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Links 24/10/2018: Windows Breaks Itself Again, Debian GNU/Linux Gets Salsa

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  • Desktop

    • After File Deletion, Windows 10 October Update Has Font Issues Too
      According to numerous reports, the recently launched Windows 10 October Update is causing font issues on users’ PC. It seems like many users are dealing with some kind of “broken fronts” where font on Windows programs is getting distorted, making it impossible to read the text.

      At first, it was only a few Windows apps but now users are complaining that the Windows system settings and even web browsers are showing the same broken fronts.

      In a Reddit post, people reported that they are facing broken fronts while opening web browsers like Google Chrome.

    • Zip it! 3 more reasons to be glad you didn't jump on Windows 10 1809
      The problems with the Windows 10 October 2018 Update just keep on rolling in as users complain of borked zip file extraction, broken fonts and iffy brightness controls.

      The infamous file deletion bug and blue screen reports have drowned out other issues somewhat. So, allow us to present a round-up that could have been titled "Should have kept the testing team on, eh?"

    • Microsoft acknowledges the “Overwrite confirmation dialog box missing” bug
      Microsoft acknowledges the “Overwrite confirmation dialog box missing” bug

      Today, Microsoft addresses the Windows 10 October Update Bug which does not prompt the “Do you want to replace these files” dialog box when copying files from a ZIP file.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • Episode 41 | This Week in Linux
      On this episode of This Week in Linux. There were a ton of new releases this week! Ubuntu and all of the Ubuntu Flavours released 18.10 this week. New versions of elementary OS and Pop!_OS also released this week. We also so new releases from Ubuntu Touch, Lightworks, Turtl, PeerTube and more. Later in the show we’ll talk about the LibSSH vulnerability that was discovered recently and we’ll talk about the latest olive branch from Microsoft. All that and much more!

  • Kernel Space

    • F2FS Offers Up New Features For Linux 4.20/5.0
      While Btrfs has been sorting out performance improvements, the crew working on the Flash-Friendly File-System (F2FS) have been working on a number of feature additions for this next Linux kernel under development.

      I the F2FS space, there is now a CRC32 checksum used on the superblock for protecting it on safety grounds. There is also a new checkpoint= mount option to provide atomic updates of the entire file-system. This checkpoint functionality is being enabled by default and was worked on in part by a Google developer. Quota operations are also now guaranteed by checkpoints and other improvements. There have also been a number of bug fixes and other code improvements for this flash memory focused Linux file-system.

    • The Next Linux Kernel Will Further Fend Off Buggy EFI Firmware
      The EFI support code within the mainline Linux kernel continues to be improved upon. While EFI firmware has matured in the past few years to become more reliable, there still are systems/motherboards shipping with various bugs. One of the additions for this next kernel release will better handle rare cases where buggy firmware could hang the kernel.

      Intel Linux developer Sai Praneeth added page fault handling to the x86 EFI kernel code for EFI run-time services. With this EFI page fault handler, this can prevent potential system hangs that occur because of the buggy firmware. The code also reports when the system encounters illegal accesses to the EFI regions so the user is aware it's a firmware problem as opposed to a kernel bug.

    • Linus Torvalds returns to head Linux coding community
      Linux founder Linus Torvalds has returned from a month of "reflection" to his job as chief developer of the widely used operating system.

      Mr Torvalds stepped back from heading core development of Linux following accusations of bullying and rudeness.

      He sought professional help to curb his abrasive side and to develop empathy with the Linux community.

      His return comes as Linux coders adopt a code of conduct that seeks to make the community more welcoming.

    • Linux Founder Apparently Completes Empathy Journey in About a Month
      Linux founder Linus Torvalds temporarily took time off from the organization in September in order to “get some assistance on how to understand people’s emotions and respond appropriately.” During his helm within the open-source software community, he developed a reputation for his egregious verbal abuse. Now, about a month after his self-imposed send-off to better himself, Torvalds is returning.

    • Linus Torvalds returns to Linux with an 'email filter' to quell his abusive language

    • Linus Torvalds is Back With Linux
    • Linus Torvalds returns to Linux project after time off to address his behavior
    • Linus Torvalds is back in charge
    • As Linux 4.19 is released, a new and improved Linus Torvalds returns

    • The Linux Kernel's Speck Death Sentence Finally Being Carried Out
      Earlier this year the Speck encryption algorithm was added to the Linux kernel as at the time Google intended to use it for EXT4/fscrypt file-system encryption with low-end Android devices. But Speck with all its controversy due to being developed by the US National Security Agency (NSA) led to immediate backlash. The removal of Speck from the Linux kernel tree is finally happening.

      Google decided in August they wouldn't use Speck as planned but rather work on the new HPolyC crypto code for use in future Android Go devices. Following that was the call to remove Speck from the Linux kernel with no real users of the code, but that didn't happen for the Linux 4.19 cycle.

    • XArray Tries Once Again To Get Merged Into The Mainline Linux Kernel
      XArray as a reminder is intended to eventually replace the radix tree data structure within the Linux kernel as this new "eXtensible Array" integrates locking capabilities into its design, offers page cache improvements, doesn't require memory pre-loading, and offers other benefits to suit the current usage of the radix tree within the Linux kernel.

    • The AMD Zen-Based Hygon Dhyana CPU Support Landing In The Mainline Linux Kernel
      Hygon's Dhyana SoC, the facsimile of the AMD Zen microarchitecture as a result of the AMD-Chinese joint venture to begin spinning up domestic x86 chips for the Chinese data center market, will be supported by the next version of the Linux kernel.

      Going back a number of months I have been writing about the Linux kernel patches for Hygon Dhyana that effectively amount to copying the AMD Zen code-paths within the Linux kernel to use them as well for this x86 Chinese server SoC based on EPYC. After several rounds of patch revisions, that code is into shape and is now making its maiden voyage to the Linux kernel.

    • Linux Kernel 4.19 Released with Initial Wi-Fi 6 Support, New EROFS File System
      Renowned kernel maintainer Greg Kroah-Hartman announced the release and general availability for download of the Linux 4.19 kernel, a major update that adds new features and performance improvements.

      After almost two months of development and no less than eight RCs (Release Candidates), the Linux 4.19 kernel series is now available as the most advanced kernel on the market for Linux-based operating systems. It was released by Greg Kroah-Hartman as Linus Torvalds two a few weeks off from doing any kernel maintenance.

    • Linux Kernel 4.19 LTS Release is Here!
      If you’ve been waiting for a stable (and longterm) Kernel release now, Kernel 4.19 is here. As mentioned on the Linux Kernel’s mailing list webpage, it is not a big Kernel release – but it is meant to be a longterm release. Which means that this release will be supported for a few years at least.

    • Linux Lands Xbox One S Controller Rumbling, Logitech High Resolution, Apple Trackpad 2
      The HID driver updates have a few nice improvements for the recently opened Linux 4.20~5.0 kernel merge window.

    • Google Developing "DM-BOW" For Using Drive's Free Space For Data Snapshots
      Google engineers are developing the DM-BOW device mapper driver with plans to use the code on Android devices to provide a restoration path should a system upgrade fail.

      The Device Mapper BOW driver in this context is short for "Backup On Write." With the EXT4 file-system commonly used by Android devices not offering native snapshot abilities for backup/restoration, DM-BOW sits underneath to provide snapshots and restore support.


      A working prototype of this new Linux kernel driver was posted today on the kernel mailing list. At this stage it's under a "request for comments" flag and thus not being called for inclusion into the mainline kernel until the code has matured. It will be interesting to see how quickly Google rolls this out with future Android updates.

    • Linux Kernel 4.19 Now Available for Linux Lite Users, Here's How to Install It
      Linux kernel 4.19 was released at the beginning of the week by Greg Kroah-Hartman after a long development cycle consisting of eight Candidate (RC) milestones. Linux Lite team led Jerry Bezencon was quick to update the kernel packages to Linux 4.19, which is now available for Linux Lite 4.x and 3.x series.

      Highlights of Linux kernel 4.19 include initial support for the Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) wireless protocol, CAKE network queue management support, new asynchronous I/O polling interface, new I/O latency controller, new EROFS (Enhanced Read-Only File System) file system, and support for Intel's cache pseudo-locking CPU feature.

    • Linux Foundation

      • Oracle Releases CNCF-Certified Linux
        While Larry Ellison talked up Oracle’s cloud services at the company’s OpenWorld conference on Monday, the company quietly rolled out a curated set of open-source projects from the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF), lumped together as part of the Oracle Linux distro.

        The Oracle Linux Cloud Native Environment offers support for CNCF projects pre-tested by Oracle and certified production-ready. It gives customers premier support for the projects direct from Oracle, and ensures that they work in its cloud infrastructure. It includes developer preview support for Kata Containers, the CRI-O implementation of the Kubernetes Container Runtime Interface, and the Container Storage Interface plugin released in alpha as part of Kubernetes 1.9.

      • Oracle Curates CNCF Projects
        Oracle tightened its embrace of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF), announcing a curated set of open source software plucked from CNCF’s menu of projects. The CNCF projects are part of what Oracle is calling its Linux Cloud Native Environment. The move comes a year after the vendor joined the open source group.

        Honglin Su, senior director of product management at Oracle, explained in a blog post that the move provides enterprises with a tested set of tools that can be used to construct cloud native-based applications. He explained that most IT operations are overwhelmed with the changing cloud native technology landscape and are looking for some assistance in tackling the ecosystem.
      • Cloud Foundry’s growth highlights open source success and the cracks in commercial licensing
        Open source has crested the hill of enterprise acceptance. There’s no longer the fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) that there was around open source a few years ago, plus it’s often a lot easier and cheaper to scale open source than commercially-licensed software.

        These conclusions were reinforced at the recent Cloud Foundry Summit Europe in Basel by a debate over whether the existing Cloud Foundry (CF) distribution model was breaking. This debate was somewhat ironic given that one of the announcements during the conference keynotes was the addition of an eighth CF distribution partner, the hosting service. US government agencies will now be able to use a secure CF implementation as their platform-as-a-service (PaaS) for developing and deploying cloud-scale applications.

      • Sony Pictures Entertainment/Sony Pictures Imageworks and Warner Bros. Join Academy Software Foundation at the Linux Foundation
        The Academy Software Foundation (ASWF), a neutral forum for open source software development in the motion picture and media industries hosted at the Linux Foundation, today announced that Sony Pictures Entertainment/Sony Pictures Imageworks, Warner Bros., Blender Foundation and Visual Effects Society (VES) have joined as members. ASWF also approved OpenVDB, open source software developed and maintained by DreamWorks Animation, as the Foundation's first hosted project. OpenVDB is an Academy Award-winning industry standard for creating more detailed and realistic volumetric images, including water/liquid simulations and environmental effects like clouds and ice.

