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Links 21/2/2018: Apper 1.0, New Fedora ISOs

Posted in News Roundup at 5:30 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • What Happens when you Contribute, revisited

    I sat down to write a post about my students’ experiences this term contributing to open source, and apparently I’ve written this before (and almost exactly a year ago to the day!) The thing about teaching is that it’s cyclic, so you’ll have to forgive me as I give a similar lecture here today.

    I’m teaching two classes on open source development right now, two sections in an introductory course, and another two in a follow-up intermediate course. The students are just starting to get some releases submitted, and I’ve been going through their blogs, pull requests, videos (apparently this generation likes making videos, which is something new for me), tweets, and the like. I learn a lot from my students, and I wanted to share some of what I’m seeing.

  • Events

    • OpenStack Summit Vancouver ’18: Vote for Speakers

      The next OpenStack Summit takes place again in Vancouver (BC, Canada), May 21-25, 2018. The “Vote for Presentations” period started. All proposals are up for community votes. The deadline for your vote is will end February 25 at 11:59pm PST (February 26th at 8:59am CET)

    • IBM Index: A Community Event for Open Source Developers

      The first-ever INDEX community event, happening now in San Francisco, is an open developer conference featuring sessions on topics including artificial intelligence, machine learning, analytics, cloud native, containers, APIs, languages, and more.

    • Eclipse CheConf 2018 – Join the live stream February 21st at 10 am EST

      2017 was a fantastic year for the Che project, with more contributors, more commits, and more usage – this solidified Che’s position as the leading developer workspace server and browser IDE. Eclipse Che users logged over 7 million hours of public Che usage (plus more in private installs). We’ll discuss the growing cloud development market, Che’s position in it, and the exciting changes we’re planning for 2018.

  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

    • Mozilla

      • Best Web Browser

        When the Firefox team released Quantum in November 2017, they boasted it was “over twice as fast as Firefox from 6 months ago”, and Linux Journal readers generally agreed, going as far as to name it their favorite web browser. A direct response to Google Chrome, Firefox Quantum also boasts decreased RAM usage and a more streamlined user interface.

      • Share Exactly What You See On-Screen With Firefox Screenshots

        A “screenshot” is created when you capture what’s on your computer screen, so you can save it as a reference, put it in a document, or send it as an image file for others to see exactly what you see.

      • QMO: Firefox 59 Beta 10 Testday Results

        As you may already know, last Friday – February 16nd – we held a new Testday event, for Firefox 59 Beta 10.

        Thank you Mohammed Adam, Abhishek Haridass, Fahima Zulfath A. and Surentharan.R.A. from India QA Community team for helping us make Mozilla a better place.

      • Bugzilla Triage Helper

        There are an awful lot of bugs filed against Firefox and all it’s components in the course of a release. Keeping on top of that is hard and some teams have adopted some policies to help with that (for example see: design-decision-needed).

        Having a consistent approach to bugs across the organisation makes it a little easier for everyone to get a feel for what’s going.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice 6.1 Arrives in August with Revamped Online Experience, New Features

      Last week, we talked with The Document Foundation’s marketing assistant Mike Saunders about the 1 million downloads milestone reached by the major LibreOffice 6.0 release in only two weeks after its launch, who told us that the team is already working on the next version, LibreOffice 6.1, due for release in August.

      LibreOffice 6.1 will be the first major update to the 6.x series of the office suite and will add yet another layer of new features and improvements to the open-source and cross-platform office suite used by millions of computer users worldwide, and we’d like you to be the first to know about them.

  • CMS

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Public Services/Government

    • EOH and LSD Information Technology partner to lead open source in Africa

      By identifying global trends and local needs, EOH is able to proactively source and secure capabilities that will assist with the adoption of the digital revolution. LSD’s offerings across Linux, automation, devops and containers is a great technology fit for EOH to lead open source in the market.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • Choosing a tool to track and mitigate open source security vulnerabilities

      Continuously tracking your application’s dependencies for vulnerabilities and efficiently addressing them is no simple feat. In addition, this is a problem shared by all, and is not an area most companies would consider their core competency. Therefore, it is a great opportunity for the right set of tools to help tackle this concern.

    • Open source software: to be celebrated or cursed?

      The use of Open Source Software (OSS) has become widespread. The latest statistics show that 78% of companies run OSS, and a number of mainstream software and hardware products are based on the OSS model – for example Android, Skype [sic], Firefox, Amazon Kindle, Tivo and BT Home Hub.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Data

      • Marshall Students Use Open Source Data to Help Stop Sex Trafficking Cases

        The work involved sex trafficking cases in Latin America, the Caribbean and Southeast Asia. Select students in Marshall’s Open Source Intelligence Exchange program worked to provide open source intelligence collection and analysis for law enforcement and other clients. Open source refers to data collection from publicly available sources.

    • Open Access/Content

      • Stanford scholar celebrates Western culture’s open-access tradition

        The move toward “open access” to research and scholarship, far from being a modern digital-age creation, has roots in the West that date back to medieval times, writes a Stanford education scholar. John Willinsky’s new book explains how learning has long benefited from efforts to increase its circulation.

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Open source RISC-V architecture is changing the game for IoT processors

        Over the past decade, open source software has been one of the biggest catalysts in the tech world. Today, the power of open source, the freedom it enables, and the communities that it generates are gaining traction in the hardware world too. For these reasons, RISC-V is gaining huge popularity. Here is an introduction to RISC-V and the opportunities it opens.

  • Programming/Development

    • Pyenv – Python Version Management Made Easier

      You’re a programmer who wants to test your python code on multiple different Python environments. What would you do? Install a specific python version and test your code and then uninstall that version and again install another different version and test code? No, wait! It is completely unnecessary. Say hello to Pyenv , an useful utility to manage multiple Python versions, simultaneously. It made the python version management easier than ever. It is used to install, uninstall and switch to multiple different versions of Python.

    • GitHub Predicts Hottest 2018 Open Source Trends

      As the world’s largest repository of open source projects, GitHub is in a unique position to witness what developers are up to. GitHub staff recently sifted through the site’s 2017’s data in order to identify top open source trends they predict will thrive in 2018.

    • What is LLVM? The power behind Swift, Rust, Clang, and more

      New languages, and improvements on existing ones, are mushrooming throughout the develoment landscape. Mozilla’s Rust, Apple’s Swift, Jetbrains’s Kotlin, and many other languages provide developers with a new range of choices for speed, safety, convenience, portability, and power.

      Why now? One big reason is new tools for building languages—specifically, compilers. And chief among them is LLVM (Low-Level Virtual Machine), an open source project originally developed by Swift language creator Chris Lattner as a research project at the University of Illinois.

    • Oxidizing Fedora: Try Rust and its applications today

      In recent years, it has become increasingly important to develop software that minimizes security vulnerabilities. Memory management bugs are a common cause of these vulnerabilities. To that end, the Mozilla community has spent the last several years building the Rust language and ecosystem which focuses primarily on eliminating those bugs. And Rust is available in Fedora today, along with a few applications in Fedora 27 and higher, as seen below.

    • This Week in Rust 222

      This is a weekly summary of its progress and community. Want something mentioned? Tweet us at @ThisWeekInRust or send us a pull request. Want to get involved? We love contributions.

    • Google Summer Of Code 2018 Larger Than Ever

      Google Summer of Code gives students an opportunity to make a substantive contribution to Open Source projects with the motto “Flip bits not burgers” has recruited more mentoring organizations than ever for its 13th year.

    • The Beauty of the COBOL Programming Language

      The first thing I needed in my journey to learn COBOL was an IDE. I am a big supporter of coding in an integrated development environment (IDE). I like being able to write, test and run code all in one place. Also, I find the support features that an IDE provides, such as visual code structure analysis, code completion and inline syntax checking, allow me to program and debug efficiently.

    • Clear Linux Is The Latest Distribution Figuring Out What To Do With Python 2

      While Python 3 has been around now for a decade, most Linux distributions are still working towards moving away from Python 2 and that includes Intel’s Clear Linux distribution.

      Like with Ubuntu, Fedora, and others moving away their base packages from any Python 2 dependencies and moving them to Python 3, Clear Linux developers are working on the same. Arjan van de Ven of Intel provided an update on their Python 3 transitioning. By the end of 2018, but hopefully within the next six months, they hope to be at a point where their performance-oriented Linux distribution is “fully and only Python 3.”


  • KFC restaurants across Britain are forced to close

    KFC said it first became aware of a problem in the software around a new computer ordering and delivery system on Friday.


    The new regime is built around software developed by QSL, which is meant to ensure efficient delivery.

  • KFC chicken shortage closes outlets

    Last week, KFC switched its delivery contract to DHL, which blamed “operational issues” for the supply disruption.


    The distribution network uses software developed by the firm Quick Service Logistics (QSL).

  • Science

    • Atomic structure of ultrasound material not what anyone expected

      Lead magnesium niobate (PMN) is a prototypical “relaxor” material, used in a wide variety of applications, from ultrasound to sonar. Researchers have now used state-of-the-art microscopy techniques to see exactly how atoms are arranged in PMN – and it’s not what anyone expected.

      “This work gives us information we can use to better understand how and why PMN behaves the way it does – and possibly other relaxor materials as well,” says James LeBeau, an associate professor of materials science and engineering at North Carolina State University and corresponding author of a paper on the work.

    • The “Black Mirror” scenarios that are leading some experts to call for more secrecy on AI

      AI could reboot industries and make the economy more productive; it’s already infusing many of the products we use daily. But a new report by more than 20 researchers from the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, OpenAI, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation warns that the same technology creates new opportunities for criminals, political operatives, and oppressive governments—so much so that some AI research may need to be kept secret.

    • Tech wishes for 2018
    • 10 Breakthrough Technologies 2018

      Every year since 2001 we’ve picked what we call the 10 Breakthrough Technologies. People often ask, what exactly do you mean by “breakthrough”? It’s a reasonable question—some of our picks haven’t yet reached widespread use, while others may be on the cusp of becoming commercially available. What we’re really looking for is a technology, or perhaps even a collection of technologies, that will have a profound effect on our lives.

  • Health/Nutrition

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Daniel Ellsberg: Preventing Extermination Of Humanity By Nukes

      But he was asked to work in the plants that give materials for H-bombs, and as he said to his deputy when he decided not to do that, he said they have A-bombs. Now they’re building H-bombs, which he knew as he told me would be a thousand times more powerful than the A-bombs that triggered it. He said they’ll go right through the alphabet til they have Z-bombs they said.

    • U.S. Empire Still Incoherent After All These Years

      In the intervening 15 years, U.S. policy failures have resulted in ever-spreading violence and chaos that affect hundreds of millions of people in at least a dozen countries. The U.S. has utterly failed to bring any of its neo-imperial wars to a stable or peaceful end. And yet the U.S. imperial project sails on, seemingly blind to its consistently catastrophic results.

      Instead, U.S. civilian and military leaders shamelessly blame their victims for the violence and chaos they have unleashed on them, and endlessly repackage the same old war propaganda to justify record military budgets and threaten new wars.

      But they never hold themselves or each other accountable for their catastrophic failures or the carnage and human misery they inflict. So they have made no genuine effort to remedy any of the systemic problems, weaknesses and contradictions of U.S. imperialism that Michael Mann identified in 2003 or that other critical analysts like Noam Chomsky, Gabriel Kolko, William Blum and Richard Barnet have described for decades.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • A Defender of Assange Says She’s Fighting for All

      More than five years ago, on two different continents and only days apart, an Australian woman and an Australian man entered indefinite detention.

      For the woman, a defense lawyer at the International Criminal Court, being arrested was a relatively brief but harrowing affair, punctuated by armed men, dark rooms and aggressive interrogation. For the man, a co-founder of WikiLeaks, detention continues, though some might say voluntarily.

      The lawyer, Melinda Taylor, would go on to represent the man, Julian Assange.

      Ms. Taylor, now 42, has earned a reputation for defending the rights of individuals condemned by the court of public opinion before they have set foot inside an actual courtroom. Her clients have included Mr. Assange and Seif al-Islam el-Qaddafi, a son of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, the deposed Libyan strongman.

    • Under Attack Part Six: The Stratfor and Syria Files I

      In what has to be one of the more spectacularly craptastic court decisions in recent history, last week the UK’s Westminster Magistrates’ Court upheld an outstanding warrant for Julian Assange which stemmed from a 2010 Swedish investigation that has since been closed. Despite public outcry, two UN rulings in favor of Assange’s freedom, and the fact that it recently came to light that the UK encouraged Sweden to keep the investigation open despite the Swedish prosecutor’s desire to close it in 2012, it appears that the UK is still taking its marching orders from Washington regardless of the implications. Of course there’s no evidence (yet) showing that the US directly interfered in the court case and I could be astrosurfing better than an Intercept journalist high on a government prescription of shill-lax. But unlike Micah Lee, this story has some worthwhile evidence to back up its claim including the fact that the magistrate who denied Julian Assange his freedom and the ability to receive adequate health care last week is none other than Baroness Emma Arbuthnot, wife of Lord James Arbuthnot— the former chairman of Parliament’s Defence Select Committee.

      Journalist Randy Credico also pointed out that James Arbuthnot and his cronies acquired a massive defense contract with the UK government through a little known group called SC Strategy which is headed up by none other than the former Chief of M16, Sir John McLeod Scarlett, and the former Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, Lord Alexander Carlile. In 2015, The Guardian reported that the elusive firm’s only known client at the time was Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund which perhaps isn’t all that surprising since that the Financial Times reported last year that Qatar, via the wealth fund, bought up a piece of Heathrow airport, the Shard skyscraper, a “portion” of the Canary Wharf financial district, and Harrods department stores. Apparently Qatar also bailed out Barclays bank because the only thing more comforting than one of the largest terrorist hotspots in the world investing about forty billion euros in your country is knowing that your country’s former Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation is in bed with them.

    • What? NYT’s Haberman Compares Wikileaks Harm of Hillary Campaign to 9-11 Attacks

      Tuesday’s New York Times featured a humdrum personal profile of its own reporter, Maggie Haberman, whose only point of interest was an offensive comparison the White House reporter made between Michael Bloomberg’s 2001 run for mayor of New York City and Donald Trump’s run for president in 2016. In both cases, “an unprecedented form of terror in an election” resulted in an unlikely result. One was an Islamist terrorist attack that murdered over 3000 people; the other, some embarrassing campaign emails that may have damaged Clinton’s prospects over Trump. Same thing, really, right?

    • Congressman Says He Was Blocked From Briefing Trump on WikiLeaks

      A recent report in The Intercept says that California Rep. Dana Rohrabacher claimed to have told White House Chief of Staff John Kelly about a meeting he had last August with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. In the meeting, Rohrabacher told The Intercept, Assange provided definitive proof—to him and his traveling companion, Charles Johnson—that Russia was not the source of Democratic Party communications leaked during the 2016 presidential campaign.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Record high temperatures possible Tuesday, Wednesday

      High temperature records for Roanoke from the 1930s are very much in danger of being challenged or even toppled the next couple of days.

    • If climate change wrecks your city, can it sue Exxon?

      Last summer, Ryan Coonerty, a county supervisor in Santa Cruz, got word that the neighboring county of San Mateo was about to take a bold step in adapting to climate change. Rising seas are already eroding San Mateo’s coast, and the county will need to spend billions of dollars on new sea walls and other infrastructure to protect itself in the years to come. So in July, San Mateo, along with Marin County and the city of Imperial Beach, sued 37 fossil fuel companies, arguing that they should help pay for the damage their products cause.

  • Finance

    • Rookie’s Guide to Ethereum and Blockchain

      Blockchain is the digital and decentralized ledger that records all transactions. (See the “Blockchain Simplified” video for more information.) Every time someone buys digital coins on a decentralized exchange, sells coins, transfers coins, or buys a good or service with virtual coins, a ledger records that transaction, often in an encrypted fashion, to protect it from cybercriminals. These transactions are also recorded and processed without a third-party provider, which is usually a bank.

    • Aviation cliff-edge: How Brexit is sabotaging a British success story

      The usual civil service metaphor for Brexit is of a series of rocks. Each time you pick one up, all these horrible slimy things crawl out from under it – things you’d never have thought were remotely connected to Brexit. This is an article about the horrible slimy things under the rock named ‘aviation’.

      European aviation is fundamentally a British success story. It’s one of the best pieces of evidence for how Britain made the single market work for its services economy and helped make life better for passengers all over the continent in the process. But that success is now a hostage of Brexit. If the hard Brexiters in Cabinet get their way, Britain will turn back the clock on the last 30 years of development.

      This is how the system works. Aviation is governed by a series of treaties. The foundation text is the 1944 Chicago convention, which gave nation states sovereignty over their airspace. You can only fly to another country once you’ve signed an agreement with them. There’s no WTO option or fallback system. You either sign a treaty or you’re out in the cold.

    • Oxfam Releases Internal Report into Its Sex Scandal & Cover-Up in Haiti

      The British charity Oxfam has been hit with dozens more misconduct allegations involving a slew of countries, in the days since The Times of London revealed Oxfam tried to cover up sex crimes by senior aid workers in Haiti after the devastating 2010 earthquake. On Monday, Oxfam released its own internal report into the sex scandal, in which Oxfam senior aid workers, including the country director, hired prostitutes at Oxfam properties and then tried to cover it up. Prostitution is illegal in Haiti, but Oxfam refused to report the activity of its aid workers to Haitian police. Oxfam’s internal report also includes claims that three Oxfam staff members physically threatened a witness during the charity’s internal investigation. Haiti has threatened to expel Oxfam from the country. This is Haiti’s external cooperation minister, Aviol Fleurant.

    • ‘The Trump slump’: Remington files for bankruptcy as gun sales tumble

      For 200 years, Remington has been one of the most famous names in guns, supplying arms to soldiers in the civil war, both world wars and to generations of gun enthusiasts. Now it has met its match: the gun-friendly presidency of Donald Trump.

      After a golden era of sales under Barack Obama, America’s gun manufacturers are in trouble. Sales have tumbled, leaving the companies with too much stock on their hands and falling revenues. The crunch claimed its biggest victim this week when Remington filed for bankruptcy.

    • H&M and Others Tied to Chinese Prison Labor, But What About the U.S.?

      Peter Humphrey was jailed in Qingpu Prison just outside of Shanghai for two and a half years before he was deported from China. While he was incarcerated, the British fraud investigator – who (along with his wife, a fellow instigator) was convicted by a Shanghai court for “illegally acquiring personal information” on Chinese nationals – worked. He and his fellow prisoners were paid meager wages to make packaging parts for companies that you have heard of: H&M, international fashion chain, C&A and consumer products company, 3M.

    • Debt Collection Companies Have Hijacked the Justice System

      People who can’t afford to pay bills face arrest and jailing because of powerful money-hungry debt collectors.

      Denise Zencka, a mother of three in Indiana, had to file for bankruptcy because she couldn’t afford to repay her bills for treatment for thyroid cancer. And because she was unable to work, she had to stay with her parents in Florida while she recovered. She didn’t know that during that time, at the request of a debt collector seeking to collect outstanding medical bills, a small claims court judge had issued three warrants for her arrest. When she returned to Indiana, she was arrested by local sheriff’s deputies for the private debt she owed. Once at the jail, and being too sick to climb the stairs to the women’s section, she was held in a men’s mental health unit. Its glass walls allowed the male prisoners to watch everything she did, including using the toilet.

      As in Zencka’s case, and in thousands of other similar cases around the country, courts are issuing arrest warrants and serving as taxpayer-funded tools of the multi-billion-dollar debt collection industry.

      Debtors’ prisons were abolished by Congress in 1833. They are often thought to be a relic of the Dickensian past. In reality, private debt collectors are using the courts to get debtors arrested and to terrorize them into paying, even when a debt is in dispute or when the debtor has no ability to pay.

      Tens of thousands of arrest warrants are issued annually for people who fail to appear in court to deal with unpaid civil debt judgments. In investigating this issue for the new ACLU report, “A Pound of Flesh,” we examined more than 1,000 cases in 26 states, in which civil court judges issued arrest warrants for debtors. The debtors were often unaware that they had been sued. In many cases, they had not received notice to show up in court.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Man who says he was a Russian ‘troll’ arrested after going public

      Russian police have reportedly arrested a man who has claimed to be a worker at a so-called troll factory in St. Petersburg, Russia, hours after he gave interviews to foreign journalists and lifted the lid on a secretive organization the U.S. Department of Justice last week accused of trying to undermine the 2016 presidential election.

    • How the Washington Post Missed the Biggest Watergate Story of All

      Stephen Spielberg’s film The Post is still running in theaters, lauding the Washington Post, Katharine Graham and Ben Bradlee as fearless exposers of official secrets about government wrongdoing. But previously overlooked evidence now reveals for the first time how the Washington Post missed the most serious leak in newspaper history, and as a result history itself took a serious wrong turn. Consequently, this is a story that was also missed by Spielberg, and missed by Alan Pakula in his 1976 film about The Washington Post’s role in Watergate, All The President’s Men.

    • ‘Trump, Inc.’ Podcast: Russia, Trump and ‘Alternative Financing’

      After special counsel Robert Mueller indicted 13 Russians for an intensive, elaborate effort to interfere with the 2016 elections, President Donald Trump reacted as he has before — with bluster and bellicosity, at everyone but Russia.

      This week on “Trump, Inc.,” we’re exploring the president’s, well, persistent weirdness around Russia: Why has Trump been so quiet about Russia and its interference?

    • Billy Graham: An Old Soldier Fades Away

      Billy Graham was a preacher man equally intent on saving souls and soliciting financial support for his ministry. His success at the former is not subject to proof and his success at the latter is unrivaled. He preached to millions on every ice-free continent and led many to his chosen messiah.

      When Graham succumbed to various ailments this week at the age of 99 he left behind an organization that is said to have touched more people than any other Christian ministry in history, with property, assets and a name-brand worth hundreds of millions. The address lists of contributors alone comprise a mother lode for the Billy Graham Evangelical Association, now headed by his son and namesake, William Franklin Graham, III.

      Graham also left behind a United States government in which religion plays a far greater role than before he intruded into politics in the 1950s. The shift from secular governance to “In God We Trust” can be laid squarely at this minister’s feet.

    • Even If The Russian Troll Factory Abused Our Openness Against Us, That Doesn’t Mean We Should Close Up

      Last week, we wrote about the Mueller indictment of 13 Russians and three Russian organizations for fraud in trying to sow discord among Americans and potentially influence the election by trolling them on social media. If you haven’t read the indictment yet, I recommend doing so — or at least reading Garrett Graff’s impressive attempt at basically turning the indictment into one hell of a narrative story. The key point I raised in that article was that the efforts the Russians undertook to appear to be American shows how difficult-to-impossible it would be to demand that the various internet platforms magically block such trolling attempts in the future.

      But, there’s a larger issue here that seems worth exploring as well. Among the various attacks aimed at social media companies (mainly Facebook) it feels that many are using this as yet another excuse to demand more regulation of these platforms or to poke more holes in Section 230 of the CDA.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Vietnam’s Internet is in trouble

      The development of Vietnam’s Internet infrastructure has outpaced the government’s ability to regulate and control it. The best it can do is restrict access to certain sites. It has also deployed an army of people to closely monitor public sentiment on social media. In December, Vietnam unveiled a new, 10,000-strong military cyber unit to combat “wrong” views online, a move that was apparently modeled on the Chinese route of controlling the Internet.

    • Wired’s Big Cover Story On Facebook Gets Key Legal Point Totally Backwards, Demonstrating Why CDA 230 Is Actually Important

      That’s a pretty amazing story, which certainly could be true. After all, just a few years later there was the famous NY Times article about how companies were courting state Attorneys General to attack their competitors (which later came up again, when the MPAA — after reading that NY Times article — decided to use that strategy to go after Google). And Blumenthal had a long history as Attorney General of grandstanding about tech companies.

      But, for all the fascinating reporting in the piece, what’s troubling is that Thompson and Vogelstein get some very basic facts wrong — and, unfortunately, one of those basic facts is a core peg used to hold up the story. Specifically, the article incorrectly points to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act as being a major hindrance to Facebook improving its platform. Here’s how the law incorrectly described in a longer paragraph explaining why Facebook “ignored” the “problem” of “fake news”…

    • Chinese Censorship Moves Into the American Workplace

      There is evidence to support a claim that the mission to censor criticism of China is moving into the American workplace. Hundreds of thousands of Chinese have been students in the United States, and many move into jobs for American companies after graduation. But as China acquires American companies, existing and newly hired Chinese employees may feel both emboldened and pressured to incorporate a culture of censorship into the new entity.

      Last year I gave a publicly listed American company a series of seminars on Chinese business, social, legal, and cultural norms and expectations. The audiences were primarily American-born employees, although many Chinese employees attended the sessions, as well. Some were relatively new hires; a few had been in the United States for years. The reason for the seminars? The company is being acquired by a Chinese company in an acquisition that requires CFIUS approval. (For legal reasons, the company names will be withheld here.)

    • Historians fear ‘censorship’ under Poland’s Holocaust law

      A new law in Poland that threatens those who say that Poles played any part in the Holocaust with up to three years in prison will create an atmosphere of “inner censorship” for the country’s historians, reminiscent of its communist past, critics have warned.

      Poland has been internationally condemned over the law, which some historians say attempts to whitewash broad swathes of Polish history.

    • Federal Judge Bars California’s Actor-Age Censorship Law

      A federal court judge has barred California’s legislation requiring that subscription entertainment database sites remove an actor’s age, if requested by the actor.

      U.S. District Court Judge Vince Chhabria issued the ruling on Tuesday. IMDb filed a lawsuit in November of 2016, attempting to invalidate AB 1687. IMDb — a subsidiary of Amazon — had contended in its suit that the law, which applies only to subscription sites such as IMDb Pro, was unconstitutional.

      The defendants are Secretary of State Xavier Becerra and SAG-AFTRA, which joined the suit as a defendant after campaigning vigorously for the law in 2016.

    • California’s IMDb Age Censorship Law Declared Unconstitutional
    • IMDb age censorship law declared unconstitutional – L.A. Biz
    • IMDb Can Still List Actors’ Ages After Court Rules California Censorship Law Unconstitutional
    • The new censorship: Flooding us with ‘phony phacts’

      Everyone knows about censorship that has been perpetuated throughout history: the USSR, the Nazis, South African Apartheid, Chairman Mao’s China, the Kim Jung family in North Korea, etc. The United States is certainly not innocent in this regard either — the early 1900s race riots, Civil Rights-era violence, the systematic extermination of native populations, and much, much more has been downplayed and sometimes completely omitted from American history.

    • Hate Speech or Censorship? Civil servants redeployed over social media comments

      The decision of one of government parastatals, to start monitoring the activities of its employees on the social media is spreading fears of censorship of the media and its practitioners.

    • Twitter Censorship Should TERRIFY Everyone
    • Tech giants should resist Russia’s iron grip of censorship
    • Germany’s Speech Laws Continue To Be A Raging Dumpster Fire Of Censorial Stupidity

      Germany’s new law, targeting hate speech and other unpleasantness online, is off to a roaring start. Instead of cleaning up the internet for German consumption, the law has been instrumental in targeting innocuous posts by politicians and taking down satirical content. The law is a bludgeon with hefty fines attached. This has forced American tech companies to be proactive, targeting innocuous content and satire before the German government comes around with its hand out.

      It took only 72 hours for the new law (Netzwerkdurchsezungsgesetz, or NetzDG) to start censoring content that didn’t violate the law. Some German officials have expressed concern, but the government as a whole seems content to let more censorship of lawful content occur before the law is given a second look. The things critics of the law said would happen have happened. And yet the law remains in full effect.

    • Sanford: Is the removal of murals sensible or censorship?

      From the 1920s through the early ’50s, most entertainment in Memphis was at the mercy of a guy named Lloyd T. Binford, the chairman of the city’s Board of Censors. Binford banned scores of movies from being shown in Memphis simply because he personally found them distasteful and even refused to allow the staging of plays featuring a racially diverse cast.

      In the 1970s, an over-jealous federal prosecutor pressed obscenity charges against the makers of X-rated films. Roughly a decade later, city leaders tried to shut down topless nightclubs with an anti-nudity ordinance that was later ruled unconstitutional.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Trump, Nunes Accidentally Undo DOJ’s Efforts To Keep Surveillance Docs Under Wraps

      The government’s antipathy towards FOIA requesters is well-documented. Our last president declared his White House to be the Openest Place on Earth. This was followed by a clampdown on FOIA responses, huge increases in withheld documents, and a war on whistleblowers. The Trump Administration has made no such promises. Good thing, too, as the uncontrollable mouth running the country would make these promises impossible to keep. We’re living in a halcyon era of unprecedented, if inadvertent, government transparency. Whatever multitudinous leakers won’t provide, the president will hand over himself via Twitter or televised interviews.

      Late last year, Trump handed plaintiffs in two FOIA lawsuits a gift when he undercut an FBI Glomar response (“neither confirm nor deny”) by confirming FBI investigations (and FISA court involvement) in domestic surveillance. Trump has done it again, thanks to approving the release of the Nunes memo. Again, FOIA requesters seeking information about FBI domestic surveillance have been handed a gift by the Commander in Chief, as Politico reports.

    • The Car of the Future Will Sell Your Data

      Picture this: You’re driving home from work, contemplating what to make for dinner, and as you idle at a red light near your neighborhood pizzeria, an ad offering $5 off a pepperoni pie pops up on your dashboard screen.

      Are you annoyed that your car’s trying to sell you something, or pleasantly persuaded? Telenav Inc., a company developing in-car advertising software, is betting you won’t mind much. Car companies—looking to earn some extra money—hope so, too.

    • German Court Says Facebook’s Real Names Policy Violates Users’ Privacy

      With more and more people attacking online trolls, one common refrain is that we should do away with anonymity online. There’s this false belief that forcing everyone to use their “real name” online will somehow stop trolling and create better behavior. Of course, at the very same time, lots of people seem to be blaming online social media platforms for nefarious activity and trollish activity including “fake news.” And Facebook is a prime target — which is a bit ironic, given that Facebook already has a “real names” policy. On Facebook you’re not allowed to use a pseudonym, but are expected to use your real name. And yet, trolling still takes place. Indeed, as we’ve written for the better part of a decade, the focus on attacking anonymity online is misplaced. We think that platforms like Facebook and Google that use a real names policy are making a mistake, because enabling anonymous or pseudononymous speech is quite important in enabling people to speak freely on a variety of subjects. Separately, as studies have shown, forcing people to use real names doesn’t stop anti-social behavior.

      All that is background for an interesting, and possibly surprising, ruling in a local German court, finding that Facebook’s real names policy violates local data protection rules. I can’t read the original ruling since my understanding of German is quite limited — but it appears to have found that requiring real names is “a covert way” of obtaining someone’s name which raises questions for privacy and data protection. The case was brought by VZBZ, which is the Federation of German Consumer Organizations. Facebook says it will appeal the ruling, so it’s hardly final.

    • Also, Android P Won’t Let Malicious Apps Secretly Record Audio On Your Phone

      Just yesterday we heard about an Android 9.0 feature that would prevent idle background apps from accessing the camera. The move could prevent unauthorized use of the device’s camera to record video clips of the user’s environment.

    • Ubisoft Perma-Bans Creator Of Cool, Non-Cheating Tool For ‘The Division’ Because It Was Made With Cheating Software

      There are lots of ways companies can deal with those who cheat in online video games. We have seen developers and publishers sue those who cheat, we have seen national governments criminalize this kind of cheating, and we even got to see Rockstar’s attempt to force cheaters to only play with other cheaters. While these sorts of efforts vary wildly, the common response from game publishers is to be entirely too ham-fisted in keeping cheaters out of online games. This results in all sorts of problems, ranging from punishing players who weren’t actually cheating to creating all kinds of collateral damage.

    • Facebook ‘Security’: A New VPN That’s Spyware And Two-Factor Authentication That Spams You

      Facebook’s definition of protection isn’t quite up to snuff. Last week, some Facebook users began seeing a new option in their settings simply labeled “Protect.” Clicking on that link in the company’s navigation bar will redirect Facebook users to the “Onavo Protect – VPN Security” app’s listing on the App Store. There, they’re informed that “Onavo Protect helps keep you and your data safe when you browse and share information on the web.” You’re also informed that the “app helps keep your details secure when you login to websites or enter personal information such as bank accounts and credit card numbers.”
      [source: imgur.com]

    • Nunes Demands Copies Of FISA Docs About Steele Dossier Warrants; Court Suggests Taking It Up With The FBI

      Having already released the memo purportedly showing surveillance abuses committed by the FBI, the legislators behind the release are now getting around to asking for documents to back up the memo’s assertions. Bob Goodlatte and Devin Nunes have both asked the FISA court for the paperwork they probably should have looked at before writing and releasing the memo.

      Nunes has asked for “transcripts of relevant FISC hearings” related to the FISA warrants predicated largely on assertions made in Steele dossier. Goodlatte has asked applications and orders for the same warrants. The FISA court has replied with two letters stating basically the same thing: thanks for the weird (and inappropriate) question, but maybe take this up the FBI.

    • Lawyers for accused NSA leaker asking for some evidence to be thrown out

      One of Winner’s lawyers tells NewsChannel 6 there will be a hearing on February 27th.

      During that hearing, her lawyers are expected to question one of the FBI investigators who worked the case when Winner was arrested.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • The Malicious Use of Artificial Intelligence: Forecasting, Prevention, and Mitigation

      In the coming decades, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning technologies are going to transform many aspects of our world. Much of this change will be positive; the potential for benefits in areas as diverse as health, transportation and urban planning, art, science, and cross-cultural understanding are enormous. We’ve already seen things go horribly wrong with simple machine learning systems; but increasingly sophisticated AI will usher in a world that is strange and different from the one we’re used to, and there are serious risks if this technology is used for the wrong ends.

      Today EFF is co-releasing a report with a number of academic and civil society organizations1 on the risks from malicious uses of AI and the steps that should be taken to mitigate them in advance.

    • Video: This Obscure Plea Deal Offers Freedom to the Wrongfully Convicted at a Huge Cost

      In 1987, police detectives — who’d later be made famous by David Simon, creator of “The Wire” — used flimsy evidence to pin a burglary, rape and murder case on James Thompson and James Owens. They were both sentenced to life in prison. Then, 20 years later, DNA evidence cleared them of the rape and unraveled the state’s theory of the crime. But instead of exonerating the two men, prosecutors pushed them to plead guilty to the crime in exchange for immediate freedom.

    • Court Sends Cop Back To Prison For Bogus ‘Contempt Of Cop’ Arrest

      It shouldn’t take an appeals court to reach this conclusion, but that’s the route taken most frequently by people challenging their convictions. Former sheriff’s deputy Matthew Corder doesn’t want to serve time after being convicted of depriving Derek Baize of his constitutional rights, and so we’ve ended up at the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. (h/t Sixth Circuit Blog)

      This all stems from a “contempt of cop” incident. Baize returned home one night to find Deputy Corder parked in his parking spot in front of his home. Baize asked what was going on, only to be told to “mind his own business.” Baize then asked the deputy to move his car so Baize could park in front of his house. The deputy said he’d move his car “when he was ready.”

      Nonplussed by the behavior of this supposed public servant, Baize told the deputy to “fuck off.” Deputy Corder asked for clarification. Baize responded: “I did not stutter. I said ‘fuck off.’” Baize then walked into his house. Corder claimed he yelled for Baize to stop. Baize said he didn’t hear this. It really doesn’t matter. Citizens are under no legal obligation to engage in conversations with law enforcement officers. The deputy’s testimony indicates Baize wasn’t committing any crime nor was he wanted for a suspected criminal act when he walked away from the yelling deputy.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Why Decentralization Matters

      The good news is that billions of people got access to amazing technologies, many of which were free to use. The bad news is that it became much harder for startups, creators, and other groups to grow their internet presence without worrying about centralized platforms changing the rules on them, taking away their audiences and profits. This in turn stifled innovation, making the internet less interesting and dynamic. Centralization has also created broader societal tensions, which we see in the debates over subjects like fake news, state sponsored bots, “no platforming” of users, EU privacy laws, and algorithmic biases. These debates will only intensify in the coming years.


      We saw the value of decentralized systems in the first era of the internet. Hopefully we’ll get to see it again in the next.

    • The Great Puri.sm Outage of 2018

      We contacted the specialist first thing in the morning, and he had no idea why the domain was suspended; he said he would contact the .sm registry but with one complication: the San Marino .sm registry office was now closed so it might take until the next day for them to respond to the email! Because their office was closed, he said all he could do is put the ticket in the queue of the team on the next support shift—that’s right, the same team out of Ireland we originally contacted. Because their office hours mirrored the San Marino office hours, he assured us they would get to it first thing in the morning their time.

    • FCC reversal of net neutrality rules expected to be published Thursday: sources

      The U.S. Federal Communications Commission is expected to publish on Thursday its December order overturning the landmark Obama-era net neutrality rules, two sources briefed on the matter said Tuesday.

      The formal publication in the Federal Register, a government website, means state attorneys general and advocacy groups will be able to sue in a bid to block the order from taking effect.

      The Republican-led FCC in December voted 3-2 to overturn rules barring service providers from blocking, slowing access to or charging more for certain content. The White House Office of Management and Budget still must sign off on some aspects of the FCC reversal before it takes legal effect.

    • More Than Half Of U.S. States Now Pushing Their Own Net Neutrality Rules

      Large ISP lobbyists, the FCC and agency head Ajit Pai are going to be rather busy for the foreseeable future. In the wake of the agency’s extremely unpopular net neutrality repeal, consumer groups note that 26 states (27 including a new effort in Kansas) have now taken action to protect net neutrality themselves — with more efforts on the way. The efforts range from attempts to pass state-level net neutrality rules banning anti-competitive behavior, to executive orders modifying state procurement rules to prohibit ISPs that violate net neutrality from getting state money or securing state contracts.

  • DRM

    • When the Copyright Office Meets, the Future Needs a Seat at the Table

      Every three years, EFF’s lawyers spend weeks huddling in their offices, composing carefully worded pleas we hope will persuade the Copyright Office and the Librarian of Congress to grant Americans a modest, temporary permission to use our own property in ways that are already legal.

      Yeah, we think that’s weird, too. But it’s been than way ever since 1998, when Congress passed the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, whose Section 1201 established a ban on tampering with “access controls for copyrighted works” (also known as “Digital Rights Management” or “DRM”). It doesn’t matter if you want to do something absolutely legitimate, something that there is no law against — if you have to bypass DRM to do it, it’s not allowed.

      What’s more, if someone wants to provide you with a tool to get around the DRM, they could face up to five years in prison and a $500,000 fine, for a first offense, even if the tool is only ever used to accomplish legal, legitimate ends.

    • Pirates Crack the First Windows 10 UWP Game

      One of the reasons Microsoft is pushing so aggressively for developers to bring their apps and games to the Microsoft Store on Windows 10 is that with the UWP approach, they can target more than one platform at the same time, including PCs, mobile phones, tablets, Xbox, and HoloLens.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Data on the first year of the Defend Trade Secrets Act

      In preparing for the Evil Twin Debate on the DTSA, David Levine (Elon) and Chris Seaman (Washington & Lee) were kind enough to share a draft of their empirical study of cases arising under the first year of the Defend Trade Secrets Act. Now that the article is forthcoming in Wake Forest Law Review and on SSRN, it only makes sense to share their latest draft.

    • Copyrights

      • Crazy new Swedish bill makes sharing music and TV as bad a “crime” as manslaughter (yes, really)

        A new bill has been tabled in Sweden that triples the maximum prison sentence for infringement of the copyright monopoly, such as using ordinary BitTorrent, to a maximum of six years in prison.

        Typical imprisonment time for crimes varies across the world, so talking in terms of prison years becomes apples and oranges. In order to understand the perceived severity of a crime, and the harm this bill does to society, we need to compare it to another crime in the same jurisdiction.

        And in this particular jurisdiction, the maximum penalty for copyright infringement becomes as harsh as the maximum penalty for involuntary manslaughter, if this new crazy bill passes — which it very well might. (The maximum sentence in question is six years in prison, which is a light sentence by US standards, but among the harshest in Europe and the Nordics.)

      • Did Congress Really Expect Us to Whittle Our Own Personal Jailbreaking Tools?

        In 1998, Congress passed the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), and profoundly changed the relationship of Americans to their property.

        Section 1201 of the DMCA bans the bypassing of “access controls” for copyrighted works. Originally, this meant that even though you owned your DVD player, and even though it was legal to bring DVDs home with you from your European holidays, you weren’t allowed to change your DVD player so that it would play those out-of-region DVDs. DVDs were copyrighted works, the region-checking code was an access control, and so even though you owned the DVD, and you owned the DVD player, and even though you were allowed to watch the disc, you weren’t allowed to modify your DVD player to play your DVD (which you were allowed to watch).

        Experts were really worried about this: law professors, technologists and security experts saw that soon we’d have software—that is, copyrighted works—in all kinds of devices, from cars to printer cartridges to voting machines to medical implants to thermostats. If Congress banned tinkering with the software in the things you owned, it would tempt companies to use that software to create “private laws” that took away your rights to use your property in the way you saw fit. For example, it’s legal to use third party ink in your HP printer, but once HP changed its printers to reject third-party ink, they could argue that anything you did to change them back was a violation of the DMCA.


Links 20/2/2018: Mesa 17.3.5, Qt 5.11 Alpha, Absolute 15.0 Beta 4, Sailfish OS 2.1.4 E.A., SuiteCRM 7.10

Posted in News Roundup at 1:48 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • Open source intelligent solutions to transform work, businesses

    New trends are opening up new opportunities and new ways to deal with IT, according to Thomas di Giacomo, SUSE CTO, speaking at the SUSE executive roundtable, which the open source company hosted in partnership with ITWeb last week.

    There are many new and innovative technologies that can help IT leaders meet these new demands, he added. Open source based technologies have become the driving force behind most of the technologically disruptive innovations, said Di Giacomo.

    “It is pretty clear that all the new innovation is coming from open source.

    “For example, open source progress with Linux and virtualisation a couple of decades ago, cloud in the last 10 years, and more recently, containers for applications, software-defined infrastructure, and platform-as-a-service, empowering DevOps principles.”

    However, these trends also present some new challenges, said Di Giacomo. Compared to a couple of decades ago, the number of open source projects today has skyrocketed – from hundreds in the different foundations like the Linux Foundation, Apache, Eclipse and others, to millions of projects on Github.

  • Choosing project names: 4 key considerations

    Working on a new open source project, you’re focused on the code—getting that great new idea released so you can share it with the world. And you’ll want to attract new contributors, so you need a terrific name for your project.

    We’ve all read guides for creating names, but how do you go about choosing the right one? Keeping that cool science fiction reference you’re using internally might feel fun, but it won’t mean much to new users you’re trying to attract. A better approach is to choose a name that’s memorable to new users and developers searching for your project.

    Names set expectations. Your project’s name should showcase its functionality in the ecosystem and explain to users what your story is. In the crowded open source software world, it’s important not to get entangled with other projects out there. Taking a little extra time now, before sending out that big announcement, will pay off later.

  • Events

    • FOSDEM 2018 Community DevRoom Recap: Simon Phipps & Rich Sands

      It’s been a few weeks now since FOSDEM and if you didn’t have a chance to attend or watch the livestream of the FOSDEM 2018 Community DevRoom, Leslie my co-chair, and I are doing a round up summary on posts on each of the talks to bring you the video and the highlights of each presentation. You can read the preview post of Rich Sands and Simon Phipps pre FOSDEM blog post here.

    • Scheduling Voxxed Days Zurich 2018 with OptaPlanner

      My name is Mario Fusco and I’m honored to be the Program Committee Lead of Voxxed Days Zurich for the third year in a row. Reading, evaluating, discussing, and selecting from the 200+ proposals that arrive every year is a long and challenging process. I must admit, I largely underestimated the task the first year I started doing it. It’s necessary to evaluate not only the quality of every submission, but also how they fit together. In the end, the worst part is having to reject so many incredible proposals because there are a limited number of slots.

      However, once all the talks have been selected and all the approval and rejection emails have been sent, the process is still not complete. Now it is time to take all the accepted talks and schedule the actual program. Even for a moderate sized event like Voxxed Days Zurich (the conference lasts only one day and we have four parallel tracks), this is not a trivial task. There are many constraints and nice-to-haves that you may need to consider. For example, some speakers will arrive late in the morning or will have to leave early in the afternoon. Some talks require different room capacities. Two talks belonging to the same track must not be scheduled at the same time. There are many more variables to this process.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • 20 Big Ideas to Connect the Unconnected

        Last year, the National Science Foundation (NSF) and Mozilla announced the Wireless Innovation for a Networked Society (WINS) challenges: $2 million in prizes for big ideas to connect the unconnected across the U.S.

        Today, we’re announcing our first set of winners: 20 bright ideas from Detroit, Cleveland, Albuquerque, New York City, and beyond. The winners are building mesh networks, solar-powered Wi-Fi, and network infrastructure that fits inside a single backpack. Winning projects were developed by veteran researchers, enterprising college students, and everyone in-between.

        What do all these projects have in common? They’re affordable, scalable, open-source, and secure.

  • Databases

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

  • CRM

    • How startups and SME’s can leverage open source CRM to increase business

      Prominent Open Source CRM in India:

      – SugarCRM
      Founded in 2004, Sugar CRM has over 7,000 customers and more than half a million users worldwide. Easily one of the largest open sources CRM in the world, SugarCRM offers versatile functionalities including sales-force automation, marketing campaigns, customer support, collaboration, Mobile CRM, Social CRM and reporting. While SugarCRM has released no open source editions since early 2014, its earlier community versions continued to inspire other open source software, namely Suite CRM, Vtiger CRM and SarvCRM.

      – SuiteCRM
      Suite CRM is a popular fork of SugarCRM and was launched as the latest version of the SugarCRM in October 2013. In a short period of its existence, it has won several awards and has been adopted by reputed clientele, including the Govt. of UK’s National Health Scheme (NHS) program. Suite CRM is an enterprise-class open source alternative to proprietary alternatives and offers a series of extension for both free and paid-for enhancements. Prominent additional modules available with SuiteCRM include Teams security, Google Maps, Outlook Plugin, Products, Contracts, Invoices, PDF Templates, workflow, reporting and Responsive Theme.

    • SuiteCRM 7.10 released

      SalesAgility, the creators and maintainers of SuiteCRM, are excited to announce a new major release of the world’s most popular open source CRM – SuiteCRM 7.10, including highly anticipated new features and many enhancements.

      SuiteCRM is a fully featured, highly flexible, open source CRM, which can be installed on-premise or in the cloud, and allows companies and organisations to have full control over their own customer data. It delivers actionable insights into customers, boosts conversions, helps increase sales, bolsters customer care and streamlines business operations. The CRM is as powerful as Salesforce and Dynamics, but with the unique benefit of being completely open source.

    • SuiteCRM 7.10 released

      SuiteCRM is a fork of the formerly open-source SugarCRM customer relationship management system.

    • SuiteCRM 7.10 Released For Open-Source Customer Relationship Management

      SuiteCRM 7.10 is now available as the latest major feature release to this customer relationship management (CRM) software forked from SugarCRM’s last open-source release.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)


  • Licensing/Legal

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Access/Content

      • A new Maryland bill would allow students to buy textbooks tax-free twice a year [Ed: This is a reaction to open-source (Open Access) books and maybe an attempt to extinguish such state-level initiatives]

        University of Maryland student Kayla Little has wanted to be a doctor since she was 11 years old — but a nationwide rise in textbook prices has proved to be an obstacle to her success.

        “I’ve wanted to go into medicine for the longest [time], and I really don’t want to give that up for books,” said Little, who hopes to go to medical school and become an orthopedic surgeon for a professional sports team.

      • How the Grateful Dead were a precursor to Creative Commons licensing

        From its founding in 1965, the Grateful Dead was always an unusual band. Rising amidst the counterculture movement in the San Francisco Bay Area, the Grateful Dead’s music had roots in multiple styles and genres but did not lend itself to easy categorization. Was it psychedelic? Folk? Blues? Country? Yes, it was all of these and more. The band frequently performed well-known public domain songs, but they made the songs their own.

        Members of the band could effortlessly play across traditional and diverse styles. At concerts, they often performed songs that sounded familiar at first but grew and evolved across styles and genres. Songs often turned into lengthy jam sessions in which musicians played off one another, discovering new musical motifs and expanding them together.

  • Programming/Development

    • Rust things I miss in C

      Librsvg feels like it is reaching a tipping point, where suddenly it seems like it would be easier to just port some major parts from C to Rust than to just add accessors for them. Also, more and more of the meat of the library is in Rust now.

      I’m switching back and forth a lot between C and Rust these days, and C feels very, very primitive these days.

    • Learning to program is getting harder

      I have written several books that use Python to explain topics like Bayesian Statistics and Digital Signal Processing. Along with the books, I provide code that readers can download from GitHub. In order to work with this code, readers have to know some Python, but that’s not enough. They also need a computer with Python and its supporting libraries, they have to know how to download code from GitHub, and then they have to know how to run the code they downloaded.

      And that’s where a lot of readers get into trouble.


  • “Just an Ass-Backward Tech Company”: How Twitter Lost the Internet War

    Del Harvey, Twitter’s resident troll hunter, has a fitting, if unusual, backstory for somebody in charge of policing one of the Internet’s most ungovernable platforms. As a teenager, she spent a summer as a lifeguard at a state mental institution; at 21, she began volunteering for Perverted Justice, a vigilante group that lures pedophiles into online chat rooms and exposes their identities. When the group partnered with NBC in 2004 to launch To Catch a Predator, Harvey posed as a child to help put pedophiles in jail. In 2008, she joined Twitter, then a small status-updating service whose 140-character quirk was based on the amount of alphanumerics that could be contained on a flip-phone screen. She was employee No. 25, and her job was to combat spam accounts.

  • Science

    • Why even a moth’s brain is smarter than an AI

      These differences probably account for why machine-learning systems lag so far behind natural ones in some aspects of performance. Insects, for example, can recognize odors after just a handful of exposures. Machines, on the other hand, need huge training data sets to learn. Computer scientists hope that understanding more about natural forms of learning will help them close the gap.

      Enter Charles Delahunt and colleagues at the University of Washington in Seattle, who have created an artificial neural network that mimics the structure and behavior of the olfactory learning system in Manduca sexta moths. They say their system provides some important insights into the way natural networks learn, with potential implications for machines.

    • Can’t get new lungs? Try refurbished ones instead.

