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Links 13/3/2019: Plasma 5.15.3,Chrome 73 and Many LF Press Releases

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  • Desktop

    • 5 of the Best Laptops for Linux in 2019
      Many laptops will run Linux, but that doesn’t mean you won’t run into issues. Chances are the newer the hardware, the more likely you are to have trouble with it. You can usually get things working, but there’s an easier way.

      If you’re shopping for a laptop and know you’re planning to run Linux, you should keep this in mind. Instead of buying any laptop and hoping it will work, buy one you know will work.

  • Server

    • F5 Networks Expands Application Delivery With NGINX Acquisition
      F5 Networks announced on March 11 that it is acquiring privately held Nginx in a deal valued at $670 million.

      Nginx is the lead commercial sponsor of the open-source Nginx web server and application delivery platform, which is one of the most widely used technologies on the internet today, powering 22 percent of all active web sites, according to the January 2019 Netcraft Web Server Survey. F5 Networks is well-known for its own Big-IP Application Delivery Controller (ADC) technologies, which will now benefit from the addition of complementary capabilities from Nginx.

      "F5 is transforming into a mutlicloud application services company, and with this acquisition we are significantly accelerating our transformation," Francois Locoh-Donou, CEO of F5, said during a call with financial analysts discussing the deal. "The combination of F5, the global leader in multicloud application services, with Nginx, the open-source leader in application delivery for modern applications, is powerful for a F5, but more importantly it is powerful for our customers."

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • LHS Episode #274: JS8Coin
      Hello and welcome to the latest episode of Linux in the Ham Shack. In this week's short topic show, the hosts discuss Virginia students building and launching satellites, amateur radio inspiring the EPA, BitCoin via radio, the Linux Kernel vs. PMEM, HL7 and Open Source and much, much more. Thank you for listening and for all your support.

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux Kernel 5.0 Gets Its First Point Release, It's Now Ready for Mass Adoption
      Released on March 4th, 2019, the Linux 5.0 kernel series is a major milestone with modest features, including AMDGPU FreeSync for AMD Radeon GPUs for a stutter-free viewing experience, swap file support in the Btrfs file system, support for the Adiantum file system encryption for low power devices, and better power management for devices powered by ARM big.LITTLE CPUs.

      Linux kernel 5.0 also adds support for the binderfs file system, which enables devices to run multiple instances of Android, support for the Generic Receive Offload (GRO) feature in the UDP (User Datagram Protocol) implementation, as well as support for the cpuset resource controller in cgroupv2. Now, the first point release, Linux kernel 5.0.1, is here to mark the series as stable and ready for mass adoption.

    • Kees Cook: security things in Linux v5.0

    • The Notable Changes So Far With The Linux 5.1 Kernel
      We are over half-way through the Linux 5.1 kernel merge window. While we've had many articles detailing the individual changes thus far of the new kernel, if you are unfortunately behind on your Phoronix reading, here's a quick look at some of what has been queued this far for this next major kernel update.

    • FUSE Is Fusing More Performance Improvements In Linux 5.1
      Recent kernels like Linux 4.20 brought various performance enhancements to FUSE, the kernel code allowing for file-systems to run in user-space. With Linux 5.1 there is additional FUSE optimization work.

    • EXT4 & Btrfs Get Additional Fixes With Linux 5.1
      Ted Ts'o sent in the main EXT4 feature pull request today for the Linux 5.1 kernel merge window while David Sterba sent in a secondary batch of Btrfs material.

      The EXT4 changes for this next Linux kernel release doesn't offer up any notable features but is predominantly comprised of bug fixes and clean-ups.

    • Quick hack: Raspberry Pi meets Linux kernel mainline
      With just a few simple steps, you can compile and boot a Raspberry Pi using the Linux kernel mainline source code. Here's a quick tutorial on how to do just that.

      This post uses Raspberry Pi model B rev2 as a base, however you can easily adapt it to your board.

    • Linux Foundation

      • CHIPS Alliance aims to ease RISC-V design and deployment
        On Monday, the Linux Foundation announced the formation of the CHIPS Alliance, described as a "project to host and curate high-quality open source code relevant to the design of... more efficient and flexible chip designs for use in mobile, computing, consumer electronics, and Internet of Things (IoT) applications." This alliance centers around the continued development and adoption of RISC-V, an open Instruction Set Architecture (ISA) intended to supplant the use of Arm CPUs in a variety of applications.

        The CHIPS Alliance—which was founded to provide microarchitecture implementations for use cases from microcontroller and IoT to datacenter applications—is a counterpart to the RISC-V Foundation, which controls the ISA specification and extensions to it.

      • The GraphQL Foundation Announces Collaboration with the Joint Development Foundation to Drive Open Source and Open Standards
        The GraphQL Foundation, a neutral home for the GraphQL community to accelerate development of the surrounding ecosystem, today announces it is collaborating with the Joint Development Foundation (JDF), which recently joined the Linux Foundation to drive adoption of open source and standards, to continue developing the GraphQL specification.

        GraphQL Foundation encourages contributions, stewardship, and a shared investment from a broad group in vendor-neutral events, documentation, tools, and support for the data query language. The following companies Apollo, AWS, Butterfly Network, Dgraph Labs, Facebook, Gatsby, GraphZen, Hasura, IBM, Intuit, Neo4j, Novvum, PayPal, Pipefy, Salsify, and Thicit are joining as members to advance GraphQL as an industry specification for designing more effective APIs.

        GraphQL powers hundreds of billions of API calls a day at Facebook, which developed the technology in 2012 and played an integral role in helping GraphQL join the Linux Foundation last year. Today, virtually every major programming language offers GraphQL support through a variety of open source software libraries.

      • Announcing The Linux Kernel Mentorship project on CommunityBridge, a new Linux Foundation platform
        When Jim Zemlin asked me to come to the Linux Foundation as a Linux Fellow to work on mentoring programs and initiatives to make Linux secure I didn’t have to think twice. I am very excited to be working at the Linux Foundation alongside talented and dedicated individuals on initiatives near and dear to my heart. It is a unique and special opportunity to share my knowledge and passion by helping aspiring developers discover the joy of being a part of the largest open source project in the world.

        Contributing to the Linux kernel and working in open source is my passion. It is an honor to be a contributor to the software that influences and touches everybody in the world whether they know it or not. Being a part of something that has changed the way we communicate, conduct business, learn, and interact with each other is something that myself and thousands of developers worldwide share with pride as part of the Linux community.

        My journey as a Linux Kernel contributor started as a fun experiment to help take Android code and make it part of the core Linux project. I loved the experience of being part of the community and started looking for more opportunities to engage with it. When Greg Kroah-Hartman was looking for volunteers to help him with the stable release maintenance activities, I signed up.


        Since joining the Linux Foundation, I have been working to build out a new mentoring initiative. Today I am excited to announce our new Linux Kernel Mentorship Program on CommunityBridge, a platform that will bring opportunities for new developers to join and learn from our community and improve it at the same time.

      • Cloud Native Computing Foundation Surpasses 375 Members
        The Cloud Native Computing Foundation€® (CNCF€®), which sustains and integrates open source technologies like Kubernetes€® and Prometheusâ„¢, today announced that 59 new members and end user supporters have joined the Foundation.

        The industry is reaching an inflection point where cloud native technologies are not only being developed at a record pace, but many are becoming mature offerings. As the Foundation crosses the 375 member mark, open source leaders are meeting this week at the Linux Foundation’s Open Source Leadership Summit, continuing to foster innovation, growth and partnerships among the leaders and corporations working in open technology development.

        “Crossing the 375 mark is an incredible milestone for the Foundation, especially with more than 75 organizations in our end user community” said Dan Kohn, executive director of Cloud Native Computing Foundation. “Companies like NVIDIA, MemSQL and Mattermost are reaping real value from cloud native technologies, and we only expect this to accelerate as these technologies mature and solidify their place in the market. We remain impressed by the technical innovation and growth in the ecosystem and are happy to work with our members to support the thriving cloud native community.”

      • The Linux Foundation Announces New Foundation to Support Continuous Delivery Collaboration
        The Linux Foundation, the nonprofit organization enabling mass innovation through open source, announces a new foundation for the diverse continuous integration and delivery (CI/CD) space. The Continuous Delivery Foundation (CDF) will serve as the vendor-neutral home for the most important open source projects for continuous delivery and specifications to expedite the release pipeline process. CDF will foster collaboration between the industry’s top developers, end users, and vendors to evangelize CI/CD and DevOps methodologies, define/document best practices, provide guidelines, and create training materials to enable any software development team around the world to implement CI/CD best practices.

        The first projects to be hosted by the CDF will include Jenkins, an open source CI/CD system, Jenkins X, an open source CI/CD solution on Kubernetes, Spinnaker, an open source multi-cloud CD solution, and Tekton, an open source project and specification for CI/CD components. Additional projects are expected to join CDF through its soon to be formed Technical Oversight Committee (TOC) with the focus of bringing together the CD ecosystem to build specifications and projects around portability and interoperability.
      • Continuous Delivery Foundation Launches to Advance Development
        The Linux Foundation has long positioned itself to be the home for big open-source collaborative efforts. On March 12, the list of efforts hosted by the Linux Foundation is set to grow with the launch of the new Continuous Delivery Foundation and the integration of the Open JS Foundation.

