Bonum Certa Men Certa

Links 10/2/2018: GNU/Linux in Slot Machines, VLC 3.0, Mesa 18.0 RC4

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • GitHub: Here are the biggest open source project trends we'll see in 2018
    In the cross-platform and web development sector, Angular/angular-cli repositories saw the most growth at 2.2x more users in 2017 than in 2016, the post said. Other Angular projects, Facebook's React and Electron, were also popular.

    Developers are also heading to the site to look at deep learning projects as artificial intelligence continues to grow. Two TensorFlow repositories grew—TensorFlow/models saw 5.5x more traffic and TensorFlow/TensorFlow saw 2.2x more traffic in 2017 than in 2016.

  • Cross-platform development will dominate open-source this year, GitHub says
    The company also found an increase interest in deep learning. “Across multiple industries, artificial intelligence is solving a host of complex and interesting problems. You’ve helped drive that interest by upping your contributions to and visits to projects like Keras-team/Keras and Mozilla/DeepSpeech. TensorFlow/TensorFlow had 2.2 times more visits in 2017 than in 2016,” the company wrote in a post.

  • Open source project trends for 2018
    Last year, GitHub brought 24 million people from almost 200 countries together to code better and build bigger. From frameworks to data visualizations across more than 25 million repositories, you were busy in 2017—and the activity is picking up even more this year. With 2018 well underway, we're using contributor, visitor, and star activity to identify some trends in open source projects for the year ahead.

  • How writing can change your career for the better, even if you don't identify as a writer
    ut I did not start writing voluntarily. The tl;dr: of it is that my colleagues at Linux New Media eventually talked me into launching our first blog on the Linux Pro Magazine site. And as it turns out, it was one of the best career decisions I've ever made. I would not be working on today had I not started writing about what other people in open source were doing all those years ago.

  • Why an involved user community makes for better software
    Imagine releasing a major new infrastructure service based on open source software only to discover that the product you deployed had evolved so quickly that the documentation for the version you released is no longer available. At Bloomberg, we experienced this problem firsthand in our deployment of OpenStack. In late 2016, we spent six months testing and rolling out Liberty on our OpenStack environment. By that time, Liberty was about a year old, or two versions behind the latest build.


    There is a solid model for how this should happen. We recently joined the Cloud Native Computing Foundation, part of The Linux Foundation.

  • Events

    • Mozilla Thunderbird: What Thunderbird Learned at FOSDEM
      Hello everyone! I’m writing this following a visit to Brussels this past weekend to the Free and Open Source Software conference called FOSDEM. As far as I know it is one of the largest, if not the largest FOSS conference in Europe. It proved to be a great opportunity to discuss Thunderbird with a wide range of contributors, users, and interested developers – and the feedback I received at the event was fantastic (and helpful)!

      First, some background, the Thunderbird team was stationed in the Mozilla booth, on the second floor of building K. We were next to the Apache Software Foundation and the Kopano Collaborative software booths (the Kopano folks gave us candy with “Mozilla” printed on it – very cool). We had hundreds of people stop by the booth and I got to ask a bunch of them about what they thought of Thunderbird. Below are some insights I gained from talking to the FOSDEM attendees.

    • Linux Plumbers Networking Track CFP
      Linux networking maintainer David Miller has put out a call for proposals for a two-day networking track at this year's Linux Plumbers Conference (LPC). "We are seeking talks of 40 minutes in length, accompanied by papers of 2 to 10 pages in length." The deadline for proposals is July 11. LPC will be held November 13-15 in Vancouver and the networking track will be held the first two days.

    • Want more inclusivity at your conference? Add childcare.
      Providing conference childcare isn’t difficult or expensive, and it makes a huge difference for parents of young children who might want to come. If your community wants to (visibly!) support work-life balance and family obligations — which, by the way, still disproportionately impact women — I urge you to look into providing event childcare. I don’t have kids myself — but a lot of my friends do, and someday I might. I’ve seen too many talented colleagues silently drop out of the conference scene and fade out of the community because they needed to choose between logistics for the family they loved and logistics for the work they loved — and there are simple things we can do to make it easier for them to stay.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Feasibility of low-level GPU access on the Web

        As the talks within WebGPU community group progress, it becomes apparent that the disagreements lie in more domains than simply technical. It’s about what the Web is today, and what we want it to become tomorrow.

      • Alternatives to vertical tabs
        For the longest time I've used vertical tabs in Firefox and I still find it odd that people don't use it more. It's a simple fact that a horizontal tab strip doesn't scale too well when you get lots of tabs.

      • Asking Questions
        Will posted a great article a couple weeks ago, Giving and Receiving Help at Mozilla. I have been meaning to write a similar article for a while now. His post finally pushed me over the edge.

        Be sure to read Will's post first. The rest of this article is an addendum to his post.

  • Databases

    • VLC 3.0, PostgreSQL 10.2, Sylabs, Zerodium Bounty and More
      PostgreSQL 10.2 was released yesterday, which includes numerous bug and security fixes: "This release fixes two security issues" as well as "issues found with VACUUM, GIN and hash indexes, parallel query, logical replication, and other bugs reported over the past three months. All users using the affected versions of PostgreSQL should update as soon as possible."

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice 6.0 Gets First Point Release to Improve Security and Robustness
      A bit earlier than expected, the first point release of the LibreOffice 6.0 open-source and cross-platform office suite popped up today on the official channels for all supported platforms, along with the fifth maintenance update to the LibreOffice 5.4 series.

