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Links 15/8/2019: GNOME's Birthday, LLVM 9.0 RC2

  • GNU/Linux

    • Desktop

      • System76’s First 4K OLED Linux Laptop is Here.

        System76 – the american computer manufacturer introduced the first 4K OLED Linux powered laptop. Named Adder WS, this device targets to the content creators, gamers and researchers who needs high performance hardware with Linux. Powered by Intel i9 series 8-core CPU and 64GB ram, this device includes a 15″ 4K OLED display with RTX 2070 graphics.

    • Server

      • Kubic Project: Kata Containers now available in Tumbleweed

        Kata Containers is an open source container runtime that is crafted to seamlessly plug into the containers ecosystem.

        We are now excited to announce that the Kata Containers packages are finally available in the official openSUSE Tumbleweed repository.

        It is worthwhile to spend few words explaining why this is a great news, considering the role of Kata Containers (a.k.a. Kata) in fulfilling the need for security in the containers ecosystem, and given its importance for openSUSE and Kubic.

      • Why multi-cloud has become a must-have for enterprises: six experts weigh in

        Remember the one-size-fits-all approach to cloud computing? That was five years ago. Today, multi-cloud architectures that use two, three, or more providers, across a mix of public and private platforms, are quickly becoming the preferred strategy at most companies.

        Despite the momentum, pockets of hesitation remain. Some sceptics are under the impression that deploying cloud platforms and services from multiple vendors can be a complex process. Others worry about security, regulatory, and performance issues.

      • Containers 101: Containers vs. Virtual Machines (And Why Containers Are the Future of IT Infrastructure)

        What exactly is a container and what makes it different -- and in some cases better -- than a virtual machine?

      • IBM

        • Linux-maker Red Hat Purchase Adds Risk to Owning IBM Stock

          Amid evolving technologies, IBM has to pivot again to remain relevant. It has attempted this feat by buying Red Hat. Investors are bailing out of the shares as integration of the Linux maker will take time. Given the time lag and the falling profits, owning the stock amounts to a gamble on whether management can successfully absorb Red Hat into the company.

    • Audiocasts/Shows

      • FLOSS Weekly 542: Dancer

        Dancer is a web application framework for Perl. It was inspired by Sinatra and was written by Alexis Sukrieh originally.

        It has an intuitive, minimalist, and very expressive syntax: has PSGI support, plugins and its modular design allow for strong scalability: and Dancer depends on as few CPAN modules as possible, making it easy to install.

    • Kernel Space

      • An end to implicit fall-throughs in the kernel

        The C switch statement has, since the beginning of the language, required the use of explicit break statements to prevent execution from falling through from one case to the next. This behavior can be a useful feature, allowing for more compact code, but it can also lead to bugs. The effort to rid the kernel of implicit fall-through coding patterns came to a conclusion with the 5.3-rc2 release, where the last cases were fixed. There is a good chance that these fixes will have to be redone in the future, though.

        The problem with C's fall-through behavior is that it is implicit, with no indication of whether the behavior is intended or not. Developers learn (the hard way, sometimes) to end each case with a break statement as a matter of habit, but it's still an easy thing to forget, and the resulting code is seen by the compiler as being entirely valid. A forgotten break almost certainly introduces a bug, even if it might not manifest itself for years. Many developers have had reason to wish that the C language required an explicit indication by the programmer that fall-through behavior is desired.

      • vDSO, 32-bit time, and seccomp

        The seccomp() mechanism is notoriously difficult to use. It also turns out to be easy to break unintentionally, as the development community discovered when a timekeeping change meant to address the year-2038 problem created a regression for seccomp() users in the 5.3 kernel. Work is underway to mitigate the problem for now, but seccomp() users on 32-bit systems are likely to have to change their configurations at some point.

        The virtual dynamic shared object (vDSO) mechanism is an optimization provided by the kernel to reduce the cost of certain frequently used system calls. The vDSO is a small region of kernel-provided memory that is normally mapped into the address space of every user-space process; it contains implementations of system calls that can, in some circumstances at least, do their work in a user-space context. That allows the caller to avoid making a real system call and, thus, to avoid the cost of a context switch into kernel mode. System calls related to timekeeping, such as gettimeofday() are implemented in the vDSO, since they can often run quickly in user space and they tend to be called frequently.

        The vDSO has generally been implemented in an architecture-specific way, even though the functions it performs are mostly the same across architectures. In the 5.2 development cycle, Vincenzo Frascino added a generic vDSO implementation that factored out much of the architecture-specific code into a single implementation that could be used on all architectures. During the 5.3 merge window, the x86 architecture switched over to the generic version, and all was well — or so it seemed.

      • Oracle Is Working To Upstream More Of DTrace To The Linux Kernel & eBPF Implementation

        While DTrace prospects for the Linux kernel are no longer viewed as magical or groundbreaking as they once were more than a decade ago, Oracle continues to work on its DTrace port to Linux and extending its reach beyond just their "Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel" for their RHEL-cloned Oracle Linux. Oracle now says they are working towards upstreaming more work as well as getting an eBPF-based implementation for the kernel.

        On Wednesday, Oracle published a blog post outlining DTrace on Fedora. Getting DTrace working on Fedora isn't trivial: currently it requires building a patched version of the Linux kernel and also building the DTrace user-space utilities. That's how it currently is for most or all Linux distributions besides Oracle Linux with UEK.

      • Linux Foundation

        • Embedded Linux Conference (ELC) Europe 2019 Schedule – October 28-30

          I may have just written about Linaro Connect San Diego 2019 schedule, but there's another interesting event that will also take place this fall...

        • Cloud Native Computing Foundation Reaches 100 End User Community Members

          "The End User Community is a crucial pillar of CNCF, providing feedback on projects, suggesting new projects, and ensuring the community remains vendor neutral," said Cheryl Hung, Director of Ecosystem at Cloud Native Computing Foundation. "We are hugely grateful for these member organizations and their commitment to the cloud native community, and look forward to continued growth in both the development and use of cloud native technologies."

      • Graphics Stack

        • AMD Renoir Lands In Mesa's RadeonSI - Further Pointing To Vega, Not Navi

          Last week AMD sent out their initial Linux graphics driver support for next-gen Renoir APUs. Those Linux kernel bits will land with AMDGPU in the upcoming Linux 5.4 cycle while the RadeonSI changes were merged today marking that OpenGL support as a new feature for the upcoming Mesa 19.2.

          Renoir leaks up to this point indicated it would be a 7nm APU based on Zen 2 with Navi graphics. The Zen 2 cores still could be accurate, but the graphics driver patches from last week and the RadeonSI OpenGL driver support today all point to it being Vega.

        • AMD Bulldozer/Jaguar CPUs Will No Longer Advertise RdRand Support Under Linux

          Not directly related to the recent AMD Zen 2 BIOS update needed to fix an RdRand problem (though somewhat related in that the original systemd bug report for faulty AMD RdRand stems from these earlier CPUs), but AMD has now decided to no longer advertise RdRand support for Family 15h (Bulldozer) and Family 16h (Jaguar) processors under Linux.

          The RdRand instruction will still work on capable CPUs, but the CPU ID bit is being cleared so that it won't be advertised for software explicitly checking for the support. Tom Lendacky of AMD reesorted to clearing the RDRAND CPU ID bit for 15h/16h processors (no impact for Zen, etc) due to RdRand issues cropping up after suspend/resume. Those issues have affected some users for a while and originate with the original AMD RdRand systemd bug report over problems following that cycle.

    • Applications

      • A Collection Of The Ultimate Web Browsers For Ubuntu

        Web browsers are vital if you're going to have any sort of online experience on your computer. There are hundreds of choices out there, as well as the standard browser which will come pre-installed on your computer, but that's often not the best choice, and it can be quite an intimidating task to sift through every dodgy review site on the internet to try and find the right browser for you. Ending up with a Downloads folder filled with installers and a desktop littered with icons isn't what you want or need, so this collection of web browsers for Ubuntu should be able to help you decide on which one you want before you go and download every single browser available on the internet.

      • LiVES Video Editor 3.0 is Here With Significant Improvements

        We recently covered a list of best open source video editors. LiVES is one of those open source video editors, available for free.

        Even though a lot of users are still waiting for the release on Windows, a major update just popped up for LiVES Video Editor (i.e v3.0.1 as the latest package) on Linux. The new upgrade includes some new features and improvements.

      • elfutils 0.177 released with eu-elfclassify

        elfutils 0.177 was released with various bug fixes (if you ever had issues updating > 2GB ELF files using libelf, this release is for you!) and some new features. One of the features is eu-elfclassify, a utility by Florian Weimer to analyze ELF objects.