        The Continuous Delivery Foundation (CDF) brings together the most popular open-source continuous integration/continuous development (CI/CD) projects, including Jenkins and Spinaker, under an open multi-stakeholder governance model. The Open JS Foundation, on the hand, is a merger of the Node.js and JS Foundation groups, bringing the two efforts together to help advance the state JavaScript frameworks.

        "CD encompasses both integration and delivery especially given the recent industry trend of shifting left—that is, catching problems early in the software lifecycle before code hits production," Chris Aniszczyk, vice president of developer relations for the Linux Foundation and CTO of Cloud Native Computing Foundation, told eWEEK.

        CI/CD has become a leading trend in development in recent years, with developers building and deploying code in an integrated workflow that is often referred to as DevOps. With CI/CD and DevOps, rather than code development being a siloed effort, development flows through to deployment and operations, enabling faster outcomes.

      • The Linux Foundation Announces the CHIPS Alliance, Raspberry Pi-Driven Dream Machine, Purism's Librem 5 Phone to Have Lockdown Mode, Avidemux 2.7.2 Now Available and sway 1.0 Released
        The Linux Foundation yesterday announced it is forming the CHIPS Alliance project to "host and curate high-quality open source code relevant to the design of silicon devices. CHIPS Alliance will foster a collaborative environment that will enable accelerated creation and deployment of more efficient and flexible chip designs for use in mobile, computing, consumer electronics, and Internet of Things (IoT) applications." According to the press release, Esperanto Technologies, Google, SiFive and Western Digital, are all early backers of the CHIPS Alliance, and all are "committed to both open source hardware and continued momentum behind the free and open RISC-V architecture."

      • Node.js and JS Foundations Are Merging To Form OpenJS
        Also in the report: The Linux Foundation has created CHIPS Alliance, a project that aims to host and curate open source code relevant to design of chips that power mobile, IoT, and other consumer electronic devices; and the Continuous Delivery Foundation, which aims to serve as a platform for vendors, developers, and users to frequently engage and share insights and best practices to spur the development of open source projects.

        It also announced that the GraphQL Foundation is collaborating with Joint Development Foundation to encourage "contributions, stewardship, and a shared investment from a broad group in vendor-neutral events, documentation, tools, and support for the data query language."
      • Node.js Foundation and JS Foundation Merge to Form OpenJS Foundation
        The Node.js Foundation and the JS Foundation today announced they are merging to form the OpenJS Foundation.

        The mission of the OpenJS Foundation is to support the healthy growth of JavaScript and web technologies by providing a neutral organization to host and sustain projects, as well as collaboratively fund activities that benefit the ecosystem as a whole. The OpenJS Foundation is made up of 31 open source JavaScript projects including Appium, Dojo, jQuery, Node.js, and webpack.

        “This is an exciting step forward for the entire open source JavaScript community, as it strengthens the impact of our collective efforts under one united Foundation,” said Dave Methvin, Technical Advisory Committee Chair, JS Foundation. “A new merged Foundation is able to better serve the community and members to grow the JavaScript ecosystem from a technology and standards perspective.”

        The OpenJS Foundation is supported by 30 corporate and end user members, including GoDaddy, Google, IBM, Joyent, PayPal, and Microsoft. These members recognize the interconnected nature of the JavaScript ecosystem and the importance of providing a neutral home for projects which represent significant shared value.
      • Linux Foundation Announces Funding with GitHub for New CommunityBridge Platform for Developers
        The Linux Foundation today announced Community Bridgeâ„¢, a new platform created to empower open source developers — and the individuals and organizations who support them — to advance sustainability, security, and diversity in open source technology. On stage, Jim Zemlin, the Executive Director, announced that the Linux Foundation will match funding for any organization that donates funds to CommunityBridge projects to help provide developers resources to solve critical security, mentoring, and diversity challenges in open source ecosystems.

      • The Linux Foundation Announces OpenJS Foundation For The JavaScript Community
        The Linux Foundation has announced the formation of OpenJS Foundation to support the JavaScript community. This has been done by merging existing Node.js Foundation and JS Foundation.

        By combining both these Foundations, The Linux Foundation hopes to support different projects of the JavaScript ecosystem in a better manner. Currently, OpenJS Foundation compromises of 31 open source projects, including Appium, Dojo, jQuery, Node.js, and webpack.

    • Graphics Stack

      • GLX_ARB_create_context_no_error Support Lands In Mesa 19.1
        Mesa 19.1 has added support for the GLX extension to create an OpenGL / OpenGL ES context that doesn't generate errors -- assuming the driver supports the likes of KHR_no_error. For applications/games acquiring their GL/GLES context in this no-error mode, it can yield possible performance benefits.

        After floating around the mailing list for many months (well, almost two years!), GLX_ARB_create_context_no_error support has landed into the Mesa GLX code for next quarter's 19.1 release.

      • NIR Improvements Land In Mesa 19.1, Helping RadeonSI & Intel
        Over the past day there has been some notable NIR improvements landing in Mesa 19.1.

        First up, Timothy Arceri working for Valve landed partial loop unrolling support to the common NIR compiler code. For a Rise of the Tomb Raider compute shader test this partial loop unrolling drops the GPU time from 350 to 325 seconds. The shader-db coverage also is in favor on various Radeon and Intel systems. Timothy also pushed several follow-on patches with related enhancements.

      • Intel Sends Out Comet Lake Linux Graphics Driver Support
        While we are looking forward most to Icelake with the new "Gen 11" graphics, Intel has been working on Comet Lake for introduction this year as a Coffeelake derived successor to Whiskey Lake for desktops and mobile devices. The patches needed for Comet Lake graphics driver support on Linux are now pending.

        Sent out last week were the patches for adding Comet Lake "CML" support to the Intel Linux DRM kernel driver. Given that Comet Lake graphics are pretty much the same Kabylake/Coffeelake "Gen 9" graphics that have been out for a while, it's namely new PCI IDs being added.
      • Open-Source Adreno Driver Gets A6xx "Zap" Shader - Lets GPU Leave Secure Mode
        Thanks to the Qualcomm / Linux Foundation Code Aurora, patches are pending for the Freedreno MSM DRM kernel driver to allow the latest-generation Adreno 600 series hardware to leave its "secure" mode.

        While the Adreno A6xx series support has come together nicely in recent months for the DRM kernel driver and Freedreno Gallium3D driver, currently it's stuck in the "secure" mode at boot that restricts memory access and other safeguards... Part of the overall industry trend of tightening up access to the graphics processors in the name of better security.

      • TURNIP: An Open-Source Vulkan Driver For Qualcomm Adreno Hardware Now In Mesa
        TURNIP is the newest Mesa-based Vulkan driver in development that provides open-source support for this graphics/compute API on Qualcomm Adreno hardware.

        The Turnip driver stems from the Freedreno driver project and is providing an open-source Vulkan driver for use with Qualcomm hardware... The Freedreno OpenGL Gallium3D driver has long been in great shape and now attention has turned to Vulkan. This Vulkan driver has been developed in recent months by Bas Nieuwenhuizen (RADV lead developer, of Google), Chia-I Wu (Google, formerly LunarG), and others.

    • Benchmarks

      • Intel P-State vs. CPUFreq Frequency Scaling Performance On The Linux 5.0 Kernel
        It's been a while since last running any P-State/CPUFreq frequency scaling driver and governor comparisons on Intel desktop systems, so given the recent release of Linux 5.0 I ran some tests for looking at the current state of affairs. Using an Intel Core i9 9900K I tested both the P-State and CPUFreq scaling drivers and their prominent governor options for seeing not only how the raw performance compares but also the system power consumption, CPU thermals, and performance-per-Watt.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Release Announcements: Plasma 5.15.3
        Today KDE releases a Bugfix update to KDE Plasma 5, versioned 5.15.3. Plasma 5.15 was released in February with many feature refinements and new modules to complete the desktop experience.

        This release adds a fortnight's worth of new translations and fixes from KDE's contributors. The bugfixes are typically small but important and include...

      • KDE Plasma 5.15.3 Desktop Environment Released with Flatpak Improvements, More
        Coming two weeks after the KDE Plasma 5.15.2 point release, KDE Plasma 5.15.3 is here to address even more issues and other annoyances reported by users of the latest KDE Plasma 5.15 desktop environment. It brings better Flatpak support in Plasma Discover, improved support for installing GTK themes locally, and improved restoring of desktop sessions.

        Furthermore, the KDE Plasma 5.15.3 maintenance update makes the Ctrl+A shortcut work despite of active focus, adds support for visualizing active selection in search heading, improves the Task Manager by fixing various bugs, and fixes OSD animation stutter on Plasma Workspace. A total of 30 changes are included, so check out the full changelog for more details.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • GNOME 3.34 Desktop Environment Slated for Release on September 11th, 2019
        With the final release of the GNOME 3.32 desktop environment knocking on our doors, the time has come to take a look at the release schedule of the next major release of the open-source graphical desktop environment used by numerous Linux-based operating systems, including Ubuntu.

