Bonum Certa Men Certa

Links 21/3/2018: Cutelyst 2, More on webOS

GNOME bluefish



  • Desktop

  • Server

    • What is Docker and why is it so darn popular?
      Five years ago, Solomon Hykes helped found a business, Docker, which sought to make containers easy to use. With the release of Docker 1.0 in June 2014, the buzz became a roar. And, over the years, it's only got louder.

      All the noise is happening because companies are adopting Docker at a remarkable rate. In July 2014 at OSCon, I ran into numerous businesses that had already moved their server applications from virtual machines (VM) to containers.

    • Understanding the SMACK stack for big data
      Just as the LAMP stack revolutionized servers and web hosting, the SMACK stack has made big data applications viable and easier to develop. Want to come up to speed? Here are the basics.

    • OpenPower Foundation Aims to Power Server Acceleration Beyond Moore's Law
      When IBM first created the OpenPower Foundation in 2013, there were vendors that thought they would get into the silicon business and build their own chips, but as it turns out, that's not quite what happened.

      At the OpenPower Summit 2018 event, Brad McCredie, IBM fellow and VP, outlined how OpenPower has progressed over the last five years and what members are actually building.


      An offshoot of the OpenPower Foundation is OpenCAPI, which is an effort to build an Open Coherent Accelerator Processor Interface that is supported by AMD, Google, Mellanox and Micron among the group's founding members.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux 4.15.12
    • Linux 4.14.29

    • Linux Foundation

    • Graphics Stack

      • A new era for Linux's low-level graphics - Part 1

        Over the past couple of years, Linux's low-level graphics infrastructure has undergone a quiet revolution. Since experimental core support for the atomic modesetting framework landed a couple of years ago, the DRM subsystem in the kernel has seen roughly 300,000 lines of code changed and 300,000 new lines added, when the new AMD driver (~2.5m lines) is excluded. Lately Weston has undergone the same revolution, albeit on a much smaller scale.

        Daniel Vetter's excellent two-part series on LWN covers the details quite well, but in short atomic has two headline features. The first is better display control: by grouping all configuration changes together, it is possible to change display modes more quickly and more reliably, especially if you have multiple monitors. The second is that it allows userspace to finally use overlay planes in the display controller for composition, bypassing the GPU.

        A third, less heralded, feature is that the atomic core standardises user-visible behaviour. Before atomic, drivers had very wide latitude to implement whatever user-facing behaviour they liked. As a result, each chipset had its own kernel driver and its own X11 driver as well. With the rewrite of the core, backed up by a comprehensive test suite, we no longer need hardware-specific drivers to take full advantage of hardware features. With the substantial rework of Weston's DRM backend, we can now take full advantage of these. Using atomic gives us a smoother user experience, with better performance and using less power, whilst still being completely hardware-agnostic.

      • Radeon Pro 18.Q1.1 Enterprise Edition Released For Linux Workstations
        AMD on Monday quietly released their quarterly update to the Radeon Pro Software Enterprise Edition Linux driver that is derived from their AMDGPU-PRO stack for FirePro / Radeon Pro class hardware.

        Like with AMDGPU-PRO, Radeon Pro Software Enterprise Edition 18.Q1.1 remains focused on supporting the enterprise Linux distributions including Ubuntu 16.04.3 LTS and RHEL/CentOS 6 (6.9) and 7 (7.4).

      • AMDGPU DC's Latest 34 Patches Provide More Fixes
        Another week, another code drop derived from AMD's internal driver code-base providing an updated DC display code stack.

        This week's collection of 34 AMDGPU DC patches are mostly comprised of general fixes. Surprisingly no mentions of Raven Ridge (and only one patch mentioning DCN), so it's looking like at least from the display side things are calming down for those Vega+Zen APUs -- I've been running tests the past day and will have an update later today or tomorrow on the situation.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Cutelyst 2 released with HTTP/2 support
        Cutelyst the Qt/C++ web framework just got a major release update, around one and half year ago Cutelyst v1 got the first release with a stable API/ABI, many improvements where made during this period but now it was time to clean up the mistakes and give room for new features.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • GStreamer Major Release, OpenBMC Project, Playerunknown's Battlegrounds Free Mobile Version and More
        GStreamer, the cross-platform multimedia framework, announced a new major stable release yesterday. The new version 1.14.0 has lots of new features and bug fixes, including WebRTC support, "experimental support for the next-gen royalty-free AV1 video codec", Video4Linux encoding support and more. See the release notes for more info.
      • GStreamer 1.14 released
      • GStreamer 1.14.0 new major stable release
        The GStreamer team is proud to announce a new major feature release of your favourite cross-platform multimedia framework!

        The 1.14 release series adds new features on top of the previous 1.12 series and is part of the API and ABI-stable 1.x release series of the GStreamer multimedia framework.

      • IMPORTANT: GitLab mass migration plan
        I know some fellows doesn’t read desktop-devel-list, so let me share here an email that it’s important for all to read: We have put in place the plan for the mass migration to GitLab and the steps maintainers needs to do.

      • ED Update – week 11

      • Reflections on Distractions in Work, Productivity and Time Usage
        For the past year or so I have mostly worked at home or remote in my daily life. Currently I’m engaged in my master thesis and need to manage my daily time and energy to work on it. It is no surprise to many of us that working using your internet-connected personal computer at home can make you prone to many distractions. However, managing your own time is not just about whipping and self-discipline. It is about setting yourself up in a structure which rewards you for hard work and gives your mind the breaks it needs. Based on reflections and experimentation with many scheduling systems and tools I finally felt I have achieved a set of principles I really like and that’s what I’ll be sharing with you today.