        People use various tricks to construct ELF files that might make it non-trivial to determine what kind of ELF file you might be dealing with. Even a simple question like “is this a program executable or shared library?” might be tricky given the fact that (static) PIE executables look a lot like shared libraries. And some “shared libraries” are also “program executables”.

      • Proprietary

        • Let's see what the sweet, kind, new Microsoft that everyone loves is up to. Ah yes, forcing more Office home users into annual subscriptions

          Microsoft is continuing its campaign to drive Office users onto a subscription plan by killing off its discounted Home Use program.

          The program covers individuals whose employer already has an Office subscription and allowed them to download standalone software on a separate home machine for a greatly reduced price of just $15. But no more.

          Eligible users will still get a discount – but only on an Office subscription package. No more standalone software. Microsoft is keen that everyone recognizes this change for the wonderful opportunity it is.

          "Microsoft is updating the Home Use Program to offer discounts on the latest and most up to date products such as Office 365, which is always up to date with premium versions of Office apps across all your devices," it chirpily announced in a new FAQ question this week, before noting that "Office Professional Plus 2019 and Office Home and Business 2019 are no longer available as Home Use Program offers."

          Why the change? You won't believe this but it seems money is at the root of it. Rather than pay $15 for a piece of software that you can then use for years, Microsoft's "update" will require home users (whose employers already have a subscription with Microsoft) to pay either $49 or $70 for the Personal and Home Office 365 services respectively. Every year.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Desktop Environments/WMs

      • GNOME Desktop/GTK

        • 12 extensions for your GNOME desktop

          The GNOME desktop is the default graphical user interface for most of the popular Linux distributions and some of the BSD and Solaris operating systems. Currently at version 3, GNOME provides a sleek user experience, and extensions are available for additional functionality.

          We've covered GNOME extensions at before, but to celebrate GNOME's 22nd anniversary, I decided to revisit the topic. Some of these extensions may already be installed, depending on your Linux distribution; if not, check your package manager.

        • Happy anniversary GNOME: What's your favorite version?

          Today is the 22nd anniversary of the first GNOME release. To celebrate, we want to hear from you. What's your favorite GNOME version? And what does your favorite version say about you? Are you change-averse or are you a pioneer of new releases? Take our poll!

          We asked our writers to weigh in on the topic and we received some impassioned responses. Even though GNOME 3 was released about 8 years ago, GNOME 2 continues to be the preferred version among our writers. Many of our writers proclaimed that MATE is the best version. Others argued that MATE is indeed not a GNOME version while some suggested that it may as well be considered GNOME 2.

          "GNOME 2 or MATE Desktop." —Ivan Bazulic

          "My favorite is always the latest version. Each release has new goodies I can't wait to try out. These are the ones from 3.32 which was released with Fedora 30 - my favorite is the new icons, I love the vibrantly-colored redesign!" —Máirín Duffy

          "I'm a fan of GNOME 2, since I have been using Linux Mint + Mate desktop for a good number of years on my home computers." —Eli Marcus

          "My favorite GNOME was 2, simply because it had the option to set the window borders to the theme "microgui" which I really like." —Germán Pulido

          "GNOME 2.x, I can't get used to GNOME 3 unfortunately, I think the GNOME 2 user experience was a lot better." —Mario Torre

        • Musings on the Microsoft Component Firmware Update (CFU) Protocol

          CFU has a bazaar pre-download phase before sending the firmware to the microcontroller so the uC can check if the firmware is required and compatible. CFU also requires devices to be able to transfer the entire new transfer mode in runtime mode. The pre-download “offer” allows the uC to check any sub-components attached (e.g. other devices attached to the SoC) and forces it to do dep resolution in case sub-components have to be updated in a specific order.

          Pushing the dep resolution down to the uC means the uC has to do all the version comparisons and also know all the logic with regard to protocol incompatibilities. You could be in a position where the uC firmware needs to be updated so that it “knows” about the new protocol restrictions, which are needed to update the uC and the things attached in the right order in a subsequent update. If we always update the uC to the latest, the probably-factory-default running version doesn’t know about the new restrictions.

          The other issue with this is that the peripheral is unaware of the other devices in the system, so for instance couldn’t only install a new firmware version for only new builds of Windows for example. Something that we support in fwupd is being able to restrict the peripheral device firmware to a specific SMBIOS CHID or a system firmware vendor, which lets vendors solve the “same hardware in different chassis, with custom firmware” problem. I don’t see how that could be possible using CFU unless I misunderstand the new .inf features. All the dependency resolution should be in the metadata layer (e.g. in the .inf file) rather than being pushed down to the hardware running the old firmware.

        • Emmanuele Bassi: Another layer

          Five years (and change) ago I was looking at the data types and API that were needed to write a 3D-capable scene graph API; I was also learning about SIMD instructions and compiler builtins on IA and ARM, as well as a bunch of math I didn’t really study in my brush offs with formal higher education. The result was a small library called Graphene.

          Over the years I added more API, moved the build system from Autotools over to Meson, and wrote a whole separate library for its test suite.

          In the meantime, GStreamer started using Graphene in its GL element; GTK 3.9x is very much using Graphene internally and exposing it as public API; Mutter developers are working on reimplementing the various math types in their copies of Cogl and Clutter using Graphene; and Alex wrote an entire 3D engine using it.

    • Distributions

      • Clear Linux Project has a new documentation site

        The Clear Linux OS Docs team is happy to announce that our documentation site for the Clear Linux Project has moved to a Sphinx/reST site with the ubiquitous Read-The-Docs theme, consistent with many open source documentation projects.

      • Clear Linux Rolls Out Revamped Documentation

        While Arch Linux remains the gold standard for quality Linux documentation, Intel's Clear Linux has rolled out a new documentation web-site to assist new/existing users in making use of this performance-optimized and security-oriented Linux operating system.

      • Fedora Family

        • Immutable Linux with Silverblue: My favorite superpower

          I’m a recent but dedicated convert to Silverblue, which I run on my main home laptop, and which I’ll be putting onto my work laptop when I’m due a hardware upgrade in a few months’ time. I wrote an article about Silverblue over at Enable Sysadmin, and over the weekend, I moved the laptop that one of my kids has over to it as well. In terms of usability, look, and feel, Silverblue is basically a version of Fedora. There’s one key difference, however, which is that the operating system is mounted read-only, meaning that it’s immutable.

          What does "immutable" mean? It means that it can’t be changed. To be more accurate, in a software context, it generally means that something can’t be changed during run time.

      • Canonical/Ubuntu Family

        • 8 Ways Snaps are Different

          Depending on the audience, the discussion of software packaging elicits very different responses. Users generally don’t care how software is packaged, so long as it works. Developers typically want software packaging as a task to not burden them and just magically happen. Snaps aren’t magic, but aim to achieve both ease of maintenance and transparency in use.

          Most software packaging systems differ only a little in file format, tools used in their creation and methods of discovery and delivery. Snaps come with a set of side benefits beyond just delivering bytes in a compressed file to users. In this article, we’ll cover just 8 of the ways in which snaps improve upon existing Linux software packaging.

    • Devices/Embedded

    • Free, Libre, and Open Source Software

      • Web Browsers

        • Mozilla

          • Mozilla revamps Firefox's HTTPS address bar information

            Mozilla plans to make changes to the information that the organization's Firefox browser displays in its address bar when it connects to sites.

            Firefox displays an i-icon and a lock symbol currently when connecting to sites. The i-icon displays information about the security of the connection, content blocking, and permissions, the lock icon indicates the security state of the connection visually. A green lock indicates a secure connection and if a site has an Extended Validation certificate, the name of the company is displayed in the address bar as well.

            Mozilla plans to make changes to the information that is displayed in the browser's address bar that all Firefox users need to be aware of.

          • Mozilla Localization (L10N): L10n Report: August Edition

            We’re quickly approaching the deadline for Firefox 69. The last day to ship your changes in this version is August 20, less than a week away.

            A lot of content targeting Firefox 70 already landed and it’s available in Pontoon for translation, with more to come in the following days. Here are a few of the areas where you should focus your testing on.

          • This Week In Rust: This Week in Rust 299
          • Mozilla's WebThings Gateway now available for Turris Omnia router

            The first step for adding devices is to put them in a mode that is receptive to a new pairing, one at a time, then to tell the Gateway web application to scan for them. Once they are recognized (and renamed to something that makes more sense to the user), there are a number of different options. The device state can be queried (e.g. is a door open or a light on) or changed, for example; some devices may require an add-on in order to access them. Users can also create a floor plan of their house to place icons of the devices in the right locations.

