June 16, 2019

Vlax

Officially #Mexico is now a US #border

Officially #Mexico is now a US #border

don't believe the hype, Imperialism is alwasy brain washing you.

The forced #migration is THE main economical consequence of #capitalism

https://diasp.org/posts/12610799

by vlax 0°0

Your #God inside a cube

Your #God inside a cube

"(...) [cube simulated - computer universe evolved] a chunk of our universe as simulated by the Grand Challenge Cosmology Consortium (GC3). The cube is huge - it would take light 500 million years to cross "

#universe #science

This simulation hypothesized that 1/3 of the universe is composed of slow moving “cold dark matter”, and 2/3 composed of fast moving “hot dark matter.”

https://dia.so/3uE

by vlax 0°0

Zero Days

Il controllo della rete da parte di Russia, Cina e Stati Uniti d'America

La Russia ha annunciato, nei mesi scorsi, di voler creare la propria rete Internet, escludendo pian piano tutta l'influenza occidentale.

La Cina sin dall'avvento di Internet ha operato un'azione di controllo combinata, fatta di tecnologia, leggi e chiusura.

Gli Stati Uniti d'America vedono il cyberspazio come un nuovo terreno di guerra, e osservano con grande attenzione ciò che sta accadendo negli altri due Stati "concorrenti".

In questo podcast riflettiamo, partendo da un bel servizio del Financial Times, sull'attuale volontà di controllo sulla rete (e conseguente censura e soffocamento del dissenso).

by Giovanni Ziccardi

Vlax

Plastics recycling with microbes and worms is further away than we ...

Plastics recycling with microbes and worms is further away than we think (2018)

HN Discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20190335

Posted by EL_Loco (karma: 131)

Post stats: Points: 130 - Comments: 69 - 2019-06-15T15:07:20Z

#HackerNews #2018 #and #away #further #microbes #plastics #recycling #than #think #with #worms

HackerNewsBot debug: Calculated post rank: 109 - Loop: 351 - Rank min: 100 - Author rank: 327

by Hacker News ( unofficial )

June 15, 2019

n-gate.com. we can't both be right.

webshit weekly

An annotated digest of the top "Hacker" "News" posts for the second week of June, 2019.

Disclaimer: I wrote this article on the side of a mountain using an OLPC XO-4 with a Spanish keyboard. These typos were honestly come by and I intend to keep them.

I didn't get paid, so I open-sourced my client’s project
June 08, 2019 (comments)
A webshit learns how much 'full-stack' development is worth. Hackernews is outraged to discover that some webshit oversteps its bounds when demanding access to personal information. The author shows up to explain that getting hosed by a client is par for the webshit course, but Hackernews sternly informs everyone that work belongs to the client, even if they stiff you.

Blender Is Free Software
June 09, 2019 (comments)
Some programmers confuse a licensing contract with a religion. Hackernews can't understand why more people don't convert to the religion. After spending some time bikeshedding the phrasing of the liturgy, Hackernews invents the labor theory of value from first principles, but mistakes 'typing things into VS Code' for labor.

Google's Captcha in Firefox vs. in Chrome
June 10, 2019 (comments)
An Internet is upset about not being able to more efficiently contribute to Google's feature detection products. Some Hackernews suggest that it might be possible to be dissatisfied with Google; a donnybrook ensues.

Micro Frontends
June 10, 2019 (comments)
A webshit advocates creating websites by making dozens of smaller, shittier websites and mashing them together client-side. Hackernews strongly encourages this behavior, because the currently-fashionable pile of abstractions is too fragile to survive sane development practice. Also, it's what they were taught to do during their last stint either at Amazon itself or some also-ran who desperately cargo-cults Amazon's programming directives. Down at the bottom, greyed out by downvotes, one Hackernews plots an escape from the webshit mines...

No Kings: How Do You Make Good Decisions Efficiently in a Flat Organization?
June 11, 2019 (comments)
Some webshits try to figure out how to get anything done when nobody is in charge. For inspiration, they turn to the IETF, which disrupted voting by not counting votes and just doing whatever Google thought of. Hackernews, masters all of human interaction, know what the problem is but declare it insoluble. No technology is discussed.

The world in which IPv6 was a good design (2017)
June 12, 2019 (comments)
IPv6 still sucks, and an Internet recounts the path that got it there. A Hackernews Beauty Pageant finalist shows up, so there is a flurry of interest in this years-old post. Many words are excreted in defense of a protocol so awful that a majority of the Internet utterly ignores it with no measurable impact.

Dear Bureaucrat, my job wants me to lie
June 13, 2019 (comments)
Some rando is displeased with the disconnect between reality and corporate politics. Advice is dispensed: maybe try to fix it? but probably don't bother. Hackernews recounts all the times they were bullshitted via paperwork, then spends the afternoon telling each other why that was wrong. No technology is discussed.

My Personal Journey from MIT to GPL
June 14, 2019 (comments)
An Internet is radicalized. Hackernews isn't so sure this is the best plan, but can't get to the bottom of anything because each participant's opinion is based entirely on whether they write more code than they run or vice versa. Fully one quarter of the comments are Hackernews incorrecting each other about copyright law. Nobody changes their mind as a result of any of the text involved, in the article or in the comments.

by http://n-gate.com/hackernews/2019/06/14/0/

June 12, 2019

Jean-Noël Montagné

La mutation du discours politique face à l’effondrement

Repris du site du Sauvage, journal consacré à l'écologie depuis 1973

Les élections Européennes de 2019 ont illustré un fait historique dans l’histoire politique de l’Europe: la totalité des partis français ont inclus l’écologie dans leur programme. Certains propos sont même tout à fait radicaux, là où l’on ne s’y attendait pas. Je vous laisse deviner de quels partis viennent les discours suivants:

« Plus largement, derrière notre projet européen, il y a l’ambition d’une « civilisation écologique ». Cela signifie en finir avec le courtermisme et la loi du profit immédiat, sans égard pour l’ordre naturel, c’est-à-dire parfois le temps long. »
https://rassemblementnational.fr/videos/1er-mai-2019-a-metz-discours-de-marine-le-pen/

« La sécurité alimentaire, l’aménagement de notre territoire et la transition écologique, qui sont des conditions essentielles de notre avenir, passent d’abord par ce chemin. »
https://www.republicains.fr/actualites_tribune_pac_avenir_en_jeu_20190224

« Sensibiliser les citoyens, dès le plus jeune âge, à l’urgence écologique, grâce à un enseignement sur les enjeux du climat et de la biodiversité »
https://www.mouvementdemocrate.fr/programme/propositions-2436