        Minimizing shell notifications: While I don’t have the same big hammer to “block access to my e-mail” here, I decided to change the order of my e-mail inboxes in Geary so my more relevant (and far less activity prone) student e-mail inbox appears first. I also turned off the background e-mail daemon and turned off notification banners in GNOME Shell.


        Lastly, I want to give two additional tips. If you like listening to music while working, consider whether it might affect your productivity. For example, I found music with vocals to be distracting me if I try to immerse myself in reading difficult litterature. I can really recommend Doctor Turtle’s acoustic instrumental music while working though (all free). Secondly, I find that different types of tasks requires different postures. For abstract, high-level or vaguely formulated tasks (fx formulating goals, reviewing something or reflecting), I find interacting with the computer whilst standing up and walking around to really help gather my thoughts. On the other hand with practical tasks or tasks which require immersion (fx programming tasks), I find sitting down to be much more comfortable.

  • Distributions

    • Reviews

      • MX Linux Review – Version 17 – An Excellent All Around Linux Distribution
        MX Linux is a popular and fast Linux distribution based on Debian stable that is currently in version 17.1. Today, I'm going to take you through my MX Linux Review to see why this distribution is so popular.

        One of the best things about MX Linux is the variety of custom tools that have been built to make the life of the user easier. The team of devs at MX Linux have really outdone themselves making every single possible need as easy as possible with their MX apps.

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Debian CEF packages
        I've created some Debian CEF packages—CEF isn't the easiest thing to package (and it takes an hour to build even on my 20-core server, since it needs to build basically all of Chromium), but it's fairly rewarding to see everything fall into place. It should benefit not only Nageru, but also OBS and potentially CasparCG if anyone wants to package that.

      • Reproducible builds folks: Reproducible Builds: Weekly report #151

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Mir 0.31 Officially Released
            Mir 0.31 is now available as the latest version of the Canonical-developed display stack that continues implementing support for Wayland's protocols.

            Mir 0.31 has been in development for Ubuntu 18.04 LTS with several new features and today the release surfaced as v0.31.0.1, as an apparent brown paper bag release hours after v0.31.0 was tagged.

          • Server development summary – 20 March 2018
            If you have a server that you are using for Bionic testing, please look in /etc/netplan and give netplan a run through. Note that only new installs of Artful+ will be enabled for netplan.

          • LXD weekly status #39
            The focus for this week was on CEPH and LXD clustering, trying to get the last few remaining pieces to work together properly. We’ve tagged a couple more betas as we went through that.

          • Ubuntu 18.04 LTS NEW FEATURES
            With the first beta release of Ubuntu 18.04 LTS available and the stable released planned on 26 April 2018, now is a great time to take a closer look at what you can expect to see in the latest version of Canonical’s Linux distribution.

            Ubuntu 18.04 LTS has been codenamed Bionic Beaver by the founder of Canonical, Mark Shuttleworth, who provided the following explanation for the curious name on his personal blog: “It’s builders that we celebrate – the people that build our upstream applications and packages, the people who build Ubuntu, and the people who build on Ubuntu. In honor of that tireless toil, our mascot this cycle is a mammal known for its energetic attitude, industrious nature and engineering prowess. We give it a neatly nerdy 21st-century twist in honor of the relentless robots running Ubuntu Core. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you 18.04 LTS, the Bionic Beaver.”

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Events

    • FSF Blogs: Friday Free Software Directory IRC meetup time: March 23rd starting at 12:00 p.m. EDT/16:00 UTC

    • LibrePlanet free software conference celebrates 10th anniversary, this weekend at MIT, March 24-25
      This weekend, the Free Software Foundation (FSF) and the Student Information Processing Board (SIPB) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) present the tenth annual LibrePlanet free software conference in Cambridge, March 24-25, 2018, at MIT. LibrePlanet is an annual conference for people who care about their digital freedoms, bringing together software developers, policy experts, activists, and computer users to learn skills, share accomplishments, and tackle challenges facing the free software movement. LibrePlanet 2018 will feature sessions for all ages and experience levels.

      LibrePlanet's tenth anniversary theme is "Freedom Embedded." Embedded systems are everywhere, in cars, digital watches, traffic lights, and even within our bodies. We've come to expect that proprietary software's sinister aspects are embedded in software, digital devices, and our lives, too: we expect that our phones monitor our activity and share that data with big companies, that governments enforce digital restrictions management (DRM), and that even our activity on social Web sites is out of our control. This year's talks and workshops will explore how to defend user freedom in a society reliant on embedded systems.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla's opt-out Firefox DNS privacy test sparks, er, privacy outcry
        Mozilla's plan to test a more secure method for resolving internet domain names – known as Trusted Recursive Resolver (TRR) via DNS over HTTPs (DoH) – in Firefox Nightly builds has met with objections from its user community due to privacy concerns.

        The browser maker's intentions appear to be beneficial for Firefox users. As Patrick McManus, one of the Mozilla software engineers conducting the test, explains in a note posted this week to one of the company's developer forums, DoH can make DNS communication more secure.

      • Mozilla Statement, Petition: Facebook and Cambridge Analytica
        The headlines speak for themselves: Up to 50 million Facebook users had their information used by Cambridge Analytica, a private company, without their knowledge or consent. That’s not okay.

      • Enough is enough. Let’s tell Facebook what we want fixed.
        I had one big loud thought pounding in my head as I read the Cambridge Analytica headlines this past weekend: it’s time for Facebook users to say ‘enough is enough‘.

      • Crash-Stop, an extension to help handle crashes on Bugzilla
        Crash-stop is a webextension I wrote for Bugzilla to display crash stats by builds and patch information.

        The goal is to have enough information to be able to decide if a patch helped (hence its name) and, if needed, uplift it to the Beta/ESR/Release trains as appropriate.

