07.15.21

Gemini version available ♊︎

Links 16/7/2021: Proxmox Mail Gateway 7.0, Valve on GNU/Linux, PinePhone News

Posted in News Roundup at 7:01 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • GNU/Linux

    • Desktop/Laptop

      • Google’s latest Chromebook update is safe to install again, leaving the Chromebook Pixel stranded

        The latest incremental Chrome OS 91 update caused quite some woes, with far too many people reporting that their Chromebooks were locked up due to extremely high CPU usage. Google had to pull the update, causing more problems in the process, but it looks like now, it’s finally solved the underlying issues. The incremental update is rolling out again, and everyone is happy — except for Chromebook Pixel users.

        As Chrome Unboxed reports, Google is rolling out the incremental update to v91.0.4472.147 again. While the version number is still the same as the one for the problematic update, it looks like Google fixed whatever caused the problems under the hood, as there are no longer any reports about slowed Chromebooks using this Chrome OS release.

      • Microsoft just blew up the only reason you can’t use a Linux desktop [Ed: ZDNet’s “Linux” section is all IBM and Microsoft, not Linux. You can easily tell ZDNet is run by/for IBM and Microsoft… they bribe it for PR in ‘news’ clothing basically. Latest 7 stories in “LINUX” section: Microsoft, IBM, IBM, Microsoft, IBM, anti-Linux FUD, Microsoft…]

        Microsoft, yes, Microsoft now promises that you can run Windows on your Linux PC. We don’t know exactly how they’re going to do that. It might be by using a native Remote Desktop application or by a web browser. I’ll bet that on Linux — and probably on iPads, Macs, and Android devices — it will be done over a web browser.

        After all, the Linux-powered Chrome OS has already shown that you can do most of your enterprise work on just a browser alone. Indeed, Microsoft’s entire move to a subscription, cloud service-based desktop was foreshadowed by Google’s Chromebooks.

    • Server

      • Coreboot on the ASRock E3C246D4I

        I wanted to play around with OpenBMC on a physical board and this article led me to the ASRock E3C246D4I. It’s a not overly expensive Intel Coffee Lake board featuring an Aspeed AST2500 BMC. So the first thing I did was to compile OpenBMC. My computer was in for a quite a chore there. It needed to download 11G of sources and compile those. Needless to say this takes a long time on a notebook computer and is best done overnight. I flashed the image via the SPI header next to the BMC flash. I used some mini crocodile clips to do this at first.

      • ASRock Rack Has One Of The Best, Most Open-Source Firmware x86 Server Motherboards

        For those wanting to get into open-source firmware development or even just to have a small SOHO x86_64 low-cost Intel server platform that is as open as possible, ASRock Rack happens to now boast one of the best solutions.

        The ASRock Rack E3C246D4I has happened to work its way into a unique position of having both OpenBMC support for open-source BMC support as well as Coreboot support for open-source system firmware while being a relatively young platform (compared to many open-source Coreboot ports to AMD Opterons or other old systems) while being less expensive than say the POWER9 wares from Raptor.

      • Ubuntu Pro launches on Google Cloud

        The “hardened” version of the open source Linux OS comes with added security features

      • Kubernetes Spotlight on SIG Usability

        Are you interested in learning about what SIG Usability does and how you can get involved? Well, you’re at the right place. SIG Usability is all about making Kubernetes more accessible to new folks, and its main activity is conducting user research for the community. In this blog, we have summarized our conversation with Gaby Moreno, who walks us through the various aspects of being a part of the SIG and shares some insights about how others can get involved.

        Gaby is a co-lead for SIG Usability. She works as a Product Designer at IBM and enjoys working on the user experience of open, hybrid cloud technologies like Kubernetes, OpenShift, Terraform, and Cloud Foundry.

        [...]

        SIG Usability hosted a KubeCon talk about studying Kubernetes users’ experiences. The talk focuses on updates to the user study projects, understanding who is using Kubernetes, what they are trying to achieve, how the project is addressing their needs, and where we need to improve the project and the client experience. Join the SIG’s update to find out about the most recent research results, what the plans are for the forthcoming year, and how to get involved in the upstream usability team as a contributor!

    • Audiocasts/Shows

      • Ubuntu Podcast from the UK LoCo: S14E19 – Twin Pages Slug

        This week we’ve been playing chess and trying to play DOOM Eternal. We round up the news and goings on from the Ubuntu community and our favourite picks from the wider tech news.

        It’s Season 14 Episode 19 of the Ubuntu Podcast! Alan Pope, Mark Johnson and Martin Wimpress are connected and speaking to your brain.

      • The TRUTH about Software on Linux

        Maybe you want to try Linux, but you’ve heard there’s no popular software. You’ve also heard that installing software on Linux is hard. Let’s get to the truth in our 2nd Linux Myth Busting video!

      • BSDNow 411: FreeBSD Deep Dive

        Unix System Architecture Evolution, Deep Dive into FreeBSD’s Strengths, how developers chose names, OPNsense 21.1.7 released, Support for chdir(2) in posix_spawn(3), vagrant-freebsd-boxbuilder, OpenBSD’s IATA airport code file, and more

    • Kernel Space

      • The Linux Upskill Challenge [Ed: A lot of this is GNU rather than Linux]

        A compact and previously paid course is now free and open source. It teaches everything someone needs in order to transition to Linux.

        The range of subjects covered includes a treat for everyone;from setting up your own lab on a VPS and accessing it, to installing software, exploring the file structure, working with the CLI and its commands, to more advanced subjects like scripting ??on bash.

        The lessons are divided in 21 days, each day focusing on a separate subject, and although it’s self-paced it requires a daily commitment of 1-2 hours each day for a month.

      • Memory Folios Updated A 14th Time For Improving Linux Memory Management

        Matthew Wilcox of Oracle has sent out his 14th revision to the memory “folios” patch-set for this new struct that aims to improve Linux’s memory management code and ultimately better performance.

      • Graphics Stack

        • Display Stream Compression Prepped For Qualcomm’s MSM DRM Driver – Phoronix

          Patches have been posted for wiring up Display Stream Compression (DSC) support for the Qualcomm MSM Direct Rendering Manager driver.

          The VESA-backed Display Stream Compression standard for offering visually lossless, low-latency compression between the host and display panels via DP/eDP/DSI/HDMI interfaces may finally see support within the Qualcomm MSM DRM kernel driver. Qualcomm SoCs support DSC within its DPU hardware block but the mainline kernel driver hasn’t yet had the necessary software pieces in place for this display bandwidth savings.

        • AMD’s Modern Graphics Driver In Linux 5.14 Exceeds 3.3 Million Lines Of Code

          It was just four years ago the AMDGPU kernel driver was nearly one million lines of code and earlier this year began nearing three million lines. Now with Linux 5.14-rc1 released this week it is at over 3.3 million lines for this kernel graphics driver.

          Curiosity got the best of me with the ballooning size of AMDGPU so when running cloc on the “drivers/gpu/drm/amd” off Linux 5.14-rc1, it’s now measuring in at 3.32 million lines of code. AMDGPU continues to by far be the largest driver within the mainline Linux kernel. That 3.3 million lines is made up of 2.86 million lines of “code”, 332k lines of comments, and some 127k blank lines across 1,715 files.

          Of course, as longtime Phoronix readers will know, much of the ballooning size of AMDGPU is due to automated register header files that are added to the tree with each new GPU being supported. Those automatically generated header files based on AMD’s internal documentation lead to the explosive growth and is sort of AMD’s form of public documentation these days. Thankfully unused portions of these header files are eliminated by the compiler at build time. As measured by cloc, within the gpu/drm/amd code there is some 2.4 million lines of header files and then 427k lines of code detected C code.

        • Ricardo Garcia: Linking deqp-vk much faster thanks to lld

          Some days ago my Igalia colleague Adrián Pérez pointed us to mold, a new drop-in replacement for existing Unix linkers created by the original author of LLVM lld. While mold is pretty new and does not aim to be 100% compatible with GNU ld, GNU gold or LLVM lld (at least as of the time I’m writing this), I noticed the benchmark table in its README file also painted a pretty picture about the performance of lld, if inferior to that of mold.

