance authorizing a censorship board that could approve or reject any film seeking to be shown in the state. Mutual Film Corporation, a movie distributor, sued, claiming that the Ohio law violated the First Amendment.

      The Supreme Court held that movies were “business, pure and simple,” no different from the pharmaceutical or banking industry, both of which were subject to federal regulation. This Supreme Court ruling, Mutual Film Corp. v. Industrial Commission of Ohio, helped place movies under the thumb of local, state, and in-house censors for decades. The decision finally was reversed in 1952, when a short, “sacrilegious” Italian drama earned Hollywood its First Amendment rights.

    • News Corp executive chairman warns on censorship [Ed: News Corp writing about a News Corp head complaining about censorship as a third person. News Corp must be assuming people don't keep track of how many networks and sites News Corp owns entirely or partially.]
    • Is Facebook nude-shaming the Venus of Willendorf?
    • The Online Censorship of a 30,000-Year-Old Statuette
    • Facebook Censored a Stone Age Nude Sculpture, Venus of Willendorf
    • DC Appeals Court Tosses Silly Lawsuit Woman Filed Against Google Because Someone With A Blog Said Mean Things

      In late 2016, we wrote about the positively silly case that lawyer Harry Jordan filed on behalf of his client, Dawn Bennett, in which she sued Google because a guy she had once hired to do some search engine optimization work for her, and with whom there was a falling out, later wrote a mean blog about her and her company. As we noted, Bennett did not sue that person — Scott Pierson. Instead, she and Harry Jordan went the Steve Dallas lawsuit way of filing against some tangential third party company, because that company is big and has lots of money. In this case, it meant suing Google, because Pierson’s blog was hosted by Google.

      As we noted, this would be an easy CDA 230 win, because Google is not at all liable for what bloggers using its blog hosting do (we also noted that the lawsuit botched the legal meaning of “defamation” — which is generally not a good thing to do in a defamation lawsuit). And thus it was of little surprise to see the lawsuit dismissed last summer. It was an easy ruling to make given the status of CDA 230 (which, yes, is now under threat). But, Bennett appealed. And… the results of the appeal are exactly the same as the results in the district court. Case dismissed, quick and easy (in just 10 pages), because CDA 230 makes it obvious that Google is not liable.

    • Appeals Court Affirms Dismissal Of Frank Sivero’s Publicity Rights Suit Against ‘The Simpsons’

      You may recall that in 2014, bit-actor Frank Sivero of Goodfellas semi-fame sued Fox over a recurring character that appeared on The Simpsons. Sivero says several writers for the show were living next door to him just before Goodfellas began filming, at a time he says he was creating the character of Frankie Carbone. He then claims that the writers for The Simpsons were aware of this work and pilfered it to create the character Louie, who is one of Fat Tony’s henchmen. Because of this, he claimed that the show had appropriated his likeness, the character he was creating, and decided he was owed $250 million from Fox for all of this. For its part, folks from The Simpsons claimed that Louie is an amalgam of stereotypical mobster characters and a clear parody of those characters.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Brit spooks slammed over ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ with telcos to get mass comms data

      Privacy International has slammed the UK’s spy agencies for failing to keep a proper paper trail over what data telcos were asked to provide under snooping laws, following its first ever cross-examination of a GCHQ witness.

      The campaign group was granted the right to grill GCHQ’s star witness after he made a series of errors in previous statements submitted to the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT). The evidence was part of a long-running challenge over the spy agency’s collection of bulk communications and personal data.

      Although the witness’s most recent errors related to submissions made at an October 2017 hearing about how much access IT contractors employed by GCHQ have to data, much of the cross-examination aimed to unpick GCHQ’s role in choosing what information telcos hand over.

    • How To Delete Your Facebook Account Permanently
    • Israeli Tech Company Says It Can Crack Any Apple Smartphone

      Big, if true, but not exactly the answer Wray, and others like him, are seeking. Cellebrite claims it can crack any Apple device, including Apple’s latest iPhone. This is a boon for law enforcement, as long as they have the money to spend on it and the time to send the device to Cellebrite to crack it.

      It won’t scale because it can’t. The FBI claims it has thousands of locked devices — not all of them Apple products — and no one from Cellebrite is promising fast turnaround times. Even if it was low-cost and relatively scalable, it’s unlikely to keep Wray from pushing for a government mandate. Whatever flaw in the architecture is being exploited by Cellebrite is likely to be patched up by Apple as soon as it can figure out the company’s attack vector. And, ultimately, the fact that it doesn’t scale isn’t something to worry about (though the FBI doubtless will). No one said investigating criminal activity was supposed to easy and, in fact, a handful of Constitutional amendments are in place to slow law enforcement’s roll to prevent the steamrolling of US citizens.

    • Huawei CEO Fights Back Over Trust in China’s Tech Companies [Ed: NSA does not worry about phones because they lack security but because they have 'too much' security i.e. no back doors for NSA to use]

      Concerns about the security of Huawei Technologies Co.’s handsets and network equipment are “groundless” and are part of a broader unfair view that Chinese companies can’t be trusted, Chief Executive Officer Ken Hu said.

      The U.S. relationship with Huawei has been fraught. Carrier Verizon Communications Inc. last month dropped plans to sell Huawei phones under pressure from the U.S. government, according to people familiar with the matter.

    • Defense wants alleged NSA leaker’s confession thrown out of evidence

      Reality Winner threw up a peace sign to the Channel 2 Action News camera following her latest courtroom appearance Tuesday.

      The 26-year-old was halfway grinning in the back seat of an escort car that was transporting her from the federal courthouse in downtown Augusta back to the Lincoln County Jail.

    • NSA chief: no orders to counter Russia cyber threat
    • In re Silver — Texas Supreme Court Recognizes Patent Agent Privilege

      In reversing an appellate court decision that had caused concerns throughout the patent world, the Texas Supreme Court recognized that communications between patent agents and clients could be covered by the attorney-client privilege.[1] In Patent Office proceedings and patent litigation, patent agent-client communications could already be protected; in non-patent litigation, however, it is far less clear — and the prior Texas appellate court decision suggested such communications could be revealed in discovery. By reversing the appellate court decision, the Texas Supreme Court should have patent agents feeling more confident that their representation of clients in patent prosecution is no different than that provided by patent attorneys . . . and their clients breathing a sigh of belief.

    • Texas patent-agent privilege ruling could have wider impact

      The Texas Supreme Court has recognised patent-agent privilege as a form of attorney-client privilege, in a ruling that has the potential to influence court cases in the 24 other US states with the same privilege rule

      The Texas Supreme Court has recognised patent-agent privilege as a form of attorney-client privilege. This reverses the appellate court decision that had concerned patent practitioners because it suggested communications in non-patent litigation could be revealed in discovery.

    • Sexting is on the rise among teens: ~27% get nudes, other racy messages

      Sexting has “a unique ability to catalyze adult anxiety when children and adolescents engage in it,” psychologists Elizabeth Englander and Meghan McCoy from Bridgewater State University wrote in an accompanying editorial. “Yet there is not a great deal of research examining sexting, its prevalence, its causes, and its repercussions,” they note.

    • One in seven teens are “sexting,” says new research

      Sexting is known as the sharing of sexually explicit images and videos through the internet or via electronic devices such as smartphones.

      One in seven teens report that they are sending sexts, and one in four are receiving sexts, according to our study of over 110,000 teens from around the world published today, Monday Feb. 26, in JAMA Pediatrics.

    • Facebook silently enables facial recognition abilities for users outside EU and Canada
    • Social media privacy argument tenuous in court

      Earlier this month, New York’s highest court ruled against Forman, requiring her to disclose all photos she posted to Facebook. The key point for the court was that she claimed she could no longer engage in the activities she previously enjoyed and had difficulty using a computer. It was reasonable, the court concluded, to suppose her Facebook feed might contain a record of her activities while also revealing her skill with the computer. Therefore, Henkin was entitled to poke around her account for evidence to use against her. If you’re ever involved in litigation and tempted to post to social media, remember Kelly Forman and think twice.

    • In a continent dominated by WhatsApp, Ethiopia prefers Telegram

      Given that, the economics of downloading and using Telegram (49 megabits) versus WhatsApp (103 MBs) or Messenger (125 MBs) is part of what makes Telegram attractive in Ethiopia, says Moses Karanja, a doctoral candidate at University of Toronto and researcher at the Citizen Lab. In his research, he says, Ethiopians have told him how “frequent updates were too expensive” and that “[I]nternet bundles consumption is lighter and hence cheaper” with Telegram.


      Ethiopia is highly restrictive of the [I]nternet and regularly blocks social media outlets. Recent research has also shown officials using commercial spyware to target dissidents abroad who have been supporting anti-government protests.

    • Microsoft doesn’t want to turn over foreign server data, SCOTUS to weigh in [Ed: Microsoft already gives the US government access to everything, so this will be a show trial or publicity stunt, framing the biggest privacy violator as “fighting for privacy”]

      It is not publicly known what the government hopes would be revealed by acquiring the email, which was sought as part of a drug investigation. The authorities have also not revealed whether the email account owner is American or if that person has been charged with a crime.

    • Facebook rolls out job posts to become the blue-collar LinkedIn

      LinkedIn wasn’t built for low-skilled job seekers, so Facebook is barging in. Today Facebook is rolling out job posts to 40 more countries to make itself more meaningful to people’s lives while laying the foundation for a lucrative business.

    • Facebook to target people with adverts based on their religion

      The changes will allow businesses to target – or block – groups of individuals based on the faith or sexuality they identify with in their profile, along posts they have liked and groups they are members of.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Helsinki court rules police search of journalist’s home was lawful

      On Tuesday the Helsinki District Court overruled a Helsingin Sanomat journalist who challenged the legality of a search of her home following the publication of an article on military intelligence that she had written.

      The court rejected the journalist’s motion and declared the search fulfilled the requirements of the Coercive Measures Act. The National Bureau of Investigation said that it conducted the home search because it had reason to suspect that the reporter had destroyed material relating to reporting by the daily Helsingin Sanomat on the activities of the Defence Forces’ Intelligence Research Centre.

    • Palantir has secretly been using New Orleans to test its predictive policing technology

      The program began in 2012 as a partnership between New Orleans Police and Palantir Technologies, a data-mining firm founded with seed money from the CIA’s venture capital firm. According to interviews and documents obtained by The Verge, the initiative was essentially a predictive policing program, similar to the “heat list” in Chicago that purports to predict which people are likely drivers or victims of violence.

      The partnership has been extended three times, with the third extension scheduled to expire on February 21st, 2018. The city of New Orleans and Palantir have not responded to questions about the program’s current status.

    • Trump’s Push for Involuntary Commitment Won’t Stop Gun Violence

      President Trump believes reopening mental institutions is an answer to mass shootings, but the facts say otherwise.

      One of the proudest moments of the disability rights movement came on Sept. 17, 1987. After over a decade of scandals, exposés, and advocacy, the state of New York finally closed down Willowbrook State School. As the last of the people with disabilities who suffered under Willowbrook’s horrific conditions left for life in the community, many saw an opportunity to plan for a brighter future.

    • Chicago Media Help Sheriff Exploit Post-Parkland Gun Fears to Expand Pretrial Punishment

      Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart is stoking public fear over local efforts to decrease the use of money bail and reduce the jail population, arguing that these measures allow gun “offenders” to go free and therefore pose a threat to public safety. Despite the fact that Dart has presented zero evidence to substantiate his fearmongering, Chicago’s largest press outlets are dutifully reporting his claims as fact, inserting them into the public conversation following the Parkland, Florida, high school shooting that left 17 dead. Reporters are going well beyond stenography to pad the sheriff’s arguments, including dredging up sympathetic quotes from a dead police officer.

      The stakes are not academic: Pretrial detention is a major driver of mass incarceration in the United States. Roughly two-thirds of local jail populations at any given time are incarcerated before trial or conviction, with those incarcerated in local jails accounting for roughly a quarter of the total population behind bars in the country. Just a few days in jail can cause people to lose their homes, jobs, custody of children and even lives. By demagoguing the movement against cash bail, the Chicago press is helping to build the case for condemning thousands to preemptive punishment before they face a jury, much less are found guilty.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • AT&T Fails In Bid To Kill FTC Authority Over Broadband Monopolies

      It can’t be overstated that the broadband industry isn’t just trying to kill net neutrality, it’s trying to gut most meaningful federal and state oversight of entrenched telecom monopolies. While Ajit Pai dismantled consumer protections at the FCC, his “Restoring Internet Freedom” order also ironically attempts to ban states from holding ISPs accountable for privacy, net neutrality, or other anti-competitive behavior. With neither adult regulatory supervision or healthy organic competition in place to keep bad actors in line, the end result will likely be even worse behavior than the kind of Comcast shitshows we’ve grow used to.

    • AT&T Continues Its Bullshit Sales Pitch For A Fake Net Neutrality Law

      While Verizon, Comcast and AT&T may have convinced the FCC to repeal net neutrality, they’ve still got a steep, uphill climb before they can be comfortable that the repeal is on solid footing, meaning we still have some time before they begin taking full anti-competitive advantage. The FCC’s repeal still needs to survive a wall of legal challenges from consumer groups, Mozilla, and nearly half the states in the union. From there, ISPs need to ensure that a future FCC or Congress doesn’t just pass new, tougher rules all over again.

      That’s why Verizon, Comcast and AT&T are all now pushing for a new “net neutrality law” in name only. While the same ISPs that gutted these popular consumer protections insist they’re just interested in “putting this contentious issue to bed,” the reality is they want a law that pre-empts any future federal or state attempts to protect consumers. As usual, they’ve managed to get industry marionettes like Martha Blackburn behind the legislative push. Since they’ve long since demolished any credibility on this subject, there’s been little traction in these legislative efforts so far.

    • Democrats Officially Introduce Bills to Restore Net Neutrality

      Standing in the sunshine outside the Capitol, Democratic Congressional leaders bantered, laughed, and made impassioned speeches Tuesday after formally introducing two bills to restore net neutrality.

      “This is a road to digital serfdom and we are going to block it,” said Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) during the rally. “We intend to keep fighting until real net neutrality is the law of the land.”

      This move has been long-promised by Democrats, but couldn’t take place until the Federal Communications Commission officially published its net neutrality repeal. The FCC did this last week, opening the door for action both politically and legally. Once published, Congress has 60 days to introduce a resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act. This would, if successful, overturn the FCC’s decision to scrap federal net neutrality rules.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Do patents and literature have something in common?

      That said, it is interesting to note that recently each side seems to be showing an inclination to be influenced by the other’s tradition. Thus, the US has moved to a first-to-file system, while the EPO has issued the G1/15 and the Bundesgerichtshof overturned the very strict Kunststoffrohrteil decision in the Pemetrexed case. However, the different approaches, i.e., romantic author-centred US-tradition on the one hand, text-based European/Asian tradition, on the other, are still discernible and even somewhat striking. This might be another reason to explain the sometimes cosmic dissatisfaction that US patent scholars and professionals have with the rest of the world and vice versa – they simply emerge from very different traditions.

    • Copyrights

      • Playboy Drops Misguided Copyright Case Against Boing Boing

        In a victory for journalism and fair use, Playboy Entertainment has given up on its lawsuit against Happy Mutants, LLC, the company behind Boing Boing. Earlier this month, a federal court dismissed Playboy’s claims but gave Playboy permission to try again with a new complaint, if it could dig up some new facts. The deadline for filing that new complaint passed this week, and today Playboy released a statement suggesting that it is standing down. That means both Boing Boing and Playboy can go back to doing what they do best: producing and reporting on culture and technology.

        This case began when Playboy filed suit accusing Boing Boing of copyright infringement for reporting on a historical collection of Playboy centerfolds and linking to a third-party site. The post in question, from February 2016, reported that someone had uploaded scans of the photos, and noted they were “an amazing collection” reflecting changing standards of what is considered sexy. The post contained links to an imgur.com page and YouTube video—neither of which were created by Boing Boing.