« Engagés pour la transition écologique et la protection de l’environnement, développer une agriculture sans pesticides en 5 ans en aidant les agriculteurs »
https://www.les-patriotes.fr/nos-propositions-illustrees-lecologie/

« À l’heure où il faut faire un choix et agir pour une Europe plus écologique il faut savoir s’affranchir des seuls slogans, des seules postures, des seules bonnes intentions, et soutenir les orientations susceptibles de changer de cap pour passer de l’écologie de façade à l’écologie réelle. »
http://www.debout-la-france.fr/actualite/pour-passer-de-lecologie-de-facade-lecologie-reelle


N’en jetez plus ! Bien sûr, nous ne sommes pas dupes de l’incohérence entre ces paroles de posture électorale et la nature conservatrice de programmes ou de personnels politiques, qui, en réalité, prônent la continuation du modèle productiviste actuel, voire son renforcement.
Nous ne sommes pas surpris non plus par l’emploi fréquent de « transition écologique », un fourre-tout bien pratique dans l’esprit des conservateurs, car il peut parfaitement inclure la continuation du capitalisme par le biais de la croissance verte.

Mais la présence de ces mots nouveaux, et parfois forts – « civilisation écologique », « écologie réelle »- dans les partis de droite ou d’extrême-droite n’est pas seulement issue de la conjoncture électorale. Il y a une préoccupation réelle des militants et de certains dirigeants face au bouleversement climatique et ses conséquences, notamment portée par la peur des migrations. On ne se refait pas.

Du côté de la presse, les grands journaux n’hésitent plus à titrer en Une sur certains événements liés au réchauffement, sur des appels de personnalités ou de scientifiques, ou sur certaines prospectives scientifiques graves qui donnent à réfléchir. Il y a encore quelques années, ces articles étaient relégués au secondaire volet « Environnement », et les grandes manifestations pour le climat, excepté autour de la COP21, n’étaient pas autant mises en valeur.

Mieux, à la télévision ou sur internet, la notion d’effondrement commence à apparaitre, bien qu’elle ne fasse pas encore partie du vocabulaire politique courant. Une partie du grand public a découvert en 2018 la série de 6 reportages de TF1 sur l’effondrement ( ici ), ou la vidéo du Live Facebook du Premier Ministre Edouard Philippe et de Nicolas Hulot, devisant sur le best-seller « Collapse «  de Jared Diamond (ici). Youtube foisonne de centaines de vidéos francophones sur le sujet, dont la teneur peut varier de l’analyse scientifique jusqu’au délire mystique, décrivant les phases d’effondrement observées, modélisées, prévues, vulgarisées, niées, moquées, redoutées ou attendues, il y en a pour tous les goûts.

En revanche, la notion de décroissance, pilotée ou subie, mais inévitable, n’arrive pas encore à pénétrer la société et les médias, tellement le formatage de plus de 2000 ans d’exploitation des ressources terrestres est implanté dans notre pensée. La finitude de beaucoup de ressources essentielles (énergies, minerais, métaux, biomasse) dans les prochaines décennies, qui survient en même temps que la crise climatique, n’est pas autant connue ni médiatisée que le réchauffement.

Nous vivons cependant le tout début d’un moment-charnière, celui de la prise de conscience d’un changement radical, généralisé et inévitable, qui scellera un nouveau destin pour l’humanité. Une fenêtre cognitive unique. On aurait tort de sous-estimer l’importance de cette période très courte, dans laquelle nous vivons encore en relative stabilité, mais voyons se rapprocher des échéances incontournables. C’est dans cette période encore pacifique que se définissent aussi bien les orientations les plus ouvertes que les plus sombres.

Les citoyens vont être de plus en plus nombreux à chercher des informations, des analyses, des prévisions. Qui sont généralement pessimistes, si on écarte les prospectives transhumanistes et autres cécités futuristes. Ils chercheront ensuite des solutions, des repères, des programmes, des actions, et y trouveront leur compte, et éventuellement leur gourou.es, ou sinon, s’orienteront vers des valeurs séculaires ou archaïques de repli sur soi, d’autorité, de religiosité, ou de sécurité, ou, pire encore, transformeront l’inévitable angoisse de l’effondrement en désespoir ou en violence, en chasse aux bouc-émissaires, en désespoir collectif ou en nihilisme haineux, opérant la « convergence des chaos », climatiques et sociétaux.

Il s’agit donc pour le champ politique, médiatique et culturel, non seulement de répondre aux interrogations actuelles des gens, mais aussi de gérer l’angoisse que génère la découverte de l’effondrement et de l’inévitable décroissance. Orienter le grand public vers des perspectives non réjouissantes nécessite un courage politique important, et une connaissance fine des aspects psycho-sociaux. Les collapsologues en étudient toutes les phases, individuelles comme collectives, et c’est une contribution importante de leur travail.

Il semble important de ne rien masquer de la réalité actuelle du réchauffement et de la finitude de certaines ressources. Il paraît essentiel qu’on ne minore aucune prospective scientifique inquiétante, et même, qu’on l’intègre rapidement dans la réflexion politique et citoyenne. A ce sujet, il est stupéfiant de voir que les études publiées fin mai 2019 par l’Académie des Sciences US sur les niveaux de fonte des glaces polaires (1), et qui dessinent une élévation des mers bien plus rapide et bien plus forte que prévue 5 années auparavant (jusqu’à 2m40 d’ici 80 ans), n’ont aucunement déclenché de réflexion politique d’ampleur, alors qu’elles sont capitales pour la prospective des 40 prochaines années.

Il semble également salutaire de ne pas mentir à la population sur certains aspects du dérèglement climatique. Il n’est pas raisonnable, par exemple, comme on l’a entendu aux élections Européennes de 2019, dans la bouche de certains leaders écologistes, qu’on pourrait gagner le combat contre le dérèglement du climat. L’ »inertie temporelle » du CO2 déjà libéré depuis 150 ans, et d’autres paramètres comme l’accélération actuelle de la libération de méthane (2), provoquent des changements climatiques hors de portée de nos efforts, fussent-ils radicaux, globaux et immédiats. Oui, la bataille du climat est perdue, mais celle de la résilience ne l’est pas. Ce qui n’empêche pas de tout faire pour laisser le pétrole enfoui là où il est, et limiter ainsi les effets à long terme.

C’est aussi sur les temporalités de l’action politique que se pose un nouveau problème. Les derniers constats scientifiques nous montrent que les perturbations issus du réchauffement s’opèrent de plus en plus vite, et impactent rapidement la société ( cyclones, sécheresses, inondations, incendies, perte de récolte, etc.). Ils nous montrent aussi que des phénomènes d’emballement sont probables, bien que difficilement quantifiables et presque impossibles à placer sur un calendrier. A l’inverse, la résilience se prévoit sur un temps long. Elle peut se mettre en place aisément dans une période encore calme, comme maintenant, mais ne peut plus se construire en période d’effondrement plus important.