          In my job at Igalia I work most of the time on VK-GL-CTS, Vulkan and OpenGL’s Conformance Test Suite, which contains thousands of tests for OpenGL and Vulkan. These tests are provided by different executable files and the Vulkan tests on which I’m focused are contained in a binary called deqp-vk. When built with debug information, deqp-vk can be quite large. A recent build, for example, is taking 369 MB in my drive. But the worst part is that linking the binary typically takes around 25 seconds on my work laptop.

        • AMD releases FidelityFX Super Resolution source code

          As promised when AMD revealed their answer to NVIDIA’s DLSS, FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR) is now officially open source and available under the MIT license.

          What actually is it? AMD say “FSR uses super-optimized spatial upscaling technologies to help boost your framerates and deliver high-quality, high-resolution gaming experiences, without having to upgrade to a new graphics card.”. It works on both AMD and NVIDIA GPUs too, so it’s not locked to a vendor. The idea is to give “practical performance” for more costly rendering operations like Ray Tracing.

        • AMD Posts FidelityFX Super Resolution Source Code

          After AMD posted FidelityFX Super Resolution last month with various initial launch titles, the source code to this NVIDIA DLSS alternative is now publicly available.

    • Instructionals/Technical

      • Output/redirect content to a file in Nushell

        And another short tip about Nushell – I promise that those will be less frequent the more I get used to it.

      • Wisdom Tree – A Focus And Productivity App For Linux – OSTechNix

        Distracted often while working or studying? You might want to try a focus and productivity app named Wisdom Tree in Linux.

      • Disable Startup Manufacturer Logo & Show Boot Message in Ubuntu 20.04

        Since Ubuntu 20.04, it shows your computer manufacturer logo on startup. It’s however easy to remove it, as well display the blank and white boot text message.

        The Grub boot-loader offers option to toggle the settings in its configuration file. You can either manually edit the file or using a graphical tool called Grub Customizer.

      • How to Fix “Repository Does Not Have Release File” Error

        As you work with various Linux distributions, you will need to install software repositories, including third-party repositories such as Ubuntu PPAs. In most cases, the installations will work out okay. However, you may encounter the “repository does not have a release file” error as you install some software.

      • How to Set Up a LAMP Environment With XAMPP on Ubuntu Linux

        Want to develop PHP-based applications on your Ubuntu machine? Here’s how to configure a LAMP environment with XAMPP.

        This guide will show you how to set up a LAMP Server (Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP) for developing PHP-based web applications on Ubuntu Linux using XAMPP.

        You can use the XAMPP stack to develop PHP applications powered by frameworks such as WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, PrestaShop, etc.

      • How to Change a Username and Other Account Details on Linux

        Need to change a username and home directory in Linux? Here’s how to change usernames, display names, and directory names.

        Linux is a multi-user operating system. And with this feature comes the responsibility of managing every user on the system. The administrator needs to ensure that each user has proper permissions, distinct user IDs, unique user names, etc.

        But what if you want to change the information associated with a particular user? Does Linux allow anyone to modify such sensitive details easily? The usermod command is the answer to all these questions.

        This article will demonstrate how you can change your username on Linux, along with a detailed guide on modifying the user ID and home directory of a user.

      • Download this free Linux Cheat Sheet Bundle by MakeUseOf
      • Can You Make Skype Calls on Chromebook? [Ed: Doubling the very invasive surveillance (Google+Microsoft)]
      • Getting Started With Cockpit, a Web-Based Linux Server Administration Tool

        Cockpit is a web-based Linux server administration tool for managing and monitoring your servers remotely. Cockpit allows you to see your server in a web browser and perform system tasks using both graphical and terminal tools.

        Also, you can use Cockpit to manage containers, administer storage, configure networks, and inspect system log messages.

      • Cockpit Project: CI Metrics and Error Budgets

        The Cockpit project literally lives and dies together with our integration tests and the CI machinery to run them. We notice this the hard way whenever there is an outage; that’s why we invested quite some efforts to run tests on at least two different clouds, and fall back to Amazon EC2 when needed.

        But there is a wholly different version of that pain: When tests or the infrastructure slowly become worse. At first it’s just a single “oh, a red test, this is unrelated, let’s just retry”, and before you know it it takes a day to get a pull request to green, and developers get frustrated and even afraid of touching tests.

    • Games

      • Streets Of Rage 4 – Mr. X Nightmare rolls out with a free update for all players | GamingOnLinux

        Today is the day! Streets Of Rage 4 – Mr. X Nightmare is out now expanding the beat ‘em up with a bunch of new content, plus there’s a free upgrade for all players. Currently, the Steam page doesn’t list Linux on the DLC but the big update to the base game did enable it and according to the porter Ethan Lee you should be good to go.

        Mr. X Nightmare adds in Estel Aguirre, Max Thunder and Shiva, a new survival mode and leaderboard, new moves and weapons plus new music tracks.

      • Valve Unveils Steam Deck Gaming Handheld Powered by Arch Linux and KDE Plasma

        Steam Deck promises to put your entire Steam library in your pocket so you can play your favorite games wherever you go. The device is powerful enough to run the latest AAA games, and the best part is that it can also act as a controller if you connect it to a big screen TV for an immersive gaming experience.

        With Steam Deck, your entire Steam gaming library is there, so you won’t have to worry that some games are designed only for a certain platform like macOS or Windows, thanks to Valve’s Proton compatibility layer.

      • Valve has formally announced the Steam Deck, a portable handheld console with SteamOS

        Well today is the big day. Valve has now formally revealed the Steam Deck, a portable handheld gaming console powered by a new version of their Linux-based SteamOS operating system.

        “We think Steam Deck gives people another way to play the games they love on a high-performance device at a great price,” says Valve founder Gabe Newell. “As a gamer, this is a product I’ve always wanted. And as a game developer, it’s the mobile device I’ve always wanted for our partners.”

      • Valve’s gaming handheld is called the Steam Deck and it’s shipping in December

        Valve just announced the Steam Deck, its long-rumored Switch-like handheld gaming device. It will begin shipping in December and reservations open July 16th at 1PM ET. It starts at $399, and you can buy it in $529 and $649 models as well.

        The device has an AMD APU containing a quad-core Zen 2 CPU with eight threads and eight compute units’ worth of AMD RDNA 2 graphics, alongside 16GB of LPDDR5 RAM. There are three different storage tiers: 64GB eMMC storage for $399, 256GB NVMe SSD storage for $529, and 512GB of high-speed NVME SSD storage for $649, according to Valve. You can also expand the available storage using the high-speed microSD card slot.

      • Valve Announces Steam Deck As Portable SteamOS + AMD Powered Portable PC

        Following months of rumors about new gaming hardware from Valve, today they announced Steam Deck as a new handheld PC gaming device starting at $399.

        The Steam Deck is an all-in-one portable PC with a custom AMD SoC and, of course, running SteamOS. Steam Deck is focused, of course, for running Steam but also advertised as an “open PC” that can run other software too.

      • Steam Deck revealed: Handheld gaming PC from Valve lets you game anywhere

        In what could be the biggest surprise of 2021, Valve just announced a new handheld gaming console. The Steam Deck looks like a Nintendo Switch crossed with a Sega Game Gear.

        The device will allow you to play your entire Steam library from anywhere. It is not a cloud-based system: the hardware inside runs games on-device. This is possible through custom AMD hardware. Valve says it is powerful enough to run the latest AAA games with high power efficiency.

      • Valve Making Linux Anti-Cheat a Reality for Steam Deck Launch

        Valve’s newly-announced Steam Deck has a nice bonus for Linux gamers — it’s helping to improve Linux anti-cheat by working with Easy Anti-Cheat and BattlEye to provide Proton support for their software.

        The Steam Deck was announced earlier today as a new handheld gaming PC from Valve. Aiming to launch later this year, it looks like a pretty powerful little device. However, there’s one important problem that’s not immediately evident to most gamers: it uses a Linux-based operating system and many anti-cheat solutions do not work on Linux. That means that you would have a hard time playing some of your favorite games, but worry not — Valve is working on a solution.

      • Valve’s Steam Deck is 7-inch Handheld Linux Gaming PC

        Today Valve announced the Steam Deck, a handheld Linux gaming PC that’s loaded with a custom-built AMD chip for top-tier AAA gaming action.

        And it looks pretty frickin’ special!