      • Section 1201 Rulemaking – The Process Is Moving Along

        Section 1201 is a curious little section of the US Copyright Act, added by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) of 1998. But the matter covered in that section is of great importance in our digital age and, due to its triennial rulemaking requirement, ‘1201’ exceptions are a topic of considerable discussion every few years. As it turns out, 2018 is one of those years.

      • Authors’ Group Study: Copyright Safe Harbour Provisions Distort Market [Ed: CISAC is not authors but a front group representing those who exploit authors]

        The study, “Economic Analysis of Safe Harbour Provisions,” by Prof. Stan Liebowitz of the University of Texas at Dallas, assesses how “safe harbour” rules in copyright law, “drawn up a quarter of a century ago to help nurture early online commerce,” have damaged copyright owners.

      • Hollywood Commissioned Tough Jail Sentences for Online Piracy, ISP Says

        The owner of ISP Bahnhof has criticized new proposals currently under consideration by the Swedish government. The new rules, which envision copyright infringers going to prison for up to six years, are said to be needed to bring Sweden into line with other EU countries. However, according to Bahnhof chief Jon Karlung, the extended tariffs have been commissioned by Hollywood

      • Pirate Site Operators’ Jail Sentences Overturned By Court of Appeal

        Four men sentenced last year for their part in running several pirate sites have been told they will no longer have to spend time behind bars. After being ordered to spend up to ten months in prison, the court of appeal has now decided that for their activities on Dreamfilm, TFplay, Tankafetast and PirateHub, the men should walk free but pay increased damages to the entertainment industries.


Links 28/2/2018: X.Org Server 1.20, Falkon 3.0

Posted in News Roundup at 4:25 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • In a two-OS mobile world, there is no room for Linux [Ed: As if Sam Varghese does not know Android uses Linux (surely he knows)? Maybe he means GNU here...]

    After the demise of the Ubuntu Phone, Linux users appear to be placing their hopes for a mobile device on the Librem 5, a smartphone that managed to raise much more than it asked for in a crowd-funding drive. The company behind it, Purism, has said that it hopes to have phones ready next year.

    But it seems unlikely that the phone will have any kind of mass appeal. What seems more likely is that it will cater to a fringe market, putting its log-term viability in doubt.

    At least, those who are waiting for the Librem 5 are not deceiving themselves by pretending that Android phones are actually Linux phones, as the head of the Linux Foundation Jim Zemlin does.

  • ​Purism adds open-source security firmware to its Linux laptop line

    If you really believe in having the most possible control over your computer and operating system, then Purism, maker of free software and Linux-powered laptops, is the company for you.

    In its latest news, Purism announced that it has successfully integrated Trammel Hudson’s Heads security firmware into its Trusted Platform Module (TPM)-equipped Librem laptops. Heads is an open-source computer firmware and configuration tool that aims to provide better physical security and data protection.

  • Purism Integrates Trammel Hudson’s Heads security firmware with Trusted Platform Module, giving full control and digital privacy to laptop users
  • Librem adds tamper-evident features, now most secure laptop under full customer control
  • Looking Back: What Was Happening Ten Years Ago?

    A decade passes so quickly. And yet, ten years for open source is half its life. How have things changed in those ten years? So much has happened in this fast-moving and exciting world, it’s hard to remember. But we’re in luck. The continuing availability of Linux Journal’s past issues and website means we have a kind of time capsule that shows us how things were, and how we saw them.

    Ten years ago, I was writing a regular column for Linux Journal, much like this one. Looking through the 80 or so posts from that time reveals a world very different from the one we inhabit today. The biggest change from then to now can be summed up in a word: Microsoft. A decade back, Microsoft towered over the world of computing like no other company. More important, it (rightly) saw open source as a threat and took continuing, wide-ranging action to weaken it in every way it could.

    Its general strategy was to spread FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt). At every turn, it sought to question the capability and viability of open source. It even tried to convince the world that we no longer needed to talk about free software and open source—anyone remember “mixed source”?

    Alongside general mud-flinging, Microsoft’s weapon of choice to undermine and thwart open source was a claim of massive patent infringement across the entire ecosystem. The company asserted that the Linux kernel violated 42 of its patents; free software graphical interfaces another 65; the OpenOffice.org suite of programs, 45; and assorted other free software 83 more. The strategy was two-fold: first to squeeze licensing fees from companies that were using open source, and second, perhaps even more important, to paint open source as little more than a pale imitation of Microsoft’s original and brilliant ideas.

  • Chrome OS may allow for running Linux apps via Containers

    While the average Chromebook user tends to stick with Chrome OS, Chromebooks are really just lightweight Linux machines capable of a lot more. For years, crafty Chromebook owners have been using Crouton (Chromium OS Universal Chroot Environment) to run Ubuntu, Debian, and Kali Linux systems within Chrome OS. When set up properly with an extension called Xiwi, you can use a keyboard shortcut to switch between Chrome OS and a standard Linux desktop environment. It’s a hack, but it looks a future version of Chrome OS will add native support for Linux applications via containers.

  • Desktop

    • System76 Plans Major HiDPI Update for Their Ubuntu-Based Pop!_OS Linux Distro

      According to System76, the team is ready to deploy one of the biggest updates to Pop!_OS Linux’s HiDPI (High Dots Per Inch) daemon, which should be soon available for all of their customers running Pop!_OS Linux on any of the laptop or desktop computers bought from the computer reseller. The update will add a new and improved layout engine, as well as support for saving resolutions and layouts.

      “We are getting ready to release major updates to the HiDPI daemon for all System76 customers. The new release will include a new and improved layout engine, the ability to use saved layouts and resolutions, and several bug fixes,” said System76 in a blog post. “We are also working toward making the HiDPI daemon available in Pop!_OS and elsewhere. If you are interested in seeing HiDPI in action, please come see our booth at Scale!”

    • Purism Now Sells the Most Secure Linux Laptops with Heads Integrated TPM Chips

      Purism sells security-oriented Librem 13 and Librem 15 laptops running PureOS, a Linux-based operating system designed with security in mind and based on Debian GNU/Linux. Earlier this month, the company announced that they’ve managed to boot PureOS with the coreboot (formerly known as LinuxBIOS) open-source extended firmware platform, and all new laptop shipments with come with coreboot.

      Coreboot enables Purism’s Librem laptops to boot fast and offer users a secure boot experience. Today, Purism raises the bar on security by integrating Trammel Hudson’s Heads security firmware with TPM (Trusted Platform Module) support into their coreboot-enabled laptops, giving users full control over the boot process. In addition, users will be able to freely inspect the code, and even build and install it themselves.

    • When It’s Time for a Linux Distro Change

      It’s common for Linux users to hop between distributions and survey the field, and I recently reached a point where I had to seriously rethink the one I was using most of the time.

      Between hardware compatibility issues with my old standby and some discouraging missteps with other go-to choices, I felt the time had come to reassess my pool of preferred distributions and repopulate it from scratch.

      As my journey progressed, I realized that as often as I’ve discussed the field of Linux-based systems, I had not addressed how to pick one out. To give you an idea of how to approach distribution selection, I wanted to volunteer my recent search as one template. This is certainly not the only or best way to go about it — everyone has their own criteria and priorities — but my intention is to provide some reference points for mapping out your own way.

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux Foundation

      • The Linux Foundation Announces 36 New Silver and 6 New Associate Members

        The Linux Foundation, the nonprofit organization enabling mass innovation through open source, announced the addition of 36 Silver members and six Associate members. Linux Foundation members help support development of the greatest shared technology resources in history, while accelerating their own innovation through open source leadership and participation.

      • Embedded Apprentice Linux Engineer Courses Coming to a Conference Near You
      • Adrian Cockcroft on the Convergence of Cloud Native Computing and AWS

        Cloud native computing is transforming cloud architectures and application delivery at organizations of all sizes. Via containers, microservices, and more, it introduces many new efficiencies. One of the world’s leading experts on it, Adrian Cockcroft, Vice President of Cloud Architecture at Amazon Web Services (AWS), focused on cloud native computing within the context of AWS in his keynote address at KubeCon + CloudNativeCon.

      • How to Manage Kubernetes Apps with Helm Charts

        Helm can make deploying and maintaining Kubernetes-based applications easier, said Amy Chen in her talk at KubeCon + CloudNativeCon. Chen, a Systems Software Engineer at Heptio, began by dissecting the structure of a typical Kubernetes setup, explaining how she often described the basic Docker containers as “baby computers,” in that containers are easy to move around, but they still need the “mommy” computer. However, containers do carry with them all the environmental dependencies for a given application.

    • Graphics Stack

      • GLAMOR & xf86-video-modesetting Get Deep Color Support In X.Org Server 1.20

        Independent developer Mario Kleiner has spent the past several months working on plumbing the Linux graphics stack for better “deep color” or 30-bit color depth support. His latest work on the X.Org Server has now been merged to mainline.

      • RandR CRTC/Output Leases Lands In X.Org Server

        One big piece of Keith Packard’s work on improving Steam VR for Linux or particularly VR HMD handling is now merged to Git master.

        Keith’s work on RandR leases is now rounded out with the work hitting the X.Org Server Git tree today. RandR leases allows for CRTCs/outputs to be made available to a client for direct access via Linux’s KMS/DRM kernel APIs. When leased to a client, the output(s) are not in the way of the X.Org Server. The focus here is on allowing a VR compositor to have direct access to the VR head-mounted display without any X.Org Server interference.

      • xserver 1.20 RC1 tomorrow

        I’d like to call the (xfree86) ABI frozen in RC1, and I think for the remaining changes I’d like to see landed for 1.20 we can mostly land them without ABI breaks.

      • X.Org Server 1.20 Release Candidate Due For Release Tomorrow

        Indeed it turns out that the landing today of RandR leases and deep color / color depth 30 support for GLAMOR/modesetting is because Red Hat’s Adam Jackson is finally wrangling the xorg-server 1.20 release together.

        No major X.Org Server release materialized in 2017 and the plans for releasing xorg-server 1.20 around January didn’t pan out. But out of the blue, Adam Jackson announced today that he is planning on the 1.20 RC1 release tomorrow, 28 February.

      • AMDVLK Vulkan Driver Updated With Better Vega Support, VR Fixes

        The AMD developers working on their official, cross-platform “AMDVLK” Vulkan driver code have just pushed out another batch of changes to their open-source code repository.

      • RADV Now Exposes Async Compute Support For Southern Islands

        For those of you with a Radeon GCN 1.0 “Southern Islands” GPU, the RADV Vulkan driver support for these first Graphics Core Next graphics processors continues to be improved.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • Where’s Xfce 4.14? Current Development, Roadmap & Future

      Xfce is one of the most common desktop environments on Linux and other Unix-like systems. it’s fast, lightweight and gets the job done. However, Xfce developers announced their roadmap to Xfce 4.14 around 3 years ago, but we are still not there yet.

      In this report, we post the ongoing development of Xfce, what’s missing and what’s being worked on, and we highlight some aspects regarding the adorable DE.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Calamares 3.2 Linux Installer Will Integrate a Module for the KDE Plasma Desktop

        Calamares is a distribution-independent system installer featuring advanced partitioning with full-disk encryption support used in popular GNU/Linux distros like KaOS, KDE Neon, OpenMandriva, Netrunner, Sabayon, Siduction, Tanglu, Bluestar Linux, Chakra GNU/Linux, GeckoLinux, and others.

        Calamares 3.2 will be the next major update of the universal installer framework, promising a plethora of attractive new features and enhancements for OS developers who want to implement it as default graphical installer in their next releases, such as Lubuntu Next 18.04 (Bionic Beaver).

      • First Version of Falkon Web Browser Released

        The first release of Falkon, the KDE web browser formerly known as QupZilla, is available to download.

        Falkon 3.0.0 is the first formal release of the rebadged Qt-based web navigator, and follows a name change in summer of last year.

        As this is more of a rebranding than a brand new app you won’t notice too many visual differences between the latest stable release of QupZilla 2.2.5, and the first hatching of Falkon 3.0.

      • Falkon 3.0 Released As The Successor To The QupZilla Browser

        Falkon 3.0 has been released today as the first version since its rebranding from QupZilla as an open-source, Qt-powered web-browser.

      • Falkon 3.0.0 released!

        Falkon is a new KDE web browser, previously known as QupZilla. Following this release, there will only be one last final QupZilla release.

      • Animated Plasma Wallpaper: Asciiquarium

        Years ago, for KDE 3, I had ported a console “asciiquarium” to operate as a KDE screensaver, called “KDE asciiquarium“. By KDE 4.2, it was included as part of the kdeartwork module by default.

        Since the KDE 3 times when I started this screensaver, our desktop concept has changed around a bit. We’ve developed the Plasma desktop, and have effectively deprecated the idea of screensavers (which are increasingly less popular), though lock screens are still important.

      • KDE Plasma 5 Should Soon Finally Be Ready For FreeBSD Ports

        Adriaan de Groot continues working on improving the KDE stack for FreeBSD. The moment is finally near where KDE Plasma 5 along with the modern KDE Applications stack should soon be available via the FreeBSD Ports collection.

        In preparation for finally having the modern KDE desktop stack available via FreeBSD Ports, the older KDE4 ports have been moved aside (but are still accessible via x11/kde4). KDE4 will continue to work for those who have already installed it on FreeBSD, but they are reorganizing these packages in preparation for pushing out the modern KDE Plasma 5 + Apps stack.

      • Clazy

        Clazy is a Clang plugin which extends the compiler with over 50 warnings related to Qt best practices ranging from unneeded memory allocations to API misuse. It’s an opensource project spawned by KDAB’s R&D efforts for better C++ tooling.

      • Hotspot

        Hotspot is a KDAB R&D project to create a standalone GUI for performance data. It is a replacement for perf report. Hotspot’s GUI takes a perf.data file, parses and evaluates its contents and then displays the result in a graphical way.

        Hotspot’s initial goal was to provide a UI like KCachegrind around Linux perf. In future versions we will be supporting various other performance data formats under this umbrella. You can find the source code on our GitHub page.

      • KStars 2.9.3 is out with numerous fixes

        After some heavy lifting in KStars January v2.9.2 release, we dedicated February to fix all those KStars issues that have been accumulating for a while. Today, KStars v2.9.3 is released with many several important fixes, mostly in Ekos scheduler and capture modules.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • GNOME Notes 3.27.90

        I know, I’m late, but after releasing 3.27.90 I took some days off GNOME Notes development to enjoy my holidays with my son – girls stayed at home, doing girls stuff, this time.

        When I get back, I was involved in trying new Linux distros to see how my workflow would work with them. That took some days too, so here we go with my thoughts on GNOME Notes 3.28.

  • Distributions

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Ashnik launches Tech Insights, a platform for open source technologies shaping digital transformation
  • The global open source services market size is expected to grow from USD 11.40 billion in 2017 to USD 32.95 billion by 2022, at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 23.65%
  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Introduction to Neutrino

        If you want to learn more about Neutrino, Eli Perelman (original author of the project) wrote about Neutrino at hacks.mozilla.org. You can find the official documentation at https://neutrino.js.org.

      • Firefox 59 new contributors

        With the upcoming release of Firefox 59, we are pleased to welcome the 53 developers who contributed their first code change to Firefox in this release, 49 of whom were brand new volunteers!

      • 5 Ways to Take Screenshots Further

        If you’re a veteran of using old-style screenshot tactics, you know it used to involve a lot of saving to the desktop or cloud, re-finding the image files in a mass of similar file names, then having to crop or otherwise “fix up” the images before re-saving them and getting them into a google doc, presentation, or other platform.

      • Come Join the Rust and WebAssembly Working Group!
      • This Week in Rust 223

        Hello and welcome to another issue of This Week in Rust! Rust is a systems language pursuing the trifecta: safety, concurrency, and speed.