Enfin, il faut avoir le courage de constater que ce que nous appelions avec fierté « démocratie » n’est plus que l’ombre d’elle-même, tellement l’imbrication entre l’économie et le politique a détruit toute possibilité citoyenne d’intervention et de réforme systémique dans la marche des nations. Là aussi, devant l’impuissance du politique face à la finance, il se pourrait bien que l’action populaire, dont on ne peut prévoir la teneur, populiste & claniste ou bien citoyenne & associative, prenne l’initiative, avec tous les risques ou les bienfaits que cela peut apporter.

Il apparait donc essentiel que le champ politique encore en activité, s’il veut survivre, intègre ces nouveaux paramètres: psychologiques, scientifiques, temporels et sociétaux dans de nouvelles formes de réflexion et d’action ouvertes. Cette mutation du politique est incontournable. Ceux qui la portent aujourd’hui, dans le champ politique ou en dehors, notamment dans le champ associatif, auront une possibilité de construire des zones résilientes moins impactées par l’effondrement, où la vie pourra prendre toute sa valeur et toute sa puissance renouvelée. Une seule chose est certaine: il n’y a pas une seconde à perdre.

by ICN

Data Knightmare (Italian podcast)

DK 3x36 - Valutare le emozioni. Come no.

Una nuova ennesima startup di anime belle propone di riconoscere non solo genere, età e etnia di appartenenza, ma perfino le nostre reazioni emotive "di base". Una tecnologia pericolosa, che non si può più lasciare di libero uso, né per gli Stati né per le aziende.

by Walter Vannini

June 10, 2019

Bordermonitoring.EU

Bulgarien: Flüchtlinge zwischen Haft und Obdachlosigkeit

Die Lage der Geflüchteten im Transit, ihre Unterbringung und Integrationsperspektiven in Bulgarien Von Mathias Fiedler und Marc Speer Auch wenn die Zahl der Asylantragsteller_innen in den letzten Jahren zurückgegangen ist, stellt  Bulgarien nach wie vor ein bedeutsames Transitland für Geflüchtete dar. Die allermeisten von ihnen wollen Bulgarien jedoch lediglich durchqueren und weiter nach Mittel- und Nordeuropa reisen. … Bulgarien: Flüchtlinge zwischen Haft und Obdachlosigkeit weiterlesen

by ms

June 09, 2019

Zero Days

La differenza tra "Privacy" e "Data Protection" e la tradizione europea nel GDPR

I termini "privacy" e "data protection" hanno un'origine e una storia differenti.

Col passare dei decenni alcuni aspetti hanno iniziato a sovrapporsi, ma sono due idee (anche giuridiche) ben radicate nella cultura USA e in quella europea.

In questo podcast cerchiamo di spiegare la differenza e, soprattutto, come, nel GDPR, si possa "sentire" chiaramente questa tradizione della protezione dei dati uscita dalla tormentata storia europea.

by Giovanni Ziccardi

June 08, 2019

n-gate.com. we can't both be right.

webshit weekly

An annotated digest of the top "Hacker" "News" posts for the first week of June, 2019.

Boeing Built Deadly Assumptions into 737 Max, Blind to a Late Design Change
June 01, 2019 (comments)
The New York Times reviews Boeing's Full Self-Driving project. Discussing a pair of crashes that killed almost three hundred and fifty people, Hackernews can't decide whether the failure was one of user experience or branding. Other Hackernews think that this plane would have worked better if it were designed by programmers with a tendency to work late for free. A majority of the comments are Hackernews incorrecting one another about FAA regulations, avionics, and lift.

Google Cloud Is Down
June 02, 2019 (comments)
SRE is what you get when you treat operations as if it’s a software problem. Hackernews whiles away the downtime by trying to guess which aspect of Google's network went tits-up. Another popular pastime involves trying to figure out if Amazon Web Services might be more reliable than Google Cloud. The rest of the comments are complaints about Google's (hypothetical) customer service and (extremely real) billing. Nobody considers the obvious root cause: Google, being unable to embed ads into TCP packets, has discontinued the product.

Apple Sign In
June 03, 2019 (comments)
Apple invents single sign-on and disposable email addresses in one fell strike. Hackernews writhes in ecstasy, joyously praising Tim Cook's selfless devotion to the plight of the commoner. Some seditious apostates complain that Apple is not tithing sufficiently to app programmers, but since the only permissible dissembling is criticism of the laptop keyboard, the apostasy is banished from the halls of "Hacker" "News." Aside from Macbook Testaments and delirious gratitude, most of the comments are Hackernews wondering how they're supposed to port their webshit into compatibility with actual security practices.

Firefox Now Available with Enhanced Tracking Protection by Default
June 04, 2019 (comments)
Mozilla continues the war against its own sponsors. Hackernews likes all the words in the post but none of them are particularly interesting or novel, resulting in a 4:1 vote:comment ratio. Just about all of the comments are people telling us what web browser they prefer. Since there are only three web browsers, the comments get a bit repetitive.

“Apps intended for kids may not include third-party advertising or analytics”
June 05, 2019 (comments)
Apple pretends to share the reasons it approves or disapproves of software in its repositories. Hackernews focuses on the part where Apple disapproves of tracking and manipulating children, struggling with the relative morality of tracking and manipulating ... you know, anyone at all. Various alternatives to personal-data mining and advertising are discussed, but nobody really takes the idea seriously. A few Hackernews can't understand how it could be possible to write and maintain a program that doesn't constantly send all collectable usage information directly back to the programmer.

The decline of the family has unleashed an epidemic of loneliness
June 06, 2019 (comments)
Some rando gets paid by the word. We get five thousand of them, all pretending to explain why some people are sad and alone. Hackernews is frequently sad and alone, so there is intense interest in this particular article. Because it insists that bad people are making wrong decisions and ruining society, Hackernews is 100% sold on this wall of text. The sadness and loneliness, in other words, should not be ascribed to wearing toe shoes, spending eighty-five percent of their income on studio lofts, drinking Soylent products in their open-plan offices eighteen hours per day, or spending every waking moment attempting to lure rich people into paying them to undermine worker protections on a global scale. Nope, it's just the zeitgeist. Nobody's fault!