        According to the release schedule, the development cycle of the GNOME 3.34 desktop environment series will kick off soon after GNOME 3.32 release hits the streets tomorrow, March 13th, and it'll take place under the GNOME 3.33.x umbrella. The first development snapshot, GNOME 3.33.1, will be released to the public on April 24th.

  • Distributions

    • Screenshots/Screencasts

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • Stratos: Customizing and Extending your Cloud Foundry UI
        A few weeks ago the Cloud Foundry Foundation gave me the opportunity to talk about one of SUSE’s main contributions to Cloud Foundry.

        Stratos is the open source UI for Cloud Foundry, which SUSE donated to the Cloud Foundry Incubator a little over a year ago. It’s an important part of SUSE Cloud Application Platform and our multi-cloud platform strategy.

      • Combine the performance of solid-state drive with the capacity of a hard drive with Bcache and YaST
        Usual readers of the YaST Team development sprint reports on this blog already know we have been working steadily on adding support for the Bcache technology to the YaST Partitioner. We have already reached a point in which we consider such feature to be ready to be shipped with openSUSE Leap 15.1 and SUSE Linux Enterprise 15 SP1. That sounds like a nice occasion to offer the full picture in a single blog post, so our beloved users don’t need to dig into several blog posts to know what the future releases will bring regarding Bcache in YaST. Needless to say, all this is already available for openSUSE Tumbleweed users, or will be available in the following weeks.

      • Backed by SUSE Support – Always On!
        There are many considerations to weigh when deciding whether an open source solution is right for your business. Pros to open source software range from its availability to anyone, even those who can’t afford commercial software, to the flexibility of open source programs to work with almost any type of platform, which helps extend hardware life and avoids the need to constantly replace them. Not to mention, it can be installed for free and be used and deployed again and again on multiple machines without the need of tracking the license compliance and terms of use.

      • SUSE “Universe” is expanding. Visit us at Micro Focus Universe in Vienna!
        Although SUSE and Micro Focus companies are separating, we share a close partnership and it’s expanding, like the universe. Sorry, I couldn’t help myself. As the open, open source company, SUSE is an integral part of the open source community and will never lock-in customers. Come see us in Vienna, hear about what our plans and how SUSE and Micro Focus will be working together going forward.

    • Fedora

      • A fwupd client side certificate
        In the soon-to-be-released fwupd 1.2.6 there’s a new feature that I wanted to talk about here, if nothing else to be the documentation when people find these files and wonder what they are. The fwupd daemon now creates a PKCS-7 client self-signed certificate at startup (if GnuTLS is enabled and new enough) – which creates the root-readable /var/lib/fwupd/pki/secret.key and world-readable /var/lib/fwupd/pki/client.pem files.

        These certificates are used to sign text data sent to a remote server. At the moment, this is only useful for vendors who also have accounts on the LVFS, so that when someone in their QA team tests the firmware update on real hardware, they can upload the firmware report with the extra --sign argument to sign the JSON blob with the certificate. This allows the LVFS to be sure the report upload comes from the vendor themselves, and will in future allow the trusted so-called attestation DeviceChecksums a.k.a. the PCR0 to be set automatically from this report. Of course, the LVFS user needs to upload the certificate to the LVFS to make this work, although I’ve written this functionality and am just waiting for someone to review it.

      • New FAF 2.0.0 released
        The latest release of FAF comes with two major changes.

        The first one is that we’ve decided to drop the support of Python2 code. The second one is an abandonment of YUM in favour of DNF.

        Since release 1.3.4 we’ve also migrated from fedmsg to fedora-messaging infrastructure.

      • Ernestas Kulik: Reporting problems in Flatpak applications
        If you’ve ever experienced a crash in a Flatpak application, you might have noticed that there is no notification coming from ABRT for it, and maybe you even noticed some strange messages in the system journal:

        abrt-server[…]: Unsupported container technology The above appears when ABRT attempts to collect information about the container (currently only Docker and LXC), if the binary has been detected to have been run in one. For Flatpak applications, we probably get enough information already, so we can just special-case and do nothing instead.

        Unfortunately, getting things like stack traces gets a bit more complicated than that.

      • Fedora 31 Plans To Use GCC Security Hardening Flags By Default
        Fedora 31 will likely be enabling various GCC security hardening flags by default in trying to further enhance the security of the software in its repositories and those building software on their own Fedora systems.

        While Fedora generally leads the way with low-level innovations to the Linux stack thanks to Red Hat, in this case they are a bit behind the ball for enabling these GCC security hardening flags. In fact, the flags they are planning to use by default are already the defaults on Ubuntu.

        With Fedora 31 they would enable "-Wformat -Wformat-security -fstack-protector-strong" flags by default for checking printf/scanf calls to ensure a proper format string is specified and conversions are correct, warning about possible security problems for the formatted printing, and additional stack protector protections.

    • Debian Family

      • Goodbye to a 15-year-old Debian server
        It was October of 2003 that the server I’ve called “glockenspiel” was born. It was the early days of Linux-based VM hosting, using a VPS provider called memset, running under, of all things, User Mode Linux. Over the years, it has been migrated around, sometimes running on the metal and sometimes in a VM. The operating system has been upgraded in-place using standard Debian upgrades over the years, and is now happily current on stretch (albeit with a 32-bit userland). But it has never been reinstalled. When I’d migrate hosting providers, I’d use tar or rsync to stream glockenspiel across the Internet to its new home.

        A lot of people reinstall an OS when a new version comes out. I’ve been doing Debian upgrades with apt for ages, and this one is a case in point. It lingers.

        Root’s .profile was last modified in November 2004, and its .bashrc was last modified in December 2004. My own home directory still has a .pinerc, .gopherrc, and .arch-params file. I last edited my .vimrc in 2003 and my .emacs dates back to 2002 (having been copied over from a pre-glockenspiel FreeBSD server).

      • New Debian Developers and Maintainers (January and February 2019)

        The following contributors got their Debian Developer accounts in the last two months:

        Paulo Henrique de Lima Santana (phls) Unit 193 (unit193) Marcio de Souza Oliveira (marciosouza) Ross Vandegrift (rvandegrift) The following contributors were added as Debian Maintainers in the last two months:

        Romain Perier Felix Yan Congratulations!

      • No candidates three days before nominations for Debian leader end
        The Debian GNU/Linux project may soon have to come up with a solution to the lack of any candidates for the post of project leader, with nobody having thrown their hat into the ring as yet after nominations opened on 3 March. Nominations close on 16 March, after which there is the usual campaigning period and finally the vote itself which takes place between 7 and 20 April.

        The incumbent leader, Chris Lamb, has held the post for two years.

        Australian Daniel Pocock, who is not a developer but who wished to contest for the post, told iTWire that he had been blocked from doing so.

      • Derivatives

        • UCS 4.4 Release – Admin Diary, Self Services and Windows Domain Trusts
          After the extensive updates of the basic distribution with the release of UCS 4.3, our focus during the development of UCS 4.4 was on the implementation of new functionalities: The enhancements include new functions in Self Services, in the Portal, in Radius Integration and in Services for Windows. In addition, the Admin Diary is a new app with which events on the different systems or in the management system can be tracked and commented.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • The Official Ubuntu 19.04 Wallpaper Is Revealed
            Say aloha to Ubuntu’s new desktop background, the one that you, me, and thousands of other Ubuntu users will stare at for the next six months.

            Every new Ubuntu release ships with a new desktop wallpaper (well, almost; Ubuntu 14.10 didn’t) and the upcoming release of Ubuntu 19.04 is no exception.

            It’s something of a design tradition, but it’s also practical: distinct desktop wallpapers make it far easier to ‘spot’ Ubuntu in use in the wild!

          • Hardware Failures

            • Statement Regarding Infrastructure Data Loss
              We still have complete access to the Git repositories hosted on the Phabricator instance, as they have been mirrored to GitHub, however, all of the tasks on our Phabricator instance as well as the wiki and login information for all users has been lost.

              We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience, and expect services to be back up before the end of the day Central US time. On a positive note, starting anew has allowed us to refine the way the services are organized on the server, to offer a faster and more secure experience going forward.

            • Hardware Failures
              The physical server that was running on had a complete hardware failure this afternoon. We believe that the motherboard failed. While we believe the original hard disks are intact but even if they aren't, have fairly recent backups, getting everything back up will be a bit time consuming. This site is mostly back up but the files directory will take a while to sync so some of the videos may not be available for a while.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Open Distro for Elasticsearch is Amazon's move to show it's pro-open source
    Amazon Web Services (AWS) just launched Open Distro for Elasticsearch. This program takes AWS's recent proprietary additions to Elasticsearch and open sources them under the Apache 2.0 license. That sounds good.