        This project was initially meant to assist release-managers but it’s been useful for developers who fix/monitor crashes or for folks doing bug triage.

      • New features in Notes v3
        Today we are updating TestPilot Notes to v3.1! We have several new user-facing features and behind the scenes changes in this v3 release. The focus of this release was discoverability, speed and a bit of codebase cleanup.

        We heard your feedback about “Exporting notes…” and with this release we have added the first export related feature. You can now export the notepad as HTML using the menu. We are still playing around with Markdown and other exporting features.

      • compare-locales 3.0 – GSOC

        There’s something magic about compare-locales 3.0. It comes with Python 3 support.

        It took me quite a while to get to it, but the writing is on the wall that I had to add support for Python 3. That’s just been out for 10 years, too. Well, more like 9ish.

        We’re testing against Python 2.7, 3.5, and 3.6 now.

      • Multilingual Gecko Status Update 2018.1

        As promised in my previous post, I’d like to do a better job at delivering status updates on Internationalization and Localization technologies at Gecko at shorter intervals than once per year.

        In the previous post we covered recent history up to Firefox 58 which got released in January 2018. Since then we finished and shipped Firefox 59 and also finished all major work on Firefox 60, so this post will cover the two.
      • Bringing interactive examples to MDN

      • March Add(on)ness: Ghostery (2) Vs Decentraleyes (3)

  • Databases

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)


    • [Eben Moglen] Additional Companies Join Red Hat’s GPLv3 Termination Policy for GPLv2 Programs
      The software developers and distributors who have backed the “first-time cure period” approach of GPLv3 for use with GPLv2 programs are, as they have stated, improving certainty for users and redistriubutors everywhere. So far as our experience shows, this occurs at no expense to the legitimate interest of free software programmers who want their license terms respected by redistributors downstream. Everyone wins, except trolls. We hope more developers and companies will climb aboard this bandwagon.

    • Microsoft, Cisco, HPE and others sign on to open-source licensing initiative [Ed: Like all other such articles, fails to mention that Microsoft is a serial GPL violator]
      “The large ecosystems of projects using the GPLv2 and LGPLv2.x licenses will benefit from adoption of this more balanced approach to termination derived from GPLv3,” Red Hat explained in a press release announcing the new license-compliance partners.

  • Public Services/Government

    • CAVO Promotes Open Source Voting in Documentary and Legislation
      "The Real Activist" slated for release this summer will include an interview with Brent Turner of OSI Affiliate Member CAVO, as well as coverage of the groups work to promote open source software within US elections' voting systems. The documentary highlights Turner's efforts and CAVO's mission to secure the United States election systems through GPL licensed open source software. Famed narrator Peter Coyote also stars in the film along with former CIA Director R. James Woolsey and many political notables.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • GitHub’s tool reduces open source software license violations
      GitHub has open-sourced its Licensed tool, a Ruby gem that caches and verifies the status of license dependencies in Git repos.

      Licensed has helped GitHub engineers who use open source software find potential problems with license dependencies early in the development cycle. The tool reports any dependencies needing review.

    • Open Source Compliance [Ed: Obsessing over risks of FOSS compliance while ignoring vastly worse risks associated with proprietary software]

      For some time, the open source community has discussed how to put a stop to the copyright troll game. Approaches such as the "Principles of Community Enforcement" and the Linux Kernel developers "Kernel Enforcement Statement" were created to regain lost trust. Large companies such as Facebook, Googleand IBM are already committed to these principles.

      In view of the millions that can be generated by aggressively pursuing license violations, copyright trolls are likely to continue to their activities despite these measures.

      In addition, many issues regarding open source law are still unclear. The wording of license terms is often so imprecise that even the scope of the rights being granted is not clear. This "construction error" can be exploited by anyone seeking to enforce claims for profit. Cases have become known in which even over-the-air distribution of open source software was criticised for license violations. The licenses do not contain a clear provision for this form of use, which can be exploited by a holder of rights seeking profits.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration


  • Security

    • Security updates for Tuesday

    • With Much of the Data Center Stack Open Source, Security is a Special Challenge [Ed: Black attacking FOSS again in order to sell its proprietary products; does proprietary software have no security issues? Which cannot be fixed, either?]

    • Synopsys reveals its open-source rookies of the year [Ed: Anti-FOSS company Black Duck, which markets its proprietary software by attacking FOSS (it admitted being anti-GPL since inception, created by Microsoft employee), wants the public to think of it as a FOSS authority]

    • Software security over convenience
      Recently I got inspired (paranoid ?) by my boss who cares a lot about software security. Previously, I had almost the same password on all the websites I used, I had them synced to google servers (Chrome user previously), but once I started taking software security seriously, I knew the biggest mistake I was making was to have a single password everywhere, so I went one step forward and set randomly generated passwords on all online accounts and stored them in a keystore.

    • 7 Questions to Ask About Your DevSecOps Program

    • Developers Are Ethical But Not Responsible?
      Ask a person if he or she is a racist and the answer is almost always no. Ask a developer if they consider ethical considerations when writing code and only six percent say no. If everyone acted the way they self-report, then there would be peace and love throughout the world.

      Based on over a hundred thousand respondents, StackOverflow’s Developer Survey 2018 presents a more complicated reality. If they were asked to write code for an unethical purpose, 59 percent would say no, but another 37 percent of developers were non-committal about whether they would comply. In another question, only about 5 percent said they definitely not report unethical problems with code. But sounding the alarm is about as far as most people will go.