      • Forty-Four New Organizations Join The Linux Foundation in September, Continuing Trend of More Than a Member a Day on Average in 2018
        The Linux Foundation, the nonprofit organization enabling mass innovation through open source, announced the addition of 33 Silver members and 11 Associate members in the month of September. Linux Foundation members help support development of the shared technology resources, while accelerating their own innovation through open source leadership and participation. Linux Foundation member contributions help provide the infrastructure and resources that enable the world's largest open collaboration communities.

      • Pivotal Cloud Foundry architecture
        Pivotal Cloud Foundry (PCF) is a multi-cloud platform for the deployment, management, and continuous delivery of applications, containers, and functions. PCF is a distribution of the open source Cloud Foundry developed and maintained by Pivotal Software, Inc. PCF is aimed at enterprise users and offers additional features and services—from Pivotal and from other third parties—for installing and operating Cloud Foundry as well as to expand its capabilities and make it easier to use. Major cloud platforms such as Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud also provide templates and quickstarts that automate large portions of the PCF deployment process.

    • Benchmarks

      • Corsair Force MP510 240GB NVMe SSD Ubuntu Linux Benchmarks
        Last week Corsair announced the Force Series MP510 M.2 PCIe NVMe solid-state drives as the company's fastest SSDs to date. While being Corsair's latest and fastest NVMe SSDs, the pricing is competitive with the 240GB model starting out at $70 USD, 480GB for $130 USD, $239 for 960GB, or $475 for a 1920GB version.

        Given a number of Phoronix readers asking about MP510 Linux benchmarks (including some premium supporters), I ended up buying a MP510 240GB solid-state drive for carrying out some Linux tests as Corsair hadn't supplied any review samples for Linux benchmarking.

      • AMD EPYC Sees Some Performance Improvements With Linux 4.19
        I am still finishing up work on my Linux 4.19 kernel stable benchmarks given it's been (and continues to be) a very busy month for Linux hardware testing, but of interest so far has been seeing a few EPYC performance improvements in some of the real-world workloads.

        While a featured article looking at the Linux 4.19 kernel performance is on the way from a diverse selection of hardware, below are some benchmarks from the new Dell PowerEdge EPYC 2P server we began testing a few weeks ago. It was exciting to see that there are some performance improvements with the freshly minted Linux 4.19 stable kernel on top of the already very competitive (and in some instances jaw-dropping) performance.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • KDE Applications 18.12 Schedule finalized
        Dependency freeze is in 2 weeks and Feature Freeze in 3 weeks, so hurry up!

      • 5 best features of the Dolphin file manager
        I like Dolphin, the default KDE file manager, a lot. I have used it for over 9 years. There are many features that I use regularly that I wouldn’t want to live without. In this post, I like to share my personal top 5. Some features are more obvious, others are hidden features.

      • KDE Applications 18.12 Open-Source Software Suite Slated for December 13 Release
        Work on the KDE Applications 18.12 software suite is ongoing, and the Dependency Freeze stage is currently set for November 8, a week ahead of the beta release, which is expected to hit the streets on November 15, along with the Final Freeze stage. The Release Candidate (RC) is scheduled for November 29, 2018.

        However, the initial release of the KDE Applications 18.12 software suite will be officially unveiled a month later after the beta version, on December 13, 2018. As usual, it will receive a total of three maintenance updates, starting with KDE Applications 18.12.1, due for release on January 7, 2019.

      • Solus Readies KDE Plasma Edition Testing ISO with Latest KDE Plasma 5.14 Desktop
        After giving us the feature-rich and luxurious Budgie desktop, as well as dedicated editions with the GNOME and MATE desktop environments, the Solus Project now readies the Solus Plasma Edition, a special edition featuring the latest KDE Plasma desktop environment and related technologies.

        An ISO image for the Solus Plasma Edition is now available for public testing, which you can download here, featuring the recently released KDE Plasma 5.14 desktop environment, along with the KDE Applications 18.08.2 and KDE Frameworks 5.51 open-source software suites, all built against the Qt 5.11.2 open-source software development framework.

      • KDE Bugsquad – Konsole Bug Day on October 30th, 2018
        We will be holding a Bug Day on October 30th, 2018, focusing on Konsole. Join at any time, the event will be occurring all day long!

        This is a great opportunity for anyone, especially non-developers to get involved!

      • Qt Drafts A Code of Conduct To Have A Formal Line About Unacceptable Behavior
        Qt has formed a Code of Conduct committee and started off with the Contributor Convenant as their starting point of this new document. The current proposed Code of Conduct can be found via Qt's code review.

        The Qt project hopes this will invite more people to contribute to Qt and to be comfortable while doing so regardless of background or personal preferences. Qt's Code of Conduct Committee will have at least three members for clarifying their standards as well as responding to any unacceptable behavior brought to its attention.

      • KDE Holding a Bug Day on October 30, Qt Project Creating Its Own Code of Conduct, Linus Torvalds Discusses His Return, Tails 3.10.1 Is Out and OpenIndiana Hipster 2018.10 Released
        The Qt Project is creating its own Code of Conduct. Phoronix reports that the motivation is to "establish a formal line-in-the-sand about what is unacceptable behavior. We want new members of the Qt community to feel comfortable and accepted, and we want to foster a healthy working environment for both current and new members." You can find the proposed Code of Conduct here.

  • Distributions

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • SUSE Joins the OpenChain Community of Conformance
        The OpenChain Project, which builds trust in open source by making open source license compliance simpler and more consistent, announces it has welcomed SUSE to its community of conformance. Conformance with the OpenChain Specification confirms that an organization follows the key requirements of a quality open source compliance program, and builds trust between organizations in the supply chain. It makes procurement easier for purchasers and preferred status easier for suppliers. Conformance is accomplished by answering a series of questions online.

      • SUSE Secures OpenChain Certification, Meeting the New Industry Benchmark for a Simplified Open Source Experience

      • Enterprise Linux distributor SUSE earns OpenChain certification
        Leading open source solutions provider SUSE has earned OpenChain certification and joined the OpenChain Community of Conformance.

        OpenChain Project is an industry standard for managing open source compliance across the supply chain. It builds trust in open source by making its license compliance simpler and more consistent.

        SUSE is an enterprise Linux distributor, having thousands of customers globally. The enterprises rely on SUSE for their mission critical computing and IT management needs. It is the first enterprise Linux distributor to earn conformance with the OpenChain Project Specification.

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Idea for a Debian QA service: monitoring install size with dependencies
        This is an idea. I don't have the time to work on it myself, but I thought I'd throw it out in case someone else finds it interesting.

        When you install a Debian package, it pulls in its dependencies and recommended packages, and those pull in theirs. For simple cases, this is all fine, but sometimes there's surprises. Installing mutt to a base system pulls in libgpgme, which pulls in gnupg, which pulls in a pinentry package, which can pull in all of GNOME. Or at least people claim that.

      • Chris Lamb: Salsa ribbons
        Salsa is the name of the collaborative development server for Debian GNU/Linux and is the replacement for the now-deprecated Alioth service.

        To make it easier to show the world that you use Salsa, I've created a number of Github-esque ribbons that you can overlay on your projects' sites by copying & pasting the appropriate snippet into your HTML.

      • Raphaël Hertzog: Freexian’s report about Debian Long Term Support, September 2018

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Slimbook & Kubuntu - Combat Report 1
              It has been a few weeks since I purchased my lovely Slimbook Pro2 and installed Kubuntu 18.04 on it. A few weeks during which I put the laptop and its operating system through a series of real-life usage tests, just as I've promised. I do use Linux in my production setup, but only sparingly, mostly because the domains of gaming and writing are not as good as on the Windows side of things.

              This attempt is a no-nonsense approach to using Linux fully and completely for serious tasks, without any glamor and fanboyism. While Linux has always served me superbly in the data center space, on the desktop and in the office, it's always taken a second place to Windows. Well, Slimbook + Kubuntu might shatter my preconceptions and exceed my expectations. Might. Also, henceforth, I shall call my machine Slimbuntu. Or not. Anyway, after me.

            • Plasma 5.14.2 available in Cosmic backports PPA
              After the 5.14.1 release of Plasma 5.14 was made available for Cosmic 18.10 via our backports PPA last week, we are pleased to say the the PPA has now been updated to the 2nd bugfix release 5.14.2.

              The full changelog for 5.14.2 can be found here.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • RISC OS re-released under an open source licence
    RISC OS, an operating system originally developed by Acorn for its Archimedes family of personal computers, looks set to enjoy a new lease of life with the announcement that it is to be republished under the permissive Apache 2.0 open-source licence.

    First released to the public in 1987 under the name Arthur, receiving its rebranding to the current nomenclature in 1989, RISC OS was developed to power the BBC Archimedes family of 32-bit personal computers based around Acorn's ARM architecture - the same architecture now found in billions of devices world wide and under control of Cambridge-based and SoftBank-owned Arm Holdings. Developed over a period of just five months as a stop-gap ahead of the release of a more powerful operating system dubbed ARX - which would, unfortunately for its developers, never see the light of day. While never as popular as Microsoft's Windows, which would soundly thrash the competition to become the de facto standard for personal computing, RISC OS continued to be developed and shipped by its creators until Acorn's demise and rebranding to Element 14 in 1999.

  • Acorn Computer's RISC OS operating system finally goes fully open source
    RISC OS, the operating system that powered Acorn Computer's Archimedes computers in the 1980s and 1990s, has been fully released to open source.

    The move was welcomed by Raspberry Pi CEO Eben Upton: "RISC OS is a great demonstration of how much performance a well-tuned operating system and user interface can wring out of a platform. Moving to a free open source licence should bring a renewed interest to RISC OS."

  • Payments Company Square Open-Sources Its Bitcoin Cold Storage Tool
    U.S. payments processing company Square has announced that it is open-sourcing its Bitcoin (BTC) cold storage solution in an official blog post published today, Oct. 23.

  • Square Open-Sources Bitcoin Cold Storage System
    Square, the digital payments giant that last year rolled out bitcoin trading through Cash App, its peer-to-peer mobile finance service, has open-sourced the system that the firm uses to manage cold storage for these cryptocurrency assets.

  • Payments Startup Square Is Open-Sourcing Its Bitcoin Storage Solution
    Alok Menghrajani, a security engineer for the company, announced in a blog post on Tuesday that the documentation, code and tools for the company's "Subzero" bitcoin cold storage solution are now publicly available on Github.

