04.29.18

Links 29/4/2018: Microsoft Excuses, Mesa 18.1 RC2, and Mesa 18.0.2

Posted in News Roundup at 11:30 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • E-waste warrior slapped with 15-month sentence for flogging Windows restore discs

      At US federal judge agreed with Microsoft’s viewpoint and found Lundgren guilty of infringing copyrigh[t]. Lundgren then challenged the verdict at the US Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, but the court decided to uphold the judge’s decision.

    • E-waste guru going to prison says cracking down on refurbishers is ‘harmful to society’

      Lundgren, who’s also an electric vehicle inventor, ordered a shipment of the discs and provided them to a Florida broker, with plans to move them on to computer refurbishers. The broker eventually asked Lundgren to personally purchase them instead — only for Lundgren to discover the sale was part of a government sting operation.

      In court, Lundgren pleaded guilty but argued that the value of the discs was zero, as the software was made freely available online to restore broken computers. But the courts sided with the prosecution, which was assisted by Microsoft. The company said in a statement this week that providing software as Lundgren did “exposes people who purchase recycled PCs to malware and other forms of cybercrime, which puts their security at risk and ultimately hurts the market for recycled products.”

    • Microsoft responds to e-waste recycler’s jail sentence: ‘he was counterfeiting Windows software’

      One of the core issues of the case was the value of the software Lundgren was attempting to distribute. Lundgren and an expert witness contend that the value was essentially zero. That’s because, they argue, the actual value of the software should have been in the license to use the software, not in the restore software itself — which can be downloaded for free from Microsoft’s own website.

    • Microsoft attempts to spin its role in counterfeiting case [Ed: Microsoft is - and always has been - a company of thieves, liars, crooks and criminals that work for spy agencies to get away with crimes (immunity from the state)]

      Earlier this week Eric Lundgren was sentenced to 15 months in prison for selling what Microsoft claimed was “counterfeit software,” but which was in fact only recovery CDs loaded with data anyone can download for free. The company has now put up a blog post setting “the facts” straight, though it’s something of a limited set of those facts.

      “We are sharing this information now and responding publicly because we believe both Microsoft’s role in the case and the facts themselves are being misrepresented,” the company wrote. But it carefully avoids the deliberate misconception about software that it promulgated in court.

      That misconception, which vastly overstated Lundgren’s crime and led to the sentence he received, is simply to conflate software with a license to operate that software. Without going into details (my original post spells it out at length) it maintained in court that the discs Lundgren was attempting to sell were equivalent to entire licensed operating systems, when they were simply recovery discs that any user, refurbisher, or manufacturer can download and burn for free. Lundgren was going to sell them to repair shops for a quarter each so they could hand them out to people who needed them.

    • Microsoft defends conviction of e-waste recycler over piracy

      Many were upset that e-waste recycling pioneer Eric Lundgren was going to prison for creating his unofficial Windows restore discs, and in some cases pointed the finger at Microsoft for its role in the conviction. Microsoft, however, doesn’t think he’s a hero… and thinks it’s getting a bad rap. The software giant has posted a response to critics that characterizes Lundgren’s piracy as fully intentional while simultaneously washing the company’s hands.

  • Server

  • Kernel Space

    • The Linux Kernel Might Drop Memory Protection Extensions Support

      Yesterday I wrote about GCC developers moving to drop Intel MPX support and now the Linux kernel developers are looking at dropping the Memory Protection Extensions support too, thereby rendering this modern CPU feature unsupported by Linux.

      Memory Protection Extensions is a security feature present since Skylake for checking pointer references at run-time to avoid buffer overflows. MPX support requires plumbing through the kernel, compiler, run-time library, etc. But with Intel not maintaining that support too well on Linux, it looks like it will be dropped entirely. With mainline LLVM Clang not supporting MPX, with GCC dropping it means no compiler support and thus no support for this functionality short of any Intel compiler offering it.

    • Graphics Stack

      • RadeonSI Ups Its Compiler Threads To Let Shader-DB Run Faster On Modern Systems

        The RadeonSI compiler queue can now run across more CPU cores/threads of modern systems though it appears this will primarily just benefit those running the shader-db shader test cases.

        Marek Olšák of AMD has increased the number of compiler threads depending upon the CPU. The compiler queue in the RadeonSI Gallium3D driver was previously limited to three threads, which is a bottleneck for shader-db when running on modern systems commonly featuring eight or now sixteen threads.

      • Red Hat Developers Continue Working On OpenCL/Compute For Nouveau

        Karol Herbst and others at Red Hat continue working on improving the open-source GPU compute for Linux, particularly for the Nouveau open-source reverse-engineered NVIDIA driver.

        Longtime Nouveau developer Karol Herbst who joined Red Hat towards the end of 2017 has been working on compute support for Nouveau since joining the company. He’s been added NIR support to Nouveau in order to get SPIR-V support working for OpenCL though also helps along Vulkan enablement for this open-source driver.

      • mesa 18.0.2

        Mesa 18.0.2 is now available.

        In this release we have:

        A couple of fixes for Meson that solves some problems regarding
        building tests and installation.

        A couple of fixes in state tracker / DRI that was causing crashes
        in QtCreator and Firefox, among other problems.

        A couple of fixes for GFX9, that solves a hang in the driver, and
        a problem with buffer views.

        SVGA gets also a patch to fix incorrect advertizing of
        EGL_KHR_gl_colorspace extension.

        Etnaviv gets a fix for swizzled texture formats.

        Intel drivers get also several patches.

        RADV gets a patch to solve a problem of lot of games complaining
        about not having enough memory.