    Shay Banon, co-founder of Elasticsearch and CEO of Elastic, its parent company, sees Amazon as forking and redistributing rebundled Elasticsearch for its own purposes: "From various vendors, to large Chinese entities, to now, Amazon. There was always a 'reason,' at times masked with fake altruism or benevolence" for "open-sourcing" their own Elasticsearch forks.

    AWS claims this isn't so. "AWS. Open Distro for Elasticsearch leverages the open source code for Elasticsearch and Kibana. This is not a fork; we will continue to send our contributions and patches upstream to advance these projects," wrote Jeff Barr, AWS Chief Evangelist.

  • Events

    • Kiwi TCMS: Taking the lead at OpenExpo Europe CfP votes
      We are happy to announce that Anton Sankov and Alex Todorov are currently taking the lead at OpenExpo Europe's CfP votes!

      Going to OpenExpo will be huge boost for Kiwi TCMS so please help us make this happen! Voting is open until March 17th 2019! You can cast your vote via Facebook login but remember to confirm your email address!

    • Cheese on the SCaLE | LINUX Unplugged 292
      A new voice joins the show, and we share stories from our recent adventures at SCaLE 17x.

      Plus we look at the Debian project's recent struggles, NGINX's sale, and Mozilla's new service.

      Special Guests: Alex Kretzschmar, Brent Gervais, and Ell Marquez.

  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla Launches ‘Firefox Send’: A Free & Encrypted File Sharing Service
        Mozilla has officially released a file sharing service called Firefox Send which uses end-to-end encryption to keep shared files private.

        Firefox Send was previously available as a “Test Pilot” experiment since August 2017. Mozilla took quite some time to smoothen the edges and ensure that the service will work for more than just a handful of people at once.

        The service works just like your regular fire sharing service available online and accessible in all browsers at

        Users can upload a file on Mozilla’s servers which are first encrypted in the browser and then stored in the cloud. You can share a link to the uploaded files with anyone.

      • Use Firefox Send to safely share files for free
        Moving files around the web can be complicated and expensive, but with Firefox Send it doesn’t have to be. There are plenty of services that let you send files for free but you often run up against small file sharing sizes or have to deal with links that don’t expire, leaving your information online indefinitely. Many of these tools can provide extra control and privacy, but only after you pay for a subscription.

      • Task Configuration at Scale
        A talk I did for the Automationeer’s Assemble series on how Mozilla handles complexity in their CI configuration.

      • Hacks.Mozilla.Org: Iodide: an experimental tool for scientific communication and exploration on the web
        In the last 10 years, there has been an explosion of interest in “scientific computing” and “data science”: that is, the application of computation to answer questions and analyze data in the natural and social sciences. To address these needs, we’ve seen a renaissance in programming languages, tools, and techniques that help scientists and researchers explore and understand data and scientific concepts, and to communicate their findings. But to date, very few tools have focused on helping scientists gain unfiltered access to the full communication potential of modern web browsers. So today we’re excited to introduce Iodide, an experimental tool meant to help scientists write beautiful interactive documents using web technologies, all within an iterative workflow that will be familiar to many scientists.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Andes Technology Announces RISC-V Single-core and Multicore Processors with DSP Instruction Set
        At the RISC-V Workshop Taiwan cohosted by Andes Technology today, Andes proudly announces the debut of its 32-bit A25MP and 64-bit AX25MP RISC-V multicore processors. The A25MP and AX25MP are the first commercial RISC-V cores with comprehensive DSP instruction extension. With the addition of cache-coherent multiprocessors and the DSP ISA based on the RISC-V P-extension draft Andes donated to the RISC-V Foundation, Andes brings powerful solutions to address the new market and further enriches its RISC-V lineup.

  • Programming/Development

    • Python 3.7.3rc1 is now available for testing
      Python 3.7.3rc1 is now available for testing. 3.7.3rc1 is the release preview of the next maintenance release of Python 3.7, the latest feature release of Python. Assuming no critical problems are found prior to 2019-03-25, no code changes are planned between now and the final release. This release candidate is intended to give you the opportunity to test the new security and bug fixes in 3.7.3. We strongly encourage you to test your projects and report issues found to as soon as possible. Please keep in mind that this is a preview release and, thus, its use is not recommended for production environments.
    • Plot the stock value graph with python

    • PyCoder’s Weekly: Issue #359 (March 12, 2019)


  • Health/Nutrition

    • Members of Congress Take Bold Step Towards Ending Discriminatory Bans on Abortion Coverage
      Members of Congress on Tuesday took a bold step toward making the right to abortion a reality for everyone. The EACH Woman Act was reintroduced in the House — and introduced in the Senate for the first time ever.

      This trailblazing legislation would end the Hyde Amendment and related bans on insurance coverage of abortion, which for over four decades have pushed abortion care out of reach for those enrolled in Medicaid and other government health insurance plans and programs.

      As a result of these bans, poor women, and particularly poor women of color, have far too often been forced to choose between paying for the care they need and paying for rent, bills, food, and other necessities. And one in four Medicaid-eligible women who seek an abortion have been denied care altogether, forcing them to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term and leaving their families in poverty as a result.

      The devastating impact of these bans is no accident: Cutting off access to safe, legal abortion care is exactly what anti-abortion politicians intend to do. Congressman Henry Hyde said so himself when he first introduced his amendment in 1976: “I certainly would like to prevent, if I could legally, anybody having an abortion, a rich woman, a middle-class woman, or a poor woman. Unfortunately, the only vehicle available is the…Medicaid bill.”

    • You Want Our Wombs? We're Coming For Your Testicles
      The "Living Infants Fairness and Equality (LIFE) Act" (HB 481)—the “heartbeat” bill that I am rebranding as the “Women’s Womb Takeover” bill—passed in the Georgia House of Representatives by just two votes last week. All Democrats present voted against the measure except one, and some Republicans either walked or voted “no.”

    • New York, Feds Join to Get 100,000 Rape Kits Tested Nationwide
      Languishing evidence in over 100,000 sexual assault cases around the country has been sent for DNA testing with money from a New York prosecutor and federal authorities, spurring over 1,000 arrests and hundreds of convictions in three years, officials say.

      It’s estimated that another 155,000 or more sex assault evidence kits still await testing, and thousands of results have yet to be linked to suspects. Many who have been identified can’t be prosecuted because of legal time limits and other factors.

      Still, the effort is a start at correcting “an absolute travesty of justice,” Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. said Tuesday while releasing results of his $38 million investment in testing — all outside his own turf.

  • Security

    • Mozilla Open Policy & Advocacy Blog: EU takes major step forward on government vulnerability disclosure review processes
      We’ve argued for many years that governments should implement transparent processes to review and disclose the software vulnerabilities that they learn about. Such processes are essential for the cybersecurity of citizens, businesses, and governments themselves. For that reason, we’re delighted to report that the EU has taken a crucial step forward in that endeavour, by giving its cybersecurity agency an explicit new mandate to help European governments establish and implement these processes where requested.

      The just-adopted EU Cybersecurity Act is designed to increase the overall level of cybersecurity across the EU, and a key element of the approach focuses on empowering the EU’s cybersecurity agency (‘ENISA’) to play a more proactive role in supporting the Union’s Member States in cybersecurity policy and practices. Since the legislative proposal was launched in 2017, we’ve argued that ENISA should be given the power to support EU Member States in the area of government vulnerability disclosure (GVD) review processes.

      Malicious actors can exploit vulnerabilities to cause significant harm to individuals and businesses, and can cripple critical infrastructure. At the same time, governments often learn about software vulnerabilities and face competing incentives as to whether to disclosure the existance of the vulnerability to the affected company immediately, or delay disclosure so they can use the vulnerability as an offensive/intelligence-gathering tool. For those reasons, it’s essential that governments have processes in place for reviewing and coordinating the disclosure of the software vulnerabilities that they learn about, as a key pillar in their strategy to defend against the nearly daily barrage of cybersecurity attacks, hacks, and breaches.

    • Security updates for Tuesday

    • Microsoft March Patch Tuesday comes with fixes for two Windows zero-days [Ed: 17 critical flaws in Microsoft Windows and code out there to exploit these; the platform is designed for back doors.]

    • Securing Email for an Organization

  • Defence/Aggression

    • 2 Ex-Cops Arrested in Killing of Brazilian Politician
      Authorities arrested two former police officers Tuesday in the killing of Rio de Janeiro councilwoman Marielle Franco and her driver, a brazen assassination that shocked Brazilians and sparked protests in several countries. The arrests in Rio came two days before the anniversary of the 2018 killings. While police had questioned many people, before Tuesday nobody had been arrested or charged in the shooting of Franco, a prominent activist for Afro-Brazilian and LGBT rights.

      “It was a crime against a lawmaker, a woman, exercising her democratic function who had her life taken away in an unacceptable, criminal way,” Rio de Janeiro state Gov. Wilson Witzel told reporters.

    • Arrest of Alleged Assassins Doesn't Answer Key Question of Marielle Franco Case: Who Ordered Murder of Brazilian Left-Wing Politician?
      The arrest on Tuesday of two individuals alleged to be the gunmen who assassinated Brazilian politician and activist Marielle Franco and her driver nearly one year ago is being heralded as progress by human rights campaigners even as they warn this should be seen as the beginning of accountability and justice for the murders, not the end.