  • Square Open-Sources Subzero Bitcoin Cold Storage Solution
    Whilst Cash users can buy, sell and withdraw bitcoin through the app, the bitcoin 00 actually remains with Square in a combination of hot and cold wallets. To protect both itself and customers’ funds, Square needed a robust cold storage solution. Transferring funds out of cold storage requires physical access to the private keys, and there are a variety of methods to secure these offline.

  • Square's Bitcoin (BTC) Cold Storage Technology is Now Fully Open-Source
    San Francisco-based payments solutions provider, Square, has reportedly decided to make its cryptocurrency cold storage technology fully open-source.

    Alok Menghrajani, a software engineer at Square, noted in a blog post published on October 23rd that the source code, software development kit (SDK), and documentation for the company’s cold storage solution is now accessible on Github’s repositories.

  • Jack Dorsey’s Payments Startup Square Open-Sources Bitcoin Cold Storage Solution
    The company founded by Jack Dorsey, who is also CEO of Twitter, has built out its cryptocurrency infrastructure when it started offering Bitcoin payments with Cash App in late 2017.

    The documentation, code, and tools for “Subzero” – the HSM-backed solution designed to protect the startup and users from internal and external threats – can now be found here.

  • Mac@IBM code goes open source
    Designed to streamline the integration of corporate-owned or BYOD Apple Mac devices and applications into the enterprise while delivering a personalized experience, Mac@IBM has seen the number of IBMers using Macs increase from 30,000 in 2015 to 134,000 in 2018.
  • IBM open-sources Mac@IBM code, spreading tech to other businesses
    IBM on Tuesday shared word that it's open-sourcing its Mac@IBM provisioning code, which should enable other companies to provision Macs using similar architecture.
  • ​IBM open-sources Mac sysadmin software
    In 2015, IBM had half-a-million Windows users. It then gave its staffers the option to switch to Apple Macs. Six months later, over 30,000 had made the shift. Today, over 134,000 IBMers are Mac users. To manage them, IBM created its own Mac-specific system administration program: Mac@IBM. Now, IBM is open-sourcing this program.

  • IBM open sources Mac@IBM code
    At the Jamf Nation User Conference, IBM has announced that it is open sourcing its Mac@IBM provisioning code. The code being open-sourced offers IT departments the ability to gather additional information about their employees during macOS setup and allows employees to customize their enrollment by selecting apps or bundles of apps to install.

  • Ethereum Gets An Open Source Block Explorer
    Unlike bitcoin, which has several popular block explorers with a variety of functions, ethereum has been comparatively lacking. is by far the most popular block explorer for the Ethereum blockchain. Etherchain, Ethplorer and blockchair’s Ethereum block explorer round out the popular alternatives. But more competition is welcome and an open source option has a chance to change the game.

    Created by the POA network BlockScout is designed to be a full featured Ethereum block explorer. The goal is to include everything, from vanilla transactions and block information, to Token values to sidechains and private chains.

  • How Open Source 'Can Become The Default' In Financial Services Collaboration
    Those players, including Wall Street’s largest banks, are gathering at the Open Source Strategy Forum in London Nov. 14, said Gabriele Columbro, the executive director of the conference's organizer: the Fintech Open Source Foundation, or FINOS.


    The November conference is the second Open Source Strategy Forum, and Columbro said the messaging of the first conference in 2017 focused on the “why?” of open source. The answer, he said, is that open sourcing allows consistency in regulatory compliance.

    If everyone's building with the same tools, it’s easier to be transparent.

    This year’s event is focused on the “how?” — the manner in which the finance industry can adopt open-source development.

  • Pioneers in Open Source--Eren Niazi, Part I: the Start of a Movement and the Open-Source Revolution Redefining the Data Center
    When considering the modern data center, it's difficult to imagine a time when open-source technologies were considered taboo or not production-grade, but that time actually existed. There was a time when the data center meant closed and propriety technologies, developed and distributed by some of the biggest names in the industry—the days when EMC, NetApp, Hewlett Packard (HP), Oracle or even Sun Microsystems owned your data center and the few applications upon which you heavily relied. It also was a time when your choice was limited to one vendor, and you would invest big into that single vendor. If you were an HP shop, you bought HP. If you were an EMC shop, you bought EMC—and so on. From the customer's point of view, needing to interact with only a single vendor for purchasing, management and support was comforting.

    However, shifting focus back to the present, the landscape is quite different. Instead, you'll find an environment of mixed offerings provided by an assortment of vendors, both large and small. Proprietary machines work side by side with off the shelf commodity devices hosting software-defined software, most of which are built on top of open-source code. And half the applications are hosted in virtual machines over a Hypervisor or just spun up in one or more containers.

    These changes didn't happen overnight. It took visionaries like Eren Niazi to identify the full potential of open-source software technologies. He saw what others did not and, in turn, proved to an entire industry that open source was not merely production-ready, but he also used that same technology to redefine the entire data center.

    His story is complicated, filled with ups and downs. Eren faced his fair share of trials and tribulations that gave him everything, just to have it all taken away. But, let's begin at the beginning.

  • Sysadmin running a Mac fleet? IBM has just thrown you a lifeline
    IBM wants to save Apple sysadmins from wearing out too much shoe leather visiting user desks so it's published its Mac@IBM system provisioning code at GitHub under the GNU Public Licence 3.0.

    Back in 2015, IBM trumpeted itself as a case study when it deployed 50,000 Apple devices in the first year of the Mac@IBM programme, and that's the software it's published here.

  • OpenIndiana 2018.10 Released With MATE 1.20 Desktop, GCC 8 & Python 3.5 Support
    A new release of the Illumos-powered OpenIndiana Hipster operating system is now available as one of the leading open-source Solaris-derived operating systems.

    OpenIndiana 2018.10 on the desktop side has MATE 1.20 compared to the old OpenSolaris/Solaris days of using GNOME 2 or the new Oracle Solaris having switched over to GNOME Shell. MATE 1.20 is the latest version for this community fork from the GNOME 2 package set.

  • Open Source Opening New Doors for RDK
    Taking an open source approach is enabling the Reference Design Kit (RDK) to enter new global markets and eye opportunities with service providers that aren't cable operators.

    More than ten operators primarily based in the US, Europe and South America are on board with RDK, and talks are starting to heat up with operators in Asia and Africa, Steve Heeb, president and GM of RDK Management LLC , said here on a panel discussion that offered an update on RDK's activities.

    "It's really becoming a global solution," Heeb said. Global adoption, he added, "is happening a little bit faster than I thought."

    "The true open source aspect is there," Bill Warga, VP of technology at Liberty Global Inc. (Nasdaq: LBTY) said, noting that recent RDK events in Europe are drawing non-cable operators.

  • Broadband Forum: "The next era of broadband relies on open source and standards joining forces - now is the time to move forward together"

  • Infosys Unveils Enterprise Class Open Source DevOps Platform

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox 63 for Android Brings Picture-In-Picture Support, App Now Targets Oreo
        Mozilla officially released today the Firefox 63 "Quantum" web browser on desktop platforms, including Linux, Windows, and Mac, as well on mobile platforms, for Android devices.

      • Save a step when you’re searching with Firefox
        We live in an amazing time. When all the knowledge in the world is at our fingertips. Where having an edge doesn’t come from being able to remember information, but instead from how quickly you can get to it. It’s part of why is one of the highest trafficked webpages in existence.

      • Things Gateway - Sunrise, Sunset, Swifty Flow the Days
        In my previous blog post, I introduced Time Triggers to demonstrate time based home automation. Sometimes, however, pegging an action down to a specific time doesn't work: darkness falls at different times every evening as one season follows another. How do you calculate sunset time? It's complicated, but there are several Python packages that can do it: I chose Astral.

        The Things Gateway doesn't know where it lives. The Raspberry Pi distribution that includes the Things Gateway doesn't automatically know and understand your timezone when it is booted. Instead, it uses UTC, essentially Greenwich Mean Time, with none of those confounding Daylight Savings rules. Yet when viewing the Things Gateway from within a browser, the times in the GUI Rule System automatically reflect your local timezone. The presentation layer of the Web App served by the Things Gateway is responsible for showing you the correct time for your location. Beware, when you travel and access your Things Gateway GUI rules remotely from a different timezone, any references to time will display in your remote timezone. They'll still work properly at their appropriate times, but they will look weird during travel.

      • Firefox 63 new contributors
        With the release of Firefox 63, we are pleased to welcome the 53 developers who contributed their first code change to Firefox in this release, 44 of whom were brand new volunteers!

      • Firefox 63 blocks tracking cookies, offers a VPN when you need one
        Tracking cookies store some kind of unique identifier that represents your browser. The cookie is tied to a third-party domain—the domain of the tracking company, rather than the site you're visiting. Each site you visit that embeds the tracking cookie will allow the tracking company to see the sites you visit and, using that unique identifier, cross-reference different visits to different sites to build a picture of your online behavior.
      • Calling Celery from Twisted
        I use Twisted and Celery daily at work, both are useful frameworks, both have a lot of great information out there, but a particular use (that I haven’t seen discussed much online, hence this post) is calling Celery tasks from Twisted (and subsequently using the result).

        The difference between Twisted and Celery seems to be a frequent question people have (check out the number of questions on StackOverflow). The main difference, from my point of view, is that Twisted is a “batteries included” networking framework that is asynchronous / evented for handling of I/O, Celery is a distributed task queue which excels at short CPU-bound tasks where the asynchronous nature comes from running multiple processes.

      • Dweb: Identity for the Decentralized Web with IndieAuth
        IndieAuth is a decentralized login protocol that enables users of your software to log in to other apps.

        From the user perspective, it lets you use an existing account to log in to various apps without having to create a new password everywhere.

        IndieAuth builds on existing web technologies, using URLs as identifiers. This makes it broadly applicable to the web today, and it can be quickly integrated into existing websites and web platforms.

        IndieAuth has been developed over several years in the IndieWeb community, a loosely connected group of people working to enable individuals to own their online presence, and was published as a W3C Note in 2018.

      • Keeping AI Accountable with Science Fiction, Documentaries, and Doodles (Plus $225,000)
        The artificial intelligence (AI) behind our screens has an outsized impact on our lives — it influences what news we read, who we date, and if we’re hired for that dream job.

        More than ever, it’s essential for internet users to understand how this AI works — and how it can go awry, from radicalizing YouTube users to promoting bias to spreading misinformation.