      • Django, K8s, and ELB Health checks

        As you may have seen in several of our SRE status reports, we’re moving all of our webapp hosting from Deis to Kubernetes (k8s). As part of that we’ve also been doing some additional thinking about the security of our deployments. One thing we’ve not done as good a job as we should is with Django’s ALLOWED_HOSTS setting. We should have been adding all possible hosts to that list, but it seems we used to occasionally leave it set to ['*']. This isn’t great, but also isn’t the end-of-the-world since we don’t knowingly construct URLs using the info sent via the Host header. In an effort to cover all bases we’ve decided to improve this. Unfortunately our particular combination of technologies doesn’t make this as easy as we thought it would (story of our lives).



        That was a long way to go to get to some simple health checking, but we believe it was the right move for the reliability and security of our Django apps hosted in our k8s infrastructure on AWS. Please check out the repo for django-allow-cidr on Github if you’re interested in the code. Our hope is that releasing this as a general use package will help others that find themselves in our situation, as well as helping ourselves to do less copypasta coding around our various web projects.

  • Blockchain

    • Spotlight On Copyright Issues Of Blockchain Technology

      There is a large number of different open source licenses with significantly different terms (some prominent licenses used for blockchain projects are GNU General Public License, GNU Lesser General Public License [LGPL], Apache License 2.0, MIT license). These licenses impact the way of how the software proliferated under the license may be used, modified and redistributed. Particular attention needs to be paid to the redistribution rights and obligations because several open source licenses require that software or at least the derivative part of the software incorporating the open source software is redistributed again under the same open source terms (“copy-left”, GNU and LGPL).

    • Blockchain Powered 3D and VR Open Source Platform MARK.SPACE Announces the Launch of CRYPTO.VALLEY Virtual City

      MARK.SPACE is delighted to announce the mega launch of CRYPTO.VALLEY, a new virtual infrastructure project that promises to be a cynosure of the global crypto community as an interactive and informational pool. In its fully functional form, CRYPTO.VALLEY will be a virtual city completely compatible with the 3D and VR technologies.

    • Op-Ed: The Potentially Fatal Flaw of Open-Source Blockchain Protocols

      The most important question to ask any decentralized blockchain protocol is: “How do you protect your protocol from ‘incumbent’ companies?” While many emerging protocols promise disintermediated commercial interactions between people, it is critical that these protocols are weary of corporate giants with FOMO . After all, most decentralized protocols are open-source – copying their code is free and 100 percent legal.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Funding

    • FundRequest raises $12.5 million to fund Open Source Development

      FundRequest, a blockchain based platform for incentivizing open source development, has recently completed their crowd sale where they raised $12.5 million from investors and the public. The token sale also drew some big-name investors such as 1kx, an angel fund who pursues companies committed to creating distributed ledger technology-based solutions; Connect Capital, a blockchain and digital asset investment fund; Tetras Capital, a New York City-based hedge fund focusing on blockchain and crypto asset classes; and ZestAds, a digital advertising firm with offices in Southeast Asia.

  • BSD

  • Public Services/Government

    • DoD announces open source software experiment

      The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) recently announced the launch of Code.mil, an open source initiative that allows software developers around the world to collaborate on unclassified code written by federal employees in support of DoD projects.

      DoD is working with GitHub, an open source platform, in an experiment aimed at fostering collaboration between federal employees and private-sector software developers on software projects built within the DoD. The Code.mil URL directs users to an online repository that will store code written for a range of projects across the DoD for individuals to review and make suggested changes.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Can Open-source Hardware Be Like Open-source Software?

        Hardware and software are certainly different beasts. Software is really just information, and the storing, modification, duplication, and transmission of information is essentially free. Hardware is expensive, or so we think, because it’s made out of physical stuff which is costly to ship or copy. So when we talk about open-source software (OSS) or open-source hardware (OSHW), we’re talking about different things — OSS is itself the end product, while OSHW is just the information to fabricate the end product, or have it fabricated.

        The fabrication step makes OSHW essentially different from OSS, at least for now, but I think there’s something even more fundamentally different between the current state of OSHW and OSS: the pull request and the community. The success or failure of an OSS project depends on the community of people developing it, and for smaller projects that can hinge on the ease of a motivated individual digging in and contributing. This is the main virtue of OSS in my opinion: open-source software is most interesting when people are reading and writing that source.

      • GreenWaves Intros Open-Source AI Processor GAP8

        The company’s new processor is based on the RISC-V open-source processor architecture, with the focus being on handling low-power AI processing in sensory devices that other mainstream chips would not typically be designed to handle specifically. In fact, GreenWaves has designed the processor with image, sound and vibration analysis at its heart, with a number of new algorithms being included in order to execute a wide variety of tasks. These tasks will also consume minimal amounts of energy due to the integrated 8-core cluster that is coupled with a separate core designed to handle any pre-analysis communication, control, and information. It is because of this low power consumption that GreenWaves has designed the processor with battery-powered devices in mind, although it hopes the chip will result in a number of new connected products with support for artificial intelligence such as smart toys, certain wearables, or even the implementation of always-on facial recognition in mobile devices. However, the new processor isn’t just energy-efficient, but also relatively affordable, with the handling of machine vision potentially costing less than $15 to implement. The product should also help relieve pressure on networks due to the fact that all processes will happen wherever the sensors are placed, removing the need for a secondary product while also reducing the costs of data management and speeding up the processing, according to the company.

      • RISC-V RV64GC High-Performance Extendable Platform Kit For Fast Linux Execution Released by Imperas

        “The RISC-V movement has tremendous potential but it is absolutely reliant on a robust ecosystem, including early software development solutions,” noted Simon Davidmann, President and Chief Executive Officer, Imperas Software, Ltd. “Imperas has uniquely solved this problem, providing RISC-V developers with commercial-grade processor simulation to accelerate software verification as well as hardware validation.”

  • Programming/Development

    • Compilers Fortify Critical Embedded Software [Ed: Proprietary software merely provides access to Free software]

      Green Hills Software introduces its Compiler 2018.1 for creating highly optimized 32-bit and 64-bit embedded C and C++ software applications for all common embedded processor architectures, including Arm, Intel and Power Architecture. As a result, users see 3x faster vector processing speeds, and scores beating the LLVM Compiler even on LLVM’s own benchmark suite. Other highlights of Compiler 2018.1 include full C++14 support, Spectre mitigations and support for the highest functional safety levels. As per Green Hills, compiler 2018.1 enables designers to bring their products to market more quickly, meet safety and security requirements and extract maximum processor performance in all embedded markets including automotive, industrial control, high performance computing (HPC), digital storage and consumer products.


  • Health/Nutrition

    • Wellcome Trust Report Recommends UK-EU Agreement On Research & Innovation

      The EU and UK should agree on how to maintain the free flow of personal data for research. This would ideally be achieved through a comprehensive ‘adequacy’ agreement (where it is agreed that there are adequate levels of data protection to allow personal data to be transferred without more safeguards). A practical alternative is agreeing sector-specific safeguards to allow the free flow of personal data for research as part of a research and innovation agreement.

  • Security

    • Security updates for Tuesday
    • Reproducible Builds: Weekly report #148
    • Fixing Spectre/Meltdown in [Slackware] 14.2
    • Intel didn’t tell CERTS, govs, about Meltdown and Spectre because they couldn’t help fix it

      Letters sent to the United States Congress by Intel and the other six companies in the Meltdown/Spectre disclosure cabal have revealed how and why they didn’t inform the wider world about the dangerous chip design flaws.

      Republican members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee sent letters to the seven in January, to seek answers about the reasons they chose not to disclose the flaws and whether they felt their actions were responsible and safe.

      All the letters go over old ground: Google Project Zero spotted the design errors, told Intel, which formed a cabal comprising itself, Google, AMD, Arm, Apple, Amazon and Microsoft. The gang of seven decided that Project Zero’s 90-day disclosure deadline had to be extended to January, then spoke to others to help them prepare fixes. But stray posts and sharp-eyed Reg hacks foiled that plan as we broke the news on January 3rd.

    • Serverless Security: What’s Left to Protect? [Ed: "Serverless" is a junk buzzword; it's server-'full' and it just means passing one's server or control/access to that server to some other company, which occasionally gets cracked too.]

      Serverless is an exciting development in the modern infrastructure world. It brings with it the promise of dramatically reduced system costs, simpler and cheaper total cost of ownership, and highly elastic systems that can seamlessly scale to what old-timers (like me) call a “Slashdot moment” – a large and immediate spike in traffic.

      The cost savings Serverless offers greatly accelerated its rate of adoption, and many companies are starting to use it in production, coping with less mature dev and monitoring practices to get the monthly bill down. Such a trade off makes sense when you balance effort vs reward, but one aspect of it is especially scary – security.

      This article aims to provide a broad understanding of security in the Serverless world. We’ll consider the ways in which Serverless improves security, the areas where it changes security, and the security concerns it hurts.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Washington Gov. Jay Inslee Slams Trump’s Idea to Arm Teachers

      This all comes as, in Florida, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel is facing increasing calls to resign over his department’s inability to stop the mass school shooting, which included his department’s failure to take seriously dozens of previous calls about the gunman, Nikolas Cruz, about whom residents had expressed fears for years. One of his deputies, Scot Peterson, has resigned after details emerged that he took cover outside the school during the shooting. He is now claiming that he didn’t enter the school because he thought the shooting was happening outside.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Anti-NRA Censorship Efforts Echo Earlier Pro-NRA Censorship Efforts, And Learn No Lessons From Them

      Lately I’ve been enjoying watching re-runs of Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In. It’s somewhat reassuring to watch a previous generation get through a period of political angst as we go through this current one, especially as there are quite a few parallels that can be drawn.
      I mention this because as people call for Amazon, Apple, Roku, and YouTube to drop NRA-TV, I realize that we’ve seen calls for censorship like this before.

    • Dundee’s student union accused of ‘regressive censorship’ over Daily Mail ban bid

      A motion was backed by Dundee University Students’ Association’s ruling body to remove the Daily Mail, Daily Express and The Sun from its shops.

      Sean O’Connor, the DUSA president, said the newspapers “do not match our values” and run “inflammatory and sensationalised articles that demean and insult members of our community”.

      But the move has been condemned by critics as an erosion of freedom of speech.

      Ross Starke, a politics student who works as a Dundee United kit man, leads a group of students opposed to the ban.

    • Caesar Rodney censorship indicative of a certain reactionary mentality here in Delaware

      I hope you’ve heard — even better — read, Amy Cherry’s story about the Caesar Rodney school district’s censorship of dissenting views on the district’s official Facebook page.

    • Elgin U46 school official: Social media guidelines encourage censorship

      An Elgin-area U46 official is blasting proposed changes to guidelines for school board members as an attempt to censor her social media statements about school district policies.

      Jeanette Ward is taking issue with direction that elected officials “carefully consider what they post on social media before they post it, avoiding statements that might be volatile,” which is part of proposed changes to a series of board agreements.

    • EU’s new copyright law will effectively create censorship machines

      Last week, the European Parliament’s MEP in charge of overhauling the EU’s copyright laws did a U-turn on his predecessor’s position. Axel Voss is charged with making the EU’s copyright laws fit for the Internet Age, yet in a staggering disregard for advice from all quarters, he decided to include a obligation on websites to automatically filter content.

      In 2016 the European Commission proposed a new Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market. While there are other serious concerns about the proposals, Article 13, which sets out how online platforms should manage user-uploaded content appears to have the most dangerous implications for fundamental rights. Since then, European Parliament committees have done some good work improving the draft law — which makes Voss’ 180° spin all the more alarming.

    • Facebook censors 30000 year-old Venus of Willendorf as ‘pornographic’

      Cases of art censorship on Facebook continue to surface. The latest work deemed “pornographic” is the 30,000 year-old nude statue famously known as the Venus of Willendorf, part of the Naturhistorisches Museum (NHM) collection in Vienna.

    • Ali Schofield muses on censorship in the art world

      Millennials, we keep hearing, are too easily offended. The slightest whiff of troubling female sexualisation, for instance, and they’ll default straight to indignant outrage.

      Earlier this month Manchester Art Gallery took down a pre-Raphaelite painting showing young nude “femmes fatales”. The gallery put a sign up in place of Hylas and the Nymphs by John Williams Waterhouse encouraging visitors to comment.

    • When Humphrey Bogart Tackled Movie Censorship in 1941

      “While people are always quick to take up the cudgels against censorship of the press, or radio, any crackpot can advocate new forms of censorship for the movies,” the screen star wrote, “and not a voice is lifted in protest.”

    • Censorship, product placement, and pandering: inside Hollywood’s doomed attempts to conquer China

      Pacific Rim, Guillermo del Toro’s 2013 futuristic sci-fi film starring Idris Elba, was a resounding flop, recouping just $106 million in United States cinema ticket sales from a budget of $190 million. The critical reception wasn’t much better: “You might as well watch the birth of an elephant,” lamented one reviewer.

    • São Paulo Court Rules That Censorship of Play About Trans Jesus Is Unconstitutional
    • Brazilian Court Ends Censorship of Play About Transgender Jesus
    • DOJ Tells Congress SESTA/FOSTA Will Make It MORE DIFFICULT To Catch Traffickers; House Votes For It Anyway

      As we’ve been discussing, this afternoon, the House voted both on Rep. Mimi Walters’ bad amendment to attach SESTA to FOSTA, and then on the combined bill — and both sailed through Congress. Somewhat incredibly, this happened even though the Justice Department weighed in with a last minute letter saying that the language in the combined SESTA/FOSTA is so poorly drafted that it would actually make it more difficult to prosecute sex traffickers, and also calling into question whether or not the bill was even Constitutional.

      You would think that with the DOJ pointing out these fairly fatal flaws with the bill, that perhaps (just perhaps), the House would delay voting on this. As noted last week, bringing the amendment to the floor without having it go through the House Judiciary Committee (as is supposed to happen), seemed to be the House’s way of washing its hands of the bill, and tossing the issue back to the Senate. But rushing through a bill with huge implications is no way to make law.

    • House Vote on FOSTA is a Win for Censorship

      The bill passed today 388-25 by the U.S. House of Representatives marks an unprecedented push towards Internet censorship, and does nothing to fight sex traffickers.

      H.R. 1865, the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA), allows for private lawsuits and criminal prosecutions against Internet platforms and websites, based on the actions of their users. Facing huge new liabilities, the law will undoubtedly lead to platforms policing more user speech.

      The Internet we know today is possible only because of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which prevents online platforms from being held liable for their users’ speech, except in certain circumstances. FOSTA would punch a major hole in Section 230, enabling lawsuits and prosecutions against online platforms—including ones that aren’t even aware that sex trafficking is taking place.

    • Final push to fight underage sex trafficking hiding in plain sight
    • US bill holds websites liable for online sex trade
    • Hamilton Public Library fights literary censorship with ‘blackout poetry’

      It’s an art form that’s used to push back against censorship, and it’s happening at the Hamilton Public Library right now.

      It’s called “blackout poetry” — a form of visual and intellectual art that uses contentious books that have been banned in the past to create a piece that celebrates free expression.

      These pieces are being created at the library’s central branch as part of Freedom to Read Week, which is a national celebration of free expression, born of a protest against censorship that stretches back decades.

    • Stanford Professor Drops Stupid SLAPP Suit Against Critics; Still Mad Online

      Back in November, we wrote about a pure SLAPP lawsuit filed by Stanford professor Mark Jacobson against another scientist, Christopher Clack, and the National Academy of Sciences. Jacobson claimed that Clack and others defamed him by publishing a rebuttal of a paper that he and some others had published earlier. In other words, this was a standard kind of academic dispute, with different scientists taking different positions. Rather than continue to debate it in academic settings, Jacobson sued the critics. We went through all of the details of the case, and why it was so ridiculous in the original article, so we won’t rehash that here.

    • Concerns over censorship order

      The interim order issued by Chief Justice Gopal Parajuli to the Press Council instructing pre-censorship of news concerning the discrepancies in his birth-date mentioned in his official documents has drawn widespread criticism from different sides.