      • Mesa 18.1-RC2 & Mesa 18.0.2 Released

        Mesa 18.0.2 is now the latest stable release for Mesa3D while those wishing to ride the bleeding-edge version for these OpenGL/Vulkan drivers can try Mesa 18.1-RC2.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Kdenlive sprint news #1

        Part of the Kdenlive team is currently meeting in Paris at the La cité des sciences e de l’industrie to improve the project. We’ve tackled several goals, starting with being together. The magic of this kind of project leads to situations where we work together without meeting each other. Thus, we were able to live, share and especially spend good times to work together in a good mood. It was also useful for making important decisions after rich and lively discussions, exchanging varied points of view related to our respective experiences. Expect big changes very soon. Do you want to know more? Come join us at our new Telegram group!

      • Elisa music player – Fur Elise

        Elisa is an early beginning of something that might one day transpire into a good, meaningful, exciting project. Or become yet another pile of code created without a greater strategic imperative aimed at satisfying a primal need. At the moment, it’s a bit early to tell, but the initial showing is just okay. Reasonable looks, reasonable behavior, some bugs, and simple functionality that is neither here nor there. I would like to see more. Better yet, I’d like to see something new and unique.

        In other words, think, what would make you switch? What would make you abandon your current music player and opt for Elisa as your primary choice? And what does it have that we haven’t already seen or tried in dozens of other players? At the moment, not much. True, another effort does not hurt anyone, and why not. But then, why not is not the foundation on which greatness is built. Plasma is taking off, and recently, it’s become more robust, more consistent, more professional. All and every future effort needs to align to this core mission, and Elisa should follow suit. This beginning ain’t bad, but I want more. Worth testing, just don’t expect any miracles.

      • This week in Usability & Productivity, part 16: new lock and login screens

        Get ready for a Usability & Productivity avalanche! There’s so much to announce this week that I’m breaking it up into two posts! I’m super excited to announce that in addition to the normal stream of little quality-of-life improvements, a major and long-simmering change has landed: we’ve overhauled the lock and login screens to provide better usability and aesthetics, and more features!

      • This week in Usability & Productivity, part 16: everything else
      • GSoC’ 2018: I am in :)

        Wooo… I am accepted as a GSoC student this year to hack on Falkon. Currently Falkon supports extensions but in C++ and Python. My project is to implement JavaScript/QML extension support for Falkon so that its both easy to develop and distribute.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Submit your talk for GUADEC!

        GUADEC 2018 is taking place in Almerîa, Spain this year and now is the time to submit your proposals! The submission deadline for talk submissions is tomorrow, on the 29th April.

      • More Memory, More Problems

        In GJS we recently committed a patch that has been making waves. Thanks to GJS contributor Georges Basile “Feaneron” Stavracas Neto, some infamous memory problems with GNOME Shell 3.28 have been mitigated. (What’s the link between GNOME Shell and GJS? GNOME Shell uses GJS as its internal Javascript engine, in which some of the UI and all of the extensions are implemented.)

        There is a technical explanation, having to do with toggle-refs, a GObject concept which we use to interface the JS engine’s garbage collector with GObject’s reference counting system. Georges has already provided a fantastic introduction to the technical details so I will not do another one here. This post will be more about social issues, future plans, and answers to some myths I’ve seen in various comments recently. To read this post, you only need to know that the problem has to do with toggle-refs and that toggle-refs are difficult to reason about.

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

    • Red Hat Family

      • Fedora

        • Fedora on ODROID-HC1 mini NAS (ARMv7)

          Hardkernel is a Korean company that makes various embedded ARM based systems, which it calls ODROID.

          One of their products is the ODROID-HC1, a mini NAS designed to take a single 2.5″ SATA drive (HC stands for “Home Cloud”) which comes with 2GB RAM and a Gigabit Ethernet port. There is also a 3.5″ model called the HC2. Both of these are based on the ODROID-XU4, which itself is based on the previous iteration ODROID-XU3. All of these are based on the Samsung Exynos5422 SOC and should work with the following steps.

          The Exynos SOC needs proprietary first stage bootloaders which are embedded in the first 1.4MB or so at the beginning of the SD card in order to load U-Boot. As these binary blobs are not re-distributable, Fedora cannot support these devices out of the box, however all the other bits are available including the kernel, device tree and U-Boot. So, we just need to piece it all together and the result is a stock Fedora system!

        • A Beginners Guide To Flatpak

          A while, we have written about Ubuntu’s Snaps. Snaps are introduced by Canonical for Ubuntu operating system, and later it was adopted by other Linux distributions such as Arch, Gentoo, and Fedora etc. A snap is a single binary package bundled with all required libraries and dependencies, and you can install it on any Linux distribution, regardless of its version and architecture. Similar to Snaps, there is also another tool called Flatpak. As you may already know, packaging distributed applications for different Linux distributions are quite time consuming and difficult process. Each distributed application has different set of libraries and dependencies for various Linux distributions. But, Flatpak, the new framework for desktop applications that completely reduces this burden. Now, you can build a single Flatpak app and install it on various operating systems. How cool, isn’t it?

        • “RISCY BUSINESS” runs Fedora in a chroot on HiFive Unleashed
        • Mahapatra: Summer, Code and Fedora

          Fedora has an android app which lets a user browse Fedora Magazine, Ask Fedora, FedoCal etc within it.

          [...]

          In the current form, most of the functions in the app rely on an in-app browser to render content. This project aims to improve the existing Fedora App for Android for speed, utility and responsiveness, introduce a deeper native integration and make the app more personal for the user.

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu 18.04 Bionic Beaver Advances Canonical’s Cloud, Kubernetes Strategy

            Canonical the lead commercial sponsor behind the Ubuntu Linux project, officially announced the launch of Ubuntu 18.04 on April 26.

            The new release, dubbed the Bionic Beaver, is a Long Term Support (LTS) milestone and will be supported by Canonical for at least the next five years. The 18.04 LTS is the first LTS since the 16.04 LTS in April 2016. Enterprises and cloud providers alike rely on the LTS release as the stable base on which other services including OpenStack and Kubernetes are deployed.