            Beyond that, there is a rules engine where automated changes can be programmed. So if the user wants a certain light to go on or off at a specific time, for example, that can be done. The interface is icon oriented, which should make it easier for less technical users. There is also an experimental Smart Assistant feature that allows voice or typed commands like "turn on the kitchen light" to be handled. The voice data is sent to Google's voice assistant API; the text commands are handled locally on the Gateway device. It is not clear why the assistant is not using Mozilla's speech-processing engine.

            New for version 0.9 is a Notifier add-on that will send an email or SMS text message based on rules that the user specifies, so motion sensor activity could trigger a text message, for example. Accompanying the Gateway release is the 0.12 release of the WebThings Framework. It has made some changes to the Web Thing API to more closely align it with the recent W3C WoT Thing Description draft.

            Centralizing IoT handling on a system controlled by the user is an admirable goal. The IoT world has so far proven to be an insecure morass of competing lock-in plays, or so it seems to this cynical observer. Wresting control of the devices from the manufacturers and placing it in the hands of their owners seems like an excellent step forward. Hopefully Mozilla sticks with this project for the long haul and that it gets the community support that it surely deserves—and needs.

      • Productivity Software/LibreOffice/Calligra

        • LibreOffice Asia Conference Report: Part 2

          Foreword: the LibreOffice Asia Conference was successfully held in May 2019 in Tokyo. Kuan-Ting Lin, a university student and civic tech reporter also attended this conference and gives his observations here. In Part II, Kuan-Ting starts with the Open Document Format, and expounds on how to form an open government and better autonomy of Taiwan.

          The “Taiwanese Language channel” (tâi-gí-tâi) of the Public Television Service (PTS) in Taiwan started its broadcasting service in July 2019. This channel became possible only because the National Languages Act was approved in parliament. This policy was rooted by many in the decision to improve expression, alleviation of limits on speeches, and the consolidation of autonomy following the new law.

          After a long-time struggle, the state also sees a silver lining regarding another autonomy issue: document liberation.

        • Poll about design preview for dropdown controls

          One of the tasks for the design team is to evaluate enhancement requests on our bugtracker. Most are definitely valuable and improve LibreOffice but sometimes we have to balance effort against benefit. We also have to take into account that a function or option for a few users might be adverse to many others, for example by bloating the options dialog. And we are not always sure what decision is the best and have to ask the community. So here is a poll about switching the design preview (font is listed as shown in the document, styles are (mostly) shown as they will appear in the document) into a plain dropdown (pure text without any preview).

      • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

      • BSD

        • OpenBSD -stable binary packages

          The OpenBSD base system has received binary updates for security and some other important problems in the base OS through syspatch(8) for the last few releases.

          We are pleased to announce that we now also provide selected binary packages for the most recent release. These are built from the -stable ports tree which receives security and a few other important fixes: [...]

        • FreeBSD Around the World

          One of our major goals this year is to increase FreeBSD awareness around the world. I’m excited about upcoming events, like the Linux Foundation’s Open Source Summit, where we are giving a talk on FreeBSD. But first, I wanted to highlight some of the events we’ve attended over the past few months. I have been pretty bad about writing event reports, so I’m summarizing some of them here. It’s a good thing our Marketing Director isn’t local, otherwise she would be camping in our office forcing me to write the reports.


        • Guix Makes Bitcoin Core Development More Trustless

          According to Dong, “Guix allows users to verify that the Bitcoin Core client they download corresponds exactly to the code that Bitcoin Core developers write. It mitigates attacks that target the way we turn our codebase into the client executables we release.”

          In spite of the clear focus on the needs of developers, Guix is also something that users may need and want to use if they choose to be cautious about the software that they run.

          At press time, Guix is only available for Ubuntu builds.

      • Public Services/Government

        • New Finnish government to promote open source

          The new government of Finland, formally appointed on 6 June, will promote the use of open source software for public services’ IT systems. The preference for open source, open (programming) interfaces and open data is part of the Government Programme that was published on 3 June. A machine translation from the Government Programme entitled: “A participatory and knowledgeable Finland - a socially, economically and ecologically sustainable society”: [...]

        • Why Los Angeles decided to open source its future

          Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst should be proud. Over a decade ago Whitehurst lamented the waste inherent in traditional enterprise IT, where every organization rolled their own systems and shared little. Now, there's an increasing trend toward open source, with the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (DOT) taking the lead in building out the Mobility Data Specification (MDS) to manage the influx of dockless e-scooters and bicycles. The project made sense for a city plagued by horrendous traffic, but it's the open sourcing of MDS that makes it powerful, with over 80 cities worldwide now embracing it.

          To understand the motivations and future of MDS and enterprise open source, I talked with Jascha Franklin-Hodge, until recently Boston's chief information officer and now executive director of the Open Mobility Foundation.

      • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

      • Programming/Development

        • Racket: Lisp for learning

          Lisp is one of the oldest programming languages still in use today—Fortran is older by a year, but the Lisp community (or communities) seems to be the more dynamic of the two. In any case, the Lisp landscape has a lot of nooks and crannies to explore; I recently ran into a dialect that I had not encountered before: Racket. That may simply reflect ignorance on my part, but, while I was introduced to Lisp (too) many moons ago, I had not really paid it much mind until I sat in on a talk about Lisp at earlier this year. Something about Racket caught my eye, so I did some poking around to see what it is all about.

          The dynamism in the Lisp world also means that there are lots of projects, subprojects, dialects, descendants, and so on to keep straight. Lisp itself has split into three main dialects: Common Lisp, Scheme, and Clojure. Common Lisp and Scheme each have multiple implementations. Racket is based on Scheme; it was known as "PLT Scheme" (after the PLT organization behind the language) until version 5.0 was released in 2010.

        • The Compact C Type Format in the GNU toolchain

          The Compact C Type Format (CTF) is a way of representing information about a binary program; it can be seen as a simpler alternative to the widely used DWARF format. While CTF has been around for some years, it has not seen much use in the Linux world. According to Elena Zannoni, who talked about CTF at the 2019 Open Source Summit Japan, that situation may be about to change; work is underway to bring CTF support to the GNU tools shipped universally with Linux systems. Compiling a program into its binary form discards a lot of information found in the source code; that information can be needed when the time comes to track down a bug in the compiled program. To facilitate this work, compilers create debugging information that records the names and types of the variables used by a program, along with function names, the line numbers in the source program, and more; this information is then stored in one of many formats. DWARF is by far the most commonly used format on Unix-like systems, but it is not the only one.

        • Append Vs. Extend in Python List

          In this tutorial, you’ll explore the difference between append and extend methods of Python List. Both these methods are used to manipulate the lists in their specific way.

          The append method adds a single or a group of items (sequence) as one element at the tail of a list. On the other hand, the extend method appends the input elements to the end as part of the original list.

          After reading the above description about append() and extend(), it may seem a bit confusing to you. So, we’ll explain each of these methods with examples and show the difference between them.

        • Accessing Remote Data with a Generalized File System

          For context, we are talking about the low-level business of getting raw bytes from some location. We are used to doing that on a local disk, but communicating with other storage mechanisms can be tricky, and certainly different in every case. For example, consider the different ways you would go about reading files from Hadoop, a server for which you have SSH credentials, or for a cloud storage service like Amazon S3. Since these are important to answer when dealing with big data, we developed code to complement Dask just for the job, and released packages like s3fs and gcsfs.

          We found that those packages, which were built and released standalone, were popular even without Dask, partly because they were being used by other PyData libraries such as pandas and xarray. So we realised that the general idea of dealing with arbitrary file systems, as well as helpful code to map URLs to bytes, should not be buried in Dask, but should be made open and available to everyone, even if they are not interested in parallel/out-of-core computing.

        • Escape sequences in Python strings

          The three-quote version allows for simpler multi-line strings and can use three double quotes instead if the programmer wants. But strings can also contain escape sequences, such as '\n' for newlines, '\t' for tabs, and so on. That means the backslash has a special meaning, so it needs to be escaped (i.e. '\\') if it is to be used literally, as well. A few other characters, notably a real newline or an embedded quote of the type used to delimit the string, also need to be backslash escaped. But what to do about string literals with invalid escape sequences in them? A programmer who has put '\latex' as part of a string literal (to pick a not entirely random example) presumably actually wants '\\latex', which is what Python currently translates it to. Python does emit a DeprecationWarning in that case, but the warning was invisible by default until Python 3.7. However, that same programmer probably does not want '\tan(x)' to turn into a tab plus 'an(x)', but that is exactly what happens.

          The change for Python 3.8 is to further elevate the warning to a SyntaxWarning, with plans to turn that into a SyntaxError in Python 3.9. A bug report filed in February 2018 shows the path of the change. But shortly after the Python 3.8 beta releases were made, Raymond Hettinger reported that he was seeing the warnings "pop up from time to time" from various third-party packages. Aaron Meurer concurred with Hettinger and pointed out a number of other problems he had encountered.