      Harald Ott, a surgeon at Harvard Medical School, thinks that his lab’s unusual methods might someday solve the organ- transplant crisis. On average, 20 people in the United States die every day awaiting donor organs for transplant, according to the American Transplant Foundation. If Ott’s idea works, it could one day eliminate the need for an organ waiting list.

    • Computers aid discovery of new, inexpensive material to make LEDs with high color quality

      A team led by engineers at the University of California San Diego has used data mining and computational tools to discover a new phosphor material for white LEDs that is inexpensive and easy to make. Researchers built prototype white LED light bulbs using the new phosphor. The prototypes exhibited better color quality than many commercial LEDs currently on the market.

    • Pattern formation—the paradoxical role of turbulence

      The formation of self-organizing molecular patterns in cells is a critical component of many biological processes. Researchers from Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) in Munich have proposed a new theory to explain how such patterns emerge in complex natural systems.

      Many biological processes are crucially dependent on the formation of ordered distributions of specific molecules within cells. These patterns are self-organizing structures that evolve in a predictable fashion in time and space. Perhaps the best known example of intracellular protein patterning is the molecular machinery that orchestrates the regular segregation of complete chromosome sets to the two daughter cells during cell division.

    • Ocean array alters view of Atlantic ‘conveyor belt’

      Oceanographers have put a stethoscope on the coursing circulatory system of the Atlantic Ocean, and they have found a skittish pulse that’s surprisingly strong in the waters east of Greenland—data that should improve climate models.

      The powerful currents in the Atlantic, formally known as the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC), are a major engine in Earth’s climate. The AMOC’s shallower limbs—which include the Gulf Stream—transport warm water from the tropics northward, warming Western Europe. In the north, the waters cool and sink, forming deeper limbs that transport the cold water back south—and sequester anthropogenic carbon in the process. This overturning is why the AMOC is sometimes called the Atlantic conveyor belt.

  • Hardware

    • Qualcomm raises bid for NXP to about $43.22B

      Qualcomm is raising its takeover bid for NXP Semiconductors by nearly 16 percent to about $43.22 billion, citing in part NXP’s strong results since the companies first announced their merger in October 2016.

      The move announced Tuesday comes as Qualcomm itself is in the crosshairs of Broadcom Ltd., which earlier this month raised its own cash and stock bid for Qualcomm to $121 billion.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Woman billed $17,850 for dodgy pee test. Alarmed experts say she’s not alone

      In 2015, a college student in Texas named Elizabeth Moreno had back surgery to correct a painful spinal abnormality. The procedure was a success, and her surgeon followed it with just a short-term prescription for the opioid painkiller hydrocodone to ease a speedy recovery. Then came a “routine” urine drug test, ostensibly to ensure she didn’t abuse the powerful drug.

      A year later, she got the bill for that test. It was $17,850.

    • Breakthrough as scientists grow sheep embryos containing human cells

      Growing human organs inside other animals has taken another step away from science-fiction, with researchers announcing they have grown sheep embryos containing human cells.

      Scientists say growing human organs inside animals could not only increase supply, but also offer the possibility of genetically tailoring the organs to be compatible with the immune system of the patient receiving them, by using the patient’s own cells in the procedure, removing the possibility of rejection.

  • Security

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Warning after Assange fans targeted MP for retweets by Wikileaks

      POLITICIANS have been urged to show more caution on social media after evidence emerged that Wikileaks supporters were encouraged to use an SNP MP to spread their message on Twitter.

      Followers of Julian Assange were told to try and persuade Paul Monaghan to retweet content as part of a wider campaign to use parliamentarians to amplify their views.

    • Denis’s Dreaming: Julian Assange And His Doppelganger

      The ubiquitous US empire, I realized, had become an omnipresent force capable of vacuuming up and silencing all who dared question the activities of a system promulgating political chicanery… and it doesn’t approve of unauthorized disclosure, as the Julian Assange case demonstrates. Particularly as the covert activities of the ever-expanding American Empire – criminal by any measure – have become ever more rabid and rancid in its’ quest for full spectrum dominance.

      Fat chance that the masters of the universe would give a fig about the UN vote – pigs might fly I thought – recalling that the UN findings reflected the injustice of a system that hounded a man whose only crime was speaking truth to power. As I exited Hans Crescent, I felt queasy upon realising that it’s the ‘poodles’ – in this case the British variety – who sustain the status quo. When I arrived at my office I felt somewhat dejected, and closing the door on the outside world, sat myself down at my desk and said aloud to nobody in particular, “compliance is the flip side of expediency”.

      As morning turned to afternoon, I continued to reflect on the life of Julian Assange. Here was a man who was in possession of 250,000 diplomatic cables which shone an uncomfortable spotlight on US foreign policy. He published material documenting extrajudicial killings in Kenya, a report on toxic waste dumping on the Ivory Coast and Guantanamo Bay detention camp procedures and material involving large banks such as Kaupthing and Julies Baer. He also revealed the ugly truth of crimes committed by US forces in Iraq and the West’s role in the destabilization of Ukraine in 2014 plus the destruction of Libya, etc, etc, etc, etc.

    • Alleged Trump-Assange Backchannel: ‘There Was No Backchannel’

      One of the most curious episodes of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election is also one of its most intriguing: Did Roger Stone—the eccentric informal Trump adviser—have backchannel communications with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange?

    • How Trump took advantage of Russian interference: Amplifying Wikileaks
    • Razer: journalism is not a crime! Except, you know, when WikiLeaks does it.

      I know you guys remember the detention of journalist Peter Greste, held with Al Jazeera colleagues Baher Mohamed and Mohamed Fahm in Cairo from December 2013. I remember, but perhaps not as well as you. I didn’t know the guy’s name before he was arrested charges of spreading “false news”. This was my fault, and not that of the Australian who had offered the Anglophone world an understanding of a coup that powers in the West would not call a coup. I was dumped that year, so any affairs more foreign than the one the ex was enjoying in Balwyn North were of limited concern.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Alaska’s Bering Sea Lost a Third of Its Ice in Just 8 Days

      In just eight days in mid-February, nearly a third of the sea ice covering the Bering Sea off Alaska’s west coast disappeared. That kind of ice loss and the changing climate as the planet warms is affecting the lives of the people who live along the coast.

      At a time when the sea ice should be growing toward its maximum extent for the year, it’s shrinking instead—the area of the Bering Sea covered by ice is now 60 percent below its average from 1981-2010.

      “[Bering sea ice] is in a league by itself at this point,” said Richard Thoman, the climate science and services manager for the National Weather Service Alaska region. “And looking at the weather over the next week, this value isn’t going to go up significantly. It’s going to go down.”

    • China’s polar ambitions cause anxiety

      Chinese tourists going abroad must be used to it by now – the lists of dos and don’ts to prevent them from tarnishing their country’s image.

      “Do not spit phlegm or gum” and “don’t take a long time using public toilets” are just two of the exhortations in a 2013 pamphlet from the National Tourism Administration.

    • The carbon-capture era may finally be starting

      The budget bill that President Donald Trump signed into law earlier this month provides a huge incentive for capturing and storing carbon emissions.

      Energy researchers who have crunched the numbers in the days since have concluded that on many projects the boosted tax credit could finally tip the scales for a technology that’s long proved far too expensive.

  • Finance

    • Working remotely, 4 years in

      It worked out. It obviously hasn’t always been 100% perfect in every way, but working remotely has been a great career move for me. I’ve learned a ton from my coworkers and have been able to do some really cool projects that I’m proud of. So here are some thoughts about what I think has made it work for me.

    • “Blockchain” Stocks Completely Disintegrate

      I’ve never seen a sector skyrocket and totally collapse this fast – in four months – as these newfangled “blockchain stocks.” Now they’re surrounded by debris and revelations of scams. These fly-by-night or near-failure outfits used the hype of “blockchain” and the whole media razzmatazz about cryptocurrencies to manipulate up their stocks, sometimes by several thousand percent in a matter of days.

    • Sears brand name deteriorates in value as sales suffer

      If Sears fails to execute a turnaround and ends up in bankruptcy, the company’s storied brand name could yet live on.

      But as the company slowly descends deeper and deeper into red ink, the value of the company’s brand is also suffering.


      The nearly half-a-billion-dollar writedown underscores the severity of the company’s financial crisis. Although President Trump’s tax cut likely carried the Sears to a fourth-quarter profit, that was a one-time benefit that won’t solve the company’s ongoing issues.

    • Trump administration recommends steep tariffs on steel and aluminum

      The Commerce Department is recommending steep tariffs on foreign steel and aluminum.

      The suggested tariffs, offered by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in the name of national security, are the latest indication that President Trump’s trade talk is turning from bark to bite. They also raise the risk of a trade war with China and other nations.

      Ross suggested three options for Trump — impose across-the-board tariffs on steel and aluminum, target select countries with even higher tariffs, or limit the total steel and aluminum coming into the United States.

    • Trump Contemplates Sanctions Against USA

      Think of it. If you slap on a tariff and importation instantly slows, it may take years to build new factories to take up the slack. Essentially, USA will be sanctioning itself. The tariffs won’t hurt China in the least. The world is hungry for its products and if USA ships fewer products made of aluminium and steel, China’s markets increase. So be it. USA, you reap what you sow. Trump adds this to the long list of stupid/crazy things he says and does.

    • Sorry, Brendan O’Neill, but we won’t be no-platformed on Brexit

      If you read Brendan O’Neill’s Coffee House article on Our Future, Our Choice! OFOC! – the campaign group of which I am co-president – you are left with the impression that we are a bunch of young fascists seeking a teenocracy. Brendan seems to believe that Britain’s youth see themselves as Nietzsche’s young warriors, and want to push out the ‘old men’. The ‘cult of youth’ wants to round up the walking-stick brigade, the village church congregations, the ageing Brexiteer army and send them where they belong: ‘peaceful’ correction camps.

      This is ludicrous. I wholeheartedly believe in ‘one person, one vote’. It goes without saying that we at OFOC! do not want to ‘dehumanise the old’. The concerns of the young should not override the concerns of the old. We all have an equal say. Brendan mistakenly assumes that we are making some grand philosophical point; that we are busy devising a voting system which would give a full vote to a healthy eighteen-year-old, and 0.4 of a vote to an 88-year-old on their deathbed. We are not. We are making a pragmatic argument rather than a philosophical one. Brexit is a national project which will take at least over half a decade to complete. In that time, according to demographic shifts alone, it will have lost its mandate. The British people will then clearly be inheriting a national project a majority didn’t ask for, and would rather not have.

    • Alibaba, Tencent rally troops amid $10 billion retail battle

      China’s tech giants Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (BABA.N) and Tencent Holdings Ltd (0700.HK), worth a combined $1 trillion, are on a retail investment binge, forcing merchants to choose sides amid a battle for shoppers’ digital wallets.

      Since the start of last year, the two companies have between them spent more than $10 billion on retail-focused deals, boosting their reach online and in brick-and-mortar stores.

    • Mutually Assured Contempt at 2018 Munich Security Conference

      Last year the biggest name in Munich was Chinese President Xi, who did not disappoint and stole the show by his robust defense of free trade, global cooperation to combat climate change and other leading issues of the day from which Donald Trump’s America seemed to be retreating. This year there was no one leader who commanded the attention of the audience and media. What special meaning the gathering had could be found in the Report of the organizers, which highlights the issues and guided the discussion in the various sessions over three days.

    • Irish Border issue is a legitimate threat to the Brexit talks

      One senior EU official is very pessimistic. The impasse over legally copperfastening the UK’s no-hard-Border commitment could shortly, single-handedly, bring the Brexit talks process to a crashing halt, the source warns.
      Could the Border issue be the rock on which the negotiations founder, propelling the UK into a no-deal departure?
      It’s an apocalyptic view not universally shared in Brussels but, as my colleague Pat Leahy reported recently, Dublin is also increasingly gloomy. “The Government fears that patience with the UK is running out in EU capitals.”
      It expects difficulties translating December’s guarantees on the Border into a legally binding agreement.

    • The bitcoin patent – only a matter of time?

      Given that no person (or group) has credibly claimed authorship of the 2008 Nakamoto paper or the bitcoin transaction method it describes, not surprisingly, no patent based on that original work has appeared.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Donald Trump and Facebook executive Rob Goldman’s tweets mislead about Russia’s election interference
    • Trump cites Facebook exec’s comments downplaying Russian ad influence on election

      Trump was citing Goldman’s own Twitter dump over the past week, responding to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s recent indictment of 13 Russian citizens charged with interfering in the presidential election.

    • Whatever Trump Is Hiding Is Hurting All of Us Now

      Our democracy is in serious danger.

      President Trump is either totally compromised by the Russians or is a towering fool, or both, but either way he has shown himself unwilling or unable to defend America against a Russian campaign to divide and undermine our democracy.

      That is, either Trump’s real estate empire has taken large amounts of money from shady oligarchs linked to the Kremlin — so much that they literally own him; or rumors are true that he engaged in sexual misbehavior while he was in Moscow running the Miss Universe contest, which Russian intelligence has on tape and he doesn’t want released; or Trump actually believes Russian President Vladimir Putin when he says he is innocent of intervening in our elections — over the explicit findings of Trump’s own C.I.A., N.S.A. and F.B.I. chiefs.

    • San Juan Mayor Calls for End to Puerto Rico’s Colonial Status Amid Slow Hurricane Maria Recovery

      Five months after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, swaths of the island still have no electricity, while food and water supplies have been slow to arrive. The Federal Emergency Management Agency, known as FEMA, has been hit by a series of scandals, after it was revealed that only a fraction of the 30 million meals slated to be sent to the island after Hurricane Maria was actually delivered. FEMA approved a $156 million contract for a one-woman company to deliver the 30 million meals. But in the end, FEMA canceled the contract after she delivered only 50,000 meals, in what FEMA called a logistical nightmare. This came after FEMA gave more than $30 million in contracts to a newly created Florida company which failed to deliver a single tarp to Puerto Rico. For more, we speak with San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz.

    • Nunes: FBI and DOJ Perps Could Be Put on Trial

      Throwing down the gauntlet on alleged abuse of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) by the Department of Justice and the FBI, House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) stated that there could be legal consequences for officials who may have misled the FISA court. “If they need to be put on trial, we will put them on trial,” he said. “The reason Congress exists is to oversee these agencies that we created.”


      This was not supposed to happen. Mrs. Clinton was a shoo-in, remember? Back when the FISA surveillance warrant of Page was obtained, just weeks before the November 2016 election, there seemed to be no need to hide tracks, because, even if these extracurricular activities were discovered, the perps would have looked forward to award certificates rather than legal problems under a Trump presidency.

      Thus, the knives will be coming out. Mostly because the mainstream media will make a major effort – together with Schiff-mates in the Democratic Party – to marginalize Nunes, those who find themselves in jeopardy can be expected to push back strongly.

    • Ignorance and Prejudice in Laura Ingraham’s Tiff With LeBron James

      Next came a clip with James saying: “The number one job in America, the appointed person, is someone who doesn’t understand the people. And really don’t give a f*** about the people.” James then continued his criticism of Trump in a discussion that aired on The Uninterrupted (a media platform founded by James).

      Ingraham clearly didn’t like James’ comments. First, she said: “Must they run their mouths like that? Unfortunately a lot of kids, and some adults, take these ignorant comments seriously.”

      She then went on to say that getting paid millions to play basketball doesn’t mean you can talk politics, and closed with a zinger inviting James and fellow NBA star Kevin Durant, also present in the video, to stick to what they do best – basketball – rather than attempt to provide political commentary: “As someone once said: shut up and dribble.”

    • Trump ‘Blatantly Backs Gerrymandering’ in Call for GOP to Fight New Pennsylvania Maps

      Shortly after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Monday issued a new congressional map that eliminates the state GOP’s partisan gerrymander, President Donald Trump implored Republicans to challenge the new district lines, arguing that the original map—which the state’s highest court said “clearly” violates the constitution—”was correct.”

    • Mueller Probe Heats Up: 13 Russians Indicted, Ex-Trump Aide to Plead Guilty, Focus on Kushner Grows

      There have been a number of significant developments in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Trump administration. CNN is reporting Mueller is now investigating Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and his attempts to secure financing for his family’s business while working on the president’s transition team. Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times is reporting former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates has agreed to plead guilty and testify against Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager. Under the deal, Gates will plead guilty to money laundering and illegal foreign lobbying. These developments come just days after the Justice Department indicted 13 Russians and three companies in connection with efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election by orchestrating an online propaganda effort to undermine the U.S. election system. We speak to Marcy Wheeler, an independent journalist who covers national security and civil liberties. She runs the website EmptyWheel.net.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • China Uses The Same Excuse As This CNN Analyst To Censor Social Media

      With fears of Russia soaring to new heights, a CNN national security analyst is employing a classic argument used by the Chinese government to support censorship, arguing that social media sites should be held accountable for the content their users…

    • The Case Against the Bell Coalition’s Website Blocking Plan, Part 6: Over-Blocking of Legitimate Websites

      As the public concern over the Bell coalition website blocking plan continues to grow (both the Canadian Press and CBC this weekend covered the thousands of interventions at the CRTC), the case against the plan resumes with a review of why it is likely that it will lead to over-blocking of legitimate websites. Last week’s post highlighted the probable expansion of the scope of piracy for blocking purposes, a theme that continues today with a look at the many incidents over-blocking of legitimate sites sparked by website blocking (other posts in the series include the state of Canadian copyright, weak evidence on the state of Canadian piracy, the limited impact of piracy, and why the absence of a court order would place Canada at odds with virtually all its allies).

    • Closing windows.. censorship of the internet in Egypt

      Egypt was not familiar with the practice of blocking websites in the past, and therefore the skill of bypassing censorship was not one of the basic skills acquired by Egyptian users during their normal use of the Internet; in contrast, in some Arab countries which have a history of blocking practices, this has resulted in their citizens acquiring skills of how to deal with internet censorship. With the increase in the number of blocked websites in Egypt, social networks were flooded with advice on how one can bypass a block and links to free services that enable users to access blocked websites such as Tor browser, VPN services, and proxy servers. Some blocked websites began to direct their audience through social networks to rely on proxy servers as a free and easy-to-use way to access the content of blocked websites, while many activists who are interested in countering internet censorship have written about how to rely on Tor browser and VPNs to bypass blocking. On the other hand, blocked websites have tried to find easy mechanisms to reach their audiences, such as relying on alternative platforms to publish their material, or relying on services such as AMP [Accelerated Mobiles Pages], one of the most important services provided by Google on which millions of websites depend.

    • Censorship is a slippery slope

      The issue at question is censorship of a book, “A Bad Boy Can Be Good for a Girl,” by Tanya Lee Stone, currently in the high school library.

    • Andy Serkis says sex scene rules would be ‘censorship’

      Andy Serkis has said new rules being proposed this week for the filming of sex scenes could stifle creativity and amount to “censorship”.

      Actors’ union Equity is set to discuss new guidance for intimate scenes on film, TV and stage following the Harvey Weinstein scandal in Hollywood.

      In the wake of the accusations against the disgraced producer, many actresses have since come forward to detail uncomfortable or unscripted sex scenes they had felt pressured into doing.

    • Sex scene rules would be ‘censorship’ star says

      Hollywood star Andy Serkis says new rules surrounding the filming of sex scenes could amount to “censorship” and stifle creativity.

      Actors’ union Equity is considering bringing in guidance for intimate scenes on stage and screen in light of the Harvey Weinstein scandal.

      The proposals, being discussed this week, could ban actors kissing with tongues and nudity in auditions.


      But speaking on the Bafta awards red carpet on Sunday night, Serkis said of the proposals: “I think that kind of censorship is censorship of creativity.

      “It should be arrived at by the director and the actors involved. They have to find a comfortable way of doing it that will tell the story, because that’s what we are all there to do.

      “It would be a shame if actors become so self-conscious about relating to people. You’re there to use your imagination, to create a role. I don’t think that you should be stopped from telling the story.”

    • The government is fighting ISIS online – but could it censor journalists?

      The government has developed new technology which can “automatically detect terrorist content” online. Propaganda by Daesh (also known as ISIS) could apparently be blocked as soon as it is uploaded.

      The software was created by private company ASI Data Science, with £600,000 of government money.

    • Instagram gives in to Russian censors

      Instagram has removed a video posted by Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny following pressure from the country’s communications regulator.

      The video shows deputy prime minister Sergei Prikhodko meeting with wealthy Russian businessman Oleg Deripaska on a yacht populated with models and escorts.

    • Shut out: outcry over censorship of Inxeba

      The unthinkable has happened. The Film and Publication Board has banned the multiaward winning film Inxeba: The Wound from being screened in mainstream cinema outlets, restricting its distribution to “designated adult premises”.

      This reclassification of Inxeba by the board’s appeal tribunal in essence means that the film can only be seen at venues where pornographic films are also screened. Therefore, the banning has reduced Inxeba to a pornographic movie. When it opened it had an age restriction of 16 years.

    • Academics Protest China’s Censorship Requests

      James Millward, a historian at Georgetown University and supporter of the petition, also sees withholding peer review as a particularly fitting way to respond to censorship.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Letter to EU Commissioners: Concern over United Kingdom’s proposed ‘immigration exemptions’ from Data Protection Bill

      We, the undersigned, write to express our concern regarding the UK Government’s incorporation of the General Data Protection Regulation into domestic law. Setting aside other areas of concern, the UK’s Data Protection Bill proposes an exemption that would remove individuals’ fundamental right to data protection if it is likely to prejudice “effective immigration control”.

      This proposed exemption (‘the immigration exemptions’) will remove the right of individuals to receive information from a subject access request: a core mechanism in any immigration dispute. Further restrictions would remove the government’s responsibility to process an individual’s data in accordance with the principles of data protection including lawful, fair and transparent processing. The exemption would allow data to be shared across UK government institutions without accountability or opportunity for recourse.

    • Why the Internet of Things is designed for corporations, not consumers

      Let me drive this home: The way that consumer goods are evolving, any implement that can be connected back to the Net will be. Think of a world where the physical location of every single item is logged and known at every single moment. Imagine what that would look like on a three-dimensional grid; it would bring an engineer to religion. A wise man once said that not a sparrow falls without God knowing it. However, in a world where the Net keeps simultaneous watch on a thousand million spinning plates, the Lord will have a peer.

    • Epic Games Uses Private Investigators to Locate Cheaters

      After hiring the services of a private investigations firm, Epic Games discovered they’d sued another minor for alleged cheating. The gaming company asked the court to keep the personal information of the kid under seal. A private investigator was also used to locate another minor defendant in a separate case, who is now risking a default judgment.

    • Google on Collision Course With Movie Biz Over Piracy & Safe Harbor

      Google and one of Australia’s leading movie companies are on a collision course over piracy. Village Roadshow’s outspoken co-chief Graham Burke has twice this month accused Google of facilitating crime and is now inviting the company to sue him. Meanwhile, Google is fighting for new safe harbor protections that Village Roadshow insists should be denied.

    • Facebook ordered to stop tracking web users in Belgium [iophk: "chump change"]

      Last week, a Belgian court ruled that it must stop tracking web users who have not given their consent for this behaviour or face fines of up to €250,000 per day for non-compliance.

    • Facebook will mail out postcards to verify US election advertisers

      This new verification system will be required for all advertising that mentions a specific candidate running for a federal office — such as the presidency. It will be implemented in time for the mid-term elections this coming November.

    • Facebook plans to use U.S. mail to verify IDs of election ad buyers

      Facebook Inc will start using postcards sent by U.S. mail later this year to verify the identities and location of people who want to purchase U.S. election-related advertising on its site, a senior company executive said on Saturday.

    • Swedish Public Healthcare Portal is sending your symptoms to Google

      We can see in the screenshot above that somebody has searched for “embarrassing symptoms”. With the Ghostery plug-in turned off, a call is made to Google Analytics (the ga.js script), to the host ssl.google-analytics.com highlighted in the screenshot above, which sends the data embarrassing symptoms in cleartext (the third highlight) as part of the Referer field.

      This happens even when you’re browsing over HTTPS/SSL, because of how bad this design is.

    • China’s mobile payment volume surges in 2017 to S$16.7 trillion by October

      Mobile payments in China totalled 81 trillion yuan (S$16.7 trillion) for the first 10 months of 2017, nearly 40 per cent more than the whole of the previous year as cashless transactions become increasingly popular in the country, official data showed.

      The 10-month figure represented a 37.8 per cent leap over the 58.8 trillion yuan recorded in 2016, according to data from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology cited by Xinhua news agency on Monday.

      China is one of the world’s leading players in mobile or e-payment, which has made it possible for Chinese to buy a pancake at roadside breakfast stalls, order food online, pay credit card bills, and manage stock accounts with just a smartphone.

    • Google files patent for robot that writes your Facebook posts, emails and tweets – but will need FULL access to scan your accounts
  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Control your phone. Don’t let it control you

      Here are some simple tips — recommended by Harris — to work around the tricks phone designers use to keep us hooked

    • Passenger in NSA incident questions police use of force

      A 24-year-old Southeast DC man who says he was the passenger in that SUV that crashed at an NSA gate last Wednesday, is questioning police use of force.


      “They was meant to kill us,” said Brown, “You know what I’m saying? This was fatal shots they were shooting. They could’ve killed him. They hit him in his head. If I didn’t grab him and throw him under the wheel, little man would’ve got killed.”

      The “him” is a 17-year-old, reportedly unlicensed driver, Brown says he put behind the wheel because he and another passenger were too tired to drive. After shots were fired, Brown says the teen was grazed in the head with what was believed to be a piece of shrapnel.

    • For Taiwanese, tests of loyalty to China bring trouble in Australian workplaces

      China’s assertiveness has set off alarms in Australia, with officials warning that Beijing has been meddling in Australian politics more than the public realises. But the experiences of Yang and Tuan – along with many others – reveal how Chinese nationalism is also affecting private enterprise and, in some cases, leading to accusations of discrimination.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • FCC Broadband Availability Data Derided As Inaccurate, ‘Shameful’

      We’ve long-noted how the government doesn’t do a very good job tracking broadband availability and pricing, in large part because incumbent ISPs like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T don’t want them to. ISPs (and the lawmakers paid to love them) whined incessantly about the last FCC’s efforts to raise the standard definition of broadband, given it only highlighted the fact that two-thirds of Americans can’t get “broadband” (25 Mbps) from more than one ISP. ISPs also fight revealing pricing data, which is why our $300 million broadband availability map doesn’t contain any price data whatsoever.

      ISPs have also routinely lobbied against efforts to improve broadband availability mapping, since more clearly highlighting competition and deployment shortcomings might result in somebody actually doing something about it. As a result, government reports on the health of the clearly-dysfunctional U.S. broadband market tend to have a decidedly unrealistic and rosy timbre, which is often worse if the regulators in question are of the revolving door variety (as we’re currently seeing under current agency boss Ajit Pai).

      And while Pai is busy insisting that he’s all about transparency, hard economics, and “closing the digital divide,” his policies repeatedly and consistently undermine those claims.

    • The Fight to Save Net Neutrality Is Heating Up

      The many bids to try to stop the FCC’s rollback of net neutrality rules are gathering momentum.

    • “What’s happening in US on net neutrality and internet freedom?”

      149 Members of the European Parliament signed a letter to the US Congress in disapproval of an action taken by independent telecom regulator the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The letter was organized by Mariete Schaake (D66/ALDE).

    • Wikipedia discontinues its “zero-rating,” will focus on research-driven outreach

      Wikimedia has since seen its zero-rated use dropping off a cliff, which has conclusively settled the argument. Wikimedia has a laudable goal: to incorporate input from all over the world, from all walks of life, into the canonical encyclopedia we all rely upon. But zero rating wasn’t doing that, so, to their eternal credit, Wikimedia is trying something different.

    • Building for the future of Wikimedia with a new approach to partnerships [iophk: "zero-rating"]

      After careful evaluation, the Wikimedia Foundation has decided to discontinue one of its partnership approaches, the Wikipedia Zero program. Wikipedia Zero was created in 2012 to address one barrier to participating in Wikipedia globally: high mobile data costs. Through the program, we partnered with mobile operators to waive mobile data fees for their customers to freely access Wikipedia on mobile devices. Over the course of this year, no additional Wikipedia Zero partnerships will be formed, and the remaining partnerships with mobile operators will expire.

      In the program’s six year tenure, we have partnered with 97 mobile carriers in 72 countries to provide access to Wikipedia to more than 800 million people free of mobile data charges. Since 2016, we have seen a significant drop off in adoption and interest in the program. This may be due, in part, to the rapidly shifting mobile industry, as well as changes in mobile data costs. At this same time, we conducted extensive research [1][2] to better understand the full spectrum of barriers to accessing and participating in Wikipedia.

    • Free ‘Wikipedia Zero’ Is Shutting Down After Serving 800 Million Users

      The non-profit organization Wikimedia Foundation has been running their project called Wikipedia Zero. Started in 2012, it aims to provide free Wikipedia access to users mostly living in developing countries by partnering with carriers in those regions.

      Wikipedia Zero was inspired by Facebook Zero project which also allowed people to access a stripped down version of Facebook for free. Such services are given a zero-rating by the carriers and using them doesn’t count on users’ data bills. The service providers already pay the operation charges.

  • DRM

    • Flight Sim Company Embeds Malware to Steal Pirates’ Passwords

      Flight sim company FlightSimLabs has found itself in trouble after installing malware onto users’ machines as an anti-piracy measure. Code embedded in its A320-X module contained a mechanism for detecting ‘pirate’ serial numbers distributed on The Pirate Bay, which then triggered a process through which the company stole usernames and passwords from users’ web browsers.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • UKIPO launches trade secrets consultation

      The UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) yesterday launched a technical consultation on the EU trade secrets directive and the draft regulations that will implement the directive into UK law.

      The directive obliges EU member states to ensure that victims of trade secret misuse are able to defend their rights in court and seek compensation. Provisions on ensuring trade secrets are kept confidential during legal proceedings are also covered.

    • Sharp and Hisense bury the patent hatchet as they move toward resolving acrimonious brand and commercial dispute

      A conflict over use of the Sharp brand name in the US market for televisions has pitted the Foxconn-owned display maker against Chinese licencee Hisense in IP and commercial lawsuits across multiple jurisdictions since last June. Now, disclosures made by Sharp in the process of withdrawing a patent infringement lawsuit and an ITC investigation suggest that the two parties have agreed to a patent truce as they move towards a broad resolution.

    • French Constitutional Court Rejects Challenge to Image Right in National Monuments

      France’s Constitutional Court has just ruled that a provision in the Code du patrimoine (Heritage Code) involving the use of images of buildings protected as national domains passes constitutional muster.

    • Trademarks

    • Copyrights

      • Decision Over Tom Brady Tweet “Threatens Millions of Ordinary Internet Users”

        A new decision from a New York federal judge could have a chilling effect on how we use the internet. This past week, Judge Katherine Forrest of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York held that Vox, Time, Yahoo, and Breitbart, among other publications, infringed another’s copyright-protected image of football star Tom Brady simply by embedding another person’s tweet that contained the image on their websites.

        According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the leading nonprofit organization defending civil liberties in the digital world, “if adopted by other courts, this legally and technically misguided decision would threaten millions of ordinary Internet users with infringement liability.”

      • Canadian Pirate Site Blocks Could Spread to VPNs, Professor Warns

        A group of prominent Canadian ISPs and movie industry companies are determined to bring pirate site blocking efforts to North America. This plan has triggered a fair amount of opposition, including cautioning analyses from law professor Michael Geist, who warns of potential overblocking and fears that VPN services could become the next target.

      • Sweden Considers Six Years in Jail For Online Pirates

        Sweden’s Minister for Justice has received recommendations as to how the country should punish online pirates. Heléne Fritzon received a proposal which would create crimes of gross infringement under both copyright and trademark law, leading to sentences of up to six years in prison. The changes would also ensure that non-physical property, such as domain names, can be seized.


Links 19/2/2018: Linux 4.16 RC2, Nintendo Switch Now Full-fledged GNU/Linux

Posted in News Roundup at 5:57 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • How Linux became my job

    I’ve been using open source since what seems like prehistoric times. Back then, there was nothing called social media. There was no Firefox, no Google Chrome (not even a Google), no Amazon, barely an internet. In fact, the hot topic of the day was the new Linux 2.0 kernel. The big technical challenges in those days? Well, the ELF format was replacing the old a.out format in binary Linux distributions, and the upgrade could be tricky on some installs of Linux.

  • Desktop

    • Google’s Octopus Is A Gemini Lake Chromebook

      While we’re still waiting on an AMD-powered Chromebook as well as for Cannonlake to materialize, it appears Google is prepping support for a Geminilake Chromebook as well.

      Gemini Lake was launched back in December and makes use of Goldmont Plus CPU cores with Gen9 (Kabylake) class graphics. The current Gemini Lake mobile parts are the Celeron N4000/N4100 and Pentium Silver N5000. The Celeron models are dual core while the Pentium Silver N5000 is quad-core, all of them have a 6 Watt TDP, 1.1GHz base frequency, and turbo frequency in the 2.4~2.7GHz range while the graphics clock up only to 650~750MHz.

    • Windows 10 Update KB4058043 Causing BSODs, Some PCs Unable to Boot

      Botched updates keep making the rounds these days, and here’s a new one that was actually released in December, but whose effects haven’t been spotted until this month.

      Windows 10 update KB4058043, which is released to systems running the Fall Creators Update, brings reliability improvements to the Microsoft Store and fixes an issue which Microsoft says could cause app update failures and unnecessary network requests.

      But as it turns out, it also brings new problems to a number of systems installing it. A post on Microsoft’s Community forums, which got pinned earlier this week – meaning that it’s really an issue that all users should be aware of, reveals that Windows 10 update KB4058043 caused BSODs on a system before eventually pushing it to an unbootable state.

    • fail0verflow turns a Nintendo Switch into a full-fledged Linux PC

      Less than two weeks after demonstrating an exploit that allows Linux to be loaded unto a Nintendo Switch game console, fail0verflow is back with a new video showing what appears to be a full-fledged GNU/Linux-based operating system running on Nintendo’s tablet.

      The video shows a Switch running the KDE Plasma desktop environment, complete with support for touchscreen input, internet connectivity, and 3D graphics.

    • Nintendo Switch now runs a Linux graphical desktop

      The Nintendo Switch has easily become the darling of gamers and, unsurprisingly, a few modders seeking to push the handheld gaming console to the limits. And, no, were not just talking about homebrew game development. A little over a week ago, hacker fail0verflow demonstrated booting up Linux on the Switch, albeit with just an image of a bootup screen. Now to address doubts and maybe even stir up more speculation, fail0verflow releases a short video clip of the Switch running a more conventional and fully graphical Linux desktop setup.

  • Server

    • Amazon Linux 2 – Who nicked my cheese?

      So far, it’s a relatively benign, easy introduction to a new operating system that blends the familiar and new in a timid package. Perhaps that’s the goal, because a radical offering would right away scare everyone. Amazon Linux 2 is an appealing concept, as it gives users what Red Hat never quite did (yet) – A Fedora-like bleeding-edge tech with the stability and long-term support of the mainstay enterprise offering. But then, it also pulls a Debian/Ubuntu stunt by breaking ABI, so it will be cubicle to those who enjoying living la vida loco (in their cubicle or open-space prison).

      Having lived and breathed the large-scale HPC world for many years, I am quite piqued to see how this will evolve. Performance, stability and ease of use will be my primary concerns. Then, is it possible to hook up a remote virtual machine into the EC2 hive? That’s another experiment, and I’d like to see if scaling and deployment works well over distributed networks. Either way, even if nothing comes out of it, Amazon Linux 2 is a nice start to a possibly great adventure. Or yet another offspring in the fragmented family we call Linux. Time will tell. Off you go. Cloud away.

    • A Life Lesson in Mishandling SMTP Sender Verification

      Whenever I encounter incredibly stupid and functionally destructive configuration errors like this I tend to believe they’re down to simple incompetence and not malice.

      But this one has me wondering. If you essentially require incoming mail to include the contents of spf.outlook.com (currently no less than 81 subnets) as valid senders for the domain, you are essentially saying that only outlook.com customers are allowed to communicate.

      If that restriction is a result of a deliberate choice rather than a simple configuration error, the problem moves out of the technical sphere and could conceivably become a legal matter, depending on what outlook.com have specified in their contracts that they are selling to their customers.

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux: To recurse or not

      Linux and recursion are on very good speaking terms. In fact, a number of Linux command recurse without ever being asked while others have to be coaxed with just the right option. When is recursion most helpful and how can you use it to make your tasks easier? Let’s run through some useful examples and see.

    • Linux 4.15.4
    • Linux 4.14.20
    • Linux 4.9.82
    • Linux 4.4.116
    • Linux 3.18.95
    • VGA_Switcheroo Is Getting Modernized With Device Link Support

      GA_Switcheroo is the Linux kernel component for dealing with MUX’ed and MUX-less hybrid graphics laptops/systems for switching between GPUs. A new patch series is working to modernize and improve VGA Switcheroo.

    • linux-4.15-ck1, MuQSS version 0.170 for linux-4.15

      Announcing a new -ck release, 4.15-ck1 with the latest version of the Multiple Queue Skiplist Scheduler, version 0.170. These are patches designed to improve system responsiveness and interactivity with specific emphasis on the desktop, but configurable for any workload.

    • Linux 4.15-ck1 Released With MuQSS 0.170

      Con Kolivas announced the release today of his patched Linux 4.15 kernel that includes the MuQSS scheduler, his successor to the BFS scheduler.

    • Linux 4.14 & 4.15 Get KPTI Protection For 64-bit ARM

      Greg Kroah-Hartman released a slew of stable point releases today to supported Linux kernel series. For the 4.14 and 4.15 branches

    • Linux 4.16-rc2

      It’s been a quiet week, and rc2 is out.

      I take the fairly quiet rc be a good sign for 4.16, but honestly, rc2
      is often fairly calm. That’s probably because people are taking a
      breather after the merge window, but also simply because it might take
      a while to find any issues.

      But let’s be optimistic, and just assume – at least for now – that
      it’s because all is well.

      The diffstat is fairly odd, but that often happens with small rc’s
      just because then just a couple of pulls will skew things easily in
      one or two directions. This time the patch is about one third
      architecture updates (arm64, x86, powerpc), one third tooling (mostly
      ‘perf’) and one third “rest”. And yes, the bulk of that rest is
      drivers (gpu, nvme, sound, misc), but those drivers are still
      distinctly *not* the bulk of the whole patch.

      Go out and test, it all looks fine.

    • Linux 4.16-rc2 Kernel Released
    • Graphics Stack

      • Nouveau Gets ARB_bindless_texture Support For Maxwell & Newer

        Back for Mesa 18.0 there was OpenGL bindless textures for Kepler GPUs on the open-source NVIDIA “Nouveau” driver while now for Mesa 18.1 that support is in place for Maxwell GPUs and newer.

        Bindless texture support is important for “AZDO” purposes for approaching zero driver overhead with OpenGL. ARB_bindless_texture reduces the API/GL driver overhead of resource bindings and allows accessing textures without needing to first bind/re-bind them.

      • Marek Working Towards Even Lower SGPR Register Usage

        Yesterday well known open-source AMD developer Marek Olšák landed his RadeonSI 32-bit pointers support for freeing up some scalar general purpose registers (SGPRs) and he’s continued with a new patch series to alleviate register usage even more.

      • Libdrm 2.4.90 Released With Meson Build System, AMDGPU & Intel Improvements

        Marek Olšák on Saturday released the big libdrm 2.4.90 DRM library update that sits between Mesa and other GPU user-space components and the kernel’s Direct Rendering Manager code.

      • Mesa Git Lands RadeonSI 32-bit Pointers Support

        At the start of the new year Marek Olšák of AMD posted a set of patches for 32-bit GPU pointers in RadeonSI. That work has now landed in mainline Mesa Git.

      • xf86-video-vesa 2.4.0

        Nothing terribly exciting, but enough bug fixes to justify a release.

      • VESA X.Org Driver Sees First Update In Three Years

        Should you find yourself using the xf86-video-vesa DDX for one reason or another, a new release is now available and it’s the first in three years.

        The xf86-video-vesa 2.4.0 X.Org driver was released this week with the handful of commits that came in since v2.3.4 was tagged three years ago, it’s been eight years already since xf86-video-vesa 2.3.0. For most users, xf86-video-vesa is just used in select fallback instances when your main DDX driver fails but even still these days KMS is pretty solid with xf86-video-modesetting, fbdev and other DDX drivers working well, etc.

  • Applications

    • Five free photo and video editing tools that could save burning a hole in your pocket and take your creativity to the next level

      GIMP stands for the Gnu Image Manipulation Program and is the first word that people usually think about when it comes to free image editors. It’s a raster graphics editor, available on multiple platforms on PC. It has a similar interface to Photoshop: you have your tools on one side, there’s an option for your tool window and then you have your layers window on another side. Perhaps one of the most useful features of GIMP is the option of plugins. There is a wide database for them and there’s a plugin for almost any task you might need to carry out.

      GIMP is extremely extensive, and it’s the choice of the FOSS community, thanks to the fact that it’s also open source. However, there are also some disadvantages. For example, GIMP has no direct RAW support yet (you have to install a plugin to enable it, which means a split workflow). It also has quite a bit of a learning curve as compared to Photoshop or Lightroom.

    • Introducing Spyder, the Scientific PYthon Development EnviRonment

      If you want to use Anaconda for science projects, one of the first things to consider is the spyder package, which is included in the basic Anaconda installation. Spyder is short for Scientific PYthon Development EnviRonment. Think of it as an IDE for scientific programming within Python.

    • SMPlayer 18.2.2 Released, Install In Ubuntu/Linux Mint Via PPA

      SMPlayer is a free media player created for Linux and Windows, it was released under GNU General Public License. Unlike other players it doesn’t require you to install codecs to play something because it carries its own all required codecs with itself. This is the first release which now support MPV and some other features such as MPRIS v2 Support, new theme, 3D stereo filter and more. It uses the award-winning MPlayer as playback engine which is capable of playing almost all known video and audio formats (avi, mkv, wmv, mp4, mpeg… see list).

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Wine or Emulation

      • Future of Wine Staging

        Some of you may have already wondered why there were no Wine Staging releases lately and whether anything has changed. There are indeed some major changes, which we want to explain in this post. Before doing so, let us take a quick look at the history of this project.

        Wine Staging originated from Pipelight, a software to use Windows browser plugins in Linux/FreeBSD web browsers. In order to support Silverlight and its DRM system PlayReady, we had to create our own Wine version as the development code did not support storing Access Control Lists (ACLs) for files. It turned out that getting the support into the development version was quite difficult and Erich E. Hoover tried this since 2012. We figured out that there must be more patches that are considered as too experimental for the development branch and started with Wine Staging in 2014. While the project got larger and larger in roughly 120 releases, the maintenance effort also increased, especially since we follow the 2 week release cycle of the development branch.

      • Wine Staging is no longer putting out new releases

        There have been many people asking questions about the future of Wine Staging, turns out it’s no longer going to have any new releases.

        I won’t quote the entire post titled “Future of Wine Staging”, but the gist of it is that they just don’t have the spare time to put into it now. They have full time jobs, so naturally that doesn’t leave much for something like this. I fully understand their situation and wish them all the best, I’ve seen so many people appreciate the work they did to bring so many different patches together for testing.

        The good news, is that there’s already a fork available. On top of that, Wine developer Alexandre Julliard posted on the Wine mailing list about keeping it going in some form, so there might be light at the end of the tunnel.

      • Wine-Staging Will No Longer Be Putting Out New Releases

        Wine-Staging as many of you have known it for the past four years is unfortunately no more. We’ll see if other reliable folks step up to maintain this experimental version of Wine but the original developers have sadly stepped away.

    • Games

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • This week in Usability & Productivity, part 6
      • AtCore takes to the pi

        The Raspberry Pi3 is a small single board computer that costs around $35 (USD). It comes with a network port, wifi , bt , 4 usb ports , gpio pins , camera port , a display out, hdmi, a TRRS for analog A/V out. 1GB of ran and 4 ~1GHz armv8 cores Inside small SOC. Its storage is a microSd card they are a low cost and low power device. The Touchscreen kit is an 800×480 display that hooks to the Gpio for touch and dsi port for video. To hold our hardware is the standard touch screen enclosure that often comes with the screen if you buy it in a kit.

      • Look, new presets! Another Krita 4 development build!

        We’ve been focusing like crazy on the Krita 4 release. We managed to close some 150 bugs in the past month, and Krita 4 is getting stable enough for many people to use day in, day out. There’s still more to be done, of course! So we’ll continue fixing issues and applying polish for at least another four weeks.

        One of the things we’re doing as well is redesigning the set of default brush presets and brush tips that come with Krita. Brush tips are the little images one can paint with, and brush presets are the brushes you can select in the brush palette or brush popup. The combination of a tip, some settings and a smart bit of coding!

        Our old set was fine, but it was based on David Revoy‘s earliest Krita brush bundles, and for Krita 4 we are revamping the entire set. We’ve added many new options to the brushes since then! So, many artists are working together to create a good-looking, useful and interesting brushes for Krita 4.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • On Compiling WebKit (now twice as fast!)

        Are you tired of waiting for ages to build large C++ projects like WebKit? Slow headers are generally the problem. Your C++ source code file #includes a few headers, all those headers #include more, and those headers #include more, and more, and more, and since it’s C++ a bunch of these headers contain lots of complex templates to slow down things even more. Not fun.

      • Fleet Commander is looking for a GSoC student to help us take over the world

        Fleet Commander has seen quite a lot of progress recently, of which I should blog about soon. For those unaware, Fleet Commander is an effort to make GNOME great for IT administrators in large deployments, allowing them to deploy desktop and application configuration profiles across hundreds of machines with ease through a web administration UI based on Cockpit. It is mostly implemented in Python.

      • Introducing deviced

        Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been heads down working on a new tool along with Patrick Griffis. The purpose of this tool is to make it easier to integrate IDEs and other tooling with GNU-based gadgets like phones, tablets, infotainment, and IoT devices.

        Years ago I was working on a GNOME-based home router with davidz which sadly we never finished. One thing that was obvious to me in that moment of time was that I’m not doing another large scale project until I had better tooling. That is Builder’s genesis, and device integration is what will make it truly useful to myself and others who love playing with GNU-friendly gadgets.

  • Distributions

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Running for the board of the Open Source Initiative – a few words

    Today I would like to explain my reasons for my candidacy at the board of the Open Source Initiative. I can think of two kinds of reason for my decision: one is personal, and the other one is directly related to current state of Open Source and software freedom. Let’s start with the first one: I’m currently helping the Open Information Security Foundation and the Suricata project in my capacity at ANSSI, while contributing in a minor way to the LibreOffice project and the Document Foundation.

  • Tutanota: Encrypted Open Source Email Service for Privacy Minded People

    Since then, I have heard of another email provider that you may be interested in. It’s a little different, but it touts some of the same features ProtonMail does: privacy, security, open-source code, etc. It’s called Tutanota, and like ProtonMail, I am a very big fan.

  • Events

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • The tracker will always get through

        A big objection to tracking protection is the idea that the tracker will always get through. Some people suggest that as browsers give users more ability to control how their personal information gets leaked across sites, things won’t get better for users, because third-party tracking will just keep up. On this view, today’s easy-to-block third-party cookies will be replaced by techniques such as passive fingerprinting where it’s hard to tell if the browser is succeeding at protecting the user or not, and users will be stuck in the same place they are now, or worse.

        I doubt this is the case because we’re playing a more complex game than just trackers vs. users. The game has at least five sides, and some of the fastest-moving players with the best understanding of the game are the adfraud hackers. Right now adfraud is losing in some areas where they had been winning, and the resulting shift in adfraud is likely to shift the risks and rewards of tracking techniques.

      • MozMEAO SRE Status Report – February 16, 2018

        Here’s what happened on the MozMEAO SRE team from January 23 – February 16.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • Migration to GCC 6.4 as userland compiler

      Modulo some minor details, the transition of our userland to GCC 6 is complete.

    • OpenIndiana Has Upgraded To The GCC 6 Compiler

      The OpenSolaris/Illumos-based OpenIndiana operating system has finally moved past GCC 4.9 as its base user-land compiler and is now using GCC 6.4.

      This comes while GCC 8.1 should be officially released in the next few weeks and they are already targeting GCC 7.3.0 as their next illumos-gate compiler.

    • LibreOffice 6.0 Open-Source Office Suite Passes 1 Million Downloads Mark

      The Document Foundation announced recently that its LibreOffice 6.0 open-source and cross-platform office suite reached almost 1 million downloads since its release last month on January 31, 2018.

      That’s terrific news for the Open Source and Free Software community and a major milestone for the acclaimed LibreOffice office suite, which tries to be a free alternative to proprietary solutions like Microsoft Office.

      The 1 million downloads mark was reached just two weeks after the release of LibreOffice 6.0, which is the biggest update ever of the open-source office suite adding numerous new features and enhancements over previous versions.

  • Funding

    • How Will a $100 Mln Grant Help Ethereum Scale?

      On Feb. 16, six large-scale Blockchain projects OmiseGo, Cosmos, Golem, Maker and Raiden, that have completed successful multi-million dollar initial coin offerings (ICOs) last year, along with Japanese venture capital firm Global Brain have created the Ethereum Community Fund (ECF), to fund projects and businesses within the Ethereum ecosystem.

    • Outreachy Is Now Accepting Applications For Their Summer 2018 Internships

      This week Google announced the participating organizations for GSoC 2018 for students wishing to get involved with open-source/Linux development. Also happening this week is the application period opened for those wishing to participate in the summer 2018 paid internship program.

  • BSD

    • FreeBSD Finally Gets Mitigated For Spectre & Meltdown

      Landing in FreeBSD today was the mitigation work for the Meltdown and Spectre CPU vulnerabilities.

      It’s taken a few more weeks longer than most of the Linux distributions to be re-worked for Spectre/Meltdown mitigation as well as DragonFlyBSD, but with FreeBSD Revision 329462 it appears their initial fixes are in place.

      There is Meltdown mitigation for Intel CPUs via a KPTI implementation similar to Linux, the Kernel Page Table Isolation. There is also a PCID (Process Context Identifier) optimization for Intel Westmere CPUs and newer, just as was also done on Linux.

    • FreeBSD outlaws virtual hugs
    • AsiaBSDCon 2018 Conference Programme
    • Linux KPI-Based DRM Modules Now Working On FreeBSD 11

      Thanks to work done by Hans Petter Selasky and others, this drm-next-kmod port is working on FreeBSD 11 stable. What’s different with this package from the ports collection versus the ported-from-Linux Direct Rendering Modules found within the FreeBSD 11 kernel is that these DRM modules are using the linuxkpi interface.