    • Cloud Security: 10 Top Tips

    • Group Policy Objects (GPOs) for Linux€®

  • Defence/Aggression

    • In Run-Up to Vote to End Yemen War, MSNBC Remains Totally Silent

      In the run-up to a vote this week on a bill co-sponsored by senators Bernie Sanders, Mike Lee and Chris Murphy to withdraw US support for the Saudi air campaign—a move that, according to at least one insider, would end the war itself—the US’s major “liberal” cable network has continued its radio silence. MSNBC continued to ignore the story this week as activists and a broad coalition of anti-war groups tried to put pressure on the Senate to finally end the US-sustained siege of Yemen.

      MSNBC’s three major stars—Hayes, Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O’Donnell—haven’t used their sizable social media followings to highlight the issue either. None of the well-paid pundits has tweeted about the topic of Yemen in 2018. While Hayes has handwrung about the topic on Twitter in the past, he hasn’t covered it on his show since summer 2016. O’Donnell has tweeted about Yemen once in 20,000 tweets since joining the social media platform in June 2010; Maddow has mentioned it in four out of 7,000 tweets, two of those mentions in 2010.

      Even as frequent MSNBC guests Bernie Sanders and Chris Murphy, as well as celebrities like Mark Ruffalo and Susan Sarandon, lobby directly for the bill, MSNBC has not dedicated a single segment to the war, or to the recent high-profile efforts to end it.

      MSNBC ceding anti-war sentiment is notable in its own right, and as part of a broader trend of liberal institutions abandoning anti-war voices in favor of short-term liberal jingoism (, 8/24/16). Despite not having a single segment on Yemen thus far in 2018, MSNBC did manage 143 segments on Stormy Daniels, the woman President Trump paid off and harassed to hide an affair. A story to be sure, but perhaps not one worth 143 more reports than thousands being bombed with the help of US weapons sales and military support.

    • Trump Supports ‘Space Force’ For War-Making And Dominance in Space
      In the few dreamy moments between his various personal dramas and dramas of State, Trump has been floating the idea of creating a ‘Space Force’ to fight wars in space.” Bruce Gagnon is concerned. Last Thursday, March 15, Gagnon, coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space said, “The aerospace industry sees an opportunity to expand their profit capability by the creation of a new ‘Space Force’ that would direct the expanding U.S. war-making program in space.

    • New York University: A center of militarism, mass surveillance and censorship

      NYU’s Center for Data Science (CDS), which is affiliated with the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, was founded by Yann LeCun in 2013. LeCun is a professor at the Courant Institute and one of the best-known experts in the field of Artificial Intelligence. Just after he founded the center, in 2014, he was personally recruited by Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg to head the company’s new AI research division, a position he held until January 2018. While working at Facebook, LeCun continued to teach and do research at NYU.

      The idea behind the center was, as LeCun himself put it in an interview, to create a “partnership between NYU and Facebook … they [Facebook] would be right next door―770 Broadway, just up the street.” This cooperation, LeCun argued, would allow him “to do academic-style research here at Courant, and at the same time, lead research projects that are better done in an industry environment” at Facebook.

      Artificial Intelligence (AI) is currently the most important branch in IT and is rapidly transforming the economy. It designates various areas of machine learning. As such, AI has become increasingly significant for major corporations and banks, as well as the military. AI is central to the functioning of internal data systems and for the development of social media platforms like Facebook and search engines such as Google.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • DOJ Readying Warrants In Carter Page Investigation For Public Release
      For the first time since the FISA court opened for national security business, the DOJ is considering declassifying FISA warrant applications. The documents are linked to the FBI's surveillance of former Trump campaign aide, Carter Page. Both sides of the political aisle have asked for these documents, which is something you'd think they'd have wanted to see before issuing their takes on perceived surveillance improprieties.

      Devin Nunes -- following the release of his memo -- sent a letter to the FISA court asking it to clear the warrants for public release. The court's reply, penned by Judge Rosemary Collyer, pointed out two things. First, the FISA court had never released these documents publicly, nor was it in the best position to do so. It is only tasked with determining whether or not surveillance is warranted and to what restrictions it must adhere. It does not have the innate power to declassify documents, nor can it arbitrarily decide what documents have gathered enough public interest to outweigh the government's perpetual demands for secrecy.

    • No, the President Can’t Legally Gag White House Staffers
      It’s no surprise that the Trump administration would like to find a way to stop the flood of leaks coming from the White House. But avoiding embarrassment is no grounds for government censorship, and the latest leak-plugging effort we’ve heard of violates the First Amendment.

      The Washington Post has reported that senior White House staff members were pressured to sign nondisclosure agreements prohibiting them from revealing any non-public information they learn of at work. The draft NDA supposedly requires them to stay silent, not just while they are employed at the White House, but even after they leave — and to pay damages into the federal treasury if they speak out. In other words, it aims to muzzle them forever.

      Such a broad agreement is unenforceable because the First Amendment protects federal employees’ right to speak in a private capacity about matters of public concern — and certainly the functioning of a presidential administration raises many issues that are of public concern.

      Indeed, countless former White House officials have talked and written books about their time working for presidents, covering everything from decision-making processes and substantive policy debates to interagency turf battles and personal vendettas. Putting a gag order on these officials would leave the public in the dark about how the government works, preventing the kind of informed debate that is critical to democratic accountability.

    • Assange Says to Evidence on Cambridge Analytica Issue to UK Lawmakers
      The UK House of Commons’ Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee is probing the Cambridge Analytica firm after reports that the company had collected the personal information of about 50 million Facebook users in order to target them with ads favoring Brexit.

      WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said Tuesday he accepted the request by the UK House of Commons’ Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee to give evidence via video link on the Cambridge Analytica issue.

      Earlier in the day, Damian Collins, the chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee of the UK House of Commons, said Tuesday that he was requesting that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg appear to give oral evidence in the case of the Cambridge Analytica firm, accused of data harvesting.

