Librethreat Database Entries: How Proprietary Software Giants Seek to Destroy Free/Open Source Software

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux at 10:08 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Full minibook [PDF]

Detailed network

Summary: Detailed explanation of modes by which Free/libre software comes under attack

Librethreat Database Entries

2019 Ted MacReilly

License: Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported
(CC BY-SA 3.0)


When I wrote my handbook for destroying free software, I didn’t anticipate it being part of a public database. Now that people are again aware of the problems proprietary software companies create for other software developers, I thought I would create a list of entries for the Librethreat database. These entries are based on the book.

Some of the feedback received about the book suggested that these threats were unproven. There is a long history of actions demonstrating these threats, but it’s true that they are not yet cross-referenced with recent stories.

One of the advantages of the Librethreat database is that it can be cross-referenced with stores that highlight the problems described. Of course the book was aimed at people who were already familiar with such threats, but there are people capable of finding and linking relevant stories. I may even assist them.

First, I will highlight the nature of each threat from the book– I have already sorted the quotes by the category of threat. The first section may also serve as a more dictionary-like version of my handbook, for quick reference or quicker study.

After quoting the parts from the book that describe each threat, i will include entries for each threat listed in the format of the Librethreat database. I recommend these entries be played in a buffer page on the wiki, with a title such as “incoming threats” so they can be added to the database gradually as they become relevant enough.


Ted MacReilly

Threat type: License circumvention

License proliferation / licensing erosion

“A move towards our own Open Source licenses could let us use license terms to go after companies we want to force into other agreements.”

Threat type: Corruption / unfair business practices

Lobbying for unfair business practices
“Reinforce and update the rules that keep the world operating [in a way that works for us].”

Antitrust tactics
“Not only are you in a position to ask for features that favor your company and very few others, but you can actually demand them… not all of these manufacturers actually wanted to do business exclusively with Microsoft. Microsoft pushed them to be exclusive, by forcing them to choose between a higher price and a variety of software options.”

Theft by petition, threat, protectionism
“Patent agreements are an olive branch we extend to companies, who simply agree that what they are using is our intellectual property. We don’t threaten to sue when that’s unlikely to bear fruit– instead we say ‘Hi, we don’t want to sue you– we just want credit for your use of our property. If you will simply admit that what you’re using is ours, we agree not to fight it.’ … They get to continue development, but something important has changed in the landscape– instead of fighting to prove that something is ours, we have it in writing… Even as software patents lose their potency, the agreements companies were coerced to participate in under these patent-protection schemes remain.”

Idea monopolies
“Patents have to be on things that are novel and non-obvious to people in the field. To get around this and the other requirements, we have our legal team apply for countless patents using the most absurd, drawn-out, vague language possible… patent battles have allowed Apple to harass companies with design patents over such trivial matters as rounded corners– and to claim they invented a ‘slide-to-unlock’ feature— which has existed on barnyard gates for hundreds of years at least… you could say that their ‘slide-to-unlock’ feature is really just the ‘scrollbar widget’ that was probably invented by Xerox in the 1970s”

Journalistic hostages
“Even when this isn’t true, the tech press has taken our side again and again… We can even push journalists– just like Microsoft did to push OEMs to cooperate– to lean favorably or lose our participation and cooperation… Just as we can do more favorable business with OEMs… the same game works with journalists… If an author becomes too critical, we can drop them– stop handing them stories, and even use their employers against them (favoring another publisher entirely, until they learn from their mistake.)”

Shills and conflicts of interest
“Open source provides us many new opportunities to make these exchanges and representation in the press look more organic and less staged… We bribe journalists with meals and events and parties, we like to treat our friends well– even if later we make it clear what the terms of treating us well are in turn… And if our companies can actually purchase and literally own some of the corporations that talk about us– well, most people don’t care about that…”

Threat type: Development disruption

Repo takeover
“With the acquisition of Github, Microsoft has demonstrated to the press, to developers and to the rest of the world just how much free software they own (or at least control.) …Microsoft Github will bring all software development that much closer to a world where not only is there a computer on every desk, as Bill Gates once put it– but where there is a Microsoft developer sitting at that desk. You didn’t work for them a year ago, but congratulations– you do now.”

“Above all, the key strategy is not to destroy free software completely, but to break it in enough important places so that it poses less and less of a threat to your near-monopoly.”

“We purchase and gut competitors whenever we can. Sometimes we go after a company as large as Red Hat or Nokia, but smaller acquisitions grow our IP and give us raw material to exploit for relatively cheap.”

Threat type: Design attack / development disruption

Malicious hardware and firmware
“Hardware and firmware make it possible to add unwanted features that the vast majority of free software users won’t be able to simply uninstall and replace.”

Unsupported / Poorly supported hardware
“Without ‘free hardware’ (and we know that won’t ever happen) the free software people are stuck reverse-engineering hardware and guessing how to write drivers based on trial-and-error… What the drivers gain in stability and maintenance, they often lose in features and performance.”

Hardware shift
“In the future, we may want to get more involved in firmware and move more features from software to hardware. So far, we have mostly used firmware as a way to reinforce our place in the software market. Meanwhile Lenovo has used firmware to actually reinstall unwanted software, features and surveillance directly.”

Mobile platforms
“In the mobile market, the companies offering mobile platforms actually like having more control than their customers. iOS and Android have provided, we can still explore new deals with providers in countries where iOS and Android have farther from 100% saturation in the market.”

New device horizon
“We can still explore SmartTVs, Smarthome devices and we are not remotely done with automotive. We need to work more with OEMs for all of these relatively new device categories– not just the PC.”

Forced / Excessively pushed updates
“We can control updates; we don’t really care who pirates the ‘starter pack’ for our platform anymore, because we can monitor and update and deactivate whatever parts of the platform we want”

Feature Churn
“No matter how happy some customers are, or how much they rely on our software, we are still going to lead them away from one thing and towards another– it isn’t just because it’s better; it’s because if we let them rely on what they already have, we won’t get to sell them anything new… The most convincing way to do this is to keep chasing what’s new– and dragging people from one thing to the next… Every one of our products should be viewed as an ‘upgrade’ to whatever else people are using… We need to keep fighting software stability or consistency by portraying it as selfishness and being close-minded, old-fashioned, uneducated, and uninformed.”

Publisher / manufacturer control of media after “purchase”
“This is one more reason that we don’t want software to be free and controlled by the user: if the user controls their files and programs, they can also copy media that the film industry and e-book publishers want to control after purchase… By allying with the media companies and major publishers, we have an additional source of revenue that [we] can first tap into and then gradually become its vendors”

Threat type: Development disruption, social

GREEN light: Corporate cultural values
“Their hacker philosophy is about putting certain values first– just as we use new features to get people to accept new flaws [we] can promise to fix later ([then] say that we have a greater commitment to security) [we] can use their values to steer the next generation of customers (and critics) towards a more corporate culture… some of these values are good values… But as much as we have ‘social value theater’ in the workplace and have to play along, we can dump the same corporate culture onto anyone who will call it professionalism, and then say everyone else is just unprofessional and toxic.”

Saturation of media
“After all, they keep telling themselves that writers write their own stories. Sure they do– from whatever they glean from our press releases, press events, and corporate evangelists… We don’t just have the tech press treating us kindly– we have the organizations they interview where we want them, and even the other people the tech press gets their information from. No matter where you go, you’re going to hear how great we are.”

YELLOW light: Organizational homogeneity / single point of failure
“Open source brings organizational overhead and corporate culture into every project– you can be the leader of your own project and do what you want to with it, but now you shouldn’t– every project should have a community, a code of conduct, and a dedicated website… Fortunately, Open source brings all this overhead to a project in a way that makes it easier to steer or influence (or purchase) the project.”

Confuse, divide, conquer
“We can stir contention between ‘open’ and ‘free’ and get open source to defend our model, as proof they understand more about software… When free software zealots insist that the user should have full control of their computers and software, we can count on open source to needle them about each aspect of their position… we can tell their open source opponents that our product is better, and they will do the rest of the work as it vindicates their mixed approach…”

Destroying leaders and visionaries
“The most important person to paint as a has-been is Richard Stallman. .[He] and his followers are tightly-knit in their ideology. Attacking any of them is like attacking all of them– we can play up their hacker style as social ineptitude, their adherence [to] standards and interoperability as a refusal to evolve, their playful culture as a refusal to grow up and be professional, and their self-reliance and independence as being non-team-players and even toxic masculinity.”

RED light: Complete cultural takeover
“In exchange for software with more churn, more bloat, less choice and less user control and reliability– they get ‘cooler’ software tools, larger sponsorships, bigger marketing and events that feature their software– everything they would enjoy if we took over their world and did things our way… The plan has never actually changed, but our way of framing it has changed entirely. We de-commoditize protocols. We add features we want and deprecate ones that people rely on, and we tell them to get with the program… it’s as if we hired them ourselves, but all we did was participate and influence.”

Co-opting charities
“We can also work with charities to deliver (and pay for) our software… As long as our proprietary and commercial offerings have more perceived value than the free counterparts, we can point out that these charities could do more for people by raising additional funds to send higher quality commercial software to the people they want to help”

“Free software developers seem to care very little about this, because they have their stripped free software versions of everything open source. So what if we make things less modular, more brittle, more bloated, and more poorly designed? They only use projects with a license allows them to clean up after us, so they’re content no matter what we sabotage. We can overwhelm them and send them to clean up mess after mess, with the remaining effect of steering key projects to work more the way we want, and them accepting our changes.”

Threat type: Consumer / user manipulation

False compromise
“We can probably do a little more to paint our critics as cynical– or encourage them to be more open.”

Trademark shift (from free to open to non-free)
“We can’t kill the GNU brand by owning it… we can still fight GNU [by] changing its association– we will continue to work to make them has-beens, neckbeards, amateurs, ideologues, zealots, and even bigots… We get more done using proxies and shills– the destruction of their brand is the polish on our own image. the gradual shift in public consciousness from their branding towards our own, is the next best thing to owning them…”

Education takeover / student indoctrination
“We (always) need more opportunities for education that involve our products… we also need our own training centers or tutoring centers– at least a pilot program. …lobbying and public-service-like advertising, …working with schools to indoctrinate students with our pro-monopoly point of view. We make certain that if someone says ‘Wouldn’t it be nice if all software were free?’– whether they’re in a classroom or an online chat or their own dinner table, that someone is ready to make them feel stupid for even suggesting it.”

“What you want everyone to think is that spending more money will always result in additional value… The positives we are going to focus on, are the positives of spending more. …we can also feed the customer’s fear of not getting enough– to make them afraid of being ‘ripped off’ if they don’t pay anything. convince them to associate value with spending– not saving– their money… FOMO doesn’t just apply to events or social updates, it can also apply to ‘missing out’ on special promotional offers, better products and the myriad features we add to our software so that if you don’t get the latest edition– you will ‘miss out’ on everything better. … This is no news to Apple, who built an industry on having ‘cooler’ (also more expensive) computers than the standard fare.”

Appeal to consumer pride
“Another great thing about what’s new is that people don’t know anything about it. We can write our own narrative about new products, and until enough people gain access and knowledge (and preferably first-hand experience) they can’t say very much about the product that we can say twice as much about… the incentive to do business is to continue to appear knowledgeable. This tactic works notably well among enthusiasts and professionals.”

The “Corporations are people too” myth
“So far we have done very little to attack people for not giving us as many chances [trust] as other companies. We have Torvalds calling that ‘hate’ though we are pulling so many punches about exclusion these days. We can push this a bit harder.”

The “Corporate control is security” myth
“If we want to sell the internet of things, we can’t have people thinking that a bunch of amateurs are creating their software– we want them to know that everything is under control.”

The “Surveillance is security” myth
“Sell our surveillance by making it look less like our technology, and more like their own.”

False sense of security
“People who feel like they’re your friends will share more with you than people you treat like a competitor… This includes all the telemetry and handling of personal data that you exploit to reinforce your position in the market. The more people like your products, the more you can get away with.”

Security theater
“People are afraid to turn off features that sound as if they add security– won’t that make them less secure? Aha, Gotcha! …there’s always room for more features related to ‘security.’”

Freemium bait-and-switch
“These days, the old ‘shareware’ concept is reborn as the ‘freemium’ concept. With both, you get something for free and you pay money to make it great. This can also be used with weak open source versions and separate, proprietary versions or extensions.”

Sheep’s clothing
“Apple… has used the image of being ‘different’ and rebellious to justify overpriced, more proprietary components in its products. Microsoft… has worked on its reputation of being ruthless and having unfair practices that hurt the computer industry on several different levels. Co-founder Bill Gates has rebranded himself a philanthropist, a common pastime among former ruthless company leaders that gives them an image of being less destructive or sociopathic… While spying on users and selling their data mined by artificial intelligence and unscrupulous third parties, Facebook continues to work to make itself look like a philanthropic organization… Google’s brand is perhaps simply about raw power. Like with these other companies, the real power is the power they have over the industry and the users of their products.”

License proliferation / licensing erosion
* Threat type: License circumvention
* Affects: Copyleft, free software development
* Summary: Gradual enterprise move from reliable free-as-in-freedom licenses (FSF approved) towards arbitrary or even dubious substitutes (including non-GPL-compatible licenses)
* Recognized by: Free Media Alliance
* Also recognized by FSF: Yes
* Mitigation: Avoid / document / move away from projects that change licenses for dubious reasons or (especially) to dubious licenses
* Examples: “Commons Clause” license

Lobbying for unfair business practices
* Threat type: Corruption / unfair business practices
* Affects: User freedom, free software development
* Summary: Introducing or updating rules that keep the world operating in a way that works primarily for monopolies
* Recognized by: Techrights, Free Media Alliance
* Also recognized by FSF: Most likely
* Mitigation: Avoid / boycott / document / stand against companies that lobby against users
* Examples: The Copyright Alliance supporting SOPA

Antitrust tactics
* Threat type: Corruption / unfair business practices
* Affects: User freedom, free software development
* Summary: Abusing monopoly power to push other companies around
* Recognized by: Techrights, Free Media Alliance, critics of GAFAM
* Also recognized by FSF: Yes
* Mitigation: Avoid / boycott / document / stand against companies that use monopoly tactics against other companies
* Examples: Using unfair pricing to force OEMs not to offer competing operating systems

Theft by petition, threat, protectionism
* Threat type: Corruption / unfair business practices
* Affects: User freedom, free software development
* Summary: Some “patent agreements” put things into writing that couldn’t be won in a courtroom– encouraged by the implied or explicit threat of future litigation
* Recognized by: Techrights, Free Media Alliance
* Also recognized by FSF: Almost certainly
* Mitigation: Avoid / boycott / document / stand against companies that use or enter patent agreements to certify false and proprietary ownership of software
* Examples: The Microsoft / Novell / Attachmate / SUSE agreement(s)

Idea monopolies
* Threat type: Corruption / unfair business practices
* Affects: User freedom, free software development
* Summary: Low-quality patents allow companies like Apple to claim (until challenged) a monopoly on ancient concepts like “slide-to-unlock”– which is basically a scrollbar widget from the 1970s.
* Recognized by: Techrights, Free Media Alliance
* Also recognized by FSF: Most likely
* Mitigation: Avoid / boycott / document / stand against companies that threaten companies with low-quality patent portfolios
* Examples: SCO, Microsoft, Apple, slide-to-unlock

Journalistic hostages
* Threat type: Corruption / unfair business practices
* Affects: Journalism, fixing corruption, anything that requires the public to be well informed or to make good decisions
* Summary: Journalists can be treated like OEMs forced to dance to a monopoly’s tune– if they do not stay in line, they are dropped and won’t get timely stories about said monopolies
* Recognized by: Gizmodo, Free Media Alliance
* Also recognized by FSF: (Unknown) very possibly
* Mitigation: Avoid / boycott / document / stand against companies that handle journalists in this fashion
* Examples: Apple’s past culture of extreme secrecy / abuse of reporters

Shills and conflicts of interest
* Threat type: Corruption / unfair business practices
* Affects: Journalism, fixing corruption, anything that requires the public to be well informed or to make good decisions
* Summary: Journalists and others wined, dined, and given gifts by companies they are supposed to report on or make decisions about / news outlets sometimes owned by same companies
* Recognized by: Half the world perhaps, except possibly the “journalists” themselves
* Also recognized by FSF: Most likely
* Mitigation: Call out such conflicts of interest, don’t fund organisations with such shoddy journalism
* Examples: Linux Foundation

Repo takeover / corporate repos
* Threat type: Development disruption
* Affects: User freedom, free software development
* Summary: Before GitHub was purchased by a monopoly, Free software advocates had already warned people against its use
* Recognized by: Techrights, Free Media Alliance, Free software advocates
* Also recognized by FSF: Definitely after the fact, almost certainly before the fact
* Mitigation: Avoid repos that are similar to GitHub in their terms and ownership– don’t confuse corporation with community– don’t use corporate repos for community projects or free software code hosting.
* Examples: GitHub, Snap packages

* Threat type: Development disruption
* Affects: User freedom, free software development
* Summary: Rather than destroy free software completely, companies can break it in enough important places so that it poses less and less of a threat
* Recognized by: Techrights, Free Media Alliance, some critics of Systemd
* Also recognized by FSF: Perhaps to some degree
* Mitigation: Avoid / boycott / document / stand against companies that use EEE-like tactics against high-profile free software projects or free software organisations
* Examples: Systemd, Microsoft

* Threat type: Development disruption
* Affects: User freedom, free software development, organisations
* Summary: Bribe, sue or buy out projects, companies and organisations that help free software
* Recognized by: Techrights, Free Media Alliance, free software advocates
* Also recognized by FSF: Most likely
* Mitigation: Avoid / boycott / document / stand against companies that buy out and relicense free software projects
* Examples: Oracle’s acquisition of Sun

Malicious hardware and firmware
* Threat type: Design attack / development disruption
* Affects: User freedom, free software development, security
* Summary: Harmful features that affect the user even if they reinstall the operating system
* Recognized by: Techrights, Mark Shuttleworth, Free Media Alliance, free software advocates
* Also recognized by FSF: Yes
* Mitigation: Avoid / boycott / research / document such hardware
* Examples: Lenovo firmware payloads, ACPI vulnerabilities and exploits

Unsupported / Poorly supported hardware
* Threat type: Design attack / development disruption
* Affects: User freedom, free software adoption, value of hardware to free software users
* Summary: Some hardware has to be reverse engineered– what drivers gain in stability and maintenance, they often lose in features and sometimes performance
* Recognized by: Techrights, Free Media Alliance
* Also recognized by FSF: Yes
* Mitigation: Look for endorsements of hardware from free software advocates, especially the FSF’s “Respects Your Freedom” certification
* Examples: Nvidia is known for this

Hardware shift
* Threat type: Design attack / development disruption
* Affects: User freedom, free software development
* Summary: Monopolies that control software features will gradually move more of this control to hardware/firmware implementations
* Recognized by: Free Media Alliance
* Also recognized by FSF: Most likely
* Mitigation: Avoid / boycott / document / research
* Examples: ACPI, UEFI, IME

Mobile platforms
* Threat type: Design attack / development disruption
* Affects: User freedom, free software development
* Summary: The companies offering mobile platforms actually like having more control than their customers– mobile is where user and developer freedom goes to die
* Recognized by: Techrights, Free Media Alliance
* Also recognized by FSF: Yes
* Mitigation: Avoid mobile devices / design news ones
* Examples: iPhone, iPad, Android, GSM stack

New device horizon
* Threat type: Design attack / development disruption
* Affects: User freedom, free software development
* Summary: SmartTVs, Smarthome devices and automotive entertainment systems all introduce new threats to security, privacy and freedom
* Recognized by: Techrights, Free Media Alliance
* Also recognized by FSF: Yes
* Mitigation: Avoid / boycott / document / research these devices
* Examples: SmartTVs, Internet of Things, automotive entertainment systems

Forced / Excessively pushed updates
* Threat type: Design attack / development disruption
* Affects: User freedom, security
* Summary: A free user controls when and if updates happen– not every software vendor is respectful of this
* Recognized by: Free Media Alliance, people that left Windows in part because of their overbearing update feature
* Also recognized by FSF: In many instances, yes
* Mitigation: Avoid / boycott / document / stand against projects that make it impossible or exceedingly difficult to avoid updates when the user doesnt want them– insist on opt-in or ask-first defaults
* Examples: Pale Moon, Mozilla, deactivating plugins installed by the user (the deactivtion of which may even lead to harmful code running when the browser restarts)

Feature Churn
* Threat type: Design attack / development disruption
* Affects: Stability, free software development, helps create lock-in
* Summary: Arbitrary and poor excuses for dragging people from one fad to the next– routine sabotage mispronounced as “upgrades”
* Recognized by: Steve Litt, Free Media Alliance, some critics of Systemd
* Also recognized by FSF: Perhaps not
* Mitigation: Avoid / boycott / document / stand against projects that use EEE-like tactics against high-profile free software projects
* Examples: Systemd, GNOME

Publisher / manufacturer control of media after “purchase”
* Threat type: Design attack / development disruption
* Affects: User freedom, free software development
* Summary: Media companies circumvent first-sale doctrine and threaten the autonomy/existence of libraries by encrypting files and retaining proprietary control of keys– a bit like ransomware, except a mainstream business practice with Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, others
* Recognized by: Techrights, Free Media Alliance, Free culture advocates
* Also recognized by FSF: Yes
* Mitigation: Avoid / boycott / document / stand against companies that control media after “purchase”, insist it be called what it is: a “lease”
* Examples: E-books from Amazon and Microsoft, Digital restrictions on films, apps, music

GREEN light: Corporate cultural values
* Threat type: Development disruption, social
* Affects: Communication, software development, organisations
* Summary: Dumping corporate culture into free software organisations encourages / obligates members to act / think in a way that corporations can use to their advantage
* Recognized by: Techrights? Who is more likely to say this openly?
* Also recognized by FSF: At least, they recommend avoiding monopolistic terminology and even mocking it with alternative terms
* Mitigation: Avoid / parody / eschew corporate culture within reason
* Examples: Codes of conduct, Recent FSF passivity isn’t a coincidence, KIND guidelines alternative to CoC isn’t a coincidence

Saturation of media
* Threat type: Development disruption, social
* Affects: Communication, software development, organisations
* Summary: Free software news drowns amid constant penetration / saturation of advertising / perspective from non-free angles
* Recognized by: Techrights, Free Media Alliance, free software advocates
* Also recognized by FSF: To the point where they have policies not to promote non-free software
* Mitigation: Avoid / boycott / document the existence of non-free software projects (in a non-promotional way)
* Examples: The constant deluge of trivial stories about Windows 10 features in the tech press / even “Open Source” news.

YELLOW light: Organizational homogeneity / single point of failure
* Threat type: Development disruption, social
* Affects: Communication, software development, organisations
* Summary: As organisations become more corporate, they become homogenous, sterile, unappealing and overly cautious / politically correct– beyond the vastly overplayed requirement of “human decency”– they become easier to manipulate and steer from goals
* Recognized by: Techrights, others
* Also recognized by FSF: One would hope
* Mitigation: Avoid / parody / eschew corporate culture within reason
* Examples: OpenRespect, Dishonestly using Codes of Conduct to stifle the actual founder of free software at a free software event, Torvalds showing signs of being taken to a “re-education center” or something

Confuse, divide, conquer
* Threat type: Development disruption, social
* Affects: Communication, software development, organisations
* Summary: Playing open source against free software (it’s not actually the other way around as you always imply, S.P. –never was!)
* Recognized by: Bruce Perens, Techrights, also some leaked stories
* Also recognized by FSF: Yes, but they don’t say a lot about it
* Mitigation: Learn the real history of “Open source,” not just the Torvalds-centric rewritten version they’ve promoted for decades (gradually being replaced with a Corporate-centric version by LF)
* Examples: FUD from OSI, FUD from Microsoft

Destroying leaders and visionaries
* Threat type: Development disruption, social
* Affects: Communication, software development, organisations, free software adoption
* Summary: Ad hom writ large, exaggerating or inventing negative stories about key figures in free software advocacy
* Recognized by: Techrights, Free Media Alliance, free software advocates
* Also recognized by FSF: Yes
* Mitigation: When Al Gore’s words were taken out of context and twisted into the claim that he “invented the Internet,” some of the net’s real architects defended his contributions as vital to its success
* Examples: A variety of unjustified attacks on Stallman throughout the years, dishonestly overplaying the aggressive nature of Torvalds critique of dangerous/destructive/irresponsible changes to the kernel [NOTE: Which arguably prevents more harm than it causes. If a nurse drops an instrument into an patient's body, do we really suppose the surgeon shouldn't chastise them, ever? Is the appropriate response to every possible screw-up really "OK, don't worry about it?" This is political correctness beyond the requirement of human decency-- it's narcissists demanding the right to never be criticized or chastised.]