      The order that came from the bench presided by Parajuli himself on Sunday, following a series of news story about his birth-date controversy published in Kantipur daily, has been seen as an attack on free press by the advocates of democracy. Many of them took to social media to voice their concern on Tuesday. They were strident in their reactions against Parajuli’s attempt to muzzle the media.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Has New Opportunity to Protect Device Privacy at the Border

      The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has a new opportunity to strengthen personal privacy at the border. When courts recognize and strengthen our Fourth Amendment rights against warrantless, suspicionless searches of our electronic devices at the border, it’s an important check on the government’s power to search anyone, for any or no reason, at airports and border checkpoints.

      EFF recently filed amicus briefs in two cases, U.S. v. Cano and U.S. v. Caballero, before the Ninth Circuit arguing that the Constitution requires border agents to have a probable cause warrant to search travelers’ electronic devices.

      Border agents, whether from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) or U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), regularly search cell phones, laptops, and other electronic devices that travelers carry across the U.S. border. The number of device searches at the border has increased six-fold in the past five years, with the increase accelerating during the Trump administration. These searches are authorized by agency policies that generally permit suspicionless searches without any court oversight.

      The last significant ruling on device privacy at the border in the Ninth Circuit, whose rulings apply to nine western states, was in U.S. v. Cotterman (2013). In that case, the court of appeals held that the Fourth Amendment required border agents to have had reasonable suspicion—a standard between no suspicion and probable cause—before they conducted a “forensic” search, aided by sophisticated software, of the defendant’s laptop. Unfortunately, the Ninth Circuit also held that a manual search of an electronic device is “routine” and so the traditional border search exception to the warrant requirement applies—that is, no warrant or any suspicion of wrongdoing is needed.

    • Can India’s Biometric Identity Program Aadhaar Be Fixed?

      The Supreme Court of India has commenced final hearings in the long-standing challenge to India’s massive biometric identity apparatus, Aadhaar. Following last August’s ruling in the Puttaswamy case rejecting the Attorney General’s contention that privacy was not a fundamental right, a five-judge bench is now weighing in on the privacy concerns raised by the unsanctioned use of Aadhaar.

      The stakes in the Aadhaar case are huge, given the central government’s ambitions to export the underlying technology to other countries. Russia, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Malaysia, Philippines, and Thailand have expressed interest in implementing biometric identification system inspired by Aadhaar. The Sri Lankan government has already made plans to introduce a biometric digital identity for citizens to access services, despite stiff opposition to the proposal, and similar plans are under consideration in Pakistan, Nepal and Singapore. The outcome of this hearing will impact the acceptance and adoption of biometric identity across the world.

      At home in India, the need for biometric identity is staked on claims that it will improve government savings through efficient, targeted delivery of welfare. But in the years since its implementation, there is little evidence to back the government’s savings claims. A widely-quoted World Bank’s estimate of $11 billion annual savings (or potential savings) due to Aadhaar has been challenged by economists.

      The architects of Aadhaar also invoke inclusion to justify the need for creating a centralized identity scheme. Yet, contrary to government claims, there is growing evidence of denial of services for lack of Aadhaar card, authentication failures that have led to death, starvation, denial of medical services and hospitalization, and denial of public utilities such as pensions, rations, and cooking gas. During last week’s hearings , Aadhaar’s governing institution, the Unique Identity Authority of India (UIDAI), was forced to clarify that access to entitlements would be maintained until an adequate mechanism for authentication of identity was in place, issuing a statement that “no essential service or benefit should be denied to a genuine beneficiary for the want of Aadhaar.”

    • Apple Agrees To Store Chinese iCloud Data In China, Making It Much Easier For The Chinese Gov’t To Access It [Ed: Apple does for China what it has already done for ages for Western governments. Because it doesn't (and never did) care about privacy. Ignore its show trial (like Microsoft's). Mere PR stunts to make them seem like they care for privacy.]

      This will allow the Chinese government to quell dissent and hunt down wrong-thinkers much more efficiently. It also shows the company is willing to drastically change the way it does business in order to maintain a large foreign customer base. This move will prompt questions from Congressional reps and FBI officials about Apple’s refusal to work with the US government to provide access to locked devices and encrypted communications. Thanks to its acquiescence to the Chinese government, these questions won’t be so easy to answer.

      This change in policy won’t budge the needle much in terms of US lawful access. US authorities will now have to route requests for Chinese data through the Chinese government, but it’s unlikely there’s much of that going on now. Requests for domestic data and communications stored in Apple’s iCloud will be handled the way they always have been. Apple’s always held keys domestically for iCloud accounts, which makes the cries of “going dark” a bit melodramatic.

      But it does indicate Apple is willing to change policies for governments far less freedom-friendly than ours. And if it’s willing to do that, why won’t it stash encryption keys for locked devices where US law enforcement can access them?

    • Government could face greater burden of proof in NSA espionage case

      A federal judge has thrown a wrench in the government’s case against National Security Agency Contractor Harold T. Martin III by questioning how much foreknowledge a federal contractor needs to have for their possession of NSA documents to constitute theft of government information.

      On Feb 16, 2018, U.S. District Judge Marvin Garbis ordered a legal hearing to take place before March 6, 2018, at which both the defense and prosecution must define what they think the government must legally prove to convict Martin of theft, as originally reported by Politico.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Atlantic Bravely Confronts Twitter Insults, Ignores Threat of Decades in Prison

      New York Times editorial page deputy editor Bari Weiss—a boilerplate neocon warmonger, anti-Arab racist, and sexual abuse soft-peddler—got into hot water when she sent a tweet last week praising Asian-American Mirai Nagasu (born in California) for being “an immigrant” who “got things done.” When several people noted not only that Nagasu was born in the US–and thus not an immigrant–but that the assumption that Asian-Americans are inherently foreign is a pervasive, deeply toxic trope that should be apologized for, Weiss had a classic Twitter meltdown, ending in claims that animosity leveled at her was “another sign of civilization’s end.”

      Right on cue, fellow blue-checkmark Serious People rushed to her defense, most prominently—and uniformly—from the ultimate arbiter of seriousness, Atlantic Magazine. The centrist outlet published not one but two articles on the topic of Twitter being mean to Weiss: “The Excesses of Call-Out Culture“ by Conor Friedersdorf (2/19/18) and “Bari Weiss and the Left-Wing Infatuation With Taking Offense” by Shadi Hamid (2/17/19).

    • Homeland Security Unlawfully Ended DACA Protections for Some Dreamers

      A federal court orders the government to reinstate DACA status that it unlawfully revoked without due process.

      As part of its anti-immigrant agenda, the Trump administration has been revoking Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals grants based on unproven allegations or minor offenses that should have no effect on whether a person can protected from deportation under DACA. This policy has caused many young immigrants to lose their permission to live and work in the United States with no notice, explanation or opportunity to respond.

      But on Monday night, a federal court in Los Angeles put a stop to the practice, ruling that the government violates its own rules and the Administrative Procedure Act when it terminates DACA status without notice or a chance to contest the government’s actions. The APA is a 1946 law that regulates federal agencies and provides judicial oversight over their behavior.

    • Jeff Sessions’ Culture War

      Sessions’ gay panic is just one example of his efforts to diminish rights and protections for certain groups, while intensifying the nation’s mass incarceration culture. He recently announced that he would end Obama-era protections for marijuana users in states that have legalized possession. While marijuana possession is still a federal crime — one based on retrograde, anti-scientific laws — he is using his authority to counter the will of voters in states where the public supports decriminalization of marijuana. He is doing this based on a comically outdated view of marijuana — that “good people” don’t smoke it — and a tragic resuscitation of the failed war on drugs more broadly.

    • How Chicago Ticket Debt Sends Black Motorists Into Bankruptcy

      By last summer, Laqueanda Reneau felt like she had finally gotten her life on track.

      A single mother who had gotten pregnant in high school, she supported her family with a series of jobs at coffee shops, restaurants and clothing stores until she landed a position she loved as a community organizer on Chicago’s West Side. At the same time, she was working her way toward a degree in public health at DePaul University.

      But one large barrier stood in her way: $6,700 in unpaid tickets, late fines and impound fees.

      She had begun racking up the ticket debt five years earlier, in 2012, after a neighbor who saw her riding the bus late at night with her infant son sold her her first car, a used Toyota Camry, for a few hundred dollars. She was grateful for the shorter commute to work but unprepared for the extra costs of owning a car in Chicago.

    • The Many Roads to Bankruptcy

      We’ve been reporting on how unpaid parking and automated traffic camera tickets can quickly spiral out of control for Chicago’s working poor, and particularly for African Americans.

      Thousands of drivers file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy each year to cope with ticket debt, getting a chance to lift license suspensions or to protect their vehicles from the city’s boot list.

      But bankruptcy often leaves drivers in worse financial shape.

    • Top Lawmakers Call for Investigation of DEA-Led Unit in Mexico

      Powerful Democrats in both the House and Senate called Tuesday for an investigation into Drug Enforcement Administration-led operations in Mexico that played a role in triggering violent drug cartel attacks. These attacks left dozens, possibly hundreds, of people dead or missing, including many who had nothing to do with the drug trade.

      The call was issued in a letter signed by ranking members of the committees that oversee America’s foreign law enforcement operations and draws heavily on two stories last year by ProPublica and National Geographic that documented the attacks and the DEA’s role. One story reconstructed a 2011 massacre by the Zetas cartel in the Mexican state of Coahuila. It revealed that the wave of killings was unleashed after sensitive information obtained during a DEA operation wound up in the hands of cartel leaders, who ordered a wave of retaliation against suspected traitors.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • NRA Gives FCC Boss An Award For ‘Courageously’ Killing Net Neutrality, May Have Violated Ethics Rules

      The NRA last week thought it would be a good idea to give FCC boss Ajit Pai an award for killing net neutrality. More specifically, the NRA gave Pai the Charleton Heston Award for Courage at the CPAC conference for killing the popular consumer protections. The entire affair was a tone deafness supernova from beginning to end, with American Conservative Union (ACU) Executive Director Dan Schneider making it abundantly clear that he and other attendees have absolutely no coherent idea what net neutrality even is.

    • Tell Congress to Protect the Open Internet

      Today, EFF is participating in a national Day of Action to push Congress to preserve the net neutrality rules the FCC repealed in December. With a simple majority, Congress can use the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to overturn the FCC’s new rule. We’re asking for members of the House and Senate to commit to doing so publicly.

      On Thursday, February 22, the FCC’s so-called “Restoring Internet Freedom Order” was published in the Federal Register. Under the CRA, Congress has 60 working days to vote to overturn that Order. We’re asking representatives to publicly commit to doing just that. In the House of Representatives, that means supporting Representative Mike Doyle’s bill, which has 150 co-sponsors. In the Senate, Senator Ed Markey’s bill is just one vote away from passing.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Second Circuit Gouges TVEyes With Terrible Fair Use Ruling

        In a decision that threatens legitimate fair uses, the Second Circuit ruled against part of the service offered by TVEyes, which creates a text-searchable database of broadcast content from thousands of television and radio stations in the United States and worldwide. The service is invaluable to people looking to investigate and analyze the claims made on broadcast television and radio. Sadly, this ruling is likely to interfere with that valuable service.

        TVEyes allows subscribers to search through transcripts of broadcast content and gives a time code for what the search returns. It also allows its subscribers to search for, view, download, and share ten-minute clips. It’s used by exactly who you’d think would need a service like this: journalists, scholars, politicians, and so on in order to monitor what’s being said in the media. If you’ve ever read a story where a public figure’s words now are contrasted with contradictory things they said in the past, then you’ve seen the effects of TVEyes.

      • How To Use uTorrent Web To Download And Stream Torrents In Your Browser?

        An appealing user interface is a de facto requirement in modern software that has become better and better over the years. The world of BitTorrent clients is no different. While we still have those somewhat ugly but feature-packed torrent downloaders, there are many good looking options available for everyday torrent downloaders.

      • US v. Lundgren: When Recycling is a Crime

        A pending case against recycler Eric Lundgren has now moved to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. Lundgren pled guilty to criminal copyright infringement and was sentenced to 15 months incarceration. The basics are that he manufactured over 28,000 discs containing Dell/Microsoft Restore Discs and shipped them from China to the U.S. Lundgren argued that the discs should be seen as publicly available since they don’t work without an access code and his actual plan involved using legitimate access codes that he had obtained from purchasers. Microsoft apparently pushed the Miami FBI to pursue Lundgren for counterfeiting and last year he pled guilty to both Criminal Copyright Infringement and Conspiracy to Traffic in Counterfeit Goods.


        The conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit goods is, I imagine, what really drove the charges — the problem with the discs was not only that they were Microsoft Restore discs, but that he had printed on them the Dell and Microsoft logos. Of course, one trick with Conspiracy is that it is a future-crime – an agreement to commit a crime at some time in the future.

      • ‘I got in Microsoft’s way’: Recycler sentenced over free Windows recovery CDs tells RT

        Recycling advocate Eric Lundgren, who was sentenced to 15 months in prison for making free Windows recovery discs, told RT that he will use his appeal to continue fighting against planned obsolescence by Microsoft and others.
        “I was very, very shocked when I was given a prison sentence for extending the lifecycle of electronics, practicing recycling and trying to empower people,” Lundgren said of the one year and three months conviction handed to him by a Florida court earlier in February.

        Lundgren was found guilty of “conspiracy and copyright infringement” after burning 28,000 copies of recovery discs for Windows back in 2016, despite the fact that the CDs, which had absolutely no retail value, were seized by the authorities. He was also slapped with a $50,000 fine but luckily avoided repaying $420,000 that Microsoft sought in restitution for lost sales.


Links 27/2/2018: Linux 4.16 RC3, Wayland 1.15 Alpha, Mesa 17.3.6

Posted in News Roundup at 10:47 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • Top 10 open source legal stories that shook 2017

    Like every year, legal issues were a hot topic in the open source world in 2017. While we’re deep into the first quarter of the year, it’s still worthwhile to look back at the top legal news in open source last year.

  • Has OSS finally come into its own?

    Many moons ago – more than 15 years, in fact – South Africa’s government decided it would go open source.

    Back in 2002, the Government Information Officers’ Council (Gito) – a body of government CIOs – released a policy framework document recommending government `explicitly’ support the adoption of open source software (OSS) as part of its e-government strategy.

    Some eight years after the policy document was released, open source as a solution got the nod, with some government departments actually making the move. Back then, open source was seen as a way to stimulate skills development.

  • Improving teamwork by engineering trust

    Even in highly mature open organizations, where we’re doing our best to be collaborative, inclusive, and transparent, we can fail to reach alignment or common understanding. Disagreements and miscommunication between leaders and their teams, between members of the same team, between different teams in a department, or between colleagues in different departments remain common even in the most high-performing organizations. Responses to their intensity and impact run the gamut, from “Why did someone take our whiteboard?” to “Why are we doing this big project?”

  • Community metrics: The challenge behind the numbers

    We are all obsessed with the numbers and statistics we can measure in our lives. We are concerned about our health, so we monitor our weight, blood pressure, and calorie intake. We also observe ourselves and our work environments to evaluate our efficiency and team dynamics. This mindset of focusing on the numbers carries over to how we evaluate open source communities.

  • Events

    • 6 Days Left to Submit a Proposal to Speak at LinuxCon + ContainerCon + CloudOpen China

      Submit a proposal to speak at LinuxCon + ContainerCon + CloudOpen China (LC3), taking place in Beijing this June 25 – 27, and share your expertise with 3,000+ open source technologists, executives and community members.

    • Yet Another Perl Conference :: Europe :: 2018

      The Perl Conference – which in the Perl community is usually referred to as Yet Another Perl Conference Europe (YAPC::EU) – is the annual meeting of Perl Mongers, developers, administrators, technical managers and interested parties in Europe. In 2018 the European Perl Conference will be held at The Studio in Glasgow between 13th-17th August.