        • LLVM 9.0-RC2 Released While LLVM 10 Switches To C++14

          LLVM 9.0 Release Candidate 2 is now available for testing while LLVM 10.0 has switched its code-base over to supporting C++14.

          Hans Wennborg announced the second and expected final release candidate for the LLVM 9.0 release and associated sub-projects like Clang 9.0. LLVM 9.0 is running about one week behind schedule at this point but there's still time to get it to ship on-time in two weeks, otherwise it's looking like it should land just slightly belated in early September.

        • [llvm-dev] [9.0.0 Release] Release Candidate 2 is here
          Hello everyone,

          9.0.0-rc2 was tagged yesterday from the release_90 branch at r368683. In the Git monorepo it's available as the llvmorg-9.0.0-rc2 tag.

          Source code and docs are available at

          Binaries will be added as they become available.

          The tag went in roughly one week behind schedule (see "Upcoming Releases" at, but there are still two weeks left to the planned release date.

          Please file bug reports for any issues you find and mark them blocking Please also look at the blockers and see if there's anything you can help with -- there are several bugs which lack traction at the moment.

          Release testers: please start your engines, run the script, share your results, and upload binaries.

          Many thanks, Hans
        • Excellent Free Books to Learn Swift

          Swift is a powerful and intuitive general-purpose programming language for the OS X, iOS, watchOS, and Linux operating systems. It's developed by Apple Inc. Swift is intended to be more resilient to erroneous code (“safer”) than Objective-C, and more concise.

        • Intel SYCL Compiler/Runtimes Updated With Unified Shared Memory Support

          Intel has released a new version of their SYCL compiler and run-time code for single-source C++ programming and allowing offloaded computations to accelerators via OpenCL.

          With the new release of their SYCL stack for Linux, there is now support in place for Unified Shared Memory. Unified Shared Memory via the cl_intel_unified_shared_memory extension is Intel's alternative to OpenCL Shared Virtual Memory (SVM) for allowing pointer-based programming in OpenCL. This OpenCL support in turn is leveraged for pointer-based programming with SYCL.

  • Leftovers

    • Science

      • Contra Gelernter on Darwin

        David Gelernter recently wrote an essay on Giving Up Darwin that is not obviously stupid. Dr. Gelernter, in many ways an astute thinker, does not commit obvious stupidities – but I have had to call him out before for allowing himself to be blinded by a hunger for epistemic gaps that fit the shape of religion. Apparently it is, alas, time to do that again.

        The central argument of Gelernter’s essay is that random chance, is not good enough, even at geologic timescales, to produce the ratchet of escalating complexity we see when we look at living organisms and the fossil record. Most mutations are deleterious and degrade the functioning of the organism; few are useful enough to build on. There hasn’t been enough time for the results we see.

        Before getting to that one I want to deal with a subsidiary argument in the essay, that Darwinism is somehow falsified because we don’t observe the the slow and uniform evolution that Darwin posited. But we have actually observed evolution (all the way up to speciation) in bacteria and other organisms with rapid lifespans, and we know the answer to this one.

        The rate of evolutionary change varies; it increases when environmental changes increase selective pressures on a species and decreases when their environment is stable. You can watch this happen in a Petri dish, even trigger episodes of rapid evolution in bacteria by introducing novel environmental stressors.

      • Huawei’s Founder Wants an ‘Invincible Iron Army’ to Fight U.S.

        Huawei Technologies Co.’s billionaire founder intends to kick off a three- to five-year overhaul of the networking giant, creating an “iron army” that can help it survive an American onslaught while protecting its lead in next-generation wireless.

        Major structural shifts are around the corner as U.S. sanctions threaten the survival of its cash-cow smartphone business, Ren Zhengfei warned in an internal memo seen by Bloomberg News and verified by a Huawei spokeswoman. The consumer business faces a “painful long march,” Ren wrote, a possible reference to the Communist Party’s historic cross-country trek.

    • Security (Confidentiality/Integrity/Availability)

      • Biometrics of one million people discovered on publicly accessible database

        A biometrics database used by the police, banks and defence contractors has been discovered online unprotected, with the fingerprints and facial recognition scans unencrypted.

        Furthermore, the Biostar 2 database - used as part of security systems for warehouses and offices - also contained user names, passwords and other personal information. And the database was so exposed that data could easily be manipulated, and new accounts with corresponding biometrics added

    • Defence/Aggression

      • Troops at the border: A Chinese military intervention in Hong Kong?

        The video of what appears to be the deployment of Chinese military personnel to within miles of the Hong Kong border were published by Chinese state media earlier this week.

        That was followed by satellite images, taken on Monday but released on Wednesday by US-based Maxar Technologies, showing what looked to be Chinese military vehicles parked inside the Shenzhen Bay Sports Centre, a 20,000-seat arena that once hosted a concert by English pop singer Jessie J, but may now be the staging post for a military operation by the People’s Liberation Army.

      • Air Force Chief Grapples With Suicide Scourge: ‘I Don’t Have a Solution’

        It has not worked. The Air Force's active duty component stands alone as the only group for which the rates of suicide increased dramatically during the last year, jumping from nine in the first quarter of last year to 26 during the same time this year. So far this year, 78 airmen killed themselves, up from 50 at the same time last year. The service is on track to lose 150 service members or more this year to suicide.

      • Tomgram: William Astore, Military Strength Is Our National Religion

        Or, maybe, just maybe, we might start anew by questioning our militarized profession of faith. We might begin to realize that our warrior-church isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. We might begin to seek meaning and salvation not through wars and weaponry, not through generals and their admirers, not through impossible dreams of total dominance, but through compassion and a desire for global justice.

        I confess that I long ago turned my back on the Catholic Church of my youth, but I haven’t turned my back on Christianity and the wisdom it can offer. For what does it profit a country if it gains the whole world yet loses its soul? (In our case, of course, it might be more appropriate to say: For what does it profit a country if it gains nothing from its wars and military mindset yet loses its soul?) The more we Americans profess our faith in warriors, weapons, and wars, the more we endanger our nation’s collective soul. There’s a reason, after all, that Jesus placed the peacemakers, not the warriors, among the children of God.

      • Marine Who Warned Of Insider Threat Should Remain In The Corps, Military Board Says

        What did attract attention was that Brezler had sent classified information over an insecure network. The Marine Corps then embarked on what would be a multiyear effort to kick out Brezler — claiming it was for mishandling information. Brezler maintained it was retaliation for calling attention to deaths he thought might have been prevented.

      • Trump: Out of the Graveyard and Into the Pyre?

        Afghanistan has long been touted as the “graveyard of empires.” The British and the Soviets certainly discovered that lesson to their great regret. Perhaps future historians will judge the failure of the United States to defeat the Taliban in Afghanistan over a two-decade period as a critical factor in the loss of American hegemony as well. If so, these historians will no doubt chuckle at the irony of Mr. Make America Great Again throwing the last shovelful of dirt on the grave.

      • At the End of the Barrel of a Gun

        I want to stay far away from anything resembling anti-intellectualism or€ guilt€ by€ association, especially since the right-wing political, economic, and social systems we€ live in in the US give plenty of space to anti-intellectualism and the dominance of ignorance. Blood now runs in the streets, so the impact of the far€ right (read fascists) must also be€ acknowledged€ and strenuously fought.

      • Medellín Diary: Remembering Our Dead

        Twenty years ago, on August 7, 1999, student leader Gustavo Marulanda was shot and killed in Medellín by far right AUC paramilitaries (Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia) under the command of Éver Veloza García, alias H.H., near the Universidad de Antioquia, where Marulanda studied philosophy. Paramilitaries had murdered Hugo Ángel Quintero, who ran the university law school’s cafeteria, on campus the day before, and Professor Hernán Henao, director of the university’s prestigious Institute of Regional Studies (INER), in his office on May 4. What set Marulanda’s death apart from so many others in those years, when the Colombian government of Andrés Pastrana negotiated peace with the insurgent guerrilla movement, Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC), and the paramilitaries targeted intellectuals as well as social and trade union movement activists as guerrilla supporters, is that Marulanda publicly forecasted his murder at a student assembly.

      • You're Not Helping: ESPN Delays 'Apex Legends' Broadcast After 2 Mass Shootings

        Of all the battles we wage here, my personal frustration probably peaks on the topic of video games and real world violence. The amount of calories spent even having this discussion should go down as some kind of complete human failure. Study after study, never mind the input from actual law enforcement professionals, has demonstrated that the political talking points on violent games are complete bunk. I used to be fond of saying that the science on this topic was unsettled. At this point, the science is quite clear.