RED light: Complete cultural takeover
* Threat type: Development disruption, social
* Affects: Communication, software development, organisations
* Summary: The plan has never changed, takeover is already here, it just isn’t evenly distributed– “cooler” software tools, larger sponsorships, bigger marketing is the rule; the difference is that it is happening on free software turf now (or close enough for alarm)
* Recognized by: Techrights, Free Media Alliance, possibly others
* Also recognized by FSF: Very unlikely (or in very limited/historical context)
* Mitigation: Avoid / boycott / document / stand against projects and companies that use EEE-like tactics against high-profile free software organisations and projects
* Examples: Linux Foundation

Co-opting charities
* Threat type: Development disruption, social
* Affects: Communication, software development, organisations
* Summary: Some FLOSS-related and non-free software-related companies have complementary non-profit and commercial organisations; that isn’t the problem, though it is a problem when the co-opt charities to promote non-free software
* Recognized by: Techrights, some public schoolteacher/activists, Free Media Alliance
* Also recognized by FSF: At least as much as you would expect
* Mitigation: Avoid / boycott / document / stand against projects that use EEE-like tactics combined with public charity organisations
* Examples: Influence and changes in both public education and OLPC

* Threat type: Development disruption, social
* Affects: Communication, software development, organisations
* Summary: Deface Wikipedia, get called a bastard; but deface free software projects and take over related organisations, get named a “contributor” and people saying “it’s not our problem”– as the problems get larger, why are advocates getting quieter?
* Recognized by: Techrights, Free Media Alliance, most likely some people from Dyne or Devuan also
* Also recognized by FSF: To be determined
* Mitigation: Avoid / boycott / document / stand against projects and companies that use EEE-like tactics against high-profile free software projects and organisations
* Examples: Systemd, Many free software advocates

False compromise / complete compromise (mostly on one side)
* Threat type: Consumer / user manipulation
* Affects: Free software adoption
* Summary: All critique is painted as lack of compromise– solution is to withhold all critique and “be more reasonable.”
* Recognized by: Free software advocates
* Also recognized by FSF: Yes, where “Open source” is involved
* Mitigation: Honesty, integrity, (diplomatically) standing by valid critiques
* Examples: Free software should do things more like Open source (Open source is a compromise on free software principles, free software should give up their own principles for those of a monopolistic company– “because compromise”)

Trademark shift (from free to open to non-free)
* Threat type: Consumer / user manipulation
* Affects: Free software adoption
* Summary: “GNU” -> “Linux” -> “Azure”
* Recognized by: Techrights, Free Media Alliance
* Also recognized by FSF: At least the first part
* Mitigation: Avoid, as much as reasoably possible, assisting the rebranding of free as open or open as enterprise
* Examples: breakdowns of “how much” from each contributor goes into whether GNU/Linux is about “freedom” or about “development methodology”, which (often deliberately) misses the point of why GNU existed in the first place

Education takeover / student indoctrination
* Threat type: Consumer / user manipulation
* Affects: Free software adoption
* Summary: Non-free software vendors use public education to subsidize marketing and create lock-in; if free software wants to “win” it needs to find its way into American (plus other) education whether by lobbying for it or by supplementing it
* Recognized by: Free Media Alliance
* Also recognized by FSF: Yes, but they don’t say enough about it
* Mitigation: Focus on education with free software– preferably in schools, also online, create tutorials and teach everyone how to code
* Examples: There are practically unlimited examples of non-free software in schools, although some countries use free software in classrooms [and some libraries use it in educational children's activities-- NOTE: we need much more of this!]

* Threat type: Consumer / user manipulation
* Affects: Free software adoption
* Summary: People have spent decades being told they will “miss out” if they don’t use non-free software or “upgrade” to features that erode their freedom and subjugate users
* Recognized by: Techrights, Free Media Alliance
* Also recognized by FSF: Almost certainly
* Mitigation: Be more objective/critical about new software, particularly when it erodes existing choiecs
* Examples: Systemd, Ubuntu, GNOME

Appeal to consumer pride
* Threat type: Consumer / user manipulation
* Affects: Free software adoption, stability
* Summary: Sell people new things, encourage them to feel superior to everyone using things that are well-established or stable because “they don’t know anything about the new stuff.”
* Recognized by: Techrights, Free Media Alliance
* Also recognized by FSF: Unknown
* Mitigation: Recognize and ignore trolls, but document and criticize the tactic
* Examples: Nope

The “Corporations are people too” myth
* Threat type: Consumer / user manipulation
* Affects: Communication, free software adoption
* Summary: Corporations are people, thus they deserve the same respect
* Recognized by: Techrights, Free Media Alliance
* Also recognized by FSF: They’re too smart to fall for this
* Mitigation: Corporations are not people, when they do very bad things to people they should not expect respect from anybody
* Examples: Crap Jim Zemlin says, OpenRespect, Some of the typical nonsense from B.L., Torvalds’ hatred of freedom is a disease

The “Corporate control is security” myth
* Threat type: Consumer / user manipulation
* Affects: The general public’s concept of what security is
* Summary: Security is what you get when a monopoly takes care of stuff for you
* Recognized by: Free software advocates, critics of GAFAM, Techrights, serious security professionals
* Also recognized by FSF: It would have to be
* Mitigation: Learn / teach more about security myths
* Examples: Corporations have used this in the past to justify controlling what apps you can install on your phone

The “Surveillance is security” myth
* Threat type: Consumer / user manipulation
* Affects: Free software adoption
* Summary: “…for your protection”
* Recognized by: Techrights, Free Media Alliance, free software advocates
* Also recognized by FSF: Seems likely
* Mitigation: Do not promote or wilfully adopt mass surveillance whenever avoidable
* Examples: So many to choose from– how about a home surveillance camera that can roam around on robotic wheels or treads?

False sense of security
* Threat type: Consumer / user manipulation
* Affects: Free software adoption
* Summary: Comanpies that do unethical things with your data want you to trust them, obviously– they will act like a friend or helper
* Recognized by: Techrights, Free Media Alliance
* Also recognized by FSF: Absolutely
* Mitigation: Mitigating this is a cultural problem– start by deleting Facebook and GitHub.
* Examples: Facebook, Twitter, Github, Google / Youtube, Mozilla, Telemetry, Cloud, GPS tracking, Internet of Things…

Security theater
* Threat type: Consumer / user manipulation
* Affects: Free software adoption
* Summary: “Security” is a magic word that makes people assume they need a thing or they won’t be secure
* Recognized by: Techrights, free software advocates
* Also recognized by FSF: Sometimes at least
* Mitigation: Learning a little more about the subject
* Examples: Pale Moon’s FUD against NoScript, Mozilla’s control/deactivation of plugins that the user has installed, Secure boot, App stores that restrict what software you can install

Freemium bait-and-switch
* Threat type: Consumer / user manipulation
* Affects: Free software adoption
* Summary: Shareware is reborn as the “freemium” concept; with both, you get something for free and you pay money to make it great– this isn’t a problem for kickstarter funding, but it is when it results in and promotes non-free software
* Recognized by: Techrights, Free Media Alliance, critics of “Openwashing”
* Also recognized by FSF: Very unlikely (or in very limited/historical context)
* Mitigation: Avoid non-free software
* Examples: Ubuntu promotes non-free software

“Apple… has used the image of being ‘different’ and rebellious to justify overpriced, more proprietary components in its products.

Microsoft… has worked on its reputation of being ruthless and having unfair practices that hurt the computer industry on several different levels. Co-founder Bill Gates has rebranded himself a philanthropist, a common pastime among former ruthless company leaders that gives them an image of being less destructive or sociopathic…

While spying on users and selling their data mined by artificial intelligence and unscrupulous third parties, Facebook continues to work to make itself look like a philanthropic organization…

Google’s brand is perhaps simply about raw power. Like with these other companies, the real power is the power they have over the industry and the users of their products.”

Sheep’s clothing
* Threat type: Consumer / user manipulation
* Affects: Free software adoption
* Summary: Rebrand everything to focus on the positive and ignore the subjugation of users
* Recognized by: Techrights, free software advocates
* Also recognized by FSF: Yes
* Mitigation: Criticize and when possible, avoid companies that treat users poorly or unethically
* Examples: GAFAM, many others. Amazon threatens “The Right to Read”.

About the author:

Ted MacReilly is a technologist and tech writer concerned with modern trends in software design and development.
The Free Culture movement is in great need of support, and Free Software is also getting a little too soft. – Ted MacReilly, June 2019

Links 1/7/2019: Linux 5.2 RC7, 4MLinux 30.0 Beta

Posted in News Roundup at 8:55 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


  • Latest Chrome OS beta brakes Linux support (Crostini) on multiple devices – here’s what you should know

    Chrome OS from Google is widely popular among students and casual PC users due to its simplicity and lightweight nature. You don’t need to bother about maintenance, antivirus or BSOD – just get the work done with the familiar interface of Google Chrome. [...] Well, there are some convoluted terminologies regarding the Linux compatibility. In short, Crostini is the unified term used by Google to describe the container based Linux app support layer. [...] The root cause is actually hidden underneath this commit, which is responsible to break hardware virtualization support, which results in the disappearance of Crostini (Linux apps) altogether from the affected Chromebooks/Chromeboxes. The team is discussing the aftereffects of the bug, while internally pushing code commits to fix the disaster. The proper patch is already submitted to the v77 branch, and the Platform version 12239.20.0 of v76 now contains the fix as well.

  • 3 easy ways for Windows users to try out Linux

    People are talking about Linux more and more in the mainstream these days, and even Windows users are starting to take an interest in the platform. However, trying out a new type of operating system can be scary if you’ve never used it before. Since Linux has a perception of being difficult to install, we’ve compiled a list of 3 easy ways you can try out Linux, while keeping your Microsoft Windows PC intact.

  • Upgrade from Windows 7 to Ubuntu Part 1: Intro

    Ubuntu is a free, libre, easy to use, secure, popular desktop operating system capable to replace Windows 7. As many people anticipated, soon Windows 7 will cease away just like XP, and this is the time for them to consider switching to GNU/Linux operating system. This article is the first part of my migration guide to Ubuntu for Windows 7 users anywhere. You will find here intro to Ubuntu and its goodness, its user interface, difference to Windows, and its terminology. I’m trying my best to make every part short and easy enough to understand for everybody. Finally, enjoy Ubuntu! [...] Ubuntu is a popular computer operating system developed by Canonical Ltd., that is free and libre, easy to use, modern and complete with worldwide community and commercial support. Its name comes from ancient African word meaning humanity to others. Ubuntu is capable to replace Windows or macOS in everybody’s computing life. Ubuntu first released in 2004 as version 4.10 and reached version 18.04 in 2018. Everybody can obtain Ubuntu gratis at its website www.ubuntu.com.

  • 5 Lessons From Microsoft’s Antitrust Woes, by People Who Lived It

    Interviews with several of the people at the center of the government’s case against the company, as well as antitrust experts, suggest that tech executives will need to be careful and flexible in navigating their turn in the cross hairs.

    Here are five lessons that today’s executives might want to take away from the Microsoft experience, according to the people who lived through it.

  • Server

    • Mergers: Commission approves acquisition of Red Hat by IBM

      The European Commission has approved unconditionally, under the EU Merger Regulation, the proposed acquisition of Red Hat by IBM, both information technology companies based in the US. The Commission concluded that the transaction would raise no competition concerns. Red Hat and IBM both sell information technology (“IT”) solutions to enterprise customers. Red Hat’s main activities relate to open-source software and support services, while IBM is active in a wide variety of IT solutions, namely enterprise IT software, hardware and services.

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux 5.2-rc7
      It's Sunday afternoon _somewhere_ in the world right now. In
      particular, in the middle of nowhere on a boat.
      I didn't expect to have any internet this week, and honestly, I
      haven't had much, and not fast. But enough to keep up with critical
      pull requests, and enough to push out an rc.
      But credit for the internet goes to Disk Hohndel and vmware, because
      I'm mooching off his phone hotspot WiFi to do this.
      Anyway, It's been _fairly_ calm. Would I have hoped for even calmer
      with my crappy internet? Sure. But hey, it's a lot smaller than rc6
      was and I'm not really complaining.
    • Linux 5.2-rc7 Is Quiet & Released On A Boat Somewhere
    • Linux 5.2-rc7 Is Quiet & Released On A Boat Somewhere

      Linus Torvalds is off in “the middle of nowhere” on one of his well known scuba diving adventures but that didn’t stop him from being able to release Linux 5.2-rc7 today like clock-work thanks to tethering of a smartphone. Torvalds initially wasn’t sure about his ability to issue 5.2-rc7 but he managed to deliver. Of Linux 5.2-rc7 he says it’s been a fairly calm week leading up to today’s release. Additionally, 5.2-rc7 is smaller than the previous release candidate.

    • The Linux Kernel Getting Fixed Up For Booting On Some Intel Systems – No “8254″

      There have been Linux reports of problems pertaining to “8254 Clock Gating” going back a while but more so recently. This problem is some newer Intel Skylake~Apollolake derived systems particularly with Intel SoCs where certain systems ship with the 8254 PIT to be gated via a special register and up until now that has caused Linux to fail to boot.

    • Foundations

      • Cities lead the way on open source tools for mobility

        The Open Mobility Foundation aims to evolve how cities better manage transportation today and in the future and develop and deploy digital mobility tools.

      • Open Mobility Foundation seeks to improve transportation with open source tools

        This morning, a host of U.S. cities and organizations — including Austin, Chicago, Los Angeles, Louisville, Miami-Dade County, Miami, Minneapolis, New York City DOT, New York City Taxi and Limo Commission, Philadelphia, Portland, San Francisco, San Jose, Santa Monica, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. — announced their participation in the newly formed Open Mobility Foundation (OMF), a nonprofit coalition that seeks to improve intercity transportation infrastructure with open source software tools. Escooter startup Bird also said it’ll join as a founding member.

      • GoodFirms Publishes Best Free & Open Source Software for Various Categories [Ed: Probably another marketing firm like Gartner, ‘monetising’ fake recommendation and lobbying services.]

        In this competitive world, running a business is an expensive endeavor, and none of the entrepreneurs can afford to take risks. But by thinking like a small business and taking the critical decisions and getting the things done can be a smart move. Thus, to help in this situation, GoodFirms.co has come up with ten blogs for entrepreneurs. In these blogs, you can find the various free business software that has been briefly introduced along with features to streamline your work and increase productivity.

      • ADTRAN Expands Participation in prpl Foundation—Open-Source Consortium Enabling the Security and Interoperability of Devices for the IoT and Smart Societies of the Future

        ADTRAN®, Inc., (ADTN), a leading provider of next-generation open networking and subscriber experience solutions, today announced it has joined the prpl Foundation—an open-source, community-driven, collaborative non-profit foundation that strives to enable the security and interoperability of embedded devices.

      • Cloud Native Computing Foundation Announces DiDi as Winner of Top End User Award

        KubeCon + CloudNativeCon + Open Source Summit China – The Cloud Native Computing Foundation® (CNCF®), which sustains and integrates open source technologies like Kubernetes® and Prometheus™, today announced that DiDi, the world’s leading multi-modal transportation platform, has won the CNCF End User Award in recognition of its contributions to the cloud native ecosystem.

      • Cloud Native Computing Foundation Welcomes Ant Financial as Gold End User Member

        KubeCon + CloudNativeCon + Open Source Summit China 2019 — The Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF), which sustains and integrates open source technologies like Kubernetes® and Prometheus™, today announced that Ant Financial has joined the Foundation as a Gold Member.

      • CNCF to Expand Scope of SIGs

        The Cloud Native Computing Foundation announced at the KubeCon + Cloud Native + Open Source China Summit today that it is expanding the number of special interest groups (SIGs) surrounding Kubernetes, as part of an effort to accelerate development of critical complementary technologies. Dan Kohn, executive director for the CNCF, says it’s become apparent that the nine members of the technical oversight committee (TOC) for Kubernetes needs to be supported with expertise in specific areas. The first two SIGs to be formed will be focused on security and storage, followed by SIGs addressing network traffic, observability, governance, application delivery, core and applied architectures. [...] Kohn says as part of this initiative, one of the goals of the CNCF is to entice more developers to contribute to an increasing number of open source projects. Kohn estimates that well more than half the developers who leverage open source software don’t contribute to any project. Many of those developers are already creating forks to open source code every time they patch open source software on their own. Every time that software is updated—otherwise known as carrying your own patch—those developers have to reconstruct that patch. That issue would go away if the developers contributed their patches to the open source project, which would then ensure the issue is addressed as part of the life cycle of the project, he notes.

      • Wind River Becomes First to Achieve OpenChain 2.0 Conformance

        Wind River®, a leader in delivering software for critical infrastructure, today announced that it is certified on OpenChain version 2.0. It was also the first company to become OpenChain conformant. Hosted by the Linux Foundation, the OpenChain Project aims to build trust in open source by making open source license compliance simpler and more consistent. By working through the OpenChain Specification conformance process and curriculum, open source license compliance becomes more predictable, understandable and efficient for all participants in the software supply chain.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Network transparency with Wayland

        The rate of additions to the code has started to slow, because waypipe already has most of the features it would ever need. The most significant change for the preceding week was making most build dependencies optional: only a core of libffi, libwayland, and wayland-protocols are required. (librt and pthreads are already dependencies of libwayland.) There has been a slight speedup to the damage merging algorithm, but on further reflection the whole “extended interval” construction may limit the performance of the buffer diff construction and application procedures. Instead, the horizontally banded damage tracking data structure underlying pixman may make it easier to ensure that buffers are scanned monotonically — or it may prove to be unavoidably slow to construct, in the worst case. The next most notable change was the introduction of a headless test, checking that when run with “headless” weston that applications do not crash when run indirectly using waypipe. All the remaining changes are essentially bug fixes and small expansions of the previous multithreading and video encoding work.

      • Serial numbers and function calling

        I’ve taken a short break from primarily working on waypipe development, instead focusing on more general experimentation. One of the results is a small test client for copy-paste operations, which has uncovered a rather interesting issue that applies to sway and a few other compositors. The core Wayland protocol uses a server-global serial counter to assign a number to each input event. When a client makes a copy selection request, it provides the serial number of the event which caused the request. When an application is delayed a few hundred milliseconds, the provided serial number can be used to reject its copy selection request if another application has made a request in response to a more recent input event. It’s also possible that a badly written application (like my test client) sends a request to set the copy selection with a serial number that is far too large, making selection requests from other applications fail. Currently, wlroots and Weston do not check that the serial numbers in requests were ever sent to the client. Unfortunately, tracking the set of all, or even just the most recent, serial numbers given to a client would require a modification of libwayland-server, as the wl_display::sync request lets clients know what the current serial number is. In practice, just checking that the serial numbers in selection requests aren’t any larger than the current server serial suffices to avoid any problems. I also have written a small prototype for a code generator for Wayland protocol method calls. It precomputes data needed to quickly verify that messages are well formed, and generates small wrapper functions that can call an event handler directly from the wire format.

      • Vulkan 1.1.113 Brings Two More Extensions

        It’s been just one week since the release of Vulkan 1.1.112 but it’s now been succeeded by Vulkan 1.1.113 and two new extensions are in tow. Vulkan 1.1.113 comes with its usual assortment of specification corrections and clarifications to the massive Vulkan API. Additionally, Vulkan 1.1.113 has two new extensions for EXT_texel_buffer_alignment and EXT_shader_demote_to_helper_invocation.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • KDE Usability & Productivity: Week 77

        We’re up to week 77 in KDE’s Usability & Productivity initiative! This week’s report encompasses the latter half of the Usability & Productivity sprint. Quite a lot of great work got done, and two features I’m particularly excited about are in progress with patches submitted and under review: image annotation support in Spectacle, and customizable sort ordering for wallpaper slideshows.

      • KDE Ends Out June With More Bug Fixes & UI Refinements

        KDE developer Nate Graham has posted another one of his usability/productivity summaries of the KDE improvements over the past week. There’s been another busy week of work on KDE Plasma 5.17, KDE Applications 19.08, and KDE Frameworks 5.60.

      • First month progress
      • What my project is all about? Porting Authentication to Polit-qt-1

        KDE Partition Manager runs all the authentication or authorization protocols over KAuth (KDE Authentication), which is a tier 2 library from KDE Frameworks. In the current implementation of KDE Partition Manager, all the privileged tasks such as executing some external program like btrfs, sfdisk etc. Or copying a block of data from one partition to the other, which requires escalated permissions to execute are executed by a helper non GUI application. So, instead of running whole GUI application (KDE Partition Manager) as root or superuser, a helper non GUI application is spawned which runs as root and executes privileged tasks. This helper program communicates with KDE Partition Manager over simple DBus protocol. The current implementation may seem a good idea, but is not, the reason being that KAuth is an extra layer added over Polkit-qt which causes extra overhead. So, the proposal for this project is to port all the authentication/authorization code from KAuth to Polkit-qt without effecting the original behaviour of KDE Partition Manager.

      • May/June in KDE PIM

        Around calendaring, most work has been related to the effort of making KCalCore part of KDE Frameworks 5, something that particularly benefits developers using KCalCore outside of KDE PIM. The changes to KCalCore also aimed at making it easier to use from QML, by turning more data types into implicitly shared value types with Q_GADGET annotations. This work should come to a conclusion soon, so we can continue the KF5 review process.

      • Achieving consistency between SDDM and Plasma

        With the first phase of Google Summer of Code over it’s high time some substantial progress on achieving the main goal of the project was presented. Since the last post, there’s two things that have been done. First, Plasma is now going to be following upstream advice on config file location, which means the location has been changed from /etc/sddm.conf to etc/sddm.conf.d/kde_settings.conf. Since the former file takes preference, duplicate keys will be deleted from it when saving to the latter.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • GNOME Shell Adds Another Much-Requested Feature

        Sound the ‘long-requested-feature-finally-materalises-in-reality‘ alarm because it looks like GNOME Shell is FINALLY adding drag and drop folder creation to the Applications Overview. Long time coming, right? Code contributed by GNOME dev Georges Basile Stavracas Neto (aka Feaneron), and already proposed for merging, is said to “…implement drag n’ drop as a way to way manage folders in GNOME Shell.” GNOME Shell does support app folders natively, you just can’t create app folders directly from the apps grid by using drag and drop. In fact, the process is really rather hidden, obtusely tucked away in GNOME Software (of all places). There are third-party extensions which make it easier to create app folders in GNOME Shell, having the functionality native, blessed, and included out-of-the-box is always preferable, isn’t it? And that’s precisely what Georges’ promising code proposal purports to provide.

      • Cinnamon 4.2.0 Packs Plenty of Bug Fixes, But Nothing Particularly Exciting

        A new version of the Cinnamon desktop is tagged for release, but Linux Mint fans who favour major changes won’t be too excited by this update. Cinnamon 4.2.0 is squarely a bug fix release that does not bring any shiny new things to the fore. Instead, the update focuses on improving the features and functions that are already present in the popular desktop environment. Such updates may be short on excitement, but they’re always big on fit and finish. Among the many bug fixes and resolved issues shipping as part of Cinnamon 4.2.0 is a patch that allows auto-hidden desktop panels to ‘peek’ in to view for 1.5 seconds when highlighted or selected in the panel or applet settings. Other changes include window animation tweaks, layout adjustments, and the addition of tooltips to the workspace switcher applet.

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

      • 4MLinux 30.0 BETA released.