      LibreOffice 6.0.1 and 5.4.5 are now available for GNU/Linux, macOS, and Windows platforms with various bug and regression fixes. While a total of 75 issues were fixed in the first point of LibreOffice 6.0, the LibreOffice 5.4.5 update addresses about 69 bugs across several components of the open-source office suite. Also, the LibreOffice 6.0.1 includes an important security patch.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Funding

    • Coinbase Introduces Open Source Fund: A Little $ Help for Some Friends
      Coinbase has launched the Coinbase Open Source Fund from which we’ll be donating $2500 each month to open source projects. According to its blog, Coinbase also began “as a humble Rails project” and has relied on open source software to build its systems and products.

    • Subtree Debuts Dotmesh and Dothub for Cloud Native Data Management

      The startup raises $10 million in a bid to bring more control to Docker and Kubernetes cloud-native application data management.


      While dotmesh is intended to help enable data control in a cloud-native environment, the project is not currently part of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF). The CNCF itself is a Linux Foundation effort and is home to Kubernetes and multiple other cloud-native open-source projects. Marsden said that while dotmesh is not currently part of the CNCF, the work his company is doing is sympathetic to the goals of the CNCF, which are to build cloud-agnostic software.

  • Public Services/Government

    • Digital India can only grow via Open Source
      The Open Source Initiative is celebrating its 20th Anniversary in 2018 as the term was coined in a session held on February 3rd, 1998 in Palo Alto, California.

      In the last 20 years, the initiative has come a long way. Acknowledging the importance of'open source initiative' which continues to play in our lives and to enable open discussion on the challenges that exist and to work out strategies to iron them out, Bharat Exhibition organised an 'Open Source Summit 2018' in New Delhi on February 08, 2018.

    • Open Source Turns 20: Digital India Also Reaps Its Benefits [Ed: Microsoft now bribes for events in India to call it "open source"
      This event was endorsed and supported by Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), Red Hat and Microsoft.

    • Sundar — a new traditional orthography ornamental font for Malayalam
      ‘Sundar’ is designed by K.H. Hussain — known for his work on Rachana and Meera fonts which comes pre-installed with most Linux distributions; and Narayana Bhattathiri — known for his beautiful calligraphy and lettering in Malayalam script.

  • Licensing/Legal

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • An open source approach
      A new project has been launched by the University of Sydney, ErasmusMC and the Drugs for Neglected Disease Initiative to help find compounds that could lead to the treatment of fungal mycetoma.

      Mycetoma Open Source (MycetOS) will look for new ways to treat the neglected tropical infectious disease, which causes devastating deformities by attacking the skin, deep muscle and bone.

      The current antifungal treatment is reportedly expensive, toxic and ineffective, with only a 25-35% cure rate.


  • Science

    • Holograms Might Become a Big Part of Your Life Sooner Than You Think
      From where I'm standing, I can see Tom twice. The broad-shouldered sales manager is standing next to me, beaming as he watches himself—because he’s also opposite me, as a hologram on his phone, wearing a Liverpool jersey and bouncing a soccer ball between his knees. "So embarrassing," he protests. "I haven’t played soccer in so long."

    • Scientists create functioning kidney tissue
      Scientists have successfully produced human kidney tissue within a living organism which is able to produce urine, a first for medical science.

      The study led by Professors Sue Kimber and Adrian Woolf from The University of Manchester, signifies a significant milestone in the development of treatment for kidney disease.

      The Medical Research Council and Kidney Research UK funded project is published in the journal Stem Cell Reports.

    • How quantum dots supercharge farming, medicine and solar, too
      What if you could grow vegetables in half the time? What if a surgeon could see cancerous cells throughout an entire operation? What if solar panels could become significantly cheaper and easier to make?

      All of these improvements and more could come in the near future, thanks to the same tech that helps your TV create lavish and realistic colors. Quantum dots in TVs increase efficiency, create wider color gamuts and improve light output, and soon they'll improve image quality even more.

  • Hardware

    • Apple’s AirPods Catch Fire in Owner’s Ears, Eventually Explode
      If there’s something we learned in the last couple of years about smartphones, it’s that we should always keep an eye on them, especially when charging, as the current battery technologies that are being used could catch fire at any moment, eventually posing as a threat to our lives.

      And now it turns out we should do the same thing with headphones given this new wireless trend that Apple is aggressively pushing for, as the company’s new AirPods have recently been involved in a terrifying incident.

    • Mass production of new class of semiconductors closer to reality

      The chemists have found a way to simultaneously control the orientation and select the size of single-walled carbon nanotubes deposited on a surface. That means the developers of semiconductors can use carbon as opposed to silicon, which will reduce the size and increase the speed of the devices while improving their battery life.

      "We're reaching the limits of what's physically possible with silicon-based devices," said co-author Derek Schipper, Canada Research Chair Organic Material Synthesis at the University of Waterloo. "Not only would single-walled carbon nanotube-based electronics be more powerful, they would also consume less power."

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Scientists studying psychoactive drugs accidentally proved the self is an illusion
      Philosophers and mystics have long contemplated the disconcerting notion that the fixed self is an illusion. Neuroscientists now think they can prove it or, at least, help us glimpse this truth with some help from psilocybin, the psychoactive property in magic mushrooms.