        Which means what we really need for that science to take hold with the public and end this stupid debate is to stop signaling that the debate isn't over. But when ESPN, with all of its popularity, decides to suspend a broadcast for an Apex Legends tournament because of the recent mass shootings, it's doing the opposite.

      • What is the cure for our mass shootings?

        The first cure for mass shootings is for Donald Trump to stop telling his constituents that the Mexicans trying to come into our country are rapists, murderers and thieves.

        Secondly, Trump should climb out of the National Rile Association’s pocketbook. The NRA applauded Trump’s speech condemning the mentally ill, the internet and video games, of course never mentioning the assault rifles used in these killings.

    • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

      • The Prosecution of Julian Assange Affects Us All

        The UN Special Rapporteur on torture, Nils Melzer, expressed his grave concerns for Assange, who is now facing 175 years in prison if convicted by the US. He assessed that, if extradited, he would "be exposed to a real risk of torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment". Renowned journalist John Pilger, who visited Assange in prison last week, alarmed the public about his deteriorated health and noted how Assange is isolated and treated "worse than a murderer".

        The prosecution of Assange, if it were ever successful, would threaten the ability of journalists to receive information and publish information that the government deemed classified all around the world. Assange’s plight is tied to the future of press freedom. But what is at stake is a much larger issue that concerns all of us. Why ought the public engage in his fight against extradition? To answer this question, we have to examine why WikiLeaks matters.

      • Teens Now Trust YouTubers More Than Journalists

        Of the teens who go to social media for news, about 60 percent specifically relied on celebrities or other influencers to tell them what’s been going on, according to the poll. They also clarified that they understood that their sources of news were less reliable than established media.

      • Influencer, celebrity, journalist? Teens are turning to YouTube for news, survey shows

        The survey of over 1,000 teens finds the majority prefer visual media to consume news. While on YouTube, 60% of teens say they are getting their news from celebrities, influencers and personalities, something Michael Robb, senior director of research at Common Sense, says is a “cause for concern.”


        Half of teens say they watch videos that play automatically or are recommended for them based on the site’s algorithm. YouTube recently came under fire recently for its recommendations, including graphic videos being intertwined with children’s content and spreading hateful messages on the platform.

    • Environment

      • Air Pollution May Be As Harmful To Your Lungs As Smoking Cigarettes, Study Finds

        A new study published Tuesday in JAMA finds that long-term exposure to slightly elevated levels of air pollution can be linked to accelerated development of lung damage, even among people who have never smoked.

        The study looked at the health effects of breathing in various pollutants, including ground-level ozone, the main component of smog.

        The researchers found that people in the study who were exposed for years to higher-than-average concentrations of ground-level ozone developed changes to their lungs similar to those seen in smokers.

      • It’s raining multicoloured plastic in the Rocky Mountains, scientists find

        It’s raining multicoloured plastic in the Rocky Mountains, according to the latest research that suggests microplastics are found in even the most remote parts of our planet.

        Plastic shards, beads and fibres were identified in more than 90 per cent of rainwater samples taken from across Colorado, including at more than 3,000 metres high in Rocky Mountain National Park, according to researchers from the US Geological Survey.

      • The Once Common Republican Environmentalist Is Virtually Extinct

        Nixon wasn’t really an environmentalist. He just did what was popular. That was especially true with regard to the Endangered Species Act. Fifty years ago, Republicans generally wanted to be in the forefront of fights to save the planet—some for reasons of politics, like Nixon, but others out of sincere commitment, like Oregon Governor Tom McCall and Pennsylvania Representative and Senator John Heinz. Environmentalism was bipartisan. The Senate voted 92-0 for the measure, while the House approved it 390-12. Democrats were all on board for green legislation, as were almost all Republicans; liberals backed it, and so did conservatives. In the states, Republicans were often even more outspoken on environmental issues. California Governor Ronald Reagan—no liberal he—ruminated in his 1970 State of the State Address about “the absolute necessity of waging all-out war against the debauching of the environment.”

        Five decades on, another Republican president is all about debauching the environment—so much so that, as we read on the front page of Tuesday’s New York Times, “The Trump administration on Monday announced that it would change the way the Endangered Species Act is applied, significantly weakening the nation’s bedrock conservation law and making it harder to protect wildlife from the multiple threats posed by climate change.”

      • Siberian Wildfires Set To Break Land Area Record

        Nearly 5.5 million hectares are ablaze, mostly in Siberia, with smoke clouds covering more than 5 million square kilometers, more than the size of the European Union, the UN’s authoritative World Meteorological Organization said in a tweet on August 11.

        A state of emergency has been declared in four Siberian regions as the fires rage into a third month. The Guardian reported that, since June, Russia has suffered the most from fires in the Arctic zone, which also includes Alaska, Greenland, and Canada.

      • Day Zero for water: Mexico on the list of water-stressed countries

        Mexico falls into the high-stress category, the second-highest on the list, meaning that the nation consumes between 40% and 80% of the water supply available in a year. Overall, Mexico ranks 24th out of the 164 nations included in the study.

        However, a more detailed look at the maps included in the study shows that some regions of Mexico are under significantly more baseline water stress than others. Fifteen states, all in northern and central Mexico, fall within the “Extremely High Baseline Water Stress” category, meaning that they consume between 80% and 100% of available water every year.

      • How to Take Direct Action on the Climate Crisis at Your School This Year

        The back-to-school checklist is usually pretty standard: ordering textbooks, buying new notebooks and pens, looking up the locations of your new classrooms. But this year young climate activists hope you add another item to your list: figuring out how to help address the impending threat of the climate crisis.

      • Hot future prompts new ideas for cool cities

        The world could need a quarter more energy by 2050, to cool cities and survive the global heating expected by then. And that assumes that nations will have taken steps to control greenhouse gas emissions and that the rise in temperature will be moderate.

        If, on the other hand, the world goes on burning fossil fuels under the notorious “business as usual” scenario, then according to new research the people of the planet could demand up to 58% more energy, just to drive the extra air conditioning and refrigeration in ever more frequent and ever more intense extremes of heat.

        The latest study, by researchers based in Boston, Massachusetts and Venice in Italy, helps to settle one of the more intricate questions that accompany climate projections and energy demand: yes, there will be more people and bigger cities which demand more power anyway, and yes, warm zones will get hotter and demand more expense on keeping cool. But chilly and temperate nations will enjoy milder winters and spend less on staying warm. Which wins?

      • Energy

        • ‘People Are Demanding Accountability for the Fossil Fuel Industry’ - CounterSpin interview with Sriram Madhusoodanan about climate justice

          Climate disruption presents a test for corporate news media: Will they act on the understanding that a conversation that doesn’t acknowledge that unprecedented measures need to be taken is an irresponsibly detached conversation? Will they vigorously expose the corporate actors, the fossil fuel companies and their executives, who continue to dissimulate and deny? Or will they go on giving those that profit from harm-causing industries pride of place in the conversation about how to mitigate that harm?

          Corporate media’s response to some promising state-level developments in climate action is not itself very promising. Our next guest will explain work you might not know about, being done to push fossil fuel companies out of the way of climate justice solutions. Sriram Madhusoodanan is deputy campaigns director at the group Corporate Accountability; he joins us now by phone from Washington, DC. Welcome to CounterSpin, Sriram Madhusoodanan.

        • From dumpster to diesel: How an Ontario pilot project is turning plastic waste into fuel

          A pilot project in Whitby, Ont., is using technology to give plastic waste a second life by turning it into fuel.

      • Wildlife/Nature

        • The Trump Administration Just Gutted the Endangered Species Act

          The Department of the Interior, currently headed by former fossil fuel lobbyist David Bernhardt, and the Department of Commerce made sweeping changes to the regulations required by the ESA just months after a United Nations report detailed an “unprecedented” decline of biodiversity and accelerating extinction rates. The changes "clarify, interpret, and implement portions of the Act," according to the text of the final regulations.

    • Finance

      • The Federal Reserve Board’s Recent Figures on the Outrageous Unequal Distribution of Wealth

        Recent figures released by the Federal Reserve Board once again verify the shameful growing wealth inequality in the United States.[1]

      • Thoughts on China’s Currency

        There is a conventional wisdom on China’s currency that gets repeated almost everywhere and never seems to be challenged in the media. The basic story is that in the bad old days China ‘manipulated” its currency, but that stopped years ago. At present, its currency controls are actually keeping the value of its currency up, not down. As much as I hate to differ with the conventional wisdom, there are a few issues here that deserve closer examination.

    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

      • "Productivity" is a perfect example of the pseudscience underpinning economics

        Economists are famously fragile about their field; after all, this is the field that created a fake Nobel prize to give its practitioners the veneer of credibility and empiricism that actual sciences enjoy.