        Companies like GPD, oDroid, and Nintendo have proven there’s a viable market for powerful handheld gaming. And Valve, makers of Steam, were clearly paying attention.

      • Crypto Is Dead is the next title from The Moon Pirates that’s a bit like Papers, Please | GamingOnLinux

        Crypto Is Dead, well, not quite but it’s a fun name for a game. In development by The Moon Pirates (Don’t Forget Me), it’s inspired somewhat by Papers, Please.

        It’s a mix of simulation and puzzle game in which you will have to make your bank grow during 30 days. To do so, you will have to check some bills and find out if they are genuine or fake. During your month of work, you will accumulate money, pay taxes and keep up with the central bank by updating your tools. On Twitter, the developer confirmed Linux support.

      • American Truck Simulator and Euro Truck Simulator 2 get an online Convoy mode

        SCS Software has released the latest big free upgrades now for both Euro Truck Simulator 2 and American Truck Simulator which includes the new online Convoy mode.

        In this new multiplayer mode players can set up and host their own private sessions (password optional) to drive with their friends or other fellow truckers. There is currently support for synchronized AI traffic, time and weather, and the ability to take the same job as other players. However, there’s a number of things not currently supported like mods, AI vehicles may vanish when a player leaves, lifting bridges aren’t yet synchronized and Steam invites only work through the Overlay. It”s a very fun sounding start though and a natural evolution for both games.

      • Steam on a Chromebook could be closer than we think, with an AMD dGPU model coming | GamingOnLinux

        Thanks to new info spotted by Chrome Unboxed, we’ve seen more hints of a more powerful Chromebook coming which would make for a reasonable gaming unit.

        We’ve known for some time now that Google has been planning to get Steam on Chromebooks properly, however most existing models would lack the power needed. In the new report it seems Google are working towards a new Intel and AMD powered Chromebook with an AMD Vega 12 discrete graphics card unit (dGPU). This would definitely change things and if it arrives in time for Google’s wider Steam plans, it means there would be another Linux-based device out there from a huge company capable of Linux gaming (either native Linux games or with Steam Play Proton).

      • SkateBIRD returns with another demo available until July 18 for PAX Online | GamingOnLinux

        Want do you get when you cross skateboarding with cute little birds flapping around? SkateBIRD is the answer.

        Funded on Kickstarter originally back in 2019 with close to $70K, it’s a promising and somewhat hilarious skating game and now you’ve got a fresh chance to try it out. The demo has once again returned, and it seems to give been updated too since last I played it.

    • Desktop Environments/WMs

      • GNOME Desktop/GTK

        • GNOME 41 – New Features & Release Date

          We summarize the available information for GNOME 41 release here and brief you about the new features, schedules.

        • Jordan Petridis: GNOME Nightly Annual ABI Break

          It’s that time of the year again. We’ve updated the base of the GNOME Nightly Flatpak runtime to the Freedesktop-SDK 21.08 beta release.

          This brings lots of improvements and updates to the underlying toolchain, but it also means that between yesterday and today, there is an ABI break and that all your Nightly apps will need to be rebuilt against the newer base.

        • Ivan Molodetskikh: GSoC 2021: Selection Editing and Window Selection

          I spent the most time adding the four corner handles that allow you to adjust the selection. GNOME Shell’s drag-and-drop classes were mostly sufficient, save for a few minor things. In particular, I ended up extending the _Draggable class with a drag-motion signal emitted every time the dragged actor’s position changes. I used this signal to update the selection rectangle coordinates so it responds to dragging in real-time without any lag, just as one would expect. Some careful handling was also required to allow dragging the handle past selection edges, so for example it’s possible to grab the top-left handle and move it to the right and to the bottom, making it a bottom-right handle.

        • ArcMenu GNOME Extension Adds New Windows 11 Layout [Ed: Joey Sneddon has found another reason to highlight Microsoft vapourware]

          A new version of the ArcMenu GNOME extension is available for download, and it’ll be of particular interest to those who want to make Ubuntu look like Windows 11.

          The latest update to Arc Menu includes a pair of new menu layouts: ‘Launcher’ and ‘Eleven’. The latter of these is inspired by the redesigned ‘Start Menu’ set to ship in Windows 11 when released later this year.

    • Distributions

      • New Releases

        • Linux overview | Solus 4.3

          In this video, I am going to show an overview of Solus 4.3 and some of the applications pre-installed.

        • Solus 4.3 released with refreshed apps, desktop environments and new hardware support

          Solus, the independent Linux distribution with their own Budgie desktop has a big new release out with Solus 4.3.

          Coming hot off the code with the Linux Kernel 5.13.1, you can expect a fair bit more hardware support with this release including AMD Radeon RX 6700 XT, 6800, 6800 XT and 6900 XT cards, the Sony PS5 DualSense controller support, hardware monitoring for the NZXT Kraken X42/X52/X62/X72 all-in-one CPU liquid coolers and plenty more. It also brings in Mesa 21.1.3 with has improved gaming support, performance improvements and plenty of fixes too.

          There’s a lot more that was upgraded too including Firefox 89.0.2, LibreOffice 7.1.4.2, Thunderbird 78.11.0, bluez 5.60 for better Bluetooth support, ffmpeg 4.4, Budgie 10.5.3, GNOME 40.2, MATE 1.24 and the Plasma Desktop 5.22.2.

      • Screenshots/Screencasts

      • Fedora and IBM/Red Hat

        • Fedora Community Blog: Community Outreach Revamp @ Nest: Docs session

          The force behind the Fedora Community Outreach Revamp Objective is organizing a hackfest type documentation session for Nest with Fedora. The main goals of the session will be updating/reviewing/pushing new documentation for the various outreach teams to Docs. The co-leads for this effort and myself would like raise awareness and also invite the community to join us at Nest this year. If you are interested in what we are up to or joining us for the session, read on!

        • Red Hat Advanced Cluster Management For Kubernetes 2.3 Helps Accelerate Hybrid Cloud Automation

          Red Hat has announced Red Hat Advanced Cluster Management for Kubernetes 2.3, the latest version of the company’s enterprise-grade Kubernetes management offering.

          The integration between Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform and Red Hat Advanced Cluster Management is designed to accelerate the automation and cohesion between cloud-native clusters, virtual machines and traditional infrastructure with streamlined tooling and coordination.

        • 4 steps to create Linux users from a csv file with Ansible

          Ansible has made automation simple and it has become the universal automation language. By now, the benefits are well-known in the IT community. Like all good technologies, however, there can be challenges to face or approaches to combine. Consider using comma-separated value (CSV) files and Ansible to create Linux user accounts.

          In this article, the goal is to automate user creation using Ansible. A list of users can be passed via an external variable file using vars_files or directly into the playbook using a loop. The problem arises when the list of users to be created is only available in a format like CSV while the Ansible developer is more comfortable using a YAML list. I personally have experienced situations where a user list including passwords is provided in a CSV file with the requirement to create those users on multiple Linux machines using an automation tool such as Ansible.

        • Build your own tool to search for code sequences in binary files

          This article shows you how to create a scanning tool that can search for specific sequences of instructions inside binary files. Such searches are commonly required to verify that a compiled executable meets certain criteria, usually related to security. For example, Intel’s Control-Flow Enforcement Technology (CET) extension mandates that all functions start with an ENDBR instruction. Verifying this requires a special tool specifically designed to search for instructions inside the binary.

          [...]

          Sometimes the exact instructions you are searching for are unknown. Instead, you have to locate an effect or specific behavior. To handle these cases, you can extend the scanner to simulate the target binary file instead of just disassembling it. This process, of course, is much more complex.

          The scanner sources include two examples of this kind of advanced scanning, although neither is built by default. You can use the file annocheck/makefile.rop to build them, although you’ll have to edit it to provide some necessary information. These scanners use the headers found in the binutils sources as well as the simulator code that is part of the GNU Debugger (GDB) project.

          The advanced scanners in the sources both have the same job: Examining binaries to see whether they are vulnerable to exploits via a return-oriented programming (ROP) attack. One scanner examines AArch64 binaries and the other examines x86_64 binaries. Multiple instruction sequences are vulnerable to this kind of attack, so the scanners simulate the execution of instructions and look for characteristics that are of use to an attacker. Since the attacker can, in theory, start execution at any point in the binary, the scanners have to run lots of simulations, looking for any possible vulnerable entry point.