            “The majority of all public cloud workloads across Amazon, Google, Oracle and Microsoft are Ubuntu workloads,” Mark Shuttleworth, CEO of Canonical and founder of Ubuntu Linux said during a press launch event.

          • Canonical on Ubuntu ‘Bionic Beaver’ 18.04 LTS and its controversial changes

            The release of Ubuntu ‘Bionic Beaver’ 18.04 is important. Not only is it the LTS – with five years’ worth of support – that will see millions of users installing Ubuntu for the first time with GNOME firmly nestled in the desktop environment slot, but it could be the release that sees Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu, through IPO. We spoke to Will Cooke, Canonical’s desktop director and David Bitton, engineering manager of Ubuntu Server, about the overall goals for Ubuntu 18.04 LTS and future plans.

          • 26 Things To Do After Installing Ubuntu 18.04 Bionic Beaver Linux

            The new stable LTS version of Ubuntu, Ubuntu 18.04 Bionic Beaver, will be released on 26th of April 2018. Some of the new features of Ubuntu 18.04 include: new default desktop GNOME 3.28, better boot speed, new “minimal installation” option, new default applications, Linux Kernel 4.15 and others.

            This guide will list for you some selected things to do after installing Ubuntu 18.04.

            Some of the recommendations might not be suitable for everybody, hence use it as a guide only and decide what suits you best according to your user needs.

          • Ubuntu 18.04 Screenshots Tour – See What’s New

            Canonical has officially announced the release of Ubuntu 18.04, codenamed Bionic Beaver. This is a LTS (Long-Term Support) release that will be supported for 5 years, until April 2023.

            Ubuntu 18.04 is the first LTS release to use Gnome Shell instead of Unity by default, so if you’re coming from Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, you’ll find a lot of changes.

            This article presents the most important changes in Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver) since the previous version, 17.10 (Artful Aardvark), as well as since the previous LTS release, Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus).

          • Ubuntu 18.04 LTS Review
          • Shuttleworth on Ubuntu 18.04: Multicloud Is the New Normal

            Canonical last week released the Ubuntu 18.04 LTS platform for desktop, server, cloud and Internet of Things use. Its debut followed a two-year development phase that led to innovations in cloud solutions for enterprises, as well as smoother integrations with private and public cloud services, and new tools for container and virtual machine operations.

            The latest release drives new efficiencies in computing and focuses on the big surge in artificial intelligence and machine learning, said Canonical CEO Mark Shuttleworth in a global conference call.

            Ubuntu has been a platform for innovation over the last decade, he noted. The latest release reflects that innovation and comes on the heels of extraordinary enterprise adoption on the public cloud.

          • Here’s Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver) Running on the Microsoft Surface Pro 3

            If you think about installing Canonical’s recently released Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver) operating system on the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 2-in-1 detachable laptop, we have some good news for you.

            After we saw that Ubuntu 18.04 LTS could run on the Nintendo Switch gaming console, though not without some heavy patching to make hardware acceleration and Wi-Fi networking work, now someone managed to install the Linux-based operating system on a Microsoft Surface Pro 3 device.

          • Top 10 Things to do After Installing Ubuntu 18.04 LTS Desktop

            So you’ve successfully installed Ubuntu 18.04 LTS and hoping what do to next? Yes, you can always browse on the new features introduced in the 18.04 LTS, the Bionic Beaver.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Pop OS 18.04 bursts onto the Linux scene

              Carl Richell the CEO of System76, the Linux computer manufacturer backing the new Linux operating system, discusses Pop!_OS’ first major release.

              Before Pop!_OS all of our attention was focused on ensuring the computer hardware ran flawlessly with [Ubuntu] Linux. And when Unity [Ubuntu's desktop environment project] announced its end last year, it created a lot of unknowns amongst the team. But what started as an unknown quickly became an opportunity.

              For 11 years, we were outsourcing one of System76’s most important customer interactions, the desktop experience. And during this tenure, we collected tons of data: a list of customer requests for an improved desktop interface.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Leap Motion details low-cost AR headset, plans to go open source

    “We believe that the fundamental limit in technology is not its size or its cost or its speed,” writes Leap Motion, “but how we interact with it.”

    This statement demonstrates the fresh perspective that companies like Leap Motion have been bringing to the commercial 3D tech industry. In fact, in the past year or two, we’ve started to feel a sea change as even the most entrenched, traditional manufacturers in the commercial 3D space have taken a hard turn toward simplicity of operation and sheer usability.

  • Netflix Open Sources Its Container Management Platform “Titus”

    Netflix announced the open source release of their container management platform called Titus. Titus is built on top of Apache Mesos and runs on AWS EC2.

    Netflix, which runs its services on virtual machines on AWS, started moving parts of its systems to containers to take advantage of the benefits of a container-based development and deployment model. Netflix’s unique challlenges included an already-existing cloud-native infrastructure, which meant that moving to a container model should not involve too many changes. Hybrid deployments of both VMs and containers, a mix of microservices and batch jobs, and ensuring reliability with the additional layer that containers would introduce were some of the technical challenges.

    These challenges led to the development of its own container management platform called Titus. Currently, Netflix runs video streaming, recommendations and machine learning (ML), big data, content encoding, studio technology, and internal engineering tools in containers, which add up to half-a-million containers and 200,000 clusters per day.

  • Databases

    • It’s Time for the Personal Datasphere (Finally!)

      When it comes to the blockchain, most people fall into one of two camps: the hand-wavers that think the blockchain will disrupt and benefit the world as profoundly as the Internet, and those who are scratching their heads and just can’t see how that could be possible. I confess that I fall more into the second camp than the first, but I do recognize that blockchain technology can provide a far superior tool to tackle some challenges than any that we’ve had to work with before.

      I identified just such a challenge many years ago when the Internet was really taking off, and suggested that individuals needed to seize control of their personal information before commercial interests ran off with it instead, locking it away inside proprietary databases. The date of that article? February 2004, the same month that a little Web site called Facebook went live. Back then the problem was (and it still is) that the critical keys to avoiding data lock in are standards, and the process that develops those standards wasn’t (and still isn’t) controlled by end users.