Absolute truths I unlearned as junior developer
June 07, 2019 (comments)
After a decade in the ad mines, a webshit relates some valuable lessons, which fall into a few categories:

  1. Computer Science is not software engineering
  2. All software-related text and speech contain lies
  3. Everyone sucks at software engineering
  4. You should voluntarily suck at it too
  5. Nobody cares, so half-ass it

Hackernews organizes a humility tournament, then breaks up into teams to bikeshed whatever part of the article stung the worst.

by http://n-gate.com/hackernews/2019/06/07/0/

June 06, 2019

Riccardo Orioles

Il bullo e la ragazzina: chi ha vinto le elezioni e cosa importa a noi greci

Olga Nassis, antropologa siciliana di famiglia greca (i Nassis sono stati protagonisti sia della lotta di liberazione anti-ottomana che della resistenza contro i nazisti), ha partecipato –  come Lidia Menapace – a queste elezioni europee con Syriza in Grecia, ottenendo quasi 30mila voti. Le sue considerazioni sull’Europa post-voto ci sembrano interessanti: il suo originale punto di vista “greco” potrebbe in realtà interessare tutti i Paesi del Sud Europa, fra cui anche il nostro.

di Olga Nassis

Chi ha perduto le elezioni in Europa? Le ha perdute Trump, perché queste elezioni erano sulla sopravvivenza o meno dell’Europa, e l’Europa alla fine c’è ancora.

E chi le ha vinte? Le ha vinte la ragazza svedese – Greta Thunberg – di cui tutti ridevano perché aveva l’ingenuità – una ragazzina! – di mettersi davanti al suo parlamento a gridare ai politici che è ora di non perdere tempo e di salvare la Terra.

Trump, con la sua arroganza e la sua faccia da bullo, sembrava forte. E Greta, con la sua faccia pulita, sembrava buffa. Intanto il bullo non è riuscito a dare fuoco alla scuola – e la ragazzina (ma migliaia e migliaia di ragazzini hanno manifestato con lei, in tutto il mondo) ha vinto le elezioni.

“Come, ha vinto le elezioni?”.

Ha vinto le elezioni. Le ha vinte in Germania, dove il partito ecologista (il partito verde) nella sorpresa generale ha stracciato tutti quanti. E’ andato molto bene in Francia, dove è il terzo partito. Così, nel Parlamento europeo, finiranno per esserci più allegri Verdi che feroci e (si diceva) invincibili Neri…

E questo, a noi Greci, che cosa importa?

C’importa sì. Intanto perché il governo tedesco – il nostro più duro avversario – adesso avrà altro a cui pensare, che non stringere la corda al collo di noi Greci. E poi perché anche in Grecia ci sono in realtà un sacco di Greta, solo che noi non le vediamo. In Germania e in Francia la vittoria degli ecologisti è stata conquistata soprattutto dai giovani, da quelli che “ingenuamente” hanno dato retta alle domande nuove. E anche in Italia, dove la sinistra “ufficiale”, nelle sue varie forme, ha fatto tutto il possibile per rovinare se stessa, le piazze si sono riempite tantissime volte da folle di ragazzi “ingenui” e senza partito, ma decisi – sia pure confusamente – ad andare avanti. Basti pensare alle grandissime manifestazioni antifasciste e antimafia.

Ecco: noi dobbiamo imboccare con decisione questa strada. Una strada veloce, coraggiosa, senza compromessi. Non solo nei sentimenti, ma proprio nelle misure concrete, tagliate su misura per noi Greci in Europa, per risposte vincenti ai bisogni greci. Per esempio? Tre proposte concrete.

1) Proporre alla Germania – cioè ai Verdi tedeschi – la conversione del debito greco in riconversione ecologica e climatica;
2) Studiare con la Germania – cioè, ancora, coi Verdi – un trasferimento di tecnologia e know how;
3) Dichiarare lo stato di emergenza climatica, rivedere in questo quadro i vincoli economici della Bce e impegnarsi a reinvestire le risorse in tal senso.

L’economia, nel ventunesimo secolo, non è solo finanza: è il momento di comprendere questa realtà fino in fondo e la Grecia deve contribuire, anche stavolta, a tracciare la strada per l’Europa.

L'articolo Il bullo e la ragazzina: chi ha vinto le elezioni e cosa importa a noi greci proviene da Il Fatto Quotidiano.

by Riccardo Orioles

Data Knightmare (Italian podcast)

DK 3x35 - Fastfingers Shithead, programmatore

Programmare significa mettere in pratica la propria visione del mondo. Ma cosa succede quando un imbecille si mette alla tastiera? AVVERTENZA: contiene imprecazioni. Molte.

by Walter Vannini

June 04, 2019

Bretton Woods Project

What are the main criticisms of the World Bank and the IMF?

Find the fully formatted PDF version here.

Contentcover Common Criticisms

  1. Historical context of IMF and World Bank critiques.
  2. Democratic governance.
      1. 2.1 Structural under-representation of the Global South.
      2. 2.2 Undermining democratic ownership.
      3. 2.3 Biased and inconsistent decision-making.
      4. 2.4 Weak ability to learn from past mistakes.
      5. 2.5 Effective impunity for harms caused.
  3. Human rights.
      1. 3.1 Restricting the macroeconomic environment for human rights.
      2. 3.2 Causing major harms through development projects.
      3. 3.3 Lacking evidence for positive impacts…..
      4. 3.4 …while not measuring harmful impacts.
  4. Environment.
      1. 4.1 Growth-based model unsustainable.
      2. 4.2 Continued fossil fuel investments.
      3. 4.3 Focus on mega-projects.
  5. Conclusion.

 


1.    Historical context of IMF and World Bank critiques

Founded in 1944, the World Bank Group (WBG, or Bank) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF, or Fund) are twin intergovernmental institutions that are influential in shaping the structure of the world’s development and financial order. Also known as the Bretton Woods Institutions (BWIs), they were initially created with the intention of rebuilding the international economic system following World War II (WWII). The key decisions leading to the establishment of both institutions were largely steered by the US, and to a lesser extent the UK, and during the post-war period the BWIs were significantly influenced by the US’s geopolitical strength. Their mandates, focus and programmes have evolved greatly over time, as seen, for example, by the shift of their pivotal role as designers of the fixed exchange rate regime created by the Bretton Woods System, to their active promotion of a fluctuating exchange rate system after its collapse in 1973. Their functions are detailed in the World Bank’s and IMF’s respective Articles of Agreement (see also BWP, What are the Bretton Woods Institutions?)

While the establishment of the Bank and Fund was presented as an apolitical effort to rebuild the world economy in the aftermath of WWII, some interpretations also view them as an effort to defend or expand the reach of western capitalism in the face of a potential challenge from the Soviet Union, and to promote US interests in particular. Under President Robert McNamara (1968-1981), the World Bank’s mission began to shift, as it developed a focus on income inequality and poverty for the first time.