      According to the Rio Times, the two suspects in custody were identified by police as Ronnie Lessa, a retired military police officer, and Elcio Vieira de Queiroz, who was expelled from the nation's Military Police. Both men are believe to have ties to right-wing militias and criminal gangs often run by ex-police officers and the military.

    • To Help Venezuela, the U.S. Must Use Diplomacy, not a Military Coup
      The United States is pushing for an overthrow of the government of Venezuela. The Trump administration has denounced Nicolas Maduro as a “dictator,” dismissing the 2018 election, which the opposition boycotted. Instead of a good neighbor policy or a policy of non-intervention, the Trump administration has set out intentionally to overthrow the regime.

      Long before Trump, the United States was a bitter opponent of the Hugo Chavez regime. The fact that Chavez was wildly popular and freely elected made no difference. He represented a revolution that embraced Fidel Castro’s Cuba and implemented plans to redistribute wealth and empower the poor. In 2002, when the Venezuelan military moved to overthrow Chavez, an official in the Bush administration reportedly met with the coup leaders. The coup attempt was frustrated, however, when Venezuelans rose up in mass against the plotters.

      Now with Chavez gone, the current president Nicolas Maduro unpopular, the economy a mess — in significant degree because the price of oil is near record lows — the Trump administration is apparently orchestrating another attempt.

    • Trump Budget Would Cut Spending for Nearly Every Agency Except Pentagon
      The budget request President Trump released on Monday represents a conservative vision taken to the extreme. It would shoot military spending skyward while dismantling domestic programs piece by piece, with few exceptions.

      The budget peels back many of the promises the president made either on the campaign trail or in tweets. For instance, the president has stated an intention to pull back from military interventions in Syria, Afghanistan and elsewhere — but his budget insists on an even bigger military budget. And the cash flow to the Pentagon, combined with ongoing tax cuts for the rich, puts the lie to the idea that Republicans care about deficits and balanced budgets.

      The budget calls for $750 billion in military spending, a nearly 5 percent increase over 2019 spending. And it calls for a 9 percent cut in all other discretionary spending, which covers nearly everything else — including priorities like education, affordable housing, environmental protection, scientific and medical research, public health, and diplomacy, among others — taking it from $597 billion in 2019 to $543 billion in 2020. The proposal also calls for additional cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

      At a time when progressives are clamoring for major new investments like a Green New Deal, Medicare for All, and free college, and an end to wars, the Trump budget represents the polar opposite of each of those.

    • Trump's Budget for a Nightmare America
      On Monday, President Trump released his 2019 budget proposal, a plan that outlines a series of massive cuts to vital public programs in the ludicrously titled “A Budget for a Better America.”

      While this is just a list of funding ideas that mean nothing without Congressional approval, it outlines Trump’s vision for our economic future – one that allows us already wealthy people to get even richer, at the expense of everyone else. The chief targets of the budget are a proposed $845 billion cut from Medicare over the next decade, reductions to welfare programs and Social Security, and sharp cuts to agencies that keep us safe like the Environmental Protection Agency and State Department.

    • Women Must Be Central to Negotiating the US-Korea Peace Process
      When the meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean Chairman Kim Jong Un ended abruptly in Hanoi two weeks ago, my heart sank. As a Korean-American, I have been working for nearly two decades to end the Korean War, which has kept Koreans living under the constant threat of war and devastated three generations of Korean families. I had traveled to Hanoi with a delegation of women peacebuilders to celebrate what many Korea experts anticipated — that the two leaders would declare an end to the Korean War.

      Instead, talks collapsed and now the Trump administration has returned to its rhetoric of “maximum pressure,” specifically arguing that there will be no progress on peace and lifting of sanctions without North Korea’s denuclearization. While it is important to understand why the talks failed, it is even more important to outline the constructive steps that the United States and North Korea must take to formally end the Korean War and negotiate a peace agreement — as they were supposed to do within three months of signing of the Armistice agreement in 1953. The United States has an unprecedented opportunity to bring closure to Koreans and Americans wanting a decisive end to this nearly 70-year war. To ensure that this opportunity isn’t squandered, a delegation of South Korean women parliamentarians and civil society activists is traveling to Washington, D.C., this week to meet with members of the U.S. Congress to press for the conclusion of the Korean War. The success of this effort hinges on one overlooked factor: women’s inclusion in the Korea peace process.

    • FAA Takes Heat as Other Nations Ground Boeing Jets
      The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration is facing mounting criticism for backing the airworthiness of Boeing’s 737 Max jets as the number of countries that have grounded the aircraft grows in the wake of the Ethiopian Airlines crash over the weekend.

      The rest of the world typically takes it cues from the FAA, long considered the world’s gold standard for aircraft safety. Yet other aviation safety regulators, including the European Union, China, Australia and the United Kingdom, have decided not to wait for the FAA to act. The Ethiopian disaster came just five months after the deadly crash of another new Boeing 737 Max 8 operated by Lion Air in Indonesia.

      Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., the chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said in a statement Tuesday that he’s concerned that international aviation regulators are providing more certainty to the flying public than the FAA.

    • Germany asserts independence after U.S. warning on Huawei
      Germany will define its own security standards for a new 5G mobile network, Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Tuesday, after Washington said it would scale back data-sharing with Berlin if China’s Huawei was allowed to participate.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • The Real Threat to Press Freedom
      Mainstream commentators have been fretting over Donald Trump’s hostile rhetoric towards the media. But Chelsea Manning's recent jailing shows that there are much graver threats to press freedom happening right under their noses.

    • Glenn Greenwald: Chelsea Manning’s Refusal to Testify Against WikiLeaks Will Help Save Press Freedom
      Chelsea Manning has been sent back to jail after refusing to answer questions before a grand jury investigating WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange. Manning, a U.S. Army whistleblower, had been subpoenaed by federal prosecutors in Virginia’s Eastern District to appear for questioning about her 2010 leak to WikiLeaks of hundreds of thousands of State Department and Pentagon documents about the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. DN! speaks with Glenn Greenwald, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and one of the founding editors of The Intercept.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Fracking 2.0 Was a Financial Disaster, Will Fracking 3.0 Be Different?
      Two years ago, the U.S. fracking industry was trying to recover from the crash in the price of oil. Shale companies were promoting the idea that fracking was viable even at low oil prices (despite losing money when oil prices were high). At the time, no one was making money fracking with the business-as-usual approach, but then the Wall Street Journal published a story claiming all of this was about to change because the industry had a trump card — and that was technology.

      Today, frackers are again relying on technology as a financial savior, but this time, they are looking to Microsoft.

    • First-of-Its-Kind Study Finds Racial Gap Between Who Causes Air Pollution and Who Breathes It
      Studies have long shown that minority communities in the U.S.are disproportionately exposed to harmful pollution. But a study published Monday reveals a new level of environmental injustice: they are also less likely to contribute to it.

    • Blame Wood-Burning Stoves for Winter Air Pollution and Health Threats
      Wood smoke may smell good, but it is not good for you.

      The main threat comes from the cocktail of tiny particles and droplets that are about 2.5 microns in diameter (also called PM2.5). Due to their size, they easily work their way into our lungs, bloodstream, brain and other organs, triggering asthma attacks, allergic responses, heart attacks and stroke.

      Chronic exposure to PM2.5 is linked to heart disease, lung cancer in non-smokers, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Type II diabetes and dementia.

      Wood smoke affects everyone, but children are especially vulnerable in part because their respiratory systems are under development. Pregnant women exposed to wood smoke may have children with smaller lungs, impaired immune systems, decreased thyroid function and changes to brain structure that may contribute to difficulties with self control. Children who are hospitalized for lower respiratory tract infections are more likely to have a wood stove in the house, although other factors may also play a role.

      The elderly are also at risk. A recent study of people living in BC, in Kamloops, Prince George, Courtenay and the Comox Valley, showed that wood stove pollution significantly increased the rate of heart attacks in people over 65.

      And that nice smell? It comes from benzene, a carcinogen (cancer-causing substance) and acrolein.

      With the dozens of toxic and carcinogenic chemicals in wood smoke, it's inconsistent for governments to ban smoking and vaping in public places while ignoring the smoke from wood stoves and fireplaces.

    • Green New Deal Tour Aims to Make 2020 a National Referendum on Visionary Energy and Economic Transformation
      The youth activists leading the Sunrise Movement are expanding the scope of a planned nationwide tour into a wider initiative to ensure the Green New Deal is a major focus of the 2020 election.

      The Road to a Green New Deal tour will now include more than 100 town hall meetings in cities and towns across the country. Organizers like Sunrise Movement co-founder Varshini Parkash will not only educate communities about the wide-ranging climate action and jobs proposal, but also give Americans an opportunity to hear from their neighbors how the Green New Deal would change their lives for the better.