      Researchers around the world are exploring the drug’s transformative power to help people quit smoking; lower violent crime; treat depression, anxiety. and post-traumatic stress disorder; and trigger lasting spiritual epiphanies in psychologically healthy people, especially when coupled with meditation or contemplative training.

    • Huge levels of antibiotic use in US farming revealed
      Livestock raised for food in the US are dosed with five times as much antibiotic medicine as farm animals in the UK, new data has shown, raising questions about rules on meat imports under post-Brexit trade deals.

      The difference in rates of dosage rises to at least nine times as much in the case of cattle raised for beef, and may be as high as 16 times the rate of dosage per cow in the UK. There is currently a ban on imports of American beef throughout Europe, owing mainly to the free use of growth hormones in the US.

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • U.S. Misses Opportunity for Korean Peace at Olympics
      President Moon Jae-in said at a carefully planned dinner to honor Kim Yong Nam, the North Korean president’s sister, and Vice President Mike Pence that he hoped the Winter Olympics would be remembered as the “day peace began.” But Vice President Pence did his best to make sure that did not happen, missing the opportunity to further peace on the peninsula created by Moon. Dismissing the historic opening created by North and South Korea, Pence handled the situation instead like a childish teenager.

      At a dinner reception where President Moon sought an opportunity for dialogue between U.S. officals and North Koreans, Pence went through great – and somewhat awkward – lengths to avoid talking to them. According to Reuters, when Pence arrived late to the reception he told Moon he planned to leave directly after a photo session but Moon asked him to “come and say hello to friends.” Moon was trying to create a dialogue to advance peace but Pence went around the table and shook hands with everyone except Kim Yong Nam of North Korea.

    • Why the U.S. War on ISIS Is Illegal
      No court has ever addressed the government’s justifications for military force in so many places. Now, one will.

      The United States’ war with al-Qaida has gone on so long, and has metastasized into so many different uses of U.S. armed forces around the globe, that it may be surprising to learn that the federal courts have only addressed the legality of a very small piece of it.

      After the 9/11 attacks, Congress passed a statute authorizing the executive branch to use military force against those groups directly connected to the attacks: al-Qaida and the Taliban. But today, the United States claims the authority to use armed force under that statute not just in Afghanistan, but also in Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan, and Syria — against not just al-Qaida and the Taliban, but also al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, al-Shabab in Somalia, and now the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS.

      But no court has ever addressed the government’s legal justifications for military action in so many different parts of the world. Now, in a case brought by the ACLU, one court will. The federal district court in Washington, D.C., will address whether the executive branch can use its elastic and open-ended assertion of wartime authority to imprison indefinitely an American citizen with no connection to 9/11.

    • Donald Trump's Thinking on Nukes Is Insane and Ignorant
      If one could adjectivize the president, there has never been anything Trumpier than Donald Trump's posture on nuclear weapons. It's an issue where he embraces contradictory thoughts in the same breath with routine. In candidate Trump's debate with Hillary Clinton on September 26, 2016, he said, "I would certainly not do first strike" and "I can't take anything off the table" within the space of seconds. In between, he pulled a Reagan and told a homespun tale on the subject, except his made no sense. "I looked the other night, I was seeing B-52s," he said (where? In his head? On Sixth Avenue?). "They're old enough that your father, your grandfather could be flying them," he added. "We are not keeping up with other countries."

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Did Fox News’ Report on Dem. Sen. Mark Warner and the Russia Investigation Come Straight from the Kremlin? [Ed: Isn't it incredible how corporate media see "Russia" in everything, including Wikileaks or News Corp.?]
      So when I say that Fox News may have received a tip straight from the Kremlin, I mean Wikileaks—which is inextricably linked to Russian intelligence (quick side note: a lot of those on the left have come to admire Wikileaks for exposing government malfeasance, and bristle at the notion that they have become a Russian disinformation outlet. If you think this to be the case—and that everything Wikileaks publishes is real and earnest—then you must also believe that per their dump of his e-mails, John Podesta is aware of “nonviolent extraterrestrial intelligence from the contiguous universe helping us bring zero point energy to Earth.”)

    • Leaked US documents can be used as evidence, rules UK Supreme Court
      In a groundbreaking ruling, the UK Supreme Court has said diplomatic cables leaked to WikiLeaks by whistleblower Chelsea Manning are admissible.

      “The Supreme Court unanimously holds that the [WikiLeaks] cable should have been admitted into evidence," the bench ruled on Thursday, with five of the seven judges going against the lower court’s decision.

      The ruling comes as a form of vindication for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who tweeted that it was a “big win… that will affect many court proceedings around the world: leaked diplomatic cables are admissible as evidence.”

    • French Left Opposition Leader Melenchon Urges Paris to Grant Assange Asylum
      Jean-Luc Melenchon, leader of the left populist La France Insoumise party in France's National Assembly, has urged the French government to provide Wikileaks founder Julian Assange with political asylum.

      In a press release published on his official blog, the politician urged Paris to "intervene and offer political asylum to Julian Assange" amid the ongoing injustice surrounding his detention by the British justice system.