  • Funding

    • Gitcoin ICO: Grow Open Source Software For Tips & Rewards?

      Existing incentive open software are faced with various challenges. Some of them include the fact that open source software developers create a lot of economic value, however, this value is not well incentivized. The repo maintainer is faced with the challenge of taming while the contributor has the monetization challenge. The job hunter, on the other hand, is faced with the prioritization problem.

  • BSD

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • GIMP 2.10.0 Has Been Released with HIDPI Display support and New Dark Theme

      GIMP is a free and open source software for creating and editing image content. The development team has just announced the new stable release GIMP 2.10.0. It’s been almost six years of heavy development since the earlier stable release GIMP 2.8.x back in 2012. So, let’s check what’s new in GIMP 2.10.0.

    • After 6 Years, GIMP 2.10 is Here With Ravishing New Looks and Tons of New Features

      Free and open source image editing application GIMP has a new major release today. GIMP 2.10 comes six years after the last major release 2.8.

      It won’t be an exaggeration if I say that GIMP is the most popular image editor in Linux world and perhaps the best Adobe Photoshop alternative. The project was first started in 1996 and in the last 22 years, it has become the default image editor on almost all major Linux distributions. It is also available on Windows and macOS.

    • Image Editor GIMP 2.10 is out (after six years)

      After six years of development, a dedicated team of contributors released GIMP 2.10, a new version of the open source cross-platform image editor.

      The new version of GIMP is the first major release after version 2.8 of the software was released nearly six years ago.

      GIMP, an acronym for GNU Image Manipulation Program, is a free alternative to programs such as Adobe Photoshop or Corel Photo Paint that is especially popular in the GNU/Linux world.

      Users may download the latest GIMP release from the official project website where it is offered as a direct download and torrent. The image editor has a size of roughly 560 Megabytes installed on Windows if you only install the core editor.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Open-source Circuit Simulation

        For simple circuits, it’s easy enough to grab a breadboard and start putting it together. Breadboards make it easy to check your circuit for mistakes before soldering together a finished product. But if you have a more complicated circuit, or if you need to do response modeling or other math on your design before you start building, you’ll need circuit simulation software.

        While it’s easy to get a trial version of something like OrCAD PSpice, this software doesn’t have all of the features available unless you’re willing to pony up some cash. Luckily, there’s a fully featured free and open source circuit simulation software called Qucs (Quite Universal Circuit Simulator), released under the GPL, that offers a decent alternative to other paid circuit simulators. Qucs runs its own software separate from SPICE since SPICE isn’t licensed for reuse.

      • An Open-Source Turbomolecular Pump Controller

        It’s not every project write-up that opens with a sentence like “I had this TURBOVAC 50 turbomolecular pump laying around…”, but then again not every write-up comes from someone with a lab as stuffed full of goodies as that of [Niklas Fauth]. His pump had an expired controller board, so he’s created an open-source controller of his own centred upon an STM32. Intriguingly he mentions its potential use as “I want to do more stuff with sputtering and Ion implantation in the future“, as one does of course.

        So given that probably not many Hackaday readers have a turbomolecular pump lying around but quite a few of you will find the subject interesting, what does this project do? Sadly it’s a little more mundane than the pump itself, since a turbomolecular pump is a highly specialised multi-stage turbine, this is a 3-phase motor controller with analogue speed feedback taken from the voltage across a couple of the motor phases. For this reason he makes the point that it’s a fork of his hoverboard motor controller software, the fruits of which we’ve shown you in the past. There isn’t a cut-out timer should the motor not reach full speed in a safe time, but he provides advice as to where to look in the code should that be necessary.

  • Programming/Development

    • AMD AOCC 1.2 Compiler Released For Zen Systems, Brings FLANG & Retpolines

      AMD has released a new update to their AMD Optimizing C/C++ Compiler (AOCC).

      AOCC 1.2 is their second major update since debuting this LLVM Clang downstream compiler one year ago following the launch of the Ryzen/EPYC processors. AMD AOCC continues carrying various patches atop the LLVM/Clang compiler tool-chain to cater towards the performance of these “znver1″ CPUs.

Leftovers

  • Microsoft Windows adapts as its business importance declines [Ed: Calling everything "cloud" to simulate 'growth']
  • Science

  • Health/Nutrition

  • Security

    • PyRoMine Uses NSA Exploit for Monero Mining and Backdoors

      The ShadowBrokers leaked a whole treasure chest of hacking tools and zero-day exploits in 2017, attributed to the Equation Group, which is believed to be an arm of the NSA’s Tailored Access Operations unit. They target Windows XP/Vista/8.1/7/10 and Windows Server 2003/2008/2012/2016, taking advantage of a pair of vulnerabilities, CVE-2017-0144 and CVE-2017-0145. Microsoft patched these very quickly after the tools were made public.

    • Google Releases Major Chrome OS Update for Chromebooks with New Meltdown Patches

      Google has released on Friday a new stable Chrome OS update for Chromebooks, adding new mitigations for the Meltdown security vulnerability, as well as numerous new features and improvements.

      Google updated its Linux-based Chrome OS operating system for Chromebooks to version 66.0.3359.137, a major release that introduces KPTI (Kernel page-table isolation) mitigation patches against the Meltdown security vulnerability for Intel-powered Chromebooks running on Linux kernel 3.8.

  • Defence/Aggression

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Finland slips further down in World Press Freedom Index

      Finland has slipped down to fourth place in the World Press Freedom Index, an annual assessment of the extent of freedom granted to journalists in 180 countries around the world published by Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

    • Future Uncertain For Assange In Wake Of US-Ecuador Military Deal

      Late yesterday, Telesur reported that Ecuador had signed a “security deal” with the United States, which is expected to result in a US military presence in that country.