        4MLinux 30.0 BETA is ready for testing. Basically, at this stage of development, 4MLinux BETA has the same features as 4MLinux STABLE, but it provides a huge number of updated packages. Road map: June 2019 -> BETA September 2019 -> STABLE December 2019 -> OLD STABLE March 2020 -> EOL

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • openSUSE Leap 42.3 Linux OS Reached End of Life, Upgrade to openSUSE Leap 15.1

        Released two years ago, on July 26th, 2017, the OpenSuSE Leap 42.3 operating system was the third maintenance update to the openSUSE Leap 42 series, which is also the last to be based on the SUSE Linux Enterprise (SLE) 12 operating system series. openSUSE Leap 42.3 was based on the packages from SUSE Linux Enterprise 12 Service Pack 3 and was powered by the long-term supported Linux 4.4 kernel series. It was initially supposed to be supported until January 2019, but the openSUSE and SUSE projects decided to give users more time to upgrade to the major openSUSE Leap 15 series.

      • SUSE Linux Enterprise 15 SP1 Enhances Support for HPC Computing
      • Jochen Breuer | SUSE Manager Team

        In this interview, Jochen Breuer, an engineer in the SUSE Manager Team, talks about SUSE Manager, Uyuni and Yomi.

      • What Is SUSE Manager?

        In this clip, Jochen Breuer, an engineer in the SUSE Manager Team, explains what is SUSE Manager. Watch the full interview of Breuer on TFIR where he goes in depth to explain the open source project, Uyuni, which is the foundation and upstream of SUSE Manager. We also talked about another openSUSE project called Yomi which is being developed as the installer for openSUSE and SUSE family of distributions. The interview was conducted at openSUSE Conference. SUSE/openSUSE Sponsored the travel and lodging of TFIR team for this interview.

    • Fedora

      • Red Hat Expecting X.org to “Go into Hard Maintenance Mode Fairly Quickly”

        Once we are done with [their Wayland improvements] we expect X.org to go into hard maintenance mode fairly quickly. The reality is that X.org is basically maintained by us and thus once we stop paying attention to it there is unlikely to be any major new releases coming out and there might even be some bitrot setting in over time. We will keep an eye on it as we will want to ensure X.org stays supportable until the end of the RHEL8 lifecycle at a minimum, but let this be a friendly notice for everyone who rely the work we do maintaining the Linux graphics stack, get onto Wayland, that is where the future is.”

      • Jonathan Dieter: An update

        Apparently coding experience doesn’t translate into interview experience, as I found out when I did my first. In the stress of the moment, I completely bombed one of the low-level skill questions, painting myself, I’m sure, as a first-class idiot. The interviewer was very gracious, but the interview ended shortly afterwards and I got my official rejection a few minutes later. It was only afterwards that I realized that, at age 37, this had been the very first interview I had ever done in my life. I applied for positions in companies around Ireland, and one thing I found interesting is that a majority of the interviews I got were as a result of connections I’d made, mostly through Fedora. In the tech world, as much as any other field, it seems that our ability to build and foster relationships is still essential to our professional growth. It’s not a substitute for competence, but skill can’t replace it either. One thing that paints a compelling picture of a company is how it handles rejections. Most companies did well enough, having the courtesy to send out an email when they had decided against me. A number ghosted me, which still puts a sour taste in the mouth when thinking about them. And then there was Red Hat. Now, to be fair, my interviews at Red Hat were different anyway, but a Red Hat rep personally called me and let me know that they were passing on me because they’d found a more qualified applicant. While I was obviously disappointed, I felt that this set a really high bar for other companies. In November, I got hired on by a local automated phone number testing company called Spearline. They test phone call quality using in-country servers around the world, and I quickly settled in, getting the opportunity to move their web applications over to a micro-services architecture. The company gave me a lot of responsibility, was a great place to work, and I built a lot of good friendships there.

    • Debian Family

      • Sylvain Beucler: Debian LTS – June 2019

        Here is my transparent report for my work on the Debian Long Term Support (LTS) project, which extends the security support for past Debian releases, as a paid contributor. In June, the monthly sponsored hours were split evenly among contributors depending on their max availability – I declared max 30h and got 17h.

      • Chris Lamb: Free software activities in June 2019

        Whilst anyone can inspect the source code of free software for malicious flaws almost all software is distributed pre-compiled to end users. The motivation behind the Reproducible Builds effort is to ensure no flaws have been introduced during this compilation process by promising identical results are always generated from a given source, thus allowing multiple third-parties to come to a consensus on whether a build was compromised.

      • Ben Hutchings: Debian LTS work, June 2019

        I was assigned 17 hours of work by Freexian’s Debian LTS initiative and worked all those hours this month. I applied a number of security fixes to Linux 3.16, including those for the TCP denial-of-service vulnerabilities. I uploaded the updated package to jessie and issued DLA-1823. I backported the corresponding security update for Linux 4.9 from stretch to jessie and issued DLA-1824.

      • Derivatives

        • Sparky 5.8 RC2 ARMHF

          New images of Sparky 5.8 RC2 for RaspberryPi are ready to go. Sparky 5.8 RC is a release candidate and is based on upcoming Debian stable Buster.

        • Sparky news 2019/06

          The 6th monthly report of 2019 of the Sparky project: • Sparky 5.8 RC based on Debian testing Buster has been released • Linux kernel updated up to version 5.1.15 & 5.2-rc7 • added to repos: Baka-MPlayer, Atom editor • preparations to next Sparky stable 5 “Nibiru” are on the way • Sparky 5.8 RC2 ARMHF for RaspberryPi is out and ready for testing

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Canonical Fixes Linux Kernel Regression in All Supported Ubuntu Releases

            Last week, Canonical released Linux kernel updates for all supported Ubuntu releases to address several security vulnerabilities discovered by Jonathan Looney in Linux kernel’s TCP retransmission queue implementation when handling some specific TCP Selective Acknowledgment (SACKs). Known as SACK Panic, these security vulnerabilities affect Ubuntu 19.04, Ubuntu 18.10, Ubuntu 18.04 LTS, and Ubuntu 16.04 LTS systems and could allow a remote attacker to crash the affected systems by causing a denial of service by constructing an ongoing sequence of requests.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Lubuntu 19.04 Disco Dingo – Casus vitae

              Lubuntu 19.04 Disco Dingo feels … raw. Unfinished. Half-baked. It has some perfectly decent functionality, like networking, media and phone support, but then it also comes with rudimentary package management, a jumbled arsenal of programs, a desktop that is too difficult to manage and tame, plus identity crisis. The truly redeeming factors are performance and battery life. This is a promise, and one well kept, and indeed, if there’s one reason (or rather two reasons) to sample Lubuntu, there you have it. I struggled with the overall purpose, though. As impressive as the speed and lightness are, they are only small improvements over what Plasma offers. But then, Plasma is much easier to customize and tweak, it offers a coherent, consistent experience, and it feels modern and relevant. With Lubuntu, I had no connection, and using the distro felt like a chore. I had to fight the weird defaults to try to create an efficient setup, and I wasn’t able to do achieve that. So I always go back to the question of investment versus benefit. Lubuntu feels too pricey for what it gives. For example, MX Linux delivers wonderfully on my eeePC, and it’s quite simple to handle. With Lubuntu, there needs to be more order, more consistency in how it works. At the moment, it’s just a collection of ideas mashed together. While perfectly functional, it’s not really fun. 6/10. You should test, especially if you have old hardware.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • D-Wave Releases of D-Wave Hybrid Workflow Platform to Open Source

    D-Wave Hybrid is designed to simplify and accelerate developers’ ability to build and run algorithms across classical and quantum systems, continuing D-Wave’s work to help customers with their real-world application development.

  • D-Wave’s open source platform for quantum-classical hybrid apps hits general availability

    D-Wave today announced the general availability of D-Wave Hybrid, its open source hybrid workflow platform for building and running quantum-classical hybrid applications. You can download D-Wave Hybrid, which is part of the company’s Ocean SDK, from GitHub.

  • Free, open-source virtual modular synth VCV Rack updated to v1.0

    Since its 2017 launch, VCV Rack has helped newbies step into modular synthesis, presenting a free, open-source software that simulates Eurorack on your desktop. VCV Rack has now been updated to version 1.0, which adds powerful features such as 16-voice polyphony, MIDI mapping and more. Important to note is that the software retains its intuitive module-patching feature, letting you add and connect both free and purchased modules creatively. What’s neat about v1.0, however, is support for polyphony of up to 16 voices, giving you the ability to produce thicker textures.

  • Healthcare Design Studio, GoInvo Celebrates 15th Anniversary with Release of Open Source Visualizations

    To celebrate 15 years in business, GoInvo, a digital health design consultancy headquartered in Arlington, Massachusetts, today announced the release of two new open source health projects, “Who Uses My Health Data?”, and “Precision Medicine Timeline”, both of which are available to all for use or modification, under a Creative Commons Attribution v3 license or MIT license.

  • “No Loss” Lotto Comes to Ethereum: Builders Commit to Open-Sourcing the Code

    A “no loss” lottery built atop Ethereum — PoolTogether — quickly generated buzz in cryptocurrency circles this week in being the newest DeFi project on the block. Yet the lotto’s hype was met with an initial wave of skepticism, too, as some cryptoverse stakeholders cautioned against using the dapp while its code remained closed-source. That caution was fair, and it got the PoolTogether team’s attention in short order.

  • Qwant Maps: open source Google Maps alternative launches

    Qwant, the French search engine that respects users privacy, has launched a beta version of Qwant Maps, a, you guessed it, privacy respecting mapping service. Qwant Maps is an open source project that anyone may contribute to. The data is hosted on GitHub and developers may run their own version by following the instructions on the project website. The beta version of the mapping service supports desktop and mobile access, and it works similarly to how other mapping services such as Google Maps, Bing Maps, or OpenStreetMap work.

  • Fans resurrect Super Mario Bros Royale as a free open-source project, available to play

    What this ultimately means is that there is a playable free open-source version of Super Mario Bros Royale, known as Mario Royale, available now to play.

  • DBS Bank goes big on open source

    Besides using a slew of open source software, DBS Bank is looking to contribute some of its own projects to the open source community in future

  • The financial services industry is the next great frontier for open source

    Open source software is a driver of the democratization of technology, opening doors, and leveling the playing field for many industries. However, financial services has been a rare exception: financial institutions have tended to rely on their own technology development and operation. In a sector that has traditionally served the few and not the many, open source could be the key to make financial services more inclusive for the 2 billion people and 200 million small businesses around the world lacking access to basic services such as banking and lending. In a report published by Gartner, global enterprise IT spending in the banking and securities market was estimated to have grown by 4.6% in 2018 in constant US dollars. Banking and securities firms remain steadfast as they continue to prioritize digital transformation. But it has largely been major global banks that have the resources and ability to throw their hats into the ring of technology development—smaller regional banks have tended to stay on the sidelines.

  • Should you be banking on open source analytics?

    Banks see open source as a hotbed of innovation – and a governance nightmare. Do the rewards outweigh the risks? Open source software used to be treated almost as a joke in the financial services sector. If you wanted to build a new system, you bought tried and tested, enterprise-grade software from a large, reputable vendor. You didn’t gamble with your customers’ trust by adopting tools written by small groups of independent programmers. Especially with no formal support contracts and no guarantees that they would continue to be maintained in the future. Fast-forward to today, and the received wisdom seems to have turned on its head. Why invest in expensive proprietary software when you can use an open source equivalent for free? Why wait months for the official release of a new feature when you can edit the source code and add it yourself? And why lock yourself into a vendor relationship when you can create your own version of the tool and control your own destiny?

  • Algorand, a Dapp Analytics Suite, Goes Open Source

    Algorand, a permission-less, proof-of-stake blockchain and technology company, announced that their node repository is now open source. Part of Algorand’s ongoing mission to develop and promote a decentralized blockchain, the company has made several of its projects open source over the past year, including a Verifiable Random Function and their Developer SDKs. The blockchain’s nodes are run by diverse entities — businesses, individuals, and consortiums — spread across many countries, according to the company website. The decentralized voting mechanism pools and randomly selects these users to develop a unique committee to approve every block.

  • [Old] On Usage of The Phrase “Open Source”

    It is unfortunate that for some time the Open Source Initiative deprecated Richard Stallman and Free Software, and that some people still consider Open Source and Free Software to be different things today. I never meant it to be that way. Open Source was meant to be a way of promoting the concept of Free Software to business people, who I have always hoped would thus come to appreciate Richard and his Free Software campaign. And many have. Open Source licenses and Free Software licenses are effectively the same thing.

  • Publication of Research on Company Contributions to OSS Projects

    IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering has published an article on company contributions to community open source projects authored by partners in the LIM-IT project. “On Company Contributions to Community OSS Projects” reports an investigation of how practitioners working for businesses interact with eight community OSS projects of various sizes in diverse domains, including cloud computing and the internet of things. The article also investigates why contributors working for companies use particular ways of working to achieve the strategic aims of the businesses that commission their work. Through analysis of interviews with practitioners, the article provides insights into how individuals working on behalf of companies can and do interact with projects, and the motivations for their actions arising from business and technical pressures. Factors influencing contributor work practices can be complex and are often dynamic and include considerations such as company and project structure, as well as technical concerns and business strategies. For example, interviewees reported the value of using mailing list questions to send signals to multiple audiences, including the core developers and their own clients. Other interviewees described the challenges of delivering business products and services that depend on software from the OSS projects investigated, and how those challenges can motivate approaches to the company’s software development process that may involve additional work in the short term, but are expected to bring long-term benefits to the business.

  • SaaS/Back End

    • Breaking IT Down: What Is Kubernetes?

      Kubernetes is an open source tool used for automating and managing container operations. Ever since its launch as an open source platform in 2014, Kubernetes has grown to become the preferred choice for container orchestration. It has the support of tech majors and is the most popular open source project after Linux among the open source community of developers. Container technology enables packaging of an application together with all its dependencies, such as OS, SSL libraries, and configuration files, into a single container. This technology is not new; it has been a part of Linux operations for years.

    • Platform9 Extends Scope of Kubernetes Services

      Platform9 announced this week it is adding support for a range of complementary technologies to the managed Kubernetes service it already provides. Company CEO Sirish Raghuram says now that Kubernetes adoption is achieving critical mass, organizations are looking to invoke additional services. Platform9 now supports the open source Prometheus monitoring tools and an instance of the open source MySQL database to support stateful containerized applications running on Kubernetes that need access to persistent sources of data.

    • We’re talking Kubernetes at TC Sessions: Enterprise with Google’s Aparna Sinha and VMware’s Craig McLuckie

      Over the past five years, Kubernetes has grown from a project inside of Google to an open source powerhouse with an ecosystem of products and services, attracting billions of dollars in venture investment. In fact, we’ve already seen some successful exits, including one from one of our panelists. On September 5th at TC Sessions: Enterprise, we’re going to be discussing the rise of Kubernetes with two industry veterans. For starters we have Aparna Sinha, director of product management for Kubernetes and the newly announced Anthos product. Sinha was in charge of several early Kubernetes releases and has worked on the Kubernetes team at Google since 2016. Prior to joining Google, she had 15 years experience in enterprise software settings.

    • Should Google be a bit less like Google to succeed in cloud?

      It’s also very possible that it oversteps the mark. As James Urquhart put it, “Google is the Sun Microsystems of this decade. Engineering for engineering to engineer by engineering. A phenomenal approach for discovering innovative solutions, but not necessarily a great one for product-market fit.” Is Google too Googley for its own good?

    • SIM swap horror story: I’ve lost decades of data and Google won’t lift a finger

      We pay for Google Drive, Google Fi, and Google Play Movies so I was hoping there would be some level of customer service for paying customers. There are no phone numbers available for customers who pay for services or those who only use free services. Google prides itself on collecting my information and using it to help with search results. Thus, it has all sorts of information on how I conduct my daily life, including tracking my every movement, tracking my business trips, seeing who I contact daily, and much more. You would think it would be smart enough to see when some stranger appears and completely changes my account information.

      According to Gmail, my Google account has now been deleted so I’m no longer trying to just reset the password, but instead I am trying to recover my account. I have countless PR folks, friends, family, and others who are in my long Gmail history and am currently unable to access any of that information. I also have thousands of photos that may be lost forever if Google won’t work with me to get my account back.

    • The Risks Of Outsourcing

      One risk that is often underestimated is that the security of IT outsourced to a cloud provider has a single point of failure, the security of the account at the cloud provider. Brian Wilson of Backblaze pointed to the risk that the account suffers a billing problem: [...]

  • Databases

    • Is Hadoop Dead?

      When you hear “No one needs big data”, look over the CV of the speaker. An African telecoms carrier going through amazing levels of growth is not going to reach out to a greenfield JavaScript Web Developer and ask them if they could help architect their data platform and optimise their billing calculations. You might find a lot of internally-hosted web applications in an Airline’s headquarters but when it comes to analysing PBs of aircraft telemetry for predictive maintenance there might not be any PHP developers on that project.

      The above projects often aren’t advertised in a way that web developers would be exposed to them. This is why someone could spend years working on new projects that are at the bottom of their S-curve in terms of both growth and data accumulated and largely never see a need for data processing outside of what could fit in RAM on a single machine.

  • CMS

    • Digital experience firm Acquia sees India as a global delivery centre

      Acquia, a US-based open source digital experience company, has announced the opening of an office in Pune, expanding its presence in the Asia-Pacific region. Taking this next step in its global growth strategy, Acquia looks to bolster its partner network and expand its global customer footprint.

    • EPAM Named An Acquia Global Select Partner, Joining Elite Group Of Partners

      EPAM Systems, Inc. (EPAM), a leading global provider of digital platform engineering and software development services, today announced that it has achieved Global Select status in Acquia’s Partner Program. Acquia, an open source digital experience company, provides software and services built around Drupal. As one of only a few elite Global Select partners, EPAM leverages its Acquia and Drupal expertise to help its clients design, build and deliver engaging and intelligent customer experiences.

    • The Top 13 Free and Open Source Content Management Platforms

      This is the most complete and up-to-date directory of free and open source content management platforms available on the web.

    • 4 great Java-based CMS options

      OpenCms has been around since 1999, and it’s been an open source Java CMS platform since 2001. Not only is it one of the oldest Java-based CMS platforms, it’s one of the oldest CMS tools, predating the popular PHP-based WordPress, which debuted in 2003. From a developer’s perspective, OpenCms is simple to set up and maintain. It runs as a Java servlet, which makes installation easy. It works with most major databases; whether you prefer MySQL, Microsoft SQL Server, MariaDB or another popular database, you can likely run OpenCms without much hassle. OpenCms probably won’t win awards as the most elegant or attractive Java-based CMS. The interface was overhauled in 2019, but OpenCms doesn’t exactly feel modern. It works, but it’s a little clunky. However, OpenCms does enjoy the distinction as a truly cost-free open source Java CMS. There is no freemium pricing model for the product, and there are no licensing fees.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

    • Salesforce open sources research to advance state of the art in AI for common sense reasoning [Ed: Openwashing by proprietary software giants. How fashionable. The open source 'movement' lets them pretend to respect users whilst actually attacking them. They just tick some box.]
    • Energy sector gets first open-source, tailor-made blockchain [Ed: Hype wave + openwashing when greenwashing of energy companies ain't sufficient]

      A public enterprise grade energy blockchain has powered up with the promise to accelerate a low-carbon, distributed electricity future. For the first time, energy sector companies are hosting validator nodes on a decentralized network as they seek to adapt to a more digitalized and decentralized energy system.

    • Visa modernises B2B global payments through open source blockchain [Ed: Same for banks]
    • Securitize DS Token Protocol goes Open Source[Ed: It's a bloody protocol. This is not "Open Source" but more like API, i.e. dependency on something opaque and centralised]

      The security token issuance platform, Securitize raised eyebrows amongst the cryptocommunity this week after releasing its DS Token code to the public. The move goes along with the crypto sectors long-held stance of open-source projects. Now, programmers from across the globe have a chance to test and advance the platform’s core coding.

    • How SNIA is using Open Source to speed up storage standards

      Developing a storage standard has always been a long, arduous and contentious process. It is the same for most standards. However, with the speed that technology is changing, that approach is no longer sustainable, and not just for storage. To understand what change means for the storage industry, Enterprise Times talked with Richelle Ahlvers. Ahlvers is a board member at the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA). She is also the Chair of the Scalable Storage Management Technical Workgroup. That workgroup is responsible for the Swordfish Storage Management API. Already providing support for block and file storage, it will release support for object storage soon. [...] Another example that Ahlvers gave is the SNIA work on the CDMI (Cloud Data Management Interface). That spec is now entirely in Open Source. All the bug fixes and changes are done through the Open Source community which, Ahlvers says, makes it faster.

    • Norigin Media open-sources part of TV app technology [Ed: "Part of" means openwashing, i.e. they get to call it 'open' even though it is proprietary]

      TV technology outfit Norigin Media has open-sourced parts of its technology framework for building TV apps in an initiative the company said was aimed at increasing the quality of software across the streaming industry, and encouraging broadcasters to work together by reusing common code.

    • Norigin Media open sources parts of TV App framework
    • Norigin Media open sources TV App framework [Ed: Misleading. Only part was "opened". It's openwashing.]
    • Open Source: the secret sauce to business success [Ed: Why is it that Microsoft employees now become 'journalists' who write about FOSS (when the employer attacks FOSS)?]

      Software is at the heart of the digital revolution and, ultimately, it is what determines the success, agility and competitiveness of businesses looking to succeed in today’s fast paced, digital world. Open source is changing the way organisations build software, offering a strong and critical foundation for digital transformation, while bringing teams and departments together. As the approach to in-house software development evolves, organisations understand that their success is determined by the way they participate in Open Source Software (OSS). This offers a realm of opportunities that do not just benefit the IT department, but the business at large.

  • BSD

    • Porting Wine to amd64 on NetBSD, first evaluation report

      This report was written by Naveen Narayanan as part of Google Summer of Code 2019. I have been working on porting Wine to amd64 on NetBSD as a GSoC 2019 project. Wine is a compatibility layer which allows running Microsoft Windows applications on POSIX-complaint operating systems. This report provides an overview of the progress of the project during the first coding period.

    • NetBSD Is Seeing Better Wine Support Thanks To Google Summer of Code

      One of the interesting Google Summer of Code projects on the BSD front this year is porting Wine to run on AMD64 (x86_64) under NetBSD. NetBSD has been running Wine to some extent on i386 but this effort has been about getting a Wine 64-bit port running nicely with 32-bit Windows program compatibility.

    • DIY Open Source NAS: How to Configure FreeNAS

      Here are some of the more essential configuration options to get you going with FreeNAS.


    • GNUnet 0.11.5 released

      We are pleased to announce the release of GNUnet 0.11.5. This is a bugfix release for 0.11.4, mostly fixing a few minor bugs and improving performance, in particular for identity management with a large number of egos. In the wake of this release, we also launched the REST API documentation. In terms of usability, users should be aware that there are still a large number of known open issues in particular with respect to ease of use, but also some critical privacy issues especially for mobile users. Also, the nascent network is tiny (about 200 peers) and thus unlikely to provide good anonymity or extensive amounts of interesting information. As a result, the 0.11.5 release is still only suitable for early adopters with some reasonable pain tolerance.

  • Public Services/Government

    • NZTA open sources security tool for use by other agencies

      The New Zealand Transport Agency is open sourcing a security assurance tool it is developing with Wellington company Catalyst. Catalyst has been working with NZTA to open source the tool that automates aspects of the security assurance process and embeds security requirements earlier in the product development life-cycle. The Security Development Lifecycle Tool (SDLT), aligns with common government security classifications and risk assessment practices to deliver “security by design” across the agency’s tech teams. NZTA opted to open source the tool so other government agencies can similarly reduce their compliance overheads and focus on core delivery.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • 5 common open source software licenses you need to know

      There are two versions of the GNU General Public License (GPL). The terms of the latest iteration, GPL version 3, are clear and readable overall; it allows open copy, redistribution and modification. Developers who use open source code covered by GPL version 3 can choose to charge a fee for their open source software. However, the GPL imposes several important restrictions on developers and users. The GPL emphasizes copyleft behaviors for activities such as including linking, distribution, modification and re- or sub-licensing. Generally, copyleft clauses require that uses of the work observe the same terms and conditions to which the original code adheres. Thus, open source software obtained under GPL version 3 retains those rights indefinitely. In addition, developers must include a copy of the GNU GPL with the software as it’s redistributed and within the software itself. Other restrictions exist for source and binary software distributions under the GPL. The GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL) provides a slightly more permissive option than version 3. The agreement, for instance, allows linking the LGPL code with code under non-GPL licenses — a practice prohibited under GPL version 3. Consequently, developers often use LGPL when they want to allow for the use of non-GPL open source libraries, but preserve other copyleft restrictions.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Open Source Processors: Fact Or Fiction?