    • ROGER STONE: Free Julian Assange, Mr. President

    • Mr President please free Julian Assange, says Donald Trump adviser ROGER STONE

    • Fox publishes senator's leaked text messages less than two weeks after Julian Assange promised “news about Warner” to Hannity

    • Judge Tells CIA It Can't Hand Classified Info To Journalists And Pretend The Info Hasn't Been Made Public
      The CIA is spectacularly terrible at responding to FOIA requests. It's so bad it's highly possible the perceived ineptness is deliberate. The CIA simply does not want to release documents. If it can't find enough FOIA exemptions to throw at the requester, it gets creative.

      A FOIA request for emails pertaining to the repeated and extended downtime suffered by the (irony!) CIA's FOIA request portal was met with demands for more specifics from the requester. The CIA wanted things the requester would only know after receiving the emails he requested, like senders, recipients, and email subject lines.

      The CIA sat on another records request for six years before sending a letter to the requester telling him the request would be closed if he did not respond. To be fair, the agency had provided him a response of sorts five years earlier: a copy of his own FOIA request, claiming it was the only document the agency could locate containing the phrase "records system."

      In yet another example of CIA deviousness, the agency told a requester the documents requested would take 28 years and over $100,000 to compile. Then it went even further. During the resulting FOIA lawsuit, the DOJ claimed the job was simply too impossible to undertake. Less than 2 months after MuckRock's successful lawsuit, the entire database went live at the CIA's website -- more than 27 years ahead of schedule.

  • Finance

    • Teachers unions kept from delivering complaints to DeVos

      The two largest teachers unions in the U.S. were blocked from delivering “failing” report cards to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Thursday.

      The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the National Education Association (NEA) were among the groups that attempted to deliver more than 80,000 report cards to DeVos grading her performance during her first year in the job.

    • Someone hacked China’s central bank mailbox to email a bogus notice about bitcoin crackdown

      The bogus invitation could be a ruse by traders seeking to profit from a further decline in cryptocurrencies including bitcoin on the futures market, analysts said.

    • Amazon to Launch Delivery Service That Would Vie With FedEx, UPS Inc. is preparing to launch a delivery service for businesses, positioning it to compete directly with United Parcel Service Inc. and FedEx Corp.
    • Media Ignoring Puerto Rico’s ‘Shock Doctrine’ Makeover

      Nearly five months after Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico, more than a hundred thousand US citizens there still lack clean drinking water, and almost one-third of the island has no reliable electric power. As initial life-sustaining recovery efforts still grind toward completion, Puerto Rico’s Gov. Ricardo Rosselló has wasted no time using his territory’s recovery as an opportunity to push a number of policy proposals right out of the “disaster capitalism” playbook: from privatizing the island’s power utility to converting nearly all of its public schools to charters.

      And while the mainstream US press has been mainly focused on the Trump administration’s woeful institutional response to the storm, it has barely noticed this much more radical political transformation of Puerto Rico, and the potentially disastrous long-term consequences for the citizens who live there.

      Ever since Maria made landfall on September 20, the corporate press has been neglecting the island in its coverage. Despite ranking second behind 2005’s Hurricane Katrina for property damage and lives lost, Maria has drawn markedly less media attention than the two major hurricanes that preceded it last summer. For example, according to a survey by the Tyndall Report, broadcast network evening news reports in 2017 devoted 30 percent less coverage to the aftermath of Maria than to Houston’s recovery from Hurricane Harvey. Likewise, Maria drew 12 percent less evening news coverage than Hurricane Irma’s devastation of Florida and the US Virgin Islands.
    • Kushner Companies Decides to Fight Tenants in State Court Rather Than Reveal Its Investors’ Identities
      Jared Kushner’s family real estate company has backtracked on its effort to have a lawsuit filed against it by tenants of its Baltimore-area apartment complexes moved to federal court, after a judge ruled that this transfer would require it to reveal the identities of its investment partners.

      The tenants’ class-action lawsuit was filed in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City in September, four months after a ProPublica article co-published with the New York Times Magazine described the highly aggressive tactics used by Kushner Companies to pursue tenants and former tenants over allegedly unpaid rent or broken leases. The lawsuit alleged that Kushner Companies, which owns 15 large apartment complexes in the Baltimore area, was improperly piling late fees and court fees onto tenants’ bills, often in excess of state limits, and using the threat of immediate eviction to force payment.
    • Dozens of White House Staffers Lack Permanent Security Clearance
      Meanwhile, The Washington Post reports dozens of other White House employees lack permanent security clearances as they pursue FBI approval to handle sensitive information. Among them is Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, who failed to report over 100 foreign contacts on his initial application, which he has since revised three times.

    • I voted to leave the European Union. I was wrong.
      When I voted to leave the European Union in June 2016, I did so with the best of intentions. I knew that the vote would be close, even if it was 45%-55% to Leave, I asked myself how could the narrow minority on the other side be completely forgotten? Surely we would remain in the Single Market, enjoy all the of benefits of a Norway style Brexit - the free movement of goods, services, capital and people while getting rid of some of the bad aspects of EU membership, such as the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), questionable accountability and the inherent democratic deficit within its institutions, as well as regaining the ability to choose which laws we pass at a national level.

      I was optimistic about the future of Britain. Free from the shackles of the vast majority of future EU regulation at a domestic level while safeguarding our place within the EEA, Britain would flourish by signing new trade deals across the world, lowering our tariffs across the board and utilising the strength of our soft power to become a greater player on the world stage.