      Telesur wrote: “Ecuador signed Wednesday a cooperation agreement with the United States to fight transnational organized crime and drug trafficking…. Moreno’s move is a further shift away from the policies of his left-wing predecessor and former ally, Rafael Correa, who has criticized and refused to participate in the U.S.-sponsored Plan Colombia, arguing peace is not obtained with helicopters and weapons but rather by promoting economic and social development.”

      The news comes as a new blow to hopes that Ecuador’s President Lenin Moreno would heed calls from around the globe to end the solitary confinement of Julian Assange. Tomorrow, the arbitrarily confined journalist will have been totally isolated for one month.

      The latest news of a military agreement struck between Moreno’s government and the US comes as yet another major shift away from the policies of Ecuador’s prior administration. It is also a distinct pivot away from Ecuador’s decision, made just a few months prior, to confer citizenship and diplomatic status on the Wikileaks Editor-In-Chief.

      This writer previously expressed the opinion that the ongoing solitary confinement of Assange by his own government constitutes torture. Disobedient Media has also reported consistently on the numerous online and physical vigils, petitions and other efforts to encourage Ecuador to return the Ecuadorian embassy in London to a place of refuge, as intended when the previous administration bravely granted Assange political asylum from the threats to his life and work emanating from the United States.

    • French spying agency tapping Australia’s communications

      Thirty years ago this week, French secret agents destroyed the Rainbow Warrior. The Greenpeace flagship had been involved in high-profile protests over French nuclear testing in the South Pacific and agents from the French General Directorate for External Security (DGSE) were sent to prevent it leaving New Zealand for another protest campaign at Mururoa Atoll. Just before midnight on the evening of July 10, 1985, two explosions ripped through the hull of the Rainbow Warrior, killing a Portuguese crew member, Fernando Pereira, and sinking the vessel alongside Marsden Wharf in Auckland.

    • WikiLeaks Might Not Have Existed Without Bitcoin – Cryptography Consultant

      Coinbase, the world’s biggest bitcoin brokerage, has blocked Wikileaks from using the service prompting Wikileaks to call for a global boycott of Coinbase. According to statement from Wikileaks, Coinbase blamed the ban on US financial regulations. Sputnik discussed this with Peter Todd, an applied cryptography consultant.

    • Litecoin Update: WikiLeaks, Lee Joins DMG Blockchain and Collaboration With TokenPay

      Independent media company WikiLeaks announced it would start accepting Litecoin (LTC) as a payment method on its online marketplace. The announcement comes after WikiLeaks has called for a boycott of popular cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase following the termination of its bitcoin merchant payment service for the media company.

      WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has long been a supporter of decentralized digital currencies due to their inherent privacy-supporting features. For a while, the WikiLeaks store has been accepting bitcoin. However, it recently announced it would also start accepting litecoin. This is as a result of the addition of a new cryptocurrency payments gateway called CoinPayments.

      Evidently, the ‘Pay With Litecoin’ initiative is working well as UK-based fintech startup Wirex announced it would add litecoin support to its wallets. Until recently, the company has only been providing support for bitcoin users. Explaining the move, Wirex stated, “It’s faster than Bitcoin, has lower blockchain fees and may become a global payment option available on dozens of big brand websites in coming months.”

    • What’s really going on with bizarre duo Pam Anderson and Julian Assange

      Pamela Anderson has long been a defender of animal rights, but now she has a new cause: being reunited with her is-he-or-isn’t-he boyfriend Julian Assange.

      On March 28, it was announced that the Ecuadorean embassy in London — where the WikiLeaks mastermind has been holed up since 2012 — had revoked Assange’s visitor privileges and Internet access. Ecuador’s government, which granted him citizenship in January, chalked it up to Assange having breached “a written [agreement] not to issue messages that might interfere with other states.”

      In a statement to The Post, Anderson — a frequent guest of Assange’s since they were introduced in 2014 — said: “I’m deeply concerned about his health and well-being. His human rights have been abused before without sunlight but this is extraordinary. Incommunicado. No visitors. No Internet. No phone calls. No access to outside world.”

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Bosch might just have solved the problem of diesel NOx emissions

      Bosch’s solution to the NOx problem involves optimizing a number of different steps in the process. Engine displacement is reduced from 2.0L down to 1.7L. The turbocharger has been tweaked to be more responsive, thereby improving transient and low-end torque behavior. Exhaust gas treatment has been enhanced to increase the temperature of the catalyst as quickly as possible upon startup.

    • Scott Pruitt can’t answer a yes-or-no question to save his life (or even his ass)
    • Half of the Great Barrier Reef Has Died Since 2016

      Scientists have known that Australia’s iconic Great Barrier Reef is in trouble, but they are just starting to realize the extent of the damage that’s been brought on by climate change.

      The reef is one of the largest living structures on earth, stretching 1,400 miles, but despite being so massive it can be seen from space, it’s still incredibly fragile. Scientists who have been studying the reef have been raising concerns about its future, but now a new study has shed even more light on the damage that’s been brought about by climate change.

  • Finance

    • University of Michigan Students Write Not-Rich Guide

      When two University of Michigan juniors read a campus affordability guide earlier this year that suggested, among other things, that firing the maid could help save them money, they decided to write their own.

    • [Older] “Being Not-Rich at UM” inspires UT Austin students

      Following the controversial release of the Central Student Government Campus Affordability Guide last January, students at the University of Michigan responded with the creation of “Being Not-Rich at UM,” which circulated online and has now spread to other schools around the country. The “Being Not-Rich” guide was created as a Google document by Public Policy junior Lauren Schandevel and other University students on which students can suggest tips to help other students save money, instead of the Affordability Guide which suggested adjustments such as cutting down on laundry services and selling one’s car. The Google document allows students to review and add additional comments regarding the resources mentioned. The document, shared via social media, prompted a response from CSG to update their version an affordability guide.