        Open source processors are rapidly gaining mindshare, fueled in part by early successes of RISC-V, but that interest frequently is accompanied by misinformation based on wishful thinking and a lack of understanding about what exactly open source entails. Nearly every recent conference has some mention of RISC-V in particular, and open source processors in general, whether that includes keynote speeches, technical sessions, and panels. What’s less obvious is that open ISAs are not a new phenomenon, and neither are free, open processor implementations.

      • Will Open-Source EDA Work?

        Open-source EDA is back on the semiconductor industry’s agenda, spurred by growing interest in open-source hardware. But whether the industry embraces the idea with enough enthusiasm to make it successful is not clear yet. One of the key sponsors of this effort is the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which is spearheading a number of programs to lower the cost of chip design, including one for advanced packaging and another for security. The idea behind all of them is to utilize knowledge extracted from millions of existing chip designs to make chip engineering more affordable and predictable.

      • Why Autonomous Vehicle Developers Are Embracing Open Source

        There’s a growing trend of autonomous vehicle developers open-sourcing their software tools and hardware, even for applications outside of automotive.

      • Rugged open-source inertial measurement unit sensor offers affordable and rugged solution

        ACEINNA offers the new OpenIMU300RI. The device is a rugged, open-source, sealed-package, 9-DOF IMU for autonomous off-road, construction, agricultural and automotive vehicle applications. This new open-source IMU enables engineers to simply optimise an attitude, navigation or other algorithm for their vehicle/application and run it in on the IMU. [...] “Different vehicle platforms have different dynamics,” explains James Fennelly, product manager at ACEINNA. “To get the best performance, the attitude, navigation or other algorithm needs to be tailored for each vehicle platform and application. The ACEINNA OpenIMU300RI open-source platform gives designers a flexible and simple-to-integrate IMU solution that can be easily optimized for a wide range of vehicles and applications.”

      • Open Source ESP32 3D Printer Board Supports Marlin 2.0 Firmware
      • The Octopus is a 5K full frame open source camera that lets you swap out sensors

        Now that digital imaging sensors are starting to become more freely available to the masses, all kinds of open source projects have been popping up that use them. Most of them are typically fairly limited to things like the Raspberry Pi or development boards like the Arduino and ESP32. But now, there is a new and pretty serious looking open source camera out there. It’s called the Octopus, it has interchangeable sensors that go up to 5K full frame, it’s fully programmable and runs on the open source operating system, Linux.

      • ScopeFun open source all-in-one instrumentation

        ScopeFun has launched a new project via Crowd Supply for their open source all-in-one instrumentation hardware aptly named the ScopeFun. ScopeFun Has been created to provide an affordable platform that offers the following tools : Oscilloscope, Arbitrary waveform generator, Spectrum analyzer, Logic analyzer and Digital pattern generator . The hardware supports any accompanying software runs on Windows, Linux, and Mac and also provides a Server Mode that supports remote connections over an IP network. “A Xilinx Artix-7 FPGA and a Cypress EZ-USB FX3 controller allow the board to interface with a PC while maintaining fast data rates. Samples are buffered using 512 Megabytes of DDR3 SDRAM.

      • Bloom Chair is an open source furniture that lets you design your own piece

        Call it modular, call it DIY, call it I-have-control-over-my-interiors; the purpose of the Bloom Chair is to let you customize your chair, just the way you like it to be. It’s a collaborative effort between you and the manufacturer, where you get to download the modular design, cut it yourself and finally assemble it. While you make your piece, you have the liberty of modifying the pattern and making the end-shape define your vision. Haffun!

  • Programming/Development

    • rvw 0.6.0: First release

      Today Dirk Eddelbuettel, James Balamuta and Ivan Pavlov are happy to announce the first release of a reworked R interface to the Vowpal Wabbit machine learning system. Started as a GSoC 2018 project, the new rvw package was built to give R users easier access to a variety of efficient machine learning algorithms.

    • Python Matplotlib Tutorial – Learn Plotting in 3 hours

      This tutorial outlines how to perform plotting and data visualization in python using Matplotlib library. The objective of this post is to get you familiar with the basics and advanced plotting functions of the library. It contains several examples which will give you hands-on experience in generating plots in python.

    • Fedora 30 : The Pythonic tool.

      The tutorial for today is about Pythonic tool. Named Pythonic is a graphical programming tool that makes it easy for users to create Python applications using ready-made function modules. This tool providing the consistent features and characteristics of a trading bot with just a few clicks. The Pythonic tool is currently available in four languages: English, German, Spanish, and Chinese. The tool comes with basic functions such as a scheduler, if-branches, connectivity, and logging functions are available out of the box and can be parameterized using a corresponding GUI. Each graphical element is functionally processed individually. The base idea is: A unique graphical input mask to carry out the

    • Changelog podcast: me, double-dipping

      I had a great conversation with Jerod Santo on the Changelog podcast: The Changelog 351: Maintainer spotlight! Ned Batchelder. We talked about Open edX, and coverage.py, and maintaining open source software.

    • DocKnot 3.00

      This package started as only a documentation generator, but my goal for some time has been to gather together all of the tools and random scripts I use to maintain my web site and free software releases. This release does a bunch of internal restructuring to make it easier to add new commands, and then starts that process by adding a docknot dist command. This performs some (although not all) of the actions I currently use my release script for, and provides a platform for ensuring that the full package test suite is run as part of generating a distribution tarball.

    • Python Data Structures

      This post explains the data structures used in Python. It is essential to understand the data structures in a programming language. In python, there are many data structures available.

    • EuroPython 2019: Social event tickets available

      After the keynotes and talks on Thursday, July 11th, we’ve organized a social event at the workshop venue, the FHNW Muttenz. Starting at 19:00 CEST, you can join us for an evening party with finger food, drinks and music.

    • EuroPython 2019: SIM cards for attendees

      Switzerland is often not included in European cell provider’s roaming packages and also not covered by the EU roaming regulation, so you can potentially incur significant charges when going online with your mobile or notebook.

    • Dependencies between Python Standard Library modules

      Glyph’s post about a “kernel python” from the 13th based on Amber’s presentation at PyCon made me start thinking about how minimal standard library could really be. Christian had previously started by nibbling around the edges, considering which modules are not frequently used, and could be removed. I started thinking about a more extreme change, of leaving in only enough code to successfully download and install other packages. The ensurepip module seemed like a necessary component for that, so I looked at its dependencies, with an eye to cutting everything else.

    • Weekly Python StackOverflow Report: (clxxxiv) stackoverflow python report
    • SD Times Open-Source Project of the Week: Sorbet

      Stripe is open sourcing its Ruby type checker in the hopes to help and collaborate with the Ruby community.

    • The V programming language is now open source – is it too good to be true?

      Yesterday, a new statically-typed programming language named V was open sourced. It is described as a simple, fast, and compiled language for creating maintainable software. Its creator, Alex Medvednikov, says that it is very similar to Go and is inspired by Oberon, Rust, and Swift.

    • SD Times news digest: V language now open sourced, SmartBear acquires BDD provider Cucumber, and Kaggle integrates into BigQuery

      The language is very similar to Go and its domain is very similar to that of Rust, the team explained. It has a ui module that uses native GUI toolkits, allowing developers to build native apps with native controls without the need to embed a browser to develop cross-platform apps quickly, according to the language’s website.

    • Open Source Kotlin Continues to Climb

      Kotlin is continuing its “meteoric” rise in the software development world, with recent research providing new insights into its increasing popularity.

    • Azul Systems Announces General Availability of Zulu Mission Control v7.0

      QCON NYC – Azul Systems (Azul), the award-winning leader in Java runtime solutions, today announced the general availability of Zulu Mission Control v7.0. Based on the OpenJDK Mission Control project, Zulu Mission Control is a powerful Java performance management and application profiling tool that works with Azul’s Zing and Zulu JDKs/JVMs and supports both Java SE 8 and 11.

    • A Golden Age for Developers

      There’s probably never been a time since the dawn of programming when there has been more opportunity for developers—individuals and teams—to imagine, create and be successful. Developers are able to do a lot more (and do things a lot faster) with more tools, a better development ecosystem and a tighter connection with the rest of the enterprise than was possible even a few years ago. [...] A major factor in enabling this approach is the widespread use of open source code. Open source has democratized access to powerful tools and platforms that can greatly accelerate work for any developer. Open source projects are mature, stable and growing, which provides equal access for citizen and enterprise developers alike. The size of your IT operation no longer matters: Developers everywhere can call up on their laptops the same tools that once were available only to web-scale unicorns. It removes limits to a developer’s imagination and the ability to create something new. Finally, the ever-expanding realm of cloud-native computing is putting incredible resources and computing ability within reach of every developer. Tools such as Kubernetes, which let you create and orchestrate applications in containers that can then be deployed and run in the cloud; serverless technologies; and other new ways of using distributed computing power remove barriers. Where a developer once might have been reluctant to create apps that required high levels of computing power, that’s not the case now with the cloud. What once may have taken access to a Cray supercomputer is now at a developer’s fingertips.

    • RProtoBuf 0.4.14

      A new release 0.4.14 of RProtoBuf is arriving at CRAN. RProtoBuf provides R with bindings for the Google Protocol Buffers (“ProtoBuf”) data encoding and serialization library used and released by Google, and deployed very widely in numerous projects as a language and operating-system agnostic protocol. This release contains two very helpful pull requests by Jarod Meng that solidify behaviour in two corner cases of message translation. Jeroen also updated the Windows build settings which will help with the upcoming transition to a new Rtools version.

    • Smart Pointers in Qt Projects

      Besides the QObject ownerships there is another, more subtle problem that one should be aware of when injecting objects into the QQmlEngine. When using QtQuick in an application, often there is the need to inject objects into the engine (I will not go into detail here, but for further reading see https://doc.qt.io/qt-5/qtqml-cppintegration-topic.html). The important important fact one should be aware of is that at this point there is a heuristic that decides whether the QML engine and its garbage collector assumes ownership of the injected objects or if the ownership is assumed to be on C++ side (thus managed by you and your smart pointers). The general rule for the heuristic is named in the QObjectOwnership enum. Here, make sure that you note the difference between QObjects returned via a Q_PROPERTY property and via a call of a Q_INVOKABLE methods. Moreover, note that the description there misses the special case of when an Object has a QObject parent, then also the CppOwnership is assumed. For a detailed discussion of the issues there (which might show you a surprisingly hard to understand stack trace coming from the depths of the QML engine), I suggest reading this blog post. Summing up the QML part: When you are using a smart pointer, you will hopefully not set any QObject parent (which automatically would have told the QML engine not to take ownership…). Thus, when making the object available in the QML engine, you must be very much aware about the way you are using to put the object into the engine and if needed, you must call the QQmlEngine::setObjectOwnership() static method to mark your objects specifically that they are handled by you (otherwise, bad things will happen).

    • Using the Bash case Statement in Shell Scripting

      Learn to use the Bash case statement to conditionally execute commands based on pattern matching, it’s different clause terminators and explore examples.

    • Create a Python function to compare the end string

      Hello friend, we will start a new Python project in the next chapter but before that let us solve another Python problem first in this article. This is one of the questions in codewars which I have solved today : Given a string and an end string, compare the end string part with the end part of the given string, if they match each other, then return true, otherwise return false. For example, if the given string is “Hello” and the end string is “ello” then the function will return true. If the given string is “World” and the end string is “rld!” the the function will return false.


  • Science

    • The Mass Extinction No One Is Talking About

      In conversation with Truthdig Editor in Chief Robert Scheer, Herzog emphasizes how the “variousness of our human mind” is one of the reasons for optimism about our species, yet the eradication of languages by dominant powers imposes monolithic conformity on us all, pushing us to speak 30 dominant languages, and, primarily, English. The dangers of this erasure, Scheer and Herzog agree, are immense. We don’t have to go far to see the results of this, as Scheer explains.

    • Following Democratic Debates, These Students Want to Hear More From the Candidates on Education Policy

      On full display, however, was a major rift in the Democratic party: Two roads diverged in a blue wood between progressive values and a more moderate sense of “electability.” During what was perhaps the most highly anticipated political spectacle of the 2020 campaign yet, solutions to domestic crises like immigration and health care accentuated candidates’ ideological viability in an overcrowded, contentious primary field. Undergirding every issue, though, was arguably the most potent litmus test of them all for young voters: exactly where each candidate stands on higher education policy.

  • Hardware

    • Apple’s new Mac Pro will be assembled in China, not the US

      The vast majority of Apple products are manufactured in China, so it’s not entirely surprising to see Apple shift its production overseas. But it comes at a fraught time, as the tech industry faces the prospect of 25 percent tariffs on imports from China, which could have political implications for a company that President Trump has regularly called out for not making products in the US.

    • Apple is reportedly shifting Mac Pro production from the US to China
    • One year after Trump’s Foxconn groundbreaking, there is almost nothing to show for it

      It would be the first of many changes. The last year has seen the factory shrink, get canceled, reappear, and undergo other shifts chronicled below. Even now, as concrete is finally being poured, it’s unclear what exactly Foxconn is building in Mount Pleasant. Industry experts shown Foxconn’s building plans say it does not appear to even be the scaled-down Gen6 LCD factory. If the last year is any guide, the whipsawing is far from over.

    • HW News – Intel Asks: “Is Intel Screwed?”, DisplayPort 2.0 & 16K Monitor Support

      Leading into the busiest hardware launch week of our careers, we talk about Intel’s internal competitive analysis document leaking, DisplayPort 2.0 specifications being detailed, and Ubuntu dropping and re-adding 32-bit support. We also follow-up on Huawei news (and how Microsoft and Intel are still supporting it) and trade tensions. [...] An internal Intel document has leaked onto Reddit that outlines the competitive profile of AMD, according to Intel. The letter, titled “AMD competitive profile: Where we go-toe-toe, why they are resurgent, which chips of ours beat theirs,” analyzes AMD’s rise to competitiveness, with no shortage of Intel bias. However, in the letter, AMD’s competitive threat to Intel is acknowledged as “the greatest it has been in years.”

  • Health/Nutrition

    • VA Privatization Bill Threatens Closure of Key Facilities

      At a June 20 House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs hearing, legislators considered H.R. 3083, sponsored by ranking member Phil Roe (R-TN). One of the architects of the VA MISSION Act of 2018, Roe is an ardent supporter of shifting the care of veterans from the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) to the private sector.

      H.R. 3083 will accelerate privatization of the VHA by changing the launch date of one of the most problematic parts of the VA MISSION Act—the Asset and Infrastructure Review Commission.

    • More Michigan water systems could exceed lead limits: Here’s why

      Michigan’s environmental and health departments launched a new website Wednesday to show communities’ lead and copper data results and give residents information on protecting themselves from lead. They will hold three online town hall-style events July 9-11.

    • Acacia Honey: Nutrition, Benefits, and Downsides

      This unique honey is typically labeled and sold as acacia honey in Europe but is commonly found as American acacia or locust honey in the United States. Compared with traditional honey, it’s often much lighter in color, appearing almost transparent. It has a flower-like aroma and sweet, delicate flavor.

  • Security

    • Why cybersecurity has an open-source solution

      SHINN: Yeah. So you know, my colleagues in the open source community may have their own sort of different definitions about what they think open source is. But for me, open source has always been about the fact that if there’s something that I wanted to change in the software, I could do it. And that’s really the core. There are lots of other benefits of open source. It might be free, there might be a lot of people working on it, maybe there’s a community. But for me, it always started with the fact that I had a piece of software that I’m using, and I can make enhancements, changes and fixes

      ABERMAN: True hacker culture.

      SHINN: That’s right. And in cybersecurity, that’s really important. There’s lots of really smart people out there. It’s not possible for any cybersecurity vendor to understand every possible situation in which their product might be used. The people who are going to understand that are the people who are closest to the problem. And it’s great if you can make it possible for them to enhance your software, and hopefully contribute that back to you. All boats rise together. So in the security world, we see some of the more interesting or powerful cybersecurity technologies, like snort, it blew away all of the other network based IDS’s that were out there, all the proprietary ones.

    • The [Microsoft Windows] Worm That Nearly Ate the Internet [iophk: "Windows TCO"]

      Neither theory was correct. While some experts still disagree, most now believe that Conficker was the work of Ukrainian cybercriminals building a platform for global theft who succeeded beyond all expectation, or desire. The last thing a thief wants is to draw attention to himself. Conficker’s unprecedented growth drew the alarmed attention of cybersecurity experts worldwide. It became, simply, too hot to use.

      This explanation was detailed in an article published in December 2015 by The Journal of Sensitive Cyber Research and Engineering, a classified, peer-reviewed publication issued by a federal interagency cybersecurity working group including the Pentagon, Department of Homeland Security and N.S.A. — and distributed to a small number of experts with the appropriate security clearances. The article itself was not classified, but reached only a small readership. I obtained a copy this year.

    • Boeing’s 737 Max Software Outsourced to $9-an-Hour Engineers

      The coders from HCL were typically designing to specifications set by Boeing. Still, “it was controversial because it was far less efficient than Boeing engineers just writing the code,” Rabin said. Frequently, he recalled, “it took many rounds going back and forth because the code was not done correctly.”

    • Hackers Have Been Stealing User Data From Global Cell Networks Since 2012

      We’ve noted for a long time that the wireless industry is prone to being fairly lax on security and consumer privacy. One example is the recent rabbit hole of a scandal related to the industry’s treatment of user location data, which carriers have long sold to a wide array of middlemen without much thought as to how this data could be (and routinely is) abused. Another example is the industry’s refusal to address the longstanding flaws in Signaling System 7 (SS7, or Common Channel Signalling System 7 in the US), a series of protocols hackers can exploit to track user location, dodge encryption, and even record private conversations. This week, carriers were once again exposed for not being the shining beacons of security they tend to advertise themselves as. A new report emerged this week showcasing how, for years, hackers have been exploiting substandard security at more than 10 global wireless carriers to obtain massive troves of data on specific targets of interest. Researchers at Boston-based Cybereason, who first discovered the operation, say the hackers exploited a vulnerability on an internet-connected web server to gain a foothold into each cell providers internal network.

    • Here We Go Again: Trump Administration Considers Outlawing Encryption

      It’s unclear what the final decision was, but if it was to back such a law, we’ll know about it soon enough. There are some sensible folks on this issue — including some from the intelligence communities who actually understand the security value of encryption. The State Department and Commerce Departments are both also said to support keeping encryption legal. It’s mostly the law enforcement folks who are against encryption: including parts of the DOJ and FBI, ICE and the Secret Service. As if any of those need any more power. Homeland Security (of which ICE is a part) is apparently “internally divided.” It’s been said before, but this is not a debate. There is no debate. There is no “on the one hand, on the other hand.” There is no “privacy v. security.” This is “no privacy and weakened security v. actual privacy and actual security.” There’s literally no debate to be had here. If you understand the issues, encryption is essential, and any effort to take away end-to-end encryption is outlawing technology that keeps everyone safe. While Senators Feinstein and Burr released a truly dangerous bill a few years back to outlaw encryption, who knows what sort of nonsense would come out of this and whether or not it could actually get enough support in Congress. Hopefully not.

    • Medtronic recalls some insulin pumps as FDA warns they can be hacked

      Medtronic is recalling some models of insulin pumps that are open to hacks, and the Food and Drug Administration warned consumers on Thursday that they cannot be patched to fix the holes. It’s a rare example of a medical device recall over a cybersecurity issue, although security professionals and the FDA have raised numerous concerns over the vulnerability of these devices for years. The insulin pumps subject to the recall connect wirelessly to other insulin equipment, including glucose meters, a monitoring system and controls that pump insulin. “The FDA is concerned that, due to cybersecurity vulnerabilities identified in the device, someone other than a patient, caregiver or health care provider could potentially connect wirelessly to a nearby MiniMed insulin pump and change the pump’s settings. This could allow a person to over deliver insulin to a patient, leading to low blood sugar … or to stop insulin delivery, leading to high blood sugar and diabetic ketoacidosis,” the FDA notice says.

    • EU to stage war games to prepare for hybrid threats

      Hybrid threats can be based on a wide variety of strategies, ranging from the spread of fake news to undermining trust and cyberattacks on energy or communication systems. Russia has often been blamed for using such tactics.

    • America’s Monopoly Crisis Hits the Military

      In historical terms, this is a shocking turnaround. Americans invented the telephone business and until recently dominated production and research. But in the last 20 years, every single American producer of key telecommunication equipment sectors is gone. Today, only two European makers—Ericsson and Nokia—are left to compete with Huawei and another Chinese competitor, ZTE.

      This story of lost American leadership and production is not unique. In fact, the destruction of America’s once vibrant military and commercial industrial capacity in many sectors has become the single biggest unacknowledged threat to our national security. Because of public policies focused on finance instead of production, the United States increasingly cannot produce or maintain vital systems upon which our economy, our military, and our allies rely. Huawei is just a particularly prominent example.

    • VLC media player gets biggest security update ever

      The world’s most popular open source media player, VLC, has issued the biggest single set of security fixes in the program’s history.

    • Presidential text alerts are open to spoofing attacks, warn researchers

      Researchers have shown that it’s technically possible for hackers to target the US presidential alerts system to send fake messages on a localised basis.

    • How open source software is being weaponised [Ed: Sonatype is working with Microsoft, so it won’t speak of NSA back doors in everything from Microsoft (software weaponised) but instead badmouth FOSS to that effect. No comment on threats associated with proprietary software.]
    • Report: Not all open-source software is created equal
    • Report: Code Responsible for Equifax Breach Downloaded 21 Million Times Last Year [Ed: So what? Equifax neglected or refused to patch it for several months, so it was Equifax's own fault. Sonatype spreading FUD.]

      The popularity of open source software has skyrocketed in recent years as developers are expected to churn out more fresh tech in less time. In its fifth annual State of the Software Supply Chain report, researchers at Sonatype said the number of weekly downloads of the popular open source software package Java nearly tripled in 2018, from 3.5 billion to 10 billion.

    • Code that Allowed the Equifax Breach Was Downloaded 21M Times Last Year [Ed: It was not patched for several months; whereas with nonfree software there are back doors you cannot patch.]
    • The World Is Less Safe Than Ever for Open Source Software [Ed: Businesses that make money from badmouthing FOSS and promoting proprietary software say the world is unsafe because of FOSS, not back doors in non-free software]
    • Denim Group’s ThreadFix Integrates with WhiteSource, Brings Comprehensive Management to Open Source Software Vulnerabilities [Ed: WhiteSource -- an ally of Microsoft (they co-author nasty papers) -- propping up proprietary software companies that say negative things about FOSS]
    • Which smart bulbs should you buy (from a security perspective)

      People keep asking me which smart bulbs they should buy. It’s a great question! As someone who has, for some reason, ended up spending a bunch of time reverse engineering various types of lightbulb, I’m probably a reasonable person to ask. So. There are four primary communications mechanisms for bulbs: wifi, bluetooth, zigbee and zwave. There’s basically zero compelling reasons to care about zwave, so I’m not going to.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • America can only go to war against Iran if it reinstates the draft

      America boasts of its “all volunteer” military (conveniently ignoring how much of that “all-volunteer” force is composed of people who face economic privation, or who hope for an increasingly unlikely path to citizenship through military service), but the volunteer force is dwindling: just getting the bodies to send to Iraq and Afghanistan required that the forces double their felony waivers for new recruits from 2003-2006.

    • If we’re headed for regime change in Iran, get ready for a military draft. We’ll need one.

      The Pentagon stated last year that 71% of Americans between the ages of 17 and 24 are ineligible to serve in the U.S. military, most for reasons of health, physical fitness, education, or criminality. The propensity of this age group to serve is even lower. The likely demands and casualties of a war in Iran would spell the end of the All-Volunteer Force, requiring the conscription of Americans for the first time since 1973.