  • Public Services/Government

  • Licensing/Legal

    • PyTorch Should Be Copyleft

      Most people have heard of Google’s Tensorflow which was released at the end of 2015, but there’s an active codebase called PyTorch which is easier to understand, less of a black box, and more dynamic. Tensorflow does have solutions for some of those limitations (such as Tensorflow-fold, and Tensorflow-Eager) but these new capabilities remove the need for other features and complexity of Tensorflow. Google built a great system for doing static computation graphs before realizing that most people want dynamic graphs. Doh!


      I wish PyTorch used the AGPL license. Most neural networks are run on servers today, it is hardly used on the Linux desktop. Data is central to AI and that can stay owned by FB and the users of course. The ImageNet dataset created a revolution in computer vision, so let’s never forget that open data sets can be useful.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Linux on Nintendo Switch, a new Kubernetes ML platform, and more news

      In this edition of our open source news roundup, we take a look at the Mozilla’s IoT gateway, a new machine learning platform, Code.mil’s revamp, and more.

    • Open Data

      • OSM in IkiWiki

        Since about 15 years ago, I have been thinking of creating a geo-referenced wiki of pubs, with loads of structured data to help searching. I don’t know if that would be useful for anybody else, but I know I would use it!

        Sadly, the many times I started coding something towards that goal, I ended blocked by something, and I keep postponing my dream project.

      • Why OpenStreetMap is in Serious Trouble

        That said, while I still believe in the goals of OpenStreetMap, I feel the OpenStreetMap project is currently unable to fulfill that mission due to poor technical decisions, poor political decisions, and a general malaise in the project. I’m going to outline in this article what I think OpenStreetMap has gotten wrong. It’s entirely possible that OSM will reform and address the impediments to its success- and I hope it does. We need a Free as in Freedom geographic dataset.


  • It’s Time to Banish Your Screens From the Bedroom

    If this is you, there’s a solution: stop bringing your phone to bed. Your tablet too. Glowing screens in the bedroom are destroying your sleep, and the only solution is to stop using them.

  • When animals ape humans: The wildlife caught posing for the camera just like you might
  • The World’s Largest Migration Is About To Begin

    This Friday, China is going to celebrate its new year, kicking off one of the planet’s great migrations.

    Also known as Spring Festival or Lunar New Year, Statista’s Niall McCarthy notes that this the event sees hundreds of millions of people leave their cities in order to visit their families in more rural parts of the country. In fact, practically all of China takes holiday at once, making the new year the biggest human event on earth.

  • Science

    • The Hurt Feelz Approach To Science: NLRB On Damore’s Google Memo

      He didn’t realize how strongly ideology tops science in one of the top tech companies in the world.

      Let’s play a little game along the NLRB’s decisional lines:

      Here’s a generalization: Men are vastly more likely to get prostate cancer than women.

      Here’s another: Women are vastly more likely to have ovaries.

      Discriminatory! Constitutes sexual harassment! “Nothwithstanding” my effort to cloak my comments in “basic physiology.”

      Are we seeing how wildly ridiculous this is?

    • Elon Musk is Not the Future

      But the reality is that Musk’s ideas around transportation are at best “half-baked” or at worst designed to delay the construction of transportation infrastructure that could pull the United States into the twenty-first century.

    • I thought VR would make watching Olympic snowboarding awesome.

      Like a lot of people, I was glued to a live broadcast from the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics the other night, watching American snowboarding phenom Chloe Kim kick competitors’ butts in the women’s half-pipe finals. Unlike most other spectators, though, I saw powder fly with a virtual-reality headset strapped to my face.

    • Graphene Nanoribbons Reach Out to the Molecular World

      Spintronics involves manipulating the spin of electrons and in this way differs from conventional electronics that manipulates their movement. It is this spin that is responsible for magnetism: When a majority of electrons in a material have their spins pointing in the same direction, the material is magnetized. If you can move all the spins up or down and can read that direction, you can create the foundation of the “0” and “1” of digital logic.

      Spintronic devices based on the porphyrin molecule exploit the magnetic atom—typically iron, which has spin-polarized states—that is in the middle of each molecule. There are a number of ways of exploiting the spin of these magnetic atoms to polarize the transported current. If magnetic molecules with a larger spin are used—the so-called a single-molecule magnet—a “1” or “0” state could be stabilized by a magnetic field and read by currents.

    • Major discovery in controlling quantum states of single atoms

      Researchers at the Center for Quantum Nanoscience within the Institute for Basic Science (IBS) have made a major breakthrough in controlling the quantum properties of single atoms. In an international collaboration with IBM Research in San Jose, California, using advanced techniques, the scientists identified which mechanisms destroy the quantum properties of individual atoms by manipulating the magnetic state of a single iron atom on a thin insulator. Using a scanning tunneling microscope with an atomically sharp metal tip, they were able to image individual iron atoms and measure and control the time that they maintain their quantum behavior.

    • Researchers demonstrate promising method for improving quantum information processing

      A team of researchers led by the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory has demonstrated a new method for splitting light beams into their frequency modes.

  • Hardware

    • China’s massive investment in artificial intelligence has an insidious downside

      In a gleaming high-rise here in northern Beijing’s Haidian district, two hardware jocks in their 20s are testing new computer chips that might someday make smartphones, robots, and autonomous vehicles truly intelligent. A wiry young man in an untucked plaid flannel shirt watches appraisingly. The onlooker, Chen Yunji, a 34-year-old computer scientist and founding technical adviser of Cambricon Technologies here, explains that traditional processors, designed decades before the recent tsunami of artificial intelligence (AI) research, “are slow and energy inefficient” at processing the reams of data required for AI. “Even if you have a very good algorithm or application,” he says, its usefulness in everyday life is limited if you can’t run it on your phone, car, or appliance. “Our goal is to change all lives.”

  • Health/Nutrition

    • We just witnessed one of the biggest indictments you’ll ever see of a country’s health care system

      As well as socializing the risk (and thereby helping to contain health care costs), health economist Robert H. Frank notes that Medicare’s administrative costs are substantially lower than a private health insurer, averaging only about 2 percent of total expenses, which is less than one-sixth the corresponding percentage for many private insurers. Frank explains that this occurs in large part because Medicare does not pre-screen anybody, and because the program:

    • Free public transport for elderly linked to 12% decline in depression symptoms

      Researchers found that increased eligibility for a free bus pass led to an 8 percent increase in the use of public transportation among older people, and a 12 percent decline in depression symptoms among those who started taking the bus when they became eligible for the program.

    • North Texas teacher dies after getting the flu

      Heather Holland, a second-grade teacher at Ikard Elementary School with the Weatherford Independent School District died over the weekend, the Weatherford Democrat reports. Holland got sick about a week ago and took medication, but delayed picking up the prescription due to the $116 copay, according to the newspaper.

    • Air pollution may lead to unethical behaviour: Study

      Together, the archival and experimental findings suggest that exposure to air pollution, whether physical or mental, is linked with transgressive behaviour through increased levels of anxiety, researchers said.

    • Humans are overloading the world’s freshwater bodies with phosphorus

      Human activities are driving phosphorus levels in the world’s lakes, rivers and other freshwater bodies to a critical point. The freshwater bodies on 38 percent of Earth’s land area (not including Antarctica) are overly enriched with phosphorus, leading to potentially toxic algal blooms and less available drinking water, researchers report January 24 in Water Resources Research.

    • How Toxic is the World’s Most Popular Herbicide Roundup?

      A problem for scientists investigating the physiological activities of pesticides is that herbicide-producing giants including Monsanto, Roundup’s developer, or Syngenta, which produces the glyphosate-containing herbicide Touchdown, aren’t required to make their full ingredients lists public.u

    • London protesters speak out in defence of the National Health Service

      “I think we need to stop private companies from being able to make a profit from public services. The collapse of Carillion demonstrates that it is completely immoral to allow a private company to make a profit from a service without taking on any of the associated risk because you can’t be allowed to fail. You can’t stop cleaning hospitals! You can’t stop providing school meals and when the company goes bust the public has to take on the debt.

      “Every penny of profit that a private company makes should be a penny that’s invested in an NHS service.”

    • Indiana wins federal permission to adopt Medicaid work requirements
    • Privatisation is poisoning the very air we breathe

      The second month of the year begins with London having already reached its legal air pollution limit for the whole of 2018. The city’s limit of 18 breaches of air quality regulations was used up in January.

    • Mexico protesters fear US-owned brewery will drain their land dry

      Carmelo Gallegos used to sow wheat in the cool winters and cotton in scorching-hot summers of the Mexicali valley. These days, water is so scarce he can only plant one crop a year.

    • Why Cape Town’s water could run out in April

      Officials warn of the likelihood of a Day Zero, when the level at the dams will drop below 13.5% and the city’s water supply will have to be turned off. (The 13.5% level is set by the city, which notes that it may be hard to extract any water at all if it falls below 10%.) Unless things change, Day Zero is due to fall on April 16th, though earlier estimations suggested both April 12th and April 21st. It will make Cape Town the world’s first big city to run dry.

    • The 11 cities most likely to run out of drinking water – like Cape Town

      According to UN-endorsed projections, global demand for fresh water will exceed supply by 40% in 2030, thanks to a combination of climate change, human action and population growth.

    • Millions of Americans drink potentially unsafe tap water. How does your county stack up?

      Tainted tap water isn’t just a problem in Flint, Michigan. In any given year from 1982 to 2015, somewhere between 9 million and 45 million Americans got their drinking water from a source that was in violation of the Safe Drinking Water Act, according to a new study. Most at risk: people who live in rural, low-income areas.

    • Lethal Pneumonia Outbreak Caused By Low Chlorine In Flint Water

      “It’s a pneumonia, but what’s different about it is, we don’t share it like we do the flu or common cold,” explains Michele Swanson of the University of Michigan, who has been studying Legionnaires’ for 25 years. “It’s caused by a bacterium, Legionella pneumophila, that grows in water.”

    • Sh-h-h. Snyder state update left out 75% drop in reading proficiency in Flint

      Read it again: That’s nearly a three-quarters drop in third-grade reading proficiency among children whose lives were affected by lead poisoned water during the Flint water crisis.

    • India’s farmed chickens dosed with world’s strongest antibiotics, study finds

      Warning over wider global health impacts after findings reveal hundreds of tonnes of colistin – the ‘antibiotic of last resort’ – are being shipped to India’s farms

    • Corn Syrup Lobbyist Is Helping Set USDA Dietary Guidelines

      In late August of 2017, White House counsel Donald McGahn issued a waiver for a new member of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), previously a lobbyist for the corn syrup industry, to advise the department on dietary guidelines:

    • Yes, Female Genital Mutilation happens in India; here’s everything you need to know

      Female genital mutilation (FGM)–also known as khatna or khafz in the Muslim Bohra community, where it is practised in India–does not have any laws in India banning it. The United Nations has declared female genital mutilation a human rights violation, and yet, the act is not banned in India.

    • UN chief says 68 million girls may face genital cuts by 2030

      His statement Tuesday says over 200 million women and girls in 30 countries across three continents have experienced genital mutilation.

      The UN Population Fund projects that the estimated 3.9 million girls subjected to genital cutting every year will rise to 4.6 million by 2030 due to expected population growth unless urgent action is taken.

    • Arkansas banned a weedkiller. Now, Monsanto is suing.

      When Monsanto introduced a new kind of seed that wouldn’t die when exposed to the herbicide dicamba, it triggered a crisis in the southeastern United States. Farmers planted the seed and started spraying dicamba, and it worked great! Except that it drifted onto other farmers’ fields and killed their crops.

      And the dramatic plot twists keep coming. One farmer gunned down another in a confrontation over his withered crops. Then, states began to restrict the use of dicamba, with Arkansas completely banning it last summer.

    • Cyber Intrusion Creates More Havoc for Washington State’s New Marijuana Tracking System

      Licensed marijuana product growers and retailers have been very unhappy with Washington State’s new “seed-to-sale” marijuana tracking system that went live on 1 February.

      Buggy software has kept many suppliers from shipping their products because of manifest errors and, equally, retailers from accepting their orders. While Washington’s Liquor and Cannabis Board officials have insisted that the myriad software problems are being fixed or work arounds exist for most of them, it also has disclosed that the tracking system experienced a cyber intrusion.

    • Gilead wins reversal of $2.54 billion hepatitis C drug patent verdict

      A federal judge in Delaware has overturned a jury’s verdict requiring Gilead Sciences Inc to pay a record $2.54 billion because its hepatitis C drugs Sovaldi and Harvoni infringed a patent held by rival Merck & Co Inc.

      The verdict had been the largest ever in a U.S. patent case but U.S. District Judge Leonard Stark in Wilmington, Delaware, on Friday ruled Merck’s patent was invalid. He said it did not meet a requirement that it disclose how to make the treatment it covered without undue experimentation.

  • Security

    • Thousands of FedEx customers’ private info exposed in legacy server data breach

      Uncovered by Kromtech Security Center, the parent company of MacKeeper Security, the breach exposed data such as passport information, driver’s licenses and other high profile security IDs, all of which were hosted on a password-less Amazon S3 storage server.

    • Correlated Cryptojacking

      they include The City University of New York (cuny.edu), Uncle Sam’s court information portal (uscourts.gov), Lund University (lu.se), the UK’s Student Loans Company (slc.co.uk), privacy watchdog The Information Commissioner’s Office (ico.org.uk) and the Financial Ombudsman Service (financial-ombudsman.org.uk), plus a shedload of other .gov.uk and .gov.au sites, UK NHS services, and other organizations across the globe.

      Manchester.gov.uk, NHSinform.scot, agriculture.gov.ie, Croydon.gov.uk, ouh.nhs.uk, legislation.qld.gov.au, the list goes on.

    • Facebook using 2FA cell numbers for spam, replies get posted to the platform

      Replies ending up as comments appears to be a bizarre bug, but the spamming seems intentional.

    • Swedish Police website hacked [sic] to mine cryptocurrency

      Remember now, it is a Police Force that allowed their website to be hijacked by this simple attack vector. The authority assigned to serve and protect. More specifically, the authority that argues that wiretapping is totally safe because the Police is competent in IT security matters, so there’s no risk whatsoever your data will leak or be mishandled.

      This is one of the websites that were trivially hacked [sic].

      It gives pause for thought.

      It also tells you what you already knew: authorities can’t even keep their own dirtiest laundry under wraps, so the notion that they’re capable or even willing to protect your sensitive data is hogwash of the highest order.

    • New EU Privacy Law May Weaken Security

      In a bid to help domain registrars comply with the GDPR regulations, ICANN has floated several proposals, all of which would redact some of the registrant data from WHOIS records. Its mildest proposal would remove the registrant’s name, email, and phone number, while allowing self-certified 3rd parties to request access to said data at the approval of a higher authority — such as the registrar used to register the domain name.

      The most restrictive proposal would remove all registrant data from public WHOIS records, and would require legal due process (such as a subpoena or court order) to reveal any information supplied by the domain registrant.

    • Intel hit with 32 lawsuits over security flaws

      Intel Corp said on Friday shareholders and customers had filed 32 class action lawsuits against the company in connection with recently-disclosed security flaws in its microchips.

    • The Risks of “Responsible Encryption”

      Federal law enforcement officials in the United States have recently renewed their periodic demands for legislation to regulate encryption. While they offer few technical specifics, their general proposal—that vendors must retain the ability to decrypt for law enforcement the devices they manufacture or communications their services transmit—presents intractable problems that would-be regulators must not ignore.

    • Reviewing SSH Mastery 2nd Ed

      It’s finally out ! Michael W Lucas is one of the best authors of technical books out there. I was curious about this new edition. It is not a reference book, but covers the practical aspects of SSH that I wish everybody knew. Rather than aggregating different articles/blogs on SSH, this book covers 90% of the common use cases for SSH that you will ever encounter.

    • Highlights of the French cybersecurity strategy

      First, the document describes that in France cyberdefence and cyberoffence are separated. This is directly opposed to the models employed in Anglo-Saxon countries. But it’s shown as an asset. Key argument: it respects freedoms and civil liberties.

      The document then lists the six general objectives of cyberdefence, namely: prevention, anticipation, protection, detection, attribution, reaction (remediation). The strategy itself is complete, it focuses on civil, military, domestic, external, and international levels. Let’s say it’s a rarity in the business in strategic cybersecurity documents.


      The strategy then mentions that one of the solutions could be to release source code and documentation after an end of support date.

    • The Munich Security Conference 2018

      Over the past five decades, the Munich Security Conference (MSC) has become the major global forum for the discussion of security policy. Each February, it brings together more than 450 senior decision-makers from around the world, including heads-of-state, ministers, leading personalities of international and non-governmental organizations, as well as high ranking representatives of industry, media, academia, and civil society, to engage in an intensive debate on current and future security challenges.

    • Smart meters could leave British homes vulnerable to cyber attacks, experts have warned

      New smart energy meters that the Government wants to be installed in millions of homes will leave householders vulnerable to cyber attacks, ministers have been warned.

    • MeltdownPrime and SpectrePrime: Researchers nail exploits

      “The flaws—dubbed Meltdown and Spectre—are in chips made by Intel and other major suppliers. They can allow hackers to steal data from the memory of running apps, including password managers, browsers and emails.”

      The authors of the paper on arXiv, Caroline Trippel, Daniel Lustig, and Margaret Martonosi, discuss a tool they developed for “automatically synthesizing microarchitecture-specific programs capable of producing any user-specified hardware execution pattern of interest.”

      They said they show “how this tool can be used for generating small microarchitecture-specific programs which represent exploits in their most abstracted form—security litmus tests.”

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Daniel Ellsberg Thinks We’re in Denial About Nuclear War
    • BBC journalists thrown out of West Papua for “upsetting Indonesian soldiers feelings”

      Rebecca Henchke, who has been reporting in Indonesia for 12 years was uploading photos on Twitter showing the lack of adequate treatment of the health crisis by the Indonesian military

    • Pacific News Minute: Indonesia Expels BBC Journalists from West Papua

      Military Intelligence pulled Henschke in for five hours of questions; she was then held by Immigration, and, after another 24 hours, she and her crew were escorted onto a plane back to Jakarta.

    • Tuvalu and Nauru back Indonesia in Papua

      Jakarta says a number of Pacific countries have expressed appreciation for Indonesia’s new initiatives to develop the Papua region.

    • Is Pakistan using US weapons meant to fight Taliban against India? Army thinks so

      India has given proof to United States that weapon systems like the US TOW-2A anti-tank guided missiles given to Pakistan for use against Taliban are now being used against Indian Army.

    • Why US Marines are deployed to Australia’s far north
    • The Berlin Wall has now been down longer than it was up

      The story of this hateful barrier’s fall and the ensuing 28 years, two months and 27 days of German history is one of expanded individual horizons: it has meant previously unimaginable travel, enterprise, friendships and relationships (the proportion of German couples with one “Ossi” and one “Wessi” partner passed the 10% mark in around 2008). Among the touching reflections on the anniversary today have been social media posts to that effect by Germans speculating on how much poorer their lives would have been #ohneMauerfall (without the fall of the wall).

    • Renewed push for Australia to build nuclear weapons

      None of these steps has anything to do with “defence” or preserving peace. Rather in a world where geo-political tensions are accelerating, Australia is seeking the military means to pursue its own imperialist interests, either in league with the US, as it has done since World War II, or independently if need be. The military and political establishment is coming to the conclusion that in order to do this it needs the ultimate in “high-end weapons”—a nuclear arsenal.

    • Salah Abdeslam: Paris attacks suspect to go on trial in Belgium

      Up to 200 police will be guarding the courthouse for the trial.

    • Funding al-Shabaab: How aid money ends up in terror group’s hands

      Speaking at a secret location on the outskirts of Baidoa, a former zaqat (tax) collector for al-Shabaab, who was captured in a recent raid by agents from Somalia’s National Intelligence and Security Agency, confirmed that the extraction of tolls at roadblocks was one of the biggest sources of money for al-Shabaab.

    • Indonesian police kill woman during a clash in restive Papua region

      Conflicts between indigenous Papuans and Indonesian security forces are common in the impoverished region, which Indonesia annexed more than half a century ago.

    • Teachers Are Being Trained to Shoot Their Students

      One example of the trend is the Buckeye Firearms Foundation’s funding of so-called “Faster” programs, three-day training sessions for teachers from around the country. In addition to target practice, one day of the training is devoted to “mindset development,” or bolstering teachers’ preparedness to shoot after split-second assessments. Trainees are asked “to close their eyes and imagine the student entering the classroom with a gun” and then are taught how to command the grit necessary to kill that student.

    • Death of Europeans: Police waits on ISO for preliminary report

      Four people have been arrested as investigations widen into last week’s mystery death of two European men at two top Kampala hotels.

      Police sources say the suspects were arrested by Internal Security Organisation agents and have been detained at the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI).

      “Among the suspects, there are three security operatives and Faridah Nakaye who was identified as one of the deceased’s (Tuomas Juha) girlfriend. They are being interrogated by ISO operatives and their case is also connected to dealing in narcotics,” a source said.

    • Anti-Trumpists Use Mueller Indictments to Escalate Tensions With Nuclear-Armed Russia

      U.S. empire loyalists are so close to telling the truth when they babble about “Russian propaganda.” They are openly admitting that it is wrong to use media to manipulate the ways that Americans think and vote. Now all we need is for them to admit that they themselves do this constantly, and we’ll be on the right track.


      The focus instead is on people disguising their identities to troll Americans on social media, which we have now learned constitutes a “conspiracy to defraud the United States.” As Disobedient Media’s Elizabeth Lea Vos rightly points out, it is also behavior that the Hillary Clinton campaign is known to have funded and engaged in extensively.

    • The map of the world according to who every country thinks is most dangerous

      Feeling apocalyptic right now? You’re probably not the only one.

      But of course, who you think the bad guys are depends a lot on where you live. Which is what makes this map really interesting.

    • CAIR silent on U.S. imams’ call to kill Jews

      After three different imams in the U.S. declared in December that Muslims will one day eliminate the Jews, citing sacred Islamic text, a Washington-based Islamic group known for its concern about “hate speech” was noticeably silent.

    • Tracing the arms trail into Indonesia

      The ongoing trial of veteran terrorist Suryadi Mas’ud has revealed how Indonesian militants linked up with fellow networks in Marawi, southern Philippines, to procure M-16 assault rifles and handguns.

    • NBI: Turku stabbing suspect radicalised three months before attack, inspired by ISIS propaganda

      In the wake of the stabbings police discovered a manifesto heavily influenced by Islamist and ISIS ideas, posted by the suspect on various social media channels, which included numerous disparaging references to western religions. The attack, which took place on 18 August 2017 and started in Turku’s Market Square.

    • How Political Pessimism Helps Doom Tougher Gun Laws

      It’s predictable after every new mass-shooting horror: The political right’s reflexive call for “thoughts and prayers,” which is then mocked by people who favor more gun restrictions for lacking any accompanying ideas for preventing future killings.

      But there’s an equally predictable refrain on the center-left and in the media, too: “Once again, nothing will be done.”

      Barely had the death toll of 17 been announced last week after the shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida than The Washington Post declared, “The gun debate is going nowhere quickly after Parkland.” CNN offered: “Amid continued string of mass shootings, gun control going nowhere in Congress.” After 59 concert-goers were mowed down in October, former Democratic congressman Steve Israel put to rest any hope for reform in a New York Times op-ed column titled “Nothing Will Change After the Las Vegas Shooting.”

    • Three Shot Dead In Kohistan

      Honour killing took three lives in Kohistan as son shot dead mother, brother’s wife, and her paramour in the name of honour on Saturday in district Kolai Palas of Kohistan

    • Swedish PM does not rule out use of army to end gang violence

      But Swedish TV reported there were over 300 shootings, mostly in turf battles between gangs over drugs, protection rackets and prostitution.

    • Stacey Dooley: Face To Face With ISIS

      Stacey comes face to face with ISIS as she revisits Iraq to unearth the harrowing story of Yazidi women kept as ISIS sex slaves.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • The Round up: Assange’s arrest warrant, victims of human traffickers, and a Convention Right victory for salmon fisherman

      The warrant was upheld, and whether section 6 proceedings are initiated under the Bail Act 1976 will depend on Assange’s circumstances when he is finally produced to the court.

    • Mountain out of Molehill: Assange Sees No Tangible Russian Meddling in US Vote

      The alleged influence of Russian Internet Research Agency LLC, indicted by US Special Counsel Robert Mueller for its alleged interference in the US 2016 election, was “insignificant” regardless of what kind of activities the company was engaged in, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said.

    • [Older] Julian Assange Saga: Judge Ruling on Arrest Warrant [Ed: Via The Guardian. Notice how corporate media, without exception, ignores the obvious conflict of interest (the judge)]

      It is nearly six years since Julian Assange disguised himself as a motorcycle courier and entered the Ecuadorian embassy in London to seek political asylum. His subsequent legal battle, so vast and protracted a CPS lawyer once deemed it “like an industry” in itself, comes to a pivotal moment on Tuesday, when a judge will rule on whether the warrant for his arrest has become disproportionate.

    • According To Leaked Chats, WikiLeaks And Julian Assange Wanted Trump To Win And Hillary To Lose

      It’s no secret that Julian Assange used WikiLeaks to support the Donald Trump campaign in 2016. In September of 2016, a WikiLeaks account sent a series of private messages to Donald Trump Jr. over Twitter detailing attack points against Hillary Clinton and attempting to form a sort of partnership between WikiLeaks and the Trump campaign. Now, new private chats have surfaced which further show WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange professing a preference for the Republican Party in the 2015 general election, The Intercept reports.

    • Assange Denies That WikiLeaks Backed the GOP in 2016

      WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has rejected contentions by The Intercept that he supported the Republican party during the 2016 presidential election in a series of tweets.

      The report from The Intercept is based on 11,000 messages in a private Twitter chat group of WikiLeaks’ loyal supporters that were turned over by a longtime supporter of Assange known only as Hazelpress. The messages were sent to The Intercept after the WikiLeaks Twitter account, believed to be run by Assange, made what Hazelpress considered anti-Semetic remarks about an Associated Press reporter. Also included were messages about why WikiLeaks allegedly wanted the Republican Party to win the 2016 presidential election.

    • Julian Assange’s ordeal

      Last Tuesday, senior British district judge Emma Arbuthnot rejected Julian Assange’s appeal for freedom. Meaning that Assange will continue to face arrest if he leaves the Ecuadorian embassy and will be confined to the meagre room available to him in the embassy building, where he has managed to survive for almost six years.

      In 2012 Julian Assange had taken refuge in this embassy to avoid extradition at the hands of British imperialists to Sweden or the U.S. over allegations of sexual assault, and subversive activities against the US imperialist state. Though Swedish prosecutors dropped the investigation against him, he still faces arrest if he leaves the building. Ecuador recently granted him citizenship and asylum. It had tried unsuccessfully to persuade British officials to give Assange diplomatic status, which might have made it possible for him to leave Britain even if US officials sought him.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Audit reveals Office of Fossil Energy approved millions for lobbying, spas

      All in all, the report identified $38 million in reimbursement payments that the Office of Fossil Energy made to Summit without proper and thorough documentation. But before the partnership between Fossil Energy and Summit ended, a third-party auditor had signed off on most of those payments, so the OIG said it wouldn’t tread that ground again, despite its reservations. However, at least $2.5 million in expenses that were paid out during the lifetime of the project potentially broke the rules about what federal government funds can and can’t reimburse.

    • Over 90 per cent of Australian shellfish reefs have disappeared

      Virtually all of Australia’s shellfish reefs have disappeared, making them the country’s most threatened ocean ecosystem, scientists said on Thursday (Feb 15), calling for more investment to rescue the important marine habitats.

    • International Year of the Reef

      Hidden beneath the ocean waters, coral reefs teem with life. Coral reefs support more species than any other marine environment and rival rainforests in their biodiversity. Countless numbers of creatures rely on coral reefs for their survival. These important habitats are threatened by a range of human activities. Many of the world’s reefs have already been destroyed or severely damaged by an increasing array of threats, including pollution, unsustainable fishing practices, and global climate change. However, we can still protect and preserve our remaining reefs if we act now. NOAA is leading U.S. efforts to study and conserve these precious resources for future generations.

    • Even as China says no to shark fin soup, dish gaining popularity elsewhere in Asia

      Consumption of shark fin soup in China has fallen by around 80 per cent since 2011, government figures and private surveys show, after a celebrity-driven public awareness campaign and a government crackdown on extravagant banquets.

      But the good news is offset by an alarming rise in the consumption of this prestige dish in places like Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and Macao, according to a new report by WildAid, a San Francisco-based group that campaigns to curb demand for wildlife products.

    • Team from India to help Myanmar conserve dwindling tiger species

      The team from India is presently collecting primary data to draw up a conservation plan with the eventual aim of creating a “protected area network.” Spread across 20,000 sqkm, Myanmar has the largest tiger landscape in the world but its dwindling tiger population has been a concern.

    • Iranian-Canadian environmental activist dies in prison, his son says

      An Iranian-Canadian dual citizen and environmental activist imprisoned by Iranian authorities last month has died in prison, his son wrote on Twitter on Saturday. Kavous Seyed-Emami was managing director of the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation, which seeks to protect Iran’s rare animals, and a U.S.-trained scholar in sociology.


      Iran faces a number of serious environmental crises, including water scarcity, air pollution and wildlife poaching. Human rights groups say activists in Iran face the risk of arbitrary arrest and harassment by authorities.

    • No More Tuna for Japan’s Sushi?

      “Nearly all tuna today are caught before they are five years old, because of overfishing, which means they only spawn once or twice in their lifetimes. If we’re going to protect this resource, it’s very important that we allow the fish to spawn.” The Iki fishermen have asked for studies to determine the effects of their moratorium. The Fisheries Agency has refused, claiming it has no budget for such work.

    • Saudi will soon drastically change course to avert post-oil misery

      By the end of the year, Saudi Arabia aims to invest up to $7 billion to develop seven new solar plants and a big wind farm. The country hopes that renewables, which now represent a negligible amount of the energy it uses, will be able to provide as much as 10 percent of its power generation by the end of 2023.

    • Esmond Bradley Martin: Ivory investigator killed in Kenya

      One of the world’s leading investigators of the illegal trade in ivory and rhino horn has been killed in Kenya.

    • Top ivory investigator murdered in Kenya

      Esmond Bradley Martin, whose groundbreaking investigations helped the fight against elephant poaching, died after being stabbed at home in Nairobi

    • Former national monuments shrunk by Trump to be opened for mining claims

      Hundreds of thousands of acres of land that were part of two US national monuments shrunk by Donald Trump are being opened on Friday to mining claims for uranium and other minerals.

    • Global use of mosquito nets for fishing ‘endangering humans and wildlife’

      The researchers found mosquito net fishing is seen across the globe. East Africa had the greatest concentration, but the practice was also seen from Bangladesh to the Philippines and Papua New Guinea. It was reported in both freshwater, as seen in Africa’s great lakes and in Nepal, and in the sea, in west Africa.

    • Met Office warns of global temperature rise exceeding 1.5C limit

      In next five years greenhouse gases may push global warming past threshold set by Paris deal

    • Keeping the world below 2°C of warming needs tech we don’t have

      But there’s something about those two-degrees scenarios you may not know, which climate scientists have been talking a lot about recently. Those scenarios involved a substantial deployment of technologies to actively remove CO2 from the atmosphere. Without those technologies, we’re even further from sufficient emissions cuts.

    • An Enduring Partnership

      Humanity would be nothing without plants. It’s high time we recognize their crucial role in sustaining life on Earth.

    • Thailand bans smoking, littering at popular tourist beaches

      Environmental rights groups have urged successive governments to protect Thailand’s palm-fringed beaches, which are frequently voted among the world’s most beautiful, from unregulated development and littering, among other things.

    • Hanergy announces Fraunhofer lab rating for solar production module with record conversion efficiency

      In solar industry news, there have been a number of conversations surrounding the Gallium Arsenide (GaAs) thin film solar panels from Hanergy Thin Film Power Group’s US subsidiary Alta Devices, based in Sunnyvale California.

    • ‘Not Halal Enough’: Finland’s Strict Slaughter Rules Roasted by Local Muslims
    • Debates on Islamism: Halal Meat
  • Finance

    • Why Silicon Valley billionaires are prepping for the apocalypse in New Zealand
    • Resist a US trade deal. Your life may depend on it

      So what hope is there of defending ourselves against US farming practices and their many impacts on human health, including the zombie resurgence of defeated bacteria? Well, as always, hope lies with us. Through massive resistance, led by campaigners in Britain, the people of Europe managed to defeat the noxious Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), despite the vast resources of the US, the European commission and the UK government.

    • Puerto Rico’s blackout, the largest in American history, explained

      Some 1.36 million Americans are without power right now, and it isn’t coming back any time soon. This is a national embarrassment.

      We’re talking about Puerto Rico, in the throes of the longest and largest blackout in US history following Hurricane Maria, the Category 4 storm with 150 mph winds and 36 inches of rainfall that toppled 80 percent of the island’s power lines and flooded its generators last September.

    • Trump’s Labor Board Is Making it Even More Difficult to Unionize Fast-Food Workers

      The McDonald’s case, dating back to 2012, aims to undo a precedent that held that fast-food mega-chains like McDonald’s aren’t technically “bosses” of workers at their chain restaurants, and instead just license franchise owners to manage their workforces and labor conditions. Holding McDonald’s responsible as a joint employer might pave the way for collective-bargaining rights, and hence unionization, under a broad contract for McDonald’s employees nationwide. (McDonald’s restaurants in other countries in fact allow unionization and, surprise, workers can earn living wages and have real power to advocate for their rights.)

    • Trump Is Making Life Even Harder for Working-Class Women

      Trump not only broke his promise to preserve Elliott’s job; he and his fellow Republicans are working overtime to make life harder—much harder—for her in her likely future. For instance, let’s say Elliott, who will receive a one-time payment, severance pay, and six months of health insurance from Carrier, goes on unemployment, something she is proud to say she’s never done. Uh-oh. The Labor Department has indicated it wants to give states greater leeway to drug-test unemployment recipients, which is pretty humiliating.

    • American student told to leave Sweden over money error: ‘I feel very frustrated’

      But a greater worry is that it might close off her plans to work in Sweden after graduation.

    • Woman Dragged Out of West Virginia House Hearing For Listing Oil and Gas Contributions to Members

      “As I tried to give my remarks at the public hearing this morning on HB 4268 in defense of our constitutional property rights, I got dragged out of House chambers,” Lucas said. “Why? Because I was listing out who has been donating to Delegates on the Judiciary Committee.”

    • The biggest privatisation you’ve never heard of: land

      Since Margaret Thatcher came to power, 10% of the area of Britain has left public ownership. No wonder there’s a housing crisis

    • San Jose: Homeless advocates protest sweep of ‘Googleville’ encampment

      Monday’s eviction was the largest in a string of recent homeless encampment sweeps in the capital of Silicon Valley. Caltrans, which owns the acreage at the massive interchange of Highway 101 and Interstates, 280 and 680 near Story Road in San Jose, oversaw the operation. About a dozen homeless advocates showed up and, in a jab at tech companies whose success has helped spawn a crippling housing crisis, called the encampment “Googleville.”

      “This is an international disgrace,” said protest organizer Sandy Perry, president of the nonprofit Affordable Housing Network of Santa Clara County. “As tech companies get richer, richer and richer, the people here are getting poorer, poorer and poorer.”

    • 6 Ways to Rein In Today’s Toxic Monopolies

      After nearly four decades of lax antitrust policy, during which a handful of corporations have been allowed to gobble up market share like a horde of deranged amoebas, the consequences of unfettered monopoly have become painfully apparent. Competition has fizzled, replaced by pockets of extreme concentration. The number of new businesses has plunged. Wages have stagnated. Inequality has spiked. And extreme wealth—alongside its evil twin, extreme power—has pooled in fewer and fewer hands.

    • If we gave everyone a decent standard of living, could we sustain it?

      It should be possible to meet the basic physical needs of everyone on the planet without using up physical resources too quickly. But it wouldn’t be possible to extend a first-world standard of living to everyone without needing “a level of resource use that is two-six times the sustainable level,” researcher Daniel O’Neill and his colleagues report. Only a drastic improvement in efficiency would allow the planet to manage this higher standard of living.

    • The EU is the enemy of the working classes

      There are two European Unions, it seems. There is the EU that stands up for the citizen, for his or her rights; the EU that can face down the behemoths of global capitalism and rein in their avarice and callousness; the EU that has legally enshrined workers’ freedoms, and which exists as a bulwark against untrammelled neoliberalism. And then there is the real EU.

    • Millennials Are Keeping Unions Alive

      Jobs are precarious, health-care costs are skyrocketing, and wages aren’t keeping up with the cost of living—no wonder young people are organizing.

    • Oregon woman evicted from senior housing for $328 in late rent freezes to death in parking garage

      Karen Batts, 52, died from hypothermia Saturday in the Smart Park parking garage in Portland, Oregon, homeless over $338 in delinquent rent. Batts is the second person to freeze to death, alone, on Portland’s streets in 2017.

    • Labor Dept. Ditches Data Showing Bosses Could Skim Waiters’ Tips

      Labor Department leadership scrubbed an unfavorable internal analysis from a new tip pooling proposal, shielding the public from estimates that showed employees could lose out on billions of dollars in gratuities, four current and former DOL sources tell Bloomberg Law.

    • Amazon Doesn’t Just Want to Dominate the Market—It Wants to Become the Market

      By the fall of 2016, the share of online shoppers bypassing search engines and heading straight to Amazon had grown to 55 percent.

    • A bad EU motion coming up for vote, 2017/2772(RSP): Distributed ledger technologies and blockchains: building trust with disintermediation
    • Cutting men’s wages is a scandal

      Cutting men’s wages is a terrible idea. It does nothing for women, it does nothing for equality, but it does make life easier for bosses, who are always keen to find ways to trim the workforce’s pay. It doesn’t matter that this is the state-funded BBC we’re talking about here, or that these men earn more money than most of us would know what to do with — on principle, cutting someone’s wage when they are still doing the same job is a bad idea, and a bad precedent.

    • How UPS delivers faster using $8 headphones and code that decides when dirty trucks get cleaned

      Avoiding those mistakes, and doing so efficiently, is key to the company’s survival. The boom in e-commerce means UPS now delivers as many as 31 million packages a day. Keeping track of all that is an immensely difficult problem. It’s made worse because fulfilling online orders often requires driving to far-flung residences. That is more expensive for UPS than delivering to businesses, where drivers typically can leave and pick up multiple packages at each stop.

    • Amid denialism on company tax cuts, the ABC lets us all down

      At a time when commercial media outlets like the Financial Review are misleading Australians about company tax cuts, the ABC’s censorship of Emma Alberici further undermines trust in our media.

    • What Could the United States Have Done – If Anything – To Prevent China’s Rise?

      Much has been written about the key questions of the 21st century; first, can the liberal international order survive the rise of China, and second, how will the rise of China revise the extant international order? This is the first of a multi-part series designed to establish a frame for how to think about these questions; how we got here, and how to proceed in light of undeniable structural realities.

      To begin, it’s worth considering why the United States was slow to note the rise of Chinese power. U.S. policymakers worried a great deal about the expansion of Chinese economic and military power in the 1950s and 1960s, but less so in the 1970s and 1980s. The best answers to why the United States stepped back from steps intended to check China’s rise run as follows. First, the rise of China was advantageous in geopolitical competition against the Soviet Union. Second, the development of the Chinese economy worked to the advantage of both U.S. businesses and U.S. consumers, although not to all labor sectors. Third, U.S. policymakers were optimistic that China would reform politically as it reformed economically, thus removing it as an international threat. Of these, the first was true, but became irrelevant in 1991; the second largely remains true, as the U.S.-China trade axis has underwritten global economic growth since the 1980s; the third has not been realized in any meaningful way.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Bears Ears is Sacred to Native Tribes, but Trump Just Put it at Major Risk

      In this op-ed, writer Kelly Hayes explains why President Donald Trump’s decision to revoked the protected status of Bears Ears National Monument must be fought, for the sake of the Earth as we know it.

    • The president of the Maldives has lost all legitimacy but kept his job

      Mr Yameen may have become a full-blown dictator, but he seems to see himself as the victim of a monstrous injustice. The court, he claims, was paving the way for a coup by nefarious forces. How else to explain its actions on February 1st, when it ordered the release of political prisoners and the reinstatement of MPs who had crossed over to the opposition? The chief justice must have been bribed, he says. To make matters worse, two police chiefs had to be fired before a third could be found who would ignore the court’s orders. (He is said to be so unpopular that underlings shout at him in the canteen.)

    • Maldives crises: Military throws MPs out of Parliament

      “Security Forces literally throws an MP out of the Majlis premises! The Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed was telling the truth when he said he was forcefully dragged on the floor from his chambers,” tweeted MDP Secretary General Anas Abdul Sattar.

    • Military bar opposition lawmakers from entering parliament house

      Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) on Tuesday barred a group of opposition lawmakers from entering the parliament house.

    • ‘Liar in chief’: Trump trolled over old tweet vowing he would never make cuts to Medicaid, Medicare

      US President Donald Trump’s old tweets have once again come back to haunt him after House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi resurfaced a 2015 post about Medicaid and Medicare cuts. On Monday (12 February), the Trump administration unveiled a $4.4 trillion budget plan that proposed massive and historical cuts to several programmes, executive departments and agencies.

    • Kushner requests more intel info than almost all White House staff: report

      He is one of reportedly dozens of White House officials who have been operating with temporary clearances during Trump’s first year in office, and his clearance could be in jeopardy following chief of staff John Kelly’s changes to the clearance process, the Post said

    • Trump uses Facebook exec comments on Russia meddling to criticize ‘Fake News Media’

      Rob Goldman, Facebook’s vice president of ads, posted a series of tweets reiterating what the social media giant had discovered in recent months about Russian efforts to interfere with the election using the platform.

    • Facebook ‘grateful’ for Mueller indictments ‘against those who abused our service’

      Facebook disclosed in September that it had sold $100,000 worth of advertisements to the Internet Research Agency, which was named in Friday’s indictment.

    • Facebook, Twitter Ill-Equipped to Stop Repeat of 2016 Meddling
    • Twitter pledges to continue working with Mueller after indictments
    • Robert Mueller charges Russian ‘troll [sic] farm’ with election interference

      Ten of the defendants were allegedly employed by the Internet Research Agency, a “troll [sic] farm” funded by the Russian government for disinformation efforts. “Defendants, posing as US persons and creating false US personas, operated social media pages and groups designed to attract US audiences,” the indictment reads. “They engaged in operations primarily intended to communicate derogatory information about Hillary Clinton, to denigrate other candidates such as Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, and to support Bernie Sanders and then-candidate Donald Trump.”

    • Russia’s troll [sic] identities were more sophisticated than anyone thought

      One of the most surprising lessons of the indictment is just how seriously the Russians took their fake identities. We might associate troll [sic] accounts with spam or weird visuals, but at least some of the accounts described by Mueller were backed up by full-scale identity theft. According to the indictment, defendants used stolen Social Security numbers to build entire false personas, complete with fraudulent photo IDs and PayPal accounts. Crucially, the stolen Social Security numbers meant all of it was happening in a real US citizen’s name. If anyone looked into the person behind the account, they’d see a long paper trail and plenty of government-issued verification to settle their suspicions.

    • Mueller flips American who unwittingly sold bank info to Russian trolls [sic]

      On Friday, shortly after Department of Justice officials announced the indictment of 13 Russians accused of being involved in a multi-year effort to spread false information online surrounding the 2016 presidential campaign, the DOJ also announced the guilty plea of a California man, Richard “Ricky” Pinedo.

    • Media Embrace New ‘Reform’ Group as Bulwark Against Guaranteed Healthcare

      In recent years, there has been rapid growth in support for Medicare for All, a single-payer healthcare system that would guarantee the universal medical coverage that the Affordable Care Act failed to achieve with its passage in 2010. Sixty-four percent of Democrats support single-payer healthcare, while over half of Americans believe that the government should be responsible for ensuring coverage, according to surveys by Pew Research Center.

      Sen. Bernie Sanders’ Medicare for All Act (SR 1804) has been cosponsored by 16 senators, while former Rep. John Conyers’ Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act (HR 676) has received endorsements from the majority of the Democratic caucus, amounting to 120 cosponsors. Numerous advocacy groups have been campaigning to make Medicare for All a signature part of the upcoming Democratic Party election campaigns in 2018 and 2020.

    • The Trump Administration Goes to War — With Itself — Over the VA

      David Shulkin, the secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, showed up to what he thought would be a routine Senate oversight hearing in January, only to discover it was an ambush.

      Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., was the sole holdout among members of the veterans affairs committee on a bill that would shape the future of the agency. The bipartisan bill had the support of 26 service groups representing millions of veterans. But Moran was pushing a rival piece of legislation, and it had the support of a White House aide who wields significant clout on veterans policy. Neither proposal could advance as long as there was any doubt about which President Donald Trump wanted to sign.

    • DOJ Russia Indictment Again Highlights Why Internet Companies Can’t Just Wave A Magic Wand To Make Bad Stuff Go Away

      As you’ve certainly heard by now, earlier today the Justice Department announced that it had indicted thirteen Russian individuals and three Russian organizations for various crimes related to trying to influence the US election. You should read the full indictment if you haven’t already. Not surprisingly it focuses on the infamous Internet Research Agency (IRA), which was the giant Russian online trolling operation that we’ve discussed going back to 2015.

      While many are trying to position the indictment as a “significant” bit of news, I have to admit to being a bit underwhelmed. It really does not reveal much that wasn’t already widely known. It’s been widely reported that the Russians had interest in disrupting our democracy and sowing discord, including setting up and pushing competing rallies from different political sides, and generally stoking fires of distrust and anger in America. And… the indictment seems to repeat much of that which has already been reported. Furthermore, this indictment actually reminds me quite a bit of a similar indictment four years ago aginst various Chinese officials for “hacking” crimes against the US. As we noted then, indicting the Chinese — who the US would never be able to arrest anyway — just seemed to be a publicity stunt, that had the potential to come back to haunt the US. It kinda feels the same here.

    • Donald Trump’s 6 Very Real, Very Insane Tips For A Good Life

      Media organizations he doesn’t like suddenly find themselves blacklisted from campaign rallies and press briefings. One failed business deal in Mexico, and later he’s ranting about how most Mexicans are “rapists” who “bring in drug and crime.” When he won the Republican presidential primary in 2016, he took almost no steps toward reconciliation with his former foes, instead dishing out insults left and right to people he no longer needed to attack. And when Puerto Rico was stricken by a hurricane this summer, Trump dedicated a lot more effort than “none at all, are you crazy?” to a running feud with the mayor of San Juan.

    • Over 130 White House officials don’t have permanent security clearance: report
    • NRA, Russia and Trump: How ‘dark money’ is poisoning American democracy

      As American communities continue to be victimized by gun violence — including the mass shooting yesterday, in Parkland, Florida — the National Rifle Association continues to wield immense influence over American legislators, primarily through enormous campaign contributions.

      But when it comes to funding, the NRA may have finally gone too far: the FBI recently launched an investigation to determine whether a Russian central banker, and Putin ally, illegally funneled money through the organization to help the Trump campaign.

    • John Goerzen: The downfall of… Trump or Democracy?

      The future of the United States as a democracy is at risk. That’s plenty scary. More scary is that many Americans know this, but don’t care. And even more astonishing is that this same thing happened 45 years ago.

      I remember it clearly. January 30, just a couple weeks ago. On that day, we had the news that FBI deputy director McCabe — a frequent target of apparently-baseless Trump criticism — had been pushed out. The Trump administration refused to enforce the bipartisan set of additional sanctions on Russia. And the House Intelligence Committee voted on party lines to release what we all knew then, and since have seen confirmed, was a memo filled with errors designed to smear people investigating the president, but which nonetheless contained enough classified material to cause an almighty kerfuffle in Washington.

      I told my wife that evening, “I think today will be remembered as a turning point. Either to the downfall of Trump, or the downfall of our democracy, but I don’t know which.”

      I have not written much about this scandal, because so many quality words have already been written. But it is time to add something.


      One comfort from all of this is the knowledge that we had been there before. We had lived through an era of great progress in civil rights, and right after that elected a dictatorial crook president. We survived the president’s fervent supporters refusing to believe overwhelming evidence of his crookedness. We survived.

      And yet, that is no guarantee. After all, as John Dean put it, Nixon “might have survived if there’d been a Fox News.”

    • How Russia turned the internet against America

      The indictment released Friday by special counsel Robert Mueller makes plain how prosecutors believe Russia pursued its multiyear scheme to undermine the 2016 presidential election — by wielding the social media-driven internet that the United States itself did so much to create.

      They had help, digital experts say, from decades of accepted U.S. policy about how to help the internet thrive: The U.S. government has taken a largely hands-off approach, while the anonymity that protects people’s privacy and liberty online also allowed Russian trolls to deceive overly trusting Americans. And the same freedom to innovate that has made Silicon Valley wealthy and powerful meant that there were few eyes on the ball as Russian actors began figuring out how to manipulate the internet’s few dominant platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter and the Google-owned YouTube.

    • How Much Did Russian Interference Affect The 2016 Election?

      One of my least favorite questions is: “Did Russian interference cost Hillary Clinton the 2016 election?” The question is newly relevant because of special counsel Robert Mueller’s indictment of 13 Russians on Friday on charges that they used a variety of shady techniques to discourage people from voting for Clinton and encourage them to vote for Donald Trump. That doesn’t necessarily make it any easier to answer, however. But here are my high-level thoughts in light of the indictment. (For more detail on these, listen to our emergency politics podcast.)

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Turkey jails 6 Turkish journalists for life, releases German reporter

      “This is a dark day for press freedom and for justice in Turkey and sets a chilling precedent for scores of other journalists facing trials on similar trumped-up terrorism charges,” said Gauri van Gulik, Europe director for Amnesty International, of the sentencing.

    • Subnautica Dev Fired Over Controversial Twitter Comments
    • Year of the Dog images REMOVED in Malaysia as it’s deemed too offensive to Muslims

      But some shopping malls have decided not to have images of dogs, sparking an online backlash, CNN reported.

    • Michigan school adopts ‘no-bag policy’ in wake of Florida shooting

      The policy, also announced in a Facebook post, will go into effect next week — rather than immediately — so that students can have a full week to get used to the change.