    • Team Trump goes to China to avert a trade war

      The fear is that confrontation between the world’s two biggest economies derails trade, destabilizing the global economy.

      That’s why it’s an unmistakable positive that President Donald Trump is sending top economic officials to China this week for trade negotiations. Talks are certainly better than tariffs.

      The hope is that Team Trump will leave Beijing with the framework for a trade agreement that both sides can live with. Not only would that avoid the escalation that investors fear, but it could put a stop to the unfair trade practices that cost American businesses billions.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Chinese Student Uses Cryptocurrency to Bypass Government Censorship And Share Historic Letter

      Two days ago, an open letter to China’s Peking University was anonymously uploaded to the Ethereum blockchain, effectively sharing it with anyone who trades or tracks the cryptocurrency.

      In it, student Yue Xin writes that the university coerced her to stop looking into a decades-old controversy surrounding Gao Yan, a Peking University student who committed suicide in 1998 after being sexually assaulted by a professor, who remained on staff.

      This letter had originally appeared on a more standard online platform. But it, along with several others by China’s #MeToo activists, have been vanishing from the internet, Quartz reports.

      So to avoid censorship, people have started hiding text in the code of various cryptocurrencies. To upload Yue’s note, for example, the anonymous user pasted it in the notes section of a transaction.

    • YouTube’s new Transparency Report reveals centrality of automated notices and automated takedowns

      Over the past few years YouTube has relied on a combination of human intervention and technology to “flag” content that is considered inappropriate in light of YouTube’s Community Guidelines. In particular, content can be flagged by YouTube’s automated flagging systems, members of the Trusted Flagger programme (which includes NGOs, government agencies and individuals) or from simple users within the YouTube community.

    • How US, Facebook Are ‘Complicit in Censoring Non-Western Media’

      It’s more than evident that non-Western media are having their rights to free speech infringed upon, writes Val Reynoso.

      The United States prides itself on being the land of the free; however, this narrative shifts in regards to U.S. government censorship of non-Western media, particularly through major social media outlets such as Facebook.

      [...]

      Moreover, leading social media corporations such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have strengthened their artificial intelligence systems and repress user content, at the request of the U.S. government and in partnership with U.S. spy organizations. According to a report from MintPressNews, the director of the Global Policy Management at Facebook, Monika Bickert, said Facebook now has a rapidly growing security team consisting of 10,000 members, with 7,500 of them in charge of assessing what the media giant considers potentially violating content. The team also has a counterterrorism group made up of former intelligence and law enforcement figures who specialized in counterterrorism. Facebook has collaborated with numerous other companies to form a blacklist of media content identified by the corporation as violating standards and which would ultimately be restricted from all social media, according to Bickert.

    • Facebook’s Censorship in Germany

      A court in Berlin has issued a temporary restraining order against Facebook. Under the threat of a fine of 250,000 euros (roughly $300,000 USD) or a jail term, Facebook was obliged to restore a user’s comment that it had deleted. Moreover, the ruling prohibited the company from banning the user because of this comment.

      This is the first time a German court has dealt with the consequences of Germany’s internet censorship law, which came into effect on October 1, 2017. The law stipulates that social media companies have to delete or block “apparent” criminal offenses, such as libel, slander, defamation or incitement, within 24 hours of receipt of a user complaint.

    • Anti-Semitism and censorship make headlines in Europe, Pakistan, Tanzania

      Anti-Semitism as a political weapon

      Some of Corbyn’s critics, who consider him too left-wing, also accuse him of complacency towards anti-Semitism, in some cases linking the charge to his support for the Palestinian cause. A charge he strongly denies.

      [...]

      Elsewhere, an anti-Semitic incident grabbed headlines in Germany.

      An Israeli wearing a kippa was recently attacked by a Syrian refugee in a trendy neighbourhood of Berlin, with the attacker yelling ‘Jew’ in Arabic. The video went viral.

      The attack prompted a strong show of solidarity, but did little to dampen fears among Germany’s Jewish community, who connect hatred of Jews today to that of Europe’s past.

      Yet covering anti-Semitism isn’t always easy, particularly when it comes to language, explains Eline Jeanne from the Media Diversity Institute.

      “Often we see people using anti-Semitic language either in their headlines or in the way they explain things without even realizing it,” she said, in reference to a recent article on Hungarian businessman George Soros.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Weekend Reading: Privacy
    • Mark Zuckerberg faces formal summons from MPs

      MPs have raised the prospect of a formal summons to force Mark Zuckerberg to appear in Westminster, after the Facebook founder’s ignored requests to appear in person.

    • Army researchers find the best cyber teams are antisocial cyber teams

      “Successful cyber teams don’t need to discuss every detail when defending a network,” said Dr. Norbou Buchler, Networked Systems Branch team leader at the US Army Research Laboratory, in a press release. “They already know what to do.”

    • How Facebook’s tentacles reach further than you think

      Facebook’s collection of data makes it one of the most influential organisations in the world. Share Lab wanted to look “under the bonnet” at the tech giant’s algorithms and connections to better understand the social structure and power relations within the company.

    • High Court rules part of Snoopers’ Charter illegal following Liberty’s legal challenge

      THE high court on Friday ruled part of UK gov’s Investigatory Powers Act (IP Act) illegal, following a legal challenge brought by human rights campaigning outfit Liberty.

    • 23 And (Identify My Relatives And) Me

      While it’s absolutely great that cops identified the Golden State Killer, what’s disturbing — if you haven’t considered this and if you care a whit about privacy — is how they did it: using consumer genealogical websites.

    • Golden State Killer suspect was tracked down through genealogy website GEDmatch

      The website is a place where people share their full genetic information — entirely in public — so there are no legal hurdles for investigators trying to track someone down. By contrast, private DNA sites like Ancestry and 23andMe tend to be choosier when it comes to complying with police requests.