        • IBM releases first machine-learning end-to-end pipeline starter kit within the IBM Cloud Native Toolkit [Ed: IBM joins the fight to further dilute the term "end to end" (as the so-called 'Linux' Foundation does)]

          Artificial Intelligence and machine learning have sparked innovations that most of us use daily — from cognitive chatbots to product recommendations in our social media feeds to automated language translations and more. Integrating AI and machine learning technologies with cloud-native environments is an increasingly common scenario, driven by use of microservices and the need to scale rapidly. Developers are faced with the challenge to not only build machine learning applications, but to ensure that they run well in production in cloud-native and hybrid cloud environments.

          Today, IBM is announcing a new machine-learning, end-to-end pipeline starter kit to help developers build machine-learning applications and deploy them easily and reliably in a cloud-native environment. The starter kits are part of the IBM Cloud-Native Toolkit, an open source collection of assets that provides an environment for developing cloud-native applications for deployment within Red Hat OpenShift and Kubernetes. Assets created with the Cloud-Native Toolkit can be deployed in any cloud or hybrid cloud environment.

          These starter kits offer an excellent starting point to operationalizing and industrializing AI-powered applications and making them ready for production, using open source and Red Hat OpenShift technologies. The starter kit speeds up the development, deployment, and innovation with a set of opinionated approaches/tools.

        • Japan at a crossroads: How open organization principles aided the country’s economic resurgence [Ed: This does not give examples of Japan using Free software and instead it is just mindless openwashing by the Red Hat site]

          Meritocracy in these “New Japan” companies is now becoming a function of increased performance transparency. It involves collaboration which impacts on their management and organizational structure, adaptation to a changing world, increased transparency between foreign and Japanese companies and builds a global community to address a wide range of issues. Simply, they had to invest to rapidly put all open organization principles to work.

          As I mentioned above, change is hard for Japanese companies because of what Schaede calls a “tight culture,” a term she borrows from Michele J. Gelfand’s book, Rule Makers, Rule Breakers. Summarizing it, Schaede writes

          Tight cultures, such as Japan’s, are characterized by strong norms for what constitutes the “right” behavior, as well as strong mechanisms for ostracizing deviants. In contrast, loose cultures, such as that in the United States, have a much wider definition of what is acceptable and do not sanction noncompliance to nearly the same degree.

          In this kind of “tight” corporate culture, introducing a more flexible and creative work environment must be done in a highly regimented, methodical way to encourage employees to embrace less structured work approaches. Tight cultures also lend themselves to what Schaede calls “soft law” approaches to regulation, where exposing problems, nudging, and shaming are the primary levers driving activity. For Japan, using social transparency of actions and then applying shaming, exclusion, peer pressure, and what Schaede calls “nudging” are all that is needed for change to occur.

        • 4 ways IT metrics can motivate

          When we talk about metrics in software delivery, developers usually think of execution metrics – things like throughput, delivery, and number of deploys. These are often used to track team performance or determine efficiency, but in reality, these metrics don’t motivate anyone or provide a holistic picture of results – at least not without connecting them to a bigger picture.

          When developers understand how their day-to-day work directly impacts the company’s goals and vision, they’re able to understand their impact and will want to do better. When they want to do better, they want metrics to get them there.

          Here are four ways managers can motivate their developer teams to get behind metrics and find the right ones to track.

      • Debian Family

        • Proxmox Mail Gateway 7.0

          Debian 11 “Bullseye”, but using a newer Linux kernel 5.11
          SpamAssassin 3.4.6
          PostgreSQL 13
          GUI enhancements with a more detailed dashboard status panel & APT repository management panel in the ‘Administration’ tab
          ACME/Let’s Encrypt supports using wildcards
          API: allow setting LISTEN_IP parameter for pmgproxy
          Improved Proxmox Installer environment
          and more…

      • Canonical/Ubuntu Family

        • Linux Mint 20.2 Now Available and Better Than Ever

          Linux Mint 20.2 (Uma) is now available and it makes a strong case for the best desktop experience on the market. Although the feature list doesn’t include anything that will blow users away at first blush, the performance gains and polish added make this release one of the finest on the market.

          One of the most impressive features the developers have pulled off lies in the Cinnamon desktop spin and comes in the form of a Memory Limit option. Users can enable this feature and then set a memory limit. If Cinnamon reaches that limit the desktop will automatically restart (without you losing either session or windows). This will ensure you don’t wind up with a desktop that bogs down because of memory leaks or other issues.

    • Devices/Embedded

    • Free, Libre, and Open Source Software

      • Web Browsers

        • Mozilla

          • Mozilla Performance Blog: What’s new in Perfherder?

            Since last “What’s new in Perfherder” article a lot has changed. Our development team is making progresses towards automating the regression detection process. This post will cover the various improvements that have been made to Perfherder since July 2020.

            [...]

            We’ve almost automated the filing of the regression bugs. We don’t have to copy-paste anymore the details from the regressor bug but just to input its number in the dialog below and the new bug screen the fields will auto-populate. The only thing that’s left to be automated is setting the Version of the bug, which should be the latest release of Firefox. It is currently set to unspecified.

      • SaaS/Back End/Databases

        • MongoDB Delivers the Future to Developers with MongoDB 5.0 and Serverless Atlas

          MongoDB, Inc. (NASDAQ: MDB), the leading, modern, general purpose database platform, today announced a series of revolutionary product enhancements from the keynote stage of MongoDB’s annual conference, MongoDB.live. These updates include the launch and General Availability of MongoDB 5.0 with native time series support, the preview of serverless databases in MongoDB Atlas, and the continued evolution of its industry leading application data platform with enhancements to Atlas Search, Atlas Data Lake, and MongoDB’s end-to-end mobile data solution, Realm.

        • MongoDB 5.0 Released

          MongoDB Inc. announced the general availability of MongoDB 5.0 at its annual conference recently.

      • Productivity Software/LibreOffice/Calligra

        • LibreOffice flyer for schools and universities: extra design

          Our LibreOffice New Generation project aims to bring new – and especially younger – contributors into the LibreOffice community. Earlier in the year, we created a flyer for schools and universities, and we’ve sent out printed versions to many people around the world.

      • FSF

      • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

        • Hacking

          • Building a Curve25519 Hardware Accelerator

            The “double ratchet” algorithm is integral to modern end-to-end-encrypted chat apps, such as Signal, WhatsApp, and Matrix. It gives encrypted conversations the properties of resilience, forward secrecy, and break-in recovery; basically, even if an adversary can manipulate or observe portions of an exchange, including certain secret materials, the damage is limited with each turn of the double ratchet.

            The double-ratchet algorithm is a soup of cryptographic components, but one of the most computationally expensive portions is the “Diffie-Hellman (DH) key exchange”, using Elliptic Curve Diffie-Hellman (ECDH) with Curve25519. How expensive? This post from 2020 claims a speed record of 3.2 million cycles on a Cortex-M0 for just one of the core mathematical operations: fairly hefty. A benchmark of the x25519-dalek Rust crate on a 100 MHz RV32-IMAC implementation clocks in at 100ms per DH key exchange, of which several are involved in a double-ratchet. Thus, any chat client implementation on a small embedded CPU would suffer from significant UI lag.

            There are a few strategies to rectify this, ranging from adding a second CPU core to off-load the crypto, to making a full-custom hardware accelerator. Adding a second RISC-V CPU core is expedient, but it wouldn’t do much to force me to understand what I was doing as far as the crypto goes; and there’s already a strong contingent of folks working on multi-core RISC-V on FPGA implementations. The last time I implemented a crypto algorithm was for RSA on a low-end STM32 back in the mid 2000’s. I really enjoyed getting into the guts of the algorithm and stretching my understanding of the underlying mathematical primitives. So, I decided to indulge my urge to tinker, and make a custom hardware accelerator for Curve25519 using Litex/Migen and Rust bindings.

      • Programming/Development

        • Jonathan Dowland: Small tweaks to `git branch` behaviour

          Despite my best efforts, I often end up with a lot of branches in my git repositories, many of which need cleaning up, but even so, may which don’t. Two git configuration tweaks make the output of git branch much more useful for me.