John Maynard Keynes and Harry Dexter White at the inaugural meeting of the IMF’s Board of Governors in Savannah, Georgia, U.S., 1946

In the 1980s and 1990s, the policies championed by the BWIs were inspired in principle by the so-called ‘Washington Consensus’, which focused ideologically on promoting free-market economic policies such as deregulation, privatisation and trade liberalisation, as well as targeting unlimited economic growth, and were implemented primarily through Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAPs). As many authors have argued – including, for example, by demonstrating the links between the decimation of African health systems by SAPS and the response to the 2014 Ebola crisis (see Observer Winter 2015) – the devastating impacts of SAPs have been enduring and persist to this day.

While the BWIs have historically been seen as an instrument of United States and other Western countries’ political and economic power, their role and relevance has been continually debated. This debate has regained momentum in the decade since the 2008 global financial crisis, where the rise of China, often presented as the coming of a more multipolar world, is seen by some as a challenge to the perceived hegemony of the BWIs. However, others have noted that this analytical framework is flawed, as the private interests promoted by the Bank and Fund cannot always be understood in this light and there is a high degree of cooperation between the Bank and Fund and other multilateral institutions, including those established by China and other developing countries.

The more frequent financial crises since the 1970s – and the 2008 crisis in particular – have had an impact on the work of the Fund, which has been forced to move beyond essentially national interventions to a greater focus on the global economy, and from scanning the horizon for potential crises to dealing with them in order to avoid regional or global contagion. The role of the Bank has also changed dramatically, from an initial focus on infrastructure lending in its incarnation as the poster child for the Washington Consensus and Post-Washington Consensus, to the “Knowledge Bank” where it tried to position itself as the repository of ‘development expertise’.

Today, the work of the Bank is currently framed by its twin goals, established in 2013: “eliminating extreme poverty by 2030 and boosting shared prosperity.” These are primarily targeted in principle through: direct lending for development projects; direct budget support to governments (also known as Development Policy Financing [DPF]); financial support to the private sector, including financial intermediaries (FI); and via guarantees for large-scale development. The current stated aims of the Fund are promoting international fiscal and monetary cooperation, securing international financial stability, facilitating international trade, and promoting high employment and sustainable economic growth. It aims to do so by providing loan programmes to states with balance of payments problems, as well as policy advice through either technical assistance or bilateral and multilateral macroeconomic surveillance.

There is no question that the IMF and World Bank continue to be amongst the most relevant and significant powerful norm-setters, convenors, knowledge-holders and influencers of the international development and financial landscape. This Inside the Institutions sets-out some of the most common criticisms of the World Bank and IMF under three broad lenses: democratic governance, human rights and the environment.

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2.    Democratic governance

2.1 Structural under-representation of the Global South

One of the central criticisms of the World Bank and IMF relates to the political power imbalances in their governance structures where, as a result of voting shares being based principally on the size and ‘openness’ of countries’ economies, poorer countries – often those receiving loans from the BWIs – are structurally under-represented in decision-making processes.

Despite the 2016 voting reforms at the Fund, which shifted voting powers somewhat (to the particular advantage of China), the distribution of voting power remains severely imbalanced in favour of the US, European countries and Japan, in particular. Importantly, the US still has veto power over an array of major decisions (see Observer Winter 2018). In the case of the World Bank, in addition to calls for greater representation of low-income countries on the Executive Board, civil society organisations (CSOs) have historically demanded reforms of decision-making through the introduction of double-majority voting, where an agreement would require both shareholder and member state majorities, thus giving developing countries a larger role in these processes.

The under-representation of low- and middle-income countries on the BWIs’ Executive Boards is exacerbated by the historic ‘gentleman’s agreement’ between the United States and European countries, which has seen the Fund and Bank led by a European and US national, respectively, since their inception. Civil society has long called for this opaque system to be replaced with a merit-based, transparent process. However, the April 2019 appointment of World Bank President David Malpass – a US national who ran unopposed for the Bank’s top job – demonstrated that the gentleman’s agreement remains alive and well despite civil society opposition (see Observer Spring 2019).

2.2 Undermining democratic ownership

The issue of political power imbalances is exacerbated by another long-standing critique of the Bank and Fund: that the economic policy conditions they promote – often attached or ‘recommended’ as part of loans, projects, technical assistance, or financial surveillance – undermine the sovereignty of borrower nations, limiting their ability to make policy decisions and eroding their ownership of national development strategies. This is particularly the case for the IMF as ‘a lender of last resort’ for governments experiencing balance of payment problems.

While historically the IMF and Bank enforced conditionality primarily through SAPs, today, the IMF requires a ‘letter of intent’ from governments requesting a loan. To be approved by the IMF for a loan, the letter requires prior actions, quantitative performance criteria and structural benchmarks – the latter of which continues to contain structural macroeconomic policy reforms. Despite efforts to ‘streamline’ the number of conditions in the face of severe criticism, the IMF’s 2018 Review of Program Design and Conditionality found that the number of structural conditions is on the rise. Once again, this raises concerns about the restriction of policy space for developing countries. For the World Bank, conditionality is now most directly issued through its DPF, where loans and grants for development projects are provided to countries which adopt the required ‘prior actions’ to receive this fungible finance. In 2017, the Bank issued 434 prior actions, according to research by Belgium-based CSO Eurodad.

In addition to the formal conditions introduced through lending programmes, both institutions play a more nuanced role in restricting policy space through their research, publications, policy advice and training. Particularly for low-income countries that find it difficult to attract capital at affordable rates, IMF and Bank pronouncements on domestic policies can lead to important reactions by ‘the market’ (including potential lenders or investors), therefore potentially limiting (or increasing) countries’ financing options. The Bank and Fund’s bias towards fiscal consolidation, the private sector and debt servicing also restricts public policy space and the ability of governments to finance infrastructure and social services (see the ‘Human Rights’ section below). The Bank and Fund have established substantial normative power through their research, publications, pronouncements and support of ‘independent’ academic work. Their ability to position their policy prescriptions as ‘best practice’, supported by ‘robust’ theoretical and empirical work, oftentimes results in the internalisation of Bank and Fund positions by scholars, development practitioners and finance ministers.

2.3 Biased and inconsistent decision-making

The Bank and Fund have also been heavily criticised for the role played by the political expediency of important shareholders in its decision-making and choice of interventions, including its support to dictatorships. The IMF’s decision to break its own rules and support the highly controversial Greek loan programme, agreed in 2010, prompted Brazil’s Executive Director to the IMF to protest that, “… the program … may be seen not as a rescue of Greece, which will have to undergo a wrenching adjustment, but as a bail-out of Greece’s private debt holders, mainly European financial institutions.”