    • Relative’s DNA from genealogy websites cracked East Area Rapist case, DA’s office says

      The effort was part of a painstaking process that began by using DNA from one of the crime scenes from years ago and comparing it to genetic profiles available online through various websites that cater to individuals wanting to know more about their family backgrounds by accepting DNA samples, said Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Grippi.

    • [Repeat] Here’s the ‘open-source’ genealogy DNA website that helped crack the Golden State Killer case [iophk: “open-source as in intelligence gathering”

      The case sheds light on a little known fact: Even if we’ve never spit into a test tube, some of our genetic information may be public — and accessible to law enforcement. That’s because whenever one of our relatives — even distant, distant kin — submits their DNA to a public site hoping to find far-flung relations, some of our data is shared as well.

    • 21st Century DNA Searches

      The case of the Golden State Killer is fascinating. It began when I was a young man and may conclude shortly. The killer left a few samples of DNA which have been preserved well enough to be matched decades later. Family members of the killer entering their DNA profiles into various databases lead to finding a familial match which by process of elimination lead to the killer. This is a huge positive benefit to society and victims of crime but opens the door to horrible abuses. What if Hitler had such technology? What if DNA samples were compulsory for everyone? What if a tyrant wanted to wipe out whole families or communities to suppress dissent? This gives a whole new meaning to ethnic cleansing or eugenics.

    • What the Golden State Killer case means for your genetic privacy

      The arrest was made on the basis of genetic information, with detectives matching a discarded DNA sample from his home to evidence from the investigation, law enforcement officials said. DNA evidence is used to implicate criminals every day, but the method used in this case was new.

    • Early Facebook Investor And Zuckerberg Mentor: “I Feel My Baby Has Turned Out To Be Something Horrible”

      Even if Facebook’s stellar Q1 earnings report hadn’t helped erase some of the losses that Facebook shares incurred in the aftermath of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook executives Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sanderberg would still believe that the company’s troubles are largely behind them and that the company had essentially repaired the damage done to its reputation.

      That was the assessment delivered by early Facebook investor and one-time Zuckerberg mentor Roger McNamee, who warned during an appearance at an event organized by Quartz in Washington DC last week that the company’s leaders are deeply complacent and still haven’t accepted the fact that Facebook has badly mislead its users about how the company profits off their data.

    • Facebook advertisers shrug off its privacy scandal

      Facebook is the second largest digital publisher in the world, behind Google. It reportedly raked in $39.94 billion in 2017 — about 17 percent of total online ad spending.

    • Ex-Cambridge Analytica CEO lied, says academic

      Academic Aleksandr Kogan’s company, Global Science Research, developed a Facebook app that vacuumed up information from users as well as additional data from their Facebook friends.

    • I tried leaving Facebook. I couldn’t

      Facebook is an emotional labor machine, and if you want to leave it, you’re going to have to start doing a lot of work

      [...]

      In this new national debate over Facebook, it’s become apparent that it’s very difficult to pin down exactly what Facebook even is.

    • Emotional labor watch: “Closers” flirt on behalf of men who use Tinder
    • You could be flirting on dating apps with paid impersonators

      I’m what’s called a “Closer” for the online-dating service ViDA (Virtual Dating Assistants). Men and women (though mostly men) from all over the world pay this company to outsource the labor and tedium of online dating. The matches I speak to on behalf of the Texan man and other clients have no idea they’re chatting with a professional.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • EU protection for whistleblowers is coming

      The Commission used to resist calls for a whistleblower directive, saying that this was outside EU competence. To show that it could be done, my group in the European Parliament, the Greens/EFA, put together a draft – and many of its key points are now found in the Commission’s proposal!

    • Documents at Issue Cited in Senate Report and by CIA Inspector General

      The National Security Archive filed suit under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) against the CIA today in federal district court in Washington. The case seeks 12 specific cables from November and December 2002 that were authored or authorized by Gina Haspel, the acting director of the CIA as of this morning. The cables describe the torture of a CIA detainee under her supervision.

      The Archive filed a FOIA request with the CIA for the 12 cables on April 16, 2018. The Archive FOIA sought expedited processing, which must be granted to requests with a “compelling need…made by a person primarily engaged in dissemination of information [with] urgency to inform the public concerning actual or alleged Federal Government activity.” Expedited processing is clearly warranted in this instance, as Gina Haspel’s Senate confirmation hearing for CIA director is slated for May 9.

      The CIA denied the Archive’s request for expedited processing, arguing that the request was not “made by a person primarily engaged in dissemination of information.” In the same letter, the CIA granted the National Security Archive “news media fee status.”

      The 12 cables were identified by National Security Archive staff in the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’s report, Committee Study of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Detention and Interrogation Program, declassified in 2014. The cable numbers correspond to the time period Al Qaeda suspect Abd al Rahim al Nashiri (who was captured in Dubai) spent in a CIA black site prison in Thailand where he was waterboarded three times. New York Times and Pro Publica reporting confirms that Haspel was the chief of base of the black site when Nashiri arrived and immediately underwent torture.

    • Gina Haspel’s Interrogation Program Hurt Americans Too

      One of the leaders who helped enact the CIA’s former interrogation program—and saved herself and her colleague from prosecution for this program by illegally destroying videotape evidence—has been nominated to lead the nation’s preeminent spy agency. Democratic senators appear ready to contest this nomination, an effort many Republicans are decrying as partisan politics at its worst.

      There was a time when both Democrats AND Republicans understood that the “cruel and unusual punishment” of prisoners was unconstitutional, violating both federal laws and U.S.-signed treaties. Americans understood that our nation’s real strength lay not in applying brute force in greater measure or more precisely than our enemies, but in the coherence our national values gave us. This coherence gave us resolve, it enabled strong alliances with other great democracies, and it served as an inspiration to people everywhere struggling with despotic regimes.

    • We Don’t Know When the War on al-Qaida Will End—or When It Began

      A frequent line of criticism of the “war on terrorism” framework that the United States has operated under for the past 17 years is that it’s not clear what would need to happen for this “war” to end. But now it appears it’s not clear when the “forever war” began, either.