      • This Week in Rust 257

      • University of Dundee and Mozilla Announce Doctoral Program for ‘Healthier IoT’
        This week, the University of Dundee and Mozilla are announcing a new, innovative PhD program: OpenDoTT (Open Design of Trusted Things). This program will train technologists, designers, and researchers to create and advocate for connected products that are more open, secure, and trustworthy. The project is made possible through €1.5m in funding from the EU’s Horizon 2020 program.

  • Databases

    • MongoDB Vs. MySQL
      The past few years have seen a huge spike in the number of websites and apps using NoSQL databases. With MongoDB topping the charts everywhere. It is indeed fascinating how the modern web has drifted away from traditional SQL based databases. MongoDB and other NoSQL databases have a new approach in storing and retrieving data. So let us have a look at some of the key factors in which MongoDB differs from MySQL.

    • SQLite joins the party with a rather unique Code of Conduct policy
      The "most widely deployed database engine", SQLite, has adopted a new Code of Conduct after its founder, Dwayne Richard Hipp, was “encouraged” to adopt a policy by clients. The founder, who describes himself as a Christian decided that a more unusual approach would be taken with this CoC and decided to incorporate The Rule of St. Benedict, precepts written for monks around the 5th century.


      Several open source and free software projects have begun implementing a code of conduct after elements in the community have called for them. Linus Torvalds took a break in September while of Code of Conduct was being pushed through, and Richard Stallman, head of the GNU Project outright rejected a Code of Conduct and instead proposed the GNU Kind Communication Guidelines.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD


    • Following Linux, GNU publishes ‘Kind Communication Guidelines’ to benefit members of ‘disprivileged’ demographics
      The GNU project published Kind Communication Guidelines, yesterday, to encourage contributors to be kinder in their communication to fellow contributors, especially to women and other members of disprivileged demographics.

      This news follows the recent changes in the Code of Conduct for the Linux community. Last month, Linux maintainers revised its Code of Conflict, moving instead to a Code of Conduct. The change was committed by Linus Torvalds, who shortly after the change took a self-imposed leave from the project to work on his behavior. By switching to a Code of Conduct, Linux placed emphasis on how contributors and maintainers work together to cultivate an open and safe community that people want to be involved in.

    • Richard Stallman releases GNU Kind Communication Guidelines
      In an effort to steer conversations in a kinder direction, Richard Stallman, president of the Free Software Foundation and founder of the GNU project, has announced the GNU Kind Communication Guidelines.

      The guidelines were created after a conversation that GNU development pushes people like women away. “The GNU Project encourages contributions from anyone who wishes to advance the development of the GNU system, regardless of gender, race, religion, cultural background, and any other demographic characteristics, as well as personal political views,” Stallman wrote in a post. “People are sometimes discouraged from participating in GNU development because of certain patterns of communication that strike them as unfriendly, unwelcoming, rejecting, or harsh. This discouragement particularly affects members of disprivileged demographics, but it is not limited to them. Therefore, we ask all contributors to make a conscious effort, in GNU Project discussions, to communicate in ways that avoid that outcome—to avoid practices that will predictably and unnecessarily risk putting some contributors off.

    • LibrePlanet 2019 Call for Sessions deadline extended until Nov 9th
      Have you submitted a talk for LibrePlanet 2019 yet? The Call for Sessions (CfS) has been extended until Friday, November 9th, 2018 at 10:00 EDT (14:00 UTC). Visit and log in to submit your session.

      LibrePlanet is an annual conference hosted by the Free Software Foundation (FSF) that explores the intersection of technology and social justice through a variety of talks and activities. Every year, LibrePlanet brings together developers, policy experts, activists, hackers and end users to learn new skills, share accomplishments, and face challenges concerning computing freedom as a community. LibrePlanet 2019's theme is “Trailblazing Free Software” and will be held on Saturday and Sunday, March 23rd and 24th in the Greater Boston Area, MA.

  • Public Services/Government

    • Swedish procurement frameworks to build on EU’s Tallinn declaration

      Sweden's national procurement services department is one of the first European public services to use the Tallinn declaration to encourage public sector organisations to use open source and open standards. “The procurement agency wishes to emphasise to the tenderer that all parts of the procurement documents may contain requirements, criteria or conditions to ensure that the public sector is able to obtain software and services that enable sharing and reuse, and that avoid lock-in,” the agency writes.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • ​What's the deal with Microsoft's open-source friendly patents? [Ed: People who spread the "Microsoft loves Linux" lie now claim to explain to SJVN what's going on while Microsoft-connected patent trolls carry on suing Microsoft's rivals]
      By joining the Open Invention Network (OIN), Microsoft is offering its entire patent portfolio to the open-source patent consortium's members. Immediately after the announcement, people asked: "Entire? Everything? Even [patent name]?"

      At a keynote speech at Open Source Summit Europe in Scotland, Keith Bergelt, OIN's CEO, answered some of these questions. Later, in an interview with Bergelt and the OIN Linux System Definition director Mirko Boehm, more questions were answered.

  • Programming/Development

    • 'We broke a few things and will continue to do so... in a careful way' – Oracle's Reinhold on Java renovation work
      The perennial Oracle OpenWorld sideshow previously known as JavaOne flowered again on Monday under a new name, Oracle Code One. The rebranding, as Stephen Chin, director of the Oracle developer community team, said in April, represents an effort to create a "bigger event that’s inclusive to more languages, technologies, and developer communities."

      Nonetheless, the Monday evening keynote opened with Georges Saab, veep of development for the Java platform group at Oracle, urging the audience of developers to call out to "a gentleman who did a previous keynote earlier today who's still backstage," presumably a deferential reference to Oracle executive chairman Larry Ellison who addressed an OpenWorld audience a few hours earlier.

    • Pulumi Launches Team Edition of Infrastructure as Code Platform
      In Kubernetes deployments, Helm charts are often used to define the architecture assets that will be deployed to enable a container application. Duffy said that Pulumi supports deploying Helm charts as part of an infrastructure provisioning process. Helm charts are written in YAML (Yet Another Markup Language), which can be quite verbose for complex configurations.

      "We actually took a 1,000-line Helm chart, which was a Jenkins cluster, converted it to Pulumi, and it went from 1,000 lines of YAML to 200 lines of JavaScript," he said.

    • Simulate Typing with This C Program
      After doing some searching, I couldn't find a command on my distribution that would simulate typing. I wasn't surprised; that's not a common thing people need to do. So instead, I rolled my own program to do it.

      Writing a program to simulate typing isn't as difficult as it first might seem. I needed my program to act like the echo command, where it displayed output given as command-line parameters. I added command-line options so I could set a delay between the program "typing" each letter, with an additional delay for spaces and newlines.


  • The NPC meme went viral when the media gave it oxygen

    It’s a double-edged sword that news organizations have contended with over the past few years: is it possible to explain a seemingly cryptic meme, especially one as insular and niche as this, to your readership without broadening its reach?

  • Science

    • Top Five: Weird Ocean Phenomena
      The ocean may conjure images of beautiful waves, shipwrecks, and marine life. But strange things happen in the ocean as a result of weather and currents. The five events described below are just a few of them.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • WHO Members Consider Possible Changes To Pandemic Influenza Framework
      A hundred years ago, the influenza pandemic known as the “Spanish flu” infected one-third of the world population, and resulted in an estimated 50 million deaths. Last week, the World Health Organization held a consultation on possible changes to its 2011 agreement to prepare for the next pandemic influenza. Two major questions were on the table: whether to extend its agreement to seasonal influenza, and how to deal with pandemic influenza genetic information, which is increasingly used instead of biological samples of viruses.

    • Women Are Speaking Up About Systemic Abuse in the US Food Industry
      In addition to the discrimination she faced when pregnant, Treviño-Sauceda personally experienced many other indignities during her years as an active farmworker, including repeated sexual harassment, which is so widespread in the farming sector that one 2010 study found that four out of five women farmworkers in the US have experienced sexual harassment or abuse at the hands of male coworkers and supervisors.

    • C-Sections Are Both Overused and Not Available When Needed, Study Shows
      Childbirth is often an experience of both pain and hard-won pride. But for Patrisse Cullors, a performance artist and co-founder of Black Lives Matter, her first childbirth experience left her feeling “embarrassed.” She had wanted a natural birth, but after complications emerged, she says, the doctor did a cesarean section without consulting her or explaining why. “I went into having a major surgery without knowing the impact or the implications — both short-term and long-term impacts on my body,” she recalls. For a long time afterward, she felt alienated and unnerved about how little control she had had in the process. “I felt like it was unnecessarily negligent,” she says.

      Her experience was also unnecessarily common.

      A new health care study published as a Lancet series maps out the global prevalence of cesarean sections, particularly those without underlying medical causes. Globally, the C-section rate has risen — in parallel with other trends such as women giving birth in hospitals rather than at home with midwives. At the same time, the data reveals a troubling contradiction: In rich countries, surgical delivery is overused, while women in poor countries cannot get C-sections that they need when vaginal birth is unsafe and surgery is medically necessary. As of 2015, about 20 percent of live births are done by C-section, ranging from less than 5 percent in East Africa, to a staggering 44 percent in Latin America and the Caribbean. In the US and North America as a whole, the C-section rate hovers around 30 percent. But the WHO recommends about 10 percent to 15 percent as a safe overall level.

  • Security

    • Security updates for Tuesday

    • Russia Linked to Disruptive Industrial Control Malware

      FireEye specifically traced the Triton intrusion malware to Russia's Central Scientific Research Institute of Chemistry and Mechanics, located in the Nagatino-Sadvoniki district of Moscow.

    • TRITON Attribution: Russian Government-Owned Lab Most Likely Built Custom Intrusion Tools for TRITON Attackers

      TEMP.Veles’ lateral movement activities used a publicly-available PowerShell-based tool, WMImplant. On multiple dates in 2017, TEMP.Veles struggled to execute this utility on multiple victim systems, potentially due to AV detection. Soon after, the customized utility was again evaluated in the malware testing environment. The following day, TEMP.Veles again tried the utility on a compromised system.

    • Triton malware shines light on threat facing energy production companies

      Dubbed “Triton”or “Trisis,” the malware disrupts an emergency shutdown capability in Schneider Electric’s Triconex safety instrumented system (SIS). By targeting this system, Triton makes it easier for an industrial control system (ICS) to fail and break down.

    • Triton: [crackers] take out safety systems in 'watershed' attack on energy plant

      Galina Antova, co-founder of cybersecurity firm Claroty, said safety systems “could be fooled to indicate that everything is OK” even as [crackers] damage a plant.