    • One Down: Instagram Caves To Russian Censorship As All Eyes Turn To YouTube

      We had just been talking about Instagram and YouTube facing site blocks in Russia all because a billionaire didn’t like his dirty laundry exposed online. For brief background, a noted Russian dissident, Alexy Navalny, had published photos of billionaire Oleg Deripaska and Deputy Prime Minister Sergey Prikhodko relaxing on a yacht with a young woman variously described as a model and escort fawning over them. Importantly, the salacious nature of the photos and videos is only half of the reason Navalny is drawing attention to them. The other reason is his accusations of corruption in government, as a massively wealthy oligarch consorts in this fashion with a high-ranking member of the federal government. Despite that, or perhaps because of it, Russian courts had handed Deripaska a legal victory and ordered sites hosting the images, including Instagram and YouTube, to take them down. Russia’s notoriously corrupt site-blocking agency, Rozcomnadzor, issued an edict that the images be removed or the sites would face a potential full block in Russia.

    • Body positive art exhibit censored for female nudity

      She had pitched the show a year ago to Artspace Jackson Flats, the live/work art building where she lives. But when a fellow resident took issue with the nudity in the show, Artspace, the nonprofit that owns the building, asked Harsma to alter her show.

      Harsma says that’s censorship. In light of a complaint, two of the pieces depicting nude women are still hanging in public view, though with body parts obscured by a paper marked “Censored.”

    • A new scale of censorship

      Two weeks ago, the Turkish government proposed a bill to allow the Turkish media authority the Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) to regulate all content posted online to prevent broadcasts that “jeopardize national security” and “destroy moral values.”

      Meaning: The scale of censorship will broaden to include online platforms such as YouTube and Netflix in the very near future. The RTÜK already monitors Turkish media. Couples making love or kissing are considered obscene and “against moral values” so even Oscar-winning movies are “simplified” and scenes cut. All kinds of alcohol and smoking scenes are blurred. (I remember watching a documentary about Einstein a couple of years ago and even his pipe was blurred. Yes, his pipe.)

    • The “No Platform” Brigade

      I am among those who have been “de-platformed” for speaking critically about the political and ideological aspects of Islam that are not compatible with American values and human rights. The usual justification for disinviting us is that speaking critically of Islam is “hate speech” that is “hurtful” to Muslims.

    • Ich Bin Ein Tweeter

      Germany passed laws prohibiting Volksverhetzung—“incitement to hatred”—in 1960, [...]

    • University of Chicago Professor explores censorship and information control

      As part of the College of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences lecture series, Purdue Northwest welcomes University of Chicago professor Ada Palmer who will discuss, “Censorship and Information Control from the Inquisition to the Present.”

    • Manga fantasy Goblin Slayer gets an anime series but fans are already worried the censors will ruin it

      The original novels (by Kumo Kagyu and Noboru Kannatsuki) and the manga (Kōsuke Kurose) focus on the adventures of the two characters and their newly formed adventuring party, with the tale centering around Goblin Slayer’s quest to kill as many of the creatures as possible; things usually get pretty gory as the adventurers carve their way through hordes of the things.

    • Fire at sacred Tibetan Buddhist temple sparks suspicion about censorship

      A fire broke out at one of the most sacred temples in Tibetan Buddhism, prompting concern and suspicion that information on the incident is being controlled by authorities.

      Chinese State media said the fire at “part of” Jokhang Temple in Lhasa, the capital of the south-western Chinese region of Tibet, “was soon put out” after it began at 6.40pm on Saturday.

      Images posted online showed flames billowing from a pagoda at the sacred building, which was built in the seventh century.

    • What Teenagers Are Learning From Online Porn

      Porn Literacy, which began in 2016 and is the focus of a pilot study, was created in part by Emily Rothman, an associate professor at Boston University’s School of Public Health who has conducted several studies on dating violence, as well as on porn use by adolescents. She told me that the curriculum isn’t designed to scare kids into believing porn is addictive, or that it will ruin their lives and relationships and warp their libidos. Instead it is grounded in the reality that most adolescents do see porn and takes the approach that teaching them to analyze its messages is far more effective than simply wishing our children could live in a porn-free world.

    • Turkey Censorship and self-censorship report published

      Susma (Don’t Be Silenced) Platform, part of the initiative to support and promote editorial independence in the Turkish press, P24 Platform for Independent Journalism, published its first censorship report covering the period from September 2016 to December 2017.

      The report, published in Turkish and according to the platform’s website soon to be published in English as well, documents the violations of freedom of speech and art in Turkey since the July 15th coup attempt.

      Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was granted wide-ranging state of emergency powers by Turkish Parliament in the wake of the July 15, 2016, coup attempt. The state of emergency rules (OHAL) allowed Erdoğan and his party, Justice and Development Party (AKP) to rule the country by decree, sidelining the democratic political process, and enabling him to implement sweeping changes to the Turkish state, constitution, and economy.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Germany edges toward Chinese-style rating of citizens

      China is experimenting with a dystopian “social credit system” which grades every citizen based on their behavior. The head of an expert panel argues that Germany is sleepwalking in the same direction.

    • A Crisis in Intelligence: Unthinkable Consequences of Outsourcing U.S. Intel (Part 3)

      Decades ago, philosopher Marshall McLuhan predicted a future world war fought using information. While World War I and World War II were waged using armies and mobilized economies, “World War III [will be] a guerrilla information war with no division between military and civilian participation,” McLuhan said, a prophecy included in his 1970 book of reflections, Culture Is Our Business.

      We are now seeing this information war play out in real time. Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller’s indictment on Friday of 13 Russian nationals who allegedly attempted to “sow discord in the U.S. political system, including the 2016 U.S. presidential election” can be seen as the culmination of the intelligence community’s efforts to ferret out trolls engaging in “Information Operations” against the United States. But in some cases, this may be the product of the West’s own Information Operations – often utilizing private “intelligence” companies, or “spies for hire.”

      In parts one and two of this series, we looked at the private companies serving the deep state. We have seen how the top levels of the deep state interact with smaller companies and individual actors.

    • We spy trouble: Experts who fear a Trojan horse-style cyber attack say even GCHQ is concerned about smart meters

      Computers experts are warning that the Government’s roll-out of a new type of smart energy meter will leave households vulnerable to cyber attack. The consequences, they say, could be dire with homes potentially losing their power supply and hackers selling stolen details to criminals.

      Fraud is also a worry if hackers are able to inflate meter readings and intercept payments.

    • How UK Spies Hacked a European Ally and Got Away With It

      For a moment, it seemed the hackers had slipped up and exposed their identities. It was the summer of 2013, and European investigators were looking into an unprecedented breach of Belgium’s telecommunications infrastructure. They believed they were on the trail of the people responsible. But it would soon become clear that they were chasing ghosts – fake names that had been invented by British spies.

      The hack had targeted Belgacom, Belgium’s largest telecommunications provider, which serves millions of people across Europe. The company’s employees had noticed their email accounts were not receiving messages. On closer inspection, they made a startling discovery: Belgacom’s internal computer systems had been infected with one of the most advanced pieces of malware security experts had ever seen.

    • HomePods are staining wooden tables with a white ring

      According to the support page, the marks are apparently caused by “oils diffusing between the silicone base and the table surface.” In addition to the previously stated advice about hoping the marks go away or cleaning the surface, Apple also said for customers who are concerned about the issue, “We recommend placing your HomePod on a different surface.”

    • Nokia may dump its health tech business

      Has Nokia had enough of the health tech world? Just two years after entering the industry with its $190 million purchase of French company Withings, the company has announced it’s launching a “strategic review of its digital health business.” A terse blog post said the firm was considering its “strategic options” with regards to health care, and that this “may or may not result in any transaction or other changes.”

    • The U.S. Intel Community’s Demonization of Huawei Remains Highly Hypocritical

      We’ve noted for some time how Chinese hardware vendor Huawei has been consistently accused of spying on American citizens without any substantive, public evidence. You might recall that these accusations flared up several years ago, resulting in numerous investigations that culminated in no hard evidence whatsoever to support the allegations. We’re not talking about superficial inquiries, we’re talking about eighteen months, in-depth reviews by people with every interest in exposing them.

    • New National Academy of Sciences Report on Encryption Asks the Wrong Questions

      The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) released a much-anticipated report yesterday that attempts to influence the encryption debate by proposing a “framework for decisionmakers.” At best, the report is unhelpful. At worst, its framing makes the task of defending encryption harder.

      The report collapses the question of whether the government should mandate “exceptional access” to the contents of encrypted communications with how the government could accomplish this mandate. We wish the report gave as much weight to the benefits of encryption and risks that exceptional access poses to everyone’s civil liberties as it does to the needs—real and professed—of law enforcement and the intelligence community.

    • Canada Bill C-59 Claims to Correct Privacy Abuses — It Actually Makes Them Much Worse

      Specifically, the provisions in C-59 would allow the Communications Security Establishment (CSE) to launch cyber attacks against foreign governments and engage in covert operations that such as impersonating reporters, programming computer malware, and spreading misinformation abroad to influence foreign elections.

    • Facebook must stop tracking Belgian users, court rules

      Facebook must stop tracking Belgian users’ surfing outside the social network and delete data it’s already gathered, or it will face fines of 250,000 ($312,000) euros a day, a Belgian court ruled.

      Facebook “doesn’t sufficiently inform” clients about the data it gathers on their broader web use, nor does it explain what it does with the information or say how long it stores it, the Brussels Court of First Instance said in a statement.

    • Don’t Trust the VPN Facebook Wants You to Use

      Onavo, on the other hand, expressly combs through, analyzes, and tracks user data over time, feeding it directly to Facebook. The service also states that it may retain users’ data for as long as they have an account and beyond. And Facebook does leverage that data for its own purposes; the Wall Street Journal reported in August that the company used data from Onavo to track the popularity of competitive startups and other user preferences, and to inform acquisition decisions.

    • Facebook may guess millions of people’s sexuality to sell ads
    • Copycat: How Facebook Tried to Squash Snapchat
  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Forensic Science Put Jimmy Genrich in Prison for 24 Years. What if It Wasn’t Science?
    • Americans Want Prison Reform. But Does Trump?

      The survey released by the MacArthur Foundation, a private organization that supports grants in a variety of policy areas, was developed to measure knowledge of local criminal justice systems and perceptions of fairness in them. Respondents were found to mostly support rehabilitation efforts for people in early phases in the justice system, particularly for those with mental illnesses, and backed treatment over prosecution in response to the opioid crisis:

    • The $40 billion program arming small town cops with combat gear and military tanks

      Struck by these new developments, Craig set out to understand what had changed. His subsequent film “Do Not Resist,” premiering Feb. 12 on PBS’s POV, reveals some startling trends. From police conventions to equipment expos to officer training sessions, Craig’s footage gives the best on-the-ground look at the rapid militarization of municipal police forces.

    • Why New Zealand has so many gang members

      For a quiet country, New Zealand has a peculiar problem with gangs. It is reckoned to have one of the highest membership rates in the world. In a population of 4.7m, police count over 5,300 mobsters or “prospects” who are angling to join. Cumulatively, that makes the groups larger than the army. Bikers like the Hells Angels and posses from Australia are among its 25 recognised groups, but two Maori crews dominate: Black Power and the Mongrel Mob. They are remarkable for their subcultures as much as for their size. Members signal their allegiance by sewing patches onto leather jackets or branding themselves with dense tattoos. A closed fist marks Black Power, which took its name from the American civil-rights movement, and a British bulldog signals the Mongrels. In all, Maori people make up three-quarters of the country’s gangsters.

    • California police worked with neo-Nazis to pursue ‘anti-racist’ activists, documents show

      The records, which also showed officers expressing sympathy with white supremacists and trying to protect a neo-Nazi organizer’s identity, were included in a court briefing from three anti-fascist activists who were charged with felonies after protesting at a Sacramento rally. The defendants were urging a judge to dismiss their case and accused California police and prosecutors of a “cover-up and collusion with the fascists”.

    • ‘Are you a citizen?’ To U.S. Border Patrol, the Canadian border is 100 miles wide

      Because “boundaries” include coasts, the “100-mile zone” includes entire states — all or almost all of New York, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Vermont, the American Civil Liberties Union notes.

      The zone also includes Houston and Los Angeles. All in all, well over half of Americans, more than 175 million people, live in a place where the Border Patrol believes it has the right to question people, search their vehicles and detain people it believes are unlawfully present.

      The bus and train checks are not new. But they appear to be happening more often near the Canadian border than they did in the five years prior to Trump’s tenure. And they have attracted renewed scrutiny around the country as Trump touts his crackdown on illegal immigration and gives the Border Patrol more money and leeway.

      Miriam Aukerman, senior staff attorney at Michigan’s ACLU, said Border Patrol checks far from the border are a violation of Americans’ constitutional right against unreasonable search and seizure.

    • The next time ICE rounds up workers, remember that we didn’t do the same with Nazi-era war criminals

      ICE now houses the evidence of the INS’ failures, and it too isn’t cooperative on the subject of war criminals. It has been extremely reluctant to release its files through the Freedom of Information Act, and when it does, it routinely applies unwarranted redactions to their contents, demonstrating a higher concern for the privacy of deceased accused war criminals than for transparency about the agency’s history.

    • Judge blocks deportation of Indonesian Christians

      U.S. District Judge Esther Salas ruled Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) can’t deport the Indonesians while their cases are pending. The American Civil Liberties Union filed a federal class-action lawsuit that requested a stay for the migrants so they have more time to challenge their deportations.

      “This case involves life-and-death stakes, and we are simply asking that these longtime residents be given opportunity to show that they are entitled to remain here,” Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU Immigrants Rights Project, said in a statement. “As in other cases … involving mass deportations, we are asking the court to make clear that the fundamental protections of due process apply to noncitizens.”

    • Paige Spiranac on a mission to change the face of golf – one hater at a time

      Her experience playing in Dubai proved a sign of more ominous things to come as public profile and personal life overlapped and she was targeted on the very social media platforms that had given her celebrity. “I was harassed, my family was harassed,” Spiranac adds. “I was receiving death threats, people were invading my privacy, I was being blackmailed. This was going on whilst I was trying to play.”

    • Syria war: Outcry over ‘mutilated’ female Kurdish fighter

      Kurdish officials accused fighters allied with Turkey of “playing with her corpse” and mutilating it.

    • The Guardian view on sharia councils: shedding some light

      But to recognise the reality of sharia councils operating here is the first step towards limiting any harm that they can do. That should start with more funding for legal aid for those who want to access justice and a closer look at how legally compliant these bodies are in matters of arbitration. Awareness campaigns to ensure people know their rights would help too. Small steps, perhaps, but ones away from the idea that discrimination could be entrenched on the basis of religious identity.

    • That One Time California Highway Patrol Conspired with Neo-Nazis to Reject My Public Records Request

      Midway through the piece, reporter Sam Levin describes an audio recording of a phone call between CHP detective D. Ayres and the TWP organizer, Doug McCormack. The conversation centers around a public records request filed by an unnamed member of the public. The officer had taken it upon himself to alert McCormack that his name might be released as a result.

      Reading it, I immediately recognized that it was me who filed the request. A year and a half ago, I had asked for the event permit application, the final permit, communications with protesters and counter-protesters, relevant departmental policies, the estimated cost of overtime for security at the protest, and other assorted records.

    • Since Standing Rock, 56 Bills Have Been Introduced in 30 States to Restrict Protests

      i“This is a battle for a narrative,” said Standing Rock Sioux member and attorney Chase Iron Eyes, when I asked how he felt about activists’ being referred to as terrorists or “jihadists.” Iron Eyes was arrested during a police raid on another protest camp a few weeks before the eviction of Oceti Sakowin, and charged with a felony for “inciting a riot” as well as criminal trespass. He’s facing five years in prison. Daniel Sheehan, who serves as chief counsel for the Lakota People’s Law Office and is defending Iron Eyes, believes that Iron Eyes was surveilled and selectively prosecuted with felony charges because he was particularly outspoken in his opposition to the pipeline. His name appeared on several intelligence documents prepared by TigerSwan, including one labeling him as one of the “most radical” members of the protest movement.

    • Etukuri’s abduction: What could have sparked it off

      New Vision senior reporter, attached to the weekend, Charles Etukuri has been abducted by armed men in military uniform. He was picked near New Vision offices on Tuesday afternoon, around 2:00pm.

    • “FREE from Chains!”: Eskinder Nega is Released from Jail

      Eskinder has been detained in Ethiopian jails since September 2011. He was accused and convicted of violating the country’s Anti-Terrorism Proclamation, primarily by virtue of his warnings in online articles that if Ethiopia’s government continued on its authoritarian path, it might face an Arab Spring-like revolt.

      Ethiopia’s leaders refused to listen to Eskinder’s message. Instead they decided the solution was to silence its messenger. Now, within the last few months, that refusal to engage with the challenges of democracy has led to the inevitable result. For two years, protests against the government have risen in frequency and size. A new Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, sought to reduce tensions by introducing reforms and releasing political prisoners like Eskinder. Despite thousands of prisoner releases, and the closure of one of the country’s more notorious detention facilities, the protests continue. A day after Eskinder’s release, Desalegn was forced to resign from his position. A day later, and the government has declared a new state of emergency.

    • India links women’s safety and economic growth

      In its latest economic report, the government stated that India’s future development hinges on how women and girls are treated in society. The “intrinsic values” of gender equality are incontestable, it states. And the economy will keep growing only “if women acquire greater personal agency, assume political power and attain public status, and participate equally in the labor force.”

    • Muslim woman deletes Facebook account after rape threats by Islamists, Communist says not as bad as Khap threatening women
    • Appeals Court: Handcuffing A Compliant Ten-Year-Old Is Unreasonable But Deputy Had No Way Of Knowing That

      Time and time again, courts remind officers of the law don’t actually have to know the law to enforce the law. Yes, that’s how it all works out for citizens, who are just as frequently reminded ignorance of the law is no excuse. This has lead to the prevalence of pretextual stops where minor traffic violations (that may not even be violations) are used to initiate long conversations with law enforcement officers with the end goal of obtaining consent for a search or to bring a drug dog onto the scene.

      Qualified immunity, along with the good faith exception, have allowed an untold amount of law enforcement abuse. This has completely skewed judicial perception, turning law enforcement into noble fools and raising expectations of citizens’ legal knowledge to that of seasoned criminal defense lawyers.

    • Eric Lundgren, ‘e-waste’ recycling innovator, faces prison for trying to extend life span of PCs

      Lundgren wanted to provide buyers of used computers a restore disc of Windows, so they wouldn’t throw their computers away. Microsoft, and the government, objected.

    • One day without us: mining Twitter, framing solidarity

      Expressions of migrant solidarity through the #1DayWithoutUs campaign sought to counterbalance xenophobic sentiments, offering a multiplicity of migrant voices and experiences in the UK today.

    • Chinese police snatch a Swedish publisher and parade him on TV
    • James Damore’s labor complaint against Google was completely shut down

      Google didn’t violate labor laws by firing engineer James Damore for a memo criticizing the company’s diversity program, according to a recently disclosed letter from the US National Labor Relations Board. The lightly redacted statement is written by Jayme Sophir, associate general counsel of the NLRB’s division of advice; it dates to January, but was released yesterday, according to Law.com. Sophir concludes that while some parts of Damore’s memo were legally protected by workplace regulations, “the statements regarding biological differences between the sexes were so harmful, discriminatory, and disruptive as to be unprotected.”

    • UK Rejects Recognizing Sharia Marriages Under Law

      The British government rejected the recommendation of a governmental review board to formally regulate sharia councils, saying to do so would recognize the legitimacy of sharia law in Britain.

    • Foreign Office employees invited to wear headscarves to work to mark World Hijab day

      The Government department, headed up by Boris Johnson, offered all employees the chance to wear a hijab for part of their day to mark the worldwide event on February 1.


      Free scarves for all those that choose to wear it for the day or part of the day.

    • Seminary teacher, three associates convicted in rape-murder case of girl
    • Man who raped teenage girl held sharp piece of wood to her throat and said: ‘You cannot be a virgin because you are white’
    • Uganda: Refusal to convert to Islam ends in family tragedy

      A Christian woman has been brutally attacked with a machete by her Muslim husband for refusing to convert to his religion, sources told World Watch Monitor. The attack led to the death of the woman’s one-week-old twins.

    • Brutal beating video highlights violence against women in Afghanistan

      According to the men who beat her, they discovered her with a man at her home while her husband was away in Iran, and so they decided to punish her in the main village square.

    • Hyderabad: Forced to convert to Islam, assaulted, alleges woman

      In an alleged case of ‘love jihad’ in the city, a 25-year-old techie from the city was forced to convert, sexually assaulted, and then dumped for allegedly failing to follow religious customs. Though she was being confined in Dubai by her fiancé, the girl managed to escape, return home and lodged a complaint with the Malkajgiri Police.

    • Council leader denies authority members will not meet with Muslims as he defends ‘widespread’ call for Mayor’s resignation

      Others have questioned whether it is right that a post on what is deemed to be a private Facebook page and not shared publicly could be called into question in this way.

    • We Fought for Our Democracy. Now Turkey Wants to Destroy It.

      I and my fellow members of the Kurdish Women’s and People’s Protection Units, often known as the Y.P.J. and Y.P.G., have fought hard for years to keep the Islamic State out of this autonomous region of Syria known as Rojava. We endured Turkey’s barrages and avoided returning fire, even after civilian casualties, so as not to provide a pretext for this invasion.


      One would imagine the international community and especially the United States, which has been more than happy to partner with us in the fight against the Islamic State, would firmly oppose such an unprovoked attack executed in the name of racial hatred — Mr. Erdogan has stated his intention to commit ethnic cleansing of Afrin’s Kurdish population, or, as he says, to give the region to its “real owners” — but instead, it has been greeted largely with silence, and therefore tacitly condoned.

    • Egypt’s Christians Suffering from “Very High Persecution”

      Three segments of society are “Very Strong[ly]” responsible for the persecution of Copts: (1) “non-Christian religious leaders”—meaning Muslim clerics, sheikhs, imams, and ulema— “at any level from local to national”; (2) “violent religious groups,” meaning violent Islamic groups, the Islamic State being only the most notorious;” and (3) “Normal citizens (people from the general public), including mobs.”

      In other words, Muslims from every rung of society—from highly educated Muslim clerics, to members of Islamic organizations, to the passionate and volatile masses, “whose views are shaped by intolerant and radical imams”—are “Very Strong[ly]” responsible for and “significant drivers of persecution.”

    • How Police apprehended couple operating baby factory in Lagos

      According to Lagos State Commissioner of Police, CP Imohimi Egdal, the suspects, Adeola Adebayo; 50 and Rita Adebayo; 40 were arrested for harboring pregnant women and selling their babies without their consent.

    • Police uncover alleged baby factory in Lagos, arrest couple
    • Teens repeatedly rape woman at gunpoint in own home and behind mosque in horrific attack
    • Anti-Christian crime causes increasing concern in Germany

      Germany’s federal police recorded almost 100 attacks on Christians or Christian institutions in Germany in 2017. Most violent incidents occurred among asylum seekers living together in refugee homes.

    • Muslim parents, clerics raise concerns about children’s books from Saudi Arabia sold in Singapore

      One of the books titled Men In Captivity is the tale of a 13-year-old boy who convinces his mother to allow him to perform a “jihad” or holy war against Christians.

    • Somalia: Justice Eludes Rape Victims in Puntland – Campaigners

      The suspects were arrested but later set free after swearing on the Quran to deny the charges, while the victim was told she needed four witnesses in order to press charges, GECPD said.

    • Pakistan: Murderer Sentenced to Death After Killing ‘Anti-Islamic’ Student in Blasphemy Row

      A Pakistani court issued the death sentence to a man involved in the lynching of a university student falsely accused of blasphemy.

    • Aasia Bibi family appeals for early hearing of her case

      Aasia Bibi, 51, has been on the death row since November 2010 after being convicted of committing blasphemy. In 2014, the Lahore High Court upheld her death sentence.

    • Female Pakistani Activist Pushes Back Against Blasphemy Charges

      Gulalai’s Aware Girls organization, which is based in Peshawar, has been working for gender equality, education and female empowerment in the border regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Her work as an activist has brought other cases of harassment as well.

    • Senior Ofsted official backs headteacher over hijab ban for under eights

      Amanda Spielman says religion [sic] is being used to ‘actively pervert’ education and school leaders should not fear causing offence when setting policies

    • Religious extremists use schools to ‘isolate and segregate’ children and brainwash minds, Ofsted chief warns

      Inspectors are increasingly coming across those who want to “actively pervert” the purpose of education, according to Amanda Spielman.

    • Rihanna not welcome in Senegal, religious group says

      But an association of about 30 Islamic associations called No to Freemasonry and Homosexuality have asked the government to cancel her visit.

    • Paris Muslim accused of killing Jewish woman no longer charged with hate crime

      The charge of murder aggravated by racial hatred was excluded from what is now the indictment against Traore by the examining magistrate — a function designed to oversee prosecutors and intercept flawed indictments before they form the basis of an active trial.

    • Minn. Reps. Cindy Pugh, Kathy Lohmer, local GOP official warn of Muslims ‘infiltrating’ precinct caucuses

      Sina did not respond to a Facebook message and could not otherwise be reached for comment. The Fourth Congressional District includes nearly all of Ramsey County, including St. Paul.

    • Germany Alarmed by ‘Kindergarten Jihadists’

      The threat posed by the radicalization of minors has become a major political issue in Germany. Three out of five radical Islamist attacks in the country in 2016 were carried out by minors.

    • In British schools, the wearing of the hijab by young girls is an explosive issue

      In some cases, the schools laid down that girls should cover not only their heads but their entire bodies (in other words, wear a jilbab) or their faces. At the somewhat more liberal end, the study found 18 schools which said the hijab was optional.

    • Islamic radicals against parish charity work in Yogyakarta

      Last Sunday, Muslim extremists organised protests in Banguntapan (picture 1) to exclude Catholics from the locations where the latter had planned to carry out their initiatives. Ominous gatherings were also held in Jaranan, where other beneficial projects had been planned.

    • Muslim inmate sues state over failure to provide halal meals
    • British government rejects calls to legitimise up to 85 Sharia courts

      ‘Sharia law has no jurisdiction in the UK and we would not facilitate or endorse regulation, which could present councils as an alternative to UK laws,’ read a Home Office statement.


      Although it recognised Sharia councils existed, the government said there was no point in banning them as they would end up going underground.

    • Shooting At NSA Triggered By Unlicensed Teen Driver Making Wrong Turn And Panicking, Passenger Says

      The driver of an SUV that was shot at by police outside the National Security Agency campus at Fort Meade after ramming a security barrier is reportedly an unlicensed teen who was following GPS directions when he made a wrong turn, panicked and hit the gas.

      Passenger Javonte Brown told the Washington Post that the 17-year-old driver was following GPS directions while heading to a friend’s house on Wednesday when he turned onto a restricted-access road. The SUV that the teen was driving then rammed into a security barrier.

    • WSJ’s Epic Distortion of Colombian and Venezuelan Refugees

      A Wall Street Journal article by Juan Forero (2/13/18) ran with the headline “Venezuela’s Misery Fuels Migration on Epic Scale.” The subhead stated, “Residents Flee Crumbling Economy in Numbers That Echo Syrians to Europe, Rohingya to Bangladesh.”

      Forero’s article quoted a UN official: “By world standards, Colombia is receiving migrants at a pace that now rivals what we saw in the Balkans, in Greece, in Italy in 2015, at the peak of [Europe’s] migrant emergency.” Further on, Forero says, “The influx prompted Colombian officials to travel to Turkey last year to study how authorities were dealing with Syrian war refugees.”

    • Oxford professor Tariq Ramadan is denied bail after rape charges

      The two women went public with the allegations late last year when women began sharing accounts of sexual harassment and assault as part of the #MeToo and #BalanceTonPorc (“squeal on your pig”) campaign triggered by the revelations against the Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein.

    • 8 men allegedly impregnate 13-year-old school pupil in Kaduna

      She was alleged to have been raped by the eight men, including her neighbour, an elderly Imam of a mosque who molested her severely.

      Maryam said, “They usually call me and give me N500 naira when l am coming back from school and when I went out hawking, they usually forced me into it, and they have been warning me not to tell my parents, they vowed to kill me if I dared tell my parents.

    • Canadian PM: Sharia law is compatible with democracy

      In his book, Human Rights in Islam and Common Misconceptions, Abdul-Rahman al-Sheha writes that “the non-Muslim residents of an Islamic state are required to pay a minimal tax called ‘Jizyah.’”

    • Muslim spokesman criticised for saying it’s acceptable for girls to undergo FGM

      Since then, Selim’s comments have come under sharp criticism from various quarters, with healthcare professionals, family organisations, and activists campaigning against the FGM culture refuting his claims.

    • Female genital mutilation is a crime in the US — so why is it rarely prosecuted?

      According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 200 million females alive today have been subjected to female genital mutilation (FGM). Aliens from the 30 countries where this practice is concentrated are immigrating to the United States, and a serious effort is not being made to prevent them from practicing FGM here.

    • FGM case reported in England every 109 minutes, as WHO says worldwide cases rise above 200million

      A case of female genital mutilation (FGM) is reported in England every 109 minutes new figures show – however experts warn this could be the “tip of the iceburg”.

      The latest six months figures published by the Health and Social Care Information Centre show that 2,421 cases of FGM were reported between April and September 2015.

    • New Study Reveals Two In Three Bohra Muslim Girls Undergo Genital Mutilation

      The survey on the prevalence of FGM or “khafd” among the Bohras in the country also highlighted that in the urban areas increasingly doctors in medical facilities also performed FGM in addition to traditional cutters.

      The report titled “The Clitoral Hood a Contested Site: Khafd or Female Genital Mutilation in India” was released by Congress MP Shashi Tharoor at an event here.

    • Swede Fined for Saying Muslims Are ‘Behind Many Rapes’ – Reports

      In stark contrast to the “world’s first” feminist government’s ambition to create a truly gender-equal society, Sweden has seen a dramatic upsurge in rapes and sexual assault, with the spike reaching a mind-boggling 400 percent in parts of the country, compared with the pre-2000s.

    • ‘Interfaith work is haram’ mufti will not speak at mosque again

      In the short video he says that interfaith work is haram and encourages onlookers not to take part in visits to other religious places of worship.

    • The Islamic State’s toxic farewell: Environmental sabotage and chronic disease

      The Islamic State footprint on Iraq’s environment may be unprecedented and permanent, with a toxic legacy that includes wide-scale cattle deaths, fields that no longer yield edible crops and chronic breathing complications in children and the elderly, doctors and experts said.

      Up to 2 million barrels of oil were lost — either burned or spilled — between June 2016 and March 2017, when firefighters put out the final blaze, according to a U.N. report citing Iraq’s Oil Ministry. Environmental experts worry that much of the oil has seeped into the groundwater and the nearby ­Tigris River — a lifeline for millions of Iraqis stretching more than 1,000 miles to Baghdad and beyond.

    • This department store giant will launch its first modest collection

      Macy’s has announced a new collaboration with a modestwear brand to stock Islam-friendly fashion for both Muslim and non-Muslim women.

    • Malaysia’s Islamist party PAS says only Muslims will make policy should it come to power

      Muslims in his Cabinet would set policy direction in Malaysia while the non-Muslim ministers would only be tasked with carrying out what had been decided, said Abdul Hadi Awang, president of Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS).

    • Disabled prisoner put in solitary confinement for 19 years: Report

      The 93-page report, I Needed Help, Instead I was Punished: Abuse and Neglect of Prisoners with Disabilities in Australia, examined how prisoners with disabilities, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prisoners, were at serious risk of bullying, harassment, violence and abuse from fellow prisoners and staff.

    • Judge shuts door on attempt to get a new trial for Ross Ulbricht

      The federal judge overseeing the trial of Ross Ulbricht, the man convicted of creating the underground Silk Road drug website, has denied the Ulbricht legal team’s attempt to extend the normal three-year window for “post-conviction relief.” In essence, the move stifles Ulbricht’s new attorney’s extraordinary effort to re-open the case with new exculpatory evidence, on the off-chance that it exists.

    • Only demons eat left-handed, says Turkish Muslim authority

      It is not Diyanet’s first eyebrow-raising ruling in recent months. In January, it appeared to have endorsed the marriages of boys and girls at the age of 12 and 9 respectively. The statement, that appeared in an online religious glossary on its website, immediately caused an uproar, with opposition parties demanding a parliamentary investigation into the authority. Diyanet subsequently took down the entry, denying it was ever in favor of child marriages which is outlawed in Turkey, and said it was merely interpreting Islamic law.

    • MALCOLM: Forget peoplekind, Trudeau’s ISIS comments are the real problem

      It’s clear the man is asking about ISIS terrorists and not regular immigrants or refugees. He wants to know why Trudeau isn’t taking a tougher stance against those who travelled to Syria and Iraq to wage a war in the name of an evil ideology.

    • Soldier charged with murder of nine-year-old daughter

      The child was made to undergo these “punishments” because Nur Aina did not recite prayers before bedtime, made mistakes while reciting the Quran, or did not obey the man’s instructions, reports said.

    • Man allegedly kills 4 family members for deciding daughter’s marriage proposal against his will

      Asif had threatened to kill his family if they raised the matter of the girl’s marriage with the suitor again, the FIR said.

      When the man saw his family members agree that Komal would marry her suitor against his wishes, he shot his wife and three children dead. Following the incident, Asif Shah fled the crime scene, DPO Nisar said.

    • Indonesian democracy in retreat: The Jakarta Post

      In its latest report, the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) found the global trend of what it calls “a democratic recession” has persisted and that democracy continues to experience setbacks in places where it has long been considered safe.

      In the so-called democracy index, comprising 60 indicators across five broad categories – electoral process and pluralism, functioning of government, political participation, democratic political culture and civil liberties – the survey concluded that less than 5 per cent of the world’s population currently lives in a “full democracy.”

    • Number of torture deaths following Iran protests rises to 11

      Iranian parliament member Ali Reza Rahimi had said that the authorities arrested about 5,000 people during the recent protests which took place in more than 100 cities in different parts of the country.

    • Europe: Making Islam Great Again [Ed: If the right is so concerned about these migrants, then maybe it can secularise them?]

      According to the study, two-thirds of the asylum seekers are men, mostly under 30 years old. They are all in favor of preserving their traditional, conservative, Islamic values. The migrants are extremely religious; 70% go to the mosque every Friday for prayers.

      The women are just as religious, if not more: 62.6% pray five times a day, notably more than the men (39.7%). In addition, 66.3% of the women wear a headscarf in public, and 44.3% refuse to shake hands with a man.

    • Bengal Nursing Student Commits Suicide After Sexual Blackmail by Muslim Youth

      Mousmi’s parents lodged a police complaint against Md. Sreyash Raj, a youth from Raiganj and a medical student who also stays in Karnataka, alleging that he used to blackmail their daughter by showing a video clip of hers.

    • NIA books 9 over converting, trying to sell woman to IS

      The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has started a probe into alleged conversion of a Gujarat-based girl after registering a case against nine people hailing from Kerala and Bengaluru. They were allegedly involved in forcibly converting a Hindu woman to Islam and then trying to sell her to Islamic State (IS) terrorists in Saudi Arabia.

    • Swedish government gives Iraqi child rapist custody of children

      The year was about 2006 when the real nightmare started. Alicia’s family brought her from her home in Gothenburg on a trip down to Iraq to be married away. She still remembers the night clearly of her wedding. She had to stand on a stool during the ceremony. He was about 25-years-old.

    • ISIS Sex Slaves Slit Own Wrists, Tried To End Life: Yazidi Girl Who Arrived In India Recounts Horror

      The Islamic State in 2014 had undertaken systematic killing of Yazidis, a community of about 50,000 members and whom the terrorist group refers to as “devil worshippers”. One can only be born a Yazidi and believe in sun worshipping. The United Nations has termed it as an attempted genocide. There are about 2,000 Yazidi women in the captivity of the Islamic State and the fleeing population is forced to live in camps in the Kurdistan region.

    • I didn’t want to wear my hijab, and don’t believe very young girls should wear them today

      Spielman’s use of the term “British values” in her speech to a Church of England schools conference is likely to put people’s backs up further. This isn’t a term that I would associate with someone who cares about cohesion. Her comments about Muslims using “education institutions, legal and illegal, to narrow young people’s horizons, to isolate and segregate, and in the worst cases to indoctrinate impressionable minds with extremist ideology” seem more likely to divide people than bring them together. But it would be dangerous to respond to Spielman’s provocation by defending the idea that children should be allowed to wear headscarves. I feel uncomfortable every time I see well-meaning people defending parents’ right to send young girls to school wearing the hijab.

    • Iranian Women Are Reportedly Being Arrested for Protesting the Country’s Hijab Law

      The arrests, which were made in Iran’s capital Tehran, came after demonstrators took to the streets, waving their hijabs as a symbol of their resistance against the country-wide dress code. According to CNN, police believed that the protests were motivated by foreigners; however, activist Masih Alinejad told the outlet that this was not the case at all. “The movement started inside Iran. It has nothing to do with forces outside of Iran,” Alinejad, who also started the “White Wednesday” social media campaign, explained. Photos of the protests made the rounds on social media, showing women standing atop utility boxes, hijabs dangling from sticks.

    • Iranian police arrest 29 for involvement in hijab protests

      Tehran police suggested that their actions were incited by foreigners, saying those arrested were “deceived” into removing their hijabs, Iran’s semiofficial Tasnim News Agency reported. The 29 protesters have been transferred to judicial authorities, the report said.

    • Iran Arrests 29 Women As Headscarf Protests Intensify

      Women have increasingly flouted the Islamic republic’s clothing rules in recent years and often let their headscarves fall around their necks.

    • China’s jihadist crisis reaches a critical juncture

      At the heart of Beijing’s main concerns about China’s jihadist crisis is the reality that terror and unrest in the northwest significantly threatens the country’s ambitious One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative that aims to establish China as the center of global trade in the 21st century. As OBOR relies on Xinjiang as a corridor linking eastern China to Central Asia and, by extension, Europe, China has sought to protect its Eurasian frontier from terror threats with a security-centered strategy.

    • Dangers of China building the Belt and Road into South Asia: David Brewster for Inside Policy

      Second, New Delhi is now looking with increasing alarm at Chinese plans to build connections to the Indian Ocean through Pakistan. The CPEC has only magnified fears that China is consolidating Pakistan’s hold on Pakistan Occupied Kashmir; that China will economically build up Pakistan to become a greater threat to India; and the potential for a direct Chinese military presence in Pakistan. As a result, Indian government is now looking for levers to disrupt the CPEC (or at least threaten to do so), including in Balochistan and other frontier provinces. India’s decision to boycott China’s 2017 BRI Summit is a statement that India does not want to be seen as playing to Beijing’s regional tune.

    • Mosque turned away 25 families after joining BJP in Tripura village, now they pray in makeshift mosque

      Around 25 families living in a small village in South Tripura were turned away by a mosque for joining Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) two years ago. They are now forced to worship in a temporary mosque.

    • Muslim Security Officers Radicalization Becomes European Authorities’ Great Fear

      Many Muslims have recently joined the armed forces and law enforcement in other EU countries with large Muslim populations as well, such as Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

      The situation has resulted in a looming danger that more people can be radicalized and use their knowledge, access to security data, and training to help Islamists by procuring weapons for them, training them, or simply informing them about ongoing surveillance or other security activities.

    • Indonesia may ban all sex outside marriage
    • Indonesian police kill woman during a clash in restive Papua region

      Conflicts between indigenous Papuans and Indonesian security forces are common in the impoverished region, which Indonesia annexed more than half a century ago.

    • In Libya, ISIS Is Using Human Trafficking to Finance Its Activities

      For several years, these smugglers have worked with complete impunity as they transferred thousands of people across the Mediterranean. Many of the people who undertook these dangerous journeys died as they attempted to made the perilous journey towards Europe.

    • Human smugglers in Libya have links to security services: U.N. report

      “Armed groups, which were party to larger political-military coalitions, have specialized in illegal smuggling activities, notably human smuggling and trafficking,” experts reported to the 15-member Security Council committee. They said most of these armed groups “were nominally affiliated to official security institutions.”

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • FCC Boss Ajit Pai’s Own Agency Is Investigating Him For Potential Corruption

      FCC boss Ajit Pai is being investigated by his own agency over potential corruption allegations.

      The already-unpopular agency boss has been on a tear in recent months gutting decades old media-consolidation rules designed to protect consumers and the nation’s media markets from any one broadcaster becoming too powerful.

      Pai’s efforts arrived, not coincidentally, at the same time Sinclair Broadcasting Group is attempting to acquire Tribune Media as part of a $3.9 billion dollar megamerger. It’s a deal a bipartisan chorus of critics say would demolish media diversity, resulting in Sinclair owning more than 230 local stations across 72 percent of the United States.

    • To kill net neutrality, FCC might have to fight more than half of US states

      The 27 states with pending legislation are Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin. Free Press has links to the pending bills or articles about the pending bills in nearly all of these states. (Free Press listed 26 states with legislation but we found out after this article published that Kansas also has pending net neutrality legislation, bringing the total to 27.)

    • No one’s coming – it’s up to us: it’s past time for technologists to be responsible to society

      I think we — collectively, and definitely not just technologists on their own — need to figure out the societies we want first. The future we want. Have the hard conversations, better understand the compromises, be forced to make clearer priorities and decisions. Then we can figure out the technology, the tools, that can help get us there.

      But what can technologists – and everyone else – do now?

      As technologists, we must question our gods: the laws, thinking and habits that we assume true and guide our work.

    • FCC opens corruption investigation into Ajit Pai, who likes to joke about being a corporate puppet

      That, apparently, was a step too far for the FCC’s Inspector General, the watchdog that is charged with rooting out corruption in the FCC’s ranks. A year ago, the IG opened a corruption investigation into Pai himself, on the basis of irregularities in his handling of the Sinclair affair.

      Pai hasn’t helped his case by repeatedly, publicly making jokes about how he is a corporate shill.

    • Pure CSS Slide-Down Animation

      I’ve spend days trying to figure this out in the past. There just had to be a way! But aside from using JavaScript, which is also pretty complicated, I just couldn’t figure it out for the longest time. Now that I have it figured out, I hope it can help you as well. God bless and happy coding!

    • How 3 Digital Activists Remember John Perry Barlow

      At a time when net neutrality seems to be coming to an end, one of its biggest proponents, John Perry Barlow, has died on Feb. 7 at 70. Here, those who knew his work best reflect on how the Grateful Dead lyricist and digital-rights activist who co-founded the Electronic Frontier Foundation, helped shape the way the Internet works today.

  • DRM

    • Pirates Crack Microsoft’s UWP Protection, Five Layers of DRM Defeated

      Video games pirates have reason to celebrate today after scene cracking group CODEX defeated Microsoft’s Universal Windows Platform system on Zoo Tycoon Ultimate Animal Collection. While the game it was protecting isn’t exactly a fan favorite, it was reportedly protected by five layers of DRM within the UWP package, including the Denuvo-like Arxan anti-tamper technology.

    • Tractor-Hacking Farmers Are Leading a Revolt Against Big Tech’s Repair Monopolies

      John Deere, Apple, Microsoft, Samsung, AT&T, Tesla, and the vast majority of big tech firms have spent the last decade monopolizing repair: “Authorized service providers” who pay money to these companies and the companies themselves are the only ones who have access to replacement parts, tools, and service manuals to fix broken machines; they are also the only ones who have software that can circumvent encryption locks that artificially prevent people like Schwarting from working on equipment. So people like Schwarting find enterprising ways around these locks by finding unauthorized versions of software or by hacking through firmware altogether.

      But what started as hacking out of necessity has quickly transformed into a bonafide political movement.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • America’s always had black inventors — even when the patent system explicitly excluded them

      America has long been the land of innovation. More than 13,000 years ago, the Clovis people created what many call the “first American invention” — a stone tool used primarily to hunt large game. This spirit of American creativity has persisted through the millennia, through the first American patent granted in 1641 and on to today.

      One group of prolific innovators, however, has been largely ignored by history: black inventors born or forced into American slavery. Though U.S. patent law was created with color-blind language to foster innovation, the patent system consistently excluded these inventors from recognition.

    • Patents and Antitrust: Trump DOJ Sees Little Connection

      In a recent speech, Delrahim explained his general position – that patent holders rarely create antitrust concerns. Rather, it is equally likely that the problem lies with companies implementing new technologies without first obtaining a license from the relevant patent holders. He explained that the DOJ’s historic approach has been a “one-sided focus on the hold-up issue” in ways that create a “serious threat to the innovative process.”

      In response to Delrahim’s approach, a group of technology implementer companies (also known as downstream innovators) and law professors wrote to Delrahim arguing that “patent hold-up is real, well documented, and harming US industry and consumers” — especially in the area of Standards Essential Patents (SEP) — and in ways that the antitrust laws should help fix.

    • Patently lucrative: the intellectual property that makes big money for the U [Ed: They just mean giving patents to trolls who attack the taxpayers]

      It’s only in the last 40-or-so years, since 1980, that U.S. universities have made sizable chunks of change from intellectual property. That’s when Congress passed the Bayh-Dole Act.

    • Uber Is Paying About $245 Million to Settle a Major Lawsuit With Google

      Uber is settling a lawsuit filed by Google’s autonomous car unit alleging that the ride-hailing service ripped off self-driving car technology.

    • Copyrights

      • Court Dismisses Playboy’s Copyright Claims Against Boing Boing

        A California district court has dismissed Playboy’s copyright infringement complaint against Boing Boing. Playboy’s allegations that the popular blog induced or contributed to copyright infringement by publishing hyperlinks are not strong enough, Judge Olguin writes. The complaint is dismissed with leave, allowing the magazine publisher to file an improved version within two weeks.

      • Playboy says linking to Playmate archive violates copyright; judge says no way

        “The court is skeptical that plaintiff has sufficiently alleged facts to support either its inducement or material contribution theories of copyright infringement,” he wrote.

        The Electronic Frontier Foundation, which represents Boing Boing in the case, said in a blog post that it was “puzzled” as to why Playboy brought the case in the first place.

      • ‘Made me sick’: Twitter outraged after ‘tasteless’ Dodge Super Bowl ad uses MLK speech to sell trucks
      • Blockchain my IP

        Blockchain need not be limited to patents; it might also be used in the field of copyright-protected works. Publishing a song, text or other work, under a blockchain database may provide a solid proof of authorship or date of publication that can be used in court proceedings. Furthermore, blockchain could provide a platform for the registration of copyright transfers (not otherwise registered) facilitating parties interested in entering into a licensing agreement, thereby significantly reducing transaction costs.

        Based on the foregoing, a strong argument can be made that blockchain technology will be able to facilitate the management of IPRs; as well, publications under a blockchain environment might be used as evidence in IP-related law proceedings. What more can it do for IP? Let’s wait and (presumably) see.

      • Internet rages after Google removes “view image” button, bowing to Getty

        Google’s Search Liaison, Danny Sullivan, announced the change on Twitter yesterday, saying it would “help connect users and useful websites.” Later Sullivan admitted that “these changes came about in part due to our settlement with Getty Images this week” and that “they are designed to strike a balance between serving user needs and publisher concerns, both stakeholders we value.”

      • Game Companies Oppose DMCA Exemption for ‘Abandoned’ Online Games

        Electonic Arts, Nintendo, Ubisoft and other major game publishers have asked the US Copyright Office not to make an exemption to preserve abandoned online games for future generations. The companies argue that libraries, museums, and their affiliates might exploit such a right for commercial purposes, competing with other games.

      • Major US Sports Leagues Report Top Piracy Nations to Government

        The Sports Coalition, which includes prominent leagues such as the NBA, NFL, and MLB, has shared its concerns over sports piracy with the US Trade Representative. The coalition urges the US Government to place the Netherlands and Switzerland on the Priority Watch List, as many pirated games are broadcast from these European countries.

      • Court Orders Spanish ISPs to Block Pirate Sites For Hollywood

        Following complaints from Disney, 20th Century Fox, Paramount, Sony, Universal and Warner, a court in Spain has ordered several ISPs to begin blocking a pair of pirate sites. Describing the action as “necessary”, the MPA says that the blocks will assist with the “sustainability of the creative community.”

      • Embedding a Tweet Can be Copyright Infringement, Court Rules

        A New York federal court has ruled that people can be held liable for copyright infringement if they embed a tweet posted by a third party. The case was filed by Justin Goldman, whose photo of Tom Brady went viral and eventually ended up at several news sites, which embedded these ‘infringing’ tweets.

      • US judge rules embedding tweet can violate copyright

        A judge in a New York district court has ruled that embedding a tweet on a web page could be a violation of copyright, overlooking years of precedent that say otherwise.

      • A Ruling Over Embedded Tweets Could Change Online Publishing

        This week, Judge Forrest sided with Goldman and argued that the publications violated his “exclusive display right,” despite the fact that they didn’t host the photo on their servers (more on that in a second). By simply embedding a tweet—a function which Twitter makes simple—Forrest says the publications engaged in a “technical process.” She readily admits that none of them downloaded the photo and then uploaded it to their own sites, but, she argues, it doesn’t matter that the publications weren’t hosting the photos themselves.


        The Electronic Frontier Foundation’s senior staff attorney Daniel Nazer believes Forrest’s interpretation of the Perfect 10 case is new, and not what the original ruling argued. “This is a distinction that’s being drawn really for the first time in this case,” he says.


Links 17/2/2018: Mesa 17.3.4, Wine 3.2, Go 1.10

Posted in News Roundup at 3:34 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Better Know a Blogger: SJVN on Linux, Microsoft, space roadsters, and more

    I have known Steven for more than a decade. Not only is he a top technology journalist and a consummate professional, he is a role model of mine.

    Steven, well known by his initials SJVN, stands out — not just because he’s a good journalist. He stands out because he’s a great explainer. When I want to understand a networking, operating systems, or Linux-related topic, I often turn to Steven or his articles.

  • Desktop

    • Samsung Launch ‘Linux on Galaxy’ Survey

      Samsung has launched a survey to find out what users want and expect from the Linux on Galaxy idea.

      The ‘Linux on Galaxy’ project allows a regular desktop Linux distro to run on select Samsung smartphones by sharing the same Linux kernel used in Android.

      Users can then connect their smartphone to a Samsung DeX dock to convert their Samsung smartphone in to a normal desktop PC with an external monitor, bluetooth keyboard, mouse and so on.