        A favored tactic among economists is the use of complex equations that make it hard for nonpractitioners to spot the cards they're palming. Just as con-artists like to lard complexity into bar-bets to make it hard to calculate the odds, and just as casino games like craps add extra lines and payouts the table to confound your ability to spot the house advantage, neoliberal economics has weaponized equations to exclude its critics from the discussion. Sometimes, this shitty math is so terrible that it threatens the whole planetary economy.

      • Extortion and alleged ISIS threats: A Saudi embassy learned the hard way about email security

        The Dutch Diplomatic Police emailed other embassies around The Hague amid all the threats. But they made one mistake — they used the cc field on the email, not bcc, exposing many diplomatic email addresses. Because the attacker still had access to the Saudi email account, they had a whole host of new targets.

      • Germany: AfD's anti-refugee Facebook video sparks massive incitement probe

        The investigations have resulted in fines for 97 people so far, prosecutors in the town of Deggendorf told local public broadcaster Bayerischer Rundfunk.

        Three people have been formally charged with incitement, although it is not clear when their court dates will be.

        Another 56 cases had to be dropped, as investigators could not determine exactly who was behind the comments as users hid their identities with pseudonyms.

      • Report says eight states to use paperless voting in 2020 despite security concerns

        At least eight states are on course to use paperless voting equipment, or machines without paper records, as the primary polling place equipment during the 2020 elections, a report published Tuesday by New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice found.

        The report said that around 12 percent of Americans, or about 16 million people, will vote on paperless machines in 2020 and will have no paper record of how they voted.

      • Voting Machine Security: Where We Stand Six Months Before the New Hampshire Primary

        In late July, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released its report on the Russian government’s attacks on America’s election infrastructure.[1] While the report offered dozens of recommendations related to vast and varied election systems in the United States (from voter registration databases to election night reporting), it pointedly noted that there was an urgent need to secure the nation’s voting systems in particular.[2] Among the two most important recommendations made were that states should (1) replace outdated and vulnerable voting systems with “at minimum… a voter-verified paper trail,” and (2) adopt statistically sound audits. These recommendations are not new and have been consistently made by experts since long before the 2016 election.[3]

      • Protesters in Hong Kong take their grievances to the airport

        Meanwhile, across the border in China, the official language grows more shrill. In Beijing this week the government warned that the demonstrations showed “early signs of terrorism”. It claims to divine nefarious “black hands” at work fostering the unrest—ie, the United States and its friends. A Chinese state television channel has published a video claiming, in no unsubtle terms, to show the People’s Armed Police taking part in a large exercise near the border with Hong Kong. The suggestion that Chinese forces might intervene in a territory which was supposedly given a high degree of autonomy at the time of its handover to China 22 years ago is raising alarm in many world capitals. The prime ministers of Canada and Australia have called for Hong Kong’s leaders to seek to de-escalate the crisis by listening to local concerns. In the current mood, China may well interpret such interventions as yet more foreign meddling.

      • Artist Mitch O’Connell (not Moscow Mitch McConnell) wants to erect his famous Trump/They Live billboard in Times Square

        Well, Mitch recently found out that a Times Square billboard company will allow him to display his illustration on a billboard and he's started a gofundme campaign to make this dream a reality. Go, Mitch!

      • The Phony Patriots of Silicon Valley

        Not long ago, many leading technologists considered themselves too lofty and idealistic to concern themselves with the petty affairs of government. John Perry Barlow, a lion of the early internet, addressed his “Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace” to the “governments of the industrial world,” saying that for him and his fellow netizens, these creaky institutions had “no moral right to rule us nor do you possess any methods of enforcement we have true reason to fear.”

        But that was before privacy scandals, antitrust investigations, congressional hearings, Chinese tariffs, presidential tweets and Senator Elizabeth Warren.

        Now, as they try to fend off regulation and avoid being broken up, some of the largest companies in Silicon Valley are tripping over their Allbirds in a race to cozy up to the United States government. [...]

      • Green MP Caroline Lucas responds to Labour no-confidence proposal

        Responding to a letter received this evening from Jeremy Corbyn about co-operation in the coming month in parliament, Green MP Caroline Lucas said:

        “We absolutely support and welcome Jeremy Corbyn’s call for a vote of no-confidence in order to avoid the catastrophe of the so-called 'No Deal'. Preventing a crash-out Brexit on the 31st October was what lay behind my proposal earlier this week.

        "But the proposal from the Labour leader does not guarantee that the people are given the final say on Brexit.

      • Media Elites Melt Down Over Bernie Sanders’ Critique Of Washington Post

        Senator Bernie Sanders clarified his critique of the Washington Post’s coverage of his presidential campaign. “We are taking on corporate America. Large corporations own the media in America, by and large, and I think there is a framework, about how the corporate media focuses on politics.”

        “That is my concern. It’s not that Jeff Bezos [owner of the Washington Post] is on the phone every day; he’s not,” Sanders added.

        Sanders never said anything about the Amazon CEO being involved in the daily news and editorial decision-making of the Washington Post. In fact, what he said was in line with his past critiques of corporate media.

        In 1980, when Sanders was the mayor of Burlington, Vermont, he said, “Commercial television, as we know is owned and controlled by corporate interests whose only concern is profit. It makes no difference how many times during the hour are interrupted by commercials. It makes no difference what the content of the programming is. The function of commercial television is only to sell profits and make money for the people who own the stations.”

        On August 12, in New Hampshire, Sanders sardonically told supporters that he talks about Amazon not paying their fair share in taxes all the time. “I wonder why the Washington Post, which is owned by Jeff Bezos, who owns Amazon, doesn’t write particularly good articles about me. I don’t know why.”

      • Jeremy Corbyn’s letter has turned the tables on Jo Swinson

        Who’s to blame for the failure of a cross-party government to prevent no deal? That’s the big question that Jo Swinson, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, faced at her big speech this morning, which also saw the formal unveiling of their latest defector, the Totnes MP Sarah Wollaston.

        Jeremy Corbyn’s letter has successfully turned the media narrative – which given the whole “GNU” row is a tussle in the bubble is really all that matters – to a question not just of “What will Labour do?” but “Aren’t the Liberal Democrats also part of the problem”, which put Swinson on the defensive during the Q&A.

        The nonsense of the whole row is that both leaders are right. It’s not reasonable to expect Corbyn to publicly concede that doubts about his leadership are sufficiently large that there is no prospect of him forming a government. That would mean Labour going into an election telling the voters that a no-deal Brexit was a calamity that had to be prevented – having publicly conceded that the argument that a Corbyn government is an equal calamity is at least sufficiently worthwhile to be conceded to in order to prevent no deal. No political leader would ever agree to an act of such colossal self-destruction. No cross-party government – whether you want to call it a unity government, a caretaker government as Corbyn did or an emergency government as Swinson did today – can succeed without the leader of the largest opposition party or the leader of the governing party at its head.

    • Censorship/Free Speech

      • Killing Free Speech in Canada

        As has become standard in such cases, the charter contains no definition of what constitutes "hate", making it a catchall for whatever the Canadian government deems politically inopportune. This is all exhaustingly familiar by now: Germany already has legislation that requires social media platforms to censor their users. France is working on it.

      • Judge Dismisses Sheriff Joe Arpaio's Defamation Lawsuit Against The New York Times

        Attorney Larry Klayman is building himself quite the portfolio of high-profile losses. He's well on his way to seeing his lawsuit on behalf of Judge Roy Moore tossed by an irritated court. His lawsuit against social media companies for their banning of noted tire slash expert Laura Loomer has already been dismissed.

        Well on his way to having his law license suspended, Klayman has just seen another one of his ridiculous lawsuits tossed by a federal court. [h/t Adam Steinbaugh]

        This one claimed three publications -- including the New York Times -- besmirched the previously-unsullied reputation of (ex) Sheriff Joe Arpaio, preventing him from successfully running for Senator.

        Reciting the litany of terrible things Arpaio had done over his career, the New York Times pointed out Arpaio is pretty much defamation-proof. Even though the Times screwed up by calling him a convicted felon rather than a convicted misdemeanant, everything else written about him was true or protected opinion.

    • Privacy/Surveillance

      • Facebook has been collecting audio from some voice chats on Messenger and paying contractors to listen to and transcribe it

        But the company doesn't disclose in its data-use policies that it collects audio from users or that it sends such data to people to transcribe, Bloomberg reported.

      • Microsoft's latest privacy policy says vendors listen to voice data

        A spokesperson for Microsoft said the company collects voice data to provide voice-enabled services for Skype and Cortana and sometimes uses vendors to assist in improving these services.