    • MPs hit back at Julian Assange's claims that he's been invited to testify on Cambridge Analytica and say he OFFERED to appear on videolink
      Julian Assange claimed earlier today that he had accepted an invitation to testify on Cambridge Analytica - but now the MPs involved have said he actually offered to appear.

    • Cambridge Analytica: Assange offers testimony to committee, without being invited
      This past week the attention of the technology world has been consumed by Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal, and Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has graciously said that he’ll testify in front of the UK’s ‘fake news committee’.

      There’s just one problem though, and that’s that the committee — or to use its full name, the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee — never actually invited Assange to attend.

    • WikiLeaks Cable reveals massive corruption in then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s Government
      A cable from the American embassy in New Delhi to the Secretary of State of the USA in 1976 published on WikiLeaks is expected to send shock-waves across the country as it reveals the extent of corruption prevailing in the country during the Congress regime. The cable reveals that the corruption files were kept in the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s office and no major figure could be charged without her approval. It also says that bribery that involved contributions to the Congress party were considered acceptable.

      The cable also reveals that Sanjay Gandhi, a scion of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, offered his assistance to the British Aircraft Corporation through the Maruti company, which is addressed as a firm “controlled” by Sanjay Gandhi. The cable also mentions one Civil Aviation Minister who was paid a bribe by an Indian manufacturer for a particular contract.

  • Finance

    • Capitalism’s Process of Universal Commodification

      Unless regulated, capitalism operates as a wide-open market system. If a demand exists or can be created and a profit made, that demand will be met. As a consequence, capitalism has the capacity to commercialize almost anything, including its detractors and even its enemies.
    • Arrest of Pilatus Bank chairman ‘the beginning of the end’ – Jonathan Ferris

      The arrest of Pilatus Bank chairman Ali Sadr Hashemi Nejad in the US on Tuesday may be the beginning of the end of a dark period that has engulfed Malta, according to former anti-money laundering investigator Jonathan Ferris.

      Ferris spoke to The Shift News after Sadr, 38, was charged in a six-count indictment filed in a Manhattan court accusing him of participating in a scheme to evade US sanctions against Iran.

      He is charged with funnelling more than $115 million paid under a Venezuelan construction contract through the US financial system. If convicted, Ali Sadr could face a sentence of up to 125 years in prison, AP said.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Donald Trump Jr. Pushed ‘Blatantly Illegal’ Project In India, Former Official Says — ‘Trump, Inc.’ Podcast
      Last month, Donald Trump Jr. visited India to tout new Trump properties. Full page ads in India’s top papers announced, “Trump has arrived. Have you?”

      It wasn’t Trump Jr.’s first trip to India. “I’ve been coming to India for over a decade,” he said during his visit last month. “There’s an entrepreneurial spirit here … it needs no further explanation.”

      This week on “Trump, Inc.,” we’re looking at the Trumps’ yearslong work in India, where corruption in the real estate industry is endemic.

      We worked with Investigative Fund reporter Anjali Kamat, whose reporting on the Trumps’ business in India appears in the new issue of The New Republic.
    • A Political Boss Goes Down
      Cook County Assessor Joe Berrios, one of the last leaders of the old Democratic machine, loses the Democratic primary to a wealthy political newcomer.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Did Facebook Violate SESTA By Promoting Child Abuse Videos?

      After this became public and people called it out, Facebook also claimed that this was "an error," but it seems like it wouldn't take a genius lawyer or prosecutor to argue that the company choosing to send out just such a survey shows it facilitating sex trafficking. I mean, it was directly asking if it should allow for the sort of activity directly involved in grooming victims for sex trafficking.

      Oh, and remember, that even while this is blatantly unconstitutional, SESTA says the law applies retroactively -- meaning that even though all of this happened prior to SESTA becoming law, Facebook is potentially still quite guilty of violating the poorly drafted criminal law it is loudly supporting.
    • A comedian balked at censorship on Loyola's campus; they cut his mic
      Loyola University Chicago, a Catholic school, invited popular comedian Hannibal Buress to perform for students last Saturday. Administrators asked him to comply with restrictive content guidelines. Buress agreed.

      You can probably guess what happened next.

      Buress began by displaying what appeared to be an email outlining the school's content restrictions on a projector screen. After flagrantly violating those restrictions with an explicit quip about priest molestation, the school cut Buress' microphone. Students booed the decision, and Buress eventually left the stage before returning to finish his set after 15 minutes, according to the student newspaper, which also reported that his return was greeted with a standing ovation.

      The paper further reported that Buress told students "he was originally going to follow Loyola’s content restriction until he saw that he’d already been paid for his performance ahead of time." Given his style of comedy, I can't even imagine what a Hannibal Buress set that complied with the school's restrictions would look like. But he was apparently willing to lie, take their money, and then try.
    • YouTuber Who Trained His Girlfriend's Dog To Be A Nazi Facing Hate Crime Charges In Scotland
      Across the sea in the UK, offensive speech is still getting people jailed. An obnoxious person who trained his girlfriend's dog to perform the Nazi salute and respond excitedly to the phrase "gas the Jews" is looking at possible jail time after posting these exploits to YouTube under the name Count Dankula. According to Scotland resident Markus Meechan, it was the "least cute" thing he could train his girlfriend's dog to do, apparently in response to her constant gushing about the dog's cuteness.

      Meechan's video racked up 3 million views on YouTube, but it really didn't start making news until local police started paying attention.

    • Index on Censorship organisation slams Nazi dog conviction
      FREE speech organisation Index on Censorship has condemnded the decision by a Scottish court to convict a Scot who trained his dog to be a Nazi and raise its paw every time he said "gas the Jews".