    • The Green New Deal Is Not a Choice
      Here’s my question for you. If your child were dying of a disease that only a costly drug could cure, would you not go to any lengths to get it? Of course, you would. And that’s exactly what we face today, as our children’s future is dying, not to mention a habitable planet for all.

      Inaction is not a choice.

      This realization changes everything: With a do-or-die mindset, suddenly we begin to see possibilities that before we’d totally missed. It’s a shift that now seems to be galvanizing – with remarkable speed – diverse forces behind Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s and Senator Ed Markey’s ambitious Green New Deal. With Justice Democrats and the youthful Sunrise Movement, they’ve tailored a bill (H.R. 109) to address a crisis that almost 60 percent of Americans consider a “significant threat to our country.”

    • Toyota Is Losing the Electric Car Race, So It Pretends Hybrids Are Better
      There are at least 12 car companies currently selling an all-electric vehicle in the United States, and Toyota isn’t one of them. Despite admitting recently that the Tesla Model 3 alone is responsible for half of Toyota’s customer defections in North America — as Prius drivers transition to all-electric — the company has been an outspoken laggard in the race to electrification.

      Now, the company is using questionable logic to attempt to justify its inaction on electrification, claiming that its limited battery capacity better serves the planet by producing gasoline-electric hybrids.

    • Vulnerable U.S. Citizens Are Still Trapped in the Ruins Left by Hurricane Maria—Would We Care More If They Lived Near Us?
      Nearly a year and a half after Hurricane Maria, about three-fourths of the houses in the Sierra Brava neighborhood of Salinas, Puerto Rico, stand battered and empty.

      Some families left because their homes were rendered uninhabitable and they had no money to fix them. Others left because they lost their jobs. In responding to Maria, federal agencies had hired some local people, but just for a few months; meanwhile, many other jobs disappeared and have not come back.

      Sierra Brava lies low along the south side of PR Route 3 in the shadow of Salinas City Hall. Go for a walk through its now largely silent streets, and one residence in particular will catch your eye. On a corner along Calle Abraham Peña, the neighborhood’s four-block-long main avenue, stands a small gray house trimmed in bright blue and topped by a blue plastic tarp. It is in even worse shape than some of the abandoned houses. But Wilma Miranda Ramos still calls it home.

      The hurricane shifted Wilma’s ramshackle little box on its foundation, separating the front and rear halves and giving it a distinct sideways tilt. Thanks to waters that flooded down the nearby Río Nigua from the mountains on the day of the storm, the floors now undulate wildly and give underfoot. Large portions of the ceiling are gone, and blue light streams in through the tarp above. Water pours in with every rainfall.

      Wilma explained that she’d been living there six years, but because the house was not hers, she could get no help with repairs. “Now I have a stitched-together roof,” she said, “but as I have nowhere to go I’m still here. Staying here in these conditions is not easy. But since I have my daughter and grandson of four years here with me, living here and not in the street is worth gold.”

      Certain now that no federal help will be coming, Wilma said, “I hope my guardian angel arrives soon.”

      In the summer of Maria, the region around Salinas had an unemployment rate that hovered between 15 and 20 percent and a poverty rate of 54 percent. The median household income in Salinas was a little over $16,000. The city was in economic decline, rendering it deeply vulnerable to devastation by any hurricane, and the monstrous Maria was not just any hurricane.

    • We’re Living in the Warmest Decade Since Record-Keeping Began
      Some people are in an outright panic. Some are in full-blown denial. Indeed, human responses to runaway climate disruption are spanning the spectrum. From profiteers plugging books containing “solutions” to geoengineering attempts like this one “blocking out the sun,” many are understandably anxious to move forward with a plan.

      However, this is also an important time to pause, take some deep breaths, and reconnect with the Earth to listen for each of our personal callings as to how to be — and then, what to do — during this time of crisis. Fear and panic are not going to take us where we need or want to go.

      I see fear responses resulting from the fact that the gravity of our situation is sinking in now to larger swaths of the general population.

      2018 was the fourth warmest year ever recorded, with the only warmer years being 2015, 2016 and 2017.

      On top of that, the Met Office reported that we are currently in the middle of what is likely to be the warmest decade since record keeping began, so expect more “record warmest” years in the near future.

      A recent report warned that if current climate disruption trends continue (and there is no reason to believe they will lessen) the Himalayas could lose most of their glaciers by 2100 as they warm up to 8 degrees Fahrenheit (8€°F). This would bring radical disruptions to food and water supplies for upwards of 1.5 billion people, in addition to a mass migration crisis.

      On that note, as 2 billion people around the globe rely on groundwater aquifers for their freshwater, another study showed that climate disruption has placed nearly half of the groundwater of Earth in danger. Climate disruption is shifting rainfall and will make it harder for 44 percent of Earth’s aquifers to recharge.

    • What President Trump, Fox and Breitbart Are Not Saying About Climate Science Denier Patrick Moore
      What does it take to become a legitimate spokesperson on climate change science and energy policy in the eyes of President Donald Trump and partisan conservative media like Fox News and Breitbart?

      If the current worshipping of non-expert and climate science denier Patrick Moore is anything to go by, the only qualification you need is the ability to call first-term Democratic congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez a “pompous little twit” on Twitter.

      No other actual expertise is, apparently, necessary. This is fortunate, because Moore has no expertise on climate science.

      Since Moore attacked Ocasio-Cortez — known as AOC — and her advocacy for a “Green New Deal” in a Tweet on February 24, the Canadian has been “interviewed” on Fox News by Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson.

      After introducing Moore, Carlson managed to not ask a single question of the Canadian.

  • Finance

    • How To Actually Break Up Big Tech
      Last week, I wrote about Elizabeth Warren's big plan to break up big tech and why I thought her plan (a) would not work and (b) was based on a fairly shocking number of factual errors. Not everyone agreed (indeed, many people have disagreed). Many of those who disagreed, though, seemed to only do so because they hate the big internet companies, and thus they seemed happy about any attack on them, no matter how pointless. Others attacked me personally, insisting that my detailed explanation of why I found Warren's plan laughably naive was really just because I "love big tech." Finally, some demanded to know what my plan would be. And while I think it's somewhat silly to imply that you cannot critique a bad plan if you can't come up with another plan (sometimes, doing nothing is the best plan), I've been meaning to write some more about this anyway, and here's a good opportunity.

      Contrary to the strawman beliefs some insist I have, I am quite worried about the market power of many large companies these days, and how that might be stifling competition. As I've argued for over twenty years on this site, the single biggest driver of innovation is competition. And I want to see more competition to get more innovation. My issue is that doing so through regulatory means is fraught with significant risks -- ones that could very much do the opposite. Highly regulated industries are not known for being competitive and innovative for the most part. They tend to enable only big entities -- who can deal with the regulations -- to exist and crowd out startups. On top of that, thanks to regulatory capture and the crony nature of our political system these days, you also end up with just a few big companies who now focus on what we've referred to in the past as political innovation rather than technological or entrepreneurial innovation. It's a recipe for stagnation, not innovation and competition.
    • Brexit: Votes on No-Deal, Delay Still Planned
      British Prime Minister Theresa May has confirmed that Parliament will get to decide between leaving the European Union with no deal and delaying Brexit.

      May says she “profoundly regrets” the House of Commons rejection of her deal Tuesday and said delaying Britain’s departure won’t solve the underlying problem.

      She says Parliament will be given a chance to “decline” leaving the EU without a deal on March 29 in a Wednesday vote.

      If that is the choice, Parliament will decide Thursday whether to seek an extension that would delay Britain’s departure date.

      May cautions that the EU will need a reason to approve a delay.
    • How the Rich Really Play, “Who Wants To Be An Ivy Leaguer?”
      My 2006 book, “The Price of Admission: How America’s Ruling Class Buys Its Way into Elite Colleges — and Who Gets Left Outside the Gates,” was intended as a work of investigative journalism.

      But many of its more affluent readers embraced it as a “how to” guide. For years afterward, they inundated me with questions like, “How much do I have to donate to get my son (or daughter) into Harvard (or Yale, or Stanford)?” Some even offered me significant sums, which I declined, to serve as an admissions consultant.

      They may have been motivated by a tale I told in the book about a youth whose admission to Harvard appears to have been cemented by a $2.5 million pledge from his wealthy developer father. The then-obscure Harvardian would later vault to prominence in public life; his name was Jared Kushner.

      Those requests from people who misunderstood my aim in writing the book came back to mind on Tuesday when I heard about the latest and most brazen scandal involving upper-crust parents — including chief executives, real estate investors, a fashion designer and two prominent actresses — manipulating college admissions.

      One would think that the rich and famous would care less than the rest of us about foisting their children on elite colleges. After all, their kids are likely to be financially secure no matter where, or if, they go to college. Yet they seem even more desperate — to the extent, according to a complaint, that dozens of well-heeled parents ponied up six or seven figures for bogus SAT scores and athletic profiles for their children to increase their chances at Yale, Stanford and other brand-name universities.
    • 'They May Have the Money... We Have the People': Sanders Calls for Citizen Co-Sponsors of Medicare for All
      "It was not long ago that the idea of Medicare for All was dismissed and ridiculed by the corporate media and political establishment of this country. Too radical, they said. Fringe. Crazy. Pie in the sky. Well, they are not saying that anymore," the Vermont senator and 2020 presidential candidate wrote in an email to supporters. "That is because of you... You've led the way. It is not because of me. It is because of us. That is the political revolution."