        • PHP 8.1 Performance Is Continuing To Improve With Early Benchmarks – Phoronix

          Each PHP release continues to improve in the department of performance. Even after the sizable performance improvements made with PHP 7, PHP 8 is continuing to further optimize the performance regardless of using its new JIT. While there still are several months to go until the official PHP 8.1 release, here are a few early benchmarks looking at the PHP CLI performance of PHP 8.1 and prior PHP releases.

        • Perl/Raku

          • On the eve of CPAN Testers

            Have a look at the CPAN Testers reports for two TRIAL releases of the same module, one from 2 days ago, the other a little over 3 years ago…

            [...]

            Last time, reports started coming in within hours of the release; over 60% of the picture was there within a day; some 85% after 2 days; and the first wave of reports lasted a week.

        • Python

          • C++ versus Python solving Problem #25 of Demo USE in Informatics 2021

            Write a program that searches among the integers that belong to the numerical segment [174457; 174505], numbers that have exactly two different natural divisors, not counting the unit and the number itself. For each of the found number, write these two divisors into the table on the screen with a new lines in ascending order of the product of these two divisors. Divisors in the table row must also follow in ascending order.

            We intend to assembly Python External C++ procedure using 2D vector to solve the the task mentioned above for segment [174457; 184505] without significant performance penalty , which would affect pure Python module runtime

  • Leftovers

    • How a Harlem Skyrise Got Hijacked—and Forgotten

      In 1964, following the unrest in Harlem roused by the police murder of James Powell, age 15, the poet June Jordan received an invitation to write for Esquire. Perhaps the invitation reached her in a manner that would feel familiar to some during our time. That is, perhaps she had been invited to explain.

    • In Delaware County

      The creators of HBO’s Mare of Easttown, a murder mystery set in a small Pennsylvania town, aimed for verisimilitude. Its main cast studied the phonics and cadence of the Delaware County accent—all the downturned O’s and “water” pronounced to rhyme with “rudder”—which Kate Winslet (who plays the titular Mare Sheehan) described as “amongst the top two hardest dialects I’ve ever done.” The costume designer sent snapshots of people in line at Wawa, the legendary Pennsylvania convenience store, to director Craig Zobel for inspiration. Clothes were distressed with scrubbing brushes, holes added. In terms of its content, the show can occasionally feel like a primer on the problems facing suburban and rural America. Its characters contend with the opioid epidemic, insufficient health care, precarious and low-paying jobs, a lack of support for the elderly, and ambitious young people moving away for college with no plans to return. Crime in Easttown is driven less often by passion or malice than by the desperation of people forced to get by on less.

    • Untethered, or The Year of Living Virtually

      New York City—When baseball legend Ted Williams died in 2002, it came to light that he had directed that his body be cryogenically frozen so he and his children would “be able to be together in the future, even if it is only a chance.” At the time, it seemed strange to me, a desire for immortality so intense that one would slow the body’s decomposition to molecular silence, the breath held in wait for the perfect cure.

    • Disabling Utopia to Save It

      Imagining better worlds can help us improve our own, but literary and cinematic utopias often exclude those who don’t fit into what are usually racially and culturally homogeneous societies. And whether it’s 1516 or 2016, utopian thinkers are especially prone to leaving out one group whose experiences and insights should enrich our dreams of the future: the disability community.

    • Shulamith Firestone Wanted to Abolish Nature—We Should, Too

      Teaching an online course about a utopian manifesto from the 1960s is a brutally effective way to illuminate the dystopianism of the pandemic-stricken present, let me tell you. To be sure, great surges of love and rage have hit the streets again and again over the past few years, disrupting the unlivable, carceral, care-poor reality that is, for so many of its denizens, the United States. As these waves of abolitionism crested, for example in the summer of 2020, one could almost catch a glimpse of what it might have felt like in 1968, when everything seemed on the table; suddenly, the restraint of 21st-century radicalism was illuminated. It is especially instructive, I feel, to look at the utopias of that bygone, almost-revolutionary era right now, during the late-stage pandemic. The re-entrenchment of gender cynicism, of nuclear familyism, has lately crept up on so many of us, without us fully noticing.1

    • Why Does Utopian Architecture Suck?

      Two years ago, the Danish architect Bjarke Ingels, along with MIT and Oceanix (a start-up developing new ways to build on water), released a sprawling techno-utopian plan called Oceanix City, a community of 10,000 meant to float off the coast of New York City. Reading the press release is like assembling a collage of eco-technobabble, containing everything from the idea of being “resilient” (which here means “not flooding”) and the use of solar panels to hydroponic farming and a “zero waste” food policy. Of course, Oceanix City, an abstract utopia (meaning a utopia built by technocrats and operating within the existing social framework) assumes an almost entirely consumption-oriented habitat rather than a production-oriented one—meaning that other, less fortunate nations will still be the ones toiling in absentia to bring all the luxuries of everyday life. Ten thousand people, when considering the total population of New York City, is not a lot of people. And while the directive insists that the eco-villages will be affordable, nobody involved quantifies how affordability will be determined or maintained.

    • Utopia and Dystopia Are Twins—Both Are Born Out of Criticism

      Utopia and dystopia are twins, born at the same moment from the shared ancestry of social critique. Although remembered as the first modern attempt to systematically imagine an ideal society, Thomas More’s Utopia (1516) began with a stark portrait of a Europe torn apart by war and crushing poverty, with the shocking prediction that if the enclosure of farmland continued, soon sheep would be eating people. This horrifying prospect made it urgent to look for an alternative, which More sketches out as an egalitarian, communal society of shared property.1

    • Education

      • Does Technology Help Students Learn Better?

        Should technology be used for learning? It has been one of the most debatable topics in recent times. For years, experts have been assessing the benefits of technology in education against the risks and implications it brings along.

        Some argue that technology allows you to experiment with pedagogy, decentralize the classroom, and connect with Gen-Y & Gen-Z students. Others stress the adverse effects of technology in this aspect.

        The COVID-19 pandemic forces educational institutions to make a shift to online learning. Thus, we could not have imagined this transition without technology.

    • Health/Nutrition

      • Top Vaccine Official Ousted in Tennessee Says ‘I Am Afraid for My State’
      • ‘Pandemic Is Far from Over’: Largest US Nurses Union Urges CDC to Reinstate Federal Mask Mandate

        Declaring Covid-19 vaccines “not enough by themselves to combat the pandemic,” the nation’s largest union of registered nurses on Tuesday called on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to reinstate the federal mask mandate.

        “The Covid-19 pandemic is far from over,” the union said in its letter (pdf) to CDC director Rochelle Walensky.

      • Drug War Foes Applaud Senators’ Bill to End Federal Cannabis Criminalization

        Drug war abolitionists on Wednesday applauded the introduction by three Democratic senators of proposed legislation that would decriminalize marijuana at the federal level while allowing states to decide their own cannabis laws.

        “In 2019 there were more marijuana arrests than all other violent crime arrests combined, and the majority of those were for simple possession. This is a grievous reality; lives are being destroyed every single day.”—Sen. Cory Booker

      • A powerful ‘motivational lever’ Meduza uncovers how the Belgorod region became the most vaccinated part of Russia

        The Belgorod region has the highest coronavirus vaccination rate in Russia — nearly 35 percent of the population, more than half a million people, have received their first dose. By comparison, even Moscow and the Moscow region are lagging behind, with just over 25 percent of their residents vaccinated against COVID-19. What’s more, unlike other parts of the country, the Belgorod region didn’t make vaccination against the coronavirus mandatory. How did they convince so many people to get the jab? Meduza discovered that the key to the Belgorod region’s success is a measure the local authorities aren’t advertising: making additional payments to local doctors for every vaccination.

      • On “Gain of Function” Research, COVID-19 and the Shortcomings of the Biological Weapons Convention: an Interview with Laurie Garrett

        Q: Putting aside any suggestion of conspiracy theories, what are your feelings about “gain of function” experiments with pathogens? Are the potential benefits worth the risks?

        A: For 13 years I ran global health efforts at the Council on Foreign Relations, where (among other things) I worked on policy issues surrounding Dual Use Research of Concern (DURC) and Gain of Function work (GOF). In both cases I wrote several papers and attended many meetings at the National Academy of Sciences and elsewhere. I also went to China to discuss the issues there.