    • Open Source Blockchain Computer Theano

      TigoCTM CEO Cindy Zimmerman says “we are excited to begin manufacturing our secure, private and open source desktops at our factory in the Panama Pacifico special economic zone. This is the first step towards a full line of secure, blockchain-powered hardware including desktops, servers, laptops, tablets, teller machines, and smartphones.”


      Every component of each TigoCTM device is exhaustively researched and selected for its security profile based especially on open source hardware, firmware, and software. In addition, devices will run the GuldOS operating system, and open source applications like the Bitcoin, Ethereum and Dash blockchains. This fully auditable stack is ideal for use in enterprise signing environments such as banks and investment funds.

  • Server

    • Enterprises identify 10 essential tools for DevOps [Ed: "Source code repository" and other old things co-opted to promote the stupid buzzword "devops"]

      Products branded with DevOps are everywhere, and the list of options grows every day, but the best DevOps tools are already well-known among enterprise IT pros.

    • The 4 Major Tenets of Kubernetes Security

      We look at security from the perspective of containers, Kubernetes deployment itself and network security. Such a holistic approach is needed to ensure that containers are deployed securely and that the attack surface is minimized. The best practices that arise from each of the above tenets apply to any Kubernetes deployment, whether you’re self-hosting a cluster or employing a managed service.

      We should note that there are related security controls outside of Kubernetes, such as the Secure Software Development Life Cycle (S-SDLC) or security monitoring, that can help reduce the likelihood of attacks and increase the defense posture. We strongly urge you to consider security across the entire application lifecycle rather than take a narrow focus on the deployment of containers with Kubernetes. However, for the sake of brevity, in this series, we will only cover security controls within the immediate Kubernetes environment.

    • GPUs on Google’s Kubernetes Engine are now available in open beta

      The Google Kubernetes Engine (previously known as the Google Container Engine and GKE) now allows all developers to attach Nvidia GPUs to their containers.

      GPUs on GKE (an acronym Google used to be quite fond of, but seems to be deemphasizing now) have been available in closed alpha for more than half a year. Now, however, this service is in beta and open to all developers who want to run machine learning applications or other workloads that could benefit from a GPU. As Google notes, the service offers access to both the Tesla P100 and K80 GPUs that are currently available on the Google Cloud Platform.

  • Kernel Space

    • The knitting printer and more art with open source

      For several years, linux.conf.au, a week-long conference (held this year from January 22-26), has held “miniconfs” offering space for tech community niche groups to share their inventions and ideas. In 2018, 12 miniconfs were held on the first two days of the conference, and the Art + Tech miniconf took the concept to the next level with an entire day of 11 talks about making art with tech, as well as an art exhibition head during the conference. This miniconf was organized by blue ribbon award-winning knitter Kris Howard.

      Disclaimer: Some of the links in this article contain mature content. As Kathy Reid, Linux Australia president, said: “Significant art is often contentious, because it challenges who we are and the notions we hold of ourselves. Our job here is to allow that art to be shown, while creating a safe environment for those who do—and do not—wish to view it.”

    • Linux Weather Forecast

      This page is an attempt to track ongoing developments in the Linux development community that have a good chance of appearing in a mainline kernel and/or major distributions sometime in the near future. Your “chief meteorologist” is Jonathan Corbet, Executive Editor at LWN.net. If you have suggestions on improving the forecast (and particularly if you have a project or patchset that you think should be tracked), please add your comments below.

    • diff -u: Automated Bug Reporting

      A variety of automated bug-hunters are roaming around reporting bugs. One of them is Syzbot, an open-source tool specifically designed to find bugs in Linux and report them. Dmitry Vyukov recently sent in a hand-crafted email asking for help from the community to make Syzbot even more effective.

      The main problems were how to track bugs after Syzbot had reported them and how to tell when a patch went into the kernel to address a given bug.

      It turned out that Andrey Ryabinin and Linus Torvalds got together to collaborate on an easy solution for Dmitry’s problem: Syzbot should include a unique identifier in its own email address. The idea is that anything after a “+” in an email address is completely ignored. So zbrown@gmail.com is exactly the same as zbrown+stoptrump@gmail.com. Andrey and Linus suggested that Syzbot use this technique to include a hash value associated with each bug report. Then, Linux developers would include that email address in the “Reported-By” portion of their patch submissions as part of the normal developer process.

    • Linux Foundation

      • Xen Project Contributor Spotlight: Kevin Tian

        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.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Mir 0.30 Released With Improved Wayland Support

        Canonical’s Mir team has released Mir v0.30 as the latest version of this display server that for the past year has been retooling itself with Wayland protocol support.

        With today’s Mir 0.30 release, they have continued on their Wayland conquest and are offering better support for Wayland protocols. Some of the Wayland changes in Mir 0.30 include a client connection change to allow Wayland clients to work on Unity 8, a keyboard state change to fix switching between clients, multiple crash fixes, and experimental support for the XDG-Shell v6 protocol.

      • NVIDIA Preparing Upstream Linux Kernel Support For The Tegra Xavier SoC

        NVIDIA has begun work on sending out patches for upstreaming Tegra194 “Xavier” SoC support within the Linux kernel.

        Xavier is NVIDIA’s successor to the Tegra P1 and will begin sampling this quarter. Xavier makes use of a custom ARMv8 eight-core CPU, Volta-based graphics with 512 CUDA cores, integration of the DLA tensor processing unit, and is manufactured on a 12nm FinFET process. Xavier should be a mighty powerful SoC for their self-driving car systems and other “edge computing” use-cases.

      • AMD May Have Accidentally Outed Vulkan 1.1

        AMD on Wednesday released the Radeon Pro Software Enterprise Edition 18.Q1 for Linux driver. It really isn’t noticeable for its official changes, but does claim to advertise Vulkan 1.1 support.

      • mesa 17.3.4

        Mesa 17.3.4 is now available.

      • Mesa 17.3.4 Released With 90+ Changes

        While Mesa 18.0 should be released in the days ahead as the latest feature release to Mesa 3D, backporting of fixes/improvements to Mesa 17.3 isn’t letting up. For those using this stable series from last quarter, Mesa 17.3.4 is out today with nearly 100 changes.

      • Khronos Adds Draco Geometry Compression To glTF 2.0

        Khronos’ glTF transmission format for 3D scenes and models continues getting better. This 3D format has seen adoption by countless applications and engines and even usage within Microsoft products. Khronos’ latest advancement to glTF 2.0 is a compression extension.

      • Intel Open-Sources LLVM Graphics Compiler, Compute Runtime With OpenCL 2.1+

        Now it’s clear why Intel hasn’t been working on the Beignet code-base in months as they have been quietly working on a new and better OpenCL stack and run-time! On open-source Intel OpenCL you can now have OpenCL 2.1 while OpenCL 2.2 support is on the way.

        Intel by way of their Open-Source Technology Center quietly open-sourced a new compute runtime as well as an LLVM-based graphics compiler. Thanks to a sharp-eyed Phoronix reader for spotting and pointing out to us this new Intel OpenCL stack that hasn’t really received any attention at all yet.

      • DRI3 v1.1 Updated by Collabora For Modifiers & Multi-Plane Support

        As a sign that DRI3 v1.1 is hopefully ready to go, Louis-Francis Ratté-Boulianne of Collabora on Friday sent out his latest set of patches adding modifiers and multi-plane support to the Direct Rendering Infrastructure.

        DRI3 v1.1 has been a long, ongoing project for this first major addition to the DRI3 infrastructure. Namely there is support for explicit format modifiers and pixmaps backed by multi-planar buffers. Collabora has also already been working on some experimental DRI3 v1.2 patches for DMA fences, which originally was part of the v1.1 patches, but then pushed back to their own series.

      • Initial Intel Icelake Support Lands In Mesa OpenGL Driver, Vulkan Support Started

        A few days back I reported on Intel Icelake patches for the i965 Mesa driver in bringing up the OpenGL support now that several kernel patch series have been published for enabling these “Gen 11″ graphics within the Direct Rendering Manager driver. This Icelake support has been quick to materialize even with Cannonlake hardware not yet being available.

      • LunarG’s Vulkan Layer Factory Aims To Make Writing Vulkan Layers Easier

        Introduced as part of LunarG’s recent Vulkan SDK update is the VLF, the Vulkan Layer Factory.

        The Vulkan Layer Factory aims to creating Vulkan layers easier by taking care of a lot of the boilerplate code for dealing with the initialization, etc. This framework also provides for “interceptor objects” for overriding functions pre/post API calls for Vulkan entry points of interest.

    • Benchmarks

      • AMD Raven Ridge Graphics On Linux vs. Lower-End NVIDIA / AMD GPUs

        This week we have delivered the first Linux benchmarks of the OpenGL/Vulkan graphics capabilities of AMD’s new Raven Ridge desktop APUs with the Vega 8 on the Ryzen 3 2200G an the Vega 11 on Ryzen 5 2400G. Those tests have included comparisons to the integrated graphics capabilities of Intel processors as well as older AMD Kaveri APUs. For those interested in seeing how the Raven Ridge Vega graphics compare to lower-end Radeon and GeForce discrete graphics cards, here are those first Linux benchmarks.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Plasma and Solus 4 Updates | The Roundup #4

        Welcome to The Roundup #4, your bytes of Solus news. In this roundup, we’re talking updates to Kernels, Plasma, various items for Solus 4, and more!

      • Solus 4 To Offer Experimental GNOME Wayland Session, MATE UI Refresh

        The Solus Linux distribution has offered up some new details this week on their upcoming Solus 4 release.

        First up, their integration of Snap package management (snapd) has been deferred so it’s no longer a release blocker. They will land the Snap support though still in the future when it’s ready.

      • KDE Amarok Music Player Receives Revived Port To Qt5 / KF5

        While Amarok was once KDE’s dominant music player, it hasn’t seen a new release now in about five years and has yet to see a release based on Qt5 and KDE Frameworks 5. But there’s hope that might still happen.

        In the absence of a modern Amarok release there have been plenty of other KDE media players coming about like Elisa and Babe, but coming out today is an updated patch for bringing Amarok to a Qt5/KF5 world.

      • Plasma – The road to perfection is paved with bugs

        There you go. Now, before you say “But Windows or Gnome also …” Wait. Stop. The purpose of this list is not to seek solace in failures or incomplete/imperfect implementations of desktop environment solutions that may exist out there. The purpose is to express my view, as an individual user, of the big and little things that do not seem to work well in Plasma. After all, the desktop is there to allow people to enjoy themselves, to have fun, to be productive, and whatnot. And every little papercut or inconsistency is detrimental to the experience.

        It would be a nice exercise to actually do the same thing with … other desktop environments. I believe that Plasma probably has the fewest issues, as odd as it may sound after you’ve just consumed this long j’accuse list. But it is still not perfect, it’s still not good enough to everyday use, and there are many things that need to be improved. Then again, no one said creating a splendid desktop environment was going to be easy or boring, right. Take care, and perhaps in your comments, you will come up with a few more niggles that I missed. Let’s hear your thoughts. Spill them out.

      • Plasma 5 perfection: call for development

        Igor Ljubuncic of Dedoimedo is at it again, and has just published a list of high-profile KDE Plasma bugs and papercuts. As a Plasma fan, his intention is to call attention rather than criticize, and I’ve put together a response for every issue he raised. For the full list, scroll down.

      • SFXR Qt noise buffer

        I was working on adding sounds to Pixel Wheels rescue helicopter, so I started SFXR Qt and after a few experiments I came up with a decent sound. Unfortunately it did not sound that good in the game. It was much more dull than in the app. Listening again to the sound in SFXR Qt I realized there were subtle variations between each plays, which made the sound more interesting.

      • Qt in Visual Studio: Improving Performance

        In the last post, we discussed a new approach to design time and build time integration of external tools in Visual Studio using MSBuild rules and targets. This will be included in the upcoming release of version 2.2 of the Qt VS Tools. In this post, we will discuss the performance improvements that are also included in this new version.

      • Cutelyst on TechEmpower benchmarks round 15

        Since this round took a long time and was scheduled to be release many times last year I decided not to update Cutelyst to avoid not having the chance to fix any issues and have broken results. Cutelyst 1.9.0 and Qt 5.9 were used, both had some performance improvements compared to round 14, and thus you can see better results on this round compared to 14, most notably the JSON tests went from 480K request/second to 611K req/s, also due this old Cutelyst release jemalloc was again not used due a bug we had in CMake files that didn’t link against it.

      • Usability & Productivity highlight: Spectacle

        Over the past few weeks, we’ve done a lot of Usability & Productivity work for Spectacle, KDE’s screenshot tool. I’d like to share the progress! But first, a screenshot. Here’s how spectacle looks now:

      • This week in Discover (and Kirigami!), part 6

        This is going to be a double-header: today we’re discussing Discover as well as Kirigami–KDE’s UI framework that facilitates writing convergent apps that look and feel good on both the desktop and a mobile device.

        …At least that’s the idea. The truth is, KDE users have voiced a lot of criticism for how well this works out in practice. An especially common complaint is that the desktop user experience gets short shrift, and Kirigami apps feel like big phone apps.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Weekend Website Experiment

        As you may know if you read this blog via Planet GNOME, the GNOME project is busy switching to GitLab for its code hosting and bug tracking. I like GitLab! It’s a large step up from Bugzilla, which was what GNOME used for the last 20 years. Compared to GitHub, GitLab is about equal, with a few nicer things and a few less nice things.

        The one thing that I miss from Bugzilla is a dashboard showing the overall status of the bugs for your project. I thought it would not be too hard to use the GitLab API to do some simple queries and plop them on a web page. So, last weekend I gave it a try. The final result is here. Click the button to log into GitLab, and you’ll be redirected back to the page where you’ll get the results of the queries.

      • LVFS will block old versions of fwupd for some firmware

        Although fwupd 0.8.0 was released over a year ago it seems people are still downloading firmware with older fwupd versions. 98% of the downloads from the LVFS are initiated from gnome-software, and 2% of people using the fwupdmgr command line or downloading the .cab file from the LVFS using a browser manually.

      • SRT in GStreamer

        Transmitting low delay, high quality video over the Internet is hard. The trade-off is normally between video quality and transmission delay (or latency). Internet video has up to now been segregated into two segments: video streaming and video calls. On the first side, streaming video has taken over the world of the video distribution using segmented streaming technologies such as HLS and DASH, allowing services like Netflix to flourish. On the second side, you have VoIP systems, which are generally targeted a relatively low bitrate using low latency technologies such as RTP and WebRTC, and they don’t result in a broadcast grade result. SRT bridges that gap by allowing the transfer of broadcast grade video at low latencies.

  • Distributions

    • Reviews

      • MX Linux Review of MX-17 – For The Record

        MX Linux Review of MX-17. MX-17 is a cooperative venture between the antiX and former MEPIS Linux communities. It’s XFCE based, lightning fast, comes with both 32 and 64-bit CPU support…and the tools. Oh man, the tools available in this distro are both reminders of Mepis past and current tech found in modern distros.

    • New Releases

      • Q4OS Makes Linux Easy for Everyone

        Modern Linux distributions tend to target a variety of users. Some claim to offer a flavor of the open source platform that anyone can use. And, I’ve seen some such claims succeed with aplomb, while others fall flat. Q4OS is one of those odd distributions that doesn’t bother to make such a claim but pulls off the feat anyway.

        So, who is the primary market for Q4OS? According to its website, the distribution is a:

        “fast and powerful operating system based on the latest technologies while offering highly productive desktop environment. We focus on security, reliability, long-term stability and conservative integration of verified new features. System is distinguished by speed and very low hardware requirements, runs great on brand new machines as well as legacy computers. It is also very applicable for virtualization and cloud computing.”

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu wants to slurp PCs’ vital statistics – even location – with new desktop installs

            “We want to be able to focus our engineering efforts on the things that matter most to our users, and in order to do that we need to get some more data about sort of setups our users have and which software they are running on it,” explained Will Cooke, the director of Ubuntu Desktop at Canonical.

            To gather that information Cooke proposed adding a checkbox to the Ubuntu installer that says something like “Send diagnostics information to help improve Ubuntu”. “This would be checked by default” Cooke wrote.

          • Ubuntu Gets in the User Data Collection Business

            Canonical announced plans to roll out a user data and diagnostics collection system with Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver). This new system will collect data on the user’s OS details, hardware setup, apps and OS settings.

            “We want to be able to focus our engineering efforts on the things that matter most to our users, and in order to do that we need to get some more data about sort of setups our users have and which software they are running on it,” said Will Cooke, Director of Ubuntu Desktop at Canonical.

          • Ubuntu Adds New “Minimal Installation” Option For Fewer Preinstalled Packages

            The development of the next Ubuntu LTS release, i.e., Ubuntu 18.04 Bionic Beaver, is going on in full swing. The desktop development team has decided to add a new option in the installation process that allows you to perform a lean installation of Ubuntu.

          • Unity 7.4.5 Released for Ubuntu 16.04 LTS

            The Unity 7.4.5 update isn’t big on new features but it is big on bug fixes and general all-round improvements.

          • Snapcraft through the eyes of it’s biggest community contributor

            If you’ve spent any time in the Snapcraft forum, it’s quite likely you’ve come across Dan Llewellyn – a keen community advocate or self-proclaimed Snapcrafter. Dan has always had a passion for computing and is completely self-taught. Outside of the community, Dan is a freelance WordPress developer. After getting into the open source world around 1998, he has switched between various Linux distros including Suse, RedHat, Gentoo before settling on Ubuntu from the 5.04 release onwards. A longtime participant in the UK Ubuntu chatroom – where he met Canonical’s Alan Pope – Dan admits he was never that active before Snapcraft came along.

            It was spending time in the UK chatroom around 2016 that he discovered snaps which piqued his interest. “I saw the movement of changing Clicks to snaps and thought it was an interesting idea. It’s more widely focused than a mobile app delivery system and I’ve always liked things that also worked on the server, IoT and elsewhere” Dan comments. With a previous desire to get into mobile app development and seeing the move away from Ubuntu Touch, Dan was eager to see Snapcraft succeed and felt like it was something he could contribute to.

          • Canonical wants Ubuntu to collect your personal data

            This has gone down like a bucket of cold sick with Linux users. After all, this is the sort of thing that Microsoft does and is precisely the sort of thing that they hate about Windows 10.

          • 10 Amazing Years of Ubuntu and Canonical

            10 years ago today, I joined Canonical, on the very earliest version of the Ubuntu Server Team!

            And in the decade since, I’ve had the tremendous privilege to work with so many amazing people, and the opportunity to contribute so much open source software to the Ubuntu ecosystem.

          • Flavours and Variants

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • 5 Open Source Technology Trends for 2018

    Technology is evolving faster than the speed of light. Well, not quite, but you get the picture. Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence, OpenStack, progressive web apps – they are all set to make an impact this year. You might be accustomed to navigating your forex trading platform or building a website in WordPress, but how familiar are you with the following?

  • Logstash 6.2.0 Release Improves Open Source Data Processing Pipeline

    The “L” in the ELK stack gets updated with new features including advanced security capabilities.

    Many modern enterprises have adopted the ELK (Elasticsearch, Logstash, Kibana) stack to collect, process, search and visualize data.

    At the core of the ELK stack is the open-source Logstash project which defines itself as a server-side data processing pipeline – basically it helps to collect logs and then send them to a users’ “stash” for searching, which in many cases is Elasticsearch.

  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

      • The False Teeth of Chrome’s Ad Filter.

        Today Google launched a new version of its Chrome browser with what they call an “ad filter”—which means that it sometimes blocks ads but is not an “ad blocker.” EFF welcomes the elimination of the worst ad formats. But Google’s approach here is a band-aid response to the crisis of trust in advertising that leaves massive user privacy issues unaddressed.

        Last year, a new industry organization, the Coalition for Better Ads, published user research investigating ad formats responsible for “bad ad experiences.” The Coalition examined 55 ad formats, of which 12 were deemed unacceptable. These included various full page takeovers (prestitial, postitial, rollover), autoplay videos with sound, pop-ups of all types, and ad density of more than 35% on mobile. Google is supposed to check sites for the forbidden formats and give offenders 30 days to reform or have all their ads blocked in Chrome. Censured sites can purge the offending ads and request reexamination.


        Some commentators have interpreted ad blocking as the “biggest boycott in history” against the abusive and intrusive nature of online advertising. Now the Coalition aims to slow the adoption of blockers by enacting minimal reforms. Pagefair, an adtech company that monitors adblocker use, estimates 600 million active users of blockers. Some see no ads at all, but most users of the two largest blockers, AdBlock and Adblock Plus, see ads “whitelisted” under the Acceptable Ads program. These companies leverage their position as gatekeepers to the user’s eyeballs, obliging Google to buy back access to the “blocked” part of their user base through payments under Acceptable Ads. This is expensive (a German newspaper claims a figure as high as 25 million euros) and is viewed with disapproval by many advertisers and publishers.

    • Mozilla

      • Going Home
      • David Humphrey: Edge Cases
      • Experiments in productivity: the shared bug queue

        Over the next six months, Mozilla is planning to switch code review tools from mozreview/splinter to phabricator. Phabricator has more modern built-in tools like Herald that would have made setting up this shared queue a little easier, and that’s why I paused…briefly

      • Improving the web with small, composable tools

        Firefox Screenshots is the first Test Pilot experiment to graduate into Firefox, and it’s been surprisingly successful. You won’t see many people talking about it: it does what you expect, and it doesn’t cover new ground. Mozilla should do more of this.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice 6.0.1 Available To Install In Ubuntu/Linux Mint

      LibreOffice is the power-packed free, libre and open source personal productivity suite for Windows, Macintosh and GNU/Linux, that gives you six feature-rich applications for all your document production and data processing needs: Writer: the word processor, Calc: the spreadsheet application, Impress: the presentation engine, Draw: our drawing and flowcharting application, Base: our database and database frontend, and Math: for editing mathematics.

    • LibreOffice 6.0 scored close to 1 million downloads in just 14 days

      The LibreOffice 6.0 release at the end of January was met by enthusiasm from tech bloggers and open-source enthusiasts alike.

      And that enthusiasm translated into some very healthy download numbers.

    • HiFive, LibreOffice, Meltdown and Spectre and more

      We would like to congratulate the hard working folks behind the LibreOffice 6.0 application suite. Officially released on January 31, the site has counted almost 1 million downloads. An amazing accomplishment.

  • CMS

    • Alfresco Software acquired by Private Equity Firm

      Enterprise apps company taken private in a deal that won’t see a change in corporate direction.

      Alfresco has been developing its suite of Enterprise Content Management (ECM) and Business Process Management (BPM) technology since the company was founded back in June of 2005.

      On Feb. 8, Alfresco announced that it was being acquired by private equity firm Thomas H. Lee Partners (THL). Financial terms of the deal are not being publicly disclosed.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Public Services/Government

    • Defense Department (Re)Launches Open Source Software Portal

      The Defense Department launched the Code.mil website on Tuesday, a new, streamlined portal for its similarly named Code.mil initiative, a collaborative approach to meeting the government’s open source policy.

      The new website was designed to give a more straightforward user experience. The site features a suite of new tools, including checklists that links to offer guidance, and represents “an evolution of the Code.mil project,” according to Ari Chivukula, policy wrangler for the Defense Digital Service.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • How to make sense of the Apache 2 patent license

      In essence, when a software developer contributes code to a project (i.e., the Work under the license), he or she becomes a Contributor. Under the above term, Contributors are granting permission to use any of their patents that may read on their contribution. This provides peace of mind to users since the Contributor would likely be prevented from pursuing patent royalties from any users of the software covering that contribution to the project.

      Complexities arise when the software developer contributes code that is not claimed by any of the Contributor’s patents by itself, but only when combined with the Apache 2.0 licensed open source program to which the contribution was made (i.e., the Work under the license). Thus, the Contributor owning such a patent could pursue patent royalties against a user of that revised Work. The authors of the Apache 2.0 license were forward thinking and account for this scenario. Section 3 states that the license applies to “patent claims licensable by such Contributor that are necessarily infringed… by a combination of their Contribution(s) with the Work to which such Contributions was submitted.”

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

  • Programming/Development

    • Go 1.10 is released

      Happy Friday, happy weekend! Today the Go team is happy to announce the release of Go 1.10. You can get it from the download page.

      See the Go 1.10 release notes for all the details.

    • Golang 1.10 Offers Many Smaller Changes, Restores NetBSD Support

      Not only is there a new Rust release this week but the Google developers have put out the Go 1.10 update.

      Go 1.10 ships with many minor feature additions and improvements with no big overhauls. Among the changes with Go 1.10 are automatic caching of build and test results, many other go tooling improvements, minor enhancements to the Gofmt formatting utility, and compiler toolchain updates.

    • PHP version 7.1.15RC1 and 7.2.3RC1
  • Standards/Consortia

    • Waddawewant? Free video codecs! When do we… oh, look, the last MPEG-2 patent expired!

      It’s almost of historical interest only, but everywhere except the Philippines and Malaysia, the last MPEG-2 video encoder/decoder patents have expired.

      As *nixcraft noted, what it means is that there will never again be the risk of an MPEG-2 decoder being bombed in the libre operating system world.

      The company that had the patents wrapped up for licensing, MPEG LA, told the world the last US patent expired on 13 February here .

    • Race on to bring AV1 open source codec to market, as code freezes

      The long-heralded open source AV1 codec is now set for development of commercial product, with the code complete and ready to be frozen over the next few weeks. This has been confirmed by contributors to the standard such as Austrian transcoding software developer Bitmovin, which hopes to be among the first to bring out a product. That will happen once members of the Alliance for Open Media (AOM) that developed the codec sign off its performance.


  • How A Single Character “Text Bomb” Can Crash Your iPhone And Mac

    The most recent bug in iOS 11 and macOS High Sierra allows one to send a specific character to crash the devices. Spotted by Italian publication Mobile World, this bug can crash iPhones and block your access to popular applications like WhatsApp, Gmail, Outlook, Messenger, etc.

  • Kudos To The Crock-Pot People For Handling The Online Fallout From ‘This Is Us’ So Well

    Corporate Twitter accounts typically range from the blandly uninspired to exhibiting unfortunate behavior. While you can occasionally get some good content out of these handles, they are far too often just…meh.

    And, yet, let’s see how the Crock-Pot brand of slow-cookers responded to a genuine freak-out on the internet that occurred after a recent episode of This Is Us. For those of you who watch the show, here’s your insipid little spoiler alert. A main character on the show died in a recent episode when a slow cooker malfunctioned and burned the house down. Cool. Well, apparently that’s when many viewers took to Twitter to announce that they were going to get these death machines out of their houses ASAP, with many mentioning Crock-Pots by name, even though there was no branding on the murderous slow-cooker in the show.

  • Apple’s Excellence in Design Leads to Employees Smacking Into Glass Walls

    And according to a new report from Bloomberg, the glass is so flawless and unobtrusive that employees keep walking into it.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Gilead Wins Sovaldi Domain Dispute Over Buyers’ Club Generic Sellers

      Pharmaceutical company Gilead has made headlines in recent years for offering an effective hepatitis C drug that has helped many patients. And for the fact that it came with an eye-popping price tag. Perhaps in a sign of the times, Gilead this month won an open-and-shut case against a squatter on the domain name “sovaldi.eu,” that was offering lower-priced generic versions of Sovaldi, including through links to “buyers’ clubs” organised to obtain medicines more affordably. The website was called, “SOVALDI. The life-saving cure for Hepatitis C which nobody can afford.” Was it a little act of rebellion, or just another internet opportunist?

    • WHO Finalises High-Profile Commission On Non-Communicable Diseases

      The World Health Organization today announced a new high-level commission of heads of state, ministers and other leaders in health and development to come up with “bold and innovative solutions” against non-communicable diseases such as heart and respiratory diseases, cancers and diabetes. The chairs of the commission include the presidents of Uruguay, Sri Lanka, and Finland, the Russian health minister, and a former minister of Pakistan who was a candidate for director general of the WHO. They are joined by nearly two dozen others, including corporate public figures Michael Bloomberg and Jack Ma.

    • We’re Challenging Ohio Lawmakers’ Thinly Veiled Attempt to Push Abortion Out of Reach

      The Ohio law pretends to protect people with disabilities, but it’s really an attack on a woman’s reproductive rights.

      Ohio politicians have launched yet another attack on women’s health and reproductive rights, and to make matters worse, they are mounting their attack in the guise of a concern for individuals with disabilities.

      Today, the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio and the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit on behalf of Preterm Cleveland and a number of other abortion care providers to challenge an unconstitutional abortion ban. The law, signed by Gov. John Kasich, would prevent a woman from ending a pregnancy because of a Down syndrome diagnosis. It does so by criminalizing any doctor who knowingly performs an abortion sought on that basis. The law, unless it is stopped by a court, would go into effect next month.

    • Indian Pharma Industry Disputes US Industry IP Index

      The United States Chamber of Commerce industry group recently issued its annual global IP index, analysing intellectual property protection in 50 countries, as a prelude to the annual US government list of countries seen as not adequately protection US companies’ IP rights. Now an Indian industry group has issued a counter-statement to the Chamber index, calling it a “tirade” and “self-serving”.

  • Security

    • Cryptocurrency Mining Company Coinhive Shocked To Learn Its Product Is Being Abused

      So if you haven’t noticed, the entire cryptocurrency mining thing has become a bit of an absurd stage play over the last few months. From gamers being unable to buy graphics cards thanks to miners hoping to cash in on soaring valuations, to hackers using malware to covertly infect websites with cryptocurrency miners that use visitors’ CPU cycles without their knowledge or consent. As an additional layer of intrigue, some websites have also begun using such miners as an alternative to traditional advertising, though several have already done so without apparently deeming it necessary to inform visitors.

      At the heart of a lot of this drama is crypotcurreny mining software company Coinhive, whose software is popping up in both malware-based and above board efforts to cash in on the cryptocurrency mining craze. Coinhive specifically focuses on using site visitor CPU cycles to help mine Monero. The company’s website insists that their product can help websites craft “an ad-free experience, in-game currency or whatever incentives you can come up with.” The company says its project has already resulted in the mining of several million dollars worth of Monero (depending on what Monero’s worth any given day).

    • Fluid HPC: How Extreme-Scale Computing Should Respond to Meltdown and Spectre

      The Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities are proving difficult to fix, and initial experiments suggest security patches will cause significant performance penalties to HPC applications. Even as these patches are rolled out to current HPC platforms, it might be helpful to explore how future HPC systems could be better insulated from CPU or operating system security flaws that could cause massive disruptions. Surprisingly, most of the core concepts to build supercomputers that are resistant to a wide range of threats have already been invented and deployed in HPC systems over the past 20 years. Combining these technologies, concepts, and approaches not only would improve cybersecurity but also would have broader benefits for improving HPC performance, developing scientific software, adopting advanced hardware such as neuromorphic chips, and building easy-to-deploy data and analysis services. This new form of “Fluid HPC” would do more than solve current vulnerabilities. As an enabling technology, Fluid HPC would be transformative, dramatically improving extreme-scale code development in the same way that virtual machine and container technologies made cloud computing possible and built a new industry.

    • Raw sockets backdoor gives attackers complete control of some Linux servers [Ed: Here goes Dan Goodin again (sued for sensationalism), using the term "back door" in relation to Linux when actually referring to already-infected (compromised) machines]

      Once installed, Chaos allows malware operators anywhere in the world to gain complete control over the server via a reverse shell.

    • Meltdown-Spectre flaws: We’ve found new attack variants, say researchers

      Researchers have developed a tool to uncover new ways of attacking the Meltdown and Spectre CPU side-channel flaws, which may force chipmakers like Intel to re-examine already difficult hardware mitigations.

      The tool allowed the researchers to synthesize a software-attack based on a description of a CPU’s microarchitecture and an execution pattern that could be attacked.

    • Security updates for Friday
    • How ZeroFox Protects Enterprise Social Media From Cyber-Attackers

      Social media is widely used by individuals and enterprises today and is often also unfortunately widely used by cyber-attackers. How can organizations protect their social media assets? That’s a challenge that multiple vendors are now tackling, including ZeroFox.

    • Container security fundamentals: 5 things to know
  • Defence/Aggression

    • Christine Hong on North Korean Peace Threat, Lee Fang on Opioid Lobby

      This week on CounterSpin: What do you do with a press corps that pauses from raising alarms about North Korea’s warmongering to raise alarms about North Korea’s peacemongering? Signs of rapprochement between North and South Korea at the Pyongyang Olympics have led to media accounts warning Americans not to fall for peace-offensive “propaganda.” But: we are in favor of lowering tensions on the Korean peninsula, right? Right? We’ll talk about the prospects for war, and for peace, with North Korea with Christine Hong, associate professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz and an executive board member of the Korea Policy Institute.

    • Russians Spooked by Nukes-Against-Cyber-Attack Policy

      New U.S. policy on nuclear retaliatory strikes for cyber-attacks is raising concerns, with Russia claiming that it’s already been blamed for a false-flag cyber-attack – namely the election hacking allegations of 2016, explain Ray McGovern and William Binney.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Borneo orangutans dying off as forests are lost: study

      The population of orangutans in Borneo has plummeted by more than half since 1999 — nearly 150,000 of the apes — largely due to chopping down forests for logging, paper, palm oil and mining, researchers said Thursday.

      Illegal hunting of the critically endangered apes is also a leading factor in their disappearance, said the study published in the journal Current Biology.

  • Finance

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Congressman Calls For Investigation Of Conservative Think Tank

      U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski is asking the Internal Revenue Service to investigate whether a series of financial deals improperly benefited the leaders of the Illinois Policy Institute — the latest call for authorities to examine the influential conservative think tank.

      In an open letter to the head of the IRS, Lipinski — a Democrat who represents parts of Chicago and the western suburbs — wrote that institute chairman and CEO John Tillman may have violated federal tax laws by channeling money from his nonprofits to for-profit companies Tillman owned or co-owned.

    • NYT’s ‘Really Weird’ Russiagate Story

      That’s the takeaway from a strange front-page article that ran in last weekend’s New York Times, “U.S. Spies, Seeking to Retrieve Cyberweapons, Paid Russian Peddling Trump Secrets.” That’s not all the article said, but the rest was so convoluted and implausible that it can be safely discounted.

      Even Matthew Rosenberg, the Times reporter who wrote the story, described it as “a really weird one” in an interview with Slate. More than merely weird, however, the piece offers valuable insight into the parallel universe that is Russiagate, one in which logic is absent, neo-McCarthyism is rampant, and evidence means whatever the corporate press wants it to mean.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Is centralised education a stealthy censorship tool?

      In centralised education systems around the world, students are examined on fact memorisation and regurgitation in exams. Textbooks provide a one-way ticket to exam success, but critical thinking and creativity are left firmly at the station.

      First, in extreme cases, textbooks are criticised for omitting topics to propagate political or religious ideologies, as was the case in Turkey last year. Even in more liberal education systems, such as the United Kingdom, textbooks are written by an elite group who do not represent the experiences of the majority. At the very least, this will produce students with little to contribute to society.

    • Foreign Film Friday: The ‘Padmaavat’ Controversy Represents a Larger Censorship Pattern in Bollywood

      Padmaavat (2018), the Sanjay Leela Bhansali directed Bollywood epic, has recently been at the heart of an enormous controversy. Based on the story of the Rajput queen Padmaavati, the film attracted the attention of several right-wing extremist groups…

    • Brown Stares Down the Censors

      Before conservative Guy Benson spoke at Brown University Tuesday night, there were the usual hallmarks of a free-speech fiasco. Posters advertising the event were defaced, and students signed a public statement asserting that they wouldn’t tolerate a speech that was “explicitly dangerous to the well-being and continued thriving of people of color and other marginalized people.”

    • Brown students thought censoring Guy Benson would protect free speech

      Conservative commentator Guy Benson faced backlash ahead of his speech at Brown University this week, puzzling observers who wondered how someone as reasonable as Benson could possibly be deemed a threat worthy of censorship.

      The backlash ultimately fizzled, amounting to just a small walkout protest that Benson didn’t even notice during his remarks.

    • Censorship Act review a priority

      One of the key priorities for the National Censorship Office this year is to ensure the review of the Classification of Publication Act 1989 is completed.

      While most of the work on the Review has been furnished, the Act needs final touches in terms of specifying the legal implementation role.

      Deputy Chief Censor, Jim Abani, says the Act is out dated in the sense that it is not up to date with the current trend.

    • Russia Threatens to Block YouTube and Instagram, After Complaints From an Oligarch

      Russia has threatened to block YouTube and Instagram if they do not take down videos and photos relating to Oleg V. Deripaska, an oligarch who was once close to President Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort.

      A billionaire aluminum and mining magnate, Mr. Deripaska was the subject of an investigation published last Thursday on YouTube by the anticorruption activist and opposition leader Aleksei A. Navalny.

    • Russia blocks Navalny’s website, after his inquiry into an oligarch

      The Russian authorities blocked the website of a prominent opposition leader Thursday after he refused a court order to remove a posted video accusing a high-ranking official of accepting a bribe from a rich businessman.

      The order against the opposition leader, Alexei A. Navalny, extended to US service providers Instagram and YouTube, with Instagram coming under criticism from Navalny after the posted video was deleted from its accounts.

    • Instagram criticised as it gives in to Russian censorship demands

      Instagram has been criticised by a Russian opposition leader for giving in to pressure to block posts relating to corruption claims in the country.

    • Alexei Navalny attacks Instagram for complying with Russian censors
    • Instagram yields to Russian censorship demands
    • ‘Reclassification of ‘Inxeba’ an act of homophobic censorship’
    • Inxeba reclassification angers Right2Know
    • Analysis: The Wounded push back against the movie Inxeba
    • Students, free speech advocates outraged over WCSD policy that would censor yearbooks

      A proposed Washoe County School District regulation that would censor what students can publish in yearbooks likely violates a recently passed Nevada law that protects students’ First Amendment rights, says Washoe County student journalists and student free speech experts.

      The new regulation, which is wrapped in a larger policy regarding club sports in the district, would bar student-run yearbooks from publishing the photos of club athletes — students who might be involved in a high school lacrosse team that isn’t sanctioned by the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association, for example.


      Ranson advocated for the passage of a law last legislative session, commonly referred to as the New Voices legislation, that explicitly prohibits school district “restrictions on the publication of any content in a pupil publication.”

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Samsung patents a new way for smartwatches to measure blood pressure

      Once upon a time, we were fascinated by the fact that our new smartwatch could measure our heart rate. Over time more and more tech devices have this capability and the novelty is wearing off. Now, Samsung has filed a patent for a watch that can actually measure your blood pressure!

    • The FBI, CIA and NSA say American citizens shouldn’t use these phones
    • FBI, CIA, NSA bosses warn: don’t use Huawei, ZTE smartphones
    • Here’s The Chinese Phone The FBI, CIA, and NSA Don’t Want You to Use
    • EFF and MuckRock Are Filing a Thousand Public Records Requests About ALPR Data Sharing

      EFF and MuckRock have a launched a new public records campaign to reveal how much data law enforcement agencies have collected using automated license plate readers (ALPRs) and are sharing with each other.

      Over the next few weeks, the two organizations are filing approximately 1,000 public records requests with agencies that have deals with Vigilant Solutions, one of the nation’s largest vendors of ALPR surveillance technology and software services. We’re seeking documentation showing who’s sharing ALPR data with whom. We are also requesting information on how many plates each agency scanned in 2016 and 2017 and how many of those plates were on predetermined “hot lists” of vehicles suspected of being connected to crimes.

      You can see the full list of agencies and track the progress of each request through the Street-Level Surveillance: ALPR Campaign page on MuckRock.

    • Mozilla’s Open Letter To Expert Committee Drafting India’s First Data Protection Law Slams Aadhaar Biometric Identity System

      Techdirt has been covering India’s monster biometric database, Aadhaar, since 2015. Media in India, naturally, have been on the story longer, and continue to provide detailed coverage of its roll-out and application. But wider knowledge of the trailblazing identity project remains limited. One international organization that has been working to raise awareness is Mozilla, home of the Firefox browser and Thunderbird email client.

      Last May, an opinion piece entitled “Aadhaar isn’t progress — it’s dystopian and dangerous”, by Mozilla Executive Chairwoman and Lizard Wrangler Mitchell Baker and Mozilla community member Ankit Gadgil, appeared in India’s Business Standard newspaper. In July 2017, Mozilla released a statement on the Indian Supreme Court hearings on Aadhaar. A blog post in November pointed out that the Aadhaar system is increasingly being used by private companies for their services, something Techdirt covered earlier. Similarly, after it was revealed that anybody’s Aadhaar details could be bought for around $8 each, Mozilla issued a statement saying “this latest, egregious breach should be a giant red flag to all companies as well as to the UIDAI [Unique Identification Authority of India] and the [Indian] Government.”

    • Customs and Border Protection’s Biometric Data Snooping Goes Too Far

      The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Privacy Office, and Office of Field Operations recently invited privacy stakeholders—including EFF and the ACLU of Northern California—to participate in a briefing and update on how the CBP is implementing its Biometric Entry/Exit Program.

      As we’ve written before, biometrics systems are designed to identify or verify the identity of people by using their intrinsic physical or behavioral characteristics. Because biometric identifiers are by definition unique to an individual person, government collection and storage of this data poses unique threats to privacy and security of individual travelers.

    • The Revolution and Slack

      Two things that EFF tends to recommend for digital organizing are 1) using encryption as extensively as possible, and 2) self-hosting, so that a governmental authority has to get a warrant for your premises in order to access your information. The central thing to understand about Slack (and many other online services) is that it fulfills neither of these things. This means that if you use Slack as a central organizing tool, Slack stores and is able to read all of your communications, as well as identifying information for everyone in your workspace.

    • FBI Director Still Won’t Say Which Encryption Experts Are Advising Him On His Bizarre Approach To Encryption

      For the past few months, we’ve talked about how FBI Director Chris Wray has more or less picked up where his predecessor, James Comey, left off when it came to the question of encryption and backdoors. Using a contextless, meaningless count of encrypted seized phones, Wray insists that not being able to get into any phone the FBI wants to get into is an “urgent public safety issue.”

      Of course, as basically every security expert has noted, the reverse is true. Weakening encryption in the manner that Wray is suggesting would create a much, much, much bigger safety issue in making us all less safe. Hell, even the FBI used to recommend strong encryption as a method to protect public safety.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Poles abroad told to flag anti-Polish comments: report

      Poles living abroad have been instructed to report comments made by compatriots that could be “harmful” to Poland’s reputation, according to a report by German public broadcaster NDR.

      The report, released Wednesday night, cites a letter by Polish Senate Speaker Stanisław Karczewski, asking Poles to “document all anti-Polish comments, representations and opinions that could hurt [the country]” and report “any defamation” that could harm Poland’s reputation to embassies or consulates.

    • Take it from an exoneree, the Dallas County DA election is a big deal

      A county election might seem unimportant compared to the daily drama of national politics, but I know better than most the awesome power district attorneys wield. I also know how much damage they can do when they exercise that power corruptly or irresponsibly. Or when they measure their success not by their commitment to truth, justice and community, but by the number of convictions they secure.

      Because of one such district attorney, I spent 18-and-a-half years behind bars, with 16 of those years in solitary confinement and 12 on death row, all for a crime that I did not commit.

    • US ‘Stumbled Into Torture,’ Says NYT Reporter

      Two clauses stand out for their confident attribution of benevolent motives to US foreign policy. First, there’s the idea that “America stumbled into torture,” rather than planned, plotted and spent over 15 years carrying out a policy of torture. This pretends that the US’s massive global torture regime—which involved drownings, beatings, sleep deprivation and sexual humiliation, among other techniques, along with “extraordinary rendition” to allied countries for less refined torture methods–was something other than a deliberate policy initiative.

      As FAIR (6/22/17) noted last year, corporate media routinely assert that the US “stumbles,” “slips” or is “dragged into” war and other forms of organized violence, rather than planning deliberate acts of aggression. For reporters in foreign policy circles, the US only does immoral things on accident—unlike Official Bad Countries, which do them for calculated gain when they aren’t motivated by sheer malice.

    • Appeals Court Declares Third Muslim Ban Unconstitutional

      Trump’s ban, says court, “strikes at the basic notion that the government may not act based on religious animosity.”

      Once again, an appeals court ruled that President Trump’s Muslim ban — now in its third iteration — violates the Constitution’s most basic guarantee of religious freedom.

      Earlier today, the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit stated that the ban’s purpose has always been and remains to “exclude Muslims from the United States.” The ruling comes at a crucial time, because the Supreme Court will issue its own decision on the ban this summer.

      Today’s decision confirms what has been clear since Trump first took office. Throughout his presidential campaign, he consistently promised to block Muslim immigration and even announced a specific plan for achieving that goal: a nationality-based travel ban against people from predominantly Muslim countries. As promised, one week into his presidency, without consulting any federal agencies, he issued an unprecedented ban against people from seven overwhelmingly Muslim countries.

    • Top ICE Lawyer Accused Of Identity Fraud Against Detained Immigrants

      For many, many years we’ve questioned the bizarre lawless nature of ICE — Immigration and Customs Enforcement — going back to the days when it was illegally seizing blogs, based on false claims of copyright infringement. We questioned what ICE had to do with censoring blogs in the first place. Of course, in the last year, ICE has been getting a lot more negative attention for something that is clearly under its purview: enforcement of immigration laws. Specifically, ICE has been almost gleefully demonstrating how they are thuggish bullies who are eager to deport as many people as possible. It’s disgusting and inhumane — and if you’re going to be one of those people who pop up in our comments to say something ignorant about how if someone is here illegally they have no rights and should be booted as quickly as possible, go somewhere else to spout your nonsense. Also, seriously: take stock of your own priorities and look deeply at why you are so focused on destroying the lives of people who are almost certainly less well off and less privileged than you are, and who are seeking a better way of life.

    • County Gov’t Tries To Dodge Liability In Jailhouse Deaths By Intimidating The Journalist Who Exposed Them

      To keep itself from being held liable for inmate deaths, San Diego County (CA) has decided to target the journalist who exposed them. Kelly Davis, along with the EFF’s Dave Maass, used public records requests and investigative journalism to detail 60 deaths in the county’s five jails, which occurred over the course of five years. The death rate in San Diego jails was consistently higher than those of comparably-sized systems. In fact, the death rate was higher than that of the 10 largest jail systems in the country. Documents showed almost a third of those were preventable.

      But when a lawsuit was filed by the wife of an inmate who died in a San Diego County jail, the county argued there was no negligence. The presiding judge disagreed, citing Davis and Maass’ journalism.

    • Where Does #MeToo Start?

      How sex stereotypes in schools perpetuate sexual harassment in the workplace and beyond.

      Reckoning with the prevalence of sexual harassment and gender-based violence in the wake of #MeToo has prompted many to reexamine the conditions that have allowed harassment and violence to flourish. One place to start is our public schools, where young people develop critical understandings about gender starting at an early age.

      For over a decade, the ACLU has been raising alarms about teaching methods widely in use in public schools across the United States premised on the notion that there are fundamental, sex-based differences that determine how students learn and develop. Proponents of these methods frequently cast boys as active or dominant, and girls as passive or submissive — stereotypes that normalize the power dynamics that lead to abuse and harassment.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • FCC Boss Being Investigated By His Own Agency For Being Too Cozy With The Industry He Regulates

      If you watched FCC boss Ajit Pai’s rushed repeal of net neutrality there really shouldn’t be any question about where Pai’s loyalties lie, and it certainly isn’t with smaller companies, healthy competition, transparency, openness, innovation, or American consumers. The agency head repeatedly lied about the justifications for the repeal, casually using fabricated data to justify what may just be the least popular policy decision in this history of modern technology. Pai’s fealty to giant monopolies runs so deep, his agency now just directs reporters to lobbying talking points when they question the flimsy logic propping up the repeal.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Arrest of senior Indian patent office officials on bribery rap raises serious questions about system’s integrity

      The top official in the Indian Patent Office’s Chennai branch was detained along with one colleague earlier this month on charges of graft. While digital technologies and transparency initiatives have generally made India’s IP granting authorities more accountable in recent years, the arrests suggest that corruption has not been fully stamped out of the patent office.

      The main official implicated was S P Subramaniyan, a deputy controller of patents and designs in the patent office at Chennai. The corruption branch of India’s Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) also booked T V Madhusudhan, another deputy controller, in connection with the case. Chennai is the site of the second largest patent office branch after Delhi by headcount: 115 examiners of patents and designs work there under 34 assistant controllers and seven deputy controllers. So the arrested pair are both quite senior. In addition, this page on the website of India’s Controller General of Patents Designs & Trademarks seems to indicate that Subramaniyan was the top man in Chennai.

    • Argentina’s rule changes for patents, trade marks and designs explained

      A decree has changed the rules for intellectual property in Argentina, quite drastically in some instances. Iris V Quadrio, Martín Bensadon and Iván A Poli analyse the most important modifications

    • Scholastic Wants To Help Young Creators Showcase Their Works By Stripping Them Of Their IP Rights

      Scholastic’s participation terms aren’t unusual. But that doesn’t make them right. There’s nothing about this sort of contest that demands full control of submitted works. A limited non-exclusive license would allow Scholastic to display creations and use them in promotional material without fear of a participant lawsuit. Or, for that matter, a Creatve Commons license could be applied with the terms set by particpants rather than Scholastic. But Scholastic obviously feels it’s the creators who should give up their rights. The whole thing is ridiculous — especially since it’s standard operating procedure for entities seeking submissions from creators. It only serves to show creators copyright is a handy tool for bigger, more powerful entities but of little use to the creators themselves.

    • Copyrights

      • Terrible Copyright Ruling Over An Embedded Tweet Undermines Key Concept Of How The Internet Works

        Just earlier this week we noted that a judge easily laughed Playboy’s silly lawsuit out of court because merely linking to infringing content is not infringing itself. But a judge in New York, Judge Katherine Forrest, has ruled on a different case in a manner that is quite concerning, which goes against many other court rulings, and basically puts some fundamental concepts of how the internet works at risk. It’s pretty bad. In short, she has ruled that merely embedding content from another site can be deemed infringing even if the new site is not hosting the content at all. This is wrong legally and technically, and hopefully this ruling will get overturned on appeal. But let’s dig into the details.