In general, the transition from the Washington Consensus, underpinned by the trust in the efficiency of markets and consequently a drastically reduced role for the state, to its ‘more progressive’ post-Washington Consensus successor – which acknowledges market failures and re-inserts the state’s relevance, is often presented as a significant change in Bank and IMF thinking and their principles.  However, the Bank’s emphasis on using public resources to leverage (subsidise) private investment through its Maximising Finance for Development (MFD) approach demonstrates the state’s role has merely been reframed essentially to ‘create an enabling’ environment to allow the private sector to pursue its objectives.

2.4 Weak ability to learn from past mistakes

The IMF’s Independent Evaluation Office (IEO) was set up in 2001 to conduct evaluations of the policies and functionalities of the institution with the aim of enhancing the learning culture, strengthening credibility, and supporting institutional governance and oversight. On the World Bank side, the Independent Evaluation Group (IEG) was created in 2006, integrating several individual accountability mechanisms, and is charged with evaluating the activities of the entire World Bank Group and determining what works, what doesn’t and why.

However, the Bank and Fund have been criticised for failing to implement the recommendations of the IEG and IEO, respectively. In the case of the Bank, this reflects larger criticisms of staff incentives being misaligned with its twin goals, and the Bank having an insular, self-referential approach to knowledge production, which – according to the landmark Deaton Report published in 2006 – sometimes borders on ‘parody’ (see Observer Summer 2018). Meanwhile, a third independent evaluation of the IEO itself, published in 2018, found that the IEO’s recommendations continue to “lack traction” within the Fund (see Observer Autumn 2018). This echoes the findings of previous evaluations of the IEO, amidst accusations of ‘groupthink’ at the IMF, which the IEO deemed partially the cause of the Fund not foreseeing the 2008 global financial crisis, arguably its most important job and clearest recent failure (see Update Issue 74).

2.5 Effective impunity for harms caused

In the 1980s, the Bank was beset by a string of controversies related to environmental and social impacts of Bank-financed projects (see Human rights and Environment section below), with the Sardar Sarovar dam project in India – which sparked a global opposition campaign – leading to the establishment of the Bank’s Inspection Panel (its independent accountability mechanism [IAM]) in 1993 (see Observer Autumn 2017). A separate IAM for the International Finance Corporation (IFC) – the private sector arm of the World Bank – the Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO), was created in 1999. These accountability mechanisms were set up to hear complaints of people and communities affected by Bank and IFC-funded projects, and to foster redress where relevant. While the Bank’s IAMs are generally considered to be ‘best of class’ among IFIs, their mandates are limited, their remedy mechanisms for those negatively impacted by Bank projects continue to lack, and management responses to their findings are often inadequate.

Relatedly, a 2019 US Supreme Court decision found in favour of Indian fisherfolk, and against the IFC, rejecting its claim to ‘absolute immunity’ from prosecution in US courts; the plaintiffs took the IFC to court in the US after failing to receive adequate compensation following a CAO investigation ruling that IFC’s investment in the Tata Mundra power plant in India had resulted in substantial damage to their livelihoods. Despite the Supreme Court decision, the vast proportion of the Bank’s lending and other programme portfolios remain immune from legal action, as does the IMF.

Finally, critics also argue that the opaque nature of investments in FI (i.e. commercial banks and asset funds) by the IFC – which constitutes a growing part of its portfolio – and its inability to screen and monitor FI sub-projects adequately, undermines accountability. The lack of public disclosure of FI investments makes it difficult for communities and civil society to bring cases to the CAO and hold the IFC accountable for its actions (see Observer Winter 2017).

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3.    Human rights

A second stream of longstanding critiques has focused on the content of the policies, programmes and projects that the BWIs promote and enforce and how they have undermined a broad spectrum of human rights, with the Bank even being labelled a “human rights-free zone” in 2015 by the UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights.

3.1 Restricting the macroeconomic environment for human rights

At the macroeconomic level, following on from the original Washington Consensus, the Bank and IMF continue to push a particular set of macroeconomic policy prescriptions across almost all their member countries. Most typically, these are fiscal consolidation measures (or austerity), and include reducing the public wage bill, introducing or increasing VAT and other indirect regressive taxes in particular, labour flexibilisation, rationalising (cutting) and privatising social services, and targeting social protections and subsidies, while maintaining low levels of inflation, corporate taxation rates and trade tariffs.

In particular, in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, this ‘pro-cyclical’ approach was criticised for leading to a decline in economic activity, leading to lower consumption, lower public revenues, lower investment in vital public services, and higher levels of inequality, which in turn also lowers growth. Critics have also repeatedly pointed out this approach does not address the root causes of the government’s balance of payments distress (see Observer Winter 2017-18). While the IMF has softened its position on some important issues, such as the recognition that capital controls may be necessary in certain (limited) circumstances, and the increased acknowledgement of the potential benefits of anti-cyclical policies (also in very limited circumstances), the general direction of travel remains largely unchanged.

Women protest at the World Bank Group headquarters in Washington DC: "Danger. Human Rights violations ahead"

Danger: Violations Ahead. International Accountability Project

Labour unions, for instance, have long opposed the BWIs’ systematic weakening of labour rights either directly through conditionality or indirectly through policy advice in flagship reports and surveillance, such as the IMF’s 2017 loan programme to Greece (see Observer Autumn 2017), or the World Bank’s 2018 World Development Report (see Observer Winter 2018), respectively. Other economic and social rights, such as the right to social security, health and education, as well as the broader right to an adequate standard of living, including adequate food, clothing and housing, are all undermined by the BWIs’ promotion of excessively constrained fiscal policies and aggressive privatisation that preclude states from delivering core public services and meeting their international human rights obligations.

A related and intersectional thread of human rights critiques focuses on how these policies supported, proposed or required by the BWIs are designed unevenly in favour of those already at the top of the economy and society, further exacerbating inequalities within and between countries and disproportionately harming the marginalised, who already are most vulnerable to human rights violations. Groups that are often disproportionately and cumulatively disadvantaged by the types of macroeconomic policies the BWIs promote include the poor, women, immigrants, the elderly, children and youth, ethnic and religious minorities, people with disabilities, and LGBTQI communities.

3.2 Causing major harms through development projects

World Bank-funded projects have also continually been found to be in direct, serious violation of international human rights standards. Major recurring issues include mass evictions and the forced displacement of peoples and communities for major infrastructure and agricultural projects (see Observer Spring 2015), violations of the rights of indigenous and forest peoples, targeting of human rights defenders, triggering local food insecurity, and serious labour rights violations, such as child and forced labour reportedly being used in Bank-funded projects (see Observer Winter 2016). The IFC has also been shown on several occasions to have invested in companies that avoid or evade taxes (see Observer Autumn 2016). More recently, the Bank has also acknowledged that its projects can create an environment that can foster gender-based violence, including sexual abuse and the spread of HIV/AIDS (see Observer Spring 2017).