      Sanders' call for citizen co-sponsors comes as the insurance and pharmaceutical industries are marshaling their limitless resources to stop Medicare for All and uphold the most expensive and least effective healthcare system in the industrialized world.

      Acknowledging that the corporate forces profiting from the status quo are "spending billions of dollars in lobbying and campaign contributions" to defeat Medicare for All, Sanders said the deep-pocketed opposition can be overcome by an organized and energized grassroots movement.

      "They may have the money, but we have something more powerful: We have the people," Sanders declared. "In this pivotal moment in American history, let us lead our country forward to guarantee healthcare as a right and not a privilege. This is a struggle whose time has come. This is a struggle not just about healthcare but about the heart and soul of our country, about what we stand for as a people."
    • Yandex acquires question-and-answer website launched by Russian journalist
      What started out as a project to stimulate Russia’s grassroots democracy is now a multi-million-dollar Internet resource, following Tuesday’s announcement that Yandex has fully acquired TheQuestion, a question-and-answer social network founded by former Ekho Moskvy journalist Tonia Samsonova. Yandex will merge the website with a similar service it launched last year, integrating the answers submitted and up-voted by users into the company’s “Alice” virtual assistant.

      Samsonova told The Bell that she has been named director of the new merged project, and all 30 of TheQuestion’s employees will move with her. Yandex approached her about the acquisition, Samsonova says, and it took roughly six months to negotiate the sale. Neither side has revealed how much Yandex paid, but sources told The Bell that the search engine giant spent roughly three times what Samsonova had managed to raise in startup cash, which was reportedly about $1 million in 2016. According to, TheQuestion’s owners were private investors with expertise in technology and media, while control over the company remained with Samsonova and her team. Samsonova has not named the project’s investors, but she confirms that none of them was a Yandex executive.

    • Wealth Concentration Drives a New Global Imperialism
      Regime changes in Iraq and Libya, Syria’s war, Venezuela’s crisis, sanctions on Cuba, Iran, Russia, and North Korea are reflections of a new global imperialism imposed by a core of capitalist nations in support of trillions of dollars of concentrated investment wealth. This new world order of mass capital has become a totalitarian empire of inequality and repression.

      The global 1%, comprised of over 36-million millionaires and 2,400 billionaires, employ their excess capital with investment management firms like BlackRock and J.P Morgan Chase. The top seventeen of these trillion-dollar investment management firms controlled $41.1 trillion dollars in 2017. These firms are all directly invested in each other and managed by only 199 people who decide how and where global capital will be invested. Their biggest problem is they have more capital than there are safe investment opportunities, which leads to risky speculative investments, increased war spending, privatization of the public domain, and pressures to open new capital investment opportunities through political regime changes.

      When asked about America’s soaring debt and deficits, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell lamented “It’s disappointing, but it’s not a Republican problem,” and he blames Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

      Rubbish. It’s not social spending that’s causing the federal deficit to soar. It’s Republican tax cuts, especially on corporations and the wealthy.

      Look at the evidence. Of all 35 advanced economies, America’s spending on social programs like Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid is among the lowest, as you can see.

      Also, Americans pay into Social Security and Medicare throughout their entire working lives.

      The biggest reason America has the highest deficit relative to our total economy among all 35 advanced economies is because of a shortage of tax revenue. Of all these countries, we’re bringing in the fifth-lowest total revenue as a share of GDP.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • As GOP Attacks Women's Reproductive Freedoms, 'Testicular Bill of Rights' Would Restrict Men's Access to Viagra and Porn
      The proposal comes in response to HB 481, a so-called "heartbeat bill" passed by Republicans in the Georgia House last week that would effectively ban abortion in the state. Specifically, it would outlaw the procedure after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which is usually around six weeks—before most people know they are pregnant.

      In a tweet on Monday, Kendrick shared an email she wrote to her staff that outlines key elements of the legislation, which would also make men having sex without a condom an "aggravated assault" crime and force men to immediately start paying child support to their partners after six weeks and one day of pregnancy.

      "I'm dead serious," Kendrick told Rolling Stone as her tweet went viral. While the lawmaker said she expects to have the legislation finalized by the end of the week, the deadline for submitting bills for this calendar year already has passed—and, as Kendrick acknowledged, "it doesn't have a chance of passing any year."
    • Three Key Issues on Which Democrats Are Moving Left
      Early in the 2020 primary, many Democratic candidates are moving leftward, in speeches and in media interviews and, among current officeholders, sometimes in the bills they co-sponsor.

      All the Democratic senators running for president in 2020 have supported at least one version of a Medicare-for-all bill. Former housing secretary Julián Castro has called for a federal study on reparations for black Americans. The House and Senate both have Green New Deal proposals involving wide-ranging environmental programs to slow climate change and create jobs. And, as The New York Times reports, during the Philadelphia stop of his book tour, candidate and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg indicated that he would consider court packing, a topic that was arguably last viable during the Franklin Roosevelt administration.

      “This is not your father’s Democratic Party, and it’s not 2016 anymore,” James Hohman observes in The Washington Post. That Democratic candidates are leaning left reveals the “success” of a strategy used by activists: “pushing an issue that had mostly thrived on the fringe into the 2020 conversation,” Sydney Ember and Astead Herndon write in The New York Times

      According to Ember and Herndon, “Activists are leveraging the early stages of the Democratic primary, creating pseudo-litmus tests for candidates eager to respond to the energy that is driving more extreme policy proposals.”

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Everyone's Overreacting To The Wrong Thing About Facebook (Briefly) Blocking Elizabeth Warren's Ads
      I've made it clear that I don't think much of Elizabeth Warren's big plan to "break up big tech," which seemed not particularly well thought out and unlikely to accomplish its actual goals. Even so, I certainly cringed upon hearing the news that Facebook had blocked an ad that Warren's team had taken to promote the plan. I mean, come on. Here is Warren, talking about how Facebook is too powerful and can potentially influence policy by choosing what it allows and what it doesn't allow... and Facebook up and hands Warren the most beautiful gift she could ever hope for: blocking her own ad for her policy to break up Facebook. Basically everyone immediately spun the story as Facebook trying to censor this call to break up itself. It sure looked bad.
    • Appeals Court Upholds Dismissal Of Defamation Lawsuit Against Actor James Woods
      James Woods -- saved from a defamation lawsuit by a question mark -- has just had his dismissal affirmed by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. Whatever schadenfreude there was to be enjoyed by seeing Woods hoisted on his own litigious petard was swiftly dispelled by the ridiculousness of the lawsuit, which posited that Woods' careless question tying the plaintiff to [gasp!] Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign rose to the level of actual defamation. All we can hope is Woods handles this victory with a bit of grace, rather than gloating over his opponent's death, should she unfortunately precede him to the Great Beyond.

      The lower court did take a couple of shots at Woods during its dismissal of the suit, pointing out he was as uncooperative as possible when the plaintiff, Portia Boulger, tried to serve him. Boulger was offended by Woods' tweet that portrayed her as a Bernie plant trying to sabotage Trump's impeccable reputation by flinging Nazi salutes during one of his rallies.


      This breakdown of Twitter seems elementary and even a bit unnecessary, but the court is reminding readers (and plaintiffs) that context matters. It always does. Unfortunately, many plaintiffs in defamation lawsuits want the court to strip commentary of its context to make it easier for them to secure a victory. Fortunately, our courts have generally been very protective of speech and extremely hesitant to hand down rulings that could restrict the free exchange of commentary and opinion. It's unfortunate Woods' followers decided his somewhat disingenuous question granted them permission to harass and threaten Boulger. But those disgusting responses are the responsibility of the disgusting people making them. The court made the right call, ensuring Twitter in all its greatness and awfulness remains a freewheeling, often-horrifying marketplace of ideas.

    • Speaker of Chechen parliament reportedly announces blood feud against blogger who criticized Akhmat Kadyrov
      Tumso Abdurakhmanov, a Chechen blogger living in Poland, wrote on the social platform Telegram that Magomed Daudov, who leads the Chechen parliament, announced a blood feud against him on March 9. Daudov made the threat after Abdurakhmanov called Akhmat Kadyrov, the father of current Chechen government head Ramzan Kadyrov, “a traitor.” The blogger, who has 140,000 online followers, claims that he left Chechnya due to a separate conflict with the Kadyrov family. The Chechen government has accused him in turn of taking part in the war in Syria.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Florida Is Using Facial Recognition to Convict People Without Giving Them a Chance to Challenge the Tech
      The Constitution requires the government to give defendants the chance to test technology used against them for bugs and biases. If the government uses an error-prone face recognition system to identify you as the perpetrator of a crime, you have a constitutional right to probe its accuracy before you are convicted based on its results. But amazingly, a Florida appeals court disagrees.