      • GitHub faces class-action lawsuit over role in Capital One breach

        The plaintiffs claim Capital One and GitHub of failing to protect customers' personal information and said that both companies need to be held responsible for their role in the data breach. They also accuse the source-code hosting website of being involved in actively encouraging "(at least) friendly [cracking]".

      • 5 Reasons GitHub Is Being Sued Over the Capital One Data Breach

        Let's take a look at what the lawsuit says about GitHub as it relates to the Capital One [cracking] case.

      • We Talked to the Teen Who Tweeted From Her Fridge After Her Mom Took Her Phone

        In her recounting over Twitter DM, Dorothy told me that her mom took away her phone after she “was boiling rice and was too busy on phone and stove burst into flames.” She was watching YouTube at the time.

        After her phone was confiscated, she began desperately searching for other ways to tweet. “I’ve been bored all summer and twitter passes the time for me,” she said. She also worried that if she stayed off the platform too long, she’d lose her mutuals — [Internet] shorthand for users who follow each other.

      • British Airways E-Ticketing Flaw Exposes Passenger Flight, Personal Data

        Researchers on Tuesday said that check-in links being sent by British Airways to their passengers via email are unencrypted – opening them up to an attack that could expose victims’ booking reference numbers, phone numbers, email addresses and more. Researchers told Threatpost they estimate that 2.5 million connections were made to the affected British Airways domains over the past six months, so the potential impact is “significant.”

      • Facebook Paid Contractors to Transcribe Users’ Audio Chats

        Facebook Inc. has been paying hundreds of outside contractors to transcribe clips of audio from users of its services, according to people with knowledge of the work.

        The work has rattled the contract employees, who are not told where the audio was recorded or how it was obtained – only to transcribe it, said the people, who requested anonymity for fear of losing their jobs. They’re hearing Facebook users’ conversations, sometimes with vulgar content, but do not know why Facebook needs them transcribed, the people said.

      • Facebook Paid Contractors to Transcribe Users’ Audio Chats

        Facebook confirmed that it had been transcribing users’ audio and said it will no longer do so, following scrutiny into other companies. “Much like Apple and Google, we paused human review of audio more than a week ago,” the company said Tuesday. The company said the users who were affected chose the option in Facebook’s Messenger app to have their voice chats transcribed. The contractors were checking whether Facebook’s artificial intelligence correctly interpreted the messages, which were anonymized.

      • Facebook also hired human contractors to listen to audio from its Messenger app

        Since 2015, Messenger has offered a feature to transcribe voice clips to text, although it is turned off by default. Facebook claims only those who opted in to the feature had their audio clips reviewed by third-party contractors. However, according to its support page, if even one person in your chat has consented to Facebook transcribing the conversation, any audio in the thread would have been translated, regardless of who sent it.

        The findings are particularly troubling given that nowhere in Facebook’s support page or terms of service does it indicate that humans would be reviewing the audio. “Voice to Text uses machine learning. The more you use this feature, the more Voice to Text can help you,” the support page reads.

      • How Facebook Is Changing to Deal With Scrutiny of Its Power

        Senator Elizabeth Warren has called for the breakup of big tech companies like Facebook. Regulators have opened investigations into Facebook’s power in social networking. Even one of Facebook’s own founders has laid out a case for why the company needs to be split up.

        Now the world’s biggest social network has started to modify its behavior — in both pre-emptive and defensive ways — to deal with those threats.

    • Freedom of Information/Freedom of the Press

      • Supreme Court upholds legality of HS journalist's home search

        The court decision means that police have been able to use material confiscated during the home search in its preliminary investigation. In addition, they do not have to return the material recovered in the search.

      • Iranian Photojournalist’s Whereabouts Unknown More Than A Week After Arrest

        Jafari was detained outside her Tehran home on August 3 and taken to an unknown location, the New York-based media freedom watchdog said, citing news reports.

        Authorities also searched Jafari's home that day and confiscated dozens of items, including her phone, memory drives, and cameras, according to a photograph of an Iranian judiciary document that circulated on social media.

    • Civil Rights/Policing

      • Jailed Saudi woman activist told to deny torture in release 'deal'

        Hathloul, who recently marked her 30th birthday in jail, is among around a dozen prominent women activists who are currently facing trial after being detained last year in a sweeping crackdown on dissent.

        She was among a few detainees who accused interrogators of subjecting them to torture -- including electric shocks, flogging and groping in detention -- a charge vigorously denied by the government.

      • ASAP Rocky: A complete timeline of rapper's assault case

        The rapper spent most of July behind bars in Sweden after a violent incident on the streets of Stockholm between him, his entourage and two unknown men.

      • A$AP Rocky found guilty in Sweden assault case, fined $1,300 but will not serve jail time

        The artist, whose real name is Rakim Mayers, earlier pleaded self-defense and said he had tried to avoid a confrontation with two men who he said were persistently following his entourage. One of them picked a fight with one of Mayers’ bodyguards, the rapper told the Stockholm District Court.

      • ‘Don’t go out alone’: Swedish police warn women after four rapes in four days

        Police did, however, release a warning. Not to any would-be rapists, but to their potential victims. “Women in town should not be worried, but must think how to behave,” the city’s police force said in a statement to newspaper Expressen.

        “Feel free to walk on illuminated streets and not alone in alleys or parks,” they continued, adding that because officers “cannot be in all places, both men and women have to think ahead.”

      • Seventy years on, the Geneva Conventions are more relevant than ever

        Seventy years ago this week, following the devastation of the Second World War, the diplomatic conference of the International Committee of the Red Cross adopted the Geneva Conventions – also known as the laws of war.

        The conventions describe how, in times of war, nations should treat the wounded and sick, the shipwrecked, prisoners of war and civilians. They have been signed by every country in the world.

      • Travel Advisory: United States of America

        The Amnesty International travel advisory for the country of the United States of America calls on people worldwide to exercise caution and have an emergency contingency plan when traveling throughout the USA. This Travel Advisory is being issued in light of ongoing high levels of gun violence in the country.

      • Whitney Cummings Posts (Partially) Nude Photo Of Herself In Response To Blackmail Threat; Is That Revenge Porn?

        Revenge porn -- or, more accurately, "non-consensual" posting of naked photos -- is a real problem. Such postings are, rightly, seen as an invasion into people's private lives, and are (quite frequently) supported by really awful online services, run by scammers and jackasses who keep ending up in prison or in other trouble with the law. Most of time this is because existing laws can, and do, handle these situations. Most mainstream internet platforms now have very clear rules against non-consensual nudity and act quite quickly to take it down.

        However, there are continued efforts at passing laws to deal with this issue -- even if the attempts to do so mostly appear to be unconstitutional. We've also pointed out that these laws potentially criminalize behavior most people don't think of as "revenge porn," which could represent a real issue.

      • Jonathan Weisman’s Judgment Has Been Lapsing for a Long While Now

        This was followed by a bizarre controversy in which Weisman demanded an “enormous apology” from African-American writer Roxane Gay, who had criticized him for “telling a black woman she isn’t black.” Weisman had chided the progressive Justice Democrats for endorsing a challenger to “an African-American Democrat”; when the challenger, Morgan Harper, pointed out, “I am also black,” Weisman retorted: “@justicedems‘s endorsement included a photo.”

        The Times announced that Weisman “will no longer be overseeing the team that covers Congress or be active on social media,” and these are good things. But I would take issue with the idea that his “lapses in judgment” are recent. At FAIR, we’ve been following Weisman’s career for quite some time, and “lapses of judgment” seem to be par for the course for him.

      • NYPD's Failure To Remove A Vehicle From Its Stolen Car Database Results In Another Citizen Staring Down The Barrel Of Several Guns

        So far, it seems Cashman's effusive praise for the officers who drew down on him isn't misplaced. (We'll get to his praise in a moment.) But if this was all that had actually happened, the cops would be completely in the right. A stolen vehicle being driven by someone is generally a guns-out sort of operation. That's why ALPRs suck so much when they're wrong. And they're wrong more often than law enforcement would like to admit.

        But that's not the whole story. Cashman was actually on his way to the Norwalk police department to have his car examined for evidence. The NYPD had already recovered Cashman's car and returned it to him. However, the NYPD failed to take his vehicle off the stolen vehicle hotlist. Cashman received a call from Westchester police en route saying his plate had apparently been snagged by an ALPR operated by them and officers wanted to know if he was driving his vehicle.

        Somehow, this information never made it to the Darien PD, which was already searching for a Jeep like Cashman's due to a report of a man driving a similar vehicle brandishing a weapon at a local doctor's office. That increased the itchiness of the trigger fingers, which became even itchier when his plate was run and the NYPD database still showed the vehicle as "stolen."