To safeguard against risks like these, the World Bank launched its revised Environmental and Social Framework in 2018, although it applies only to its project lending and not to its DPF. Many in civil society remain unconvinced that the safeguards are fit for purpose if the Bank is to deliver on its mandate to implement policies that benefit the poorest, especially as the Bank is set to focus on more complex and difficult environments from 2018.

3.3 Lacking evidence for positive impacts…

While maintaining they have no obligations under international human rights law, despite objections of myriad human rights experts and the opinion of one of the Bank’s former General Counsels, both the Bank and Fund claim their work to eradicate poverty and increase economic growth and stability ultimately contributes to global welfare and the fulfilment of human rights, without clear evidence. First, this ‘win-win’ scenario has been the subject of countless critiques pointing to obvious trade-offs and conflicts between ‘pro-growth’ and ‘pro-equity’ policies, including in a paper by the IMF’s own research department in 2014.

Second, according to data on poverty rates, the vast majority of the poverty eradication achieved during the last 40 years is actually largely attributed to China, which has certainly not followed the policy prescriptions of the BWIs (see Observer Winter 2017-2018), while the IMF’s 2018 conditionality review found several IMF programmes where “debt overshot projections by significant margins, reflecting disappointing growth and higher fiscal deficits”, with lower programme completion rates. Additionally, the pace of poverty reduction is reportedly slowing, while the number of people living in extreme poverty in Africa is increasing, and even the way the Bank measures poverty levels remains highly disputed. These and other critiques call into question the efficacy of the BWIs’ policy prescriptions more generally and their theoretical ability to effectively contribute to the fulfilment of human rights in the first place.

3.4 …while not measuring harmful impacts

At the same time, repeated calls to measure the harmful impacts Bank and Fund policies have on the enjoyment of human rights, including systematic and comprehensive gender and inequality impact assessments, as well as including human rights considerations in the BWIs’ Debt Sustainability Assessments, whether at the macroeconomic policy or project level, remain unanswered (see Observer Spring 2019).

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4.    Environment

Finally, the BWIs’ approach to development and economic policy, as well as their financing decisions, have generated long-standing and ever-more pressing criticisms related to the protection of the environment and staving off climate change.

4.1 Growth-based model unsustainable

In general, the growth-based approach to poverty reduction that the World Bank and IMF both promote has immense environmental consequences, as is evidenced by the deepening climate crisis. As noted by former World Bank Chief Economist Sir Nicholas Stern in 2007, “Climate change is a result of the greatest market failure the world has seen.” Since their inception, the BWIs have played a formative role in aiding and abetting the global forces that have caused this market failure, through promoting economic growth as the core component of their development model, despite – as noted in the aforementioned Deaton report – mixed evidence that economic growth and poverty reduction are linked. While the Bank, and to a lesser extent, the Fund, have both increasingly tried to account for environmental and climate factors in their work over recent decades, these efforts have largely been limited to attempting to integrate these concerns into a growth-based development model.

4.2 Continued fossil fuel investments

In terms of its direct lending, the Bank’s investments in fossil fuels have been criticised for undermining climate goals – with the Bank continuing to fund a considerable number of fossil fuel projects in the years after the Paris Climate Agreement was signed in 2015, which saw countries jointly commit to limit average global temperature rise to “well below 2°C” relative to preindustrial levels. Despite the Bank’s recent climate commitments (see Observer Spring 2018), CSOs remain concerned that the Bank lacks a comprehensive approach to align its entire lending portfolio with the Paris Agreement. In addition to project finance for oil and gas infrastructure, there are other remaining types of Bank investments that are a cause for concern. The IFC now invests nearly 50 per cent of its portfolio in FI, and a lack of sub-project disclosure in these investments makes it difficult to assess the exposure of these investments to fossil fuels, including coal (see Governance above). However, CSO research has linked IFC FI investments to the construction of 19 new coal-fired power plants in the Philippines, while another report found IFC FI investments linked to 41 new coal plants between 2013 and 2016. While the IFC announced a new Green Equity Strategy in October 2018 that will require new FI clients to divest from coal over time, this policy will not affect past FI investments (see Observer Winter 2018).

CSOs are also concerned that the World Bank has thus far not developed a framework to Comon Criticisms World Bank and IMF FINALassess the climate impacts of its Development Policy Finance. CSO research has found that in some cases, these contain ‘prior actions’ that benefit the fossil fuel and extractive industries. Finally, the Bank’s Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) has in recent years provided a number of guarantees that have backed fossil-fuel projects. According to CSO research, in FY16, MIGA did not support a single renewable energy project: “[its] guarantees to energy were worth $1.9 billion … of which $0.9 billion went to fossil fuel projects”, with the rest going to projects such as hydropower dams, often with detrimental environmental and human rights impacts.

4.3 Focus on mega-projects

The Bank’s shift towards leveraging private sector finance for development (see Governance above), which has gained momentum since 2015, includes a particular emphasis on promoting ‘infrastructure as an asset class’, in order to crowd in institutional investors. This policy initiative is highly dependent on mega-infrastructure projects – and, as noted by a letter sent by concerned economists in October 2018, currently lacks a framework for aligning such mega-projects with the Paris Climate Agreement or the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

A woman washes dishes at the Kutadi Bandar, a seasonal fishing community located next to the Tata Mundra Ultra Mega Power Project’s intake channel. October, 2014. Photo: Sami Siva / ICIJ

This is of major concern, given that many planned ‘mega-corridors’ in developing regions are predicated on building a new generation of carbon-intensive infrastructure. In many cases, the Bank continues to support such projects that, while not ‘fossil fuel investments’ per se, are part of such carbon-intensive mega-corridors (see Observer Autumn 2018).

4.4 Forests

Finally, the Bank’s forest policy and weak safeguards on forest protection have also been observed to infringe the rights of local communities and have failed to protect one of the planet’s most important ‘carbon sinks’ (see Observer Spring 2017). CSOs have called for the Bank to open up its Forest Notes – which are meant to guide the interface between its lending and forests – to consultation (see Observer Winter 2017-2018). CSOs have also been highly critical of one of the forest initiatives the Bank manages, the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF), a climate investment fund that supports Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) projects. A March 2017 post in REDD Monitor called the FCPF, “the most cost-inefficient tree-saving scheme ever,” owing to high administrative costs between fiscal years 2009-2015 absorbing 64 per cent of FCFP’s $55 million expenditure.  More generally, the Bank’s overall approach to lending has undermined the protection of vital natural ecosystems in borrower countries. As noted by Bruce Rich in his influential 2013 book, Foreclosing the Future: The World Bank and the Politics of Environmental Destruction, “When one examines the failures to conserve ecosystems, or to mitigate environmental impacts of development, one finds that failed governance at all levels is almost invariably at the root. …Many of [the Bank’s] problems are associated with a dysfunctional institutional culture in which the relentless pressure to move money out the door, even in violation of the Bank’s own policies and rules, often overrides all other considerations.”