    • New "Triton" ICS Malware Used in Critical Infrastructure Attack

      The [crackers] deployed Triton on a Windows-based engineering workstation. The malware had left legitimate programs running on the controllers in place, but added its own programs to the execution table. The threat attempts to return the controller to a running state in case of a failure, or overwrite the malicious program with junk data if the attempt fails, likely in an effort to cover its tracks.

    • FireEye Finds New Clues in TRITON/TRISIS Attack

      Attackers behind the epic industrial-plant hack reverse-engineered the safety-monitoring system's proprietary protocol, researchers found.

    • Apps Installed On Millions Of Android Phones Tracked User Behavior To Execute A Multimillion-Dollar Ad Fraud Scheme

      But an investigation by BuzzFeed News reveals that these seemingly separate apps and companies are today part of a massive, sophisticated digital advertising fraud scheme involving more than 125 Android apps and websites connected to a network of front and shell companies in Cyprus, Malta, British Virgin Islands, Croatia, Bulgaria, and elsewhere. More than a dozen of the affected apps are targeted at kids or teens, and a person involved in the scheme estimates it has stolen hundreds of millions of dollars from brands whose ads were shown to bots instead of actual humans. (A full list of the apps, the websites, and their associated companies connected to the scheme can be found in this spreadsheet.)

    • Two new supply-chain attacks come to light in less than a week

      The second supply-chain attack to come to light this week involves a malicious package that was slipped into the official repository for the widely used Python programming language. Called “Colourama,” the package looked similar to Colorama, which is one of the top-20 most-downloaded legitimate modules in the Python repository. The doppelgänger Colourama package contained most of the legitimate functions of the legitimate module, with one significant difference: Colourama added code that, when run on Windows servers, installed this Visual Basic script. It constantly monitors the server’s clipboard for signs a user is about to make a cryptocurrency payment. When triggered, the script diverts the payments from the wallet address contained in the clipboard to an attacker-owned wallet.

    • Security updates for Wednesday

    • Episode 4: All About Security

    • Security embargoes at Red Hat
      The software security industry uses the term Embargo to describe the period of time that a security flaw is known privately, prior to a deadline, after which time the details become known to the public. There are no concrete rules (other than do not break the embargo, that is) for handling embargoed security flaws, but Red Hat uses some generally used security principles on how we handle them.

      When an issue is under embargo, Red Hat cannot share information about that issue prior to it becoming public after an agreed upon deadline. It is likely that any software project will have to deal with an embargoed security flaw at some point, and this is often the case for Red Hat.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Khashoggi, Erdogan and the Truth
      The Turkish account of the murder of Khashoggi given by President Erdogan is true, in every detail. Audio and video evidence exists and has been widely shared with world intelligence agencies, including the US, UK, Russia and Germany, and others which have a relationship with Turkey or are seen as influential. That is why, despite their desperate desire to do so, no Western country has been able to maintain support for Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman. I have not seen the video from inside the consulate, but have been shown stills which may be from a video. The most important thing to say is that they are not from a fixed position camera and appear at first sight consistent with the idea they are taken by the victim’s Apple watch. I was only shown them briefly. I have not heard the audio recording.

      There are many things to learn from the gruesome murder other than the justified outrage at the event itself. It opens a window on the truly horrible world of the extremely powerful and wealthy.

      The first thing to say is that the current Saudi explanation, that this was an intended interrogation and abduction gone wrong, though untrue, does have one thing going for it. It is their regular practice. The Saudis have for years been abducting dissidents abroad and returning them to the Kingdom to be secretly killed. The BBC World Service often contains little pockets of decent journalism not reflected in its main news outlets, and here from August 2017 is a little noticed piece on the abduction and “disappearance” of three other senior Saudis between 2015-17. Interestingly, while the piece was updated this month, it was not to include the obvious link to the Khashoggi case.

    • The US Tested Bombs on the Marshall Islands. Now, Victims Are Seeking Justice.
      A dozen years before Jiji Jally was born in the Marshall Islands, the US conducted the Bravo test, the single largest aboveground nuclear detonation in the world.

      The US’s nuclear bomb testing in the Marshall Islands amounted to the equivalent of detonating 1.6 Hiroshima bombs every single day for 12 years. The Bravo test on Bikini Atoll alone was the nuclear equivalent of more than 1,000 Hiroshima-sized bombs.

      Jally’s family, like hundreds of others, has lived with the scars of this ever since.

      “Everybody I know in the Marshall Islands has stories of cancer in their families,” Jally, who lives in Tumwater, Washington where she works as a court and medical interpreter, told Truthout.

      Her brother died in 2012, leaving behind his wife and two young boys. Given that he died in the Marshall Islands, which lacks any facilities to diagnose and treat cancer, the cause of his death is unknown. But Jally explained that he had a tumor, and believes it was from cancer.


      “The Cold War was not ‘cold’ for the Marshallese…it was hot,” Dr. Holly Barker, who is a professor at the University of Washington and a commissioner on the Republic of Marshall Islands National Nuclear Commission (a three-person commission with the goal of advancing nuclear justice for the Marshallese people), told Truthout. “‘Cold’ communicates the privilege of being far from the testing locations and not having to live with firsthand experiences with nuclear weapons.”

      President Donald Trump recently announced plans to remove the US from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty with Russia, a move which many fear could ignite a new nuclear arms race. The INF had banned all short and mid-rang nuclear and non-nuclear missiles, and helped to eliminate thousands of land-based missiles. Trump has also promised to build new nuclear weapons.

      As a deadly reminder of the lingering health impacts from nuclear weapons testing during the Cold War, untold numbers of Marshall Islands residents continue to seek healthcare, and justice, for having unwittingly been made human test subjects to nuclear tests.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Exclusive: Ecuador no longer to intervene with UK for Assange - foreign minister
      Ecuador does not plan to intervene with the British government on behalf of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in talks over his situation as an asylee in the South American country’s London embassy, Ecuador’s foreign minister said on Tuesday.


      The UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office did not immediately respond to emails seeking comment after normal business hours.

      Greg Barns, an Australian lawyer advising Assange, said in an email that “developments in the case in recent times” showed the need for Australia’s government to intervene to assist “one of its citizens who faces real danger.”

      This position marks a departure from Ecuador’s previous practice of maintaining dialogue with British authorities over Assange’s situation since granting him asylum in 2012, when he took refuge in Ecuador’s London Embassy after British courts ordered his extradition to Sweden to face questioning in a sexual molestation case.

    • Ecuador Will Not Assist Assange in Negotiations to Leave London Embassy
      Ecuador's Foreign Minister José Valencia told media on Tuesday that his country has no responsibility to assist Wikileaks founder Julian Assange in his legal negotiations with the United Kingdom. Assange has taken asylum inside Ecuador's embassy in London since 2012. The foreign minister also expressed Ecuador's 'frustration' with Assange's lawsuit against Ecuador over conditions of his asylum. He has been unable to leave to embassy since taking refuge there and was barred from the internet since March and his right to receive visitors and phone calls was later rescinded.

      "For him to take legal action against them risks creating an extremely hostile relationship, which could, of course, provoke the Ecuadorian authorities to take further measures against him," Wikileaks commentator and human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell told Sputnik News.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • How Five Climate Activists Shut Off the Equivalent of 15 Percent of US Oil
      Two years ago, 51-year-old poet Emily Johnston took a large pair of bolt cutters to a length of chain locked around the manual shut-off valve at an Enbridge, Inc. pipeline facility in Clearwater County, Minnesota. As part of a coordinated action on October 11, 2016, with activists in three other states — all of whom would shortly be known as “the Valve Turners” — Johnston intended to stop the flow of oil from Canada’s tar sands into the United States.

      Activist and retired attorney Annette Klapstein joined Johnston in the action in Clearwater, and before Johnston snapped the cutters through the chain, their collaborator Benjamin Joldersma called Enbridge as a safety precaution to inform the corporation of their intention to close the pipeline minutes later. Once the chain was removed, Johnston took the yellow-orange shutoff valve into her hands. With Klapstein looking on and Joldersma filming, she turned the wheel.

      Since the Valve Turners’ nonviolent direct action in October 2016, environmental groups’ use of this tactic in their fight for the climate has only grown. Earlier this year, actions by First Nations organizers played a major role in halting the expansion of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain oil pipeline. Around the same time, activists protesting the Mountain Valley Pipeline crouched under tarps in tree platforms in the proposed pipelines’ path along West Virginia’s border. Just last Friday, water protectors opposed to Energy Transfer Partner’s Bayou Bridge Pipeline in Louisiana locked themselves to the front gates of the CEO’s mansion in Dallas.

    • What is It About Bears?
      Occasional attacks on humans and the aversion of many people to any form of wildlife hunting notwithstanding, bears are irresistible. However vulnerable we may be, humans can’t shake our unparalleled attraction to these bulky, really quite graceless creatures.

      We are smitten not only by pictures of bears; we’re enthralled by the sight of live bears. Whether on two legs grabbing berries or bounding across meadows on all fours, bears in the wild are especially mesmerizing; more than deer who, although not necessarily faster than bears, quickly disappear into the foliage. Our ursine creatures seem to prefer open spaces, even during daylight hours. A spectacle for any passerby.

  • Finance

    • A New Report Shows the White House Is Terrified of Socialism

      In what reads like a Red Bull–addled college freshman’s attempt to parse their introductory economics course through a first-response paper, the White House Council of Economic Advisers (!) explains that “In the market system, people spend their own money, and are therefore more careful how much to spend and on what the money is spent. To the extent that they also use what they purchased…they are also more discerning, so that the items purchased are of good value. They will gather and consider information that helps compare the value of different options.” If they keep at it, a few weeks from now, they might even learn the formula for the consumption function!

    • Danske Bank value plummets in midst of money laundering scandal

      Following a depreciation in share price on Tuesday, Danske Bank, Denmark’s biggest lender, has now seen its market value fall by 100 billion kroner since the beginning of the year.

      During 2018, the bank has faced reports of possible money laundering related to more than 200 billion euros transferred through its Estonian branch.

    • Helping people to find common ground on Brexit
      On the first day of October 2018 I did something I’d never done before: I went to the UK Conservative party conference in Birmingham. The theme of the event I attended was ‘Chuck Chequers’ – a reference to Prime Minister Theresa May’s controversial plan for Brexit. It was organised by the Bruges Group, which takes its inspiration from a speech made by Margaret Thatcher in Bruges in 1988. The most quoted part of that speech was her statement that "We have not successfully rolled back the frontiers of the state in Britain, only to see them re-imposed at a European level."

      I went to Birmingham because, as someone who voted Remain in the EU referendum, I wanted to talk to people who voted Leave, to try and understand their position. We might not agree, I thought, but at least an honest dialogue might start to overcome the polarisation to which the Brexit vote has led. I particularly wanted to see if I could voice my concerns without getting into a slanging match.