    • Integrity/Availability

      • Proprietary

        • Pseudo-Open Source

        • Security

          • Nguyen: CVE-2021-22555: Turning \x00\x00 into 10000$

            For those who appreciate detailed descriptions of how to exploit a kernel vulnerability, this report on a netfilter bug by Andy Nguyen should certainly satisfy.

          • Security updates for Thursday

            Security updates have been issued by Debian (firefox-esr and php7.0), Fedora (firefox, mingw-djvulibre, and seamonkey), Gentoo (fluidsynth, openscad, and urllib3), openSUSE (ffmpeg, nodejs12, and sqlite3), Red Hat (firefox), and SUSE (ffmpeg, kernel, nodejs10, nodejs12, nodejs14, and sqlite3).

          • Australian National University’s Critical Coronavirus Research Protected by KernelCare Enterprise Deployment

            The RSB runs bioinformatics servers that cannot be rebooted frequently due to the nature of the research work. COVID research and genome work can take weeks to months to complete, and breaks for maintenance tasks like patching and rebooting cannot be anticipated. A simple, professional, and affordable solution was needed to keep those systems running and protected, covering Linux distributions like Ubuntu, Debian and CentOS.

          • Linux version of HelloKitty ransomware targets VMware ESXi servers [Ed: VMware is a Linux/GPL violator, but Microsoft booster Lawrence Abrams seems to think it's OK to blame VMware issues on "Linux"]
          • Josh Bressers: The future of DWF

            TL;DR – The future of community identifier is going to be the Cloud Security Alliance. See this blog post for more details.

            A few months ago the Distributed Weakness Filing project (DWF), announced it was coming back to work with some new ideas around how we work with vulnerability identifiers. The initial blog post defines some of the reasons, we won’t rehash them here.

            It should surprise nobody that the DWF project did not grow to an enormous size in a few short months. Vulnerability identification is a complex and hard problem. We were looking to try out some new ideas and see which were effective and which were not effective. It was to start to build the structure to deal with a future community. Most importantly it was to help figure out what we don’t know we don’t know.

            One group that has become interested in what we were doing was the CloudSecurityAlliance (CSA). The CSA is focused on, well, security and the cloud, as well as other new and emerging technologies and problems. Traditional vulnerability identifiers have been heavily focused on software as it existed in the past rather than current software and services. The CSA has an interest in helping to define the next generation of vulnerability classification. There are a huge number of potential vulnerabilities and weaknesses that are going untracked, which means they are largely unseen. If we expect the future to be more secure than the past, having a community driven vulnerability classification and freely available databases will be critical.

          • Privacy/Surveillance

            • Content Moderation Case Study: Twitter Experiences Problems Moderating Audio Tweets (2020)

              Summary: Since its debut in 2007, Twitter hasn’t changed much about its formula, except for expanding its character limit from 140 to 280 in 2007 and adding useful features such as lists, trending topics and polls. Twitter has embraced images and videos, adding it to its original text-only formula, but seemed to have little use for audio. That changed in June 2020 when Twitter announced it would allow users to upload audio-only tweets. Remaining true to the original formula, audio tweets were limited to 140 seconds, although Twitter will automatically add new audio tweets to a thread if the user’s recording ran long.

            • Rights Coalition Demands US Retailers Reject Use of Facial Recognition

              On the heels of a congressional hearing that highlighted concerns about facial recognition, more than 35 civil rights groups on Wednesday collectively called for retailers to reject the technology in their stores “to protect the privacy and rights of shoppers and staff.”

              “Retailers should commit to not using facial recognition in their stores so we can champion their decision, or be prepared for an onslaught of opposition.”—Caitlin Seeley George, Fight for the Future

    • Defence/Aggression

      • America Doesn’t Have a Gun Problem
      • “My Name is Called Disturbance:” the Student Movement to Get Stanford Out of the Vietnam War

        Siegel takes us back to his Southern California childhood, in the $10,000 “Victory Home,” government-funded thanks to the anti-fascist war, and close to Hughes Aircraft in Culver City. His parents were progressives of the age, not Communists but proud and happy to be on the Left, with so many other lower middle class Jews, at least until the FBI came knocking. They became peaceniks in the early Sixties, proud of their bright and progressive son. By early 1967, Lenny found himself in SDS protesting the appearance of that liberal icon, Hubert Humphrey. Time magazine falsely reported that the demonstrators had thrown bags of urine, and that lie fairly set the tone for the deception engaged in by the university administration. Actually, the Hump had received a worrying disrespect, even anger. Who could possibly be angry about a War?

        Students themselves began assiduously researching Stanford’s many ties to the war machine. They learned that the notorious Strategic Hamlet plan emerged within the Stanford research umbrella, alongside the Army’s biological and chemical warfare contract work. Pretty soon, Siegel and others were producing antiwar posters about campus administrators, leafletting young men in San Jose, on their way to pre-induction physicals, and providing draft counseling.

      • America’s Afghan War Is Over, So What About Iraq – and Iran?

        The Taliban are rapidly expanding their control over hundreds of districts, usually through negotiations between local elders, but also by force when troops loyal to the Kabul government refuse to give up their outposts and weapons.

        A few weeks ago, the Taliban controlled a quarter of the country. Now it’s a third. They are taking control of border posts and large swathes of territory in the north of the country. These include areas that were once strongholds of the Northern Alliance, a militia that prevented the Taliban from unifying the country under their rule in the late 1990s.

      • Conflict or Cooperation in U.S.-China Relations?

        Beginning in 2018, U.S. government policy toward China turned sharply hostile, bringing relations between the two nations to their lowest point in the last four decades. The Trump administration fostered military confrontations with China in the South China Sea, initiated a trade war with the Asian nation, blamed China for the COVID-19 pandemic, and sharply denounced its human rights record. In a July 2020 public address, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called for “a new alliance of democracies” to resist China, declaring: “The free world must triumph over this new tyranny.”

        For the most part, the Biden administration has continued this hard-line policy. Soon after taking office in 2021, U.S. officials stepped up political and military engagement with Taiwan, which China considers part of its territory, while Secretary of State Antony Blinken used his first meeting with Chinese officials to publicly berate China. At the beginning of June, the U.S. Senate passed the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act, explicitly designed to compete with China by pumping hundreds of billions of dollars into advanced U.S. technology. This action followed the release of a proposed Pentagon budget that identified China as “the greatest long-term challenge to the United States.” Promising to “prioritize China” as the U.S. adversary, the Defense Department called for heightened funding to upgrade U.S. “forces, global posture, and operational concepts” by “investing in cutting edge technologies that will deliver new warfighting advantages to our forces.”

      • ‘The Techniques Rumsfeld Was Using Were Designed to Get False Information’

        The July 9, 2021, episode of CounterSpin included an archival interview with the Center for Constitutional Rights’ Michael Ratner about Donald Rumsfeld. Steve Rendall originally interviewed Ratner for the December 19, 2008 show.  This is a lightly edited transcript.

      • The Violence of Latinx Erasure Starts With Undercounting Victims

        On the night of March 23, 1979, Roberto Cintli Rodriguez lost his ability to dream. Rodriguez, a journalist, was in East Los Angeles reporting for an article in Lowrider magazine about police violence when four baton-wielding LA County sheriffs beat the living dreams out of him.

    • Environment

      • The Case Is Made—and the Time Is Now—for a Civilian Climate Corps

        The Senate’s bipartisan infrastructure deal embraced by President Joe Biden appears to be a dud. Instead of taxing the rich to modernize America’s roads, water systems and other infrastructure, it promotes various forms of privatization. A summary released in late June about how new construction will be financed includes so-called “public-private partnerships,” which are essentially high-interest loans to state and local governments that deliver massive returns for Wall Street banks, private equity investors and multinational financial firms. Also listed is a fringe policy idea called “asset recycling,” which would incentivize states and cities to outright sell off public assets. Back in 2009, Chicago leased out its parking meters to investors as far away as Abu Dhabi for at least $1 billion under value, which has forced residents to pick up the tab ever since. Asset recycling is that type of scheme on steroids. 

      • Radical Political Action Is Our Only Hope to Stop Criminal Negligence of Climate Emergency

        Planet Earth is on fire because of global warming, yet there are still untold numbers of climate deniers in our midst, including over 130 elected officials in the U.S. Congress, and the global community’s response to the climate crisis continues to be not merely unacceptably slow, but borders on criminal negligence.