    • The Gulf of Guinea is now the world’s worst piracy hotspot

      The Gulf of Guinea, on west Africa’s southern coast, is the world’s most pirate-infested sea. The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) reports 72 attacks last year on vessels at sea between Ivory Coast and Cameroon—up from 28 in 2014. This year so far it has recorded 30. Although some of the rise may reflect more complete reporting, Max Williams of Africa Risk Compliance (ARC), a security consultancy, says piracy remains chronically under-recorded. Ship-owners fear their vessels will be held up at port during an investigation. His firm estimates the real number of attacks last year was double the IMB’s figure.


      Unlike the Somalis, west African pirates never keep the vessels, as they have nowhere to hide them. Instead, armed with AK-47s and knives, they storm a ship, round up some of the crew and return to land, where they hide their hostages. Last year, says Mr Williams, they kidnapped 193 people. The pirates have struck across the region, but are primarily a Nigerian problem. They mostly operate out of the labyrinthine waterways in the Niger delta, near which most of west Africa’s attacks occur.

    • Finnish researcher notice a change in GPS signals coinciding with US planned assault on Iran

      Researchers from FGI noticed unusual power variations in GPS signal on 20 – 21 June. These events were first observed at the Metsähovi geodetic research station. This meant that the GPS precision signals were stronger. Such signals are used by military and geodetic applications.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • As Coal Fades in the U.S., Natural Gas Becomes the Climate Battleground

      America’s coal-burning power plants are shutting down at a rapid pace, forcing electric utilities to face the next big climate question: Embrace natural gas, or shift aggressively to renewable energy?

    • Renewables Beat Coal in the U.S. for the First Time This April

      Earlier this month, a study found that the U.S. had more capacity installed for renewable energy than coal for the first time. That potential is now being realized. The U.S. generated more electricity from renewable sources than from coal for the first time ever this April, The Guardian reported Wednesday.

    • How to Combat Weeds … Gently

      Spraying chemicals in the yard is a tempting shortcut for many a home gardener looking to protect a tasty crop or a bed of flowers. But weed killers aren’t necessary, and they may be linked to health risks. To embark on a natural plan of weed suppression, start by deciphering your yard’s condition: Is it ablaze with dandelions? Taken over by crabgrass? You’ll need to customize your approach depending on the specific intruder. And don’t lose patience; finding the perfect solution for your particular weed specimen will take some tinkering. A local organic landscaping company may help you develop an effective weed-fighting plan, and the nonprofit Beyond Pesticides offers a directory of companies that can improve your lawn in a safe manner. Here are some strategies to help stretch your green thumb.

    • How rivers became the plastic highway into the oceans

      A 2017 study found that around 90% of all the plastic in the world’s oceans flows there through just 10 rivers. Eight of those rivers were in Asia, and two in Africa. They all run through highly populated areas, which also lack effective waste collection, meaning trash often ends up in the river.

      The researchers concluded: “The more waste there is in a catchment area that is not disposed of properly, the more plastic ultimately ends up in the river and takes this route to the sea.”

      But plastic is getting into rivers all over the world.

    • Running And Hiding

      Check the Arctic. It’s warming most rapidly. It’s losing ice and permafrost today. It will be losing polar bears soon. All that ice will raise the levels of the oceans. Turning off the Earth’s air-conditioner will raise havoc with weather all over. The seas are warming too and oxygenation, storms, and vulnerable species are already in chaos. WAKE UP, SENATORS! Do your jobs. Save the planet if you can. There are no do-overs.

    • For My Future College, Fossil Fuel Divestment Is a Must-Have So the Climate Crisis Doesn’t Make My Education Useless

      With the way the climate crisis is progressing, it doesn’t look like Gen Z is going to have much of a future to study for. As temperatures increase all over the world, the oceans acidify, ice caps melt, habitats get destroyed, storms become more frequent and deadlier, and species go extinct, it’s scary thinking about what our world might look like in 10 or 20 years.

      According to the United Nations, we have only about 11 years to intervene in order to save life as we know it on earth. In the span of 11 years, we will need to have completely transformed our entire society and the way we get our energy. So lately, I’ve been wondering what exactly it is that I’m preparing myself for with my collegiate aspirations.

    • Sea turtle found dead, wrapped in plastic trash and fishing line on Florida coast

      Keiek said he decided to share photos of the animal on social media in an effort to “help spread awareness about the importance not littering, especially in coastal areas, where animals can mistake trash as food.”

    • Trans Mountain: Canada approves $5.5bn oil pipeline project

      The decision could pose a challenge for PM Justin Trudeau as he heads into an election season likely to be fought in part over climate issues.

    • The Lives Of Bees: What Were Honeybees Like Before Human Cultivation?

      A variety of bee species have been managed by humans over thousands of years to provide a ready supply of honey and, much later, pollination services for a diversity of food crops. But the most common and widespread of these are honey bees, Apis mellifera. The American Beekeeping Federation estimates that honey bee pollination services are worth as much as $20 billion to US food crop production alone, and the National Honey Board valued the 2013 honey crop at over $300 million. Obviously, honey bees are economically important, but unlike domesticated animals, honey bees are not solely dependent upon people to survive. Even today, honey bees are quite capable of living in the wild, free from human interference.

    • More Bad Buzz For Bees: Record Number Of Honeybee Colonies Died Last Winter

      Bee colony death continues to rise. According to the Bee Informed Partnership’s latest survey, released this week, U.S. beekeepers lost nearly 40% of their honeybee colonies last winter — the greatest reported winter hive loss since the partnership started its surveys 13 years ago. The total annual loss was slightly above average.


      Beekeeping has thus become an essential cog in the machine of American industrial farming. But it’s a tough industry. Commercial beekeepers are so migratory that it’s difficult to track how many live in each state, and all that moving around is expensive and stressful. Beekeepers have to monitor thousands of hives for sickness and pests.

    • ‘I’m scared for my daughter’: Life in India’s first city that’s almost out of water

      The shortage in India’s sixth largest city is symbolic of a crisis that is being felt across a country battling with one of its longest heatwaves, which has killed at least 137 people.

      India has been inching closer to a debilitating water crisis for months. With poor water management and unsupervised groundwater extraction, experts said that 600 million of India’s 1.3 billion people are facing acute water shortage.

      According to a report released by Niti Aayog — a government-run think tank — 21 major cities including New Delhi will run out of groundwater by 2020.

      “This crisis is further driven by a poorly defined legal framework for groundwater that rests ownership with landowners and leads to unchecked extraction. This crisis is most acute in the Indian agriculture sector, where groundwater accounts for 63% of all irrigation water,” states the report.

    • Acute water shortages hit parts of India amid searing heat wave

      All four reservoirs that supply Chennai, known as the Detroit of south Asia for its flourishing automobile industry, have run dry this summer, largely because of poor monsoon rains last year.

      Chennai is one of 21 cities that a government think-tank warned last year could run out of ground water by 2020. This year’s monsoon is delayed, further compounding problems across a swath of western and central India.

    • More than 500 arrested after protests and clashes as India water crisis worsens

      India also heavily relies on groundwater for its water needs, but decades of drilling into the earth to reach water has led to severe ground water depletion.

    • I took a ferry up the coast of Greenland for under $400, and despite being brutally cold, it was a fantastic way to see some of the most dramatic scenery on earth

      It’s one thing to hear about global warming — it’s a far more powerful experience to suddenly see the changes firsthand. For almost the entire journey, the sea — even next to the shore and hundreds of miles north of the Arctic Circle in the middle of winter — was ice-free. Even as recently as last year, the Sarfaq Ittuk could get stuck in ice for days at a time.

    • Norway sees sharp drop in palm oil biofuel consumption after ban on government purchasing

      In 2017, the Norwegian government issued the new policy in response to mounting concern that palm oil production is having a disastrous impact on forests in the countries in which it is produced.

    • As palm oils get dumped, processors become packers

      “India’s edible oil imports will continue to rise because the consumption is rising at a pace of about 3.5 per cent per annum, but the production isn’t rising at the same pace. The government is making efforts to boost oilseed cultivation but the result is taking long,” said Patel.

    • India’s May palm oil imports jump 65%, soyoil imports plunge

      Palm oil imports totalled 818,149 tonnes last month, including 371,060 tonnes of refined palm oil, the Solvent Extractors’ Association (SEA) said in a statement

      India, the world’s biggest importer of edible oils, had imported 157,832 tonnes of refined palm oil in the year-ago period.

    • Citigroup cancels $140 million loan to palm oil company Indofood over labor abuses. Will others take a stand?

      Indofood’s controversial palm oil practices have driven away 15 business partners over the past 2 years, including Nestlé, Wilmar, Musim Mas, Cargill, Fuji Oil, Hershey’s, Kellogg’s, General Mills, Unilever, and Mars. Indofood’s CEO, Anthoni Salim, has also received scrutiny for his other palm oil businesses that are operating in the shadows and illegally clearing substantial areas of peatlands in Borneo or embroiled in serious land conflicts in West Papua.

    • Chennai water crisis: City’s reservoirs run dry

      The city, which, according to the 2011 census, is India’s sixth largest, has been in the grip of a severe water shortage for weeks now.

      As the reservoirs started to run dry, many hotels and restaurants shut down temporarily. The Chennai metro has turned off air conditioning in the stations, while offices have asked staff to work from home in a bid to conserve water.

    • Going ‘Zero Carbon’ Is All The Rage. But Will It Slow Climate Change?

      Despite the growing push to reach “zero carbon,” there are big questions around whether these goals are possible and how much they would actually slow climate change. Here’s an attempt to answer some of them.

    • The Cruel, Unnecessary Death Of A Beautiful Whale Looks Like This

      It cost the city about 2 lakh rupees to bring the dead whale in. It was taken away by a truck to a dump site where it will be buried. The octopus fishery does not even pay for this retrieval even though it is entirely their fault that the whale died.

      There are very strict rules in place when it comes to whale interaction. People are not allowed to swim or kayak up to them. You cannot take a boat up to them either. Only someone with specific licenses, which are difficult to get, are allowed to do any of that. This is done in order to stop people from bothering the animals who come into the South African waters to rest and raise their young.

      If you are caught harassing a whale, you can be fined up to 18 lakh rupees. However, it seems if you kill them with a fishery, it costs you nothing.

    • How toxic is PFAS? Exposed residents slow to aid research in Michigan

      But more than six months after the state began asking residents for blood samples that could one day guide Jack’s medical care, just more than half of residents whose wells were contaminated in northern Kent County have made the trip to the local health department to participate in a study on the health effects of per- and polyfluoroalkyl chemicals.

    • Poverty and climate change are no longer asides in politics, says Ohisalo

      “We only have one Earth, which is in a state of emergency. We have to make decisions and take action to preserve the planet for future generations. Nothing less will do. Young people must be able to trust that we’ll tackle climate change today rather than tomorrow. Climate change must be tackled in a way that everyone can keep up. I want to build a Finland where the social safety net works,” she stated.

    • The Greenland ice sheet is melting unusually fast

      The ice atop Greenland holds enough water to raise global sea levels by more than seven metres, should it all melt and run off into the oceans. For this reason, climate scientists closely monitor its seasonal trends, and in particular how quickly it melts in the spring leading up to the late summer “ice minimum”, after which it starts to grow again.

    • EPA will allow use of pesticide harmful to bees

      The agency made an emergency exception for 11 states to use sulfoxaflor on cotton and sorghum crops.

    • Atlantic Ocean ‘running out of breath’

      “As it gets warmer, as it gets more acidic and also – in some areas – as it runs out of breath.

      “Because the Atlantic, like many ocean basins in the world, is being deoxygenated – it’s losing the oxygen that is vital to life.”

      The cause is climate change, 90% of the world’s global warming has been absorbed by the oceans.

    • Notorious pesticide found in 30 percent of citrus in Denmark

      The notorious pesticide was created to attack the nervous system of insects, but it has been found to damage the nervous system of humans. It has also been linked to affecting the brains of foetuses and infants, as well as being suspected of causing ADHD, autism and lower IQ in children.

      It is found in Danish supermarkets because it is legal in other countries that Denmark imports food goods from, including China, Thailand and Spain.

    • Climate Deniers Beware: A Tsunami of Public Opinion is Coming to Wipe You Out

      Global anxiety about climate change could turn into a political tidal wave. It may or may not arrive on our shores in time for the 2020 elections, but, when it does, it could hit with catastrophic force.

      It’s already cresting in Europe. A speech at the UN’s climate conference in Poland last year by Swedish teenager Greta Thurberg electrified audiences and spurred students all across the world to protest climate change inaction by repeatedly boycotting school on Fridays. Barricades erected by Extinction Rebellion create massive traffic jams in London. Climate activists are queuing up at the polls. The Green Party made major gains in the recent elections for the European Parliament, particularly in Germany, France, and the United Kingdom.

    • Refundable deposit system to include juice bottles from next week

      That means that customers will still run into juice bottles with no pant after November 1, but that’s because shops are being allowed to sell off their stock to avoid food waste.

    • Protest in Madrid as conservatives suspend ban on most polluting cars

      The first reversal of environmental policies by a major European city comes despite soaring global environmental concerns and is a fresh sign of growing divisions in Spain after a series of inconclusive elections in April and May.

      Last November Madrid’s then far-left government banned most petrol and diesel cars from its center to tackle high levels of nitrogen dioxide. The policy was known as “Madrid central” and it was intended to bring Madrid into line with EU clean air rules which it had been violating since 2010.

    • ‘Madrid Central’ protest: Thousands oppose suspension of anti-pollution plan

      “Pollution is one of the most important health problems now,” he said.

      “We have to save [the planet] starting at the local and small level, the first thing is Madrid’s centre,” actress Laura Martin, 39, told Reuters news agency.

    • Environmentalism is emerging as Europe’s new culture war

      But the defensiveness also goes beyond the bottom line. Belchatow is proud of its industry. Coalmining began there only in the 1970s and many residents moved to the town from other places, but they venerate St Barbara, the miners’ saint, like residents of older Polish mining regions such as Silesia. The city’s logo is an electrical “on” button and its slogan is: “Belchatow: always a good reaction”. Law and Justice, the nationalist party that rules Poland and dominates local politics in Belchatow, has made the quality of Polish coal a patriotic cause (one critic refuses to give a quote for fear of reprisals). The party condemns western EU states for refusing Poland the chance to catch up with their living standards. Even those in Belchatow who accept the need to cut emissions, like Mr Nowak, say Poland is unfairly treated: “You can’t expect Poland to leap to zero carbon in 30 years.”

    • Top Clean-Air Official Plans To Step Down From EPA Post Amid Ethics Probe

      Wehrum is the latest Trump administration official to leave the environmental agency under a cloud of scrutiny. Former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt who resigned after reports that he misused his power and spent far more taxpayer money than his predecessors had on travel and security expenses.

      With Wehrum’s exit, his deputy, Anne Idsal, will take over his responsibilities.

    • Wehrum Resigns from EPA, Leaving Climate Rule Rollbacks in His Wake

      Just last week, Wehrum helped unveil a signature achievement of that deregulatory drive—the repeal of the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan and its replacement with a set of weak rules that will do little to curb carbon emissions.

    • Is climate change causing Europe’s intense heat? A scientist weighs in

      But Europe isn’t the only part of the world dealing with dangerous heat levels. India and Pakistan have been suffering since mid-May under one of the longest-lasting heat waves in its recent history. In June, temperatures in New Delhi soared to 48° C (118.4° F), the highest ever recorded for the month in the Indian capital. By June 21, at least 180 people reportedly had died from heat-related causes.

      Science News spoke with Karsten Haustein, a climate scientist at the University of Oxford in England who is affiliated with the consortium, about what’s behind these deadly events and how scientists determine in real time whether a particular heat wave can be attributed to climate change. His comments have been edited for clarity and brevity.

    • Centuries-Old Sea Captain Diaries Are Confirming Modern Climate Science

      When 19th century whalers jotted down weather and temperature measurements at sea, few might have imagined that their logbooks would become records of a warming planet more than 150 years later.

      But that’s exactly the kind of value that climate scientists such as Caroline Ummenhofer of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution see in whaling logbooks. Packed with daily local observations, they can be used to corroborate climate change trends revealed in standardized temperature readings and geological records.

    • Activists ask leaders at G20 to urge Japan to uphold commercial whaling ban

      “Japan leaving the IWC and defying international law to pursue its commercial whaling ambitions is renegade, retrograde and myopic,” Block said.

    • Republicans Ran, But a Democrat Sank Oregon’s Climate Bill [iophk: "no response to the apparent R sedition"]

      But it was one Democratic holdout with an energy-hungry industry in her district who ultimately killed the bill, according to local media.

    • These are the Democrats who didn’t support Oregon’s climate bill. Who gave them money?

      Here’s some background on the Democrats whose stances appear to have led Senate President Peter Courtney to announce the lack of necessary votes for the bill in hopes he could persuade Senate Republicans to move forward with other legislation before Sunday night’s end-of-session deadline.

    • The Terrifying Unknowns of an Exotic Invasive Tick

      That bite didn’t make its victim sick. But that it occurred at all is causing scientists to realize how little they know about the insect involved, known as the Asian longhorned tick: what diseases it transmits, where it prefers to live, and how it manages to move across long distances. Behind those unanswered questions looms a larger problem: We haven’t paid as much attention to ticks as we have to other insects that carry diseases. We have a long way to go to catch up—just as changes in weather patterns have ticks on the move too.

      Until recently, the Asian longhorned tick’s home range was understood to be eastern China and Russia, Japan, Australia and New Zealand, and a few Pacific islands. In those countries, it harbors an array of bacterial and viral diseases that infect humans, including a potentially deadly hemorrhagic fever. It’s even more feared for the way it attacks livestock. This tick reproduces asexually, laying thousands of eggs at a time and producing waves of offspring that extract so much blood that grown cattle grow weak and calves die.

    • This Local Solar-Popped Popcorn Was a Decade in the Making

      When Bjorn Quenemoen was a student at Bard College, he would host monthly popcorn parties. He would put up posters around campus, inviting everyone to his parties. At 10 p.m., on the appointed date, he would turn the lights down and put on some music. Quenemoen would sell a handful of items, including Claussen pickles, Lucky Strike cigarettes and beer, but the real draw was his popcorn. He would pop it live, wearing a uniform (orange pants that his sister bought in Thailand, a maroon muscle shirt and a yellow headband). The recipe, heavy on nutritional yeast, comes from his family, who grew corn, among other crops, in Minnesota. Quenemoen, now 38, never stopped making popcorn. “Before I graduated, I got the idea that I could turn this recipe into a business,” he says. And he did. The business — no longer a live event — is BjornQorn. The idea is so simple, it makes you kick yourself for not launching it first: non-GMO popcorn, solar popped and seasoned. Nothing more.

    • On ‘Hottest Day in History of France,’ World Told ‘Do Not Look Away’ as Police Tear-Gas Climate Campaigners in Paris

      French riot police tear-gassed climate protesters in Paris on Friday as the county sweltered under record heat. Activists with Extinction Rebellion (XR) were occupying a bridge over the Seine to demand the French government declare a climate emergency and take necessary action to avert planetary catastrophe. “We need to civilly disrupt because, otherwise, nothing is going to be done,” a British woman who took part in the protest told Euronews. Video shows the police teargassing the protesters at a close range and then forcibly trying to remove them from the scene.

    • Hidden Plastics: Glitter Gum and the Air we Breath

      The plastic contamination of the natural world flows from three main sources: complacency, apathy and ignorance, a poisonous trinity that is itself the result of a narrow and destructive approach to living. While there are signs of a shift in attitudes among many people, resistance to changing the lifestyle habits that feed the environmental crisis, is strong. This apathy is partly fueled by a lack of knowledge about what products contain plastic and the impact it has; feeling overwhelmed by the scale of the crisis and ignorance about the interrelated nature of the Environmental Emergency more broadly. Underpinning these is the corrosive core of the issue: deep complacency within governments and businesses. Reducing plastic use is essential if we are to clean up the seas and rivers, safeguard marine life and sea birds, and start to decontaminate the air we breathe. Unseen by the naked eye, tiny plastic fibers are all around us. According to research carried out by King’s College London and featured in the excellent BBC series, War on Plastic with Hugh and Anita, in the square mile of the City of London – home to St. Paul’s Cathedral and the Stock Exchange – the air is filled with an estimated two billion plastic fibers. And that’s just one area in one city, in one country, and of course, as it’s airborne pollution it cannot be contained, it moves where the wind takes it; there is no such thing as national air pollution or national water pollution.

    • How We Are All Climate Change Deniers

      Recent polls have shown that the number of US citizens who believe in climate change is rising (see here, here, and here). These numbers have been hailed as positive—even as “a new era of public concern about climate change”—and they are positive, as far as such things go (with US Americans ranking 3rd in the world for climate change denial). They reflect media coverage of extreme climate events all over the world and the well-publicized predictions of respected organizations that are projecting disaster within thirty, twelve, or even five years. However, it’s also true that these percentages go up and down over time and that once current storylines run their course—and summer is over in the northern hemisphere—the rise in numbers will prove to be soft. But “soft” is also how we could describe belief in climate change in the US in general. Regardless of claims made to pollsters, virtually all of us—both socially (which is increasingly online) and to ourselves (more importantly)—are actually climate change deniers when the rubber hits the road. An apt expression, we might say, since we all need to stop driving. That wasn’t intentional, but yes, let’s start there.

  • Finance

    • Texafornia dreaming

      That is partly a function of size. One in five Americans calls Texas or California home. By 2050 one in four will. Over the past 20 years the two states have created a third of new jobs in America. Their economic heft rivals whole countries’. Were they nations, Texas would be the tenth-largest, ahead of Canada by GDP. California would be fifth, right behind Germany.

    • Why Facebook’s Libra Cryptocurrency Is Both More Interesting Than Expected And Less Interesting Than I Hoped

      After lots and lots of speculation, Facebook finally officially announced its cryptocurrency project last week, with a big event and a white paper that loosely describes the plans for the cryptocurrency called Libra. There was a lot to discuss, so in the spirit of slow news, I wanted to take some time to actually digest the plans before opining on it more thoroughly. Nearly all of the immediate reaction to the plan that I saw was not just negative, but mockingly so. Lots of jokes about “ZuckBucks” and the most common line of all: “who would actually trust Facebook with your money.” Having spent time actually reading the white paper, as well as much of the commentary around it, as well as talking to a bunch of different people — some who are supportive of the program, some who are not at all supportive, and one very knowledgeable friend who basically rated the whole program as a big “meh” — my initial take is that the effort is in many ways a lot more interesting than I expected, but a lot less interesting than I hoped, and I don’t think anyone can really have much of a sense of what will become of it until we learn more.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Istanbul opposition figure in court over ‘insulting’ Erdogan tweets

      Ms Kaftancioglu could face up to 17 years in prison.

      Hundreds showed up to court to support Ms Kaftancioglu on Friday. Her trial has now been adjourned until 18 July.

    • Turkey politician faces 17 years for ‘insulting’ tweets

      Canan Kaftancioglu, who heads the secular Republican People’s Party (CHP)’s Istanbul branch, is accused of “insulting” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the Turkish state in tweets posted between 2012 and 2017.

    • [Old] Court acquits man who likened Erdoğan to Gollum character

      Çiftçi’s trial found extensive coverage in the foreign media, prompting Oscar-winning “Lord of the Rings” director Peter Jackson to issue a statement saying the images posted by Çiftçi were actually of Sméagol, Gollum’s benign alter ego.

    • House Democrats approve bill to strengthen election security

      The bill, known as Securing America’s Federal Elections, or SAFE, Act, is the first of several proposed by Democrats to boost election security as Congress belatedly moves to respond to Russian interference in the presidential election more than 2½ years ago. But it isn’t yet clear if the GOP-led Senate will vote on it.

    • The First Democratic Debate In Five Charts

      Thursday night was the conclusion of the first Democratic primary debate, and, like everybody else, we’re trying to make sense of what we watched. Some candidates had breakout moments while others were pushed to the sidelines. But did these moments really make a difference to viewers?

      In an attempt to answer this question, we are trying to sum up the first debate in five charts, including: our poll with Morning Consult, which is tracking the same group of voters’ feelings about the candidates and how they change after the debates; a look at which candidates gained the most followers on Twitter; and of course, how much each of the candidates spoke, including whether they mentioned President Trump.