      Mark Meechan, known as Count Dankula, was found guilty of being "grossly offensive" under the UK's Communications Act 2003 on Tuesday.

      No sentence has yet been set, but the conviction could result in a sentence of six months and a fine.


      The organisation notes that in 1976 the European Court of Human Rights found that “Freedom of expression…is applicable not only to ‘information’ or ‘ideas’ that are favourably received or regarded as inoffensive or as a matter of indifference, but also to those that offend, shock or disturb the State or any sector of the population”.

      Sentencing has been deferred till April 23.

    • TRON (TRX) Plans to Combat Internet Censorship
      Many people are well-familiar with internet censorship imposed by nations like Russia, China, and the Middle East. However, there is a more familiar and understandable form of censorship that has seen its emergence on social media platforms. For instance, people of stringent and conservative political views have put the accusation on YouTube that it has been demonetizing their videos. This means that these videos are unable to mint advertising revenue.
    • NSA hacking internet backbone to monitor Bitcoin?
      The conspiracy theorists have been saying it for years and a great piece of journalism, from Brookyn-based security and technology journalist Sam Biddle in the Intercept, has proved it.

      The United States’ National Security Agency (NSA), says Biddle, has not just been identifying Bitcoin users for many years but has also been supplying the browser software that allows the users to believe they are remaining anonymous.
    • Censorship in China Turns Social Media Into Tool of Repression
      To the surprise of none, a new report says that the Chinese regime continues to tighten its grip on the internet and imposes ever-more aggressive censorship on Chinese social media, while putting in jail those who those dare to express dissent.

      The report, “Forbidden Feeds: Government Controls on Social Media in China” was compiled by PEN America and released on March 13, documenting the escalating censorship of information and online speech on China’s internet, particularly on social media where China has seen an explosive growth in users in the last decade. PEN America advocates for free expression for writers and artists.

      “China’s Great Firewall is getting taller,” the report says, a reference to the Chinese regime’s multi-billion dollar investment over the past two decades in building the world’s largest and most sophisticated internet censorship system, which combines the regime’s regulatory power with new advancements in censorship technology in order to repress dissident voices and shape online conversation.

    • Israel officially admits striking ‘Syrian nuclear reactor’ in 2007

    • Israel Acknowledges Bombing Syrian Nuclear Reactor in 2007

    • Former IDF chief of staff: Israel was ready for war following Syria strike

    • Israel Lifts Censorship, Confirms 2007 Attack on Syrian Nuclear Reactor

    • Israel ends censorship on air strike

      The Israeli military released newly declassified operational footage, photographs and intelligence documents about the bombing, showing the moment that the suspected reactor was hit, an detailing the intelligence operation that led up to it.

      Israeli intelligence reports concluded that the reactor had been under construction with North Korean help and was months away from activation. Reuters has been unable to immediately verify the Israeli material.

      Israel’s decision to go public comes after repeated calls in recent months by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the United States and international community to take tougher action on Syria’s ally, Iran.

    • Has IDF Intelligence learned the lessons from the Syrian reactor strike?

    • Things We Saw Today: Dorkly Gives a Fascinating Look at How Censorship Crafted Batman: The Animated Series

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Facebook Has the Most Depressing Stock in Tech Right Now -- Buy or Sell It?
      Facebook's investors have had a terrible start to the week as the Cambridge Analytica situation spirals out of control.
    • Cambridge Analytica and its many scandals, explained
      Before there was Cambridge Analytica, there was the Strategic Communication Laboratories Group — SCL Group, for short. Founded in 1993 by a British ad man named Nigel Oakes, it is, basically, a messaging and PR firm that’s done work for governments, politicians, and militaries around the world. Its clients included governments and politicians in Indonesia, Thailand, Kenya, the UK, and elsewhere.

      SCL tends to describe its capabilities in grandiose and somewhat unsettling language — the company has touted its expertise at ”psychological warfare” and “influence operations.” It’s long claimed that its sophisticated understanding of human psychology helps it target and persuade people of its clients’ preferred message. Lately, its preferred buzzwords have focused on “big data” and “psychographic profiling.”
    • Dear Companies: Stop Putting Voice Control In Everything

    • Censorship, surveillance, and harassment: China cracks down on critics
      Hours after the Chinese Communist Party proposed a constitutional change last month to lift presidential term limits, any words or phrases that remotely suggested President Xi Jingping was seeking a life term were blocked from social media. Censors targeted everything from "Emperor Xi," "The Emperor's Dream," and "Dream of Returning to the Great Qing," to "Winnie the Pooh," a reference to Xi's apparent resemblance to the cartoon character, the China Digital Times reported.

      Such censorship is not new in China, but in recent months the country has increased its grip, regulating tools such as virtual private networks (VPNs) that can bypass the country's infamous firewall, issuing lists "of "approved" news outlets, and disbarring lawyers who represent jailed journalists.

      On January 30, the Cyberspace Administration of China announced a list of 462 websites and social media handles granted permission to provide online news services. Outlets that create a news website without permission face a fine of up to 30,000 Chinese yuan (US$4,700). The following month, the administration announced regulations for social media users that will legally require users to disclose their name, personal ID, organization code, and phone number before being allowed to post content online. The new regulations come in effect March 20.

      The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology also announced that from March 31 it will regulate unlicensed VPNs to "maintain a fair, organized market order." The move means that individuals and foreign companies whose operations require the use of VPNs will only have access to state-approved VPNs.