    • Russian Nuclear Scientists Used Supercomputers To Mine For Cryptocurrency
      Russian security officials arrested a number of scientists working at a secret Russian nuclear weapons facility for allegedly using lab equipment to mine for cryptocurrencies, according to Russia's Interfax News Agency .

      The engineers arrested in the incident were working at the All-Russian Research Institute of Experimental Physics (RFNC-VNIIEF). No official criminal charges have been announced and law enforcement has not said how many members of the operation were detained.

    • Win for German armored vehicle maker could leave British firms out in the cold
      Artec plans to assemble the main element of its Boxer vehicle at Pearson Engineering’s factory in northeast England ― that is if the British Ministry of Defence hands the German company a deal to supply several hundred of the eight-wheel drive armored personnel carriers to the British Army.

    • What the Headlines about Tesla, Snap, and Twitter “Earnings” Should Have Said

      When Snap reported “earnings” this week – in quotes because it was its biggest loss ever – media headlines were euphoric, from TechCrunch (“Snap shares skyrocket on first earnings beat with revived user growth”) to The Wall Street Journal (“Snap Climbs Back Above IPO Price After ‘Shocker’ Earnings”).

      The theory was that Snap had reported “better-than-expected earnings.” Thanks to these headlines, over February 7 and 8, Snap shares skyrocketed 48% to $20.75, though they have fallen off somewhat since then.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Social networks are broken. This man wants to fix them.
      In the past, if you wanted to change the world, you had to pass a law or start a war. Now you create a hashtag. Ethan Zuckerman studies how people change the world, or attempt to, by using social media or other technological means. As director of the Center for Civic Media at MIT and an associate professor at the MIT Media Lab, he tries to help his students make sense of these issues. Zuckerman is also writing a book about civic engagement during a time when we have a lot less trust in institutions—government, businesses, banks, and so on. Maybe that lack of trust is reasonable. After all, we’ve spent the last decade-plus slowly turning our data over to large corporations like Facebook and Google without quite realizing we were doing it. Zuckerman knows what it’s like to build technology that pisses a lot of people off. Back in the 1990s he created what became one of the most hated objects on the internet: the pop-up ad. The aim was to show an ad on a web page without making it look as though the advertiser necessarily endorsed the content on the page. “Our intentions,” he later wrote in an apology to the internet at large, “were good.” Zuckerman spoke with MIT Technology Review about how social media started controlling us rather than the other way around.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • The Death Of Individualism -- It's Gotten Its Start On Campus

      The goal of our culture now is not the emancipation of the individual from the group, but the permanent definition of the individual by the group. We used to call this bigotry. Now we call it being woke. You see: We are all on campus now.

    • Turkey's broadcasting watchdog to monitor online content under draft law

      The regulation would allow the RTUK watchdog to halt audio and video material streamed online, social media posts and films offered by Internet-based providers like Netflix if they are deemed a threat to national security or moral values.

    • YouTube suspends ads on Logan Paul videos

    • Living in an Orwellian Tyranny
      Yesterday Nick Timothy, Theresa May's former aide, was accused of using an antisemitic slur in his article on Brexit. He co-authored a Telegraph report titled, George Soros, the man who 'broke the Bank of England', backing secret plot to thwart Brexit.

      Not only did Timothy not criticise Soros as a Jew, he didn’t even refer to him as a Jew. But it seems the fact that Soros is a Jew was enough to censure Timothy as an ‘antisemite.’ It took no more.

      Stephen Bush wrote in The New Statesman , “The reason that many find the Telegraph's treatment so disturbing is that Soros, who is Jewish, has been at the centre of a series of anti-Semitic conspiracies by the increasingly authoritarian governments in Poland, Hungary and Turkey.” It is mildly amusing that the banal Stephen Bush can’t see that he himself employs an authoritarian manner of thought. Unless guilt by association has become Britain’s press’ MO, the fact that some regimes not approved of by Bush or The New Statesman decided to cleanse themselves of Soros’ infiltration has little relevance to Timothy or his argument.

    • Commercial Content Moderation And Worker Wellness: Challenges & Opportunities
      Wojcicki also went on to refer to the platform’s development of its automated moderation mechanisms, artificial intelligence and machine learning as key to its plans to combat undesirable content, as it has in other cases when disturbing material was found on the platform in large amounts. Importantly, however, and as indicated by Wojcicki, the work of those thousands of human content moderators would go directly to building the artificial intelligence required to automate the moderation processes in the first place. In recent months, other major social media and UGC-reliant platforms have also offered up plans to hire new content moderators by the thousands in the wake of criticism around undesirable content proliferating within their products.
    • An English-Language, Algorithmically-Personalized News Aggregator, Based In China -- What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
      The use of highly-automated systems, running on server farms in China, represents new challenges beyond those encountered so far with Facebook and similar social media, where context and curation are being used to an increasing degree to mitigate the potential harm of algorithmic newsfeeds. The fact that a service like TopBuzz is provided by systems outside the control of the US or other Western jurisdictions poses additional problems. As deep-pocketed Chinese Internet companies seek to expand outside their home markets, bringing with them their own approaches and legal frameworks, we can expect these kind of issues to become increasingly thorny. We are also likely to see those same services begin to wrestle with some of the same problems currently being tackled in the West.
    • China’s #MeToo faces censorship and warnings
      The fight against sexual harassment in China started on college campuses, when former student Luo Xixi shared her story on Sina Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, in January. The account went viral and Beihang University in Beijing sacked the professor at the center of her assault claim. China’s education ministry also announced it would look into setting up a procedure to prevent sexual harassment.