    • SiFive to Host RISC-V Hackathon at Embedded Linux Conference

      SiFive will hold its first hackathon at the Embedded Linux Conference, providing an opportunity for developers to test SiFive’s HiFive Unleashed board featuring the Freedom U540 SoC, the industry’s first RISC-V based, 64-bit quadcore processor running Linux.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • It’s Resilient CSS Week

        Writing code that works in all web browsers at the same time is one of the most important things we do. New technology is coming out all the time. Yet many of the people visiting the websites we build are using old browsers. How can we use new CSS if it’s not supported in every browser — especially when users keep using old, crufty browsers? Do we have to wait until 100% of people have a browsers with the new feature? Don’t we have to wait until Internet Explorer is dead before we can use the new stuff?

      • Speed Without Wizardry

        Most of the improvements that mraleph implemented are desirable regardless of the programming language that is our medium. Excessive allocation rates make any garbage collector (or malloc and free implementation) a bottleneck. Monomorphization and inlining are crucial to eking out performance in both Rust and JavaScript. Algorithms transcend programming languages.

      • This Week In Servo 105

        Welcome back to This Week in Servo, and apologies for the long delay since the last update! Servo has continued making progress throughout that time, including shipping the Stylo CSS engine in Firefox among many other things. We’re resuming weekly updates now that the pressure has let up a bit!

        In the last week, we landed 87 PRs in the Servo organization’s repositories.

      • Mozilla removes individual cookie management in Firefox 60

        The most recent version of Firefox Nightly, currently at version 60, comes with changes to Firefox’s cookie management. Mozilla merged cookie settings with site data in the web browser which impacts how you configure and manage cookie options.

        If you run Firefox 59 or earlier, you can load about:preferences#privacy to manage privacy related settings in Firefox. If you set the history to “use custom settings for history” or “remember history”, you get an option manage cookie settings and to remove individual cookies from Firefox.

      • Using Permissions to Establish Trust

        I used to work in an industry where being ISO 9001 certified was necessary in order to remain competitive. If you are unfamiliar with ISO 9001, it is a set of standards that requires a business to document each process, and then follow those documented processes. And every autumn, sure as the leaves falling from the trees, an independent auditor would show up to verify we were indeed documenting and following our processes. It’s like a tax audit you impose on yourself (and about as unpleasant).

        The idea behind ISO 9001, though, is that a certified business can be trusted, both in its business dealings and its delivered products. It is meant to convey a sense of quality and security to customers.

      • Firefox 59 Beta 14 DevEdition Testday, March 2nd

        We are happy to let you know that Friday, 2nd of March, we are organizing Firefox 59 .0b14 DevEdition Testday. We’ll be focusing our testing on the following features: Toolbars & window controls and Default & custom theme support.

  • SaaS/Back End

    • Weighing Open Source’s Worth for the Future of Big Data

      The open source software movement began in earnest 20 years ago, when a group of technology leaders in Silicon Valley coined the term as an alternative to the repugnant “free software.” Fast forward to 2018, and the concept has been cemented in our psyches. But does open source have the staying power to drive the next 20 years’ worth of innovation?

      There was, of course, open source software before 1998. Linus Torvalds created the first Linux kernel in the open back in 1991, and even IBM engaged in sharing of operating system internals going back into the 1950s.

  • Databases

    • MariaDB launches innovation labs

      he open source database company MariaDB is launching a research division aimed at tackling the most pressing issues in the database field.

      Speaking at the M18 user conference in New York yesterday, MariaDB CEO Michael Howard identified that the labs will focus on three key areas: “Machine learning, distributed computing and the use and exploitation of new chips, persistent storage and in-memory processing.”

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice 6 Review

      LibreOffice is an office productivity suite that is similar to Microsoft Office Suite. It has word processor program called Writer, spreadsheet known as Calc, and presentation as Impress. Other than these programs it also has a Draw, Base, and a Math program. LibreOffice can be installed on almost all platforms: Windows, OS X, Linux and certain UNIX OS.

  • CMS

    • SuiteCRM brings open source CRM to new level

      SalesAgility has announced the release of the latest version of SuiteCRM and a new online documentation platform.

      SuiteCRM is the worlds largest open source CRM, it was created after SugarCRM stopped its open source development of the product. It was first released in October 2013 as version 7.00. The latest release is 7.10 and comes with a series of enhancements.

      The second announcement around the documentation platform sees SugarCRM bring online documentation to the wider community. One of the changes is that it enables non developers from customers to add value to the community.

    • SalesAgility, the driving force behind SuiteCRM, joins Open Source Initiative as Corporate Sponsor
    • SalesAgility joins open Source initiative

      SalesAgility has joined the Open Source Initiative (OSI) as a Premium Corporate Sponsor. In some ways it is surprising that it has taken this long for SalesAgility to have joined OSI. SalesAgility are the developers of SuiteCRM, the leading open source CRM software. It was created in 2013 when it forked from SugarCRM. Prior to 2013 SugarCRM had an at times fractious relationship with OSI.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • An Open Letter to BSD-powered Companies and Projects

      For three years, the Tor BSD Diversity Project (TDP) has worked to bring the BSDs into the mainstream of the privacy-enhancing technology ecosystem (PETs).

      We aim to expand the use of the BSDs as a platform for Tor relays, public nodes in the Tor anonymity network. Tor is a critical tool for maintaining privacy online, frequently employed by journalists, human rights workers and those residing in repressive and censored environments.


      iIf your entity isn’t ready to run a Tor node, but you’re interested in donating resources such as bandwidth, hardware or some type of monetary support, contact us. TDP looks forward to assisting your staff in configuring and maintaining BSD relays.

    • [llvm-dev] [6.0.0 Release] Release Candidate 3 source, docs and binaries available
    • LLVM 6.0 Release Candidate 3 Arrives As The Official Release Nears

      The third release candidate is available today of LLVM 6.0 and its associated components like Clang, Compiler-RT, libc++, LLDB, etc.

      Hans Wennborg just announced the 6.0.0 RC3 milestone that is now available for download.


    • GNU Automake 1.16 Preps For More Changes Ahead Of Automake 2.0

      While Meson+Ninja remains all the hype these days when it comes to open-source build systems, the GNU build system isn’t going away any time soon and a key component of that was just updated, Automake 1.16.

      GNU Automake 1.16 has fixes around its automatic dependency tracking, improvements around dealing with the reproducible builds effort, a custom test suite driver for the Guile Scheme SRFI-64 API, and various other minor changes.

    • GNU Automake 1.16 released

      We are pleased to announce the GNU Automake 1.16 minor release.

      This release follows 1.15.1 which was made 8 months ago.

      See below for the detailed list of changes since the previous version, as summarized by the NEWS file.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • GREEN WAVES : GreenWaves Technologies Unveils GAP8, the Industry’s Lowest Power IoT Application Processor, Enabling Groundbreaking Embedded Artificial Intelligence at the Very Edge
      • GreenWaves Technologies unveils Gap8 processor for AI at the edge

        Grenoble, France-based GreenWaves is announcing its Gap8 internet of things (IoT) application processor today to handle low-power AI processing in sensor devices. The chip is based on the RISC-V open source processor architecture, and it is meant to solve problems that a lot of other processors were not designed to handle.

      • CEVA Extends its IP Platforms for Bluetooth and Wi-Fi with RISC-V

        Mobile World Congress – CEVA, Inc. (NASDAQ: CEVA), the leading licensor of signal processing platforms and artificial intelligence processors for smarter, connected devices, today announced that its market-leading RivieraWaves Bluetooth and Wi-Fi intellectual property (IP) platforms are now offered with an optional integrated open-source RISC-V MCU.

      • RISC-V Gains Its Footing

        The RISC-V instruction-set architecture, which started as a UC Berkeley project to improve energy efficiency, is gaining steam across the industry.

        The RISC-V Foundation’s member roster gives an indication who is behind this effort. Members include Google, Nvidia, Qualcomm, Rambus, Samsung, NXP, Micron, IBM, GlobalFoundries, and Siemens, among many others.

      • IoT apps processor boasts eight RISC-V cores

        Fabless startup Greenwaves Technologies has announced the availability of its GAP8 IoT application processor.

        Martin Croome, vp of business development, said: “GAP8 is aimed at battery powered devices performing content understanding and control applications. Examples include keyword spotting, beam forming and speech analysis. It could also be used for vibration analysis and face detection.”

      • 5 keys to building open hardware

        The science community is increasingly embracing free and open source hardware (FOSH). Researchers have been busy hacking their own equipment and creating hundreds of devices based on the distributed digital manufacturing model to advance their scientific experiments.

        A major reason for all this interest in distributed digital manufacturing of scientific FOSH is money: Research indicates that FOSH slashes costs by 90% to 99% compared to proprietary tools. Commercializing scientific FOSH with open hardware business models has supported the rapid growth of an engineering subfield to develop FOSH for science, which comes together annually at the Gathering for Open Science Hardware.

  • Programming/Development

    • Introducing Qt Automotive Suite 2.0

      We are excited to announce the Qt Automotive Suite 2.0, a great leap forward towards a unified HMI toolchain and framework for digital cockpit, available end of February 2018.

    • Qt Automotive Suite 2.0 Released

      Two years after unveiling Qt Automotive Suite 1.0 for designing digital cockpits for the ever increasing number of screens within cars, The Qt Company has today announced Qt Automotive Suite 2.0.

    • Conan package manager brings C and C++ to devops

      Conan, a distributed, open source package and dependency manager, promises to bring C and C++ into devops.

      The multiplatform package manager builds and shares native binaries. Conan’s ability to quickly create builds, port packages, and run them on different operating systems (Windows, Linux, MacOS, and FreeBSD) helps make C and C++ suitable for devops, said Harry Manley, a senior solutions engineer at JFrog, which sponsors the Conan project.

    • An ethical oath for programmers

      Nick Johnstone’s “Programmer’s Oath” is billed as “An oath for programmers, comparable to the Hippocratic Oath.” Naturally, it’s on Github and you can create a pull request if you think that Johnstone got something wrong.

    • Compiler bug? Linker bug? Windows Kernel bug.

      Flaky failures are the worst. In this particular investigation, which spanned twenty months, we suspected hardware failure, compiler bugs, linker bugs, and other possibilities. Jumping too quickly to blaming hardware or build tools is a classic mistake, but in this case the mistake was that we weren’t thinking big enough. Yes, there was a linker bug, but we were also lucky enough to have hit a Windows kernel bug which is triggered by linkers!

      In September of 2016 we started noticing random failures when building Chrome – 3 out of 200 builds of Chrome failed when protoc.exe, one of the executables that is part of the build, crashed with an access violation. That is, we would build protoc.exe, and then run it to generate header files for the next build stage, but it would crash instead.


  • Apple confirms it now uses Google Cloud for iCloud services

    Apple has confirmed that it uses Google’s public cloud to store data for its iCloud services in its latest version of the iOS Security Guide last month, as spotted by CNBC. Reports that Apple relied on Google’s cloud services surfaced in 2016 but were previously never confirmed.

    Apple had previously used remote data storage systems provided by Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure. Apple’s edition of the iOS Security Guide in March 2017 still listed Microsoft Azure instead of Google Cloud Platform.

    The new edition describes its iCloud service: “The encrypted chunks of the file are stored, without any user-identifying information, using third-party storage services, such as [Amazon] S3 and Google Cloud Platform.”

  • Science

    • ‘Two-way signaling’ possible with a single quantum particle

      Classically, information travels in one direction only, from sender to receiver. In a new paper, however, physicists Flavio Del Santo at the University of Vienna and Borivoje Dakić at the Austrian Academy of Sciences have shown that, in the quantum world, information can travel in both directions simultaneously—a feature that is forbidden by the laws of classical physics.

    • Largest molecular spin found close to a quantum phase transition

      An international research team headed by Professor Dr. Annie Powell, a chemist at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), and Professor Dr. Jürgen Schnack, a physicist at Bielefeld University, has synthesized a new magnetic molecule. The team has reported the largest ground state spin ever attained. It is publishing its new findings today (26.02.2018) in the new Nature partner journal npj Quantum Materials.

    • Going with the DNA flow: Molecule of life finds new uses in microelectronics

      For sheer versatility, there’s no molecule quite like DNA. The iconic double-helix carries the genetic blueprint for living forms ranging from single-celled organisms to human beings.

      Recently, researchers have found that DNA’s remarkable properties of self-assembly and its ability to conduct electrical charge over considerable distance make it ideally suited for myriad applications, including tiny electronic circuits and computing devices, nanorobots and new advances in photonics.

    • MIT boffins reckon private browsing still leaks data, but they have the answer

      At MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, the smart folk found that so-called private browsing modes aren’t nearly private enough. The researchers noted that such modes still leak data like DNS cache, file system info and “on-disk reflections of RAM such as the swap file”.

    • Stanford, MIT, Johns Hopkins University and Waterloo University eye Hong Kong as regional base for stem cell research

      Stanford, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Johns Hopkins University and Waterloo University want to form a consortium in the city to engage in biotechnology R&D, source says – but hurdles remain

    • China spirals past US in genome research

      The US government’s National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) is studying if every American baby should undergo extensive DNA sequencing and analysis at birth, while China and other countries are already more advanced toward that goal despite rights concerns.

      DNA, the double helix of deoxyribonucleic acid, can reveal a person’s physical and psychiatric health, identity, relatives and other details. But databases of people’s DNA could also enable governments, police, hackers, corporations, forgers and others to abuse the information.

    • Forecasts of genetic fate just got a lot more accurate

      When Amit Khera explains how he predicts disease, the young cardiologist’s hands touch the air, arranging imaginary columns of people: 30,000 who have suffered heart attacks here, 100,000 healthy controls there.

      There’s never been data available on as many people’s genes as there is today. And that wealth of information is allowing researchers to guess at any person’s chance of getting common diseases like diabetes, arthritis, clogged arteries, and depression.

  • Hardware

    • Secretive U.S. security panel discussing Broadcom’s Qualcomm bid – sources

      A national security panel that can stop mergers that could harm U.S. security has begun looking at Singapore-based chipmaker Broadcom Ltd’s plan to take over rival Qualcomm Inc, according to three sources familiar with the matter.

      CFIUS, an opaque inter-agency panel, has been in touch with at least one of the companies in the proposed merger, one source said, and met last month to discuss the potential merger of the two big semiconductor companies, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • The high-tech medicine of the future may be biased in favor of well-off white men

      The promise of precision medicine is that all sorts of information about you—your genetics, ethnicity, diet, even neighborhood—could be used to create highly personalized treatments for whatever ails you, replacing the one-size-fits-all medicine of the past.

      Doctors hope this will make everyone healthier. But a new report by the Data & Society Research Institute in New York says certain groups in the US are in jeopardy of being worse off when medicine is tailor-made. The one group notably not at risk: white men who can afford health insurance and a decent lifestyle.

    • Federal Watchdog Identifies New Workplace Safety Problems at Los Alamos Lab

      Los Alamos National Laboratory has failed to keep track of a toxic metal used in nuclear weapons production, potentially exposing workers to serious health consequences, a federal watchdog has found.

      The New Mexico lab’s failure to adequately track beryllium — small amounts of which can cause lung disease and cancer — violates federal regulations put in place to prevent worker overexposure, according to a report last week from the Department of Energy’s inspector general.

    • Trump Era Threatens the Rights of People with Disabilities

      In the first year of Donald Trump’s presidency, Republicans in Congress have repeatedly threatened the American with Disabilities Act (ADA). According to Rewire, repealing the ADA would force significant cuts to Medicaid, compromising health care for people with disabilities. Medicaid pays for personal care assistants to help with employment, education and integrating in society for those with disabilities. Michelle Diament of Disability Scoop says that as of early January, 2018, Attorney General Jeff Sessions was also rescinding guidance documents related to ADA.