    • Joe Biden, Get Out of Stonewall

      On Tuesday, June 18th presidential candidate Joe Biden paid an unannounced visit to the Stonewall Inn. He smiled, took selfies with the staff, and spoke about his support for LGBTQ+ rights. This very public visit, on the fiftieth anniversary of the Stonewall riots, seems meant to shore up Biden’s liberal bonafides and follows closely the recent apology by the NYPD police chief for the police brutality executed that night. Biden talked specifically about the need for workplace protections for LGBTQ+ workers and his on-going support for the struggle for same-sex civil rights. This visit was covered favorably in the press with a focus on a charming story that Biden told about seeing a queer couple with his father and his father telling him “Joey, it’s simple. They love one another.” One may wonder, however, if this story is true, sinceBiden’s voting record paints a ver different picture. Indeed, even the slightest interrogation of Biden’s previous stances on queer rights shows that he has no business being at Stonewall and that his presence there is an insult both to the brave individuals who fought the police 50 years ago and to all of those who are fighting for liberation now. In 2012, Joe Biden — and the Democratic Party as a whole — began to rebrand as an ally of the LGBT community. Biden even preceded Obama in publicly supporting gay marriage, causing something of a stir. But, prior to 2012, Biden was anything but a supporter of LGBTQ+ people. Biden voted for both Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT) and the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), “defending” heterosexual marriage and barring LGBTQ+ people from the military. Both of these discriminatory measures were signed by then President Bill Clinton and voted for by a plurality of Democrats. Mind you, that doesn’t mean I support the US imperialist machine that is the military, but we can’t doubt that a law actively barring LGBT people from coming out on the job furthered a homophobic and transphobic precedent. Even recently Biden has made statements that caused outrage within the queer community, most notably calling Mike Pence — a man who literally supports the torture of queer youth through ‘conversion therapy’ — “a decent man.” The few times where Joe Biden actually voted for nominally pro-LGBTQ+ bills typically involved hate crime legislation which is in-keeping with Biden’s consistent belief that you can solve social problems (domestic violence, bigotry, drug abuse) with the Prison-Industrial Complex. This prison industrial complex is used as a weapon against people of color, and particularly queer people of color. In fact, Layleen Polanco (a 27 year old Afro-Latina transgender woman) died in solitary confinement in Rikers just two weeks ago.

    • Joe Biden and Chuck Todd Lose the Second Democratic Debate

      I would like to congratulate the 2016 presidential platform of Bernie Sanders for winning both halves of this week’s twin-bill Democratic presidential debate in a rout. Even without being in the room on Wednesday night, Sanders’ then-outlandish 2016 policy ideas on health care and income inequality dominated the discourse. His positions have not changed in three years, but the elemental nature of the Democratic Party — at least in the guise of most of the other people who took the debate stage this week — has clearly come around to several of Sanders’ premier points of view. By being present in the flesh last night, Sanders was able to say for himself what the others have been parroting since the race began. It appears 2016 was a better year than many of us thought. Joe “Well Guess What” Biden had a bad night, full stop. His long record on the economy, the Iraq war and so much else got dragged from one end of the room to the other. Specifically, Biden’s entire reason for being a presidential candidate — I’m the guy who can fight Donald Trump and win — got taken for a long walk off a short pier by Kamala Harris. Harris, the only Black person on Thursday’s debate stage, cleaned the ceiling with Biden’s toothpaste-ad veneers over his praise for white supremacists and his fight against busing as a means of desegregating schools. “It was hurtful to hear you talk about the reputations of two United States senators who built their reputations and career on the segregation of race in this country,” said Harris during the exchange. “And it was not only that, but you also worked with them to oppose busing. And, you know, there was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public schools, and she was bused to school every day. And that little girl was me.” Wham and splatter, as Stephen King once wrote. Biden had little response for Harris, which begs the question of how he will handle a knife-fighter like Trump. The evening’s events did not bode well on that score.

    • Joe Biden Didn’t End Iraq War, Yet He Claimed Credit During Debate

      Former vice president Joe Biden took credit for withdrawing 150,000 United States troops from Iraq during the Democratic presidential debate. But the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq was part of a status of forces agreement (SOFA) President George W. Bush established with the Iraqi government. As the Washington Post reported in November 2008, “The Bush administration agreed to a total withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of 2011.” The agreement also placed “additional restrictions on how U.S. troops conducted missions,” and required a “pullout from Iraqi urban areas by July 2009.” In fact, in early 2011, Obama and his advisers planned to keep a residual force in Iraq, but they didn’t tell Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki or the American people. According to James F. Jeffrey, a former U.S. ambassador to Turkey and Iraq, “Washington had to determine the size of a residual force. That dragged on, with the military pushing for a larger force, and the White House for a small presence at or below 10,000, due to costs and the president’s prior ‘all troops out’ position. In June, the president decided on the force level (eventually 5,000) and obtained Mr. Maliki’s assent to new SOFA talks.”

    • Holding Debate In Miami Offers Establishment Democrats A Way To Resist Transforming The Party

      Over two nights in Miami, the Democratic National Committee will host the first presidential debate of the 2020 primary on June 26 and 27. There are multiple swing states the Democratic nominee must win in 2020 to prevent a repeat of what happened with President Donald Trump in 2016. So, it is telling that the establishment of the party is primarily focused on Florida. A strategy built around winning Florida gives liberal centrists the ability to invoke the purple nature of the state to justify resisting a transformation, which continues to escalate among the party’s base of voters. Democrats can say they are not for Medicare for All because support for “government entitlements” will alienate voters. They can say they do not want to pursue proposals that “distract” from a focus on Republican attacks on what President Barack Obama supposedly accomplished. Being in Miami gives these Democrats populations from Cuba, Venezuela, and various other Latin American countries, which they can say fled countries with left-wing governments in order to warn against going too far with government programs to address basic human needs. It is particularly why Democratic candidates will feel pressure to support Trump’s regime change efforts in Venezuela.

    • Fiery Second Democratic Debate: Race, Age, Health Care and Trump

      Democratic divisions over race, age and ideology surged into public view in Thursday night’s presidential debate, a prime-time clash punctuated by a heated exchange between former Vice President Joe Biden and California Sen. Kamala Harris. It was one of several moments that left the 76-year-old Biden, who entered the night as his party’s fragile front-runner, on the defensive as he worked to convince voters across America that he’s still in touch with the Democratic Party of 2020 — and best-positioned to deny President Donald Trump a second term.

    • Joe Biden, Tiffany Cabán and Democrats’ Two Paths Forward

      The stories provided a striking contrast, a portrait of the Democratic Party’s past and a glimpse of its possible future. Just after midnight on Wednesday, 31-year-old Tiffany Cabán claimed victory in her race for Queens district attorney, an announcement that ignited chants of “DSA” during her campaign’s watch party at the La Boom nightclub in Woodside, N.Y. (Members of the Democratic Socialists of America were among her most active volunteers and canvassers.) Cabán, a self-identified queer Latina from Richmond Hill, N.Y., who received endorsements from Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., has vowed a wholesale decriminalization of poverty. Mere hours before, The New York Times reminded readers precisely what she and her fellow progressives are up against, both nationally and within their own party. In a new report tracing his long and ignominious career in the Senate, journalists Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Astead W. Herndon present the case that former Vice President and 2020 hopeful Joe Biden was not merely a foot solider in a decades-long war on crime but one of its chief architects—and that his work with segregationists in the Senate was far more extensive than he has led voters to believe.

    • Supreme Court Hands GOP Big Victory on Gerrymandering, Ensuring “Massive Election Rigging”

      The Supreme Court hands down two major decisions. The first is a victory for Republicans, allowing extreme partisan gerrymandering to continue. The other temporarily blocks the Trump administration from adding a citizenship question on the 2020 census. We get response from Ari Berman, senior writer at Mother Jones, a reporting fellow at the Type Media Center and author of “Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America.” He says the ruling that federal courts can’t resolve claims of partisan gerrymandering is “almost guaranteed to facilitate massive election rigging in the future.”

    • Sidney Ember’s Secret Sources – NYT reporter hides corporate ties of Sanders critics she highlights

      New York Times reporter Sydney Ember has a problem with Bernie Sanders—which may be why the paper has her cover him. Ember is supposed to write reported articles, not op-eds, but she consistently paints a negative picture of Sanders’ temperament, history, policies and/or political prospects in the over two dozen pieces she’s done on him. This makes sense, given the New York Times’ documented anti-Sanders bias, which can be found among both editors and reporters alike. The paper was caught making significant changes, without acknowledging them, to a 2016 article on Sanders hours after it went up: It changed the headline (from “Bernie Sanders Scored Victories for Years via Legislative Side Doors,” to “Via Legislative Side Doors, Bernie Sanders Won Modest Victories”); deleted a positive quote from a campaign advisor; and added two negative paragraphs. Even after the paper’s public editor chastised the Times for the practice known as stealth editing, the editors defended the changes because they “thought [the article] should say more about his realistic chances.” In its original form, the article didn’t cast enough doubt on Sanders’ viability and ability to govern, in other words.

    • Socialism 2019: the Left at a Crossroads

      For a number of years, the International Socialists Organization, once the largest Marxist group in the USA, held educational conferences either in Chicago or in various American cities. In 2004, I attended a plenary session of a regional conference at City College in New York, mostly to hear my old friend Peter Camejo who was the featured speaker alongside Ahmed Shawki, the disgraced former leader whose cover-up of multiple rapes in the ISO led to its dissolution this year. If Peter had lived, I am not sure what he would make of its demise. Although he was a sharp critic of “Leninism”, he had high regard for the ISO, as did the late Sol Dollinger, a member of Bert Cochran and Harry Braverman’s Socialist Union. The Socialist Union was the first attempt to break with sectarianism in the USA but dissolved in 1959 because of unfavorable political conditions not all that different from what we face today. Those conditions played a large role in the ISO’s demise. If being a Marxist today is like swimming against the current (the aptly named magazine of Solidarity, another left group following in the Socialist Union tradition), the current period has left most socialist groups gasping for air like spawning salmons. The ISO was formed in 1977, just at the point when the Socialist Workers Party, the sect I belonged to, had begun a “colonization of industry” strategy that would eventually reduce its membership by 90 percent. The Maoist groups of the late 60s and early 70s had also begun to sputter out and die, their story recorded in Max Elbaum’s essential “Revolution in the Air”. If Leninist groups have a shelf life, the 21-year history of the ISO is about par for the course. Except for Kshama Sawant’s Socialist Alternative, there is no self-avowed Leninist group that amounts to anything in 2019. Those that still exist tend to be hermetically sealed sects like the Spartacist League or the Socialist Equality Party that have never sought to have an impact on the mass movement, seeing themselves instead as its high priesthood critics.

    • Socialism: Democratic Party Style

      Does it matter that Bernie Sanders says that he is a socialist while Elizabeth Warren insists that she is not? The short answer is: No. A slightly more nuanced, but still short, answer would be: “maybe just a tad, but not necessarily in a way that redounds in Sanders’ favor, even for those of us who think that, in the long run, a turn to socialism is America’s and the world’s best, perhaps only, hope. At this point in the nomination process for the 2016 election, it mattered more than it now does. Sanders had just decided to run –making him automatically the top, indeed the only, “progressive” in the field. Had Warren been running too, we would then have been in much the situation we are now. She decided to sit it out. I would venture that among her reasons at the time was that the party establishment and their corporate backers had a candidate in the race, Hillary Clinton. She probably realized that the fix was in. Or she decided not to do anything that could be perceived as an effort to divide the “the smash through the glass ceiling” vote; or both. Or she had something else on her mind altogether, like thinking that she wasn’t yet ready. Clinton’s functional equivalent now is Joe Biden, the Great Moderate Hope. In almost every respect, his politics is as bad or worse than hers. The main difference between those two is that he is more pathetic; almost as much as Donald Trump, he is his own worst enemy.

    • Warren and Sanders: Compare and Contrast

      To avoid being divided and conquered in 2020, progressive voters must choose between Warren and Sanders, their two leading, if not only, alternatives to the Democrats’ establishment candidate. Are there strategic differences between them relevant to making that choice that are accessible now? This question was raised directly in a recent article by Elizabeth Bruenig, an opinion columnist at The Washington Post. Plutocrat Jeff Bezos’ WaPo offered an establishment answer to “one of the key questions in the race: What is the difference between Sanders (I-Vt.) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)?” WaPo argued that the difference is one between Revolution and Reform/Regulation. This answer is strategically irrelevant because it pits two undefined and artificially opposed abstractions against each other in a manner designed to divide the bell curve of opinion rhetorically, according to progressive voters’ subjective reactions to variable qualitative notions of these two perspectives. At most this distinction would seem to reflect either some subjective sense of urgency or a weakness for hyperbole.

    • What to Watch on Debate Night: Biden, Bernie and Other Stars

      Same stage. Same rules. But the Democrats’ second back-to back debate is fueled by star power. Debate night No. 2 marks the first time top-tier presidential candidates will confront one another in person over who is best fit to lead the Democratic effort to oust President Donald Trump in 2020.

    • Watch Kamala Harris Dismantle Joe Biden’s Record on Race

      Sen. Kamala Harris directly confronted Joe Biden over his civil rights record during Thursday night’s Democratic presidential debate, highlighting the former vice president’s opposition to school busing as a senator in the 1970s and his fond recollection of the “civility” of notorious segregationists. After saying it was “hurtful” to hear Biden offer kind words earlier this month about two senators who “built their reputations and career on the segregation of race in this country”—James O. Eastland and Herman Talmadge—Harris invoked “a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public schools, and she was bused to school every day.”

    • The Tulsi Effect: Forcing War Onto the Democratic Agenda

      Democrats, liberals, progressives—call them what you will—don’t really do foreign policy. Sure, if cornered, they’ll spout a few choice talking points, and probably find a way to make them all about bashing President Donald Trump—ignoring the uncomfortable fact that their very own Barack Obama led and expanded America’s countless wars for eight long years. This was ever so apparent in the first two nights of Democratic primary debates this week. Foreign policy hardly registered for these candidates with one noteworthy exception: Hawaii Representative Tulsi Gabbard—herself an (anti-war) combat veteran and army officer. Now primary debates are more show than substance; this has long been the case. Still, to watch the first night’s Democratic primary debates, it was possible to forget that the United States remains mired in several air and ground wars from West Africa to Central Asia. In a two-hour long debate, with 10 would-be nominees plus the moderators, the word Afghanistan was uttered just nine times—you know, once for every two years American troops have been killing and dying there. Iraq was uttered just twice—both times by Gabbard. Syria, where Americans have died and still fight, was mentioned not once. Yemen, the world’s worst humanitarian disaster, courtesy of a U.S.-supported Saudi terror campaign didn’t get mentioned a single time, either.

    • The First Democratic Debate Was Speed-Dating With Some Substance

      Before attempting to parse the various exhibitions of affected candor on display during last night’s Democratic “debate,” the first of this long election season with many more to follow, let me be obvious for a moment: This is no way to pick a president. Even in the milled perfection of a machine world, 10 robot candidates in a two-hour debate would only have 12 minutes each to explain why they should be president of these wildly complex and dangerous United States. As we are flesh, however, viewers were required to endure several commercial breaks, candidates talking beyond their 45-second time allotments, moderator Chuck Todd being a clown, and an elongated microphone malfunction that ate 10 percent of the event. At best, candidates each averaged maybe eight minutes of combined time to make their points and try to stand out. They were required in this scant window to race through answers on health care, the gender pay gap, economic inequality, the ongoing immigration crisis, Iran, reproductive freedom, gun violence, the Supreme Court, LGBTQ rights, racial justice, military interventions to end atrocities, the eternal war in Afghanistan, the merits of impeaching Donald Trump, and more. Unless a candidate pulled a live duck out of their pants in the middle of a rushed discourse on raising the minimum wage after a different candidate spent their 45 seconds quick-splaining the Iran crisis, they were all going to be subsumed to one degree or another by the very nature of the affair. It was speed dating writ large, and a comprehensive disservice to the country given what is at stake.

    • On Being Very Much Against Biden Without Demonizing Him

      In early April I published two columns opposing Joe Biden’s entry into the Democratic presidential race, arguing that “he is looking backward at a time when we need to move forward,” and “he offers too little, beyond nostalgia, at a time when much is called for.” Everything that has happened since his entry has confirmed this judgment. On the one hand, Biden has tripped over a series of hot-button issues — #MeToo, the Hyde Amendment, and now racially coded language — with his unique combination of tone deafness and stubborn self-righteousness. On the other hand, he has said and done nothing that adds anything new to policy debate or enhances the Democratic Party’s ability to mobilize new voters and to reinvigorate itself. In this regard, his entry into the race represents a profound regression in the face of the party’s real mobilizations, and victories, in November 2018. Biden’s “claim” to the nomination is a simple one: “I’ve been around forever, you know me, I’m decent, I was with Barack, I am not an idiot, and I am not Trump.” His current cluelessness about the racial and broader identity politics of today’s Democratic Party, to which I will return in a moment, has painfully exposed the thinness of this claim. But perhaps equally telling is his performance at the South Carolina Democratic Party Convention this past weekend. Trying to keep to the seven minutes of time allotted to each Democratic presidential candidate, Biden rushed through a terrible, uninspired speech in which he basically listed a bunch of policy ideas, each of which has been advanced with more vigor by one or more of his competitors. His message was tame, and lame.

    • Reflections and Correspondence at the Abyss

      The television footage of White House acting Chief-of-Staff Mick Mulvaney being kicked out of the Oval Office by Donald Trump for coughing during a television shoot with ABC’s George Stephonopolous was chilling. “Let’s do that over, he’s coughing in the middle of my answer,” Trump said. “I don’t like that, you know. I don’t like that….If you’re going to cough, please leave the room,” Trump said to Mulvaney while shaking his tangerine-tinted head. “You just can’t, you just can’t cough.” Jackie Alemany, a former Trump campaign staffer, found the incident unsurprising. “I was told by multiple people when I came aboard,” Alemany tweeted, “to never cough or sneeze while in the presence of Trump. He thinks it’s a sign of weakness and lack of control.” As one wag quipped, “Never Cough or Sneeze” sounds like a good name for Trump’s health care plan if he ever comes up with one. I was reminded of the time Trump made some of his top underlings (including serial Hatch Act-violator Kellyanne Conway and Trump’s chief economic advisor Larry Kudlow) cringingly testify as to his “calm demeanor” during his last White House meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer. The way this president degrades his own staff ought to be setting off anti-authoritarian alarm bells. Instead it just sparks wry amusement and resignation. In this as in so many other ways, the Madness of Wannabe King Don is eerily normalized.

    • In First Debate, Julián Castro Challenges Democrats to End the Criminalization of Immigration

      The Democrats’ first debate was held in Miami, Florida. The venue was less than an hour away from Homestead, Florida, where more than 2,000 unaccompanied minors are incarcerated in a for-profit detention center run by Caliburn. Trump’s former Chief of Staff Gen. John Kelly sits on its board. Prior to the debate, Senators Warren and Klobuchar visited the facility. During the debate, Julián Castro, the former secretary of housing and urban development, criticized the immigration policies of fellow Texan, former Congressmember Beto O’Rourke. We air part of the debate and speak to Ana María Archila of the Center for Popular Democracy.

    • Democrats Rail Against Economy-for-the-Rich in First Debate

      Ten Democrats railed against a national economy and Republican administration they said exists only for the rich as presidential candidates debated onstage for the first time in the young 2020 season, embracing class warfare as a defining theme in their fight to deny President Donald Trump a second term in office. Health care, more than any other issue, led the debate. And Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, more than anyone else, stood out — on her own at times — in calling for “fundamental change” across the nation’s economy and government to address persistent issues of inequality. “I think of it this way. Who is this economy really working for? It’s doing great for a thinner and thinner slice at the top,” Warren declared shortly before raising her hand as one of the only Democrats on stage willing to abolish her own private health insurance in favor of a government-run plan. “Health care is a basic human right and I will fight for basic human rights.”

    • Can Warren Beat Biden?

      On the first night of the first Democratic debates, Elizabeth Warren gave a master class in when to speak and when to keep one’s mouth shut. This is a lesson former Vice President Joe Biden could learn a ton from. When Waren did speak, it was clear, passionate, on point, and richly factual. On health care, she even surprised a bit by committing to eliminating private insurance where she has previously hedged her betting. The performance earned her a spot in the top three, a cut above the rest, with Julián Castro and Cory Booker. On March 16, Warren was in the doldrums in terms of net favorability rating, according to my charting that tracks polling in the field in the previous month. Viewing her favorably or very favorably, on average, were 34.5% of respondents while 42.9% viewed her unfavorably or very unfavorably for a net -8.4% average. Warren had just introduced her well-received plan to break-up big technology firms like Amazon, but she languished a whopping 28% behind Joe Biden’s mid-March average of 20.8% net favorability. Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, and Beto O’Rourke hovered together between -2.5 and -3.0%. Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden were the only candidates in positive territory, but there was a massive difference between the two.

    • A Democratic Debate Report Card

      How do we make sense of 20 candidates and four hours of debate? Some key take-aways, then a report card. First, the format is crazy, making it difficult for any candidate to say much, but some candidates made the most of a bad situation. Second, it is really, really early. We’re eight months away from the first primaries. Perhaps half the candidates are likely to drop out before that, which would be good to eliminate lots of the clutter of going-nowhere candidates. Third, the Democrats have moved significantly to the left since the 2016 election, on health care, criminal justice reform, the environment, gun control, the minimum wage, and other issues. But it turns out that, according to polls, a majority of Americans agree with them. Ideas that once seemed radical now sound like common sense. For that we can thank Bernie, Trump, and the amazing resistance movement, including Planned Parenthood, the Fight for 15, Indivisible, Black Lives Matter, and the impressive mosaic of grassroots activists who protested in the streets in 2017 and knocked on doors registering and bringing out voters in 2018. One of the real winners of the debates were the activist students from Parkland, Florida, who helped change the political climate on gun control. I’m a professor, so I have a responsibility to assign grades. Here’s my debate report card in terms of their performance this week, not who I want to win the nomination. I support Warren, and could see Castro, Harris, or Mayor Pete as her VP running mate (although Harris would be more effective staying in the Senate).

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • G20 Summit in Osaka: Donald Trump lavishes praise on Saudi Crown Prince, ignores questions about Khashoggi murder

      a However, Trump did not mention about the Khashoggi murder case during his meeting with the Saudi Prince.

      The United Nations has called for an international investigation into the alleged killing, adding that the Saudi probe into the matter has failed to examine who may have ordered it. But, Saudi officials have denied that the crown prince had any involvement in the killing.

    • Trump calls Saudi crown prince a friend, is silent on Khashoggi

      The Washington Post has reported the Central Intelligence Agency concluded the crown prince ordered the execution.

    • Trump: No comment on whether he will ask Saudis about Jamal Khashoggi killing

      Khashoggi was a Saudi citizen who had grown increasingly critical of the Saudi government; fearing for his safety, he moved to the U.S. and became a permanent resident. He went to the Saudi consulate in Turkey on Oct. 2 to get some routine documents he needed to marry his fiancee and never emerged. His body has yet to be found.

      A top U.N. human rights expert released a report last week detailing “credible evidence” that high-level officials in Saudi Arabia — including Bin Salman, the kingdom’s crown prince and de facto ruler — were involved in the death of Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist.

    • Twitter Officially Has Separate Rules for Politicians

      The tweets of prominent politicians such as President Trump will now be governed by a separate set of rules than average users, Twitter announced on Thursday.

      The platform is rolling out new criteria for government officials who violate Twitter’s guidelines, which formalizes a process for preserving tweets that are deemed to be of “public interest.”

    • State Judge Prefers Prior Restraint To The First Amendment, Orders Blogger To Delete Supposedly Defamatory Posts

      Preliminary restraining orders targeting speech are almost always unconstitutional. It’s not just the First Amendment getting the shaft when judges do this, but the adversarial court process which is supposed to allow defendants to present a rebuttal before the judge starts handing out remedies. Waiting until the facts are in is a good rule of thumb just about anywhere, but especially in this case where a judge handed out a preliminary injunction after having seen nothing more than a super-vague complaint. The defendant — accused of libel per se and various forms of secondhand harassment — now has the ACLU on his side.