      But authorities have been censoring online posts in support of the #MeToo movement including the primary hashtag of China’s campaign, #MeTooInChina, which was temporarily blocked (The Conversation), leading to code words and emojis being used on social media to continue the campaign. Universities have warned students to tone down their activism.
    • In a healthy society you don’t need censors at all: Prakash Raj
    • Victory Over PC Art Censorship In England Proves We Can Have Nice Things If We Try
      The painting, which hung in a room entitled “In Pursuit of Beauty,” was removed “to prompt conversations about how we display and interpret artworks in Manchester’s public collection.” The gallery’s curator felt a “sense of embarrassment” that the 19th century art displayed in the room depicted women as passive objects and femme fatale figures without proper modern #TimesUp and #MeToo context.

    • Can we have a debate about the art of desire if we remove the object of the discussion?
      It’s been a funny old week in the world of art. By funny I, of course, mean strange. A week ago today the Manchester Art Gallery removed from view the much revered painting Hylas and the Nymphs by Pre-Raphaelite painter JW Waterhouse.

      The act of removal was part of a staged gallery take over by artist Sonia Boyce, who coincidentally is having an exhibition of her work there from March to September. Not content with sending this beautiful picture back to the store room, she persuaded the gallery to remove all postcards and posters featuring this popular scene of temptation and sexual desire from the gallery shop.

    • Of hypocrisy and censorship
      Vibrant. The second day of the Kerala Literature Festival (KLF) under way on Kozhikode Beach can be described with this one word. Voices, counter voices, dissent, debate, flashes of new ideas, calling out society’s hypocrisy and victory celebrations marked various sessions of the festival on Friday.

      Union Minister of State for Tourism J. Alphons set the ball rolling in the morning by alleging that the festival propagated only Leftist ideas, followed by a statement by festival director K. Satchidanandan that it was not true and that people who shared different ideologies were part of the festival.

    • Techdirt, Volokh Conspiracy Targeted With Bogus Defamation Claim For Publishing A Bunch Of Facts
      This case has to do with withheld documents and FOIA exemptions. It does not guarantee some right to "practical obscurity" for all Americans. In this case, the DOJ withheld rap sheets from release, arguing their release would be an "unwarranted invasion of privacy." The Supreme Court agreed, stating that the purpose of FOIA law was to permit examination of the government's inner workings, not subject private citizens' lives to greater scrutiny.

      A police report, obtained and posted by a private citizen (or even a news agency), is not a violation of this ruling. And it sure as hell isn't defamation. Haas is welcome to litigate the issue, but he'd have to sue the police department for releasing it. If Eugene Volokh acquired it from the other party in the complaint (who has a right to obtain a copy of the police report), then Haas has no one he can bring legal action against. The other party involved in a police report can do whatever they want with their copy, including sharing it with blogs detailing a politician's incredibly stupid actions.

      As Jones notes at Shooting the Messenger, Google was no more impressed with this latest attempt to vanish critical posts. The links remain live in Google's search engine results and Haas' reputation remains as mismanaged as ever.

    • Google Does It Again: Fined $21 Million By India For Search Bias

  • Privacy/Surveillance

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • The County's Outrageous Targeting of Reporter Who Exposed Jail Deaths
      A headline like “60 Dead Inmates” has a way of focusing the mind, at least in theory. Alarm bells should have been going off across the county government when San Diego CityBeat exposed the shocking death toll at local jails.

      But prisoners kept dying, including a man who killed himself behind bars in yet anther suicide. His widow is suing. On the defensive, the county’s attorneys have found a target to harass: One of the reporters behind the award-winning coverage. They’ve upended her life, forcing her to do one of three things — expose sources by testifying about her work, agree to a deal that would protect her fragile health at the expense of harming the widow’s case or fight back.

      Kelly Davis, a highly respected colleague and fellow contributor to VOSD, did the right thing and refused to play ball with the county. A judge is standing with her, but the legal scuffle isn’t over.

      Enough. The county needs to stand up and back off.
    • Interview with EFF Executive Director Cindy Cohn on John Perry Barlow's Legacy
      Cindy Cohn is the executive director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the international non-profit digital rights organization. From 2000 to 2015 Cohn served as Legal Director and General Counsel for EFF, but her involvement with the organization goes back to 1993. On February 7th, Cohn announced the death of EFF Founder John Perry Barlow. Barlow was a multi-talented man and a colorful figure. He was a poet, an essayist, a cattle rancher and a former lyricist for the Grateful Dead. Ms. Cohn was gracious enough to let me interview her about her unique perspective working with cyberlibertarian Barlow for the past 27 years.
    • Texas Lawsuit Alleging Fraud in Construction of First Border Wall Comes Apart

      A judge has dismissed a number of charges filed by a South Texas county against a former official accused of fraud in the construction of a $232 million border fence funded by the Department of Homeland Security.

      The ruling prompted Hidalgo County on Monday to withdraw all remaining legal actions against Godfrey Garza Jr., the former chief of its drainage district, who oversaw a project to improve the county’s levee system and build a fence to stop illegal immigration and drug smuggling.