      • Youth Activists Rally Outside Feinstein’s LA Office Demanding Civilian Climate Corps

        Dozens of climate activists from the youth-led Sunrise Movement rallied outside of Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s Los Angeles office Tuesday afternoon to demand the inclusion of a key climate measure in federal infrastructure legislation.

        The climate group’s most pressing demand was that Feinstein (D-Calif.) publicly champion the Civilian Climate Corps for Jobs and Justice Act, co-sponsored by Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), which the Sunrise Movement says will “put over 1.5 million Americans to work in good-paying jobs all while combating climate change and building a sustainable future for our generation and many more to come.”

      • A Climate View From California

        I was in Reno last September, so I missed the morning when San Franciscans awoke to apocalyptic orange skies, the air freighted with smoke from burning forests elsewhere in the state. The air then was bad enough even in the high mountain valley of Reno. At that point, we’d already experienced “very unhealthy” purple-zone air quality for days. Still, it was nothing like the photos that could have been from Mars then emerging from the Bay Area. I have a bad feeling that I may get my chance to experience the same phenomenon in 2021 — and, as the fires across California have started so much earlier, probably sooner than September.

        The situation is pretty dire: this state — along with our neighbors to the north and southeast — is now living through an epic drought. After a dry winter and spring, the fuel-moisture content in our forests (the amount of water in vegetation, living and dead) is way below average. This April, the month when it is usually at its highest, San Jose State University scientists recorded levels a staggering 40% below average in the Santa Cruz Mountains, well below the lowest level ever before observed. In other words, we have never been this dry.

      • ‘Biggest Story in the World Right Now’: Humanity Has Flipped Amazon From Carbon Sink to Source

        Following years of warnings and mounting fears among scientists, “terrifying” research revealed Wednesday that climate change and deforestation have turned parts of the Amazon basin, a crucial “sink,” into a source of planet-heating carbon dioxide.

        Though recent research has elevated concerns about the Amazon putting more CO2 and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than it absorbs, the new findings, published in the journal Nature, were presented as a “first” by scientists and climate reporters.

      • Australia Aided by ‘Fossil Fuel Pariah States’ in Bid to Keep Great Barrier Reef Off ‘In Danger’ List

        Just ahead of a United Nations World Heritage Committee meeting weighing updated classifications for U.N. Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization sites, new reporting on Wednesday reveals how Australia is working to thwart the Great Barrier Reef being designated as “in danger.”

        According to The Guardian, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain are co-sponsoring amendments that reject UNESCO’s finding, released last month, that the reef is in danger and would prevent such a designation until 2023 or later.

      • Energy

        • Critics Warn EU ‘Fit for 55′ Proposal Could Raise Energy Bills for Europe’s Poor

          As officials prepare to introduce sweeping legislation aimed at achieving the European Union’s pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 55% from 1990 levels by 2030, environmental and social justice advocates warned Wednesday that the proposed measures could push millions of people into poverty due to high energy costs.

          Part of the E.U.’s Green Deal, the European Commission says its Fit for 55 package “will enable the necessary acceleration of greenhouse gas emission reductions in the next decade” to meet the 27-nation bloc’s determined contribution under the Paris agreement.

      • Wildlife/Nature

        • Death by Design: How the National Park Service Experiments on Tule Elk

          The sleek, befurred mammals seem to commune with tourists who stroll a well-traveled trail in the preserve. Tule elk are Yoda-like, with big, brown eyes. They trumpet, munch flowers and make love in harems.

          According to a 1998 National Park Service brochure, “Given the mild climate and lush habitat of Tomales Point, the elk live in a virtual paradise.”

    • Finance

      • How to Pay for Infrastructure? Analysis Says Tax Billionaires’ $1.8 Trillion Pandemic Windfall

        A new analysis out Wednesday shows that the 713 billionaires in the United States have seen their collective wealth skyrocket by nearly $1.8 trillion since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic—and, thanks to the nation’s deeply skewed tax system, much of that windfall will likely go untaxed.

        “Lawmakers should pay for jobs, infrastructure, and investments benefiting working families with targeted taxes on the wealthiest 0.1%.”—Chuck Collins, Institute for Policy Studies

      • We Can’t Afford to Go Small on Infrastructure

        For the past few months, a debate has been unfolding over what it will take to address the country’s infrastructure needs.

      • ‘A Big Deal,’ Says Sanders as Dems Agree to Pursue a $3.5 Trillion Reconciliation Bill

        The Senate Democratic leadership agreed late Tuesday to push for a $3.5 trillion legislative package that includes substantial investments in green energy, an expansion of Medicare benefits, universal pre-K, and other priorities, funded by tax hikes on the rich and large corporations.

        “The wealthy and large corporations are going to start paying their fair share of taxes, so that we can protect the working families of this country.”—Sen. Bernie Sanders

      • ‘$3.5 Trillion Isn’t Enough’: Sunrise Says House Dems Must Go Bigger Than Senate on Climate

        The youth-led Sunrise Movement on Wednesday rejected Senate Democrats’ newly unveiled $3.5 trillion spending framework as badly inadequate to the task of combating the climate emergency and urged the House to “go bigger” with its own proposal.

        “This is the first time since 2009 that Democrats have control of both chambers of Congress and the White House. They cannot afford to waste this opportunity.”—Lauren Maunus, Sunrise Movement

      • Top CEOs Made Nearly 300 Times More Than Average Employee During Pandemic

        Economic justice advocates on Wednesday amplified calls for a wealth tax and far-reaching pro-worker legislation amid the release of two reports detailing how income and wealth inequality between corporate CEOs and their employees has skyrocketed during the coronavirus pandemic.

        The AFL-CIO’s Executive Paywatch report examined compensation at S&P 500 companies, revealing that executives were paid 299 times the average worker’s salary in 2020. 

      • The ‘Zuma Riots’ and the Decadence of Capitalism

        Zuma’s supporters had warned that there would be unrest if he were to be jailed after being sentenced to fifteen months incarceration for contempt of court.

        The former president’s incarceration followed a recent precedent setting majority judgment handed down by the Constitutional Court, which serves as the country’s court of last instance, for defying that court and refusing to continue his testimony before the Commission of Enquiry to investigate Allegations of State Capture. His subsequent application to a lower court to stay his incarceration was dismissed before he handed himself to an incarceration center. It remains to be seen if a parallel application to the Constitutional Court for it to rescind its judgment will succeed.

      • Democratic Senators Call for Investigation of Tax Avoidance by the Ultrawealthy

        Two prominent members of the Senate Finance Committee are calling for an investigation into tax avoidance by the ultrawealthy, citing ProPublica’s Secret IRS Files series.

      • The Inflation Bogeyman

        You’re hearing a lot about inflation these days. Don’t buy it. Every time the economy gets a bit of wind in its sails and workers get a little wage increase, conservatives scream about inflation and price increases.

      • As Cuba Tries To Block Internet Messaging, A Reminder Of Why The Open Internet Is So Important

        I know that the internet is taking quite a beating these days, but we should not forget the promise of the internet, and how it can be used for important movements. The protests in Cuba are a perfect example of this. As you probably know, Cuba has had very limited access to the internet, though it has expanded recently. Twenty years ago we wrote about efforts to build bootleg internet connections in Cuba, and a decade later, Fidel Castro suddenly talked about how important the internet was, noting that he had become something of an internet junkie himself. It’s really only in the last few years that Cuba has made it really possible for people to have internet in their homes, but only via the state operated ETECSA with fairly limited speeds.

      • Washington’s Weaponization of Protests in Cuba Takes Its Regime Change Efforts to New Heights of Hypocrisy

        Needless to say, the US government, its minions in the corporate-owned media, and, of course, the representatives of the Cuban-American exile brigade have seized on the protests to bolster their case for regime change and the continuation of coercive measures against the beleaguered Caribbean island nation. At the forefront of these calls has been Frances Suarez, mayor of Miami – the hinterland of Cuba-American exile hardliners – who has openly called for direct US military intervention into Cuba.

        The move comes amidst a growing unwillingness on the part of the Biden administration to roll back some of his predecessor’s policies toward Cuba. The Trump administration had reversed several of the renormalization measures implemented by the Obama administration, in which Biden served as vice-president, in part as an effort to court the support of the Cuban-American community and their representatives, such as senator Marco Rubio of Florida and Robert Menendez of New Jersey.