      Waiting for the event to begin, I talked to a woman called Monica. Despite being part-Italian she was a Leaver believer, but the conversation started well. We identified a shared value, that of democracy, and explored the other values we held that had led us to such different conclusions. Then the speakers spoke, with applause at its loudest when Conservative MP Owen Patterson promised to vote against the Chequers plan.

    • Corruption and Gentrification in Post-Industrial Buffalo
      I’m visiting Buffalo, New York, for the first time. Visiting rustbelt cities anywhere is very much the occasion for a jumble of experiences.

      Detroit tries mightily, but with no support from national let alone global capital, all its efforts have to be local and extremely hard-won.

      Pittsburgh is a much-publicized success story. With two internationally-renowned universities as the hinge, it turned the corner from moribund heavy industry to a focus on the medical sciences and high tech that has been successful, at any rate for their beneficiaries.

      Cleveland has not yet had Pittsburgh’s success, but with a focus on the medical sciences and the performing arts (the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is located there, as well as a world famous symphony orchestra), its overall prospects are still reckoned by observers to be on the bright side.


      The only way to achieve both of the above is an active societal arrangement that allows the talented to flourish, but which does not view their flourishing as a zero-sum game where the talented are allowed to succeed only by putting a boot on the neck of those who start life with a ball and chain round their ankles.

    • Trump and Taxes: The Art of the Dodge — “Trump, Inc.” Podcast
      From the moment during the presidential campaign that Donald Trump broke decades of precedent and declined to release his personal tax returns, the issue of Trump and the taxes he has paid (or not paid) has been the subject of widespread fascination, scrutiny and not a little controversy. That scrutiny ratcheted up significantly in recent weeks with two substantial media investigations of the tax-paying practices of Trump’s family and those of Trump in-law and White House official Jared Kushner.

      This week’s episode of “Trump, Inc.” brings clarity to a complex subject. It identifies three patterns in the president’s approach to taxes. First, it describes a history of ignoring norms (which, for presidential candidates, include releasing tax returns). Second, it delves into a recent New York Times investigation — which concluded that the president’s family committed “outright fraud” — to show a history of breaking tax rules. Finally, it examines Trump’s ability to change tax rules to benefit himself and his wealthy peers.

    • The Gullible Media Fell for Trump Bogus 'New Tax Cut' Scheme — Will Voters?
      Donald Trump is either lying about tax cuts, in search of headlines to fool voters who saw through the first Republican tax bill as a giveaway to corporations and the wealthy, or he’s even more delusional than the conspiracy theorists thought. Trump has repeatedly insisted in recent days that a major middle-class tax cut is coming, even though Congress is not in session to pass anything and has no concrete plans matching Trump’s description.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Alert: Don't Believe Everything You Read About the Migrant Caravan

      Misinformation is not isolated to the right. In some leftist groups, a theory is percolating that the whole migrant caravan could have been cooked up by Republican operatives looking to turn out more GOP voters.

      It’s unclear at the moment what role automation is playing in misinformation around the caravan, though many of the Twitter accounts sharing these talking points are tweeting the exact same phrases hundreds of times a day, which could be an indication of bot activity.

    • Supreme Court Justice's Wife Spreads Fake News About Mexican Police Officer Beaten Up by Migrant 'Caravan'
      On Tuesday, Virginia "Ginni" Thomas, the wife of far-right Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, posted an image to Facebook purporting to show the violent nature of the so-called migrant "caravan" now making its way through Mexico. The image depicted what is purported to be the severly bloodied face of a Mexican police officer who was assaulted by the migrants.

      "The media won't share THIS, will they?" she wrote. "It is an invasion, and thank GOD for President Trump."

    • Fake news ‘threat to democracy’ report gets back-burner response from UK gov’t

      The recommendation of a levy on social media platforms was made by the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee three months ago, in a preliminary report following a multi-month investigation into the impact of so-called ‘fake news’ on democratic processes.

      Though it has suggested the terms ‘misinformation’ and ‘disinformation’ be used instead, to better pin down exact types of problematic inauthentic content — and on that at least the government agrees. But just not on very much else. At least not yet.

    • Russian [astroturfers] get DM from US Cyber Command: We know who you are. Stop it

    • Democratic Mailer in Texas Referred to Attorney General’s Office
      The Texas secretary of state’s office has asked the state’s attorney general to investigate a mailer sent by the state’s Democratic Party this year that critics say could entice noncitizens to register to vote.

      The mailer, sent out in late September and early October, included a voter registration form for the recipient to fill out. Though most of the form was left blank, a checkbox indicating that the person filling out the form was a U.S. citizen was pre-checked.

      In response, the secretary of state’s office received an “inordinate number” of calls from perplexed noncitizens, relatives of deceased individuals and already-registered voters in the days leading up to the state’s Oct. 9 registration deadline, according to Sam Taylor, director of communications for the secretary of state.
    • Idahoans are voting early. Here’s turnout so far, & a tip to skip lines in Boise
      First, he found the Ada County’s mobile voting truck sitting outside of the Eagle Public Library. But its line was long. So, he said, he drove down to the county elections office on Benjamin Lane, where the parking lot was too full for him to park.

      He drove back to Eagle — and waited an hour for his turn with a ballot.

      “It’s a great concept,” Marino, of Boise, said about the mobile voting. “I don’t know if they were prepared for that many people though.”

    • Imposing ‘Balance’ Requires Distortion of Palestine/Israel Struggle
      Since the Palestinians’ Great Return March began on March 30, Israel has killed 217 Palestinians in Gaza, 163 of whom were participating in the demonstrations. Among the dead are 33 children, three paramedics and four people with disabilities; Israel has injured a further 11,155 Palestinians, many of whom will be maimed for life.

      The media’s attempt to present a “balanced” version of these events is a fundamentally flawed approach, because it erases myriad, consequential differences: between colonizer and colonized; between oppressing people and people resisting oppression; between, on the one hand, the regional military superpower backed by the global hegemon and, on the other, unarmed and lightly armed protestors.

      These inequities are buried when Palestine/Israel is presented as though it were a civil war, or a “he said, she said” story where the reality of what’s happening—ethnic cleansing, apartheid and resistance to these—is impossible to unravel. Such “both sides” coverage wrongly suggests to readers that this is a mere “conflict” between parties on equal footing and with equally valid claims of injury against each other. It is the formal expression of what I show in my book, The Wrong Story: Palestine, Israel and the Media, is the false narrative that Israelis and Palestinians have harmed each other to a roughly comparable degree, and share proportionate responsibility for the absence of peace.
    • Texas Trump Voter Tells MSNBC He's Supporting Beto O’Rourke Because the President’s Rallies Are ‘Absolutely Insane’
      A former Trump voter told MSNBC on Tuesday that he had decided to vote for Democratic Senate nominee Beto O’Rourke because President Donald Trump’s rhetoric had become “absolutely insane.”

      Reporting from a polling place in Houston, Texas, MSNBC’s Vaughn Hillyard spoke to one “conservative” voter about how Trump’s rallies had influenced his vote.

    • Mail-in voters: Got a postcard saying your ballot isn’t in? Here’s what may have happened.
      Jonathan Goldfarb was confused by the postcard at first. In bold letters, it read: "IMPORTANT ELECTION NOTICE," and then, smaller, "ACCORDING TO OUR RECORDS, YOU RECEIVED A VOTE-BY-MAIL BALLOT, BUT HAVE NOT YET RETURNED IT."

      Except, Goldfarb said, he had already sent back his completed ballot.

      "It did seem like something from the state," he said. " I knew that we had already returned (the ballot), but (the card) doesn't have a date."

      He visited a website listed on the card and reached a page to check his voter status. Goldfarb, 30, of Satellite Beach, learned his county supervisor of elections had received his ballot.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Axios Ridiculously Calls For Newsrooms To Ban Journalists From Having Opinions Online
      The problem, as you'll often see in modern reporting, is this bid to embrace false equivalency often tends to ignore what's actually true. It's a major contributor to the partisan strife that's ripping the country apart, and it's frequently exploited by companies and politicians who use it to perpetuate outright falsehoods, since even the dumbest ideas must, under this model, be treated with perfect journalistic symmetry. The problem is a journalist's job isn't just to just report cold claims, it's to get to the truth -- often by adding necessary context. Trump's manipulation of the press is the pinnacle of this dysfunction.

      One extension of the view from nowhere is the newsroom idea that journalists should be unfeeling automatons on social media, hiding their true opinions (even if those opinions are fueled by years of experience on a subject) from readers, especially when engaging on social media. Case in point: late last week Axios co-founder and CEO Jim VandeHei penned this blog post in which he proclaimed to have devised a solution to the "fake news" problem that's currently plaguing the world.

    • Google, the “Good Censor,” is Going to Think for You
      The document, which Google has officially characterized as research, is infuriatingly vague about whether the company has made any decisions or taken any action. So think of all this as a guidepost, like the Ghost of Christmas Future showing us the worst case scenario.

      The company is talking about changing the rules so the freedom to speak will no longer exist independent of the content of speech. What you can say could depend on Google’s opinion of whether or not it will negatively affect others. To Google, the personal liberty of freedom of speech might need to be balanced against collective well-being. The company acknowledges for the first time it has the responsibility and power to unilaterally adjudicate this battle between “free-for-all and civil-for-most” versions of society.

      We probably should be paying more attention to how they plan to do this, but because the document leaked on Breitbart, and because the initial rounds of censorship have impacted right of center, it has received little critical attention. But the significance of Google’s plans extends beyond the left-right fight; which content is censored is easily changed. If this plan is implemented, everything you will ever read online will be judged before it reaches you. Or doesn’t reach you.

    • Facebook Censorship of Alternative Media "Just the Beginning," Says Top Neocon Insider - Grayzone Project

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • This Tor-Enabled SIM Card Will Keep You Anonymous On Mobile Networks [Ed: I doubt this can work as advertised; for calls to be routed to you your identity will need to be known by the network. So for phonecalls (at least) you don't get anonymity.]
      In this world of online tracking and surveillance, maintaining online privacy can be quite a challenge. Your ISP or VPN provider can technically keep a log of everything that you do online — so what do we do?

      Tor is an answer that solves this problem and helps in securing online privacy and evading surveillance. However, configuring the setup can be a pain.

      So a UK-based enterprise Brass Horns Communications is currently testing a data only-SIM card that automatically routes all your mobile data traffic through the Tor network.