      Judge Martin Chiuminatto of state district court in Hidalgo County told lawyers for the county and Garza that the evidence presented to support the county’s allegations of fraud was not strong enough to send to a jury, according to a transcript of the hearing late last month. Chiuminatto also dismissed charges against Garza’s wife, children and their companies.
    • Making a Life After Incarceration Shouldn’t Be Impossible
      After my mom went to prison, we decided to use what we learned to help others.

      In 2012, I founded an organization called Mission: Launch with my mom. Based out of Baltimore, Mission:Launch helps formerly incarcerated individuals become self-sufficient faster. For us, this means helping individuals earn a more livable wage by obtaining an occupational license through our program, LaunchPad.

      The biggest thing my mom and I have learned since starting Mission:Launch is the importance of having a strong support system. Of all the people we’ve interacted with at the organization, the people who are most successful are always the ones who have strong family or community support. During reentry, having that safety net of people who are willing to catch you if and when you fall is crucial. And so, at Mission:Launch, we prioritize community, family, and peer-support networks.

      In practice, that means getting to know every person we engage with and working to understand all the support they will need on their journey. This is why LaunchPad begins with a robust intake to better understand what type of holistic support a person will need. We then refer them to partner service organizations so that we can help them stay focused on obtaining their occupational license. As a society, we make it extremely hard for people to get back on their feet after incarceration. Without the right support it can be close to impossible.
    • Arizona Needs Laws That Protect Women Prisoners’ Menstrual Health
      Prisons in the state restrict female hygiene products, risking prisoners’ health and violating their dignity.

      Menstruation is a basic biological fact of everyday life for billions of women and girls across the planet. But for women behind bars, having your period can be a living nightmare. Prisons can make maintaining well-being and dignity a monthly struggle. That’s what’s happening in Arizona, where women receive scant hygiene products at great risk to their health and in violation of their human rights.

      Imagine having to plead for each sanitary napkin you need from a corrections officer. Now imagine the officer is male. Now imagine that you have to show your used napkins to him before you can get a fresh one. Women in Arizona prisons don’t have to imagine this. For them it’s a harsh reality.

      Women prisoners can even be denied access to tampons because they are an alleged “security risk.” In such cases, female prisoners can work 8-hour days with only a thin pad for protection while wearing their only pair of pants. Prisoners bleed through clothes and are forced to wear them for several days. They are not allowed to shower. For too many incarcerated women, a basic human function has been turned into a monthly violation of basic human rights.

    • ICE Wants to Be an Intelligence Agency Under Trump
      Officials at Immigration and Customs Enforcement are actively exploring joining the U.S. Intelligence Community, The Daily Beast has learned.

      The effort is helmed by a small cohort of career Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials, and has been underway since the Obama administration, according to an ICE official familiar with the matter.

      Internal advocates for joining the America’s spy agencies—known as the Intelligence Community or the IC—focus on the potential benefits to the agency’s work on counterproliferation, money laundering, counterterror, and cybercrime. The official added that joining the IC could also be useful for the agency’s immigration enforcement work––in particular, their efforts to find and arrest undocumented immigrants with criminal arrest warrants (known in ICE as fugitive aliens).

    • ICE Wants To Be Yet Another Federal Agency With Access To Unminimized Surveillance
      At this point, no one other than a few ICE officials really wants this to happen. Privacy and accountability activists say the last thing the White House should do is give the agency access to warrantless surveillance. ICE is a domestic enforcement agency and has no need to root around in foreign-facing data collections. The agency, however, feels foreign intel -- along with the unmentioned backdoor searches of domestic communications -- could aid it in tracking down drug traffickers, money launders, and various cybercriminals.

      But it shouldn't have direct access. Nor should it ever really need it. Information sharing has been expanded, thanks to the last president, which means ICE likely already receives second-hand info from other IC members like the DHS, FBI, and DEA. Former government officials are wary of the idea of direct intel access, noting that it would result in more complications, rather than better immigration and customs enforcement.

    • Sweden ‘using me as chess piece’ says detained Hong Kong bookseller Gui Minhai in government-arranged interview
      Detained book publisher Gui Minhai on Friday accused the Swedish government of using him as a “chess piece” to make trouble for Beijing, claiming in an interview arranged by Chinese authorities that he did not want to leave the country. Speaking at a detention facility in Ningbo, Zhejiang province, he said: “The year 2018 is election year in Sweden … some politicians might be using me for political gains. I can’t rule out that some are trying to use me to create trouble for the Chinese government.”

    • Stockholm academic's execution in Iran 'could happen any time'
      sentence handed to Ahmadreza Djalali for allegedly spying on behalf of Israel have failed and his sentence is now "definitive" and could happen at any point, his lawyer has said.

      The Iranian emergency medicine specialist, who is resident in Sweden, was arrested in April 2016 in Iran and later charged with "spreading corruption on earth" by passing information on the Islamic Republic's nuclear scientists to Mossad, Israel's secret intelligence agency.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • ESPN Still Isn't Quite Getting The Message Cord Cutters Are Sending
      We've noted repeatedly how ESPN has personified the cable and broadcast industry's tone deafness to cord cutting and TV market evolution. The company not only spent years downplaying the trend as something only poor people do, it sued companies that attempted to offer consumers greater flexibility in how video content was consumed. ESPN execs clearly believed cord cutting was little more than a fad that would simply stop once Millennials started procreating, and ignored surveys showing how 56% of consumers would ditch ESPN in a heartbeat if it meant saving the $8 per month subscribers pay for the channel.