      • “We Just Want the Basics”: Rare Protests in Cuba Amid Deep Economic Crisis, Ongoing U.S. Blockade

        We go to Havana, Cuba, to look at what is behind protests that brought thousands of people into the streets of Havana and other cities in rare anti-government protests denouncing the island’s economic crisis during the COVID-19 pandemic. Cuba is facing its harshest phase of the pandemic with skyrocketing infections, and people are scrambling to cope amid shortages of medicine, food and other resources due to catastrophic U.S. sanctions. Thousands of others in Cuba led counterprotests in support of the Cuban Revolution and President Miguel Díaz-Canel. Cuban journalist Daniel Montero, a journalist with the independent news organization Belly of the Beast, says many people were demanding an end to communism on the island, but the protests were not entirely driven by ideology. “We just want more food. We just want medicine. We just want the basics,” he says many protesters told him in interviews.

    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Censorship/Free Speech

      • Twitter Reports Rise in Governments Demanding Removal of Journalists’ Content

        In a biannual transparency report published on Wednesday, Twitter revealed that the second half of 2020 was marked by a surge in government demands to delete information shared by reporters and news publishers, an alarming trend for advocates of press freedom.

        The social media giant said that in the second half of 2020, “199 accounts of verified journalists and news outlets from around the world were subject to 361 legal demands” to remove content—a 26% increase from the first half of the year.

      • UK’s Draft Online Safety Bill Raises Serious Concerns Around Freedom of Expression

        EFF and OTI submitted joint comments as part of that consultation on the Online Harms White Paper in July 2019, pushing the government to safeguard free expression as it explored developing new rules for online content. Our views have not changed: while EFF and OTI believe it is critical that companies increase the safety of users on the internet, the recently released draft bill reflects serious threats to freedom of expression online, and must be revised. In addition, although the draft features some notable transparency provisions, these could be expanded to promote meaningful accountability around how platforms moderate online content.

        The bill is broad in scope, covering not only “user-to-user services” (companies that enable users to generate, upload, and share content with other users), but also search engine providers. The new statutory duty of care will be overseen by the UK Office of Communications (OFCOM), which has the power to issue high fines and to block access to sites. Among the core issues that will determine the bill’s impact on freedom of speech is the concept of “harmful content.” The draft bill opts for a broad and vague notion of harmful content that could reasonably, from the perspective of the provider, have a “significant adverse physical or psychological impact” on users. The great subjectivity involved in complying with the duty of care poses a risk of overbroad removal of speech and inconsistent content moderation.

        In terms of illegal content, “Illegal content duties” comprise the obligations of platform operators to minimize the presence of so-called “priority illegal content,” to be defined through future regulation, and a requirement to take down any illegal content upon becoming aware of it. The draft bill thus departs from the EU’s e-Commerce Directive (and the proposed Digital Services Act), which abstained from imposing affirmative removal obligations on platforms. For the question of what constitutes illegal content, platforms are put first in line as arbiters of speech: content is deemed illegal if the service provider has “reasonable grounds” to believe that the content in question constitutes a relevant criminal offence.

    • Civil Rights/Policing

      • Rights Groups Fight Back Against ‘Punitive and Unjust’ Anti-Protest Law in Florida

        A coalition of civil rights groups on Wednesday filed a motion in a Florida federal court seeking to block the state’s recently enacted anti-protest law—which critics say targets racial justice demonstrators while letting right-wing protesters off the hook.

        “We use protest as a vehicle for change and not only does this law silence our voices, but it puts our lives in danger.”—Nailah Summers, Dream Defenders

      • Kneeling against Racism: Solidarity in EURO 2020 Should Not be ‘Controversial’

        Yet, while some players chose to kneel down, others opted not to, offering flimsy excuses as “players weren’t ready”, and “politics should stay out of football”. Racism in sports is real, though it cannot be separated from racism within society. In fact, the reactions to the moral stances taken by some players were reflections of how rightwing, populist and chauvinistic movements wield such massive influence over various European societies, to the extent that these movements often define mainstream political sensibilities.

        For example, the French national team, comprising largely black and Muslim French players, came under attack led by rightwing politicians and media outlets to the point that, on June 15, the entire team decided not to take a knee at the start of their matches, likely fearing racist repercussions.

      • County Officials in Texas Settle Lawsuit Alleging Mishandling of Sexual Assault Cases

        Travis County, Texas, officials have settled a lawsuit brought by more than a dozen women who said local law enforcement agencies had failed to properly investigate their sexual assault allegations.

      • Sixth Circuit Says School Board Can’t Boot People From Meetings Just Because It Doesn’t Like What They’re Saying

        Just because government officials may not like the tone of the criticism they’re receiving doesn’t mean they can use their government power to mandate civility. That’s the determination of the Sixth Circuit Appeals Court, which has struck down part of an Ohio school board’s rules of (public) engagement.

      • There’s Nothing New About Georgia’s ‘New Vision’ For Parole

        As Georgia moves into the next phase of the pandemic, it is becoming clear that the state’s incarcerated population has actually increased despite releases spurred by COVID-19. While state prison officials tout a “new vision” for parole released just earlier this year, underneath it all exists an arbitrary and unfair process in violation of state laws that leaves prisoners with few-to-no prospects for release.

        On January 21, 2021, the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles released a “New Vision Statement.” It isn’t particularly new. Although the 2021 statement has 41 more words than the 2015 version, and includes claims of being “data-driven” and “scientific,” there appears to be little change to its substance. 

    • Monopolies

      • Patents

        • As Delta Variant Drives COVID-19 Uptick, Pfizer Pushes 3rd Shot in U.S. Despite Global Vaccination Lag

          After months of decline in COVID-19 cases in the United States due in part to widely available vaccines, the number of new cases per day is on the rise again. Pfizer representatives met with U.S. regulators and vaccine experts to seek emergency use authorization for a second booster dose of its vaccine, as health experts are continuing to highlight the growing gap in administered vaccinations between rich and low-income countries. “In the United States, we have access to multiple vaccines,” says Dr. Abraar Karan, an internal medicine doctor and infectious disease fellow at Stanford University School of Medicine. “Many countries have not seen any vaccine at all.” He also says it’s too early to say whether a third vaccine dose is necessary, as Pfizer has insisted. “I hope the science is what guides this, not the financial aspects,” he says.

        • President Biden, Please Persuade Chancellor Merkel to Support the WTO Waiver and Save Lives

          President Joe Biden’s White House summit with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday will be an epic moral failure unless it ends Germany’s blockage of an emergency World Trade Organization (WTO) waiver to facilitate greater production of COVID-19 vaccines and treatments necessary to save millions of lives.

        • ‘Merkel’s Delay Could Kill Us All’: Protesters Demand Germany Stop Obstructing Patent Waiver

          Ahead of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s White House visit, global justice campaigners marched to the German Consulate and Pfizer’s headquarters in Manhattan on Wednesday to demand that Germany and Big Pharma stop blocking a proposed patent waiver for Covid-19 vaccines, which public health advocates say would facilitate greater worldwide manufacturing of sorely needed doses.

          “The pandemic can only be defeated globally. It requires global effort and global solidarity. No one is safe until everyone is safe.”—Marian Lieser, Oxfam Germany

      • Copyrights

        • Registration for the Virtual 2021 CC Global Summit Is Now Open

          It’s a special year because Creative Commons is turning 20! The 2021 CC Global Summit is shaping up to be one of our biggest, boldest events yet, so join us 20-24 September for a week of discussion, collaboration, creativity and community building. Whether you are new to the community or a long-time contributor, the Summit has something for you! 

        • Japanese Police Arrest Man For Selling Modded Save Files For Single-Player Nintendo Game

          We’ve already written a few times about how Japan’s onerous Unfair Competition Prevention Law has created what looks from here like a massive overreach on the criminalization of copyright laws. Past examples include Japanese journalism executives being arrested over a book that tells people how to back up their own DVDs, along with more high-profile cases in which arrests occurred over the selling of cheats or exploits in online multiplayer video games. While these too seem like an overreach of copyright law, or at least an over-criminalization of relatively minor business problems facing electronic media companies, they are nothing compared with the idea that a person could be arrested and face jail time for the crime of selling modded save-game files for single player game like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

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