        Somewhere between five and ten officers handled the dangerous Cashman who was just trying to bring his car to the local PD to be processed for evidence. Cashman had nothing but praise for the officers spurred into action by the NYPD's inexplicable inaction.

    • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

      • The Fight Over Section 230—and the Internet as We Know It

        Section 230, as it’s commonly known, provides “interactive computer services”—that is, anything from web hosts to websites to social media companies—with broad immunity from civil cases over the content users publish on their platforms. (Companies can still be held liable under federal criminal law and for intellectual property violations.) Among other things, this protection allowed social media companies to flourish without worrying about each and every post bringing about some potential, ruinous lawsuit. But it’s also come under increasing scrutiny, with some critics arguing that tech firms need more accountability.

      • Verizon Ruined Tumblr And Just Sold It For Peanuts

        But it wasn't the lack of porn that killed Tumblr, just the mere presence of Verizon and Yahoo. From the moment the suits took over, user numbers started taking a six year nosedive and new members were cut by a third. Which is something anyone on Tumblr could've told them in five memes or less. After all, part of the site's whole appeal was to serve a little nook of chaotic freedom far away from our (mainstream commercialized) reality. An illusion that becomes hard to maintain when you're constantly being reminded that it also has a boss who has a boss who has a boss -- well, you get the idea.

      • The Past and Future of The Internet: A Symposium for John Perry Barlow

        The Duke Law and Technology Review has released a special edition dedicated to examining the legal and philosophical legacy of John Perry Barlow: co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation; junior lyricist for the Grateful Dead; biofuel entrepreneur; philosopher; poet; hacker Zelig; and driven, delightful weirdo.

      • Three Years of Misery Inside Google, the Happiest Company in Tech

        For this article, WIRED spoke with 47 current and former Google employees. Most of them requested anonymity. Together, they described a period of growing distrust and disillusionment inside Google that echoed the fury roaring outside the company's walls. And in all that time, Google could never quite anticipate the right incoming collision. After the travel ban walkout, for example, the company's leaders expected the worst—and that it would come from Washington. “I knew we were snowballing toward something,” a former executive says. “I thought it was going to be Trump calling us out in the press. I didn't think it was gonna be some guy writing a memo.”

    • Lock-in/Digital Restrictions (DRM)

      • Apple locked me out of its walled garden. It was a nightmare

        I started to realize just how far-reaching the effects of Apple disabling my account were. One of the things I love about Apple’s ecosystem is that I’ve built my media collection on iTunes, and can access it from any of my Apple devices. My partner and I have owned numerous iPods, iPhones, iPads, MacBooks, iMacs, Apple Watches, Apple TVs, and even a HomePod, over the years. Apple plays a big part in my professional life too: I’m the IT manager for Quartz, and we use Apple hardware and publish on Apple platforms.

        But when Apple locked my account, all of my devices became virtually unusable. At first, it seemed like a mild inconvenience, but I soon found out how many apps on my iOS and Mac devices couldn’t be updated, not to mention how I couldn’t download anything new. When I had to take a trip for a family emergency, the JetBlue app wouldn’t let me access my boarding pass, saying I had to update the app to use it. It was the first time I’d flown with a paper boarding pass in years. I couldn’t even pass time on the flight playing Animal Crossing on my phone, because I got a similar error message when I opened the game.

    • Monopolies

      • Patents and Software Patents

        • Global Innovation Index Highlights The Difference Between Patents And Innovation

          The 2019 Global Innovation Index (GII) was recently released by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). Conceived of as a broad measure of the innovative environment in various countries, the GII incorporates a wide variety of indicators in an attempt to measure innovation, ranging from scientific articles normalized by economic output, to the number of full-time equivalent researchers per capita, to ease of access to the Internet. (And yes, it also includes the number of patents.) It also includes some indicators that I’m less certain are meaningful, such as Wikipedia edits or country code top-level domains (CCTLDs) per capita.1 While innovation-ranking systems are hard to design—in part, because innovation is hard to measure—the GII at least attempts to use a variety of well-defined indicators. (Other such systems, not so much.)

          But the most important part of the Global Innovation Index isn’t the indicators, or even the ultimate ranking. (The U.S. is ranked third, behind Switzerland and Sweden. No offense to my Swiss or Swedish friends, but I’m a little skeptical of that order.) It’s in how the report defines an innovation.


          Promoting patents isn’t the same thing as promoting progress.

        • The first AI inventor - IPKat searches for the facts behind the hype

          As has been recently widely reported (BBC, Financial Times and The Times), a number of patent applications have been filed designating a machine learning (ML) algorithm as an inventor. The aim of the applications appears to kickstart a conversation on how patent law could be changed to take account of AI inventorship. But before we answer the "could", we need to answer the "should". A claim of AI inventorship is also one that should be carefully examined. An AI that can understand the state of the art and articulate a meaningful and inventive contribution to the field, would be an incredible advance in machine learning.


          It could be argued that the algorithm's inventions are themselves evidence of its inventive capacity. The applications naming the algorithm as an inventor relate to a food container (EP18275163, the corresponding US application can be seen here) and a flashing light to be used in emergency situations (EP18275174, the corresponding US application can be seen here). The University of Surrey press release indicates that the UK IPO has already found these inventions to be novel, inventive and to have industrial application. Of course, novel, inventive and industrial applicable subject matter is not necessarily commercially useful or practical.

        • Avanci patent pool outlines how it seeks to duck Continental's U.S. antitrust action going for its throat

          The next important date in this case is August 21. That's when Judge Koh will hold the case management conference (in preparation of which the above statement was filed), and it's also the deadline (no coincidence, obviously) for the parties to file a briefing schedule for a consolidated motion to dismiss by all defendants. The motion to dismiss will be accompanied, simultaneously or near-simultaneously, by a motion to stay discovery. Surprise, surprise: Continental will oppose those motions.

          While Continental accurately notes that the defendants put a whole lot of substantive stuff into this case management statement, I'm actually glad they did, as this gives all of us a better idea of the issues that Avanci and its co-defendants will put front and center.

          This litigation has barely begun, and there already are some questions on the table for Judge Koh to resolve. The defendants would like to escape her jurisdiction by means of a transfer to the Northern District of Texas, and Continental's motion for an antisuit injunction has been fully briefed (in other posts I discussed Nokia's German anti-antisuit injunction and Continental's reply brief, which mentions five German Sharp v. Daimler patent infringement cases).

          A transfer from San Jose to Dallas would help Avanci avoid unfavorable (to SEP abusers) case law in the Northern District of California, but ideally they want to get rid of this U.S. antitrust case altogether. That's why they're preparing the aforementioned motion to dismiss. Yesterday's joint case management statement provides an outline of the key theories underlying the forthcoming motion.

      • Copyrights

        • Malibu Media, Litigious Porn Studio, Sued for Allegedly Cheating Financiers

          The complaint, filed Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court, targets Colette Pelissier and Brigham Feld, responsible for such films as My Neighbor's Wife and Perfect Threesomes. At Malibu Media, the duo run runs X-Art, but that's not what makes them so infamous in legal circles. Instead, it's the countless lawsuits filed since 2012 against anonymous "John Does" using BitTorrent to download pornography. In the years since Malibu Media became nearly synonymous with copyright trolling, courts have been flooded with hard questions about due process. And the company has faced its fair share of legal troubles along the way.

          Now Malibu Media is on the defensive due to a complaint filed by Genova Capital and Warmblood Inc., both run by Joshua Hunter and Robert Cook.

          According to the legal action, Pelissier and Feld's "high-end lifestyle has begun to outstrip their business income."

          Genova says it first extended $2.5 million in loans to the duo in 2016 to assist them in fending off an ownership dispute over a real estate property in Malibu. Later, Warmblood invested $400,000 in Malibu Media.

        • Giant Copyright Troll, Malibu Media, Sued By Investors

          We've written a bunch of stories about Malibu Media, a copyright trolling operation. The company's founders, Colette Pelissier and Brigham Feld, like to claim that they're purveyors of "classy" pornography under the X-Art brand, but their business seems almost entirely focused on trolling practices. And its embrace of copyright trolling has resulted in some significant problems for the company over the years, as judges have very much caught on to the company's long history of sketchy practices.

        • Warner Bros. Obtains Several Blocking Orders Targeting Major Pirate Sites

          Warner Bros. has obtained several interim injunctions which compel ISPs in India to begin blocking major 'pirate' sites including EZTV, TorrentDownloads, Zooqle, Monova, Tamilrockers, and many more. The original applications are for permanent blocking injunctions that can be varied to counter circumvention. In some cases, domain suspensions have also been ordered.

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