        The case involved a photographer, Justin Goldman, who took a photograph of quarterback Tom Brady on Snapchat. Somehow that image made its way from Snapchat to Reddit to Twitter. The photo went a bit viral, and a bunch of news organizations used Twitter’s embed feature to show the tweet and the image. Goldman sued basically all the news publications that embedded the tweet — including Breitbart, Vox, Yahoo, Gannett, the Boston Globe, Time and more. Now, multiple different courts around the country have said why this should not be seen as infringing by these publications. It’s generally referred to as “the server test” — in which to be direct infringement, you have to host the image yourself. This makes sense at both a technical and legal level because “embedding” an image is no different technically than linking to an image. It is literally the same thing — you put in a piece of code that points the end user’s computer to an image. The server at no point hosts or displays the image — it is only the end user’s computer. In the 9th Circuit, the various Perfect 10 cases have established the server test, and other courts have adopted it or similar concepts. In the 7th Circuit there was the famous Flavaworks case, where Judge Posner seemed almost annoyed that anyone could think that merely embedding infringing content could be deemed infringing.

      • Linking under US copyright law: green light to its inclusion in the scope of public display right comes from New York
      • Copyright For Libraries Around The World In 2018

        Copyright laws around the world are constantly changing in an attempt to adapt – or react – to the digital world. These changes can have a major impact on how libraries function and on the public service they provide. While some reforms offer new possibilities and legal certainty, others look backwards and seek to use the law to restrict the ability of libraries to guarantee meaningful information access to their users.

        IFLA therefore follows the evolution of copyright reforms around the world, as well as bilateral and multilateral trade agreements that impact copyright regimes.

      • Federal Judge Says Embedding a Tweet Can Be Copyright Infringement

        Rejecting years of settled precedent, a federal court in New York has ruled [PDF] that you could infringe copyright simply by embedding a tweet in a web page. Even worse, the logic of the ruling applies to all in-line linking, not just embedding tweets. If adopted by other courts, this legally and technically misguided decision would threaten millions of ordinary Internet users with infringement liability.

        This case began when Justin Goldman accused online publications, including Breitbart, Time, Yahoo, Vox Media, and the Boston Globe, of copyright infringement for publishing articles that linked to a photo of NFL star Tom Brady. Goldman took the photo, someone else tweeted it, and the news organizations embedded a link to the tweet in their coverage (the photo was newsworthy because it showed Brady in the Hamptons while the Celtics were trying to recruit Kevin Durant). Goldman said those stories infringe his copyright.

        Courts have long held that copyright liability rests with the entity that hosts the infringing content—not someone who simply links to it. The linker generally has no idea that it’s infringing, and isn’t ultimately in control of what content the server will provide when a browser contacts it. This “server test,” originally from a 2007 Ninth Circuit case called Perfect 10 v. Amazon, provides a clear and easy-to-administer rule. It has been a foundation of the modern Internet.

      • US Piracy Lawsuits Shoot Out Of The 2018 Gates As The Malibu Media ‘Coaching Tree’ Spreads Its Seeds

        For those of you not interested in professional sports, allow me to educate you on the concept of the “coaching tree.” This concept comes from the common decisions by losing teams to hire junior coaches out from under the head coaches of successful teams, hoping to siphon off some of the genius of more successful organizations. In football, for instance, you will often hear about the “Andy Reid coaching tree” as his assistants get head coaching jobs across the league after serving underneath him.

        Sadly, a much more sinister version of this appears to be occurring in the copyright trolling space, with Malibu Media serving as a launching point for legal minds joining other organizations and replicating what they’ve learned from their former employer. The result has been an explosion in copyright lawsuits for the early part of 2018, with most of them coming from the porn-trolling industry.

      • Court Shakes Off Dumb Copyright Lawsuit Against Taylor Swift

        For an industry that talks up how important copyright law is, it’s fairly astounding how frequently there are really dumb lawsuits filed between musicians. Lately, because of the ridiculous “Blurred Lines” verdict, there have been tons of lawsuits filed over “sounds like” songs, or even “inspired by” songs, as lawyers (and some musicians) see a chance to cash in on the actual success of others. But we’ve also seen a bunch of really dumb lawsuits filed over the use of similar phrases. A few years ago there was the case where Rick Ross sued LMFAO because they had the line “Everyday I’m shufflin’” in a song that he claimed was infringing his “Everyday I’m hustlin’.” The court was not impressed.


Links 15/2/2018: GNOME 3.28 Beta, Rust 1.24

Posted in News Roundup at 6:18 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • Open source project management: The art of herding cats

    Dave Page of EnterpriseDB talks about the challenges of organising the Postgres community and why Oracle’s cloud does not feature in his firm’s plans

  • We’re still learning from this failed blockchain experiment

    The past six months have seen cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum go from rounding errors in the global economy to center stage at mainstream banking conferences. Much of the current fervor concerns the skyrocketing valuations of cryptocurrencies and tokens, and using them as an investment. All this has an interesting backstory—one with roots in an open organization effort attempted two years ago: The DAO.

  • Events

    • A cyborg’s journey

      Karen Sandler has been giving conference talks about free software and open medical devices for the better part of a decade at this point. LWN briefly covered a 2010 LinuxCon talk and a 2012 linux.conf.au (LCA) talk; her talk at LCA 2012 was her first full-length keynote, she said. In this year’s edition, she reviewed her history (including her love for LCA based in part on that 2012 visit) and gave an update on the status of the source code for the device she has implanted on her heart.

      Sandler is the executive director of the Software Freedom Conservancy (SFC); she is also a lawyer, but “I do all of my legal work for good now”, she said with a chuckle. She does pro bono work for FSF and the GNOME Foundation, for example. She asked how many in the audience had attended LCA 2012 in Ballarat, which turned out to be around one-third (interestingly, the number of first-time attendees was nearly the same).

  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox Performance Update #1

        In an attempt to fill the shoes of Ehsan’s excellent Quantum Flow Newsletters1, I’ve started to keep track of interesting performance bugs that have been tackled over the past little while.

        I don’t expect I’ll be able to put together such excellent essays on performance issues in Firefox, but I can certainly try to help to raise the profile of folks helping to make Firefox faster.

      • Welcome Marnie to the Test Pilot Team!

        Late last year, the Test Pilot team welcomed a new engineering program manager, Marnie Pasciuto-Wood. In this post, Marnie talks about what it’s been like joining Mozilla and what keeps her busy and inspired outside of work.

      • A Perspective: Firefox Quantum’s Tracking Protection Gives Users The Right To Be Curious

        In the physical world, we don’t wear our ID on our foreheads. This is convenient because we can walk around with a reasonable expectation of privacy and let our curiosity take us to interesting places. That shoe store you sauntered into because they had a pair that caught your eye has no idea who you are, where you live, or anything about you. More importantly, any attempt by that shoe store to have an employee follow you around would not only be impractical, but would be met with some serious side-eye from potential customers.

      • CSS Grid for UI Layouts

        CSS Grid is a great layout tool for content-driven websites that include long passages of text, and it has tremendous value for a variety of traditional UI layouts as well. In this article I’ll show you how to use CSS Grid to improve application layouts that need to respond and adapt to user interactions and changing conditions, and always have your panels scroll properly.

      • Firefox 59 Beta 10 Testday, February 16th

        We are happy to let you know that Friday, February 16th, we are organizing Firefox 59 Beta 10 Testday. We’ll be focusing our testing on Find Toolbar and Search Suggestions.

      • Firefox, Pocket and Sponsored Stories

        Well, well, remember when I told you – the more desperate Mozilla gets vis-a-vis its market share, the more aggressive they will get with pushing “quality” content onto its users? I did, I did. Well, the bonfires of the Mr. Robot fiasco have hardly cooled, and now there’s a new drama developing. Mozilla will start rolling a pilot that tests sponsored stories in the Pocket recommendations section on the New Tab page.

        Since I’m usually a blithely cheerful chap, I’m actively looking for stories to sour my mood, and so I was excited (this is sales lingo, we will get to that) to read this announcement. After all, writing about how everything is peachy and efficient and good in the tech world is boring, we need these little burdocks of greed to make things complicated. After me, pioneers.


        Actually, it does not take a wizard to figure things out. Just look what happened in the past five years, ever since the mobile world exploded. For instance, thinking wildly about some rather common examples, Windows 7 to Windows 10, and the amount of pesky, online and telemetry stuff. Just compare Skype 7.40, the last classic version. and the toy factory moronity that is Skype 8. Windows Control Panel to Windows Settings. Gnome 2 to Gnome 3. Oh, Firefox 3.6 to Firefox whatever.

        What you see is that menus get deeper and deeper and deeper and more obfuscated, with focus on aesthetic minimalism (mobile) that goes directly against user intuition and efficiency. You need more and more actions and mouse clicks to achieve the same results you could half a decade before. Now imagine what will happen in five or even ten years. Consider yourself lucky you were there to witness the early days of the Internet, when it was still all naive and innocent and not just pure money.


        Some people may assume that I have a personal problem with Mozilla and Firefox. Not really. It’s just I don’t like hypocrisy, and I do not like being herded toward the pen that reads IDIOTS. I fully understand that Mozilla needs quiche. Fine, state it upfront. Don’t veil it in bullshit. The words privacy, freedom and similar slogans mean nothing when you put them side by side with sponsored stories. You want money, start charging money for your browser. There’s nothing wrong with that. And I would gladly pay for a high-quality product – and when needed, I do.

        I also wish that we had alternatives – the more the merrier. Alas, the exact opposite is happening. As time goes by, it will become even more difficult to have (supposedly free) products that really cater to their users. The profit slope is a one-way direction. Once you make a margin, you need to make more margin and more margin and more margin. It never stops.

        Firefox is a completely different product than it was a decade ago. It’s now a big boy, trying to compete in the big arena. There’s no room for niceties anymore. The only thing you can do is try to prepare for the inevitable day when this salesy nonsense becomes too much, so when you do switch, you try to do it elegantly and smartly. I cannot guarantee there’s actually going to be a nice and peaceful browser for you out there when that moment comes, so if you want to sleep all relaxed, don’t. The old Internet is dying, and the future does not belong to you and me or anyone willing to read this entire article without skipping words. The best you can do is play the game, so at the very least, you will be a rich idealist one day rather than a poor user. Or better yet, a rich loser rather than a poor user.

      • These Weeks in Firefox: Issue 32
      • Reps On-boarding Team

        As you already know from our discourse topic, we have created an Onboarding Screening Team.

        The scope of this team is to help on evaluating the new applications to the Reps program by helping the Reps Council on this process.

      • Announcing Rust 1.24

        The Rust team is happy to announce a new version of Rust, 1.24.0. Rust is a systems programming language focused on safety, speed, and concurrency.

      • Rust 1.24 Released With “rustfmt” Preview & Incremental Compilation By Default

        A fairly notable update to the Rust programming language compiler and its components is available today.

        With Rust 1.24 first up is a preview release of rustfmt, an official utility for formatting Rust code. Rustfmt applies a standard style of formatting to existing Rustlang code and is similar to the other LLVM-based code formatters.

  • SaaS/Back End

  • Databases

    • iRODS Consortium Carries Open Source Data Management Software Forward

      Integrated Rule-Oriented Data System (iRODS) is used across the globe in industries ranging from the life and physical sciences to media and entertainment, but the software’s origins can be traced back over two decades to a team at the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) and a project known as the Storage Resource Broker (SRB).

    • ArangoDB Publishes Industry-Wide Open Source NoSQL Performance Benchmark

      ArangoDB, a leading provider of native multi-model NoSQL database solutions, today announced the latest findings of its open source NoSQL performance benchmark series. To enable vendors to respond to the results and contribute improvements, ArangoDB has published the necessary scripts required to repeat the benchmark. The goal of the benchmark is to measure the performance of each database system when there is no cache used. The benchmark is completely open source and therefore driven by community input.

    • Altibase goes open source, says it ‘directly challenges’ Microsoft, IBM and Oracle

      Following the recent announcement that the global software firm is open source, Altibase says it “directly challenges” the other companies by providing equal functionality at a much lower cost. Customers will save money by not having to buy in-memory and disk-resident databases separately, says Altibase. It can easily replace or supplement Oracle as well.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice 6.0: The stats so far

      On January 31, we released LibreOffice 6.0 (shortly followed up by 6.0.1). So what has happened in the last two weeks? Let’s look at some statistics…

  • Funding


    • I love Free Software Day 2018

      Today isn’t just Valentines day, but also I love Free Software Day! I’ve been using (and contributing) Free Software for years now and don’t want anything else. Even when I’ve given non-Free Software another chance, every time I was glad when I returned to Free Software.

      A big thank you goes out to all developers, sysadmins, network guru’s, translators, bugsquashers and all other contributors.

      A small selection of tools/libraries/projects/organizations I’m thankful for this year: debian, ubuntu, terminator, mate, vi(m), firefox, thunderbird, postgresql, apache, kvm, libvirt, bash, openssh, nextcloud, workrave, audacious, vlc, mtp (Media Transfer Protocol), ext2/ext3/ext4/btrfs, mdadm, postfix, the linux kernel, fosdem, fsfe, eff, bitsoffreedom, ccc and kodi.

  • Public Services/Government

    • Defense Digital Service revamps Code.mil with clearer, more accessible guidance

      When the Defense Digital Service team launched Code.mil in February 2017, the goal was to propel the Department of Defense into the open source software community.

      The team set up a repository on GitHub, got to work on a licensing agreement and by mid-March the first open-sourced project was posted.

      But where there was excitement among the DoD engineering community, there also was a slight problem — the guidance on how to release code as code open source just wasn’t very accessible or clear.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • FLOSS Weekly 471: ScanCode

      Simon was co-host of FLOSS Weekly 471, which featured the ScanCode Toolkit. ScanCode analyses a source package and lists what licenses are found in it. The toolkit can be used as part of a larger solution and together with the new AboutCode Manager provides open source compliance staff with an easy way to know what licenses they are actually dealing with.

    • A GPL-enforcement update
  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open-source drug discovery

      An apparent linux.conf.au tradition is to dedicate a keynote slot to somebody who is applying open-source principles to make the world better in an area other than software development. LCA 2018 was no exception; professor Matthew Todd took the stage to present his work on open-source drug discovery. The market for pharmaceuticals has failed in a number of ways to come up with necessary drugs at reasonable prices; perhaps some of those failures can be addressed through a community effort.

      Todd started by noting that he must normally begin his talks by selling open source to a room that is hostile to the idea; that tends not to be a problem at LCA. The chemistry community, he said, is playing catch-up, trying to mimic some of the things that the open-source community has done. The first step was to apply these principles to basic research before moving on to drug discovery; the latter proved to be harder, since it’s typically a process that is shrouded in secrecy.

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • First Open-Source RISC-V SoC for Linux Released

        Only months after debuting the Freedom U540, the world’s first Linux-compatible processor based on the open-source RISC-V chip architecture, RISC-V chipmaker SiFive has surprised the open-source community again by unveiling a full development board built around the ISA.

        Called the HiFive Unleashed, the new development board is built around SiFive’s Freedom U540, which is based on the company’s U54-MC Coreplex. The chip is a 64-bit, 4+1 multicore processor that fully supports Linux, as well as other operating systems such as FreeBSD and Unix. The development board itself features a 8GB of DDR4 with ECC, a gigabit ethernet port, 32 MB of quad SPI flash memory, a MicroSD card slot, and an FPGA mezzanine card (FMC) connector for allowing peripherals and other expansion devices to be attached to the board.

      • RISC-V plans to fulfill open-source architecture innovation dreams

        Digital transformation and the proliferation of big data are driving a renaissance in software development, requiring new advancements in hardware and processors. With a range of needs from a variety of users and platforms, standard instruction set architectures are no longer fulfilling all use cases as the demand for flexibility and improved performance increases.

        “The world is dominated by two instruction set architectures. … Both are great, but … they’re owned by their respective companies. RISC-V is a third entrant into this world … it’s completely open source,” said Martin Fink (pictured, right), chief technology officer of Western Digital Corp. Through the RISC-V initiative, Fink and Dave Tang (pictured, left), senior vice president of corporate marketing at Western Digital, are working to provide an instruction set that can be freely shared to encourage innovation.

      • Fedora/RISC-V: Runnable stage 4 disk images
  • Programming/Development

    • Jupyter: notebooks for education and collaboration

      The popular interpreted language Python shares a mode of interaction with many other languages, from Lisp to APL to Julia: the REPL (read-eval-print-loop) allows the user to experiment with and explore their code, while maintaining a workspace of global variables and functions. This is in contrast with languages such as Fortran and C, which must be compiled and run as complete programs (a mode of operation available to the REPL-enabled languages as well). But using a REPL is a solitary task; one can write a program to share based on their explorations, but the REPL session itself not easily shareable. So REPLs have gotten more sophisticated over time, evolving into shareable notebooks, such as what IPython, and its more recent descendant, Jupyter, have. Here we look at Jupyter: its history, notebooks, and how it enables better collaboration in languages well beyond its Python roots.

    • Who Killed The Junior Developer?

      I’m not sure what the industry-wide solution is. I’m not sure whether companies that lack junior devs are unbalanced or smart. The reality is that most software developers don’t stay one place very long, so maybe it doesn’t make sense to invest a lot in training someone? Or maybe the industry should ask itself why people keep hopping jobs? Maybe it’s because a lot of them suck, or for a lot of us it’s the only way to advance our salary. I can either wait for a stupid, meaningless yearly “performance review” to bump me up 1% or take my resume and interview elsewhere and get 10% or more.

      It’s not just a sign that an individual company is broken, it’s a sign the entire industry is broken.

  • Standards/Consortia


  • Should I call out my friends for using their phones while driving?

    I suspect you don’t need me to tell you that your nervousness is well-founded: the statistics on car accidents and phone use are incontrovertible. In 2015, approximately 3,477 people were killed, and 391,000 were injured, in car crashes caused by “distracted driving”.

  • Meet the company trying to break the taser monopoly

    Ever since 2003, when one of the two companies making tasers bought out the other, there has effectively been a taser monopoly. If you’ve ever seen a police officer carrying a taser, that taser was almost certainly manufactured by the publicly traded company formerly known as Taser International, now named Axon Enterprise, Inc.

  • Tech Luminary Peter Thiel Parts Ways With Silicon Valley

    Billionaire investor Peter Thiel is relocating his home and personal investment firms to Los Angeles from San Francisco and scaling back his involvement in the tech industry, people familiar with his thinking said, marking a rupture between Silicon Valley and its most prominent conservative.

  • Hey Microsoft, Stop Installing Apps On My PC Without Asking
  • Science

    • After more than a year, Trump still doesn’t have a science adviser

      “It’s mind-boggling,” said John Holdren, Obama’s science adviser for eight years who has since resumed his career as a professor of environmental policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. “It’s vital for the president to get the best science advice, and right now, he isn’t getting that. His decisions are being made without the benefit of science.”

    • FinFETs Shimmy to 5G’s Frequencies

      Engineers at Purdue University and GlobalFoundries have gotten today’s most advanced transistors to vibrate at frequencies that could make 5G phones and other gadgets smaller and more energy efficient. The feat could also improve CPU clocks, make wearable radars, and one day form the basis of a new kind of computing. They presented their results today at the IEEE International Solid-States Circuits Conference, in San Francisco.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Court determines military burn pits caused lung disease in service members

      The thousands of U.S. military personnel and private contractors whose health was compromised by the dense black smoke of burn pits – and who were then denied proper treatment – may finally be vindicated by a recent court ruling.

      A judge under the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office for Workers’ Compensation Programs decreed last month that open-air burn pits — where thousands of chemicals were released into the air after trash and other waste were incinerated at American military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan — are connected to lung disease, Fox News has learned.

      The decision marks a victory for the nearly 64,000 active service members and retirees who have put their names on a Burn Pit Registry created by the Veterans Administration, bringing them one step closer to getting adequate medical coverage, something that has never been guaranteed. Private contractors who were also exposed to the burn pit toxins also have been denied coverage.

  • Security

    • Critical Telegram flaw under attack disguised malware as benign images [Ed: Windows]

      The flaw, which resided in the Windows version of the messaging app, allowed attackers to disguise the names of attached files, researchers from security firm Kaspersky Lab said in a blog post. By using the text-formatting standard known as Unicode, attackers were able to cause characters in file names to appear from right to left, instead of the left-to-right order that’s normal for most Western languages.

    • Why children are now prime targets for identity theft [sic] [iophk: "the real name for this is "fraud" and there are already existing laws on it"]

      SSA believed this change would make it more difficult for thieves to “guess” someone’s SSN by looking at other public information available for that person. However, now that an SSN is not tied to additional data points, such as a location or year of birth, it becomes harder for financial institutions, health care providers, and others to verify that the person using the SSN is in fact the person to whom it was issued.

      In other words: Thieves now target SSNs issued after this change as they know your 6-year-old niece or your 4-year-old son will not have an established credit file.

    • Microsoft won’t plug a huge zero-day in Skype because it’d be too much work

      The bug in the automatic updater (turd polisher) for the Windows desktop app has a ruddy great hole in it that will let dodgy DLLs through.

    • ‘I Lived a Nightmare:’ SIM Hijacking Victims Share Their Stories

      The bug itself didn’t expose anything too sensitive. No passwords, social security numbers, or credit card data was exposed. But it did expose customers’ email addresses, their billing account numbers, and the phone’s IMSI numbers, standardized unique number that identifies subscribers. Just by knowing (or guessing) customer’s phone numbers, hackers could get their target’s data.

      Once they had that, they could impersonate them with T-Mobile’s customer support staff and steal their phone numbers. This is how it works: a criminal calls T-Mobile, pretends to be you, convinces the customer rep to issue a new SIM card for your number, the criminal activates it, and they take control of your number.

    • Salon to ad blockers: Can we use your browser to mine cryptocurrency?

      Salon explains what’s going on in a new FAQ. “How does Salon make money by using my processing power?” the FAQ says. “We intend to use a small percentage of your spare processing power to contribute to the advancement of technological discovery, evolution, and innovation. For our beta program, we’ll start by applying your processing power to help support the evolution and growth of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies.”

    • Salon Offers To Remove Ads If Visitors Help Mine Cryptocurrency

      As we’ve been discussing, the rise of stealth cryptocurrency miners embedded on websites has become a notable problem. In some instances, websites are being hacked and embedded with stealth cryptocurrency miners that quickly gobble up visitors’ CPU cycles without their knowledge. That’s what happened to Showtime recently when two different domains were found to be utilizing the Coinhive miner to hijack visitor broswers without users being informed. Recent reports indicate that thousands of government websites have also been hijacked and repurposed in this fashion via malware.

      But numerous websites are also now exploring such miners voluntarily as an alternative revenue stream. One major problem however: many aren’t telling site visitors this is even happening. And since some implementations of such miners can hijack massive amounts of CPU processing power while sipping a non-insubstantial amount of electricity, that’s a problem.

    • Georgia Senate Thinks It Can Fix Its Election Security Issues By Criminalizing Password Sharing, Security Research

      When bad things happen, bad laws are sure to follow. The state of Georgia has been through some tumultuous times, electorally-speaking. After a presidential election plagued with hacking allegations, the Georgia Secretary of State plunged ahead with allegations of his own. He accused the DHS of performing ad hoc penetration testing on his office’s firewall. At no point was he informed the DHS might try to breach his system and the DHS, for its part, was less than responsive when questioned about its activities. It promised to get back to the Secretary of State but did not confirm or deny hacking attempts the state had previously opted out of.

      To make matter worse, there appeared to be evidence the state’s voting systems had been compromised. A misconfigured server left voter records exposed, resulting in a lawsuit against state election officials. Somehow, due to malice or stupidity, a server containing key evidence needed in the lawsuit was mysteriously wiped clean, just days after the lawsuit was filed.

    • Let’s Encrypt Hits 50 Million Active Certificates and Counting

      In yet another milestone on the path to encrypting the web, Let’s Encrypt has now issued over 50 million active certificates. Depending on your definition of “website,” this suggests that Let’s Encrypt is protecting between about 23 million and 66 million websites with HTTPS (more on that below). Whatever the number, it’s growing every day as more and more webmasters and hosting providers use Let’s Encrypt to provide HTTPS on their websites by default.

    • Linux systems can still be hacked via USB sticks

      Linux systems could be a risk from malware on USB memory sticks, according to security researchers.

      The bug affects users running the KDE Plasma desktop environment, which is widely used in GNU/Linux distributions. The issue was discovered in soliduiserver/deviceserviceaction.cpp in KDE Plasma Workspace before 5.12.0.

    • Spectre & KPTI Get More Fixes In Linux 4.16, Offsets Some KVM Performance Losses

      While we are past the Linux 4.16 merge window, more Spectre and Meltdown related improvements and changes are still being allowed into the kernel, similar to all the KPTI/Retpoline work that landed late in Linux 4.15. On Wednesday was another big batch of KPTI and Spectre work that has already been merged.

    • Kali Linux Ethical Hacking OS Getting Fix for Meltdown & Spectre with Linux 4.15
    • UK blames Russia for NotPetya cyber-attack last year
    • UK formally blames Russia for NotPetya cyber attack

      Britain has formally blamed Russia for the NotPetya ransomware attack in June last year, with Foreign Office Minister Lord Ahmad saying the decision “underlines the fact that the UK and its allies will not tolerate malicious cyber activity”.

    • Security updates for Thursday
    • BuckHacker: This Search Engine Lets You Find Hackable Servers With Ease
    • Microsoft patches two nasty Outlook bugs in latest Patch Tuesday release

      “Outlook attempts to open the pre-configured message on receipt of the email. You read that right – not viewing, not previewing, but upon receipt. That means there’s a potential for an attacker to exploit this merely by sending an email.”

    • A potent botnet is exploiting a critical router bug that may never be fixed

      In recent days, Satori has started infecting routers manufactured by Dasan Networks of South Korea. The number of daily infected routers is about 13,700, with about 82 percent of them located in Vietnam, a researcher from China-based Netlab 360 told Ars. Queries on the Shodan search index of Internet-connected devices show there are a total of more than 40,000 routers made by Dasan. The company has yet to respond to an advisory published in December that documented the code-execution vulnerability Satori is exploiting, making it possible that most or all of the devices will eventually become part of the botnet.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Mass shootings are getting deadlier. And the latest ones all have something new in common: The AR-15
    • US Media Turn to ‘Superhero’ Pence to Combat Korean Olympic Peace Threat

      North Korea, like virtually every country on earth, is using the Olympics this week as an opportunity for political theater, and this has greatly upset many in US media. Ostensibly this is because North Korea, marching with South Korea in the opening ceremonies and sending a squadron of cheerleaders to the Winter Games, is getting a pass on human rights abuses. But if one scratches the surface of the widespread outrage, it’s clear the real objection is that North and South Korea are having bilateral peace talks without the permission of—much less the participation of—the United States.
      Atlantic: Can North Korea Be Stopped?

    • Regime Change Fails: Is A Military Coup or Invasion of Venezuela Next?

      Several signals point to a possible military strike on Venezuela, with high-ranking officials and influential politicians making clear that it is a distinct possibility.

      Speaking at his alma mater, the University of Texas, on February 1, Secretary of State Tillerson suggested a potential military coup in in the country. Tillerson then visited allied Latin American countries urging regime change and more economic sanctions on Venezuela. Tillerson is also reportedly considering banning the processing or sale of Venezuelan oil in the United States and is discouraging other countries from buying Venezuelan oil.

    • Honduras Nearing Ten Years of Stolen Elections, Neo-Colonial Rule

      For weeks following its stolen election, the corrupt right-wing, neo-fascist government of Juan Orlando Hernández’s in Honduras has been terrorizing its people. Street protests and spontaneous blockades have been met by extreme violence. Dozens have already died on the frontlines and many more have been arrested and brutalized in detention, while often being held incommunicado.

    • Korean Olympic Diplomacy Moves Forward Despite U.S. Intransigence

      By many accounts, the Koreans – North and South – have prevailed over the disruptive desires of the United States, coming together in a series of very public actions, clearly meant to turn down the political heat generated by President Donald Trump and the U.S. pressure for military action. This pressure can be seen as a continuation of President Barack Obama’s “Asia Pivot,” a policy that called for full U.S. dominance in the region, including by containing China and the new emerging regional powers through a set of expansive, coordinated, and aggressive military alliances with Japan and other Pacific Rim countries.

    • Vietnam’s Lessons and the U.S. Culture of Violence

      Back in October, 2016 I wrote an analysis entitled “Are Humans Natural-Born Killers?” It described and commented on research on the origins of human violence published in the science journal Nature. The conclusion offered in the article is that humans come from an evolutionary line that has the capability for violent behavior genetically built into it. It is a reasonable hypothesis. As just about every serious historian knows, the human propensity for lethal violence goes back as far as the evidence can take us — so far that there can be little doubt that this trait is inherited from our pre-human ancestors.

    • U.N. Envoy Says Syrian Civilians Killed on a “Horrific Scale”

      In Syria, U.S. airstrikes and artillery fire last week reportedly killed scores of Russian mercenaries who had joined a failed assault on a base held by U.S. and Kurdish forces in Deir ez-Zor. Bloomberg reports that more than 200 soldiers-for-hire fighting on behalf of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad were killed in the fighting, including many Russians. Meanwhile, some of the fiercest fighting in the 7-year-old conflict continues to rage in the northern city of Afrin, the rebel-held enclave of Eastern Ghouta and other parts of Syria. The United Nations special envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura, warned Wednesday that civilians have been killed on a “horrific scale,” with more than 1,000 killed in the first week of February alone.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • 21 dolphins die after washing up on Mexico beach

      Twenty-one dolphins that were apparently attacked by another species of dolphin have died after washing up on a beach in northern Mexico, authorities said.

      Environmental activists launched a frantic operation to try to save the dolphins after a group of 54 washed up on a rocky beach in Bahia de la Paz, in Mexico’s Baja California peninsula.

      They managed to get 33 of the short-beaked common dolphins back in the water alive, but the rest died on the beach, the Mexican environmental protection authority, Profepa, said in a statement.

    • How Rubber Duckies Could Help Us Save the Planet

      Yes, it is going to making ten rubber duck colonies on the beaches of Port Willunga, Australia using several thousand rubber ducks, which the scientists counted first, obviously. Each colony had a different number of fake ducks.

    • Ants nurse wounded warriors back to health: study

      African Matabele ants dress the wounds of comrades injured during hunting raids and nurse them back to health, according to an “astonishing” discovery reported Wednesday.

      After collecting their wounded from the battlefield and carrying them back home, nestmates become medics, massing around patients for “intense licking” of open wounds, according to a study in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

      This behaviour reduces the fatality rate from about 80 percent of injured soldiers to a mere 10 percent, researchers observed.

  • Finance

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Facebook tells publishers to take it or leave it

      Facebook hired Campbell Brown as its head of news partnerships on January 6th, 2017. At the time, Brown wrote that she would “help news organizations and journalists work more closely and more effectively with Facebook.” In a post that is no longer public, she wrote: “I will be working directly with our partners to help them understand how Facebook can expand the reach of their journalism, and contribute value to their businesses.”

    • [Older] Freelancing abroad in a world obsessed with Trump

      According to a study by Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, Trump was the focus of 41 percent of American news coverage in his first 100 days in office. That’s three times the amount of coverage showered on previous presidents. This laser-eyed focus on Trump has left little room for other crucial stories.

    • With His Assault on PBS and NPR, Trump Seeks to Eliminate Real News

      Conservative Republicans have been angling for years to zero out funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which provides federal support for local PBS and National Public Radio stations. Prodded years ago by conservative columnist George Will, who asked “What about the cultural institutions? Conservatives have considerable grievances against the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the national endowments for the arts and the humanities. What’s their future?” To which House Speaker Newt Gingrich replied: “I personally would privatize them all.”

    • Has Anyone Seen the President?

      Bannon seems to view the Democrats less as the opposition party than figures of fun. “The Democrats don’t matter,” he had said to me over our lunch. “The real opposition is the media. And the way to deal with them is to flood the zone with shit.”

    • Help us monitor political advertising on Facebook in your state

      ProPublica has developed a browser plugin for Chrome and Firefox that automatically collects ads when you are on Facebook and allows you to classify the ads collected as “political” or “not political”.

      The political ads are sent to ProPublica’s database, along with the ad-targeting information. The ad-targeting information categories are usually things such as an age bracket, gender, a general geographic location and interest in a topic. You can see the information Facebook is using to show you ads by looking at the “adverts” menu in the Facebook settings.

    • U.S. Intelligence Chiefs Claim Russia Planning to Meddle in 2018 Election

      The intelligence community’s warnings during Tuesday’s Senate Intelligence Committee hearings contradict President Trump, who has repeatedly cast doubt on whether Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election. Trump is currently under investigation for allegedly colluding with Russia ahead of the presidential election.

    • Who Is Weev, and Why Did He Derail a Journalist’s Career?

      In the span of about six hours yesterday, The New York Times announced the hiring of Quinn Norton as a tech columnist and then apparently fired her. The Times claims that their decision to “go their separate ways” was guided by “new information,” revealed through a social-media maelstrom, about slurs Norton had used on Twitter and about her friendship with someone called weev.

    • Porn Star Ready to Talk After Trump’s Lawyer Admits Payment
    • Vox Sentences: Turns out the White House entrance is a revolving door
  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • At least 15 journalists held arbitrarily in Saudi crackdown

      Harassment of journalists has increased since last June. Some journalists who were abroad have preferred to stay there. Some have been forced to resign from what are regarded as “enemy” media. Others, according to our information, have chosen to censor themselves or to withdraw altogether from what was the only space left for free speech – social networks.

    • RSF’s decries journalist’s expulsion from Indonesia’s Papua region

      Jakarta, Jubi/RSF – After the BBC’s Indonesia editor was expelled from the country’s easternmost Papua region last weekend over a tweet, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) again urges the Indonesian authorities to allow journalists to report freely in the troubled region, which continues to be an information black hole.

    • Cambodia: Legislating New Tools of Repression

      The National Assembly passed amendments to five articles of the Cambodian constitution that tighten restrictions on voting rights and freedom of association and require every Cambodian citizen to “respect the constitution” and “defend the motherland.” Article 34 was changed to allow new restrictions on the right to vote, while Article 42 now gives the government authority to take action against political parties if they do not “place the country and nation’s interest first,” an amendment designed to target opposition parties. Article 53, which now states that Cambodia cannot interfere in the internal affairs of other countries since it opposes foreign interference in its own affairs, also appears to target the CNRP, which regularly appealed to donors and the United Nations to put pressure on the Cambodian government to hold free and fair elections and impose sanctions.

    • Facebook loses appeal as court rules in favor of nudity

      The Parisian court thought that this policy was incredibly inconvenient for the billions of claimants who don’t happen to live in California, so it upheld the decision against Facebook, requiring the company to respect the earlier finding’s authority and pay up.

    • Germany: Flawed Social Media Law

      The new German law that compels social media companies to remove hate speech and other illegal content can lead to unaccountable, overbroad censorship and should be promptly reversed, Human Rights Watch said today. The law sets a dangerous precedent for other governments looking to restrict speech online by forcing companies to censor on the government’s behalf.

    • Home Secretary reveals tool to block extremist content from the [I]nternet

      The government spent £600,000 on the tool, which was trained by its designers, ASI Data Science to recognise content related to IS, which would then be flagged up to a human who would decide if it should pass or not.

    • EFF Urges US Copyright Office To Reject Proactive ‘Piracy’ Filters

      As entertainment companies and Internet services spar over the boundaries of copyright law, the EFF is urging the US Copyright Office to keep “copyright’s safe harbors safe.” In a petition just filed with the office, the EFF warns that innovation will be stymied if Congress goes ahead with a plan to introduce proactive ‘piracy’ filters at the expense of the DMCA’s current safe harbor provisions.

    • Facebook pledges extremism purge after Unilever boycott threat

      Unilever, the Anglo-Dutch consumer goods maker of brands from Dove to Persil, on Monday threatened social media companies with an advertising boycott if they failed to tackle abusive content.

    • Germany’s ‘Hate Speech’ Law May Evolve Into Wide Censorship – Watchdog

      Germany’s NetzDG (Network Enforcement Act), which requires social media networks to remove offensive content, could result in extensive censorship and should, therefore, be reversed, an international rights watchdog said Wednesday.

    • Filmmaker Chronicles History of State-Sanctioned Censorship in New Documentary

      “They are how we make sense of our lives,” says the assistant teaching professor of filmmaking and associate director of the Digital Studies Center at Rutgers University–Camden. “Stories help us organize our thoughts, and to document and hand down our history. They have the ability to move masses, to make real change.”

    • Corporate giant Unilever demands crackdown on oppositional Internet content

      The drive to censor the Internet took another step this week with a public statement by Keith Weed, the chief marketing officer for the London-based multinational Unilever, threatening to withdraw advertising from social media platforms if they fail to suppress “toxic content.”

      Weed reportedly told an annual leadership meeting of the Interactive Advertising Bureau in Palm Desert, California that the company “will not invest in platforms or environments” that “create divisions in society, and promote anger or hate.” He added, “We will prioritize investing only in responsible platforms that are committed to creating a positive impact in society.”

    • Instagram, YouTube Face Full Block In Russia After Billionaire Wins A Privacy Lawsuit Over Pictures With An Alleged Escort

      We’ve had ongoing discussions on this site about the ham-fisted website censorship policy that Russia has undertaken over the past few years. While the country was never one to embrace free and open speech and communication to the same degree as Western nations, recent times have seen a severe uptick in outright censorship with a variety of excuses rolled out for public consumption: copyright laws, stifling political opposition, and the protection of the privacy of public figures. The funnel point for all of this censorship is Russian agency Rozcomnadzor, itself the subject of corruption allegations, with a track record for racking up collateral damage numbers that would make any nation’s army blush.

      Through it all, there have been suggestions that entire sites with massive global followings would be blocked. YouTube and Twitter were previously found to be in the crosshairs of the Russian government, but nothing immediately came of the threat. Now, however, both YouTube and Instagram may face a very real choice: bow to the censorship demands of Rozcomnadzor or face full site-blocks in Russia. And, perhaps most strangely, this has all come to a head over a Russian billionaire’s win in court to block the publication of photos and videos showing him on a yacht with what is reportedly an escort.

    • Russia Blocks Critic’s Site, Warns Google About Billionaire Yacht Videos
    • YouTube and Instagram face Russian bans
    • Oligarch Oleg Deripaska uses “right to privacy” to censor Russian media
    • YouTube Accused of Censorship After Coming Under Russian Pressure
    • Instagram submits to Russia censor’s demands
    • Nominees to Federal Trade Commission vow to investigate TripAdvisor for deleting reviews

      After publicized accounts from dozens of tourists that the popular travel website TripAdvisor had deleted postings describing their harrowing experiences, nominees for the Federal Trade Commission vowed to investigate the company if they are confirmed in the coming weeks.

      Questioned this week by members of the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee, including U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), all four nominees — Republican and Democrat —- said if confirmed they would commit to looking into the impact that the conduct of TripAdvisor and other travel rating websites have on the traveling public.

    • Wikileaks cables are admissible in English court proceedings

      The Supreme Court has held that the Administrative Court was wrong to exclude a Wikileaks cable from evidence. The underlying judicial review proceedings in R (Bancoult No.3) v Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs [2018] UK SC 3 concerned a challenge by the Chagos Refugees Group (CRG) to the British Government’s decision to establish a marine protected area around the Chagos islands, preventing Chagossians from continuing their commercial fishing businesses in the region. However, the issues raised are of wider application.

      At the heart of the case was a leaked cable from the US Embassy in London to the US State Department in Washington summarising a conversation between British and US officials regarding the reasons for establishing the protected area. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) argued that the cable formed part of the US Embassy’s diplomatic archive, which was protected by the 1961 Vienna Convention, and was therefore inadmissible.

    • House shows broad agreement on censorship protection for student journalists
    • Student journalists would be shielded from censorship under this Missouri proposal
    • Proposal Would Shield Student Journalists From Censorship
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Facebook Funded Most of the Experts Who Vetted Messenger Kids

      Equally notable are the experts Facebook did not consult. Although Facebook says it spent 18 months developing the app, Common Sense Media and Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood, two large nonprofits in the field, say they weren’t informed about it until weeks or days before the app’s debut.

    • (No) privacy by default? German court finds Facebook in breach of data

      Facebook has suffered a setback in a court case between the Federation of German Consumer Organisations (Verbraucherzentrale Bundesverband – vzbv) and the social network.

      The District Court of Berlin ruledthat several of Facebook’s default settings violated users’ right to privacy due to a lack of consent by the users. Also, the court found that German users are not obliged to use their real names for their Facebook profiles. On the other hand, the judges permitted Facebook’s claim that the service is ‘free, and always will be’.

      VZBV asked the court to rule upon 26 asserted breaches of data protection, privacy, competition and civil law. 14 of the claims were granted and 12 denied. For the sake of brevity, this Kat will focus on the most interesting aspects of the 37 page judgment.

    • Anonymity & entitlements’ aadhaar in Supreme Court
    • Constitutional validity of Aadhaar: the arguments in Supreme Court so far

      This batch of cases is directed at the constitutional validity of the Aadhaar Act, 2016; the Aadhaar project from 2009 to 2016; parts of the project which are not covered by the Act; authorities’ attempts to make Aadhaar compulsory when not defined by the law; the government’s push to link Aadhaar numbers with SIM cards, bank accounts and PANs; and the move to make Aadhaar mandatory for availing benefits and subsidies.

    • Accurate Navigation Without GPS

      The global positioning system can locate you within 5 to 10 meters anywhere on Earth—as long as your receiver is in the line of sight of multiple satellites. Getting location information indoors is tricky. A team at the University of Utah has now put the solution underfoot: A suite of sensors and circuits mounted to a boot can determine position with an accuracy of about 5 meters, indoors or out, without GPS.

      The navigation system, installed in a very hefty prototype boot, could help rescue workers navigate inside buildings, and show firefighters where their team members are. It might also be integrated with virtual or augmented reality games. The Utah researchers presented their GPS-free navigation system on Tuesday at the International Solid-State Circuits Conference in San Francisco.

    • Hua-no-wei! NSA, FBI, CIA bosses put Chinese mobe makers on blast
    • CIA, FBI, NSA: We don’t recommend Huawei or ZTE phones
    • The NSA and FBI don’t see the irony of boycotting phones with built-in government backdoors

      Remember that whole Apple vs. FBI fight from early 2016? The government wanted to force Apple to develop what’s essentially a backdoor into iOS that only Apple and/or government officials would control to get into the iPhone belonging to one of the San Bernardino’s shooters.

      Fast forward to more modern times, and we have six top US intelligence chiefs saying they do not trust devices made by Chinese smartphone makers Huawei and ZTE because they could be used to spy on US citizens. In other words, they believe the Chinese government would hold backdoors into these devices that would allow them to quietly collect data from millions of people.


      The thing with backdoors is that, if they exist, security researchers or hackers would eventually find them.

    • CIA, FBI and NSA officials warn US citizens not to buy Huawei smartphones
    • The FBI, CIA and NSA say American citizens shouldn’t use Huawei phones
    • Nakasone tapped to take over NSA and CyberCommand
    • Trump has chosen nominee to lead NSA, US Cyber Command
    • White House official: Paul Nakasone nominated for NSA Director
    • Trump taps Army cyber chief as next NSA head
    • Trump Chooses Nominee To Lead NSA, U.S. Cyber Command
    • Facebook’s Protect iOS feature effectively installs spyware on iPhones and iPads

      So essentially the app is providing a form of non-malicious [sic] spyware that feeds Facebook’s already bulging data coffers. Not something many users of VPNs would expect or want.

    • Facebook is suggesting mobile users ‘Protect’ themselves…by downloading a Facebook-owned app that tracks their mobile usage

      Yet the Onavo app also tracks data that it shares with Facebook and others, “including the applications installed on your device, your use of those applications, the websites you visit and the amount of data you use,” according to its own privacy policies.

    • Tinder says it’ll eventually let women prevent men from messaging them first
    • What is the best online dating site and the best way to use it?

      Experian is basically a private spy agency. Their website boasts about how they can:

      Know who your customers are regardless of channel or device
      Know where and how to reach your customers with optimal messages
      Create and deliver exceptional experiences every time

      Is that third objective, an “exceptional experience”, what you were hoping for with their dating site honey trap? You are out of luck: you are not the customer, you are the product.

    • Online Dating Cannot Work Well

      Daniel Pocock (via planet.debian.org) points out what tracking services online dating services expose you to. This certainly is an issue, and of course to be expected by a free service (you are the product – advertisers are the customer). Oh, and in case you forgot already: some sites employ fake profiles to retain you as long as possible on their site… But I’d like to point out how deeply flawed online dating is. It is surprising that some people meet successfully there; and I am not surprised that so many dates turn out to not work: they earn money if you remain single, and waste time on their site, not if you are successful.

      I am clearly not an expert on online dating, because I am happily married. I met my wife in a very classic setting: offline, in my extended social circle. The motivation for this post is that I am concerned about seeing people waste their time. If you want to improve your life, eliminate apps and websites that are just distraction! And these days, we see more online/app distraction than ever. Smartphone zombie apocalpyse.


      And you can find many more reports on “Generation Tinder” and its hard time to find partners because of inflated expectations. It is also because these apps and online services make you unhappy, and that makes you unattractive.

      Instead, I suggest you extend your offline social circle.

      For example, I used to go dancing a lot. Not the “drunken, and too loud music to talk” kind, but ballroom. Not only this can drastically improve your social and communication skills (in particular, non-verbal communication, but also just being natural rather than nervous), but it also provides great opportunities to meet new people with a shared interest. And quite a lot of my friends in dancing got married to a partner they first met at a dance.

    • What is it like to live in the world’s biggest experiment in biometric identity?
    • Irresistible bargains: Navigating the surveillance society

      Agents in contemporary societies are faced continually with choices regarding engagement with technological artifacts. They can choose to engage or decline engagement after considering the costs and benefits in each case. However, certain aspects of the surveillance society may be irresistible in a number of ways, so that refusal to engage with them is not a realistic option. The proliferation of the Internet of Things (IoT), particularly as embedded in “smart city” initiatives, helps to make surveillance technologies potentially irresistible. After laying the conceptual groundwork for discussing irresistible bargains, this essay offers a two-part normative critique, focusing on the asymmetrical power relations engendered by smart cities as well as harms inflicted on the self.

    • Mum faces €10,000 fine if she shares pictures of her son on Facebook

      The court in Rome ruled in the youngster’s favour, telling his mother she would be fined if she continued posting pictures of him. She will also face a financial penalty if she fails to remove historic news, videos and images of him.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Notable testimony from the Baltimore Police Gun Trace Task Force corruption trial
    • ‘TERF’ isn’t just a slur, it’s hate speech

      But because the term itself is politically dishonest and misrepresentative, and because its intent is to vilify, disparage, and intimidate, as well as to incite and justify violence against women, it is dangerous and indeed qualifies as a form of hate speech. While women have tried to point out that this would be the end result of “TERF” before, they were, as usual, dismissed. We now have undeniable proof that painting women with this brush leads to real, physical violence. If you didn’t believe us before, you now have no excuse.

    • Social activism: Engaging millennials in social causes

      [...] unclear is the extent to which social media and social interactions influence millennials willingness to engage both online and in-person. Even so, the results of this study indicate millennials are open to using social media for social causes, and perhaps increasing engagement off-line too.

    • Dissidents are getting destroyed by information attacks and tech isn’t doing enough to help

      A pair of researchers from Toronto’s storied Citizen Lab (previously) have written an eye-opening editorial and call to action on the ways that repressive states have used the internet to attack dissidents, human rights advocates and political oppositions — and how the information security community and tech companies have left these people vulnerable.

    • Dissidents Have Been Abandoned and Besieged Online

      For several years, we have conducted research on targeted attacks against civil society and activists in Iran and elsewhere. From these experiences, one lesson in particular stands outs: human rights defenders and journalists are a canary in the coal mine for the attacks used to steal military secrets, coerce perceived foreign adversaries, and undermine critical infrastructure. Despite this chilling predicament, those at-risk populations are afforded substantially less opportunities to protect themselves and are often relegated to the margins of conversations about cyber security. This inequity is to the detriment of everyone, and must change if we want to improve the Internet for all communities.`

    • Kept out: How banks block people of color from homeownership

      Fifty years after the federal Fair Housing Act banned racial discrimination in lending, African Americans and Latinos continue to be routinely denied conventional mortgage loans at rates far higher than their white counterparts.

      This modern-day redlining persisted in 61 metro areas even when controlling for applicants’ income, loan amount and neighborhood, according to millions of Home Mortgage Disclosure Act records analyzed by Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting.

      The yearlong analysis, based on 31 million records, relied on techniques used by leading academics, the Federal Reserve and Department of Justice to identify lending disparities.

      It found a pattern of troubling denials for people of color across the country, including in major metropolitan areas such as Atlanta, Detroit, Philadelphia, St. Louis and San Antonio. African Americans faced the most resistance in Southern cities – Mobile, Alabama; Greenville, North Carolina; and Gainesville, Florida – and Latinos in Iowa City, Iowa.

    • ICE Pressures Detained Immigrant To Recant Sexual Abuse Claims

      An incarcerated immigrant woman, who alleged sexual harassment and assault by a corrections officer, said she was thrown in solitary confinement for 60 hours and was told she would not be released until she publicly recanted her accusations.

      Laura Monterrosa is a 23 year old immigrant from El Salvador detained at the T. Don Hutto Residential Center, a private prison operated by CoreCivic (formerly known as Corrections Corporation of America).

      Grassroots Leadership, a Texas-based immigrant rights group advocating on behalf of Monterrosa, said she was isolated between 11:00 PM on Friday, February 9, and 11:00 AM on Monday, February 12. She was threatened with more isolation if she didn’t publicly state she was not sexually abused by staff.

      “This should not be happening in America,” said Claudia Muñoz, immigration programs director at Grassroots Leadership. “Here you have a woman who came forward to report rampant sexual abuse inside of a federal facility. Instead of protecting her and ensuring the abuse stops, ICE is now putting Laura in solitary confinement with the expressed intent of tearing her down so she will do as they say.”

    • FBI says Chinese operatives active at scores of U.S. universities [Ed: It gives ammo to bigots who will now have excuses to harass Chinese-looking people in the US]

      Amid heightened concern about Russian election meddling, the FBI on Tuesday warned U.S. universities about Chinese intelligence operatives active on their campuses, adding that many academics display “a level of naiveté” about the level of infiltration.

      FBI Director Christopher Wray told the Senate intelligence committee that China has aggressively placed operatives at universities, “whether its professors, scientists, students,” and the bureau must monitor them from its 56 field offices across the nation.