      As the data began to indicate the cord cutting trend was very real, insiders say ESPN was busy doubling down on bloated sports licensing deals and SportsCenter set redesigns. By the time ESPN had lost 10 million viewers in just a few years, the company was busy pretending they saw cord cutting coming all the while. ESPN subsequently decided the only solution was to fire hundreds of longstanding sports journalists and support personnel, but not the executives like John Skipper (since resigned) whose myopia made ESPN's problems that much worse.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Supreme Court pregabalin hearing to have a big impact on UK pharma patent rights
      Next week’s UK Supreme Court hearing on the long-running patent dispute over pregabalin will be watched closely by life sciences innovators.

    • Federal Court rules controversial cattle genome patent invalid
      Australia's cattle industry has scored a win against the US-based owners over a patent application it feared would put the brakes on improvement in Australia's cattle herd.

      The Federal Court rejected the patent application, saying it was unclear in its scope, that it failed to adequality describe what the invention was, and whether there was an industrial application for it.

      Meat and Livestock Australia spends hundreds of millions of dollars on genetic research in cattle, and feared the patent application threatened Australian farmers' access to important genomic testing.

    • Trademarks

      • Moosehead Breweries Cuts And Runs From Trademark Suit Against Hop 'N Moose Brewing
        For the past few years, we have detailed several trademark actions brought by Moosehead Breweries Limited, the iconic Canadian brewery that makes Moosehead beer, against pretty much every other alcohol-related business that dares to use the word "moose" or any moose images. This recent trend has revealed that Moosehead is of the opinion that only it can utilize the notorious animal symbol of both Canada and the northern United States. Without any seeming care for whether actual confusion might exist in the marketplace, these actions by Moosehead have instead smacked of pure protectionism over a common word and any and all images of a common animal.

        One of those actions included a suit against Hop 'N Moose Brewing, a small microbrewery out of Vermont. The filing in that case was notable in that it actually alleged detailed examples of trade dress infractions, while the images of the trade dress included in the filing appeared to be fairly distinct. Absent, of course, was any evidence of actual confusion in the marketplace. It appeared for all the world that Moosehead's legal team seemed to take past criticism of its trademark protectionism as a critique of the word and image count in its filings and simply decided to up the volume on both ends. Since late last year, despite having done all of this legal literary work to support the suit, little if anything had been litigated after the initial filing.

    • Copyrights

      • Hollywood Has Some Wild Ideas For Copyright In NAFTA
        In the past few weeks, we at Public Knowledge have been talking with decision-makers on Capitol Hill about NAFTA. We wanted to educate ourselves on the negotiation process for this vital trade agreement, and fairly counsel lawmakers interested in its effects on consumer protection. And we discovered a thing or two in this process.
      • Twitter & Facebook Want You To Follow The Olympics... But Only If The IOC Gives Its Stamp Of Approval
        It is something of an unfortunate Techdirt tradition that every time the Olympics rolls around, we are alerted to some more nonsense by the organizations that put on the event -- mainly the International Olympic Committee (IOC) -- going out of their way to be completely censorial in the most obnoxious ways possible. And, even worse, watching as various governments and organizations bend to the IOC's will on no legal basis at all. In the past, this has included the IOC's ridiculous insistence on extra trademark rights that are not based on any actual laws. But, in the age of social media it's gotten even worse. The Olympics and Twitter have a very questionable relationship as the company Twitter has been all too willing to censor content on behalf of the Olympics, while the Olympic committees, such as the USOC, continue to believe merely mentioning the Olympics is magically trademark infringement.
      • Can Nativity scene characters attract copyright protection under Italian law? It depends
        At Christmas time the making of Nativity scenes in churches and homes is a Catholic tradition that is particularly common in Southern Europe.

        Like many other Italian children, I have wonderful memories of when my brother and I used to plan and realize new Nativity scenes every year under the supervision of our parents.

        But can the various characters (little statues) that compose the various Nativity scenes be eligible for copyright protection?

        This is an issue that has been recently at the centre of litigation in Italy.

        Katfriend Angela Saltarelli (Chiomenti) discusses an interesting ruling of the Italian Supreme Court (Corte di Cassazione).

      • Chrome and Firefox Block 123movies Over “Harmful Programs”

        Chrome and Firefox are actively blocking direct access to the popular pirate streaming site 123movies, also known as 123movieshub and Gomovies. According to Google's Safe Browsing diagnostics service, the site contains "harmful programs," most likely triggered by suspicious advertisements running on the site.

      • MPA Met With Russian Site-Blocking Body to Discuss Piracy

        Last week, Stan McCoy, president of the Motion Picture Association's EMEA division, met with the head of Russia's telecoms watchdog in Moscow. Rozcomnadzor says that a number of issues were discussed, including strengthening international cooperation. For once, Russia had some anti-piracy achievements to boast about that the United States couldn't match.

      • Pirate ‘Kodi’ Boxes & Infringing Streams Cost eBay Sellers Dearly

        Ebay and social media are popular places to sell and obtain 'pirate' streaming devices but for two sellers, things haven't gone to plan. According to the Premier League and partners the Federation Against Copyright Theft, the men have agreed to pay €£18,000 and €£8,000 respectively, for supplying piracy-configured Kodi boxes and subscriptions to illicit streams.

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