    • Secret Documents Reveal NSA Surveillance Program to Monitor ‎Bitcoin Users
    • Edward Snowden Reveals Bitcoin Inquiries By NSA
    • The NSA Has Been Tracking Bitcoin Users, Snowden Papers Reveals
    • US National Security Agency (NSA) has been tracking bitcoin users
    • ‘Bitcoin is #1 priority’: NSA targeted cryptocurrency users globally, Snowden leaks show
    • Snowden Document Reveals NSA Program to Track Bitcoin Users
    • Snowden Leak Suggests NSA Is Extensively Tracking Bitcoin Users
    • The NSA Worked to “Track Down” Bitcoin Users, Snowden Documents Reveal
      Internet paranoiacs drawn to bitcoin have long indulged fantasies of American spies subverting the booming, controversial digital currency. Increasingly popular among get-rich-quick speculators, bitcoin started out as a high-minded project to make financial transactions public and mathematically verifiable — while also offering discretion. Governments, with a vested interest in controlling how money moves, would, some of bitcoin’s fierce advocates believed, naturally try and thwart the coming techno-libertarian financial order.

    • Google Sibling Jigsaw Launches Outline, an Open Source and Self-Hosted VPN
    • Alphabet’s Outline lets you run your own self-hosted VPN for free
    • Alphabet's 'Outline' Software Lets Anyone Run a Homebrew VPN [Ed: Only a fool would pursue privacy through VPN software which isn't just proprietary but is also owned by companies like Google and Facebook]
      A virtual private network, that core privacy tool that encrypts your internet traffic and bounces it through a faraway server, has always presented a paradox: Sure, it helps you hide from some forms of surveillance, like your internet service provider's snooping and eavesdroppers on your local network. But it leaves you vulnerable to a different, equally powerful spy: Whoever controls the VPN server you're routing all your traffic through.

      To help solve that quagmire, Jigsaw, the Alphabet-owned Google sibling that serves as a human rights-focused tech incubator, will now offer VPN software that you can easily set up on your own server—or at least, one you set up yourself, and control in the cloud. And unlike older homebrew VPN code, Jigsaw says it's focused on making the setup and hosting of that server simple enough that even small, less savvy organizations or even individual users can do it in minutes.

    • How to delete your Facebook account?
      I was planning to delete my Facebook account for some time, but, never took the actual steps to do it. The recent news on how the companies are using data from Facebook made me take that next step. And I know Snowden is talking about these issues for a long time (feel free to read a recent interview), I should have done that before. I was just lazy.

    • How To Delete Your Facebook Account Permanently?
      Sometimes you want to get out of your Facebook life and enjoy the real world. You do this by deactivating your Facebook account. But you can also delete your Facebook account permanently if you want to leave Facebook for the rest of your life.
    • #DeleteFacebook trends in response to Cambridge Analytica
      This was a typical message found on Twitter in the wake of accusations over Cambridge Analytica using personal data from 50 million Facebook users to influence the US presidential election in 2016.

      After reports of Cambridge Analytica using Facebook's user information came to light, people began to urge others to either #DeleteFacebook or #BoycottFacebook in response.

    • Yet Another Lesson from the Cambridge Analytica Fiasco: Remove the Barriers to User Privacy Control
      Last weekend’s Cambridge Analytica news—that the company was able to access tens of millions of users’ data by paying low-wage workers on Amazon’s Mechanical Turk to take a Facebook survey, which gave Cambridge Analytica access to Facebook’s dossier on each of those turkers’ Facebook friends—has hammered home two problems: first, that Facebook’s default privacy settings are woefully inadequate to the task of really protecting user privacy; and second, that ticking the right boxes to make Facebook less creepy is far too complicated. Unfortunately for Facebook, regulators in the U.S. and around the world are looking for solutions, and fast.

      But there’s a third problem, one that platforms and regulators themselves helped create: the plethora of legal and technical barriers that make it hard for third parties—companies, individual programmers, free software collectives—to give users tools that would help them take control of the technologies they use.

      Think of an ad-blocker: you view the web through your browser, and so you get to tell your web-browser which parts of a website you want to see and which parts you want to ignore. You can install plugins to do trivial things, like replace the word “millennials” with “snake people”—and profound things, like making the web readable by people with visual impairments.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Democracy Just Got Stronger in Washington State
      The state’s Voting Rights Act will help ensure minority representation in a system of majority rule.

      After years of work by activists, stakeholders, community groups, and lawmakers, Gov. Jay Inslee signed the Washington Voting Rights Act into law. This historic legislation paves the way for communities across Washington state to find local solutions for an issue that has existed since the founding of our democracy — how to ensure minority representation in a system of majority rule.

      The WVRA improves voting rights by expanding on the protections of the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965. Almost all local elections in Washington currently use an at-large system where the entire community chooses who represents them on multi-member bodies such as city councils, school boards, and port districts. In areas where polarized voting occurs, at-large elections may prevent a minority group from electing any candidates that represent their community. Because the votes of the minority group become diluted in the at-large system, the makeup of the elected body does not truly reflect the community it is supposed to represent. This has had damaging effects for minority groups in Washington and around the country.

    • Internal Email Reveals Racism in Madison County Sheriff’s Department

      These are the words that have been pre-filled on a cover sheet to the Madison County Sheriff’s Department Narcotics Unit’s case files. All other fields have been left blank. These words tell the story of racially biased policing in the county that begins before officers even go into the community.

      The internal racism of the department represented in this form is just one piece of a larger body of compelling evidence that the sheriff’s department has a culture of racism that threatens Madison County’s Black community. .

    • Tempe Police Chief Indicates The Uber Self-Driving Car Probably Isn't At Fault In Pedestrian Death
      The internet ink has barely dried on Karl's post about an Uber self-driving vehicle striking and killing a pedestrian in Arizona, and we already have an indication from the authorities that the vehicle probably isn't to blame for the fatality. Because public relations waits for nobody, Uber suspended its autonomous vehicles in the wake of the death of a woman in Tempe, but that didn't keep fairly breathless headlines being painted all across the mainstream media. The stories that accompanied those headlines were more careful to mention that an investigation is required before anyone knows what actually happened, but the buzz created by the headlines wasn't so nuanced. I actually saw this in my own office, where several people could be heard mentioning that autonomous vehicles were now done.