    • Activist Sues ICE For Its Unconstitutional Targeting Of Immigrants’ First Amendment-Protected Activities

      ICE has been instructed to make the nation safer by deporting the “worst of the worst.” The nation will be made secure again, said the DHS, pointing to its report declaring three-quarters of those convicted for terrorism offenses were “foreign-born.” Of course, to reach this ratio, the DHS had to count people the US government had extradited to the US to face trial for terrorism attacks committed in foreign countries, but whatever. The point is: foreigners are dangerous and ICE is going to remove them. An ongoing “challenge” for ICE has been finding enough dangerous immigrants to deport, so it’s had to change its strategy a bit.

      So, if we’re trying to root out would-be terrorists and MS-13 gang members and undocumented immigrants with long domestic criminal rap sheets, why is ICE targeting people for their First Amendment activities? That’s what one rights activist wants to know, and he’s taking ICE to court to force it to explain itself. Kevin Gosztola of ShadowProof has more details.

    • ICE Keeps Challenging Federal Courts’ Authority — And Losing.

      In national assault on immigrants’ rights, ICE believes no population is off the table. U.S. law and courts say otherwise.

      In a recent span of 10 days, four courts issued decisions that could literally save lives.

      Our clients live across the United States, but all have been swept up in ICE’s aggressive new campaign to target communities previously considered low-priority for immigration enforcement, with ICE attempting to deport them as quickly as possible. Since July 2017, we have challenged this bully tactic in federal district courts across the country, filing cases on behalf of communities of Iraqis in Michigan, Indonesians in New Hampshire, Somalis in Florida, Cambodians in Southern California, and Indonesians in New Jersey.

      Between Jan. 25 and Feb. 2, judges across the country temporarily blocked the deportations of the four latter cases. The Iraqis, whose case was the first to be filed in June 2017, have already received a nationwide stay. For varying reasons, all these communities previously enjoyed a reprieve from deportation, in some cases for decades. However, with the change in administration, a target was placed on their backs. As Thomas Homan, ICE’s acting director, declared at a December press conference, “The president has made it clear in his executive orders: There’s no population off the table.”

    • Law Enforcement Use of Face Recognition Systems Threatens Civil Liberties, Disproportionately Affects People of Color: EFF Report

      San Francisco, California—Face recognition—fast becoming law enforcement’s surveillance tool of choice—is being implemented with little oversight or privacy protections, leading to faulty systems that will disproportionately impact people of color and may implicate innocent people for crimes they didn’t commit, says an Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) report released today.

      Face recognition is rapidly creeping into modern life, and face recognition systems will one day be capable of capturing the faces of people, often without their knowledge, walking down the street, entering stores, standing in line at the airport, attending sporting events, driving their cars, and utilizing public spaces. Researchers at the Georgetown Law School estimated that one in every two American adults—117 million people—are already in law enforcement face recognition systems.

      This kind of surveillance will have a chilling effect on Americans’ willingness to exercise their rights to speak out and be politically engaged, the report says. Law enforcement has already used face recognition at political protests, and may soon use face recognition with body-worn cameras, to identify people in the dark, and to project what someone might look like from a police sketch or even a small sample of DNA.

    • What Are The Ethical Issues Of Google — Or Anyone Else — Conducting AI Research In China?

      As the Macro Polo article notes, Google is unlikely to allow any of its AI products or technologies to be sold directly to the authorities for surveillance purposes. But there are plenty of other ways in which advances in AI produced at Google’s new lab could end up making life for Chinese dissidents, and for ordinary citizens in Xinjiang and Tibet, much, much worse. For example, the fierce competition for AI experts is likely to see Google’s Beijing engineers headhunted by local Chinese companies, where knowledge can and will flow unimpeded to government departments. Although arguably Chinese researchers elsewhere — in the US or Europe, for example — might also return home, taking their expertise with them, there’s no doubt that the barriers to doing so are higher in that case.

      So does that mean that Google is wrong to open up a lab in Beijing, when it could simply have expanded its existing AI teams elsewhere? Is this another step toward re-entering China after it shut down operations there in 2010 over the authorities’ insistence that it should censor its search results — which, to its credit, Google refused to do? “AI first” is all very well, but where does “Don’t be evil” fit into that?

    • Online Dating Made This Woman a Pawn in a Global Crime Plot

      The criminals who flipped Elrod from victim to accomplice, by contrast, have vanished. Ramseyer says he is unaware of any efforts to catch the scammers in Warri, and Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, which did not respond to repeated inquiries, has posted no news of any arrests.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Mozilla refiles FCC lawsuit against net neutrality ruling

      Originally filed last month, the suit was initially dismissed on a technicality over the date of filing, a technicality which according to Mozilla is based on a concern that they had already flagged to the FCC as being problematic.

      This does give Mozilla a quandary, if the FCC decides to dawdle, as it cannot refile until there is the official publication of the repealed original.

    • Verisign Ends 2017 with 131.9 Million .com Domain Registrations

      Year-after-year, the dot com domain name base has continued to grow. Verisign, which manages the dot com and dot net registries, reported its fourth quarter financial results on Feb. 8, alongside its’ latest data on the number of registered domains.

    • FCC to review rules on children’s programming
    • Greens say net neutrality inquiry needed in Australia

      Greens digital rights spokesman Senator Jordon Steele-John (below, right) made the claim on Tuesday after the Opposition joined the Coalition Government to vote against a Greens motion seeking an inquiry into such protections because of public interest.

    • Mesh Networks

      At Offline Camp Oregon I had the pleasure of joining with many others to discuss a future of the web that devolves power and control over the physical networks that connect us, and grants it to the communities that these systems serve. With nation-states having become net neutrality’s last line of defense, and with many of those states in regulatory capture by telecoms, it becomes clearer every day that a libre web will require that we establish redundant, alternative physical infrastructure to support it. As long as the telcos own the wires, our traffic is subject to their whims.

    • The quantum internet has arrived (and it hasn’t)

      Before she became a theoretical physicist, Stephanie Wehner was a hacker. Like most people in that arena, she taught herself from an early age. At 15, she spent her savings on her first dial-up modem, to use at her parents’ home in Würzburg, Germany. And by 20, she had gained enough street cred to land a job in Amsterdam, at a Dutch Internet provider started by fellow hackers.

    • F.C.C. Watchdog Looks Into Changes That Benefited Sinclair
    • Congress Pressures FCC Boss Over His Total Failure To Police Net Neutrality Comment Fraud

      By now it’s pretty apparent that the FCC doesn’t much want to talk about who was behind the numerous bogus comments that flooded the agency’s net neutrality repeal proceeding. When I asked the FCC for help after someone lifted my identity to support repealing the rules, the FCC responded with the policy equivalent of a ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. Similarly, when New York Attorney General Eric Shneiderman approached the FCC looking for help identifying the culprit (9 requests over 5 months, he said in an open letter), the FCC blocked the investigation.

      Most analysts believe the effort was a ham-fisted attempt to erode trust in the public comment proceeding in order to downplay massive public opposition to the FCC’s plan (a tactic that has mysteriously plagued other government proceedings over the last year). The FCC could pretty quickly clear this all up by providing access to server logs and API key usage details to law enforcement. It’s consistent refusal to do so quickly dismantles agency boss Ajit Pai’s continued, breathless claims that he’s a massive fan of transparency and would run a more transparent operation than his predecessor.

  • DRM

    • HDCP Content Protection Support Called For Integration In DRM-Next / Linux 4.17

      In November of last year is when we reported on a Google developer proposing HDCP patches for Intel’s DRM Linux driver. In this case, DRM as in the Direct Rendering Manager but HDCP as in the controversial High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection. HDCP is the digital copy protection for DP/DVI/HDMI for preventing HDCP-encrypted content from being played on unauthorized devices.

    • Verizon Begins Locking Down Its Phones Again, Purportedly To ‘Stop Theft’

      If you’ve been around a while, you probably know that Verizon has an adversarial relationship with openness and competition. The company’s history is rife with attempts to stifle competing emerging technologies that challenged Verizon’s own business interests, from its early attempts to block GPS and tethering apps so users would have to subscribe to inferior and expensive Verizon services, to its attempts to block competing mobile payment services to force users (again) onto Verizon’s own, inferior products. And that’s before you get to Verizon’s attempts to kill net neutrality and keep the broadband industry uncompetitive.

      In the earlier years, Verizon had a horrible tendency to lock down its devices to a crippling and comical degree. But with the rise of net neutrality, competition from carriers like T-Mobile, and open access conditions affixed to certain spectrum purchased by Verizon, the company slowly-but-surely loosened its iron grip on mobile devices. But let’s be clear: the company had to be dragged, kicking and screaming, into the new, more open future we all currently enjoy, where (by and large) you can install whatever apps you like on your device, and attach most mainstream devices (with some caveats) to Verizon’s network.

      That’s why more than a few eyebrows were raised after Verizon gave CNET the early exclusive news (apparently in the hopes that they’d frame it generously, which they did) that the company will soon be locking down its smartphones as part of a purported effort to “combat theft.” Carriers have been justly criticized (and sued) for doing too little to prevent theft, in part because they profit on both sides of the equation — both when a customer comes crying to Verizon to buy a new phone, and when the user with the stolen phone heads to Verizon to re-activate it on a new line.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Over 50 Libraries, Educators, Researchers Call On EU Parliament For Better Copyright

        More than 50 organisations representing a range of teachers, students, trainers, researchers, scientists, librarians and others have joined together to call on the European Parliament to improve European copyright reform for education.

      • EU Council Clears Way For Ratification Of Marrakesh Treaty For Visually Impaired By Summer

        The European Union Council of Ministers today adopted a decision that enables the EU to ratify the Marrakesh Treaty on access to published works for blind and visually impaired readers starting in summer. The copyright exceptions treaty negotiated at the World Intellectual Property Organization and adopted in 2013, went into effect in September 2016 but has been held up in Europe.

      • Will Canada Be the New Testing Ground for SOPA-lite? Canadian Media Companies Hope So

        A consortium of media and distribution companies calling itself “FairPlay Canada” is lobbying for Canada to implement a fast-track, extrajudicial website blocking regime in the name of preventing unlawful downloads of copyrighted works. It is currently being considered by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), an agency roughly analogous to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the U.S.

        The proposal is misguided and flawed. We’re still analyzing it, but below are some preliminary thoughts.

      • Judge Dismisses Playboy’s Dumb Copyright Lawsuit Against BoingBoing

        Well, that was incredibly quick. The district court judge hearing the case that Playboy filed against BoingBoing back in November has already dismissed it, though without prejudice, leaving it open for Playboy to try again. The judge noted that, given the facts before the court so far, it wasn’t even necessary to hold a hearing, since BoingBoing was so clearly in the right and Playboy so clearly had no case.

      • Anti-Piracy Video Masquerades As Anti-Malware Education And Is Filled With Lies

        As some of you may be aware, Safer Internet Day just passed. Started in the EU, the day is supposed to be used to educate the masses on some dangers that are tangentially or directly connected to the internet, such as malware awareness, cyberbullying, or abuses on social media sites. It’s also heavily supported by the Industry Trust for IP Awareness, which is a UK entertainment industry group that chiefly looks to “educate” the public on how super-awesome copyright is in every respect and how piracy and copyright infringement are the work of Satan.

        In a video titled… and I can’t believe I’m going to actually type this… Meet the Malwares, viewers in Australia are “educated” on exactly zero specific malware threats, but they are told that filesharing sites should be avoided completely. And if you’re thinking that there are a ton of other parts of the internet that are far riskier, rest assured that the video insists it’s all about file sharing sites.

      • Smart Meter Company Landis+Gyr Now Using Copyright To Try To Hide Public Records

        Back in 2016 we wrote about how Landis+Gyr, a large multinational company owned by Toshiba, completely freaked out when it discovered that documents about its smart energy meters, which the city of Seattle had contracted to use, were subject to a FOIA request. As we noted, Landis+Gyr went legal and did so in perhaps the nuttiest way possible. First it demanded the documents be taken down from Muckrock — the platform that makes it easy for journalists and others to file FOIA requests. Then it demanded that Muckrock reveal the details of anyone who might have seen the documents in question. It then sued Muckrock and somehow got a court to issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) against Muckrock for posting these public records.

      • Court Dismisses Playboy’s Lawsuit Against Boing Boing (For Now)

        In a win for free expression, a court has dismissed a copyright lawsuit against Happy Mutants, LLC, the company behind acclaimed website Boing Boing. The court ruled [PDF] that Playboy’s complaint—which accused Boing Boing of copyright infringement for linking to a collection of centerfolds—had not sufficiently established its copyright claim. Although the decision allows Playboy to try again with a new complaint, it is still a good result for supporters of online journalism and sensible copyright.

        Playboy Entertainment’s lawsuit accused Boing Boing of copyright infringement for reporting on a historical collection of Playboy centerfolds and linking to a third-party site. In a February 2016 post, Boing Boing told its readers that someone had uploaded scans of the photos, noting 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.

        EFF, together with co-counsel Durie Tangri, filed a motion to dismiss [PDF] on behalf of Boing Boing. We explained that Boing Boing did not contribute to the infringement of any Playboy copyrights by including a link to illustrate its commentary. The motion noted that another judge in the same district had recently dismissed a case where Quentin Tarantino accused Gawker of copyright infringement for linking to a leaked script in its reporting.

      • Judge Tosses Playboy’s Lawsuit Over Links to Centerfold Photos

        Playboy in November sued Happy Mutants, claiming the company’s site Boing Boing infringed its rights by linking to “Every Playboy Playmate Centerfold Ever.”

        “Some wonderful person uploaded scans of every Playboy Playmate centerfold to imgur,” states the Feb. 29, 2016, post on Boing Boing. “It’s an amazing collection, whether your interests are prurient or lofty. Kind of amazing to see how our standards of hotness, and the art of commercial erotic photography, have changed over time.”

        Boing Boing then linked to the imgur collection and a YouTube video, both of which appear to have since been removed.

        U.S. District Judge Fernando Olguin on Wednesday dismissed Playboy’s complaint with leave to amend, asking the magazine to carefully evaluate the contentions made in Happy Mutants’ motion to dismiss before drafting a second amended complaint.

        In short, the website owner argues that there is no evidence that Boing Boing copied or displayed the centerfold photos or that any of its users downloaded the images instead of viewing them.


Links 14/2/2018: Atom 1.24, OSI Joins UNESCO

Posted in News Roundup at 3:41 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • OSI Joins UNESCO to Grow Open Source Community

    The FOSSASIA Summit 2018 takes place in Singapore from Thursday, March 22 – Sunday, March 25. Open Source contributors can now apply for a free ticket to the event, and accommodation throughout conference. In addition, you’ll be eligible to participate in: A featured workshops, the UNESCO hackathon, and celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the Open Source Initiative. All you have to do is convince us, that you are an awesome Open Source contributor and book your trip to Singapore!

  • Five noteworthy open source projects

    The open-source movement has gained momentum over the last few years. So much so that The Linux Foundation recently formed the LF Networking Fund (LFN) in an effort to place multiple open source networking projects under a single umbrella. These types of projects allow virtually anyone to make modifications, and potentially improve, software code through a process called upstreaming. Given the numerous open source projects available, however, choosing one to contribute to can feel overwhelming. To simplify matters, the following — though far from an exhaustive list — highlights some noteworthy open source projects.

  • Open source: why is it such a big deal?

    What is open source software (OSS)? OSS is any program, application, operating system that is released along with its source code so that you, the user, can change it at will. Or at least have the option to utilise the services of a vendor of your choice. The fact that any other type of software exists is itself strange: would you buy a car that is completely sealed off from repair? No access to the engine, the tail-lights, or the windshield wiper? Even the tyres? One and only one company — the manufacturer of the car — will be able to fix even the smallest problem. Would you buy such a vehicle? Forget buying, given the current competition in vehicles, such a product would not last in the market for even a week.

    The fact that people are selling you software that you cannot take to another person to fix, re-package, assist in providing even basic upgrades is in itself wrong and the discussion should end right here, IMHO. But that is a whole different topic and best left to camp-fire discussions; we have neither the will nor the wherewithal to turn an entire industry on its head.

  • Events

    • Inductive Bias: FOSDEM 2018 – recap

      Too crowded, too many queues, too little space – but also lots of friendly people, Belgian waffles, ice cream, an ASF dinner with grey beards and new people, a busy ASF booth, bumping into friends every few steps, meeting humans you see only online for an entire year or more: For me, that’s the gist of this year’s FOSDEM.

      Note: German version of the article including images appeared in my employer’s tech blog.

      To my knowledge FOSDEM is the biggest gathering of free software people in Europe at least. It’s free of charge, kindly hosted by ULB, organised by a large group of volunteers. Every year early February the FOSS community meets for two one weekend in Brussels to discuss all sorts of aspects of Free and Open Source Software Development – including community, legal, business and policy aspects. The event features more than 600 talks as well as several dozen booths by FOSS projects and FOSS friendly companies. There’s several FOSDEM fringe events surrounding the event that are not located on campus. If you go to any random bar or restaurant in Brussels that weekend you are bound to bump into FOSDEM people.

    • As open source grows, Open Source 101 event offers you a chance to join the crowd

      In 2018 it’s easy to believe everyone understands open source and has a firm grasp of the basic processes and tools. It can be a surprisingly nuanced topic, though, and after 10 years of hosting open source events I and my associates can tell you most current and future technologists do not.

      But why is this important? Why should technologists and would-be technologists care?

    • Last Chance to Save $150 on ELC + OpenIoT Summit North America
    • Ceph Day Germany 2018 – Follow-Up

      Last week the Ceph Day Germany took place at Deutsche Telekom in Darmstadt. Around 160 people took part in the event and attended the talks of the 13 speakers over the day.

    • CentOS Dojo and FOSDEM 2018

      FOSDEM is one of the largest open source conferences in the world, with over 8000 participants. As many developers gather not just from Europe but from all around the world, there are a number of pre- and post conferences timed to happen before and after FOSDEM. This year before FOSDEM, I also participated at the CentOS Dojo, a whole-day event about CentOS.

  • Web Browsers

  • SaaS/Back End

    • OpenStack: Open source community collaboration needed to overcome edge computing adoption barriers

      In a whitepaper co-authored by a number of open source advocates, the OpenStack Foundation makes the case for taking a teamwork approach to tackling the barriers to widespread edge computing adoption

      The open source cloud community is being urged to pull together and overcome the barriers preventing widespread adoption of edge computing practices becoming a reality.

    • Apache CloudStack 4.11 Boosts Open-Source Cloud Features

      Apache CloudStack v4.11 was officially released by the open-source Apache Software Foundation (ASF) on Feb. 12, after eight months of development.

      “This release has been driven by the people operating CloudStack clouds,” Rohit Yadav, Apache CloudStack v4.11 Release Manager stated. “Along with great new features, v4.11 brings several important structural changes such as better support for systemd and Java 8, migration to embedded Jetty, and a new and optimized Debian 9 based systemvm template.”

      CloudStack has been part of the ASF since April 2012, when Citrix donated the technology to the open-source foundation. Citrix had originally acquired from cloud.com in July 2011. The first official Apache CloudStack release was version 4.0 which debuted in November 2012.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

  • Education

  • BSD

    • NetBSD taking part in Google Summer of Code 2018

      You can get a stipend (paid for by Google) and spend a few months getting
      to know and improving the insides of NetBSD or pkgsrc.

      The schedule is:
      12-27 March Applying
      23 April Find out if you were accepted
      14 May – 22 August Do the project!

    • DragonFlyBSD Adds New “Ptr_Restrict” Security Option

      Just like the Linux developers, in the wake of the Spectre and Meltdown CPU vulnerabilities DragonFlyBSD developers have also been working on a variety of security improvements.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

  • Programming/Development

    • BH 1.66.0-1

      A new release of the BH package arrived on CRAN a little earlier: now at release 1.66.0-1. BH provides a sizeable portion of the Boost C++ libraries as a set of template headers for use by R, possibly with Rcpp as well as other packages.

      This release upgrades the version of Boost to the Boost 1.66.0 version released recently, and also adds one exciting new library: Boost compute which provides a C++ interface to multi-core CPU and GPGPU computing platforms based on OpenCL.

    • Data scientist wanted: Must have Python, spontaneity not required

      The average salary offered to data scientists in the past year was £47,000, with Python being the most desirable programming language, according to an analysis of job ads.

      The assessment, carried out by listings site Joblift, looked at 8,672 data scientist vacancies posted in the UK over the last 12 months.

      It found that data science salaries have increased at 3 per cent a month, which is a percentage point higher than the UK job market as a whole.

    • Top 11 vi tips and tricks

      The vi editor is one of the most popular text editors on Unix and Unix-like systems, such as Linux. Whether you’re new to vi or just looking for a refresher, these 11 tips will enhance how you use it.

    • How to create slides with Emacs Org mode and Reveal.js

      You’ve crafted each slide in your presentation. Now what? You’ll want to generate the HTML version of your slide deck. To do that, press Ctrl+c Ctrl+e on your keyboard. This opens the Org mode export buffer. Next, type R+R. Emacs creates a single HTML file in the folder where you saved your slide file.

      Open that HTML file in a web browser. You can move through the slides by pressing the arrow keys on your keyboard.

    • Renesas Synergy Platform Boosts IoT Performance With IAR Systems Advanced Compiler Technology


  • Increasing numbers of children spending hours glued to their smartphone

    Some 25% of young UK children now own a smartphone, and almost half of them spend three hours a day glued to the screen.

  • FAQ: What happens when I choose to “Suppress Ads” on Salon?

    Like most media companies, Salon pays its bills through advertising and we profoundly appreciate our advertising partners and sponsors. In this traditional arrangement between reader and publisher, we are able to offer our readers a free reading experience in exchange for serving them ads. This relationship — of free or subsidized content in exchange for advertising — is not new; journalism has subsisted on this relationship for well over a century. This quid pro quo arrangement, ideally, benefits both readers and media. Yet in the past two decades, shifting tides in the media and advertising industries threw a wrench in this equation.

  • Science

    • Shooting a Tesla into orbit: A slap in the face to real science

      Yet the true hubris of the car-launching stunt lies in how little respect it shows for real science and science education. Sending something into orbit is a phenomenally expensive ordeal; even sending equipment to low-Earth orbit — barely above the mesosphere — hovers between $9,000 per pound and $43,000 per pound, according to one estimate. Sending cargo further out — say, scientific instruments — is far more expensive; as such, the cost of sending a satellite of comparable weight into the orbit Musk’s Tesla now occupies would be in the eight- to nine-figure range. Many astronomers spend years submitting proposals to get their 10-pound instrument attached to a probe, and often get denied again and again.

    • Silicon Nanostructures Bend Light to Make Faster Photodiodes

      There are some things silicon doesn’t do well. It neither absorbs nor emits light efficiently. So, silicon photonics systems, which connect racks of servers in data centers via high-data rate optical fiber links, are dependent on photodiode receivers made of germanium or other materials to turn optical signals into electronic ones. Saif Islam, professor of electrical and computer engineering at University of California Davis, and colleagues have come up with a way for silicon photodiodes to do the job, potentially driving down the cost of optical computer-to-computer communications.

      The difficulty for silicon photodiodes, explains Islam, is the trade-off between speed and efficiency. When a photon is absorbed in a photodiode, it becomes an electron and a hole (a positive charge), which must then travel to the device’s anode and cathode to produce current. The thicker the absorption region, the more likely a photon is to be absorbed, increasing efficiency. But thinner regions have a speed advantage: “When you make it very thin, your electrons and holes take little time to reach the electrical terminals.” And that speeds up the photodiode’s switching speed and the system’s data rate.

    • Physicists extend stochastic thermodynamics deeper into quantum territory

      Physicists have extended one of the most prominent fluctuation theorems of classical stochastic thermodynamics, the Jarzynski equality, to quantum field theory. As quantum field theory is considered to be the most fundamental theory in physics, the results allow the knowledge of stochastic thermodynamics to be applied, for the first time, across the full range of energy and length scales.


      In the future, the physicists plan to generalize their approach to a wider variety of quantum field theories, which will open up even further possibilities.

    • Biologists would love to program cells as if they were computer chips

      Sitting in his startup lab space on the outskirts of MIT’s campus, Alec Nielsen opens his laptop and types in instructions for a genetically modified yeast cell that will glow yellow. He tells the program what sugars he plans to feed the cell—arabinose and lacctose—and specifies that it should make a fluorescent protein normally found in jellyfish.

      The computer takes about 60 seconds before spitting out a list of roughly 11,000 letters of DNA, along with what looks like a circuit diagram.

    • 2017 was the year consumer DNA testing blew up

      The number of people who have had their DNA analyzed with direct-to-consumer genetic genealogy tests more than doubled during 2017 and now exceeds 12 million, according to industry estimates.

      Most of those tested are in the US, suggesting that around 1 in 25 American adults now have access to personal genetic data—a figure that could spur a range of new genetic analysis services.

    • Genetic study of soil organisms reveals new family of antibiotics

      A team of researchers at Rockefeller University has discovered a new family of antibiotics by conducting a genetic study of a wide range of soil microorganism antibiotics. In their paper published in the journal Nature Microbiology, the group describes their study and how well samples of the new antibiotic worked in rats.

      Bacteria are evolving to become drug resistant, making it increasingly difficult to treat people with bacterial infections. Because of this, scientists the world over are looking for new antibiotics. In this new effort, the researchers studied microorganisms that live in soil as a possible source of new antibiotics—in order to survive, they, too, must have some means of fighting off bacterial infections.

  • Hardware

    • Moore’s law has ended. What comes next?

      In their recent paper, “Science and research policy at the end of Moore’s law” published in Nature Electronics, however, Carnegie Mellon University researchers Hassan Khan, David Hounshell, and Erica Fuchs argue that future advancement in microprocessors faces new and unprecedented challenges.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • House Members Are Pushing a Bill That Will Roll Back the Rights of People With Disabilities

      The “ADA Education and Reform Act” Neither Reforms nor Educates

      The entrance to the post office in a small town was up a flight of 20 steps. When told he needed to make the post office accessible to wheelchair users, the postmaster was befuddled. “I’ve been here for thirty-five years and in all that time I’ve yet to see a single customer come in here in a wheelchair,” he said, according to Joe Shapiro in his 1994 book, “No Pity.”

      It would seem the postmaster didn’t see the irony in that response. But it’s because of that lack of awareness from business owners and government workers that Congress in 1990 passed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which promoted the integration, acceptance, and everyday rights of people with disabilities. But this week, the House of Representatives could undermine a key tenet of that landmark civil rights law.

      Under Title III of the ADA, private businesses must ensure new buildings are accessible and remove barriers in older buildings where it is “readily achievable”—a standard that considers the cost of the change and the resources of the business. For example, a major hotel chain might need to spend several thousand dollars to make a few of their rooms accessible, but a small business might only be expected to spend a few hundred dollars to grind down a three inch lip into a doorway, or to put a ramp up two stairs. Now a group of businesses led by the owners of large shopping malls have persuaded more than 100 representatives to introduce H.R. 620, the so-called “ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017.” This legislation would require people with disabilities who encounter access barriers at a business or facility to become legal experts on the code, to provide “notice” to the business of what code they are violating, and to wait six months or longer. And this isn’t even for the business to actually fix the problem—just for the business to make “substantial progress” towards accessibility.

    • Cancer-killing virus acts by alerting immune system

      A new UC San Francisco study has shown that a cancer-killing (“oncolytic”) virus currently in clinical trials may function as a cancer vaccine—in addition to killing some cancer cells directly, the virus alerts the immune system to the presence of a tumor, triggering a powerful, widespread immune response that kills cancer cells far outside the virus-infected region.

    • Running helps the brain counteract negative effect of stress, study finds

      Most people agree that getting a little exercise helps when dealing with stress. A new BYU study discovers exercise—particularly running—while under stress also helps protect your memory.

      The study, newly published in the journal of Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, finds that running mitigates the negative impacts chronic stress has on the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for learning and memory.

      “Exercise is a simple and cost-effective way to eliminate the negative impacts on memory of chronic stress,” said study lead author Jeff Edwards, associate professor of physiology and developmental biology at BYU.

  • Security

    • Meltdown fix could kill your Linux experience by 8,000 per cent, says Netflix [Ed: And of course the hypothetical worst case scenarios become headlines...]

      Brendan Gregg, who is part of the team that ensures that Netflix performs as planned, says that the Linux fix causes a huge strain on the CPU leading to the “largest kernel performance regressions I’ve ever seen”.

      The technique is called Kernel Page Table Isolation (KPTI) and does pretty much what it says – it makes sure that the page tables for users are different for the ones used by the machine.

    • Equifax hires new chief information security officer
    • ‘Olympic Destroyer’ Malware Hit Pyeongchang Ahead of Opening Ceremony

      Talos points out that Olympic Destroyer’s disruptive tactics and spreading methods resemble NotPetya and BadRabbit, two pieces of Ukraine-targeting malware seen in the last year that the Ukrainian government, the CIA, and other security firms have all tied to Russian hackers [sic].

    • What is Olympic Destroyer? Malicious file-wiping malware hits Pyeongchang to embarrass organisers [iophk: "IOC invites this kind of trouble by spreading Windows throughout the org"]

      It then deletes all shadow copies on the system and then uses wbadmin.exe to destroy all system files “to ensure that file recovery is not trivial”. The malware also uses a tool called bcdedit to make sure that the Windows recovery console cannot attempt to repair anything on the host making sure recovery is “extremely difficult”.

    • Winter Olympics bods confirm opening ceremony cyberattack
    • Telegram zero-day let hackers spread backdoor and cryptocurrency-mining malware

      A zero-day vulnerability in Telegram Messenger allowed attackers to spread a new form of malware with abilities ranging from creating a backdoor trojan to mining cryptocurrency.

      The attacks take advantage of a previously unknown vulnerability in the Telegram Desktop app for Windows and were spotted being used in the wild by Kaspersky Lab.

      Researchers believe the Russian cybercriminal group exploiting the zero-day were the only ones aware of the vulnerability and have been using it to distribute malware since March 2017 — although it’s unknown how long the vulnerability had existed before that date.

    • More Than 4,000 Government Websites Infected With Covert Cryptocurrency Miner

      The rise of cryptocurrency mining software like Coinhive has been a decidedly double-edged sword. While many websites have begun exploring cryptocurrency mining as a way to generate some additional revenue, several have run into problems if they fail to warn visitors that their CPU cycles are being co-opted in such a fashion. That has resulted in numerous websites like The Pirate Bay being forced to back away from the software after poor implementation (and zero transparency) resulted in frustrated users who say the software gobbled upwards of 85% of their available CPU processing power without their knowledge or consent.

      But websites that don’t inform users this mining is happening are just one part of an emerging problem. Hackers have also taken to using malware to embed the mining software into websites whose owners aren’t aware that their sites have been hijacked to make somebody else an extra buck. Politifact was one of several websites that recently had to admit its website was compromised with cryptocurrency-mining malware without their knowledge. Showtime was also forced to acknowledge (barely) that websites on two different Showtime domains had been compromised and infected with Coinhive-embedded malware.

    • Why Bug Bounties Matter

      Bugs exist in software. That’s a fact, not a controversial statement. The challenge (and controversy) lies in how different organizations find the bugs in their software.

      One way for organizations to find bugs is with a bug bounty program. Bug bounties are not a panacea or cure-all for finding and eliminating software flaws, but they can play an important role.

    • Shell Scripting and Security

      The internet ain’t what it used to be back in the old days. I remember being online back when it was known as ARPAnet actually—back when it was just universities and a handful of corporations interconnected. Bad guys sneaking onto your computer? We were living in blissful ignorance then.

      Today the online world is quite a bit different, and a quick glimpse at the news demonstrates that it’s not just global, but that bad actors, as they say in security circles, are online and have access to your system too. The idea that any device that’s online is vulnerable is more true now than at any previous time in computing history.

    • Security updates for Tuesday
    • Open Source Security Podcast: Episode 82 – RSA, TLS, Chrome HTTP, and PCI
    • Security updates for Wednesday
    • Winter Olympics was hit by cyber-attack, officials confirm [Ed: This is a Microsoft Windows issue, but Bill Fates is paying The Guardian, so...]
    • Google Patches Chromebooks Against Meltdown/Spectre, Adds New Chrome OS Features

      Earlier this month, Google updated its Chrome OS computer operating system to stable version 64.0.3282.134 and platform version 10176.65.0, an update that’s now available for most Chromebook devices.

      Besides the usual security improvements and bug fixes, the latest Chrome OS 64 release includes several new features that are worth mentioning, such as the ability to take screenshots by simultaneously pressing the Power and Volume Down buttons on your Chromebook with a 360-degree hinge.

    • Skype can’t fix a nasty security bug without a massive code rewrite
    • Perfect Computer Security Is a Myth. But It’s Still Important [Ed: The "everything is broken" defeatism overlooks the coordinated vandalism done to put back doors in most things]

      Maybe you’ve heard it before: “Security is a myth.” It’s become a common refrain after a never-ending string of high-profile security breaches. If Fortune 500 companies with million dollar security budgets can’t lock things down, how can you?

      And there’s truth to this: perfect security is a myth. No matter what you do, no matter how careful you are, you will never be 100 percent safe from hackers, malware, and cybercrime. That’s the reality we all live in, and it’s important to keep this in mind, if only so that we can all feel more sympathy for victims.

    • Microsoft Fixes 50 Vulnerabilities In February’s Patch Tuesday Update

      Microsoft has released February’s cumulative updates for Windows 10, better known as Patch Tuesday. The reason why the update is worth getting is it comes with fixes for 50 vulnerabilities in various versions of Windows 10.

      As per the release notes, the software addressed as a part of the Patch Tuesday update are Windows OS, Microsoft Edge, Internet Explorer, Microsoft Office, Microsoft Office Services and Web Apps, and the JavaScript engine ChakraCore. In addition to security fixes, Microsoft has also made improvements to address minor glitches in Windows 10.

    • Telegram Zero-Day Vulnerability Lets Hackers Pwn Your PC to Mine Cryptocurrency

      A zero-day vulnerability was discovered by Kaspersky Lab in the Telegram Desktop app that could let hackers pwn your computer to mine for cryptocurrencies like Zcash, Monero, Fantomcoin, and others.

      Kaspersky Lab’s security researchers say the zero-day vulnerability can be used to deliver multi-purpose malware to computer users using the Telegram Desktop app, including backdoors and crypto-cash mining software.

      The security company also discovered that hackers had actively exploited the vulnerability in the Telegram Desktop app, which is based on the right-to-left override Unicode method, since March last year, but only to mine cryptocurrencies like Fantomcoin, Monero, and Zcash.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Duterte tells soldiers to shoot female rebels in their genitals

      Women’s groups and human rights advocates have condemned Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte for encouraging soldiers to shoot female rebels in their genitals, the latest in a series of violent, misogynist remarks.
      Duterte, a former provincial mayor, told a group of former communist rebels to “tell the soldiers…there’s a new order from the mayor. We won’t kill you. We will just shoot your vagina.”
      “If there is no vagina, it would be useless,” he said, appearing to imply that women are useless without their genitals.

    • Budget Woes Sign of a Dysfunctional Empire

      The bloated military budget is justified on the assumption that the United States can and should police the entire world, but this approach is fundamentally unsustainable, warns Jonathan Marshall.

    • The Fires in Myanmar

      The scarred woman’s name is Momatz. She lived in Myanmar until the Myanmar military started to burn the homes in other nearby Rohingya villages. She and her husband had heard the military was heading toward her village. They were packing to flee when a Buddhist government official arrived in her village to reassure her and her neighbors they had nothing to worry about. The official said he would protect their village. The official told them to stay. He told them they would be safe. She believed him. She stayed.

    • The Sound and the Fury: Inside the Mystery of the Havana Embassy

      More than a year after American diplomats began to suffer strange, concussion-like symptoms in Cuba, a U.S. investigation is no closer to determining how they were hurt or by whom, and the FBI and CIA are at odds over the case. A ProPublica investigation reveals the many layers to the mystery — and the political maneuvering that is reshaping U.S.-Cuba relations.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Could Julian Assange Be on Brink of Freedom?
    • The UK’s Hidden Hand in Julian Assange’s Detention

      It now emerges that the last four years of Julian Assange’s effective imprisonment in the Ecuadorean embassy in London have been entirely unnecessary. In fact, they depended on a legal charade.

      Behind the scenes, Sweden wanted to drop the extradition case against Assange back in 2013. Why was this not made public? Because Britain persuaded Sweden to pretend that they still wished to pursue the case.

      In other words, for more than four years Assange has been holed up in a tiny room, policed at great cost to British taxpayers, not because of any allegations in Sweden but because the British authorities wanted him to remain there. On what possible grounds could that be, one has to wonder? Might it have something to do with his work as the head of Wikileaks, publishing information from whistleblowers that has severely embarrassed the United States and the UK.

    • UK judge upholds arrest warrant for WikiLeaks founder

      A British judge today upheld an arrest warrant for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has spent more than five years evading the law inside Ecuador’s London embassy.

      Judge Emma Arbuthnot rejected arguments by Assange’s lawyers that it is no longer in the public interest to arrest him for jumping bail in 2012 and seeking shelter in the embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden, where prosecutors were investigating allegations of sexual assault and rape made by two women. He has denied the allegations.

    • British judge accuses Julian Assange of cowardice after the Wikileaks founder failed to overturn arrest warrant

      A British judge has called out Julian Assange for cowardice after he decided not to come to a court hearing in which he asked police to give up trying to arrest him.

      Emma Arbuthnot, who heard Assange’s case at Westminster Magistrates Court in central London, said in a ruling that he “should have the courage” to appear in court like anybody else accused of wrongdoing.

    • Assange Sneaking Out is Not a ‘Smart Strategy’ – Lecturer

      Whistle-blower Julian Assange is running out of options, after a UK Judge rules against dropping his UK arrest warrant. She said his position in the Embassy is not ‘unjust’, and that he can see the sun from the balcony. Sputnik spoke with Andrés Mejía Acosta, Senior Lecturer at King’s College International Development Institute about the case.

    • WikiLeaks founder Assange says he has three months to appeal UK ruling

      WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said on Tuesday he had three months to appeal against a British court ruling that means he still faces arrest for breach of bail conditions if he steps out of the Ecuadorean embassy in London.

      Judge Emma Arbuthnot ruled earlier that it was still in the public interest for Assange to be arrested and prosecuted for breaching his bail terms when he entered the embassy in June 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden.

    • WikiLeaks founder Assange loses bid to halt UK legal action against him

      WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange lost a legal bid on Tuesday to persuade British authorities to drop further action against him for breaching his bail conditions when he walked into the Ecuadorean embassy in London in 2012.

    • Judge upholds arrest warrant for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange

      WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Tuesday lost his second bid in a week to overturn an arrest warrant that has prompted him to take refuge in London’s Ecuadorian Embassy for nearly six years.

      Senior District Judge Emma Arbuthnot ruled the warrant must stand, leaving Assange’s legal position unchanged, and condemned his decision not to appear in court.

    • UK Judge Set to Rule on WikiLeaks Founder’s Arrest Warrant

      A British judge is set to decide Tuesday whether to quash or uphold an arrest warrant for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has spent more than five years evading the law inside Ecuador’s London embassy.

      Assange’s lawyers argue that it’s no longer in the public interest to arrest him for jumping bail in 2012 and seeking shelter in the embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden, where prosecutors were investigating allegations of sexual assault and rape made by two women. He denied the allegations.

    • Judge tells Julian Assange to have ‘courage’ to face court as he loses latest appeal

      Assange’s legal team had claimed it was no longer in the public interest to pursue him for failing to answer bail as he fought extradition to Sweden in 2012.

    • WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange loses bid to halt UK legal action against him

      In one passage from her ruling, the judge said she did not accept the argument of Assange’s lawyers that he had no access to sunlight. She said she had seen photographs of him on the embassy balcony.

    • The Latest: Judge upholds UK arrest warrant for Assange
    • Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, loses court bid to have U.K arrest warrant dropped
    • Julian Assange arrest warrant upheld by court: judge rules it is in public interest to pursue Wikileaks founder

      It comes after Mr Assange’s legal team argued that continuing to pursue him for violating bail conditions was not proportionate.

    • Julian Assange’s Arrest Warrant Is Again Upheld by U.K. Judge

      If the judge had nullified the warrant, Mr. Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, might have left the embassy, but that was far from certain. The United States and British governments have never publicly ruled out the existence of a secret request to extradite him to the United States, where he could face prosecution for publishing classified documents.

    • Assange LOSES latest legal bid to have arrest warrant dropped as judge says he ‘feels he is above the law’

      Julian Assange has lost his latest legal battle to overturn an outstanding arrest warrant against him so he can walk free from the Ecuadorian embassy.

      The WikiLeaks founder, 46, has been holed up in the building in Knightsbridge for the past five years.

      He was granted shelter by Ecuador in 2012 after being accused of rape in Sweden, which applied to extradite him to stand trial.

    • Julian Assange: Warrant for his arrest upheld by court

      He fears he would be charged by US authorities for publishing classified documents on his Wikileaks website.

    • All Pretence is Over in Persecution of Assange

      At the first hearing, I was stunned by reports of completely inappropriate comments by Lady Arbuthnot, including responding to representations about Assange’s health by the comment that medical care is available in Wandsworth prison. As the official charade is that Assange is wanted for nothing but jumping bail, for which a custodial sentence is rare, that callous attempt at gallows humour was redolent of Arbuthnot’s Tory mindset. She also remarked – and repeats it in yesterday’s judgement – that Assange has access to fresh air through the Embassy’s balcony. That is simply untrue. The “balcony” floor is 3 feet by 20 inches and gives no opportunity to exercise. Julian does not have access to it. He is confined to a small area within the Embassy, which still has to function. The balcony is off the Ambassador’s office. He has been given access to it on average about twice a year. But “Lady” Arbuthnot showed a very selective attitude to getting at the truth.


      I should like to conclude that “Lady” Arbuthnot is a disgrace to the English justice system, but I fear she is rather typical of it. This intellectually corrupt, openly biased, callous Tory shill is rather a disgrace to humanity itself.

    • UK judge upholds WikiLeaks founder’s arrest warrant
    • UK judge upholds five year arrest warrant for WikiLeaks founder
    • British Judge Again Upholds Arrest Warrant Against Julian Assange

      In London, a British judge has again upheld an arrest warrant for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Assange’s lawyers have been trying to argue the British arrest warrant for jumping bail should be rescinded because it is contrary to the public interest and because it’s related to a Swedish sexual assault investigation against Assange which has since been dropped. Tuesday’s ruling comes after, one week ago, the same British judge, Emma Arbuthnot, ruled for the first time not to drop Assange’s arrest warrant.

    • The Latest: Judge upholds UK arrest warrant for Assange
  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

  • Finance

    • Ride-Hailing Is Deepening Social and Economic Inequity in the US

      It’s a nice idea, but to actually kill car ownership, we’re first going to need to have some very uncomfortable conversations about class and equity in the United States. Public transit used to be the great equalizer, but affordable private rides have become the new favorite of the middle class. When richer people give their money to private ride-hailing or carsharing companies, public transit loses money—and that’s not good for cities, societies, or the environment.

    • A Stock Market Primer, in Six Easy Steps

      Their unvarying counsel, under all circumstances, is this: Get into the market. Get in if you’re not in already. Stay in if you’re already in. A plunge is a buying opportunity. A surge is a buying opportunity. A buying opportunity is that which puts a commission in their pockets. A mass exit from the stock market is the end of their livelihood. I don’t know the Latin term for the logical fallacy at work here, but I think the English translation is something like this: bullshit being slung by greedy con artists. These are people with no more conscience or expertise than the barking guy with the Australian accent on the three a.m. informercial raving about a miracle degreaser or stain remover.

    • Banks Pile Into Sweden’s Housing Market

      Swedish housing prices just slumped the most in a decade, but banks are still fighting for a piece of the pie.

      Swedbank AB, the country’s biggest mortgage lender, is adding volume in an effort to defend its chunk of the country’s 3.12 trillion-krona ($392 billion) home-loan industry. Meanwhile, competition shows no sign of abating as new entrants join the market and niche players double down.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • [Old] [Old] Where Journalism Goes to Die

      From top to bottom, the company’s culture centered on Omidyar, an odd reverence that I thought not only undeserved, but outright embarrassing. This is a guy who got rich mostly through good timing in the tech business, not because he has an outstanding track record in journalism. Now that he’s rich, he is surrounded by Yes Men and Women who tell him he’s a genius—and while that might be fine in the business world, it’s not good for journalism. He was good at staying out of the journalism itself, but a cult of personality existed around him internally that disrupted the whole organization.

    • ‘Trump, Inc.’ Podcast Extra: Trump’s Company Is Getting $175 Million Annually in Previously Undisclosed Rent

      Forbes reporters figured out that the president’s company pulls in an estimated $175 million in commercial rent annually. One of Trump’s major tenants: a state-owned Chinese bank.

    • Accusations Against Aide Renew Attention on White House Security Clearances

      People familiar with the security clearance process in Mr. Trump’s White House said it was widely acknowledged among senior aides that raising questions about unresolved vetting issues in a staff member’s background would implicitly reflect on Mr. Kushner’s status, as well — a situation made more awkward because Mr. Kushner is married to the president’s daughter Ivanka.

    • ‘Trump Inc.’ Podcast: Money Laundering and the Trump Taj Mahal

      Just months before Donald Trump announced his bid for president in 2015, federal regulators announced they were slapping one of his longtime Atlantic City casinos with a record-setting $10 million fine for lack of controls around money laundering.

      The problems went back years. The penalty was actually the second record-setting fine for the Trump Taj Mahal involving money-laundering oversight.

    • FBI Director’s Shock Claim: Chinese Students Are a Potential Threat

      Asian American advocacy groups are blasting FBI Director Chris Wray for telling Congress that Chinese students in the United States may be covertly gathering intelligence for their government back home.

      Wray’s comments came during the Senate intelligence committee’s annual open hearing on the greatest threats to the country. A host of Intelligence Community leaders shared a litany of concerns about dangers from around the globe. Then Sen. Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, asked Wray about “the counterintelligence risk posed to U.S. national security from Chinese students, particularly those in advanced programs in science and mathematics.”

      Wray took it from there.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • RSF Denounces ‘Implacable’ News Control, Censorship In Iran

      Reporters Without Borders (RSF) reiterated its condemnation of the Iranian authorities’ harassment of journalists, saying control of news and information has been “implacable” since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

      Iranian authorities are “trying to reinforce its news control both at home and internationally,” the Paris-based media watchdog said on February 13.

      “For the past 39 years, the regime’s control of news and information has been implacable and its persecution of media independence has been unparalleled,” a statement added, citing “police and judicial harassment.”

    • Iran’s Attacks On Media Freedom ‘Unparalleled’ – RSF

      There is nothing to celebrate in the area of media freedom on the 39th anniversary of the Islamic Republic, according to a report from Paris-based media freedom advocates Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

      In a report published February 11 to coincide with the anniversary of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, RSF says the Iranian regime continues to suppress journalists both within Iran and outside its borders, listing a litany of cases concerning banned newspapers, censorship, and detentions and harassment of journalists.

    • Exiled Azerbaijani rapper and Russian lawyers among names shortlisted for censorship freedom awards

      An exiled Azerbaijani rapper who uses his music to challenge his country’s dynastic leadership, a collective of Russian lawyers who seek to uphold the rule of law, an Afghan seeking to economically empower women through computer coding and a Honduran journalist who goes undercover to expose her country’s endemic corruption are among the courageous individuals and organisations shortlisted for the 2018 Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Awards Fellowships.

      Drawn from more than 400 crowdsourced nominations, the shortlist celebrates artists, writers, journalists and campaigners overcoming censorship and fighting for freedom of expression against immense obstacles. Many of the 16 shortlisted nominees face regular death threats, others criminal prosecution or exile.

    • UK outs extremism blocking tool and could force tech firms to use it

      The technology is billed as working across different types of video-streaming and download platforms in real-time, and is intended to be integrated into the upload process — as the government wants the majority of video propaganda to be blocked before it’s uploaded to the Internet.

      So yes this is a pre-filtering approach to content moderation — which is something the European Commission has also been pushing for. Though it’s a highly controversial approach with plenty of critics. Supporters of free speech frequently describe the concept as a ‘censorship machine’, for instance.

    • Giant advertiser Unilever threatens to pull its ads from Facebook and Google over ‘toxic content’

      One of the world’s largest advertisers is threatening to pull its ads from social sites such as Facebook and YouTube if the tech companies don’t do more to minimize divisive content on their platforms.

      Unilever’s chief marketing officer, Keith Weed, called on Silicon Valley on Monday to better police what he describes as a toxic online environment where propaganda, hate speech and disturbing content that exploits children thrive.

    • Unilever warns social media to clean up “toxic” content

      Consumer goods giant Unilever, a maker of branded soaps, foodstuffs and personal care items and also one of the world’s biggest online advertisers, has fired a warning shot across the bows of social media giants by threatening to pull ads from digital platforms if they don’t do more to mitigate the spread of what it dubs “toxic” online content — be it fake news, terrorism or child exploitation.

    • ‘Irish Times’ debate focuses on censorship of ‘historically insensitive’ literature

      Student debaters hotly contested the merits of editing historically insensitive writing at the semi-finals of The Irish Times Debate 2017-2018 in Dublin on Tuesday night.

      Contestants from King’s Inns, Queen’s University Belfast, UCD’s Law Society, TCD’s Hist and the Solicitors Apprentice Debating Society of Ireland were competing for a place in the final later this month.

      Competitors debated the question: “This house would edit historically insensitive writing/literature”.

    • Google Asks Judge To Reject Prager University’s ‘Censorship’ Claims

      The conservative-leaning Prager alleged that its free speech rights were being violated by Google’s filtering decisions, which effectively made the clips unavailable to some students and library patrons. Prager also alleged that Google wrongly “demonetized” some videos, including ones with titles like “Pakistan: Can Sharia and Freedom Coexist,” and “Why Isn’t Communism as Hated as Nazism?”

    • Publisher Files Censorship Suit Against Illinois Dept. Of Corrections

      The Human Rights Defense Center (HRDC) filed a lawsuit against the Illinois Department of Corrections that alleges constitutional violations related to censorship of HRCD’s publications mailed to Illinois state prisoners.

      The non-profit organization says its publications are being censored and, in some cases, not being delivered.

      Attorney Alan Mills, of the Uptown People’s Law Center, is representing the publisher and says this has been going on in dozens of prisons for years.