    • 'City of surveillance': privacy expert quits Toronto's smart-city project
      When it was announced last year that a district in Toronto would be handed over to a company hoping to build a model for new tech-driven smart city, critics were quick to voice concerns.

      Despite Justin Trudeau’s exclamation that, through a partnership with Google’s sister company Sidewalk Labs, the waterfront neighborhood could help turn the area into a “thriving hub for innovation”, questions immediately arose over how the new wired town would collect and protect data.

      A year into the project, those questions have resurfaced following the resignation of a privacy expert, Dr Ann Cavoukian, who claimed she left her consulting role on the initiative to “send a strong statement” about the data privacy issues the project still faces.

    • Chicago City Clerk Calls for Reforms of Vehicle Sticker Program
      The proposals include a payment plan, of sorts, that would allow drivers to buy stickers for four-month periods at prorated prices; a limited program to waive late penalties; and a campaign to educate the public about the city’s sticker requirements.

      “We want to help people come into compliance before they even get tickets,” Valencia told the Chicago City Council’s budget committee. “I’d rather do something than nothing to get people into compliance.”
    • EFF Sues San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department to Obtain Records About Use of Privacy Invasive Cell-Site Simulators
      San Bernardino, California—The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) sued the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department today to gain access to records about search warrants where cell-site simulators, devices that allow police to locate and track people by tricking their cell phones into a connection, were authorized in criminal investigations.

      EFF seeks the records to investigate whether California law enforcement agencies are complying with the California Electronic Communications Privacy Act (CalECPA). The law, co-sponsored by EFF and passed in 2015, protects Californians’ personal information by requiring police to obtain a warrant to access people’s digital records—such as emails and geographic location information stored on devices or in the cloud—and notify those whose records are being sought. Police can only bypass the warrant requirement under CalECPA if the records’ owner consents to the search or the records are needed in a life-or death-emergency.

      Cell-site simulators, also known as Stingrays, are highly invasive surveillance tools that can scoop up the location of all cell phones in a targeted area, the vast majority of which belong to people not suspected of committing any crime. Using cell-site simulators to locate a person’s phone and track the phone’s movements generally requires police to obtain a warrant under CalECPA. Agencies are also required to provide information to the California Department of Justice (DOJ) about warrants that don’t identify a specific target or in cases where they want to delay notifying the target. The DOJ then makes the information available to the public, a key transparency provision of the law.

    • Amazon Pitches Facial Recognition to Monitor Immigrants Inc. in June pitched its facial recognition technology -- which can identify people from surveillance footage using image databases -- as a tool for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, showing that Amazon continued to push the software to law enforcement agencies as criticism swirled from the company’s workforce and civil liberties groups.

      Employees in the Amazon Web Services cloud-computing unit met with the federal agency in California to present its artificial intelligence tools, according to emails obtained by the nonprofit Project on Government Oversight.
    • Amazon Offers Its Facial Recognition AI For Identifying Illegal Immigrants
      Reportedly, Amazon employees from cloud-computing department met with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials, back in June. The meeting motive was to pitch the company’s facial recognition technology, according to the e-mails obtained by the nonprofit Project on Government Oversight.

      As Bloomberg writes, Amazon presented many tools on general machine learning capabilities within Amazon Web Services. However, the main AI tool showcased was Rekognition: a facial recognition tool developed by Amazon to quickly identify people in photos and videos.

    • ICANN63: The “Practical Peace Project” – Tested By IP Rights Concerns And A Privacy Tussle
      The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is struggling over Europe’s privacy legislation. Is there a data “war” in the making? It is exactly 20 years since the founding of ICANN and two years after being finally fully privatized, and the self-regulatory internet domain name body has been named a “practical peace project underway” by its President and CEO Göran Marby. But it is now struggling with an old issue: privacy and access to personal information in the Whois database.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • The Fan Bingbing saga shows China’s willingness to control overly wealthy celebrities

      For more than a decade, Fan has been a strong, powerful woman adored by the public. Her demure apology and obeisance to Beijing is exactly what the government sought by singling her out: a return to the status quo that would put her in her place. Underneath the surface accusations of tax evasion and extravagant excess, there was another story unfolding: a subtle power struggle between China’s strong woman and its strongman leader. The latter appears to have won.

    • Prank calls brought ICE hotline to a standstill, internal emails show

      But that description sharply understated the effectiveness of the protest, internal emails and documents obtained by The Verge under the Freedom of Information Act show. Prank calls fully upended the system, leaving operators unable to answer more than 98 percent of incoming calls during the protest as the media relations team attempted to contain the narrative.

    • Report Documents ‘Lucrative Relationship’ Between Tech Companies And Trump’s Deportation Machine
      A trio of immigration and Latinx-focused organizations committed to the abolition of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) released a report on the “lucrative relationship” between tech companies and ICE.

      According to the report [PDF], “Who’s Behind ICE? The Tech and Data Companies Fueling Deportations,” major corporations, like Amazon Web Services and Palantir, have “built a ‘revolving door’ to develop and entrench Silicon Valley’s role in fueling the incarceration and deportation regimes.”

      If allowed to go “unchecked,” Mijente, the National Immigration Project, and the Immigrant Defense Project contend tech companies will continue to develop systems that target and punish those deemed “undesirable”—especially “immigrants, people of color, the incarcerated and formerly incarcerated, activists, and others.”

      The report urges states, cities, and municipalities that have “sanctuary city” policies to expand those systems by ending contracts, which allow for “unfettered information sharing” and biometric collection to and from ICE. They call for the severing of contracts with “private data brokers” that enable ICE’s deportation regime, as well as the dismantling of “predictive policing programs.”

      Many employees of companies like Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and Salesforce, with ICE and other government agency contracts, have protested their management’s decision to permit President Donald Trump’s administration to use their services to target immigrants.

    • The violent reality of the EU border: police brutality in the Balkans
      In the orange glow of the evening sun, a steady stream of refugees can be seen returning to their makeshift encampments near the Bosnian border-town of Velika Kladuša. Some wear bandages from previous ‘push backs’ from Croatia. Others ask us where they might find treatment for newly inflicted wounds. ‘They hit me on the backbone’ explains one man, lifting his shirt. Another refugee, recently returned from his first attempt to reach Italy, carefully rolls up his sleeve to reveal the bruises he sustained from his forced-deportation.

      As we write this article, refugees are being beaten, robbed and traumatised by Croatian police, while they attempt to claim asylum in the EU. Their clandestine journeys from Bosnia through to Italy, via Croatia and Slovenia, are referred to by refugees here as “the game”.

      But for many of the displaced people we talked to in north-west Bosnia, the violence of the border is taking a heavy toll. Thanks to the flagrant human rights violations of Croatian police – with the tacit complicity of EU authorities - “the game” is no laughing matter.

    • The Little Rock Drug Raid Story Is A Fourth Amendment Story. But It's Also A First Amendment One.
      The Little Rock drug raid story is appalling. The indiscriminate, repeated, and systemic violation of the Fourth Amendment has been enormously destructive to people's lives, as well as an entire community. But if this situation is to be remedied, and hopefully it will be, it will be thanks to the First Amendment.

      Most obviously, the First Amendment is what has allowed for Radley Balko's reporting of the story. Speaking truth about power is only possible with strong press protection. By allowing injustice to be discovered and shared, justice becomes possible. With Balko's reporting the public at large can now be aware of the abuse being done in their name, and the revelation is what will allow people to press for change. As it is, publication of the story has already led to charges being dropped against one of its other victims.

    • “We’re Not Migrating, We’re Fleeing”: Hondurans’ Perilous Journey North
      Fernando lifts up his shirt to show a sizeable scar on his abdomen, the result of an attack by robbers. Born in the Honduran coastal city of Tela, he was shot 10 times by thieves who wanted to take his bicycle. After barely surviving that episode, he knew he had to leave his homeland.

      Fernando, who, like many migrants here at the Mexico-Guatemala border, did not feel comfortable providing his full name, has joined the migrant caravan that is destined for the United States.

    • Supreme Court Shields Wilbur Ross From Testifying Under Oath About His Perjury
      Intensifying widespread fears that the recent addition of Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court will solidify the judicial body’s power to act as a legal shield for President Donald Trump’s astonishingly corrupt administration, the high court ruled Monday night that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross will not have to testify in a lawsuit challenging the White House’s overtly discriminatory move to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

      Given that Ross appears to have lied under oath at least twice about the decision to add the citizenship question to the census — first about his central role in pushing for the addition, and then about the crucial advisory roles played by Trump’s racist former aide Steve Bannon and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach — the Supreme Court’s order protecting Ross from sitting for a deposition was described as a “major blow” for the coalition of civil rights groups and state attorneys general working to stop the White House from rigging the census against immigrants and communities of color.

      Vox’s Matt Yglesias argued in a tweet on Monday that the fundamental reason the Supreme Court decided to shield Ross from testifying is because the court “is run by Republicans who want to help other Republicans rig the 2020 census so they can elect more Republicans.”

    • ‘The US Immigration System Is Inherently Abusive and Violent and Racist’ - CounterSpin interview with Tina Vasquez on immigration reporting
      In a typical corporate media story on the family separations and deportations and asylum denials that define immigration policy under Donald Trump, the images and sometimes voices of immigrants are essentially illustrative. They add “color” and specificity, but they, their actions, don’t generally set the frame of the story. The objects of policy, immigrants still somehow are not the central subjects, the main drivers, of the story of their lives.
    • Conservative Lawsuit Against Harvard Could End Affirmative Action
      Four decades ago, the US Supreme Court cited the admissions program at Harvard College as an “illuminating example” of how race could be used as one of several factors in college admissions.

      “This kind of program treats each applicant as an individual in the admissions process,” the court noted of Harvard’s holistic admissions program in the 1978 affirmative action case known as Regents of the University of California v. Bakke.

      Holistic admissions is a comprehensive process where more than one reviewer considers factors beyond academic merit, including but not limited to race.

      Ironically, the admissions program at Harvard College is now under fire in a federal district court in Boston.

    • What Will the Next Year of #MeToo Bring?
      It’s one year since the #MeToo movement began — and we’re still feeling the impact of survivors of sexual assault stepping forward and finally having their long-silenced voices heard.

      From Hollywood actors shining a light on some rich and powerful abusers, to McDonald’s workers coming together for a one-day-strike, to the thousands who took the streets to oppose Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, survivors have found their voice, supporters of women’s rights have seen their power in numbers — and we’ve also learned how far we still need to go.

      For all the people who sat glued to the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings when Dr. Christine Blasey Ford described Kavanaugh’s assault — and then saw Kavanaugh’s defiant response — there could be no question that we have a fight on our hands.