      The possible repeal of the ADA and the rescinding of documents by Sessions are alarming to the disabled community. Guidance documents define expectations on everything from “service animals to accessible building practices as well as a 2016 letter on employment of people with disabilities.” Documents such as these are important because they offer civil rights and protections to people with disabilities. One of the documents, established in 2016, enforces opportunities for people with disabilities to be gainfully employed. The main concern is that without such guidance people with disabilities will be employed in sheltered workshops, away from other employees.

    • Trump White House Releases Biopharmaceutical Pricing Reform White Paper

      The White House Council of Economic Advisers recently released a report titled, “Reforming Biopharmaceutical Pricing at Home and Abroad.” [Report] The Report points to basically two problems: 1) overpricing in the United States; and 2) underpaying outside the United States.

  • Security

    • Security updates for Monday
    • Developer gets prison after admitting backdoor was made for malice

      An Arkansas man has been sentenced to serve almost three years in federal prison for developing advanced malware that he knew would be used to steal passwords, surreptitiously turn on webcams, and conduct other unlawful actions on infected computers.

    • New bypass and protection techniques for ASLR on Linux

      Many important application functions are implemented in user space. Therefore, when analyzing the ASLR implementation mechanism, we also analyzed part of the GNU Libc (glibc) library, during which we found serious problems with stack canary implementation. We were able to bypass stack canary protection and execute arbitrary code by using ldd.

      This whitepaper describes several methods for bypassing ASLR in the context of application exploitation.

    • Who Wasn’t Responsible for Olympic Destroyer?

      Evidence linking the Olympic Destroyer malware to a specific threat actor group is contradictory, and does not allow for unambiguous attribution. The threat actor responsible for the attack has purposefully included evidence to frustrate analysts and lead researchers to false attribution flags. This false attribution could embolden an adversary to deny an accusation, publicly citing evidence based upon false claims by unwitting third parties. Attribution, while headline grabbing, is difficult and not an exact science. This must force one to question purely software-based attribution going forward.

    • A Technical Deep Dive: Securing the Automation of ACME DNS Challenge Validation

      Earlier this month, Let’s Encrypt (the free, automated, open Certificate Authority EFF helped launch two years ago) passed a huge milestone: issuing over 50 million active certificates. And that number is just going to keep growing, because in a few weeks Let’s Encrypt will also start issuing “wildcard” certificates—a feature many system administrators have been asking for.

    • Linux 4.16 Receives More Spectre & Meltdown Fixes/Optimizations

      The in-development Linux 4.16 kernel has already received a few rounds of updates for the mitigation work on the Spectre and Meltdown CPU vulnerabilities while more is on the way.

      Thomas Gleixner today sent in another batch of “x86/pti” updates for Linux 4.16 in further addressing these CPU security vulnerabilities that were made public in early January.

    • SecOps Spends Its Days Monitoring

      Developers, Security and Operations: DevSecOps. The operations part of the term usually refers to IT operations. However, today narrows in on SecOps, that work in security operations centers (SOCs) and cyber incident response teams (CIRTs). The Cyentia Institute’s survey of 160 of these security analysts shows they face some of the same challenges developers and IT operations teams do. They spend more time on monitoring than any other activity, but they much rather solve problems and “hunt” new threats. SecOps does not like reporting or something called Shift Ops — the actual details of change control and making sure the team doesn’t burn out. Given the shortage of information security professionals, it is concerning that only 45 percent of respondents said their job experience was meeting their expectations.

    • Covert ‘Replay Sessions’ Have Been Harvesting Passwords by Mistake

      Bulk data collection is always a privacy red flag. But the Princeton research group that first published findings about session replay scripts has uncovered a troubling series of situations where seemingly well-intentioned safeguards fail, leading to an unacceptable level of exposure.

    • How to Check if Your Password Has Been Stolen
    • More than half of IT pros believe their organization was breached at least once in 2017
  • Defence/Aggression

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Slovakian journalist investigating claims of tax fraud linked to ruling party shot dead

      Ján Kuciak, 27, and his fiancee, Martina Kušnírová, were discovered shot dead in the home they shared after worried relatives alerted police, saying it had been a week since they had heard from the couple.

      Slovakia’s most senior police officer, Tibor Gašpar, told reporters the murders “likely have something to do with [Kuciak’s] investigative activities”.

    • The mediation proposal on the Assange case “has not enhanced”

      Ecuador’s proposal to the United Kingdom for a mediation on the case of Julian Assange “has not enhanced,” said the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Human Mobility, Maria Fernanda Espinosa. “To mediate you need two parties, Ecuador is willing, but not necessarily the other party”, she explained.

    • Julian Assange: Ecuador says UK ‘at fault’ as talks on future break down

      Julian Assange looks set to continue his “refugee” status indefinitely after Ecuador admitted talks with the UK over his exit from its London embassy have failed.

      Maria Fernanda Espinosa, the South American country’s foreign minister, suggested British officials had been unwilling to negotiate over the Wikileaks founder’s potential release.

      Earlier this month, Senior District Judge Emma Arbuthnot upheld the warrant for the arrest of Mr Assange for skipping bail – saying he should have the courage to face court and not feel he is “above the law”.

      His legal team again argued that the outstanding warrant – which dates back to 2012 – should be dismissed because it had “lost its purpose and function” after a Swedish investigation over sex-related allegations was dropped last year.

    • Ahead of Trial, Government Vilifies NSA Whistleblower Reality Winner

      As whistleblower Reality Winner nears trial, prosecutors for the United States government have focused on framing Winner as “anti-American,” denying her bail and due process, and depriving her defense attorneys of adequate access to resources.

      Winner, an Air Force veteran working for an intelligence contractor in Augusta, Georgia, printed out and mailed a classified NSA document to The Intercept in May 2017. The document reported that Russian hackers conducted cyberattacks against a United States voting software supplier and sent phishing emails to more than 100 election officials leading up to the November 2016 election, though the data used to develop this analysis was not included in the report.

    • Julian Assange hung out to dry — yet again

      Italian investigator Maurizi, using freedom of information requests, and with the support of her newspaper Repubblica, has unearthed some of the real motives underlying the British attitude. It has nothing to do with “justice” and everything to do with kowtowing to the Americans — the latter making no secret of their desire to see Assange prosecuted for treason and locked up for a very long time.

      Maurizi showed that the Swedish authorities wanted to drop the sexual assault charges back in 2013, but were persuaded by the British to keep the case going.

      The British efforts included dissuading the Swedish authorities from coming to London to interview Assange, despite repeated offers from him, and a history of such interviews in 44 other extradition cases involving Sweden and the United Kingdom.

      The Swedish prosecutor, Marianne Ny, wrote to the Crown Prosecution Service on 18 October 2013, advising her British contacts that Swedish law would not allow the extradition case to continue. This followed an earlier email from the British to the Swedish authorities, saying ‘don’t you dare get cold feet’.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Are Driving Bans Coming for German Cities?

      A court ruling could ban millions of diesel cars from German city centers, rendering the vehicles worthless. The federal government has considered responding with free public transportation and by forcing car manufacturers to submit to new requirements. By DER SPIEGEL Staff

    • Major EPA reorganization will end science research program

      A federal environmental program that distributes grants to test the effects of chemical exposure on adults and children is being shuttered amidst a major organization consolidation at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

      The National Center for Environmental Research (NCER) will no longer exist following plans to combine three EPA offices, the agency confirmed to The Hill Monday.

      The program provides millions of dollars in grants each year.

      Perhaps best known for its handling of fellowships that study the effects of chemicals on children’s health, NCER will be dissolved and science staff serving there will be reassigned elsewhere within the department, EPA said.

    • Relying on renewables alone significantly inflates the cost of overhauling energy

      A growing number of US cities and states have proposed or even passed legislation that would require producing all electricity from renewable energy sources like solar and wind within a few decades.

      That might sound like a great idea. But a growing body of evidence shows it’s not.

    • North Pole surges above freezing in the dead of winter, stunning scientists
  • Finance

    • Coinbase: We will send data on 13,000 users to IRS

      Coinbase reminded its users that it is “unable to provide legal or tax advice.” The company also noted, “If you have concerns about this, we encourage you to seek legal advice from an attorney promptly. Coinbase expects to produce the information covered by the court’s order within 21 days.”

    • Capio to acquire the Swedish primary care group Novakliniken

      Capio has signed an agreement to acquire 100% of Novakliniken with operations in the southeastern parts of [Scania], Sweden. Novakliniken operates eight primary care centers and two branches, and provides some occupational health and dental services. 2017 net sales were MSEK 245. The acquisition of Novakliniken complements and strengthens Capio’s presence and healthcare offering in [Scania].

    • The American midwest is quickly becoming a blue-collar version of Silicon Valley

      Alongside the traditional high-flying software jobs that are plentiful in Silicon Valley, mid-tech jobs, loosely defined as tech jobs requiring less than a college degree, are growing fast in the Midwest. While not an official designation, mid-tech jobs can be defined as skilled tech work that doesn’t require a college degree: just intense, focused training on the job or in vocational programs like those of blue-collar trades of the industrial past.

    • Uber, Lyft drivers are making city traffic worse, studies find

      One promise of ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft was fewer cars clogging city streets. But studies suggest the opposite: that ride-hailing companies are pulling riders off buses, subways, bicycles and their own feet and putting them in cars instead.

      And in what could be a new wrinkle, a service by Uber called Express Pool now is seen as directly competing with mass transit.

    • American Manufacturing Doesn’t Have to Die

      Twelve-and-a-half million Americans worked in manufacturing in 2017, down from 14.1 million 11 years earlier.

    • Why blockchain challenges conventional thinking about intellectual property

      Cryptocurrencies are getting a lot of attention, but finance is only one of many applications of the blockchain technology behind it.

      Blockchain technology is poised to revolutionise almost everything from supply chains (including illegal fishing and human rights abuses), insurance and health.


      History is littered with examples of patents harming rather than aiding innovation. James Watt’s steam engine was an advance over existing steam engines, yet the technology could not be built upon because of Watt’s patents.

    • Chinese Tycoon Makes $9 Billion Bet on Mercedes E-Car Know-How

      A dozen years ago, Chinese carmaker Geely announced its arrival on the global stage with a giant “I Am Geely” sign over its stand at the Frankfurt Auto Show. Last week, Geely founder Li Shufu effectively added an “I am Mercedes-Benz” banner to his collection.

      Li on Friday disclosed that he has become the top shareholder in Daimler AG, the storied company that is one of the crown jewels of German industry. Li, chairman of Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co., said the 7.3 billion-euro ($9 billion) stake — 9.7 percent of Daimler’s shares — will help his company better compete as the likes of Google and Apple Inc. vie for a role in the shift to electric and self-driving vehicles.

    • The Dropbox IPO is a transformative moment for Y Combinator

      Dropbox on Feb. 23 announced plans to raise $500 million through an initial public offering (pdf), making the 11-year-old file-storage startup the first company in Y Combinator’s portfolio to make a market debut.

      It’s a big moment, and a potential inflection point, for the influential incubator. Y Combinator has a roster of big companies, including Stripe and Airbnb, that plan to go public eventually.

    • Cooke Aquaculture Pacific urges lawmakers to consider jobs, science-based policy, fair and equitable treatment

      Cooke Aquaculture Pacific urges lawmakers to consider jobs, science-based policy, fair and equitable treatment; Will seek NAFTA arbitration if ban on Atlantic salmon farming is approved

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Trump campaign gamed Facebook ads even better than we thought

      So how much did the Clinton campaign pay? Here it gets a bit tricky. Last fall, a member of the Clinton campaign team told me that their CPMs averaged $10 to $30, which they described as typical for a targeted Facebook campaign. But that figure represented the cost only of paid impressions. As described above, ads that perform well can reach larger audiences as they receive likes, comments, and shares — so-called “organic reach.” That lowers the overall cost of the ad.

      When Parscale says “we had CPMs that were pennies in some cases,” he almost certainly took organic reach into account. (It’s very hard to place an ad for anything on Facebook for literal pennies.) Unfortunately, the person I spoke with at the Clinton campaign no longer had access to organic reach data. Still, they said, it was unlikely that organic reach would have lowered a $10 paid CPM to a $1 organic one, as my Facebook source had suggested.

    • FCC Republican faces ethics complaint after calling for Trump’s re-election

      Also on Friday, FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly called for the re-election of President Donald Trump during his appearance at CPAC. Advocacy group American Oversight called for an investigation of O’Rielly, saying that he violated a rule against “engaging in partisan political activity while on duty.”

    • Bots, Assange, an alliance: Has Russian propaganda infiltrated the Philippines?

      Top Spanish newspaper El Pais reported that all 3 Twitter accounts shared news articles in support of Catalan independence. All 3 tweeted 24 hours a day. All 3 tweeted the exact same articles at the exact same times.

      The 3 accounts were “part of an online army of robot profiles, who, armed with gasoline canisters brimming with fake news, stalk social media and fan the flames of debate as ordered by their generals,” said Spain’s widest read newspaper and second most read online news site.

      “At the beginning of October, this army went to work on the issue of Catalan independence. Evidence shows a total of 87% of the 65 accounts who most shared RT and Sputnik content were automated,” El Pais said.

      “Those accounts helped ensure that Russian news outlets were the fourth most influential in the digital conversation about Catalonia.”

    • China Proposes Lifting Presidential Term Limit

      China’s ruling Communist Party has proposed scrapping constitutional term limits for the country’s president, which would give President Xi Jinping the option to stay on after the end of his second term in 2022. Critics see the move as reversing decades of efforts to create rules in China for the orderly exercise and transfer of political power.

      The official New China News Agency reported Sunday that the party’s 205-member Central Committee proposed that the term limits be removed from the constitution. The changes must be ratified by China’s parliament at its annual session next month, but that parliament, known as the National People’s Congress, has never rejected a law that the party or government has put before it.

    • China moves to silence outcry over abolition of Xi’s term limit
    • China censorship after Xi Jinping presidency extension proposal

      China’s governing Communist Party has proposed removing a clause in the constitution which limits presidencies to two five-year terms – which means President Xi Jinping could remain as leader after the end of his second term in 2023.

      The controversial move has ignited discussion on Chinese social media and pushed online government censors into overdrive.

    • Xi Jinping’s power grab ‘does hark back to darker times in China,’ says expert

      Critics shared Winnie the Pooh images, including one that showed the cartoon bear hugging a pot of honey and featured the caption, “Find the thing you love and never let go.” Pooh Bear is often used to represent Xi, though censors cracked down on that last year.

    • California Democratic Party declines to endorse Dianne Feinstein for re-election

      In a surprising show of discontent with one of California’s most enduring political leaders, the state Democratic Party declined to make an endorsement in this year’s U.S. Senate race on Sunday, snubbing Sen. Dianne Feinstein in her bid for a fifth full term.

      Her main challenger, State Senate leader Kevin de León, won the support of 54 percent of delegates at the state party convention here this weekend, short of the 60 percent needed to secure the party’s endorsement. Feinstein received only 37 percent of the votes.

      The rebuke of Feinstein by the party delegates comes even though the 25-year incumbent has led polls by wide margins and received the backing of political luminaries like Sen. Kamala Harris and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

    • Surveillance-happy authoritarian “Democratic” California senator Dianne Feinstein loses California Democratic Party endorsement

      Dianne Feinstein has represented California in the US senate for 28 years, garnering the California Democratic Party endorsement every year despite her far-right positions on mass surveillance, military adventurism, and authoritarian rule (she’s trumpeted these policies as evidence of her “independence”).

      After a quarter-century of legislative malpractice, California Democrats have had enough. Yesterday, the California Democratic Party denied her their endorsement. The candidate favored by the state party is State Senator Kevin De León, a moderate left-wing Democrat who backed Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election but says he admires Bernie Sanders’ campaign and platform.