    • Hong Kong’s Former Second-in-Command Blasts ‘Political Censorship’ in City

      The former head of Hong Kong’s colonial-era civil service, Anson Chan, has warned U.S. lawmakers and judges that the city’s government is being drawn into political censorship at the behest of the ruling Chinese Communist Party, which promised the maintenance of its existing freedoms for 50 years.

      Chan, who was awarded the 2018 O’Connor Justice Prize for her contributions to advancing rule of law, justice, and human rights during her trip, founded a pro-democracy think-tank to advance the cause of fully democratic elections for Hong Kong during the city’s student-led 2014 Occupy Central movement.

    • Revolution anniversary – 39 years of news control and censorship in Iran

      For the past 39 years, the regime’s control of news and information has been implacable and its persecution of media independence has been unparalleled. The exact number of journalists arrested and convicted during this dark period in Iran’s history – especially during the purge years – is still not officially known.

      RSF has tallied abuses since Mohammad Khatami became president in 1997. At least 350 media outlets have been closed, more than 800 journalists and citizen-journalists have been detained and interrogated and around 500 of them have been given prison sentences ranging from three months to 19 years. All have been denied their rights. Millions of Internet pages of freely and independently reported news and information have been censored.

      Citizen-journalists active on social networks are nowadays at the heart of the fight for freedom of news and information and political change in Iran.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Roses are red, Facebook is blue. Think private means private? More fool you

      Privacy settings on Facebook do not protect users from handing over photos, posts or metadata that is relevant to a court case, a New York judge has ruled.

      In a decision (PDF) handed down yesterday, chief judge Janet DiFiore said that a court could ask someone to hand over any relevant materials as part of discovery ahead of a trial – even if they are private.

      The threshold for disclosure in a court case “is not whether the materials sought are private but whether they are reasonably calculated to contain relevant information”, she said.

      The ruling is the latest in an ongoing battle over whether a woman injured in a horse-riding accident should hand over privately posted pictures to the man she has accused of negligence in the accident.

    • Stockholm Administrative Court orders ISP to provide customers’ details to Swedish police

      Over time Swedish internet service provider (ISP) Bahnhof has dismissed several requests for disclosure of customers’ data, making it a matter of principle to protect the privacy of its users .

      However, in 2016 Bahnhof received a request from the Swedish Post and Telecom Authority (PTS) to hand over details of its customers in a criminal matter.

      Further to an appeal brought before the Stockholm Administrative Court and a ruling in favour of PTS, Bahnhof was forced to submit the details of its customers to the authority pursuant to Chapter 7, 5 § of the Swedish Electronic Communications Act (ECA) or risk paying an administrative fine of SEK 5 million.

    • Facebook Sees Its Gen Z Audience Slipping Away to Snapchat

      The social network is expected to shed 18-to-24-year-old users this year for the first time, according to a new report from eMarketer, which predicts a 5.6 decline for the age group on Facebook. The analytics and data firm had already predicted a decline in usage of kids younger than 18, but now sees that exodus widening.

      The age group younger than 25 years old is typically considered Gen Z, while the cohort directly older are millennials.

    • Six top US intelligence chiefs caution against buying Huawei phones
    • Don’t use Huawei phones, say heads of FBI, CIA, and NSA
    • Trump taps Army cyber chief as next NSA head
    • Trump to nominate Army cyber chief to lead NSA, official says
    • White Paper Points Out Just How Irresponsible ‘Responsible Encryption’ Is

      In recent months, both Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray have been calling for holes in encryption law enforcement can drive a warrant through. Both have no idea how this can be accomplished, but both are reasonably sure tech companies can figure it out for them. And if some sort of key escrow makes encryption less secure than it is now, so be it. Whatever minimal gains in access law enforcement obtains will apparently offset the damage done by key leaks or criminal exploitation of a deliberately-weakened system.

      Cryptography expert Riana Pfefferkorn has released a white paper [PDF] examining the feasibility of the vague requests made by Rosenstein and Wray. Their preferred term is “responsible encryption” — a term that allows them to step around landmines like “encryption backdoors” or “we’re making encryption worse for everyone!” Her paper shows “responsible encryption” is anything but. And, even if implemented, it will result in far less access (and far more nefarious exploitation) than Rosenstein and Wray think.

      The first thing the paper does is try to pin down exactly what it is these two officials want — easier said than done because neither official has the technical chops to concisely describe their preferred solutions. Nor do they have any technical experts on board to help guide them to their envisioned solution. (The latter is easily explained by the fact that no expert on cryptography has ever promoted the idea that encryption can remain secure after drilling holes in it at the request of law enforcement.)

    • US intel pays £72,000 to Russian for NSA tools hacked by Shadow Brokers

      Working with Russian and American intermediaries in Europe over the past year, the US intelligence community reportedly negotiated in secret to retrieve classified documents stolen from the National Security Agency (NSA) by the Shadow Brokers and passed along to Russian intelligence – and even paid US$ 100,000 (£72,000) as a first installment payment toward getting back its hacking tools, but eventually stopped the deal because they feared being sucked into a Russian effort to interject chaos into the US government.

      The cache may have “inadvertently” included compromising information on President Trump’s ties to Russia, according to a report from the Intercept. But the New York Times reported that intelligence officers said in communications with a sketchy Russian operative that they weren’t interested in the information on Trump, which supposedly included bank records, Russian intelligence and emails.

    • Intel-for-Hire Undermines U.S. Intelligence (Part 2)

      In part one of this series, we looked at the top level of the privatized intelligence community showing that large for-profit companies and individual actors have other interests in mind than the public good. Work that was previously considered inherently governmental is routinely contracted out to people who only serve their own self-interest, which may be at odds with what most people might expect from intelligence – for example, unbiased information to guide sensible policy-making decisions.

    • Stop Saying ‘Smart Cities’

      However, the cities of the future won’t be “smart,” or well-engineered, cleverly designed, just, clean, fair, green, sustainable, safe, healthy, affordable, or resilient. They won’t have any particularly higher ethical values of liberty, equality, or fraternity, either. The future smart city will be the [I]nternet, the mobile cloud, and a lot of weird paste-on gadgetry, deployed by City Hall, mostly for the sake of making towns more attractive to capital.

    • Critics of India’s ID Card Project Say They Have Been Harassed, Put Under Surveillance

      Researchers and journalists who have identified loopholes in India’s massive national identity card project have said they have been slapped with criminal cases or harassed by government agencies because of their work.

      Last month, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), the semi-government body responsible for the national identity project, called Aadhaar, or “Basis”, filed a criminal case against the Tribune newspaper for publishing a story that said access to the card’s database could be bought for 500 rupees ($7.82).

      Reuters spoke to eight additional researchers, activists and journalists who have complained of being harassed after writing about Aadhaar. They said UIDAI and other government agencies were extremely sensitive to criticism of the Aadhaar programme.

    • Verizon is locking its phones down to combat theft [iophk: "yeah, right"]

      The nation’s largest wireless carrier said Monday that it would begin locking the phones it sells to consumers, which will prevent them from using a SIM card from another carrier. Initially, the phones will be unlocked as soon as a customer signs up and activates the service. But later in the spring, the company will begin the practice of keeping the phone locked for a period of time after the purchase — in line with the rest of the industry.

    • German court finds Facebook’s data collection was illegal

      The Berlin Regional Court ruled that Facebook did not obtain consent from its users to use their information for its advertising goals, in accordance with German data protection law.

    • Facebook personal data use and privacy settings ruled illegal by German court

      The court found that Facebook collects and uses personal data without providing enough information to its members for them to render meaningful consent. The federation of German consumer organisations (VZBV), which brought the suit, argued that Facebook opted users in to features which it should not have.

      Heiko Duenkel, litigation policy officer at the VZBV, said: “Facebook hides default settings that are not privacy friendly in its privacy centre and does not provide sufficient information about it when users register. This does not meet the requirement for informed consent.”

    • German court says Facebook’s real name policy is illegal

      According to the VZBV, the court found that Facebook’s real name policy was “a covert way” of obtaining users’ consent to share their names, which are one of many pieces of information the court said Facebook did not properly obtain users’ permission for. The court also said that Facebook did not provide a clear choice to users for other default settings, such as to share their location in chats, and it ruled against clauses that allowed Facebook to use information such as profile pictures for “commercial, sponsored, or related content.”

      VZBV notes that it didn’t win on all counts, though. Facebook prevailed on a complaint that it was misleading to say the service was free, because as VZBV put it, consumers pay “with their data.” It also lost on other privacy issues, which VZBV intends to appeal.

    • German court rules Facebook data use, privacy settings illegal

      The Berlin court found that Facebook did not provide users enough information for them to understand how their data is being collected and that any agreements users signed did not constitute meaningful consent.

    • Inside the Two Years that Shook Facebook—and the World

      So Zuckerberg pursued a strategy he has often deployed against competitors he cannot buy: He copied, then crushed. He adjusted Facebook’s News Feed to fully incorporate news (despite its name, the feed was originally tilted toward personal news) and adjusted the product so that it showed author bylines and headlines. Then Facebook’s emissaries fanned out to talk with journalists and explain how to best reach readers through the platform. By the end of 2013, Facebook had doubled its share of traffic to news sites and had started to push Twitter into a decline. By the middle of 2015, it had surpassed Google as the leader in referring readers to publisher sites and was now referring 13 times as many readers to news publishers as Twitter. That year, Facebook launched Instant Articles, offering publishers the chance to publish directly on the platform. Posts would load faster and look sharper if they agreed, but the publishers would give up an element of control over the content. The publishing industry, which had been reeling for years, largely assented. Facebook now effectively owned the news. “If you could reproduce Twitter inside of Facebook, why would you go to Twitter?” says the former executive. “What they are doing to Snapchat now, they did to Twitter back then.”

    • Facebook is so tough on leaks that one employee was concerned the company was tracking his phone’s location

      Facebook protects itself against leaks by tracking down the leakers and firing them.

    • You Probably Shouldn’t Use Facebook’s “Protect” Feature

      Facebook doesn’t think it has enough information about you. Crazy, since even without listening to everything you say, they still know a heck of a lot about you. However, a feature Facebook has recently started pushing called Protect is disguised as a way to keep your data safe, but it’s really one more way for the company to spy on you.

      Facebook’s Protect feature is being featured in the Settings section of its iOS app and the Mobile Data section of its Android app. When you follow this link, it directs you to an app listing called Onavo VPN, which is a company that Facebook has owned since 2013. A VPN, for those who haven’t heard of them, is a tool that encrypts all your internet traffic and routes it through a single server, so no one can snoop on what you’re doing. No one, that is, except the people running the VPN.

    • PSA: Don’t Use Facebook’s New “Protect” Feature. It’ll Download This “Spyware”

      While the usage of VPNs is encouraged in daily life to safeguard your privacy and add an extra layer of security, it seems that the understanding of Facebook executives is a lot different. In 2013, Facebook acquired a company which makes a VPN client named Onavo Protect. The social network is now pushing the app on iOS devices to track user activity and collect data.

    • Facebook Promotes Onavo, Its Privacy-Killing VPN
    • Facebook is pushing its data-tracking Onavo VPN within its main mobile app
    • Do Not, I Repeat, Do Not Download Onavo, Facebook’s Vampiric VPN Service
    • Facebook losing young users even faster to Snapchat, eMarketer says

      Less than half of U.S. Internet users ages 12 to 17 will use Facebook this year for the first time, the research firm says.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Chinese prisoners—wearing tracking devices—are granted temporary freedom for Lunar New Year

      In 2016, the southern city of Guangzhou rolled out a tracking system for some 3,900 criminal offenders under community supervision, local media reported (link in Chinese) at the time.

      In the US, more than 125,000 accused and convicted criminal offenders were monitored with ankle bracelets and other electronic tracking devices in 2015, according to Pew research.

    • How a rock star of Iranian digital activism built a culture of misogyny and fear

      For many in civil society groups, the court appearance came as a surprise. For years, Bangi had been the public face of the Iran Cyber Dialogue Conference, a major conference dedicated to digital freedom and the promotion of human rights in Iran. Bangi was a cornerstone of the event; one ASL19 employee described it as “the Ali show.” He was a hero to the community, a partner to countless smaller organizations — and now, an alleged sexual predator.

    • How to design Artificial Intelligence for the people’s good

      With the development of deep learning we do not want a situation where innocence is convicted or our health condition is predicted only because an algorithm compares some odds. Even though the value of computers is undeniable, and our society has grown dependent on their precision in various fields, we do not want computers to decide independently, without any human input or control, or pre-shape our future.

      There must always be a human element which will add evaluation and control to pure data calculation and will decide. Leaving the decision to machines would also mean nearly an Orwellian monitoring of our lives and would make us lose control over our future – control which could be a new constitutional right for the digital age similar to the way GDPR ensures protection of people’s personal data.

    • Exiled Cambodian opposition leader sues Facebook in California over allegations of collusion with Cambodia’s dictator

      Hun Sen and his attack-dog media outlets became experts in Facebook’s rules and enjoyed back-channel direct access to Facebook’s terms-of-service enforcers, so they were able to force Facebook to terminate the accounts of anonymous opposition figures (for not using their “real names”), goad others into crossing Facebook’s lines on civility and get their accounts terminated, and round up anyone who used their real names for arrest, torture, and disappearance.


      This killed what was left of the Cambodian opposition press, while Hun Sen’s cyber-militia were able to spread his clickfarm-upranked messages to the whole country.

    • Islamist TV calls for murder of secular newspaper’s editors

      “Democracy is a fiction, it is permissible to murder you during the war [according to Islam]… You don’t have even one bit of faith in you,” he said.

      Cumhuriyet is one of the last opposition newspapers in Turkey after several were shut down and others succumbed to pressure from the government to change their editorial line.

    • We Don’t Need New Laws for Faked Videos, We Already Have Them

      Video editing technology hit a milestone this month. The new tech is being used to make porn. With easy-to-use software, pretty much anyone can seamlessly take the face of one real person (like a celebrity) and splice it onto the body of another (like a porn star), creating videos that lack the consent of multiple parties.

      People have already picked up the technology, creating and uploading dozens of videos on the Internet that purport to involve famous Hollywood actresses in pornography films that they had no part in whatsoever.

      While many specific uses of the technology (like specific uses of any technology) may be illegal or create liability, there is nothing inherently illegal about the technology itself. And existing legal restrictions should be enough to set right any injuries caused by malicious uses.

      As Samantha Cole at Motherboard reported in December, a Reddit user named “deepfakes” began posting videos he created that replaced the faces of porn actors with other well-known (non-pornography) actors. According to Cole, the videos were “created with a machine learning algorithm, using easily accessible materials and open-source code that anyone with a working knowledge of deep learning algorithms could put together.”

      Just over a month later, Cole reported that the creation of face-swapped porn, labeled “deepfakes” after the original Redditor, had “exploded” with increasingly convincing results. And an increasingly easy-to-use app had launched with the aim of allowing those without technical skills to create convincing deepfakes. Soon, a marketplace for buying and selling deepfakes appeared in a subreddit, before being taken off the site. Other platforms including Twitter, PornHub, Discord, and Gfycat followed suit. In removing the streams, each platform noted a concern that the people depicted in the deepfakes did not consent to their involvement in the videos themselves.

    • I sentenced a teen to die in prison. I regret it.

      “You will die in the Department of Corrections.” Those are the words I spoke as a trial judge in 1997 when I sentenced Bobby Bostic to a total of 241 years in prison for his role in two armed robberies he committed when he was just 16 years old.

      Bostic and an 18-year-old friend robbed a group of six people who were delivering Christmas presents to a needy family in St. Louis. Two shots were fired. A bullet grazed one person, but no one was seriously injured. The two then abducted and robbed another woman — who said she was groped by Bostic’s accomplice before the two released her. They used the money they stole from her to buy marijuana. Despite overwhelming evidence against him, Bostic chose to go to trial. He was found guilty.

      Bostic had written me a letter trying to explain his actions, but despite this, he had not, in my view, demonstrated sufficient remorse.

    • Your Rights in the Border Zone

      As Customs and Border Protection becomes increasingly aggressive, knowing your rights is crucial.

      On Jan. 19, two Border Patrol agents boarded a Greyhound bus at a Fort Lauderdale station and proceeded to question passengers row by row. The bus, traveling from Orlando to Miami, had not crossed any international borders. Despite its domestic route, the agents interrogated passengers, ultimately detaining a Jamaican national who, Border Patrol claims, had overstayed her tourist visa. This story is not an isolated occurrence, and the practice is hardly new. However, a recent uptick in this type of immigration operation — from New York to Florida — has caused fear among travelers and immigrant communities. It has also raised important questions about the scope of immigration officials’ authority and the rights one has in these encounters.

    • Ohio’s Chief Justice Stands Up to Jeff Sessions in Support of Low-Income People

      Supreme court justice in Ohio reminds judges everywhere that criminalizing poverty is unconstitutional.

      In late December, Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded crucial guidance that advised courts not to unfairly punish people simply for being poor. While Sessions furthers the criminalization of poverty, Ohio’s chief justice is reminding her judges that the people who pass through their courtrooms are not ATMs.

      On January 29, Maureen O’Connor sent a letter to all Ohio trial judges to ensure they were aware that the law has not changed and “court cases are not business transactions.” Her thoughtful letter is a stark contrast to Jeff Sessions’ abrupt decision to rescind a guidance that had helped judges and court administrators around the country reform court practices to guard against abuses like debtors’ prisons — the jailing of poor people who cannot afford to pay court fines and fees.

    • Companies Must Be Accountable to All Users: The Story of Egyptian Activist Wael Abbas

      Egyptian journalist Wael Abbas holds a special distinction: Over the years, he’s experienced censorship at the hands of four of Silicon Valley’s top companies. Although more extreme, his story isn’t so different from that of the many individuals who, following a single misstep or mistake at the hands of a content moderator, find themselves unceremoniously removed from a social platform.

      When YouTube was still fairly new, Abbas began posting videos depicting police brutality in his native Egypt to the platform. The award-winning journalist and anti-torture activist found utility in the global platform, which even then had massive reach. One of the videos he had posted even resulted in a rare conviction of police officers in Cairo. But in late 2007, he found that his account had been removed without warning. The reason? His content, often graphic in nature, had been receiving large numbers of complaints.

      Rights activists rallied around Abbas and were able to convince YouTube to restore his account; his archive of videos were eventually restored. YouTube later adjusted its rules to be more permissive of violent content that is documentarian in nature. Around the same time, Abbas’ Yahoo! email account was shut down—and later restored—on accusations that he was spamming other users.

    • Hungary submits anti-immigration ‘Stop Soros’ bill to parliament

      Hungary’s nationalist government introduced legislation that would empower the interior minister to ban non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that support migration and pose a “national security risk”.

      The bill, submitted to parliament late on Tuesday, is a key part of Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s anti-immigration campaign targeting U.S. financier George Soros whose philanthropy aims to bolster liberal and open-border values in eastern Europe.

      The government says the bill, which would also impose a 25 percent tax on foreign donations to NGOs that back migration in Hungary, is meant to deter illegal immigration Orban says is eroding European stability and has been stoked in part by Soros.

    • A former senior Oxfam employee lifts the lid on what really happened in Chad [EXCLUSIVE]

      A whistleblower has revealed to The Canary previously unreported details of the ongoing Oxfam scandal involving the hiring of sex workers in Haiti and Chad. And they paint a picture of ‘insincerity’, ‘corner cutting’ and scapegoating by the charity.

    • As Lawmakers Debate Future of DACA, What Will It Take for Democrats to Protect DREAMers?

      Lawmakers on Capitol Hill are continuing to debate the future of DACA, the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which gives some 800,000 young undocumented immigrants permission to live and work in the United States. Republican lawmakers are pushing to include an amendment to punish so-called sanctuary cities as part of any immigration legislation to protect DREAMers. Meanwhile, a second federal judge has temporarily blocked the Trump administration from canceling DACA. On Tuesday, Judge Nicholas Garaufis in New York issued an injunction to keep the program temporarily in place, warning its cancellation would have “profound and irreversible” social costs, writing, “It is impossible to understand the full consequences of a decision of this magnitude.” For more, we speak with Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), vice ranking member of the House Budget Committee and vice chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Verizon-Owned Tumblr Joins The Latest Effort To Restore Net Neutrality

      Karp resigned from the company last year, and numerous reports have indicated that while net neutrality advocacy remains strong among employees, the company itself has unsurprisingly lowered the volume of its support for net neutrality under new ownership by Verizon. That has resulted in a slow but steady departure of employees not thrilled to be under the “leadership” of one of the most anti-competitive (and occasionally comically delusional) companies on the tech policy front (former in-house counsel Ari Shahdadi being of particular note).

      Despite Verizon’s ownership the company’s net neutrality advocacy doesn’t appear to be dead just yet. This week, the company joined net neutrality advocates’ “Operation: OneMoreVote” campaign. As we’ve noted, activists are trying to use the Congressional Review Act to reverse the FCC net neutrality repeal. Under the CRA, Congress can reverse a regulatory decision within 60 days of it hitting the Federal Register with a majority vote. The GOP and Trump administration used this exact trick to kill consumer broadband privacy protections early last year.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • It’s alive! The public domain starts breathing again

        Songs that were scheduled to lose copyright protection at midnight on December 31 1998, but were ‘saved’ by the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act include Jimmy Cox’s blues standard “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out” and “Who’s Sorry Now”, a 1923 hit made famous again by Connie Francis in 1957. George and Ira Gershwin’s “Fascinating Rhythm”, George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” and Marty Bloom, Ernest Brever and Billy Rose’s “Does the Spearmint Lose its Flavour on the Bedpost Over Night” – all 1924 copyrights that would have expired on December 31 1999 – will enter the public domain at midnight on December 31 2019. The Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act preserved each of these copyrights for an additional 20 years.

      • Stopping online piracy is not censorship

        The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) is considering a proposal to block Canadians from accessing websites that “blatantly, overwhelming, or structurally engage in piracy.” The proposal expands on successful efforts in other countries to address the growing problem of online piracy, while imposing extraordinary safeguards to protect users’ digital rights. In short, it is a balanced and pragmatic attempt to address online piracy that has garnered support from a diverse group of stakeholders, including broadcasters, distributors, media companies, internet service

      • The Museum Of Art And Digital Entertainment Calls For Anti-Circumvention Exemptions To Be Extended To Online Game Archives

        Now that we’ve covered a couple of stories about game companies, notably Blizzard, bullying the fans that run antiquated versions of MMO games on their own servers to shut down, it’s as good a time as any to discuss a recent call for the DMCA anti-circumvention exemptions to include the curation of abandoned MMO games. A few weeks back, during the triennial public consultation period in which the U.S. Copyright Office gathers public commentary on potential exemptions to the DMCA’s anti-circumvention provisions, a bunch of public comments came in on the topic of abandoned video games. Importantly, the Librarian of Congress already has granted exemptions for the purpose of preserving the art of video games so that libraries and museums can use emulators to revive classic games for the public.

        But what do you do if you’re looking to preserve a massive multiplayer online game, or even single-player games, that rely on server connections with the company that made those games in order to operate? Those servers don’t last forever, obviously. Hundreds of such games have been shut down in recent years, lost forever as the companies behind them no longer support the games or those that play them.

      • How We Got To The Point That Hollywood Is Trying To Attack The Internet Via NAFTA

        Last week we announced our new site EveryoneCreates.org, featuring stories from many different creators of music, books, movies and more about how important the internet and fair use have been to their creations. As we noted, the reason for the site is that the legacy copyright gatekeepers at the MPAA and the RIAA have been using the Trump-requested NAFTA renegotiations to try to undermine both fair use and internet safe harbors by positing a totally false narrative that the internet has somehow “harmed” content creators.

        Yet, as we know, and as the stories from various artists show, nothing is further from the truth. For most artists and content creators, the internet has been a huge boon. It has helped them create new art, share it and distribute it to other people, build a fan base and connect with them, and make money selling either their work or related products and services. As we’ve discussed before, in the past, for most artists, if you did not find a giant gatekeeper to take you on, you were completely out of the market. There was very little “long tail” to be found in most creative industries, because you either were “chosen” by a gatekeeper or you went home and did something else. But the internet has changed that. It has allowed people to go directly to their audiences, or to partner with platforms that help anyone create, distribute, promote and monetize. Indeed, the internet has undoubtedly helped everyone reading this to create art — whether for profit or just for fun. And if that’s the case with you, please share your story.

        But it is worth taking a step back and asking an even larger question: how the hell did we get here? How did we get to the point that the MPAA and the RIAA are using NAFTA negotiations to try to undermine the internet. Rest assured: there’s a long, long history at play here, and it’s important to learn about it. The idea that you can or should regulate the internet or intellectual property in trade agreements should seem strange to most people — especially as most trade agreements these days are about increasing free trade by removing barriers to trade, and copyright by its very nature is mercantile-style trade protectionism that places artificial limits and costs on trade that might otherwise be cheaper.

      • How Have Europe’s Upload Filtering and Link Tax Plans Changed?

        Although we have been opposing Europe’s misguided link tax and upload filtering proposals ever since they first surfaced in 2016, the proposals haven’t been standing still during all that time. In the back and forth between a multiplicity of different Committees of the European Parliament, and two other institutions of the European Union (the European Commission and the Council of the European Union), various amendments have been offered up in an attempt at political compromise. Unfortunately, the point at which these compromises seem to have landed still poses the same problems as before.

      • US Online Piracy Lawsuits Skyrocket in the New Year

        More than 1,000 lawsuits were filed against BitTorrent pirates in the US in 2017. While that number is significant, a flurry of lawsuits since January suggests that even more may be filed this year. Adult entertainment company Malibu Media is the most active litigant, as usual, but there’s new competition on the horizon.

      • Kim Dotcom Begins New Fight to Avoid Extradition to United States

        Should Kim Dotcom and his former Megaupload colleagues be sent to the US to face charges of copyright infringement, racketeering, and money laundering? The New Zealand District Court ruled that they can and in December 2017, the Hight Court reached the same conclusion. In a hearing now underway in the Court of Appeal, lawyers for the defendants will attempt to turn the tide.

      • Danish man get six-months jail time for promoting Popcorn Time

        The Copenhagen Post, which rather incriminatingly publishes the link to the site in its story, warns that this represents a precedent for its citizens that could see more convictions in the future.

      • Please IOC. If the Statue of Liberty violates policy, just scrap the anthems. And flags.

        According to USA TODAY Sports hockey reporter Kevin Allen, the IOC communicated to the U.S. women’s team that goaltender Nicole Hensley’s mask — which includes a profile of Lady Liberty’s iconic head emblazoned on its left side — may be in violation of its policy against political symbols.

      • Hosting Provider Steadfast Maintains DMCA Safe Harbor Defense For Trial

        A California District Court has denied ALS Scan’s motion for summary judgment against hosting provider Steadfast. The latter is accused of contributory copyright infringement and failing to implement a repeat infringer policy as required by the DMCA. However, since both sides made valid arguments, the court will leave the ultimate decision up to the jury.


Links 13/2/2018: Rise of the Tomb Raider on GNU/Linux, KDE 5.43.0, Qt 5.10.1

Posted in News Roundup at 10:57 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Desktop

    • Annoying Windows 10 sounds could mean deeper problem, or a reason to switch to Linux

      If none of these tips work and you don’t really want to spend a few hundred dollars to fix the machine, I’d suggest switching to a different operating system, like Linux. A version called Ubuntu is more Windows-like and user friendly — and it’s free.

      And a good resource is a Denver company called System 76, which I wrote about a few years ago: “System 76 in Denver shows how easy it is to use Ubuntu Linux computers.” The company sells Linux Ubuntu computers, but last year, it unveiled its own Linux-based operating system called Pop!_os, a trend PCWorld proclaimed “Exciting.”

      Also, if you’re the type of person who prefers hand-holding when it comes to technology, System 76 does offer customer service with their machines — for life.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux Foundation: A better marketing plan for your open source software project

      Open source software (OSS) marketing today is unique: it’s a process of co-creating and co-executing a marketing plan with an entire community—developers, end users and vendors. This makes it distinctly different than most traditional technology marketing efforts, which generally focuses on business decision-makers exclusively.

    • Graphics Stack

      • X.Org Server Patches Updated For Non-Desktop & Lease Handling

        Keith Packard has sent out his latest patches for implementing the non-desktop and DRM lease functionality from within the X.Org Server. This work also includes the relevant DDX bits being wired through for the xf86-video-modesetting driver.

        The “non-desktop” handling is the new property for indicating if a display output is not for a conventional desktop use-case, i.e. a VR HMD as the main use-case from Valve’s perspective. When the VR HMD or other non-desktop output is set, it’s not used by the X.Org Server and any desktop window manager so it can be reserved for the SteamVR compositor.

      • RADV Radeon Vulkan Driver Is Still A Better Bet Than AMDVLK In February 2018

        With the AMDVLK Radeon Vulkan driver that AMD open-sourced in December continuing to be updated in weekly batches with new Vulkan extensions / features / performance optimizations and the RADV Mesa-based Radeon Vulkan driver continuing to march to its own beat, I have spent the past few days conducting some fresh benchmarks between the AMDVLK and RADV Vulkan drivers with RX 560, RX 580, and RX Vega 64 graphics cards.

      • Virtualizing GPU Access

        Virtualized GPU access is becoming common in the containerized and virtualized application space. Let’s have a look at why and how.

        For the past few years a clear trend of containerization of applications and services has emerged. Having processes containerized is beneficial in a number of ways. It both improves portability and strengthens security, and if done properly the performance penalty can be low.

        In order to further improve security containers are commonly run in virtualized environments. This provides some new challenges in terms of supporting the accelerated graphics usecase.

      • Local Virtual GPU Display Support Is About Ready For Intel Linux Systems

        Many of you have expressed interest in Intel’s virtual GPU pass-through support “GVT” and with Linux 4.16 the kernel-side bits have come together for local vGPU display support.

        VFIO updates and Intel DRM driver updates needed for local Intel vGPU display support were merged during this month’s Linux 4.16 merge window.

      • libinput 1.10.0
      • Libinput 1.10 Released With Better Palm Detection, Drops Touchpad Hysteresis

        Red Hat’s Peter Hutterer has announced the release of libinput 1.10, the latest feature release of this input handling library used by Wayland-based Linux desktops and optionally by those still using the X.Org Server.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Release of KDE Frameworks 5.43.0

        KDE today announces the release of KDE Frameworks 5.43.0.

        KDE Frameworks are 70 addon libraries to Qt which provide a wide variety of commonly needed functionality in mature, peer reviewed and well tested libraries with friendly licensing terms. For an introduction see the Frameworks 5.0 release announcement.

        This release is part of a series of planned monthly releases making improvements available to developers in a quick and predictable manner.

      • KDE Frameworks 5.43 Released With KHolidays Module, glTF/Coillada Highlighting
      • Hiding Neon LTS Edition

        With the new Plasma LTS came an update to KDE neon LTS Edition and lots of people asking which edition to use and what the difference is. This caused us to review the purpose of LTS and as a result we’ve just hidden LTS from the download page. The only difference with the LTS edition is that it stays on Plasma’s LTS release but apps and libraries still get updates. This doesn’t fit well with the main use cases of an LTS which is that it only gets bug fixes and no new features. Further we test Neon LTS edition less than any other edition so it’s more likely we’ll miss some problem, which is the opposite of what most people would expect. There are distros whose release model fits better with the needs of Plasma LTS but the constant updates of Neon don’t fit too well. We’ll keep the edition around and don’t expect to make any changes to the repositories or builds, they’re useful for devs testing Plasma LTS, but we’re not advertising it for download since it gives a different expectation of what to expect than fits into the release method of Neon.

      • KMarkdownWebView 0.5.0

        The KMarkdownWebView software is for the rendered display of Markdown documents, using web technologies. It implements a C++/Qt-based wrapper around a local webpage with a JavaScript library (“marked”) which creates HTML from the plain text in Markdown format passed in.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Python for GNOME Mobile?

        As you may already know, Python is one of the hottest programming language out there, with thousand of job offerings, so makes sense, at least for me, to push this language as official one for GNOME Mobile applications.

        elementary OS is doing a good job on engagement new developers, while use Vala as its official language. For me, Vala is a good candidate for advanced/performance constrained Mobile applications.

      • Shelved Wallpapers

        GNOME 3.28 will release with another batch of new wallpapers that only a freaction of you will ever see. Apart from those I also made a few for different purposes that didn’t end up being used, but it would be a shame to keep shelved.

        So here’s a bit of isometric goodness I quite enjoy on my desktop, you might as well.

  • Distributions

    • The best rising Linux distros in 2018

      Linux is built for tinkering and experimentation, which means it’s always morphing and changing. New distros are popping up all the time, because all it takes is a little bit of determination, time and effort to create a custom operating system.

      Not all of them hit the mark – there are stacks of Linux distros that have seen little to no action, and we’re almost certain that some have been released and never installed by anyone other than their creator.

    • Kudos to Namib Linux for Making Arch Approachable

      Namib is an ideal Linux distro for anyone who wants to ease into the Arch approach to computing.

      Namib is a newcomer — the third and current release (version 17.11) arrived late last year. However, it makes up for its lack of age by its performance. Namib makes Arch simple.

      Surprisingly very user-friendly as well as compatible with older computers, Namib also is very stable.

      Since Namib is based on the Arch philosophy, it uses rolling releases so you do not have to reinstall the entire operating system every time a major update occurs. The Pacman package manager handles new system components along with security and application updates automatically.

      Namib is very up to date.

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandriva Family

      • Spectra-Meltdown mitigation update

        Since we released 4.14.18 yesterday, we now are in pretty good shape with the mitigations, especially on x86_64. We now have bits in place for Spectre v1, v2 and Meltdown.

        Of course over the coming weeks/months there will be more follow-up fixes upstream to cover corner cases, missed fixes and improvements for all of this…

        And we still need Intel and AMD to release microcodes so hardware vendors can release updated BIOS/EFI firmwares and to the public so we can provide microcode updates in case of vendors not providing new BIOS/EFI firmwares.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • SUSE 2017 milestones, a year in the kernel

        As part of a continuing set of analysis posts dedicated to examining major developments across the major (and some lesser) open source Linux distributions, we consider 2017 at open German softwarehaus SUSE.

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Version 3.1 of Cura, the 3D print slicer, is now in Debian

        A new version of the 3D printer slicer software Cura, version 3.1.0, is now available in Debian Testing (aka Buster) and Debian Unstable (aka Sid). I hope you find it useful. It was uploaded the last few days, and the last update will enter testing tomorrow. See the release notes for the list of bug fixes and new features. Version 3.2 was announced 6 days ago. We will try to get it into Debian as well.

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Skype discuss easing Linux maintenance with snaps

            Skype is used by hundreds of millions of users globally to make free video and voice calls, send files, video and instant messages. It has been two years since Skype first launched to Linux users on the Electron framework. This brings us to the present day, where the team recently launched their first snap and at the recent Snapcraft Summit, Senior Software Engineer Jonas Tajrych explains Skype’s progress from first discovering snaps in 2016 to its release.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source


  • Daylight Saving Time isn’t worth it, European Parliament members say

    Earlier this week the European Parliament voted 384 to 153 to review whether Daylight Saving Time is actually worth it. Although the resolution it voted on was non-binding, the majority reflected a growing dissatisfaction with a system that’s been used by the US, Canada, most of Europe, and regions in Asia, Africa, and South America for decades.

  • Science

    • New DNA nanorobots successfully target and kill off cancerous tumors

      Science fiction no more — in an article out today in Nature Biotechnology, scientists were able to show tiny autonomous bots have the potential to function as intelligent delivery vehicles to cure cancer in mice.

      These DNA nanorobots do so by seeking out and injecting cancerous tumors with drugs that can cut off their blood supply, shriveling them up and killing them.

      “Using tumor-bearing mouse models, we demonstrate that intravenously injected DNA nanorobots deliver thrombin specifically to tumor-associated blood vessels and induce intravascular thrombosis, resulting in tumor necrosis and inhibition of tumor growth,” the paper explains.

    • Study finds gender and skin-type bias in commercial artificial-intelligence systems

      Three commercially released facial-analysis programs from major technology companies demonstrate both skin-type and gender biases, according to a new paper researchers from MIT and Stanford University will present later this month at the Conference on Fairness, Accountability, and Transparency.

      In the researchers’ experiments, the three programs’ error rates in determining the gender of light-skinned men were never worse than 0.8 percent. For darker-skinned women, however, the error rates ballooned — to more than 20 percent in one case and more than 34 percent in the other two.

    • The Trump administration aims to privatize the International Space Station: report

      In January, The Verge reported that the Trump administration was preparing to end US support for the International Space Station by 2025, prompting outcry from Congressional officials. The Washington Post says that it has viewed an internal NASA document that outlines the agency’s intentions to privatize the station after funding ends in 2024.

    • The ideal smartphone is all screen with no buttons or borders — here’s how close it is to becoming a reality

      Smartphone makers have had us drooling for years over the idea of a phone that’s all screen, with no buttons or borders to interrupt the pure design.

      But try as they might, the concept hasn’t exactly come to fruition. The most popular devices have come with extremely thin bezels — or, like the iPhone X, add a notch toward the top of the phone to house the camera and all its front-facing sensors.

    • State Assembly candidate speaks on reducing science censorship in policy

      A California State Assembly candidate discussed the importance of combating censorship in scientific research at an event at Boyer Hall on Monday.

      Tepring Piquado, who is running to represent California’s 54th State Assembly district, said at the UCLA Science Policy Group’s monthly meeting that legislators must help reduce science censorship by being unbiased when making policy decisions that involve scientific research funding and publicity. Piquado said research censorship can prevent scientific discoveries from best benefiting the public as a whole.

      The Science Policy Group is an organization made up of undergraduate and graduate students that organizes events to advocate for more scientific input in public policy. Jennifer Tribble, a neuroscience doctoral student and president of the organization, said the group is concerned that the current presidential administration does not value evidence-based research.

    • Scientists Discover Hundreds of 2D Materials That Could Be The Next Graphene

      Part of what makes graphene so fantastically useful is its amazing thinness – it’s just one atom thick.

      Scientists have now found hundreds of other materials that are equally thin, providing a wide selection of new materials with perhaps as much potential as graphene.

      The team analysed data in open resources including the Crystallography Open Database, looking for materials with structural similarities to graphene with the help of a custom computer program.

  • Hardware

    • Raspberry Pi VC4 Working On Polishing KMS Support, Continued VC5 Progress

      Broadcom’s Eric Anholt has shared another routine status update about his ongoing work with the open-source VC4 graphics driver supporting current generation Raspberry Pi hardware as well as his work on the next-gen Broadcom VC5 open-source graphics driver.

    • Apple AirPod began smoking in ear, blew apart, says man

      Suddenly, he said, he noticed smoke. It was coming from the area of his right ear. More specifically, the smoke was being emitted from one of his AirPods.

      He says that he immediately put both AirPods on a piece of workout equipment and walked away. By the time he came back, the smoking AirPod appeared to have completely burst apart.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Failing health of the United States

      Life expectancy in the US has fallen for the second year in a row.1 This is alarming because life expectancy has risen for much of the past century in developed countries, including the US. The decline in US health relative to other countries, however, is not new; it has been unfolding for decades (fig 1). In 1960, Americans had the highest life expectancy, 2.4 years higher than the average for countries in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). But the US started losing ground in the 1980s. US life expectancy fell below the OECD average in 1998, plateaued in 2012, and is now 1.5 years lower than the OECD average.2

    • Weeds out of control

      Herbicides can no longer control the weeds that threaten crop productivity and food security in the UK because the plants have evolved resistance, and future control must depend on management strategies that reduce reliance on chemicals.

      A nationwide epidemiological assessment of the factors that are driving the abundance and spread of the major agricultural weed, black-grass, was the focus of collaborative work led by the University of Sheffield, with Rothamsted Research and the Zoological Society of London.

    • Why a simple, lifesaving rabies shot can cost $10,000 in America

      When she woke up the next day, she started to worry about rabies. She went to the local urgent care center, which sent her to the emergency room. It was the only facility that stocked the drugs necessary to treat rabies, a situation that is typical across the United States.

      A few weeks later, the bill arrived: $6,017. The vast majority of the charge was for a drug to treat rabies exposure called immunoglobulin. The emergency room billed this drug at $3,706.

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • America has done all it can in Afghanistan — more troops won’t ‘win’ us anything

      There are reports the U.S. Army is readying about a thousand additional troops for deployment to Afghanistan where they will link up with some 14,000 other U.S. service members tasked with an unachievable mission.

      At the same time, this news was drowned about by the latest catastrophic attack, a horrific bombing that left more than 100 dead — The United States Central Command Commander General Votel was even nearby — in the very center of a “secure” district of Kabul.

      The persistence of such violence after 16 years of U.S. intervention raises serious questions about the need for and ability of the United States military to address what is at root an internal Afghan security problem increasingly disconnected from core American security interests.

      I am no stranger to these un-winnable crusades. In early 2011, my own unit flew into Kandahar — part of the last few thousand troops authorized under the Obama “surge.”

      This talk of reinforcement, escalation, and “surging” is nothing new. It is history repeating itself.
      These next 1,000 soldiers will enter the Afghan maelstrom as no less than the fifth surge attempted by military and political “strategists” who are clearly out of ideas (perhaps because there is no military solution to a fundamentally political problem).

    • Raining on the Parade

      Of course Donald Trump wants a military parade. I’d be surprised if he didn’t. It’s just what an insecure narcissist would want. A parade would be the national equivalent of his strutting around like a peacock, dying to turn heads. Even a politician can see that: “I think confidence is silent and insecurity is loud,” Louisiana Republican Sen. John Kennedy said. “America is the most powerful country in all of human history; you don’t need to show it off.”

      But harbor no doubts: Trump’s parade will be the biggest, best, and most-watched military parade in history — guaranteed. And I don’t mean just American history.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Report: Britain Pressured Sweden Not to Drop Assange’s Extradition Proceedings 5 Years Ago

      In the latest news about WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, The Guardian is reporting Sweden attempted to drop extradition proceedings against Assange five years ago but were pressured to reverse course by British prosecutors. Sweden eventually dropped its investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct by Assange last year. The news comes just days after a British judge upheld the British arrest warrant for Assange, who has been living in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London since 2012. Another judicial decision is expected on Tuesday, when a British court is scheduled to respond to a motion by Assange’s attorneys, who are attempting to force Britain to drop its arrest warrant for him.

    • New evidence suggests the UK has detained Julian Assange for political reasons

      Swedish prosecutors were considering dropping the extradition proceedings against Julian Assange in 2013, new evidence shows. But the UK government pressured Sweden to keep the case against the WikiLeaks founder going.

      Assange is still in the UK five years later. And these latest revelations are stoking suspicions that the government is keeping him detained for political reasons.

    • Judge to rule on Assange’s bid to escape legal action in Britain

      WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will hear on Tuesday whether his legal bid to halt action against him for breaching bail has been successful, in a ruling that could pave the way for him to leave the Ecuadorean embassy in London.

      Even if a judge rules in his favour, though, he may elect to stay in the embassy, where he has been holed up for almost six years, because of his fear that the United States may seek his extradition on charges related to the activities of WikiLeaks.

      Assange, 46, fled to the embassy in June 2012 after skipping bail to avoid being sent to Sweden to face an allegation of rape, which he denied. The Swedish case was dropped in May last year, but Britain still has a warrant for his arrest over the breach of bail terms.

    • Judgment due on Julian Assange arrest warrant

      A judgment on whether to lift a UK arrest warrant against Julian Assange will be made on Tuesday.

      Senior District Judge Emma Arbuthnot last week rejected his legal team’s argument that the warrant issued in 2012 was no longer valid because an investigation by the Swedish authorities into a sex-related allegation had been dropped.

    • Could Julian Assange Be on Brink of Freedom?

      A London court will rule on Tuesday whether it would be in the interests of justice to pursue action against WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange for failing to surrender to bail back in 2012.

      If the judge rules in his favor, then Assange, 46, would be free to leave the Ecuadorean Embassy in London where he has been holed up for more than five years.

    • Assange in new bid to cancel UK arrest warrant
    • Judge to rule on Assange’s bid to escape legal action in Britain
    • Julian Assange saga: judge to rule on arrest warrant
    • Judge to rule on Assange’s bid to escape legal action in Britain
    • UK judge set to rule on WikiLeaks founder’s arrest warrant
    • UK: Assange Awaits Magistrates Court Ruling on Warrant

      The Australian could still face extradition to the United States to answer to charges related to the operations of WikiLeaks.

      Westminster Magistrates Court will return a decision on whether WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange can leave the Ecuadorean embassy in London.

    • Chelsea Manning, notable for WikiLeaks, to speak at Bard College

      Former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning, who was imprisoned for providing government secrets to WikiLeaks, will speak at Bard College in Annandale on Feb. 21.

      “A Conversation with Chelsea Manning” is sold out and will be held at Bard’s Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts. Anyone wishing to be placed on the waiting list should arrive at the Fisher Center at 5 p.m. the day of the talk.

    • WikiLeaks Founder Says Received Envelope With ‘White Powder’

      Earlier in the day, media reported that Vanessa Trump, the wife of the US president’s son Donald Trump Jr., had been taken to a New York hospital after opening an envelope that contained an unidentified white powder that was subsequently determined to be non-hazardous.

    • Judge refuses to withdraw Julian Assange arrest warrant

      She said: “I find arrest is a proportionate response even though Mr Assange has restricted his own freedom for a number of years.

      “Defendants on bail up and down the country, and requested persons facing extradition, come to court to face the consequences of their own choices. He should have the courage to do the same. It is certainly not against the public interest to proceed.”

      Assange, 46, skipped bail to enter the embassy in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden over allegations of sexual assault and rape, which he denies.

      Though Swedish prosecutors dropped the investigation against him, he faces arrest if he leaves the building in Knightsbridge, London, for breaching his former bail conditions in the UK.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Houston-Area Officials Approved a Plan for Handling a Natural Disaster — Then Ignored It

      Seven months before Hurricane Harvey inundated the Houston area with a trillion gallons of water and led to widespread criticism of the Red Cross, Harris County adopted a disaster-preparation plan that’s key assumption was that the Red Cross would be slow to act. “In a major disaster where there is widespread damage, the local resources of the Red Cross may be overwhelmed and not available immediately,” stated the plan. “It may be upwards of 7 days before the Red Cross can assume a primary care and shelter role.”

      The 17-page document, entitled the “Mass Shelter Plan,” was unanimously approved by the county’s governing body on Jan. 31, 2017. ProPublica obtained the plan, which until now has not been public, as part of a public records request.

      The Mass Shelter Plan described the Red Cross as the county’s “lead partner” but was unequivocal in assigning responsibility should a calamity occur: “In the event of an emergency that requires evacuation of all or any part of the Harris County population, Harris County is ultimately responsible for the coordination of the evacuation, shelter and mass care of displaced local residents.”

    • Trump’s Infrastructure Plan May Ignore Climate Change. It Could Be Costly.

      President Trump is expected to unveil on Monday a plan that would fulfill one of his signature campaign promises: a $1.5 trillion, once-in-a-generation proposal to rebuild, restore and modernize the nation’s aging infrastructure.

      “We will build gleaming new roads, bridges, highways, railways and waterways all across our land,” Mr. Trump said in his State of the Union address.

      But while the proposal represents one of the administration’s main legislative ambitions, it could directly clash with one of its defining regulatory principles, which is to question the risk from global warming and roll back regulations addressing climate change.

      The Trump infrastructure blueprint is almost certain to call for expensive new roads, bridges, airports and other projects in areas that are increasingly vulnerable to rising waters and other threats from a warming planet. Engineers and researchers say that construction plans should consider these design constraints at the outset. Their concern is that a plan led by a White House that has both discounted climate science and weakened climate change regulations could mean that costly projects may be vulnerable to damage or, in a worst-case scenario, quickly rendered obsolete by the changing environment.

  • Finance

    • Alibaba invests another $1.3 billion into its offline retail strategy

      The Chinese firm, the dominant e-commerce player in its country, gobbled up a 15 percent stake in Beijing Easyhome Furnishing for RMB 5.45 billion, or around $867 million, and pumped $486 million into a big data retail firm in two deals announced over the weekend.

    • What Microsoft’s Antitrust Case Teaches Us About Silicon Valley

      Today’s titans tower over their kingdoms, secure behind their walls of user data and benefiting from extreme network effects that make serious competition from startups nearly impossible. US antitrust laws, written in the industrial age, don’t capture many of the new realities and potential dangers of these vast data empires. Maybe they should.

    • Chinese Tourists Are Taking Over the Earth, One Selfie at a Time

      Consider this: For the past seven years, the travel-and-tourism sector has outperformed the overall economy every year, contributing as much as $7.6 trillion in 2016, including the wider impact on the economy, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council. During the next decade, the council predicts, almost one in four jobs created worldwide will be related to tourism.

    • 9 Major Insurance Companies Are Profiting the Most Off the Broken Bail System

      Accredited Surety is one bail shark among many who exploits poor Americans trying to make bail.

      Chances are you’ve never heard of Bermuda-based insurance investment conglomerate Randall & Quilter and its wholly owned Florida-based company Accredited Surety.

      Accredited is one of nine major insurance companies that underwrite most of the money-bail businesses in the U.S. Companies like Accredited play a significant role in propping up the two-tiered American justice system that sells liberty to people who can afford it, plunges people into debt who struggle to pay it back, and deprives many others the opportunity to return to their lives, families, and jobs while the court determines their guilt or innocence.

      And because of its unapologetic gluttony, Accredited is our bail shark of the month.

      Like a proud parent, R&Q was “pleased to announce” its acquisition of Accredited in 2014. In a press release, R&Q Chairman and CEO Ken Randall said, “We are delighted to have reached agreement with Accredited. There is an excellent cultural fit and this represents an important milestone in … securing stable income streams from associated fee and distribution income.”

      Clearly, that culture is profit.

    • There’s nothing liberal about Brexit

      What grim pleasures Brexit offers. This week it’ll give us a series of speeches by Cabinet ministers laying out their vision for Britain outside the EU, a kind of choose-your-own-adventure book in which you decide which of the warring factions should go through to the final round.

      Boris Johnson’s offering comes tomorrow, but previews of it are in the press today. The foreign secretary apparently wants to bring Remainers and Leavers together in a vision of a ‘liberal Brexit’. He even takes John Stuart Mills’ name in vain by recruiting him for the Leave cause.

      You can just about make an argument for liberalism and Brexit if you support staying in the single market and customs union, where goods and people still flow freely. But that is not the Brexit we’re getting. We’re getting reactionary Brexit. It is defined by a love for – even a fetishisation of – borders. It is the single greatest victory for il