      Donald Trump — himself accused of sexual misconduct by at least 19 women — made it clear what he thought about the accusations against Kavanaugh when he mocked Blasey Ford’s testimony at a campaign stop.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • NBN Co chair rules out write-down, says network could sell for $50b

      The chairman of NBN Co, the company rolling out Australia's national broadband network, has told Senate Estimates that the NBN could still fetch a price of $50 billion once it is fully rolled out in 2021.

    • Canada snubs US bid to push it to ban Huawei from 5G

      Canada has ignored an attempt by two US politicians to push it to omit Chinese telecommunications equipment supplier Huawei Technologies from the country's 5G networks, deciding instead to continue using the company's products, albeit under existing conditions.

    • 3 states try to help the FCC kill net neutrality and preempt state laws

      The Federal Communications Commission's repeal of net neutrality rules has received support from the Republican attorneys general of Texas, Arkansas, and Nebraska.

      The three states filed a brief Friday in the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, urging judges to reject a lawsuit filed against the FCC by 22 other states. The action highlights a partisan split among state attorneys general: states with Democratic attorneys general are fighting to save net neutrality while states with Republican attorneys general are either fighting against net neutrality or standing on the sidelines.

    • The Heavy Focus on 5G Wireless Means We Are Ignoring 68 Million Americans Facing High-Speed Cable Monopolies
      All across the country right now, major wireless Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are talking to legislators, mayors, regulators, and the press about the potential of 5G wireless services as if they will cure all of the problems Americans face right now in the high-speed access market. But the cold hard reality is the newest advancements in wireless services will probably do very little about the high-speed monopolies that a majority of this country faces. According to a ground-breaking study by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, more than 68 million Americans facing high-speed cable monopolies today.

      This is why we see wild claims about how 5G will do things like solve rural America’s lack of access to broadband or that wireless broadband will be just as good as any wireline service (it won’t). In reality, we are already woefully behind South Korea and many countries in the EU. In essence, 5G is being aggressively marketed in policy circles because it provides a useful distraction from the fundamental fact that the United States market is missing out on 21st century broadband access, affordable prices, and extraordinary advancements coming from fiber to the home (FTTH) networks. Rather than aggressively wire the country for the future, major competitors to cable companies are opting for 5G because it will cost about half as much as FTTH to deploy and allows them to avoid directly competing with cable. In effect, they are splitting the market with each other and hope policymakers do not notice.

    • T-Mobile CEO Insists New Merger Will Create Jobs, Competition. Wall Street, History Disagree.
      Historically, telecom mergers don't end well for consumers or employees. Usually in the wake of these deals nothing much happens for about a year, after which the acquiring company begins trimming back redundant positions and offices. In telecom, growth for growth's sake also usually has a detrimental impact on customer service, investment in which takes a back seat to getting acquired systems and employees in sync (see: Comcast). And more often than not, mindless consolidation in telecom tends to reduce competition, resulting in higher prices no matter how many promises to the contrary are made by the merging companies (see: Charter, Time Warner Cable).

      As T-Mobile and Sprint attempt to merge, their executives are throwing out all the usual claims ahead of such mergers: that the merger will create immeasurable "synergies"; that the reduction of major U.S. wireless competitors from four to three will somehow create competition; that the deal will somehow make it easier for them to deploy next-gen "5G" networks; and that the deal will somehow magically create oodles of new jobs.

    • Internet Memes Are Making UK Children Fat, Say Researchers Who Don't Understand Memes
      Literally anything can be the basis of a moral panic. The internet's mere existence has prompted all sorts of panickers (professional and lay) to blame any number of things/concepts for destroying the youth of the world. If it's not teens getting high by huffing MP3s with their eyeballs and ears, it's Minecraft creating unrealistic home-building expectations or IoT devices creating a generation of automaton abusers.

      For those that buy into this thinking, it seems plausible because it's happening in the present. With technology being indiscernible from magic, the academics behind these questionable assertions are no more than shamans guiding the faithful towards conclusions that cohere with their prejudices. If they didn't have X growing up, chances are X is what's ruining their kids. A little history would go a long way. I mean, at one point in time, chess -- the game of kings and gifted elementary school students -- was considered to be the Grand Theft Auto of its day, capable of turning players into cold-blooded killers.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Patents and the Administrative State
      When Justice Gorsuch was confirmed to the Supreme Court, many commentators, well, commented that he was wary of administrative overreach. But it turns out he was really active in patent cases, writing opinions in all the patent cases he saw last term. Who knew he was so interested in patents? He does have some IP chops; his opinion in Meshworks remains one of my favorite copyright cases, not the least of which because it validates a legal argument I made about virtual reality copyright some 25 years ago. I was able to cite that case in a recent book chapter on the same subject.

      But it turns out that his interest in patents may be one and the same as his concern about the administrative state. We suspected as much with Oil States, but what about the others? To answer this, Daniel Kim and Jonathan Stroud (both of Unified Patents) have an article forthcoming in the Chicago-Kent Journal of Intellectual Property called Administrative Oversight: Justice Gorsuch’s Patent Opinions, the PTAB, and Antagonism Toward the Administrative State.

    • Copyrights

      • Italy Steps Up To Defend EU Internet Users Against Copyright Filters – Who Will Be Next?
        What is going on with Europe’s meme-filtering Article 13 (and the hyperlink-meddling Article 11)? After the proposals sneaked over the finish line in a close European Parliamentary vote in July, the decision-making has dipped out of the spotlight into the backrooms of the EU. Behind the scenes, attitudes are still shifting against the new Internet rules. Italy’s domestic government has now taken a strong position against the bill. If they hear from EU citizens, other governments may shift too.

        The Copyright in the Digital Single Market Directive — the legal instrument that hold both articles — is now in its “trilogue” phase. That’s where the governments of the EU’s member countries send their permanent representatives and legal experts to huddle in meeting rooms with the Parliament’s negotiators, and thrash out a text that works for the central European Parliament and the governments of individual European countries (who have to implement and enforce it).

        Under normal circumstances, the trilogue should be a fine-tuned bureaucratic debate on the subtle legal details of the Directive, with member states contributing their understanding of their own legal systems, and the Parliament’s negotiators offering to change wordings to reflect those practicalities.

      • Mexico Reverses Ban On Selling Roku Hardware After Absurd Piracy Ruling
        So just about a year ago the Mexican court system decided to ban all Roku streaming hardware from being sold in Mexico. The ban was the result of legal action taken by Mexican cable company Cablevision, which accused Roku of facilitating piracy. How? While Roku devices are more locked down than many of the more open home media PC solutions (also the target of endless pearl clutching and hyperventilation by the entertainment industry), users can install certain unofficial, third-party "private" channels that provide access to pirated live streams of cable content.

        While Roku went out of its way to try and lock down their hardware, some users paid hackers a few bucks to crack open and modify the devices anyway, letting them access the dubious third-party channels in question.
      • El-P: We Make Our Music Available For Free And Trust Our Fans To Support Us, And We Always Will
        In the pantheon of massively talented musical acts that also get and embrace the power of the internet, of using free music to make money, and of emergent business models, the folks behind Run The Jewels stand particularly tall. The duo, Killer Mike and El-P, have managed to make themselves household names through a combination of freely available music, a positive and often humorous level of interaction with their fans, and the kind of forthright public statements that create a bond with those that follow them. It's all so perfectly well done that you would think Run The Jewels was following some kind of a script, but it is pleasantly obvious that these are just really good guys who happen to also make fantastic music. They also occasionally, and far too infrequently, write blog posts, including for Techdirt.

        The most recent version of all of this started with a Twitter user complaining to El-P that he or she typically listens to RTJ on Spotify and had no idea where to get their albums. Another Twitter account piped up confirming that, like the rest of the RTJ catalog, the albums were available for free download on the group's website. That same Twitter account mentioned that he also bought the albums through iTunes purely out of a desire to support RTJ. This, of course, happens quite frequently, which is virtually ignored by the "Piracy is killing music, argghghgh!" crowd.
      • EFF's Letter to the EU's Copyright Directive Negotiators
        I write today on behalf of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, to raise urgent issues related to Articles 11 and 13 of the upcoming Copyright in the Digital Single Market Directive, currently under discussion in the Trilogues.

        The Electronic Frontier Foundation is the leading nonprofit organization defending civil liberties in the digital world. Founded in 1990, EFF champions user privacy, free expression, and innovation through impact litigation, policy analysis, grassroots activism, and technology development. We work to ensure that rights and freedoms are enhanced and protected as our use of technology grows. We are supported by over 37,000 donating members around the world, including around three thousand within the European Union.

        We believe that Articles 11 and 13 are ill-considered and should not be EU law, but even stipulating that systems like the ones contemplated by Articles 11 and 13 are desirable, the proposed text of the articles in both the Parliament and Council texts contain significant deficiencies that will subvert their stated purpose while endangering the fundamental human rights of Europeans to free expression, due process, and privacy.
      • Appeals Court Tells Georgia: State Code Can’t be Copyrighted
        In a democracy, people should have the right to read, and publish, the law. In theory, that should be easier than ever today. The Internet has vastly improved public access to the “operating system” of our government—the local, state, and federal statutes and regulations we are expected to abide by.

        Unfortunately, some states have actually fought against easy access to the law. In Georgia, state officials have used copyright to extract fees and reward companies with state contracts.

        On Friday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit handed down a powerful opinion that struck down the state of Georgia’s attempt to use copyright to suppress publication of its own laws. The ruling, which gives Georgians the right to read and publish the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, or OCGA, may also improve public access to legislative documents in other states. It’s just in time for this year’s Open Access Week, a time to celebrate the social benefits that we all reap when information is readily accessible.

        The case originated when Georgia’s Code Revision Commission threatened, and ultimately sued, open records activist Carl Malamud and his organization Public.Resource.Org (PRO). In an effort to make Georgia’s official laws easily accessible, Malamud had bought a hard copy of the OCGA, paying more than $1,200 for it. (The 11th Circuit opinion reports that a copy currently costs $404, although it isn’t clear if that price applies to non-residents.) Malamud then scanned the books, and sent each Georgia legislator a USB stick with two full copies—one of the scanned OCGA, and another encoded in XML format.

      • YouTube: New EU Copyright Law Could “Drastically Change the Internet”

        YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki has issued a stark warning over the amendments to copyright law recently voted on by the EU Parliament. Wojcicki says the current wording of Article 13 threatens to "shut down" the ability of millions of people to upload content to sites like YouTube, could prevent EU users from viewing content that is already live on the platform, while threatening "hundreds of thousands" of jobs.

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