      As Carol Rosenberg of the Miami Herald reports, a military judge at Guantanamo Bay ruled this week that the United States was already engaged in armed conflict with al-Qaida at the time of the 9/11 attacks. Attorneys for Mustafa al-Hawsawi, a Saudi detainee at Guantanamo who is on trial alonside alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and several other defendants, had filed a motion to dismiss charges against their client. They argued that Hawsawi’s alleged offenses—helping some of the hijackers with funding and travel to the United States—took place before the U.S. was formally at war with al-Qaida. Therefore, they reasoned, he should not be charged by the military commission.

    • The CIA’s tortured history

      Tommy talks with ACLU political director Faiz Shakir about the nomination of Gina Haspel to lead the CIA despite her role in the Bush-era torture of terrorism suspects. They also discuss the politics of national security in the Trump era, and whether Obama did enough to hold the CIA accountable for its actions.

    • Protests Force Starbucks to Ditch ADL From Leading Anti-Racism Training

      After a video of the arrest of two African-American men sitting in Starbucks without buying anything went viral, Starbucks scheduled anti-racism training. But their inclusion of the Anti-Defamation League in the training provoked another outcry and Starbucks capitulated.

      On April 12, Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson were arrested for trespassing at a Philadelphia Starbucks. A manager called the police because the men, who had been in the coffee shop for just a few minutes, hadn’t bought anything.

      Melissa DePino, a Starbucks customer who recorded the video of the arrest that went viral on social media, said, “These guys never raised their voices. They never did anything remotely aggressive . . . I was sitting close to where they were. Very close. They were not doing anything. They weren’t.”

    • Supreme Court Appears Set to Uphold Trump’s Travel Ban Targeting Muslim Nations

      The U.S. Supreme Court looks poised to uphold President Trump’s travel ban, which blocks most people from seven countries—including Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen—from entering the United States. During oral arguments on Wednesday, Justice Anthony Kennedy, who is often seen as a swing vote, appeared to side with the conservative wing of the court. U.S. solicitor general Noel Francisco argued the travel restrictions were not a “so-called Muslim ban” and that the order fell within the president’s executive authority. Francisco made the claim even though Trump campaigned for president calling for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” Lower courts have repeatedly ruled against versions of Trump’s travel ban, saying they were unconstitutional and in violation of federal immigration law. We are joined by Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU’s national Immigrants’ Rights Project, who presented the first challenge to President Trump’s travel ban order last year, and Diala Shamas, a staff attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights. She was in Djibouti last month speaking to Yemeni relatives of U.S. citizens attempting to come to the United States under Trump’s travel ban.

    • Trump’s Pick To Lead The CIA Is Telling Senators The Agency Should Stay Out Of Interrogations

      President Donald Trump has made no secret of his support for torturing suspected terrorists, declaring on the campaign trail that he would bring back waterboarding.

      In private, however, his pick to be the next CIA director, who faces tough questions about her involvement in the agency’s so-called enhanced interrogation program after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, has told senators she has no interest in getting the CIA back into the interrogation business at all.

      In fact, Gina Haspel — a career officer who briefly supervised one of the CIA’s secret overseas prisons where brutal interrogations took place — believes the military should handle interrogations while adhering to the Army field manual, which does not contain any of the so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” that the CIA used in the aftermath of 9/11.

      “She’s very candid,” West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin recently told BuzzFeed News. “She does not believe the CIA should be in the interrogation business.”

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • BitTorrent Piracy Lawuit Morphs into Attack on Dragon Box and Resellers

        A Hawaiian copyright lawsuit against several accused BitTorrent pirates has evolved into something entirely different. One of the defendants used the Kodi-powered Dragon box, which is now the main target of the case, along with two local resellers of the streaming device.

      • ISP Sued For Breaching User Privacy After Blocking Pirate Sites

        Following a decision this week to voluntarily block three pirate sites, Japanese ISP NTT has found itself in legal hot water. A lawyer, who is also an NTT customer, has filed a lawsuit against the provider, stating that in order to block sites the ISP must invade the privacy of its users’ communications, something that is expressly banned under local law.

      • Nike Sued for Running Pirated Software

        The California-based software company Quest is suing Nike for copyright infringement. Nike stands accused of using pirated software keys which are generally only available through unauthorized sites. The software company uncovered the alleged copyright infringements during an audit and states that Nike refuses to purchase the additional licenses.

      • Under-Fire “Kodi Box” Company “Sold to Chinese Investor” For US$8.82m

        A supplier of piracy-enabled Kodi boxes being sued by Sky TV in New Zealand for almost US$1m has been sold to a mystery Chinese buyer for an eye-watering US$8.8m. That’s the claim from founder Krish Reddy who says that the company will shut down within 90 days with the loss of six jobs. It’s a spectacular end to an always controversial and sometimes ridiculous story.

      • Kim Dotcom seeks topnotch chef and counter-intelligence staff for new house

        Kim Dotcom, the founder of file-sharing company Megaupload, is advertising for live-in staff in his New Zealand mansion; and the eclectic team, including a chef and counter-intelligence officer, he is recruiting will make for a lively household.

      • Pre-Release Game of Thrones Leaks Bred Pirates, Research Shows

        Three years ago, four Game of Thrones episodes leaked online before the season had started. As a result, millions of people turned to unauthorized sources to watch them. New research shows that this had a long-lasting negative impact on the official viewership of both Game of Thrones and related shows.

      • “Fake news” is the newest, fakest justification for the EU link tax

        The European Commission today released a proposal on combating fake news. It includes a call for the extra copyright for news sites or “link tax”, which is part of the copyright reform plans currently hotly debated in Parliament and Council. In parallel, rapporteur Axel Voss is also trying to add this justification for the law in Parliament.

        Unfortunately, that’s in itself fake news. The link tax won’t help fight fake news – it will make the problem worse.

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