    • The Democratic party is now publicly attacking progressive candidates

      In their desperation to win back the House in the 2018 midterm elections, the Democrats have turned to eating their own. How else to make sense of the unhappy drama unfolding in Texas’ 7th congressional district?

      The district, which includes much of affluent west Houston, has a Republican incumbent named John Culberson, but was carried by Hillary Clinton in 2016. Culberson, a gun-loving, climate change-denying champion of Donald Trump, is a dreary exemplar of the kind of reactionary outlier who now passes as a mainstream Republican politician. And so the effort to unseat him has attracted a crowded field of seven Democrats, all vying to win the 6 March primary.

    • Who Benefits from Russia’s ‘Peculiar’ Doping Violations?

      Viewers of the 2018 Winter Olympics were offered a constant reminder of Russia’s supposed deviousness with the “OAR” – or Olympic Athlete from Russia – designation that Russian athletes competed under as a punishment for doping. The image of Russia being penalized for cheating fit in neatly with ongoing geopolitical narratives of Russia being blamed for election meddling in the United States and military aggression in Ukraine.

    • How the Anti-Democracy Movement Used Media to Command the Narrative

      As far back as 1835, perhaps our nation’s earliest and most astute observer, Alexis de Tocqueville, understood the power of the media. He described the press as “the chief democratic instrument of freedom.” But today our “instrument of freedom” seems to mean the freedom to enrich oneself privately, whatever it takes. How did we get to this sad state?

      In 1969, the US Supreme Court unanimously upheld the public-good understanding of the press, stating, “The First Amendment is relevant to public broadcasting, but it is the right of the viewing and listening public, and not the right of the broadcasters, which is paramount.” In the 1960s, for example, media broadcasting gas-guzzling car advertisements had to pay for rebuttal airtime by public interest groups. But soon dramatic changes undermined this frame, as market ideology tightened its grip during the 1980s. “Television is just another appliance—it’s a toaster with pictures,” quipped Mark Fowler, the chair of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) during Ronald Reagan’s presidency, as he mocked the very notion of media as a public good.

    • Chinese censors move to block ridicule of ‘Emperor’ Xi Jinping’s power grab

      Beijing’s vast army of online censors have been mobilised to stamp out the ridicule and criticism to the announcement that President Xi Jinping could rule for life.

      China proposed to remove a two-term limit from its president on Sunday, in a move which would see the current Chinese leader rule beyond 2023 and perhaps indefinitely.

    • End to term limits at the top may be start of global backlash for China, analysts say

      The proposed elimination of presidential term limits in China risks an international backlash over China’s strongman politics, but would help ensure the continuity of the country’s policies, diplomatic observers said.

      The bold move would send a message that Xi and his initiatives were here to stay and cement China’s ambition to fill the global leadership vacuum left by US President Donald Trump, they said.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • YouTube conspiracy video problem ‘bigger than thought’

      The problem of conspiracy videos on YouTube appears to be growing, with a data journalist unearthing nearly 9000 such clips after a search using the video platform’s API.

    • CJ Gopal Parajuli orders media censorship

      Chief Justice Gopal Parajuli on Sunday issued an interim order directing the Press Council to probe news reports published by Kantipur daily that highlighted discrepancies in his birth date mentioned by him in official documents.

    • China Proposes Lifting Presidential Term Limit
    • China’s move to abolish presidential term limits is more unpopular than the government thought — so it’s turning to censorship

      Criticism of the Chinese government’s desire to abolish presidential term limits has seen censorship soar since Sunday.

      China’s constitution restricts the president and vice-president to serving a maximum of two terms – 10 years – with President Xi Jinping’s leadership due to end in 2023.

      While censoring social media is a regular occurrence in China, the latest incident may mean the Communist Party’s proposal to scrap presidential term limits, and essentially allow President Xi Jinping to rule indefinitely, was more unpopular than anticipated.

    • Curbing hate speech isn’t censorship – it’s the law

      IT IS hard to hear the phrase “political correctness” these days without reflexively appending the words “gone mad”. Thanks to self-appointed guardians of liberty, the inoffensive idea that people should try to avoid insulting language has been turned into a battleground over free speech.

      This might sound like a silly spat straight out of the pages of the tabloid press, but people who care about science ought to be paying attention. Free speech is a vital ingredient of enlightened scholarship and education.

    • Mistakes And Strategic Failures: The Killing Of The Open Internet

      Sometime tomorrow, it’s widely expected that the House will approve a terrible Frankenstein bill that merges two separate bills we’ve spoken about, FOSTA and SESTA. The bills are bad. They will not actually do what the passionate and vocal supporters of those bills claim they will do — which is take on the problem of sex trafficking. Neither bill actually targets sex traffickers (which, you know, one would think would be a prime consideration in pushing a bill that you claim will take on sex trafficking). Instead, they seek to hold third parties (websites) responsible if people involved in sex trafficking use them. This has all sorts of problems that we’ve been discussing for months, so I won’t reiterate all of them here, but suffice it to say if these bills were really about stopping sex trafficking, they sure do a horrible job of it. If you want to try to stop these bills, check out EFF’s action page and please call your Congressional Rep., and let them know they’re about to do a really bad thing. If you want more in-depth information, CDT has you covered as well. Finally, Professor Eric Goldman details piece by piece what this Frankenstein bill does and how bolting SESTA and FOSTA together make two bad bills… even worse, and even less clear as to what it actually does.

    • Letter: Board opening Pandora’s box for censorship

      Censorship of books is never good. Particularly when that book has been carefully chosen and is highly recommended by respected library sources.

    • Section 230 Isn’t About Facebook, It’s About You

      Longtime Techdirt readers know how important Section 230 is for the Internet to work, as well as many of the reasons why the proposed SESTA bill threatens the operation of the law, and with it the operation of the Internet. But especially for people less familiar with the ins and outs of Section 230, as the law hangs in the balance, we want to take moment to explain why it’s something that everyone should want to preserve.

      These days a lot of people are upset with Facebook, along with many other of its fellow big Internet companies. Being upset with these companies can make it tempting to try to punish them with regulation that might hurt them. But it does no good to punish them with regulation that will end up hurting everyone – including you.

    • Judge Tells Coal Boss Bob Murray The Judicial Equivalent Of ‘Eat Shit, Bob’

      Remember Bob Murray? He’s the Ohio-based coal mining CEO who threatened and then sued John Oliver and HBO over this fun episode of Oliver’s show, Last Week Tonight, which discussed the ridiculousness of our President’s focus on “coal jobs.” However, it also spent a fair bit of time talking about Bob Murray, Murray Energy, and how his actions did not appear to support actual coal miners. A prominent part of the story features the phrase (originally written by a coal miner at Murray Energy as part of the process to void a bonus check) “Eat Shit, Bob.”

    • Why muzzling social media is no answer

      The Russian government clearly sought to influence the 2016 election. This should not incite a rush to censor dissonant opinions on websites and social media, but that could easily happen in the good intentions to safeguard democracy from truly false and subversive content.

      Like the printing press, broadcast radio and television and cable television, the internet and social media revolutionized communications by making mass distribution of news and analysis more broadly accessible. That has widened public dialogue on everything from parking regulations to who should be president — it’s too good to lose even if it’s sometimes as annoying and discomforting as persistent demonstrations on the Washington Mall.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Case against alleged hoarder of NSA documents gets tougher for federal prosecutors
    • UK Metro Police Sued Over Phone Malware Purchase

      Last spring, a hacker who had illicitly obtained data from malware/spyware company FlexiSpy shared some of it with Motherboard. In the trove of customer data, it was discovered that one purchase was linked to an officer in the UK Metro Police.

      FlexiSpy is powerful malware, capable of gathering communications from multiple messaging services, as well as providing GPS location, emails, and phone call records. The purchase of this malware is questionable, considering it’s regulated under the UK’s Computer Misuse Act. The most obvious limitation of the malware is the fact that it requires physical access to targeted devices. But phones, tablets, and computers are seized all the time by law enforcement officers, and they’re sometimes returned to their owners after being searched. Malware like this would allow officers to hitch a virtual ride on someone’s phone or laptop, seeing everything they see.

    • Analog Equivalent Privacy Rights (18/21): Our analog parents had private conversations, both in public and at home

      Our parents, at least in the Western world, had a right to hold private conversations face-to-face, whether out in public or in the sanctity of their home. This is all but gone for our digital children.

    • The Problems With FISA, Secrecy, and Automatically Classified Information

      We need to talk about national security secrecy. Right now, there are two memos on everyone’s mind, each with its own version of reality. But the memos are just one piece. How the memos came to be—and why they continue to roil the waters in Congress—is more important.

      On January 19, staff for Representative Devin Nunes (R-CA) wrote a classified memo alleging that the FBI and DOJ committed surveillance abuses in its applications for and renewal of a surveillance order against former Trump administration advisor Carter Page. Allegedly, the FBI and DOJ’s surveillance application included biased, politically-funded information.

    • Rancher Sues CBP After Officers Install A Camera On His Private Property

      The CBP’s habit of moving further and further inland in their search for deportees, drugs, and water to dump on the ground isn’t making it any new friends. Residents of small towns near the border are getting very sick of having to assert their citizenship multiple times a day thanks to Checkpoint Charlie camping out on every road out of town.

      The federal government doesn’t care. No sacrifice is too great to demand from citizens to keep this country safe from job seekers, victims of violence, and the occasional MS-13 gang member. Rights are optional within 100 miles of US borders and they’re completely nonexistent within 25 miles of crossing points. It’s this 25-mile cutoff that’s key to federal lawsuit arising from trespassing CBP officers and the spy cam they placed on the property of a local who’s spent years complaining about the CBP’s incursions.

      Cyrus Farivar covers the story of Texas rancher Ricardo Palacios at Ars Technica. And it’s a good one. Palacios discovered a camera on his property and took it down. Shortly thereafter, the CBP and the Texas Rangers rang him up, demanding the return of their surveillance camera. Palacios refused and was threatened with criminal charges.

    • Cakewalk for French tech-wiz, Aadhaar and Telangana portal easy hack

      A French security researcher on Monday breached the Telangana government benefit disbursement portal ‘TSPost’ and lay bare its vulnerabilities. The portal has account details including Aadhaar numbers of 56 lakh beneficiaries of NREGA (National Rural Employment Guarantee scheme) and 40 lakh beneficiaries of social security pensions (SSP).

    • In re Silver – Texas Supreme Court Follows CAFC Lead and Recognizes Limited Patent-Agent Privilege

      I’ve written about Queen’s University, the CAFC case that recognized a privilege over patent agent communications, and the dissent by Judge Reyna who (properly) recognized that if its scope is limited to what agents are authorized to do, patent agents may need lawyers to advise them about the scope of the privilege.

    • Surveillance watchdog investigates security risks of GCHQ IT contractors

      The investigatory powers commissioner is reviewing the security arrangements for IT contractors that have access to live computer systems at GCHQ holding highly sensitive records on the UK population

    • MIT’s ‘Veil’ Fixes Holes In Private Browsing Modes To Boost Anonymity

      Web browsers’ private browsing mode is the first resolution taken by most users to protect their privacy online. But subconsciously they’re aware that the private mode or incognito mode is doing nothing but deleting the browsing activity from their computer. According to past studies, it’s possible to track people’s browsing habits even when privacy mode is enabled.

    • The Dropbox IPO filing is here

      The company is not yet profitable, having lost nearly $112 million last year. This shows significantly improved margins when compared to losses of $210 million for 2016 and $326 million for 2015.

    • Dropbox files to go public with over $1.1 billion in annual revenue

      Here’s what the filing said:

      • Revenue: $1.11 billion in 2017, up 31 percent from the prior year
      • Net loss: $111.7 million in 2017, narrower than 2016′s loss of $210.2 million
      • Average revenue per paid user: $111.91, up from 2016 but down from 2015
      • 500 million registered users, 100 million signed up since the beginning of 2017
      • More than 11 million paying users
      • Gross margin: 67 percent

      Dropbox will list on the Nasdaq under the ticker “DBX.” Dropbox’s plans to go public were unsealed by the SEC on Friday, after previously filing the documents confidentially.

    • Dropbox saved almost $75 million over two years by building its own tech infrastructure

      After making the decision to roll its own infrastructure and reduce its dependence on Amazon Web Services, Dropbox reduced its operating costs by $74.6 million over the next two years, the company said in its S-1 statement Friday.

    • Dropbox Gears Up for IPO

      Dropbox has filed an S-1 form with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regarding its initial public offering (IPO). The company did not mention any pricing details in the filing, but it values the entire offering up to $500 million. The company intends to list its shares on the Nasdaq under the symbol DBX.

      The underwriters for the offering are Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan, Deutsche Bank, Allen, Merrill Lynch, RBC Capital Markets, Jefferies, Macquarie Capital, Canaccord Genuity, JMP Securities, KeyBanc and Piper Jaffray.

    • Military, FBI, and ICE Are Customers of Controversial ‘Stalkerware’

      Dozens of employees from US federal law enforcement agencies and the armed forces have bought smartphone malware that can, in some cases, intercept Facebook messages, track GPS locations, and remotely activate a device’s microphone, according to a large cache of data stolen by a hacker [sic] and obtained by Motherboard.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • ‘Would you burn the Mona Lisa if it was sent?’: Our horror bureaucratic bungle

      It’s a bungle that has floored botanists around the globe and embarrassed the Australian government. How did 105 priceless and irreplaceable historical plant specimens, sent here by the French, end up being destroyed by biosecurity officers?

    • Texas police shoot man who disarmed possible church shooter

      Police in Amarillo shot an innocent man who helped foil a possible church shooting.

      The shooting happened shortly after 9 a.m. Feb. 14 at the Faith City Mission, a faith-based outreach organization. Police said Joshua Len Jones, 35, of Amarillo, barged into a church building at Faith City Mission, pulled out a gun and was holding about 100 congregants and church staff hostage.

      In the time between when police were dispatched and when officers arrived, a handful of churchgoers wrestled Jones to the ground. One of the congregants was able to grab Jones’ gun.

    • A Mother and Child Fled the Congo, Only to Be Forcibly Separated by the US Government

      The mother hasn’t seen her 7-year-old daughter in nearly four months, and the government won’t explain why.

      On Nov. 1, 2017, Ms. L. and her 7-year-old daughter, S.S., arrived at a United States port of entry near San Diego and presented themselves to border agents. Ms. L. had fled with her child from their home in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where Ms. L. left in fear for her life. Now, the pair was finally in the United States, seeking asylum in a country where they thought they would be safe.

      Approximately four days later, Ms. L.’s young daughter was taken from her without any explanation or justification. When the officers separated them, Ms. L. could hear her daughter in the next room screaming that she did not want to be taken away from her mother. No one explained why her daughter was being taken away, where she was being taken, or when she would see her child again. More than 3 1/2 months later, Ms. L. remains at a detention center in the San Diego area, while her daughter is detained in Chicago, halfway across the country, without her mother or anyone else she knows.

    • 20,000 Protest Israeli Plan to Push Out African Migrants

      In other news from Israel, up to 20,000 people rallied in Tel Aviv Saturday to protest Israel’s plans to push out as many as 40,000 African migrants in the coming months. Israel is threatening to jail the migrants if they do not leave Israel. Protesters on Saturday condemned the Israeli government for shutting the door on refugees.

    • How Grassroots Activists in Georgia Are Leading the Opposition Against a Dangerous “Computer Crime” Bill

      A misguided bill in Georgia (S.B. 315) threatens to criminalize independent computer security research and punish ordinary technology users who violate fine-print terms of service clauses. S.B. 315 is currently making its way through the state’s legislature amid uproar and resistance that its sponsors might not have fully anticipated. At the center of this opposition is a group of concerned citizen-advocates who, through their volunteer advocacy, have drawn national attention to the industry-wide implications of this bill.

      Scott M. Jones and David Merrill from Electronic Frontiers Georgia—a group that participates in the Electronic Frontier Alliance network —spoke to us about their efforts to inform legislators and the public of the harms this bill would cause.