      So on Monday, the ACLU, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Georgetown Center on Privacy and Technology, and the Innocence Project filed a friend-of-the-court brief urging the Florida Supreme Court to address this important issue.

      What’s at stake is not just the outcome of this case, but the very meaning of due process in the face of rapidly evolving police technology.

      In 2015, two undercover cops purchased $50 of crack cocaine from a Black man on a Jacksonville street. Instead of arresting him on the spot, one officer used an old phone to snap several photos of him. Trying to be discrete, the officer took the photos while holding the phone to his ear and pretending to be on a call. Needless to say, the resulting photos were not headshot quality.

    • Connecticut Could Be First State To Curb Blanket Discrimination Against People With Criminal Records
      Connecticut could become the first state in the nation to prohibit discrimination against people with criminal records.

      The legislation, known as HB 6921 or “An Act Concerning Discrimination Based On A Person’s Criminal History,” would target inequity in housing, employment, insurance, education, credit, and state programs and accommodations.

      An estimated 40,000 people in Connecticut have criminal records—roughly twice the total number of people under correctional supervision in the state.

      Representative Robyn A. Porter of the 94th District, which includes Hamden and New Haven, proposed the legislation. Her family has been impacted by law enforcement and the prison system.

      Legislators held a public hearing on the bill on February 26, where Anderson Curtis—a formerly incarcerated organizer with Connecticut’s chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)—testified in support.

      He said people returning to society “deserve to be able to live their lives in Connecticut’s communities with the resources they need to live life to the fullest and to be law-abiding residents. Furthermore, when someone who is formerly incarcerated has a fair chance at earning a job, housing, and education, they are less likely to commit another crime. That makes us all safer and stronger.”

    • Appeals Court Doesn't Buy Government's National Security Assertions; Says Lawsuit Against FBI Can Continue
      A lawsuit against the FBI for pervasive, unconstitutional surveillance of Muslims can continue after receiving a very key determination from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. At the center of the case are three Muslims who claim the FBI's continuous surveillance -- assisted by an FBI informant -- violated a number of Constitutional protections.

      The key victory here is the court's overturning of the lower court's ruling on the national security assertions raised by the government in hopes of avoiding having to litigate the alleged violations at all. The lower court granted the government's motion to dismiss, saying the government's secrecy matters far more than an unviolated Constitution. The appeals court reverses that, noting stating that the government can't dodge litigation simply by claiming the subject of the lawsuit is too sensitive to discuss in court.

    • WATCH: Ocasio-Cortez Grills Wells Fargo CEO Over Profiting From 'Caging of Children' and Pipeline Disasters
      The congresswoman refused to accept Sloan's claim that despite Wells Fargo's financing and debt-financing of GEO Group and CoreCivic, "we weren't directly involved in that," before moving on to the bank's investments in fossil fuel-extracting companies which have worsened the climate crisis, trampled human rights, and endangered the country's drinking water supply.

      Questioning Sloan about its financing of companies that build pipelines including the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) in South Dakota and the Keystone XL Pipeline, Ocasio-Cortez asked whether his bank should be held responsible for the environmental havoc wreaked by its investments.

      Despite warnings from the Lakota Sioux about the danger of building DAPL, Ocasio-Cortez said, "it was built anyway, and has leaked at least five times."

      "The Keystone XL in particular had one leak that sent 210,000 gallons across South Dakota," she added. "Why shouldn't the bank be held responsible for the clean-up of disasters of these projects?"

    • Pentagon Seeks Site to House 5,000 Migrant Children
      The Defense Department is reviewing a number of military bases to find a location that can house up to 5,000 unaccompanied migrant children as the U.S. braces for a surge of people crossing the U.S.-Mexico border this spring.

      The Department of Health and Human Services submitted the request for space late last week, as Homeland Security leaders warned that tens of thousands of families are crossing the border each month. That flow, said Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, will grow worse this spring as the weather gets better.
    • Governor to Place Moratorium on Death Penalty in California
      The 737 inmates on California’s largest-in-the-nation death row are getting a reprieve from Gov. Gavin Newsom, who plans to sign an executive order Wednesday placing a moratorium on executions.

      Newsom also is withdrawing the lethal injection regulations that death penalty opponents already have tied up in courts and shuttering the new execution chamber at San Quentin State Prison that has never been used.

      “The intentional killing of another person is wrong and as governor, I will not oversee the execution of any individual,” he said in prepared remarks.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • As Web Turns 30, Pioneer Tim Berners-Lee Says 'You Should Have Complete Control of Your Data'
      Berners-Lee has long advocated for strong digital rights, an open internet, and breaking up corporate tech giants. At the Web@30 conference, hosted by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Switzerland on Tuesday, he shared his ideas for reforming the web on a global scale.

      A major aspect of his vision for the future of the web requires rethinking personal data. "You should not be able to sell it for money," Berners-Lee told reporters at CERN, according to Agence France-Presse, "because it's a right."

      Personal data essentially has become a form of currency that internet users turn over—sometimes unintentionally—to major tech corporations such as Amazon, Facebook, and Google in exchange for using their services. Through a variety of initiatives, Berners-Lee is working to change that.

      The British computer scientist created the web at CERN in 1989. As The Associated Press reports, "Berners-Lee has since become a sort of father figure for the internet community, been knighted by Queen Elizabeth II, and named as one of the 100 most important people of the 20th century by Time magazine."

      Today, Berners-Lee is the director of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and founding director of the World Wide Web Foundation, which is working to build a Contract for the Web. The aim of the contract is to bring together governments, companies, and citizens to negotiate rights and responsibilities, with the end goal of ensuring the web is "a human right and built for the public good."

    • 'No Excuses': Net Neutrality Scoreboard Calls Out Hundreds of Lawmakers Still Not Committed to Saving the Internet
      Hundreds of congressional lawmakers still have not signed on to Democrats' bill to restore net neutrality, and open internet advocates are putting them on notice.

      With a new "scoreboard" detailing where members of Congress stand on net neutrality and how much money they have received from the telecom industry, a coalition of digital rights groups on Tuesday launched a campaign aimed at pressuring lawmakers to co-sponsor the Save the Internet Act before the end of the week.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Testimony on stolen patent deals huge blow to Qualcomm's San Diego infringement case against Apple
      The ongoing Qualcomm v. Apple patent infringement trial in San Diego (Southern District of California) is generally the least interesting part of the earth-spanning dispute between these two companies. As I explained in the blog post I just linked to, it's basically an attempt to get a better outcome in a jury trial than Qualcomm achieved in the ITC, where the most experienced Administrative Law Judge and his six bosses appeared to be underwhelmed by a complaint over the same patents-in-suit as in the San Diego case.

      But there is one aspect of that San Diego case that's definitely interesting. It's a perfect example of how truth is sometimes stranger than fiction. If we come from the reasonably safe assumption that Arjuna Sivasithambaresan--who simply abbreviates his last name as "Siva"--testified truthfully under oath in two different fora (ITC and Southern District of California), Qualcomm's '949 patent was filed on an invention a then-Apple employee (now with Google) actually made.

      In other words, the most reasonable inference from that testimony is that Qualcomm decided to sue Apple over a patent Qualcomm applied for because it learned about the idea from a then-Apple employee. That story of a robbery attempted with a weapon stolen from the victim would be unbelievable in its own right, and maybe not unprecedented in the history of patent infringement cases (it may or may not be), but certainly rare enough that I hadn't heard anything remotely as outrageous in all those years of monitoring patent lawsuits. Actually, the situation is even more bizarre:

    • Ex Post Breaks in the Chain of Priority
      In a reexamination, the USPTO rejected the eighth patent after finding that the first patent in the series counts as prior art. That holding was affirmed by the Federal Circuit. To be clear, although the sixth application correctly established priority when filed, the priority claim of the sixth was undermined when the prior-filed application (the fifth) was amended.

    • CRISPR Patent Watch
      The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office today granted U.S. Patent 10,227,611 to Jennifer Doudna, Martin Jinek, Krzysztof Chylinski, and Emmanuelle Charpentier, the patent entitled "Methods and compositions for RNA-directed target DNA modification and for RNA-directed modulation of transcription" and assigned to the Regents of the University of California, the University of Vienna and Emmanuelle Charpentier herself.

    • Copyrights

      • German Football League To Try Novel Antipiracy Strategy Of Actually Having Legal Alternatives For Its Content
        Of all the antipiracy strategies on offer for the content industries, we've always promoted the having affordable, legal, and convenient alternatives as the best of them. As study after study after study has shown, one of the primary motivators for copyright infringement is a lack of reasonable access to the content legally. Why this is such a hard lesson to learn is anyone's guess.

        The popular German football league, Bundesliga, recently, and finally, came to the conclusion that the first step in competing with piracy of its games is to, you know, actually compete with it. The post starts off by mentioning how many of the larger football/soccer leagues are looking at site-blocking as the best tool for combating piracy. Bundesliga, however, apparently only recently realized that no legal alternative for many fans exists.

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