    • Russian Government Demands All Foreign Press Outlets Register For The Privilege Of Delivering News To Russia

      The Russian government sure loves its registration. If anyone wants to do anything involving the written (and/or broadcasted) word in Russia, the government wants to know who you are. That makes it easier to find you should you displease the Russian government and/or its bear-riding autocrat. It’s so great to be part of the new New World Order. Gone are the days of the Soviet Union and its direct control of the nation’s press outlets. We’re living in a new era of quasi-, mostly-mob-fueled-capitalism in Russia. And with it comes… the direct control of the nation’s press outlets. The Russian government has demanded all bloggers register with the government in order to continue blogging. The government has also demanded all Wi-Fi networks be registered with the government. So it goes without saying all domestic press is registered with the government, but we’ll say it anyway since unregistered press outfits are being hit with hefty fines for not playing ball with their overlords.

    • Major League Baseball’s Obsession With Cashing In On Everything Has Harmed The Game’s Popularity Online

      I don’t often mention it here, because it’s way off-topic, but I’m a bit obsessed with baseball — and only rarely does that cross over into a Techdirt related topic, such as when MLB tried to claim it owned stats (spoiler alert: it does not). Anyway, a month or two ago I came across a wonderful Twitter feed called @Jomboy_ who mostly tweets out (funny and clever) stuff about the NY Yankees, but also every day or so puts out really amazing and hilarious “breakdown” videos about events throughout baseball. These vignettes are usually less than two minutes long, and frequently feature what appear to be his amazingly accurate lip-reading skills (not to mention capturing little things happening in the background) and also a bit of well-placed profanity (if you happen to be listening in a workplace that might not appreciate that). I usually watch them on Twitter, but for embedding purposes, it’s easier to use YouTube (where he also posts the videos), so I’ll use some examples from there (and intersperse a few, because if you like baseball, they’re wonderful).

    • Inside Story On The War On Backpage Raises All Sorts Of Legal Questions

      Recently Wired had a pretty amazing cover article on the inside story on the DOJ’s legal war against Backpage that is superbly well-written and quite interesting. Wired found the perfect reporter for this in Christine Biederman, who was once a staff reporter at one of the many alt weeklies owned by Michael Lacey and James Larkin — the two owners of Backpage who are still facing federal charges over the site — as well as a former assistant US attorney at the DOJ. Biederman understands all of the issues here deeply and does a great job laying them all out. I highly recommend you set aside some time to read the whole article, which gives a great backgrounder on Lacey and Larkin, how they built up an alt-weekly empire, only to see it fizzle, while then building out Backpage as a massive success — and who now face criminal charges that raise all sorts of legal questions. For this post, however, I did want to focus on some of the legal issues. We’ve discussed Backpage a lot over the years, including questioning whether what it did was truly illegal. No one denies that the site was absolutely used for some fairly horrible things — including sex trafficking. The questions, though, surround whether or not that’s Backpage’s responsibility — and whether or not in shutting down the site, law enforcement actually shut down a useful tool in tracking down actual traffickers, making the trafficking problem worse. Biederman’s piece also shows some of the moral panic around FOSTA, and raises questions about just how big the sex trafficking issue truly is and whether or not the government is abusing the civil asset forfeiture process to make it impossible for Lacey and Larkin to mount a defense. These are all topics that we’ve long covered on Techdirt.

    • Twitter suspended open source handles after Indian complaint: report

      At least four Twitter handles were suspended over the weekend but restored following an outcry.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • The complete list of alternatives to all Google products

      With growing concerns over online privacy and securing personal data, more people than ever are considering alternatives to Google products. After all, Google’s business model essentially revolves around data collection and advertisements, both of which infringe on your privacy. More data means better (targeted) ads and more revenue. The company pulled in over $116 billion in ad revenue last year alone – and that number continues to grow.

    • A Major Police Body Camera Maker Hits Pause on Face Surveillance
    • Documents Show The NSA’s Abuse Of Its Phone Records Collection Continued Right Up Until Its Decision To Pull The Plug

      The NSA may have extremely belatedly decided to give up its bulk phone records collection, but that’s only after years of dysfunction, abuse, and escalating uselessness. The problems with the NSA’s collection of phone records dates back to at least 2004 — a 14-year streak of violations that may only now be coming to an end because of the NSA’s voluntary sunsetting. For years, the NSA treated the phone records collection as essential to national security. Not much was said about it until Ed Snowden leaked a court order showing the NSA was sweeping up every record possessed by Verizon’s business services wing. Then things got heated and the NSA was unable to justify its continued existence. Once the program was modified, the NSA had even more trouble collecting records lawfully. It may have been limited to performing targeted searches, but it was still somehow able to over-collect. Whether this was due to the NSA’s filtering of returned search results or errors on the telco side when providing records, the NSA hasn’t definitively said. But it did destroy millions of records it never should have had in the first place, strongly suggesting the agency was still collecting in bulk, despite legislative changes.

    • Again!? The NSA’s Phone Records Program Still Can’t Stay Within the Law

      Just as the Trump administration has signaled its interest in a permanent “clean” reauthorization of the Patriot Act’s phone surveillance provision, the NSA proves once again that it is not to be trusted with these tools. New documents obtained by the ACLU and reported in the Wall Street Journal have revealed that last year the NSA once again collected phone records of Americans that it was not authorized to obtain. The NSA collected Information, including who phone-users were calling and for how long, after a telecommunications firm began sending the information to the NSA—despite the fact that it had received no orders that would have authorized them to do so. Although the name of the company is redacted, for years it has been widely reported that large telecommunication firms like AT&T and Verizon have worked with the NSA as part of BLARNEY, an NSA project that leverages “commercial partnerships” in order to gather intelligence. This “anomalous” unauthorized collection of American’s private information comes only a few months after a separate incident in which “technical irregularities” resulted in the NSA getting access to many more records than it should have. In response, the NSA erased three years of all of its collected metadata, which amounted to records of hundreds of millions of phone calls. The documents released today include an assessment by the NSA that the overcollection had a “significant impact on civil liberties and privacy,” which is putting it mildly.

    • Yandex [cracked], and likely by Western intelligence agency

      Between October and November of 2018, [attackers] planted a strain of malware called Regin, which is said to be popular with Five Eyes. That’s the intelligence-sharing alliance between America, Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand, rather than the burger chain. You’re thinking of Five Guys.

    • Exclusive: Western intelligence hacked ‘Russia’s Google’ Yandex to spy on accounts – sources

      The sources who described the attack to Reuters said the [attackers] appeared to be searching for technical information that could explain how Yandex authenticates user accounts. Such information could help a spy agency impersonate a Yandex user and access their private messages.

    • Watchdog slams ‘chaotic’ use of facial recognition tech by Brit cops

      Blighty’s biometrics commissioner Paul Wiles sounded the alarms about the “chaotic” way in which police forces have been using facial recognition.

      In his annual report [PDF], Wiles also voiced concern over the lack of clear rules for government use of biometric databases, which poses “clear risks of abuse” and risks to civil liberties.

    • Man Found Guilty in a Murder Mystery Cracked By Cousins’ DNA

      It cracked open the Snohomish County case when investigators worked with a private company to trace semen left at one of the crime scenes to Talbott through two cousins who had uploaded their own genetic information to a public database called GEDMatch. Such sites help people build family trees and trace their ancestral roots through shared DNA, a practice known as genetic genealogy. Recently, police departments and the FBI have begun using the method to dig up suspects. Genetic genealogy has already been used to advance dozens of cold cases since it very publicly resulted in the arrest of the suspected Golden State Killer last April. But until Talbott’s case went to trial at the beginning of this month, the technique had never been tested in court.

    • Facebook enlists plain English to clarify how it makes money

      The guideline changes, announced on June 27, are largely cosmetic. The updates don’t change Facebook’s underlying policies.

    • When even police had to tweet to contact Uber [iophk: "a tweet in place of official communication channels :("]

      In a major embarrassment for Uber, the Mumbai police, who were tracking a missing person who had last taken an Uber, had to tweet to them saying that their helpline number was not working. Twitterati who had faced similar experiences delightedly jumped aboard the bandwagon, heaping criticism on the cab aggregator.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Cop starts yelling “Gun!” during a car stop, until he realizes he’s being filmed

      Which is to say, if a cop starts shouting “gun!” during an interaction with you, that cop intends to kill you.

      And if the cop is poking his gun at you sideways like a cartoon gangster? You better get lucky fast.

    • Britain Bans Sales of Tear Gas to Hong Kong After Violence at Protests

      Hong Kong police this month fired rubber bullets and tear gas at people taking part in the protests—the largest since crowds demonstrated against the bloody suppression of pro-democracy activists in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in June 1989.

    • Sri Lanka hires first two hangmen in 43 years

      Sri Lanka has recruited two hangmen as it prepares to carry out four executions – the first in 43 years.

    • Wallenberg Medal goes to journalist, documentarian Safa Al Ahmad

      Al Ahmad has produced documentaries for the BBC and PBS about uprisings in the Middle East, particularly in Saudi Arabia and Yemen. Her 2014 BBC documentary, “Saudi’s Secret Uprising,” brought attention to government suppression of unreported popular demonstrations in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province.


      Wallenberg graduated from U-M’s College of Architecture in 1935. In 1944, at the request of Jewish organizations and the American War Refugee Board, the Swedish Foreign Ministry sent Wallenberg on a rescue mission to Budapest.

    • Bundestag Member, Cem Ozdemir, was awarded the Raoul Wallenberg Medal

      In a moving ceremony that took place at the Chapel of the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedachtniskirche, Bundestag Member, Cem Ozdemir was awarded the Raoul Wallenberg Medal in recognition of his role in building bridges between Armenians and Turks and his pivotal contribution as a driving force behind the Bill passed by the Bundestag in June 2, 2016, which recognized the massive killings of Armenians from 1915, as a Genocide.

    • Opinion | Medical costs are an emergency. I know, I’m an ER doc.

      As an ER physician, I see patients like these every day. They work hard. They play by the rules. Yet they’re struggling to get by because of prescription drugs and medical procedures that get more expensive every year. I see patients who worry about losing their healthcare because of cuts to Medicaid. I see patients who have so many chronic conditions when they walk through the doors that treating them requires an entire team of healthcare professionals.

      These are just a few of the people who will be most affected by what happens in our nation’s healthcare debate. In Michigan, one out of every two people has a preexisting condition. Medical debt is the number one reason for personal bankruptcies in the United States.

    • 1 in 6 ER visits or hospital stays triggers ‘surprise’ bill

      The report from the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation finds that millions of people with what’s considered solid coverage from large employers are nonetheless exposed to “out-of-network” charges that can amount to thousands of dollars. It comes as congressional lawmakers of both parties and the Trump administration move to close the loophole, with a Senate panel scheduled to vote on legislation next week.

    • Hospitals Earn Little From Suing For Unpaid Bills. For Patients, It Can Be ‘Ruinous’

      Not every hospital sues over unpaid bills, but a few sue a lot. In Virginia, 36% of hospitals sued patients and garnished their wages in 2017, according to a study published Tuesday in the American Medical Association’s journal, JAMA. Five hospitals accounted for over half of all lawsuits — and all but one of those were nonprofits. Mary Washington sued the most patients, according to the researchers.


      “Hospitals were built — mostly by churches — to be a safe haven for people regardless of one’s race, creed or ability to pay. Hospitals have a nonprofit status — most of them — for a reason,” says Martin Makary, one of the JAMA study’s authors and a surgeon and researcher at Johns Hopkins Medicine. “They’re supposed to be community institutions.”

    • Polio: The final battle

      Many people in Pakistan are suspicious of the polio vaccine, despite the fact it saves lives. But tensions were running even higher than usual.

      The day before their visit, a mass vaccination at a village school in the suburbs of Peshawar had ended in violence and arson.

      The headmaster of the school, in Mashokhel village, had previously refused to allow the polio vaccine. This time he had bowed to government pressure and the inoculations had gone ahead. But shortly afterwards he rang parents to tell them their children were fainting and vomiting.

      Dozens of students from the school were taken to hospital. All were found to have no symptoms and were discharged. But it was too late to contain the panic, which had spread quickly via social media.

      Furious parents gathered outside a local government health facility, broke down its boundary wall with hammers and sticks, kicked down the front gate, and barged inside to burn it down. All of this was shown live on local TV, which sparked even greater alarm in Peshawar.

    • The US suicide rate is up 33% since 1999, research says

      Suicide rates among people 15 to 64 increased significantly during that period, rising from 10.5 per 100,000 people in 1999 to 14 per 100,000 in 2017, the most recent year with available data, according to annual research published by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics on Thursday.

    • AI Isn’t Making The Criminal Justice System Any Smarter

      We’ve covered the increasing reliance on tech to replace human judgment in the criminal justice system, and the news just keeps getting worse. The job of sentencing is being turned over to software owned by private contractors, which puts a non-governmental party between defendants and challenges to sentence length. The systems being used haven’t been rigorously tested and are as prone to bias as the humans they’re replacing. The system used by Washington, DC courts to sentence juvenile defendants hasn’t been examined ever, and yet it’s still being used to determine how long a person’s freedom should be taken away. This system had been in place for 14 years before anyone challenged it. Defense lawyers found nothing that explained the court’s confidence in using it to sentence juveniles.

    • ‘Tis Liberty

      Liberty is the second of the three inalienable rights laid out in the Declaration of Independence, its exercise requiring the first (Life) and leading to the third (the Pursuit of Happiness). Liberty is not mentioned in the American national anthem, Francis Scott Key concentrating his meager poetical talents on images of war and destruction rather than on the ideals on which his country was supposedly founded. Indeed, some liberty-seekers received only Key’s condemnation: the British invaders of the War of 1812 freed the slaves they encountered, enlisting some to fight against their former masters. Key scoffed at these freedom fighters in his third verse, claiming that “no refuge could save them.” In “My Country ‘Tis of Thee,” penned by the nineteenth-century Baptist Minister Samuel Francis Smith, the word comes as the first of any significance, the cleric rhyming closing the first rhyme with: “Sweet Land of Liberty.” Liberty and Freedom appear several times across the hymn’s seven verses.

    • CIA Has Covered Up Torture for Decades. Will They Ever Be Prosecuted?

      CIA Director Gina Haspel made a rare public appearance on April 18 when she spoke at Auburn University. Haspel reflected on her 34-year career with the agency, but failed to mention the years she spent involved in its extraordinary rendition program. She was quickly interrupted by a member of the audience: “Do you remember the thrill of the CIA black sites you tortured people in and the evidence you destroyed? Tell these young children, tell them who you tortured. You know their names: They’re still in Guantánamo Bay.” Haspel paused until the man was removed and then continued as though nothing had happened. Such has been the approach to her involvement in CIA torture since she became the agency’s deputy director in 2017. Following Haspel’s nomination as director and in the run-up to her confirmation hearing in May 2018, questions were raised about the CIA’s extraordinary rendition program and what she knew about the program; nonetheless, the mainstream media has since been actively engaged in whitewashing Haspel’s record. The situation is, as always, one of business as usual. In 2005, Haspel helped to destroy 92 videotapes of evidence of CIA torture of two detainees: Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, both currently held at Guantánamo, where al-Nashiri awaits trial in a capital case on the basis of evidence obtained by torture. Still, that did not turn the trail cold. If the mainstream media were more diligent, they could discover a lot about Haspel’s career by taking a closer look at the cases of her victims: A footnote in the redacted version of the 2014 Senate Intelligence Committee Torture Report led to the successful Freedom of Information Act disclosure in October 2018 of declassified cables in which Haspel “described graphic acts of deliberate physical torture including the waterboarding of a suspected Al-Qa’ida terrorist under her supervision when she was chief of base at a CIA black site in Thailand in 2002”: His name is Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri. In January, much of the media failed to pick up on the redacted transcript of a November 2018 closed hearing in the 9/11 case at Guantánamo, in which a lawyer for defendant Khalid Sheikh Mohammed told the judge that Haspel had run a black site at Guantánamo Bay. Author and blogger Jeffrey Kaye revealed that the same transcript implicates Haspel as being present at a third CIA black site, a torture facility in Poland.

    • Jewish human rights scholar: yes, America has built concentration camps

      Lind-Guzik — who is Jewish — points out that the term “concentration camp” predates the Holocaust, and that the US refered to the internment camps where it illegally imprisoned Japanese Americans during WWII as concentration camps. There’s no question that as a matter of linguistics, “concentration camp” is the right word for what the US is doing on its border.

    • Underage Migrant Reportedly Rapes Foster Family’s Daughter, Says He Thought It Was Legal in Sweden

      The investigation also revealed suspicions that the alleged culprit may in fact be over 20 years old. In this case, the penalty will be longer.

    • IS releases video declaring Philippines a caliphate

      Towards the end of the video, Rafi and his Indonesian and Filipino counterparts are seen standing over three men whom they beheaded for purportedly being murtad (apostates).

    • Schiller Park mother of four gets prison time for ISIS terror ties

      Salkicevic, aka Medy Ummuluna and Bosna Mexico, espoused the ISIS philosophy that infidels should be killed and once said that unbelievers should be buried alive.

    • Fire destroys strip club after explosion in central Swedish city Örebro

      A strip club in an industrial area of Örebro in central Sweden was gutted in a blaze after a suspected explosion at the venue in the early hours of Wednesday.

    • Sweden Expels Extremist Imams in ‘Historic Offensive’

      While the number of extremists in Sweden is estimated to have grown from hundreds to thousands, the men suspected of spreading radical Islam and supporting terrorism were allowed to run mosques and even worked with schools and pre-schools.

    • 19 cars burned in suspected arson attack in Stockholm

      Östberga is located south of the city centre and is one of several neighbourhoods classified by Swedish police as ‘vulnerable’…

    • Dick Pics and Death Threats

      For the women at the march, they were protesting not so much for each story that made the headlines but for the many hundreds that had gone unheard. Stories like those captured by the viral hashtag #WhyIMarch, where women shared their stories of sexual harassment, domestic violence, and forced marriage. For many, this was the first time the statistics — that there are an estimated 1,000 honor killings per year, that 21% of girls in Pakistan are married off before the age of 18, and that the current gender pay gap stands at 39% — had been brought to light.

    • Trump’s Global Gag Rule Is Killing Women, Report Says

      Globally, the Trump administration’s policy is contributing to a backlash against women’s and girl’s rights, according to women’s rights advocates, including Royo, and political leaders from around the world who attended Women Deliver, the world’s largest conference on gender equality, in Vancouver in early June.

    • Activists were killed and women were raped. But some defiant Sudanese say their revolution isn’t over yet

      Authorities in the Sudanese capital are trying to erase any sign of the horrors of June 3, when troops, spearheaded by a paramilitary unit called the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), opened fire on a pro-democracy sit-in, killing at least 118 people, according to the Central Committee of Sudan Doctors.

    • Marshae Jones Is Proof Pro-Lifers Don’t Care About Life

      Yet that’s exactly what just happened. Nor is Marshae Jones the first woman to face criminal charges for the unintentional loss of a pregnancy. Women have been prosecuted for the deaths of fetuses as the byproduct of car accidents, attempted suicide, drug overdoses, and more. Most of those women have been poor and in various sorts of trouble; the kind of people who don’t usually get a lot of understanding from the public. The way their stories are told amplifies our lack of empathy: They are portrayed as careless (you were pregnant and not wearing your seatbelt?), selfish (why couldn’t you wait till you gave birth to kill yourself?), and out of control. Legal abortion has always been the exception to fetal homicide laws, which is not very logical but was mandated by Roe v. Wade. Now, with Roe threatened as never before, we see that the people who warned the laws were a stalking horse to criminalize abortion and had nothing to do with the safety of pregnant women were right.

    • Indian mother, daughter have heads shaved after resisting gang rape

      Seven men, including a local government official, barged into the women’s home late on Wednesday in northeastern Bihar with the intent of raping the teenage daughter, senior police officer Sanjay Kumar said.

      “When the mother and daughter protested, the men got angry and called a local barber, who shaved their heads,” Kumar told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by telephone.

    • Mother-Daughter’s Heads Shaved For Protesting Molestation In Bihar

      Narrating her ordeal, the victims said they were mercilessly beaten by the men leading to injuries. “We have been beaten very badly. I have injuries all over my body and my daughter too has some injuries, ” the woman said.

      Detailing the incident, the girl said, “I was alone with my mother around 6:30 in the evening when five men from the neighborhood forcefully entered the house and tried to molest me. When my mother and I protested, they started beating us with a stick and took us outside of the house.”

      An case has been registered at the Bhagwanpur Police Station and further investigation is underway.

    • Ending Private Prisons and Exploitation for Profit

      Washington hands billions over to corporations profiting off of inhumane detention and incarceration policies while ignoring the families that are destroyed in the process. We need to call that out for what it is: corruption. Incarcerating and detaining millions for profit doesn’t keep us safe. It’s time to do better.

    • Two teenagers die minutes apart during violent night in London

      The number of young individuals admitted to hospital with wounds inflicted by knives or sharp objects in England has soared by more than half in the past five years, the NHS has said.

    • Hong Kong extradition bill: Protesters gather for new march

      The bill, which would have allowed extradition to mainland China, prompted hundreds of thousands to demonstrate in the past week.

      Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam said on Saturday that the plans had been “suspended” for the time being.

      Protest leaders, however, are demanding it be permanently scrapped.

    • How Hong Kong’s Unrest Plays to Beijing’s Hawks

      The roots of the crisis lay not with Lam—nor even in Hong Kong—but more than 1,200 miles away, in Beijing. Hong Kong’s turmoil represented residents’ deep distrust of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s autocratic regime, which Hong Kongers fear is encroaching more and more on the “one country, two systems” autonomy that Beijing committed to for 50 years when China reclaimed Hong Kong from Britain in 1997. They see Beijing’s judicial system as opaque and politicized, and they fear the bill will allow people in Hong Kong to be extradited and tried in mainland China’s notorious courts for any reason, even political dissent. Right now, Hong Kong does not have extradition agreements with mainland China, Taiwan, Macau, and other places.

      While the timing of the crisis took Beijing by surprise, there are signs that China’s leaders are looking to exploit it for their advantage. [...]

    • UP girl chooses career over marriage, father, brother attempts to kill

      A 15-year-old girl in Uttar Pradesh’s Shahjahanpur has accused her father and brother of trying to kill her because she did not want to get married as per their wishes and instead wanted to continue her studies.

    • Tech tool aims to predict global water conflicts before they happen

      An early warning tool that tracks water supplies worldwide and mixes in social, economic and demographic data to flag up potential crises is being developed by the Netherlands-based Water, Peace and Security partnership (WPS).

      During tests, the system predicted more than three-quarters of water-related conflicts in Mali’s Inner Niger Delta, said WPS, which plans to launch it globally later this year.

    • Shooting at Costco: Off-duty LAPD officer fired fatal shot after man hit him

      The officer was the only person who fired shots in the store, the department said.

    • Phoenix Mayor Apologizes After Police Draw Gun On Family After Child Takes Doll

      Gallego, the Phoenix mayor, said that in response to the incident, the city will be speeding up its implementation of police body-worn cameras across the entire police department. She has also scheduled a public meeting with the police chief for the community to air its thoughts about the troubling footage of the police interaction.

    • Global Christian persecution is worsening while American churches slumber

      If such violence had occurred in Nashville rather than Nigeria, it would dominate nightly news broadcasts and saturate social media feeds. American churches would be launching fundraising campaigns for victims’ families and addressing it in their weekly gatherings. In this case, however, the American church has barely acknowledged it. Unfortunately, when violence occurs somewhere “over there” instead of in our backyard, it is often dismissed as just another story. American churches must do better.

      I constantly bear witness to this sort of violence and the corresponding malaise by the nature of the organization I lead, Open Doors USA. We track such incidents of Christian persecution around the world through our annual World Watch List, a comprehensive ranking of countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian. To us, this is more than just “another story”; it is another data point in a global crisis of persecution. One of every nine Christians experience high levels of persecution and suffer for their faith, and it’s picking up pace.