    • A Supreme Court Rebuke to the Trump Administration on DACA

      In a sharp rebuke to the Trump administration, the Supreme Court today refused to hear the government’s challenge to a lower court’s decision ordering the government to keep in place the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA). Since the administration announced last fall that it was ending the program on March 5, many DACA recipients have already lost their residence and work permits.

      While the court’s decision is good news, it doesn’t end the uncertainty, confusion, and fear of deportation for the hundreds of thousands of undocumented young people who came to the U.S. as children.

    • Childhood Is Now A Punishable Offense

      Who here hasn’t inhaled helium from a balloon and talked in a cartoon voice?

    • Kansas Legislature Introduces Two Bills Mandating Speedy Release Of Police Body Cam Footage

      Two new bills have been introduced in the Kansas state legislature with the intent of forcing law enforcement agencies to turn over body camera footage in a timely manner. They appear to have been prompted by the family of a man shot and killed by police officers late last year. It took police 11 weeks to turn over footage of the incident. Even then, it wasn’t as though the footage was given to the executor of Dominique White’s estate. Instead, White’s father was “granted access” to the the body cam footage, which means he was able to watch the video on police equipment at a police station by himself with no other surviving family members.

      This is the state of Kansas’ current laws regarding body camera footage. Very few people are given access to footage and, with rare exceptions, the footage remains completely in the hands of law enforcement. The only people granted access to footage at this point in time are subjects of recordings, parents of minors who are subjects of recordings, attorneys for a recording subject, or a person’s heir.

    • Bias already exists in search engine results, and it’s only going to get worse

      The internet might seem like a level playing field, but it isn’t. Safiya Umoja Noble came face to face with that fact one day when she used Google’s search engine to look for subjects her nieces might find interesting. She entered the term “black girls” and came back with pages dominated by pornography.

      Noble was horrified but not surprised. The UCLA communications professor has been arguing for years that the values of the web reflect its builders—mostly white, Western men—and do not represent minorities and women. Her latest book, Algorithms of Oppression, details research she started after that fateful Google search, and it explores the hidden structures that shape how we get information through the internet.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Twitch community, YouTube creators join protest to save net neutrality

      Dozens of websites and internet agencies are banding together to protest the FCC’s decision to kill net neutrality.

      Internet advocacy group Fight for the Future has organized Operation: #OneMoreVote, which will take place on Feb. 27. The campaign will enlist the help of communities like Twitch’s and companies like Reddit alongside organizations like YouTuber Hank Green’s Internet Creators Guild, to raise awareness about the appeal process. Only one more vote in the Senate is needed to take the case to the House of Representatives, where cosponsors can vote to block the repeal of net neutrality. If unsuccessful, net neutrality will be repealed in April.

    • Charter Spectrum Fails To Wiggle Out From Under State Lawsuit For Crappy Service

      But the lawsuit also exposed how Charter was gaming an FCC program that uses routers with custom firmware to track real-world ISP performance. The lawsuit also hints at the fact that Charter executives toyed with intentionally creating congestion at peering points in order to extract additional money out of content and transit companies, something you’ll recall was at the heart of an industry battle with Netflix a few years ago. Those problems miraculously disappeared with the passage of net neutrality rules that governed interconnection (read: expect this problem to resurface with the elimination of the rules).

    • AMP: the missing controversy

      One of the main implications of publishing an AMP page is that the page will be served from the Google domain. Or whoever is serving the AMP cache, yet mostly that will be Google.

      This means less direct traffic on your origin, and more time spent at Google. Less traffic on your origin could mean less monetization opportunities. In general, it means less control of anything. You’re subject to whatever the AMP standard allows or disallows.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Exclusive interview with Johanne Bélisle, Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Intellectual Property Office

      With respect to “brand Canada” from CIPO’s perspective, we strive to be known as a modern, internationally-leading IP office, one that provides high-quality and timely rights and that serves its clients well. We are a trusted source of IP information and knowledge for Canadian businesses and innovators. And we work in partnership with others, including our international partners in the IP ecosystem, to help make Canada a global centre of innovation. Canada is already an attractive place for business, trade and innovation to flourish, and we continue to make it more attractive all the time.

    • Trademarks

      • GUCCI as a well-known mark, with special attention to evidence, surveys, and unfair advantage

        Disputes involving luxury brands and the issue of well-known marks seem ubiquitous. Most often, two questions are asked: Is the mark at issue “well-known” and, if so, has there been dilution or an unfair advantage taken of the distinctive character of the well-known mark? A particularly interesting instance occurred recently before the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore involving the “GUCCI” mark, with particular attention to whether survey evidence was necessary and the need to prove that dilution or unfair advantage had occurred.

    • Copyrights

      • When a Pro-Copyright Rant Goes Wrong….

        It is no secret that copyright issues can trigger heated debates. On the one hand there are those who caution against stricter regulation, fearing that Internet freedom is at stake, while others argue that artists need more protection. Ironically, one of the most vocal pro-copyright activists lost sight of his core mission recently.

      • Most Users of Exclusive Torrent Site Also Pay For Services Like Netflix or Prime

        A survey carried out on HDBits, one of the world’s most exclusive private torrent sites, has revealed that even the most hardcore of pirates are happy to pay for content. The poll, carried out among more than 5,300 respondents, found that not only do 57% pay for streaming accounts on services like Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime, but 26% use those platforms more than they use torrent sites.

      • BMG Wants Appeals Court to Rehear Cox Piracy Liability Case

        Music publisher BMG has petitioned the Court of Appeals for a rehearing of the piracy liability case against Internet provider Cox. The panel of judges reached the wrong conclusion when it overturned the $25 million verdict and issued a new trial, the company says. The RIAA and the National Music Publishers Association back the request.

      • Pirate Site Operators’ Jail Sentences Overturned By Court of Appeal

        Four men sentenced last year for their part in running several pirate sites have been told they will no longer have to spend time behind bars. After being ordered to spend up to ten months in prison, the court of appeal has now decided that for their activities on Dreamfilm, TFplay, Tankafetast and PirateHub, the men should walk free but pay increased damages to the entertainment industries.

      • ESA Comes Out Against Allowing Museums To Curate Online Video Games For Posterity

        A week or so back, we discussed the Museum of Art and Digital Entertainment (MADE) calling on the Copyright Office to extend exemptions to anti-circumvention in the DMCA to organizations looking to curate and preserve online games. Any reading of stories covering this idea needs to be grounded in the understanding that the Librarian of Congress has already extended these same exemptions to video games that are not online multiplayer games. Games of this sort are art, after all, and exemptions to the anti-circumvention laws allow museums, libraries, and others to preserve and display older games that may not natively run on current technology, or those that have been largely lost in terms of physical product. MADE’s argument is that online multiplayer games are every bit the art that these single-player games are and deserve preservation as well.

      • Does embedding copyrighted content constitute infringement? NY judge says yes

        In a summary judgement delivered on February 15, Judge Katherine Forrest of the Southern District of New York ruled that embedding a tweet containing a copyrighted image on a website amounts to direct infringement.


Links 26/2/2018: Chrome OS With Linux Containers/VMs, New Stable Kernels

Posted in News Roundup at 9:58 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Three essential tools for the GNU/Linux Photographer

    As a Journalist by day, and awesome cave dwelling Linux nerd by night, I take a lot of photographs with my Nikon D3300.

    That said, there are the obvious tools by Adobe that one can use, such as Photoshop, but there are some pretty awesome tools available for free to GNU/Linux users I thought I might share.

    With the three together, I’ve got basically everything I have needed.

  • Desktop

    • Chrome OS may soon be able to run Linux applications in a container

      Even though Chrome OS is based on Linux (Gentoo Linux, to be exact), you can’t run traditional desktop Linux applications. One solution to this problem is Crouton, a script that sets up a chroot of Ubuntu or Debian Linux on top of Chrome OS. While this does allow many people to use Chrome OS who otherwise couldn’t, it’s a hacky solution and requires enabling Developer Mode (which turns off most of Chrome OS’ security features).

      A new commit on the Chromium Gerrit has come to light, with the name “New device policy to allow Linux VMs on Chrome OS.” The specific code adds a ‘Better Together’ menu in the Chrome OS settings, and allows IT administrators to turn the feature on or off.

      Of course, the big news is that Chrome OS will almost certainly support running Linux applications at some point. That opens up a huge range of software, from open-source favorites like GIMP and LibreOffice, to Linux-compatible Steam games like Civilization V and Rocket League. Potentially, users could even install Wine to run some Windows programs.

    • Chromebooks and Crostini: Containers For Chrome OS By Google I/O?

      noun: small pieces of toasted or fried bread served with a topping as an appetizer or canapé.

      In layman’s terms, a crostini is a fancy crouton. More often than not, you will find crostini served in a similar manner to Bruschetta; brushed with Olive Oil and topped with cheese and other various deliciousness.

    • Chrome OS will soon let you run Linux VMs

      It could soon be possible to run Linux apps on a Chromebook without jumping through hoops. Recent commits to the Chrome OS source code suggests that Google is preparing to introduce support for virtual machines, specifically Linux containers.

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux 4.15.6
    • Linux 4.14.22
    • Linux 4.9.84
    • Linux 4.4.118
    • Linux 3.18.96
    • Allwinner A83T Will Support HDMI With Linux 4.17

      The Sun4i DRM driver work has been progressing a lot since its mainline introduction two years ago with Linux 4.7. With the Linux 4.17 cycle, the A83T SoC will have initial HDMI output support.

      If you happen to have a tablet or other device powered by the Allwinner A83T, it should finally have working HDMI out support when using the Sun4i DRM driver with the kernel update coming later this year.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Radeon Wattman’s “Automan” Being Enabled For Vega On Linux

        With the upcoming Linux 4.17 kernel cycle there is initial support for Radeon Wattman with the AMDGPU kernel driver and modern Radeon graphics processors. “Automan” is now the latest being worked on for Vega GPUs.

        Automan as implied by the name is automatic Wattman handling for Linux. There was already automatic Wattman support via earlier AMDGPU patches for Polaris GPUs and can be enabled via the pp_power_profile_mode sysfs node to auto, but now there are patches for supporting newer Vega graphics processors.

      • UVD-Based HEVC Video Encoding Main Now Supported In Mesa 18.1

        Earlier this month AMD developers landed VCN-powered video encode support for the HEVC main format while now this has come to the UVD engine so it will work with pre-Raven GPUs.

        VCN “Video Core Next” is the new unified video encode/decode block found so far just on Raven Ridge APUs. That VCN support has been getting into Mesa while AMD’s James Zhu this week enabled UVD-based encode for the HEVC main profile.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • KDE Plasma 5.13 Should Be Starting Up Even Faster

        One of the nice elements of KDE Plasma 5.12 is that it starts up faster, particularly when running on Wayland, but with Plasma 5.13 it’s looking like it will be an even faster experience getting to the Plasma desktop.

        KDE Plasma 5.13 isn’t scheduled to be released until the middle of June, but this next Plasma installment is already in heavy feature development following this month’s successful Plasma 5.12 debut.

      • This week in Usability & Productivity, part 7

        Another busy week in Usability & Productivity. As has been observed, we’re fixing issues at Warp 9 speed! KDE contributors racked up some pretty significant wins this week, and we’ve already got some great stuff in the pipeline that I hope to be able to announce next week! But for now, take a look at this week’s haul!

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • GNOME Shell vs. KDE Plasma Graphics Tests On Wayland vs. X.Org Server

        A premium member this week had requested some benchmarks of openSUSE Tumbleweed when looking at the performance of KDE Plasma vs. GNOME Shell in some open-source graphics/gaming tests while also looking at the Wayland vs. X.Org Server performance.

        With KDE Plasma 5.12 that openSUSE Tumbleweed has picked up, there is much better Wayland session support compared to previous releases. While KDE developers aren’t yet ready to declare their Wayland session the default, in my experience so far it’s been working out very well but still routinely will find application crashes in Kate and the like when testing under the KWin’s Wayland compositor.

      • Arrongin GTK Theme Stands Out (But for the Right Reasons)

        Sure, the new Ubuntu theme is pretty great, but it’s still largely a mix of Ambiance, Adwaita and the proposed Unity 8 style. I.e. all known quantities.

        We’ve previously listed what we think are the best GTK themes for Ubuntu (and Linux in general). If you’ve read that list you may have noticed that a number of themes featured look similar, share design trends, or use a similar theme as a foundation.

        With former theme makers like ~half-left no longer making truly original GTK themes, Linux design has fallen into a bit of a creative lull. Every other theme that appears is (seemingly) based on either Adwaita, Arc or Adapta, uses material design cues (like Pop GTK), echoes macOS (Greybird, elementary) or is flatter than the response to most of my jokes (Arc, Plano, Ant, Vimix, et al).

  • Distributions

    • Slackware Family

      • Moving to 64 bit

        When i bought my new desktop at home, i already had a plan to reinstall my old desktop with Slackware64, but i didn’t specify the timeframe or even the version i’m going to install with. The old one was 32 bit since i got it installed since 2009 and it has been working well so far, but it’s getting slower for my needs where i got to use virtual machines to build packages for MATE and Cinnamon. It is a dual-core E5300 Intel CPU with 4 GB of RAM, 320 GB + 1 TB hard drive, and NVidia GeForce 7050.

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Remembering Tom Wallis, The System Administrator That Made The World Better

        So it was a shock to get an email this week that Tom had married for the first time at age 54, and passed away four days later due to a boating accident while on his honeymoon.

        Tom was a man with a big laugh and an even bigger heart. When I started a Linux Users Group (LUG) on campus, there was Tom – helping to arrange a place to meet, Internet access when we needed it, and gave his evenings to simply be present and a supporter.

      • Report from Debian SnowCamp: day 3

        Thanks to Valhalla and other members of LIFO, a bunch of fine Debian folks have convened in Laveno, on the shores of Lake Maggiore, for a nice weekend of relaxing and sprinting on various topics, a SnowCamp.

      • Report from SnowCamp #1

        As Nicolas already reported, a bunch of Debian folk gathered in the North of Italy for a long weekend of work and socialisation.

      • Debian Gitlab (salsa.debian.org) tricks
      • Derivatives

        • Debian/TeX Live 2017.20180225-1

          To my big surprise, the big rework didn’t create any havoc at all, not one bug report regarding the change. That is good. OTOH, I took some time off due to various surprising (and sometimes disturbing) things that have happened in the last month, so the next release took a bit longer than expected.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu Software Will Soon Let You Install Beta, Bleeding Edge Snap Apps

            No, not TV channels, or the sort the that ferries goods between countries, but development channels, e.g, beta, bleeding edge, stable, etc.

            Snap developers are able to distribute different versions of their app over “channels”, and have for almost as long as Snappy has been around in fact.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Introducing the potential new Ubuntu Studio Council

              Back in 2016, Set Hallström was elected as the new Team Lead for Ubuntu Studio, just in time for the 16.04 Xenial Long Term Support (LTS) release. It was intended that Ubuntu Studio would be able to utilise Set’s leadership skills at least up until the next LTS release in April 2018. Unfortunately, as happens occasionally in the world of volunteer work, Set’s personal circumstances changed and he is no longer able to devote as much time to Ubuntu Studio as he would like. Therefore, an IRC meeting was held between interested Ubuntu Studio contributors on 21st May 2017 to agree on how to fill the void. We decided to follow the lead of Xubuntu and create a Council to take care of Ubuntu Studio, rather than continuing to place the burden of leadership on the shoulder of one particular person. Unfortunately, although the result was an agreement to form the first Ubuntu Studio Council from the meeting participants, we all got busy and the council was never set up.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Ryzen V1000 module delivers up to four 4K displays

      Congatec announced a Linux-friendly “Conga-TR4” COM Express Type 6 module featuring an AMD Ryzen Embedded V1000 with support for 8x PCIe, PEG x16, 4x USB 3.1 with Type-C, 8x USB 2.0, 2x SATA III, and