      But that was always silly. It's an awkward thing to say, but the fact that it took this long for AVs to strike and kill a pedestrian is a triumph of technology, given just how many people we humans kill with our cars. Hell, the Phoenix area itself had 11 pedestrian deaths by car in the last week, with only one of them being this Uber car incident. And now all of that hand-wringing is set to really look silly, as the Tempe police chief is indicating that no driver, human or AI, would likely have been able to prevent this death.

    • YouTube as Conspiracy Conduit
      The murder of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on February 14 has sparked protests and marches for gun control, led by many of the Parkland teenagers who experienced the horror of the massacre. The students have taken an outspoken stance against the National Rifle Association and the politicians it funds.

      In response, some gun advocates pulled out a familiar rhetorical tool: accusing shooting victims of being paid “crisis actors,” pretend victims supposedly employed by left-wing boogeymen like George Soros to drum up support for gun control and other progressive policies. Victims of past mass shootings, including Newtown, Sutherland Springs and Las Vegas, had earlier been accused of participating in “false flag” attacks designed to justify federal gun control. These preposterous claims have subjected the families of the victims of those tragedies to death threats and harassment from hoaxers and conspiracy theorists.


      YouTube took down the “mike m” video—after it received over 200,000 views and appeared on the website’s “trending” page. However, right-wing and conspiracy-oriented news sources and activists had already picked up the story and run with it. A former congressmember and a Pennsylvania state representative fanned the flames. Even Donald Trump Jr. liked tweets connecting the massacre to the FBI, which is currently investigating his father. While some sources didn’t come out and endorse false flag/crisis actor conspiracies outright, they used the typical rhetorical devices used to drum up paranoia, claiming they were “just asking questions” or “connecting the dots.”


      These far-right conspiracy videos insulate viewers in reactionary content bubbles through YouTube’s “suggested content” algorithm. The algorithm is centered on bundling viewers into neat “identity” groups that the platform can then market to advertisers. Since 2012, YouTube’s algorithm has done this by focusing on the amount of time watched per video, rather than number of clicks, on both channels and videos, thereby rewarding videos that attract dedicated viewers rather than quick samplers. Additionally, keywords, tags, descriptions and titles help videos get noticed and suggested by the algorithm, so having a set of buzzwords like “social justice warriors” helps get related videos into viewers’ suggested video queue.


      Conspiracy theories and challenges against the “official narrative” have long been fixtures in the paranoid style of American politics. InfoWars continues to release conspiracy theory videos on YouTube that receive millions of views. One of Jones’ latest videos, “The Florida Shooting Happened! ‘Crisis Actors’ Are a MSM Hoax to Censor the Web,” now denies that the shooting was a false flag, but maintains that the mainstream media is using the massacre as a tool to promote gun control and censor right-wing internet “truth tellers.”

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Trademarks

      • Trade mark trolls arrive in Canada
        IP practitioners describe a “Wild West” trade mark situation in Canada ahead of the elimination of the use requirement. The number of “all-class” applications is soaring

    • Copyrights

      • ISPs In US Face New Copyright Challenge
        Online firms don’t do enough to combat copyright infringement. That, at least, is what US copyright owners have been saying for years. They recently received some good news from the US Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. The decision in BMG Rights Management v. Cox Communications puts new teeth in the legal requirements for internet service providers (ISPs) to act against infringing customers. The ruling, however, is worrying ISPs and many legal experts, because it empowers copyright trolls, increases costs for ISPs, and puts many of their customers in an untenable situation.
      • Fstoppers Uploaded a Brilliant Hoax ‘Anti-Piracy’ Tutorial to The Pirate Bay

        Photography-focused site Fstoppers has revealed it poured considerable resources into 'pirating' one of its own video tutorials in order to send an anti-piracy message. Instead of a $300 instructional, the 25GB torrent uploaded to The Pirate Bay contains a somewhat hilarious tutorial which is clearly not what people have come to expect from the site.
      • Photographer Tutorial Company Reacts To Pirates By Screwing With Them Hilariously

        When it comes to content producers reacting to the pirating of their works, we've seen just about every reaction possible. From costly lawsuits and copyright trolling, to attempts to engage with this untapped market, up to and including creatively messing with those that would commit copyright infringement. The last of those options doesn't do a great deal to generate sales revenue, but it can often be seen by the public as both a funny way to jerk around pirates and as a method for educating them on the needs of creators.

        But Fstoppers, a site that produces high-end tutorials for photographers and sells them for hundreds of dollars each, may have taken the creativity to the next level to mess with those downloading illegitimate copies of their latest work. They decided to release a version of Photographing the World 3 on several torrent sites a few days before it went to retail, but the version they released was much different than the actual product. It was close enough to the real thing that many people were left wondering just what the hell was going on, but ridiculous enough that it's downright funny.
      • EU's Mandatory Copyright Content Filter Is The Zombie That Just Never Dies
        For the past few years, there's been a dedicated effort by some to get mandatory filters into EU copyright rules, despite the fact that this would destroy smaller websites, wouldn't work very well, and would create all sorts of other consequences the EU doesn't want, including suppression of free speech. Each time it pops up again, a few people who actually understand these things have to waste a ridiculous amount of time lobbying folks in Brussels to explain to them how disastrous the plan will be, and they back down. And then, magically, it comes back again.

Recent Techrights' Posts

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Reprinted with permission from Daniel Pocock