      It’s not just in Nigeria.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Former Head Of Ajit Pai’s Broadband Advisory Council Is Headed To Prison For Fraud

      In 2017, FCC head Ajit Pai came under fire for filling a new “Broadband Deployment Advisory Council” (BDAC) task force with oodles of industry representatives, but few if any consumer representatives or local town or city officials. Not too surprisingly the panel saw a significant amount of controversy, several protest resignations, and the arrest of a one-time panel chair for fraud, but the panel itself never actually accomplished much of anything to address the problem it was created for. This week more data emerged on the details behind the arrest of Pai’s former council head Elizabeth Ann Pierce. Pierce, the former CEO of Alaskan telecom provider Quintillion, is headed to jail after a pretty elaborate fraud scheme that bilked numerous investors out of some significant cash.

    • Verizon Now Pretending That 5G Will Help Cure Cancer

      Fifth-generation wireless (5G) will be a good thing when it finally arrives at scale in a few years, in that faster, more reliable networks are always good. But at the same time, 5G’s capabilities have been comically over-hyped by cellular carriers and network hardware vendors looking to sell more cell phones and network hardware. Cellular carriers appear to be in a race to to broadly misrepresent not only what 5G is capable of–but where and when it will actually be available to the public at large.

    • The End Of The Open Internet: Cory Doctorow’s Op-Ed From The Future

      It’s a good, fun, readable vision of the world we’re currently heading for based on EU regulations and some of the nonsense being suggested regarding Section 230 today. The really annoying part is how little those who are pushing these regulations seem to realize what they’re doing. Everyone is so focused on Section 230 these days as if it’s the only “lever” they have to pull in regards to their complaints (some of which are totally reasonable) about the big internet companies. Very few of them bother to consider how all of this plays out — which is why it’s great that Cory is doing so. Of course, those who don’t want to recognize what will happen don’t seem to care. I’ve seen a few people dismissing the story as “fiction,” which kind of misses the point. Hilariously, they’re doing so on social media platforms enabled by the laws that these people are now trying to kill.

    • Pai’s FCC Crushes Rules That Brought More Broadband Competition To San Francisco

      While many appointments of the Trump administration lack even marginal competence to complete the duties for which they’re assigned, the same can’t be said of FCC boss Ajit Pai. While Pai’s industry-cozy policies may be historically unpopular, the efficiency with which Pai has dismantled telecom consumer protections (and FCC authority in general) can’t be denied. Having been a vanilla commissioner for years before being appointed agency head, Pai knows precisely which rules to demolish–and how to obtain the maximum benefit for his core constituents: AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, T-Mobile, Sprint, and Charter Spectrum. Gutting net neutrality, killing efforts to bring competition to the cable box, even weakening the definition of competition to aid industry incumbents are but a taste of what Pai has been up to the last few years. Many of these efforts are subtle enough to fall under the radar, even if the impact of the decisions are profoundly negative. Case in point: last week, the FCC announced that the agency would soon vote on whether to preempt a San Francisco city ordinance designed to promote broadband competition in apartments, condos, and other multi-unit buildings.

    • Now I have a web Solid pod

      I’ve poked just a bit about what Solid can do. Don’t have many time to do now. It’s nice to check how it’s based on linked data, so the potential applications are infinite. And they have a forum too (running Discourse, ♥). My IT personal strategy requires to implement my own services as much as I can. Solid has a server implementation available I would like to use somewhere in the future. Love to see the Semantic Web coming back.

  • DRM

    • Felony Contempt of Business Model: Lexmark’s Anti-Competitive Legacy

      Lexmark gave its customers the choice of paying extra for their cartridges (by buying refillable cartridges at a $50 premium), or paying extra for their toner (saving $50 on a cartridge whose “lock-out” chip prevented refilling, so that they would have to buy a whole cartridge when the non-refillable one ran dry). Customers, however, had a counteroffer for Lexmark: they wanted to save $50 on a “non-refillable” cartridge and then go ahead and refill it. After all, carbon is relatively abundant throughout the universe, and more locally, Earth has more carbon that it knows what to do with. Various competitors of Lexmark stepped up to help its customers with their counteroffer. One such company was Static Control Components, which reverse-engineered Lexmark’s lock-out chip and found that its 55-byte program performed a relatively straightforward function that would be easy to duplicate: when a cartridge was newly filled, this chip signaled to the printer that the cartridge had available toner. Once the cartridge ran out, the chip would tell the printer that it had an empty cartridge. Refilling the cartridge did no good because the chip would still tell the printer that there was no toner available. After Static Control performed this bit of reverse engineering, it was able to manufacture its own chips, which it sold to remanufacturers, who would pour in fresh carbon, swap out the chip, and sell the cartridges. Lexmark had a strong objection to this. But like every business, Lexmark’s products should be subject to market pressures, including the possibility that customers will make uses (and re-uses) of your product that aren’t exactly what the manufacturer intended. Lexmark was in a position to create its own refilling business to compete with Static Control, of course. But it didn’t want to. Instead, it wanted to trap purchasers into the lucrative two-tier market it had dreamed up.

    • Debunking Microsoft’s anti-Right-to-Repair FUD [Ed: The 'new' Microsoft is an enemy of freedom. There's no "new Microsoft"; it's just a PR campaign.]

      Microsoft is no stranger to the use of “Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt” in the pursuit of monopolistic goals; the company perfected the tactic in the early 1990s as a way of scaring enterprise customers away from GNU/Linux; today, the company shows off its mastery of FUD in its filings to the Federal Trade Commission condemning proposals for Right-to-Repair rules. In its comments, Microsoft argues that allowing third-party repairs of Microsoft products could compromise its DRM systems, including dual-purpose security systems like the “Trusted Platform Module” (TPM) that are used to lock out rival operating systems as well as malicious actors. Luckily, we have Securepairs, a coalition of security experts devoted to debunking claims from repair monopolists who claim that opening repair markets will pose a security threat. Microsoft submitted its comments ahead of the FTC’s “Nixing the Fix” workshop on Right to Repair, arguing that “If the TPM or other hardware or software protections were compromised by a malicious or unqualified repair vendor, those security protections would be rendered ineffective and consumers’ data and control of the device would be at risk. Moreover, a security breach of one device can potentially compromise the security of a platform or other devices connected to the network.”

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Trademarks

      • University Of Idaho Sends Cease And Desist Over Vandal Beer Business Name

        There is something about the beer and liquor industries that seems to attract unfortunate trademark disputes. The craft beer industry in particular has been recently plagued with these disputes, in large part due to the growth that industry has undergone coupled with once-small craft breweries going corporate and retaining aggressive legal teams. Many of the disputes are intra-industry, with one brewery attacking another over a perceived trademark issue. But that’s not always the case. Occasionally we also see a trademark dispute needlessly erupt from a source outside the beer industry. That is most certainly the case with the University of Idaho, which has the mascot name “The Vandals”, for some reason sending a cease and desist notice to an alumnus looking to open his Vandal Beer company.

      • Thirsty Thirsty Caterpillar opposes Cat & Cloud’s trademark registration

        I’m a Kat who likes coffee more than milk; I was surprised to see a company, well-known among third-wave coffee fans, facing trademark opposition from Caterpillar, Inc. One is a heavy machinery company, while the other consists of three coffee shops in central California; Cat & Cloud has portrayed this proceeding as a “Big Business Bullying [a] Small Business” and they may just have a large public at their back.

    • Copyrights

      • US copyright registration for the Tommy Hilfiger Flag denied due to insufficient originality

        When it comes to matters of flags and intellectual property rights, the use of flags in trade marks may come to mind initially. However, a number of cases involving flags and copyright seem to have arisen in recent months, and on a worldwide basis too. One such instance arose in the U.S, where Tommy Hilfiger tried to register its flag as a 2-D artwork copyright claim, only to be rejected by the US Copyright Office Review Board in March.

      • The reemergence of issues surrounding copyright and the Australian Aboriginal Flag…

        The topic of flags and copyright has resurfaced once more in Australia with regards to the Aboriginal flag. This was brought to light in the media recently when it emerged that cease-and-desist notices had been sent by non-Aboriginal company ‘WAM Clothing’ to several other companies for use of the Aboriginal flag on their clothing. Companies notified included the Australian Football League, which uses the flag on football jerseys in its Indigenous rounds, as well as ‘Spark Health’, an Aboriginal-owned and run social enterprise company which produces shirts bearing the flag.

      • Book Review: Copyright in the Information Society

        If you are interested in copyright, then the book Copyright in the Information Society: a guide to national implementation of the European Directive is the book for you! The book, part of the Elgar Intellectual Property Law and Practice series, is edited by Brigitte Lindner, Rechtsanwältin, Member of the Bar of Berlin, Germany, Registered European Lawyer, Lincoln’s Inn, London, UK; and Ted Shapiro, Member of the Massachusetts and Brussels Bar, Solicitor, England and Wales, Wiggin LLP, Brussels, Belgium. The main idea behind this project, started in 2013 with the first edition of the book, is to describe how Directive 2001/29/EC, the “Copyright Directive”, has been implemented by the various national legislatures and how they have dealt with the consequences of said implementation. The added value of this publication is the in-depth contributors’ insights into their respective national systems.

      • Maybe Epic’s Claims For Exclusivity Strategy To Benefit The Gaming Industry Isn’t Entirely Crazy

        For some time now, we’ve been discussing gaming company Epic’s entry into the gaming platform wars. Epic made waves shortly after the launch of the Epic Store when it began gobbling up exclusivity deals for games, whereas the PC gaming industry has mostly been free from the kind of exclusivity wars that have plagued the console gaming industry. Steam, the enormous competitor in the market, responded to Epic getting some AAA game exclusive deals for the first 6 months after launch by complaining that its new rival’s strategy was hurting gamers more than anything else. In response, Epic’s Tim Sweeney jumped on Twitter and promised to end the exclusive game strategy if Valve’s Steam platform would offer gamemakers the same more generous split on revenue that Epic is offering. See, Steam offers game publishers roughly 70% of game revenue back to the publisher to be on its platform, whereas Epic offers a flat 88%. This initial stance from Sweeney was laid out as altruism, with claims that what Epic was really after was a better gaming marketplace to allow more reinvestment in games, more games for the public, and thereby a happier gaming public. Much of the gaming community met this argument with narrow eyes. Epic, after all, is a business and businesses are designed to make money. Sweeney has since followed up on Epic’s stance in a recent tweetstorm responding to public complaints about exclusive games. There’s a lot in the 9 tweets from Sweeney, but let’s start with the rationale for exclusive games on the Epic Store.

      • Nintendo Does The Nintendo: ‘Mario Royale’ Fan Game Becomes ‘DMCA Royale’… And Is Now Dead

        I’ve often made the point before that Nintendo hates you, dear Nintendo fan and general gamer. Between taking down fan-made levels, fan-made games, and going to war with all the ROMs everywhere, Nintendo values an overwhelmingly tight grip on its intellectual property rights far more than the natural desire by its own fans to express their fandom. The speed and reliability of Nintendo’s lawyerly involvement has become something of a legend on the internet, with folks that make these expressions of fandom often joking upon release that it’s only a matter of time before the suits come calling. This held true with Mario Royale, a delightfully simple little web game created by a fan that allowed players to play through Mario Bros. levels alongside up to 74 other simultaneous players. The classic game had never been used for this sort of thing and it was quite interesting to watch how it all worked. It’s also worth noting that the game was playable for free, meaning there was no commercial aspect to it. Despite that, you all know what happened next.

      • Supreme Court To Review Whether Or Not You Can Copyright State Laws

        Last fall we were happy to see the 11th Circuit rule that, obviously, a state’s official laws couldn’t be covered by copyright. As you may recall, the case involved the state of Georgia and Carl Malamud’s Public.Resource.Org. Malamud has spent years helping to make the law more readily available to the public — and has been on the receiving end of a bunch of lawsuits for his troubles. The case in Georgia had some slightly odd facts in that the state said that its laws were freely available, but it contracted out to a private company, LexisNexis, to produce an “annotated” version of the law. LexisNexis then got a copyright on the annotations, which it then assigned to the state. Then — and this is the important part — the state released the “Official Code of Georgia Annotated” (OCGA) as the only “official” version of the laws. When new laws were passed, they were specifically written to be included in the OCGA. While the lower court said that the annotations could be covered by copyright, and thus Malamud publishing a free online version was infringing, the 11th Circuit easily reversed. It didn’t even say something more narrow, like arguing that the republishing was fair use. It said you can’t copyright the law at all. Period. Full stop.

      • Universal Music Cashed In On Insurance After It Let Thousands Of Master Recordings Burn… And Didn’t Give Any To Artists

        The greatest myth the RIAA and its friends ever pulled was convincing people — including the press and some gullible musicians — that it represented the best interests of artists and musicians. You would think musicians would have learned not to trust the RIAA long ago, especially given that its current CEO, Mitch Glazier, got his original job at the RIAA just months after he literally secretly inserted four words into an unrelated bill that literally stole the copyright from millions of musicians. Uproar from actual musicians finally got the RIAA to back down and Congress “corrected” Glazier’s dirty work. Glazier’s been at the RIAA ever since, and if you think the RIAA has artist’s interests in mind, you’ve not been paying attention. A bunch of musicians are now suing the RIAA’s largest member, Universal Music, for yet another way it profited off their works and didn’t share the windfall. The story is kind of crazy all around. Last week, the NY Times Magazine had an incredible long read about a massive fire at Universal Studios in 2008 that literally wiped out hundreds of thousands of master recordings. Even though Universal Studios and Universal Music Group are two totally separate companies these days, apparently UMG stored its archives on the Universal Studios lot, even years after the two had been split apart.

      • First Amendment Case Against Restrictive Copyright Law Can Proceed, Says Judge

        A federal judge has ruled that litigation can go forward to determine whether Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act violates the First Amendment as applied. EFF brought this litigation on behalf of security researcher Matt Green, technologist bunnie Huang, and bunnie’s company Alphamax, in order to vindicate the right to speak, learn, and innovate despite this overly-broad and harmful law. Originally passed to combat infringement, the sweeping language of Section 1201 allowed courts to interpret its provisions to leave out critical speech protections such as the fair use doctrine. This has interfered with educational uses of copyrighted works, accessibility, security research, remix art, and even your ability to repair your own car or tractor.

      • Crazy Copyright Suit Over Gigi Hadid Posting A Photo Of Herself To Instagram Shows Absurdity Inherent In Photo Copyrights

        One of the things about copyright that copyright supporters really hate to discuss is just how problematic the whole idea of getting copyrights on photographs can be.

      • ‘Pirate’ IPTV Service Simply-TV Responds to DISH Lawsuit

        Simply-TV, a recently-defunct ‘pirate’ IPTV service, is being sued in the United States by broadcaster provider DISH Network. In a recent response to the complaint, the alleged operators of the service – which bears a close resemblance to the also defunct SETTV – accept some but not all of the allegations filed against them.

      • Video Piracy Rates Drop Sharply, But For How Long?

        Data from a new survey released by Ampere Analysis shows that video piracy rates are dropping in the United States and several European countries. The research firm links the decrease to a wider availability of legal services, but warns that people may revert back to pirate sites, if the legal landscape continues to fragment.

      • Bilibili Uses DMCA to Obtain Identities of Source Code Leakers From Github

        China-based video-sharing site Bilibili has taken to the US courts in an effort to identify individuals who leaked its source code, usernames and passwords online. NASDAQ-listed Bilibili, which has more than 90 million monthly users, is using the DMCA to force Github to hand over the identities of several people who published the data on the platform.

      • Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne Denounce Trump for Using ‘Crazy Train’ in Doctored Video [iophk: “not War Pigs?”]

        Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne slammed President Donald Trump for playing the song “Crazy Train” in a video he tweeted Thursday following the 2020 democratic debates.

      • Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne Slam Trump Over Unauthorized Use of ‘Crazy Train’

        In a statement to Rolling Stone, the Osbournes said, “Based on this morning’s unauthorized use of Ozzy Osbourne’s ‘Crazy Train,’ we are sending notice to the Trump campaign (or any other campaigns) that they are forbidden from using any of Ozzy Osbourne’s music in political ads or in any political campaigns. Ozzy’s music cannot be used for any means without approvals.”

      • Ozzy Osbourne tells Trump campaign to stop using his music

        “In the meantime, we have a suggestion for Mr. Trump: perhaps he should reach out to some of his musician friends. Maybe Kayne West (‘Gold Digger’), Kid Rock (‘I Am the Bullgod’) or Ted Nugent (‘Stranglehold’) will allow use of their music.”

      • Ozzy Osbourne becomes the latest rock star to tell President Trump: ‘Don’t use my music!’

        Osbourne isn’t alone to banning the US President from using his music to promote his political views – some of the biggest names in pop and rock, including The Rolling Stones, Queen, Neil Young, Aerosmith, REM, Adele and Rihanna, have already taken a similar stand.

The FSF Has Become Too Passive to Tackle Some Emergent and Growing Threats

Posted in Free/Libre Software, FSF, GPL at 9:22 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The Savannah or the Safari of the Free Software Foundation (FSF) loses some safeties

Wild animal

Summary: In this “ecosystem” which the FSF does not want to talk about (not in these terms anyway) there are predators who thrive in apathy; there ought to be more discussion about newer threats to society’s freedoms in the increasingly-digital age

THE “Librethreat Database” (composed by an anonymous contributor earlier this month) speaks of new attack paradigms/vectors which weaken the freedom associated with Free software. We recently noted that even Richard Stallman was being marginalised, just like Linus Torvalds. More corporations-friendly (controlled by large corporations) people like Jim Zemlin of the Linux Foundation emerge as “heroes” and become the “stars of the show,” supported by corporate media which is meanwhile demonising the likes of Stallman (this has gone on for decades) and more recently Torvalds, causing him to even take his first-ever longterm break from his own project. How dare Torvalds speak of feces?

“If publishers aren’t entirely sympathetic towards Western hegemony, then the fast-and-loose tactic would be to accuse them of being willful (or “useful idiot”) ‘agents’ of Russia/Putin.”Disciplinary measures or precautions against the founders of GNU and of Linux should not be taken lightly. It’s generally an apparatus of leverage. If this can be done to them, it can be done to just about anyone. We could go on naming a bunch of examples (high-profile people), but that would distract from the key point.

A weapon of defamation and smears that we recently brought up was Russophobia, seeing how it was leveraged not just in the technical world but also in the world of journalism. If publishers aren’t entirely sympathetic towards Western hegemony, then the fast-and-loose tactic would be to accuse them of being willful (or “useful idiot”) ‘agents’ of Russia/Putin. We’ve seen this tactic leveraged against a whole bunch of publishers in recent years — to the point where Google started deranking/delisting particular news sites, based on misinformation about those sites rather than misinformation coming from these sites.

“Copyleft, or the GPL with its four essential freedoms, was once the protective shell of Free software.”One recurring theme we’ve witnessed in social (control) media sites is that the FSF should do more. There’s this bunch of new threats, including but not limited to Microsoft entryism, which the FSF mostly ignores/overlooks. Sure, there’s also the attack on GPL/copyleft, there’s DRM, UEFI ‘secure boot’ and to the FSF’s credit, it does deal with these issues, at least verbally (if not by technical means).

Earlier this year we asserted that “Linux” world domination without any of the associated (or assumed) freedoms would not be a big accomplishment. We wouldn’t end up better off than the ‘old order’. Why? Because listening devices (marketed as “smart” “assistants”) proliferate, tinkering with hardware and software becomes harder (if not impossible as well as legally verboten) and there’s a whole bunch of other factors.

“The GPL is no ‘rhino’ layer for those who refuse to ‘wear’ it (and Microsoft’s takeover of GitHub further contributes to that).”This isn’t a harsh criticism of the FSF, with which we have far more in common than most; we just hope that the FSF will at least recognise that, based on what we have been reading, there’s this sentiment or general impression that more must be done. There will soon be a long Techrights series to that effect.

Copyleft, or the GPL with its four essential freedoms, was once the protective shell of Free software. These types of licences, however, are under constant attacks (a smear campaign) from Microsoft partners that we habitually mention, probably not as often as we should. The GPL is no ‘rhino’ layer for those who refuse to ‘wear’ it (and Microsoft’s takeover of GitHub further contributes to that).

Another wild animal

To end on a more positive note, we very much support the FSF and its mission. We view ourselves as complementary rather than alternative to it. If there are certain issues and concerns that the FSF is unwilling to talk about or does not regard as worthy of entertaining, so be it. At least the FSF, unlike the OSI, did not take Microsoft money and does not have Microsoft staff on its Board.

Microsoft Does Not Want to Collaborate With Linux; to Microsoft It is a War (More Easily Fought Beyond the City’s Gates, From the Inside)

Posted in Deception, GNU/Linux, Marketing, Microsoft at 7:32 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Recent: Bill Gates Said He Was on a “Jihad” Against GNU/Linux, But GNU/Linux Users/Developers Engaged in Self-Defense Are Foul-Mouthed ‘Microsoft Haters’?

Microsoft loves Microsoft“This is WAR, and in that regard, I believe we should design Janus such that if this multiboot partition (has a unique partition number (11)) is found, we should warn the user a foreign OS has been detected, give them a chance to exit and read the docs and possibly make a backup, and then repartition the disk, removing the multiboot partition. This way, we disable OS/2 2.0 in *all* cases.”

Microsoft internal mail

Summary: The corporate media is completely failing to inform the public, instead telling the public what Microsoft agents wish the public to believe

IT is convenient to think that Microsoft “surrendered” or “gave up” or “decided to play nice”. It’s convenient for some to believe that Microsoft now “loves Linux” and that there’s a “new Microsoft”. We’ve repeatedly shown examples, not only old but also very recent, by which to demonstrate the real character of Microsoft. Readers keep sending us more material about the matters that were covered here yesterday, urging us not to let go and let the topic slide.

“The media just isn’t in tune with public opinion; instead of telling us what the public thinks it is trying to tell the public what to think.”Sadly, much of the media isn’t covering these things, not critically at least. PR/marketing talking points are repeatedly pasted into the texts; research doesn’t seem necessary to these people. But that’s fine in a sense. If they are not eager to actually analyse, fact-check and verify mere claims, we shall fill the vacuum. We have a lot of material in the pipeline and what we’ve generally found, e.g. when covering Linux Foundation affairs, is that almost everyone agrees with it, not just regular readers. The media just isn’t in tune with public opinion; instead of telling us what the public thinks it is trying to tell the public what to think. It’s too busy cooperating with PR agencies, including Microsoft’s.

Tribalism Still a Major Problem at the European Patent Office

Posted in Europe, Patents at 7:12 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Organisational chart of orgiastic chart?

Team Campinos nepotism

Summary: EPO President António Campinos continues the tradition of Battistelli and surrounds himself with friends and colleagues (and their family or former bosses), not people best suited for the job; it discourages dissent/criticism and leaves no room for critical thinking

Site Maintenance Ongoing

Posted in Site News at 4:31 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Just writing endlessly isn’t the goal. Maintenance is required too.


Summary: Behind the scenes — so to speak — Techrights is improving and growing; we should soon be able to produce more per day

TWO months ago we said we would spend a lot of effort organising the site and tidying things up (this was last said 5 weeks ago). Almost 26,000 blog posts later (and lots of documents, Wiki pages, media files etc.) we realise that old material isn’t easy to find. A lot of it is still relevant. We’ve covered software patents in Europe for many years and software patents in the US since 2006, i.e. 8 years before Alice and long before 35 U.S.C. § 101. The history of this battle is long and complicated. I literally spent (but not wasted) my whole adult life fighting these things. I’m driven sorely by ideology — the belief that these patents pose an existential risk to software development as we know it.

Today we add the following large Wiki pages, which are in effect index pages. For software:

As we said many times before, expect IBM’s patent policy to be imposed on Red Hat. It won’t be pretty.

For patents:

For Linux:


With help from iophk we’ve also made the following list of sites from which we often extract and find GNU/Linux news picks.

We’ve been making a lot of changes at the back end lately. They’re not visible to users/readers, but they make us a lot more efficient and hopefully effective too. These changes are associated with backup, monitoring (of system events), security, efficiency, availability, workflow, and reach. Our IRC channels are also in a very healthy state and now involve more people than ever. We might, in the near future, cover politics a little less and use the spare time to post more articles per day. We wish to take this site to the next level, so to speak.

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