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5.    Conclusion

Seventy-five years on the Bretton Woods Conference, and despite the Bank and Fund’s efforts to portray themselves as beacons of knowledge and expertise on development and macroeconomic issues, both institutions have been and continue to be the subject of robust academic, UN and civil society criticism. Indeed, both have faced and continue to face resistance and mobilisations from civil society and social movements, from the global 1994 “50 years is enough” campaign to the  2018 Peoples Global Conference Against IMF-World Bank.

An extensive academic literature, with which the Bank and Fund rarely engage, challenges the robustness of the theoretical and evidence bases for Bank and Fund’s principles and policies. Volumes of documents testify to the experiences of millions of people negatively impacted by Bank and Fund policies and programmes. Together they suggest that Bank and Fund’s policies have failed to achieve their stated objectives and instead support an economic order that benefits elites and private sector interests at the expense of poor and marginalised communities.

As the Bank and Fund –  and others – now face a challenge from ‘populists’ and far-right groups about the continued relevance of multilateralism amidst a changing global order, the BWIs continue to deny their role in creating the social, political and economic conditions that have led to the frustration and disenfranchisement that brought us here.

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Find the fully formatted PDF version here.

by Isabel Alvarez

June 03, 2019

Andy Wingo

pictie, my c++-to-webassembly workbench

Hello, interwebs! Today I'd like to share a little skunkworks project with y'all: Pictie, a workbench for WebAssembly C++ integration on the web.

loading pictie...

<noscript> JavaScript disabled, no pictie demo. See the pictie web page for more information. </noscript>>&&<&>>>&&><<>>&&<><>>

wtf just happened????!?

So! If everything went well, above you have some colors and a prompt that accepts Javascript expressions to evaluate. If the result of evaluating a JS expression is a painter, we paint it onto a canvas.

But allow me to back up a bit. These days everyone is talking about WebAssembly, and I think with good reason: just as many of the world's programs run on JavaScript today, tomorrow much of it will also be in languages compiled to WebAssembly. JavaScript isn't going anywhere, of course; it's around for the long term. It's the "also" aspect of WebAssembly that's interesting, that it appears to be a computing substrate that is compatible with JS and which can extend the range of the kinds of programs that can be written for the web.

And yet, it's early days. What are programs of the future going to look like? What elements of the web platform will be needed when we have systems composed of WebAssembly components combined with JavaScript components, combined with the browser? Is it all going to work? Are there missing pieces? What's the status of the toolchain? What's the developer experience? What's the user experience?

When you look at the current set of applications targetting WebAssembly in the browser, mostly it's games. While compelling, games don't provide a whole lot of insight into the shape of the future web platform, inasmuch as there doesn't have to be much JavaScript interaction when you have an already-working C++ game compiled to WebAssembly. (Indeed, much of the incidental interactions with JS that are currently necessary -- bouncing through JS in order to call WebGL -- people are actively working on removing all of that overhead, so that WebAssembly can call platform facilities (WebGL, etc) directly. But I digress!)

For WebAssembly to really succeed in the browser, there should also be incremental stories -- what does it look like when you start to add WebAssembly modules to a system that is currently written mostly in JavaScript?

To find out the answers to these questions and to evaluate potential platform modifications, I needed a small, standalone test case. So... I wrote one? It seemed like a good idea at the time.

pictie is a test bed

Pictie is a simple, standalone C++ graphics package implementing an algebra of painters. It was created not to be a great graphics package but rather to be a test-bed for compiling C++ libraries to WebAssembly. You can read more about it on its github page.

Structurally, pictie is a modern C++ library with a functional-style interface, smart pointers, reference types, lambdas, and all the rest. We use emscripten to compile it to WebAssembly; you can see more information on how that's done in the repository, or check the README.

Pictie is inspired by Peter Henderson's "Functional Geometry" (1982, 2002). "Functional Geometry" inspired the Picture language from the well-known Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs computer science textbook.

prototype in action

So far it's been surprising how much stuff just works. There's still lots to do, but just getting a C++ library on the web is pretty easy! I advise you to take a look to see the details.

If you are thinking of dipping your toe into the WebAssembly water, maybe take a look also at Pictie when you're doing your back-of-the-envelope calculations. You can use it or a prototype like it to determine the effects of different compilation options on compile time, load time, throughput, and network trafic. You can check if the different binding strategies are appropriate for your C++ idioms; Pictie currently uses embind (source), but I would like to compare to WebIDL as well. You might also use it if you're considering what shape your C++ library should have to have a minimal overhead in a WebAssembly context.

I use Pictie as a test-bed when working on the web platform; the weakref proposal which adds finalization, leak detection, and working on the binding layers around Emscripten. Eventually I'll be able to use it in other contexts as well, with the WebIDL bindings proposal, typed objects, and GC.

prototype the web forward

As the browser and adjacent environments have come to dominate programming in practice, we lost a bit of the delightful variety from computing. JS is a great language, but it shouldn't be the only medium for programs. WebAssembly is part of this future world, waiting in potentia, where applications for the web can be written in any of a number of languages. But, this future world will only arrive if it "works" -- if all of the various pieces, from standards to browsers to toolchains to virtual machines, only if all of these pieces fit together in some kind of sensible way. Now is the early phase of annealing, when the platform as a whole is actively searching for its new low-entropy state. We're going to need a lot of prototypes to get from here to there. In that spirit, may your prototypes be numerous and soon replaced. Happy annealing!

by Andy Wingo

June 02, 2019

Zero Days

Le fake news, le teorie del complotto e il deep fake: impatto sociale e difese

Da qualche tempo le riviste scientifiche sono sempre più attente nel cercare di comprendere i motivi alla base delle teorie del complotto e della disinformazione. 

Non solo: all'orizzonte appare una minaccia ancora più grave: il deep fake, ossia l'uso di sistemi di intelligenza artificiale per creare informazioni false (ad esempio video o audio) che siano indistinguibili da contenuti reali.

In questo podcast affrontiamo tutti e due i temi, cercandone di comprendere la (complessa) natura.

by Giovanni Ziccardi

June 01, 2019

n-gate.com. we can't both be right.

webshit weekly

An annotated digest of the top "Hacker" "News" posts for the last week of May, 2019.

Playdate – A New Handheld Gaming System
May 22, 2019 (comments)
Some Internets would like to sell you a handheld video game system with all the expense and inconvenience of a Nintento 2DS but without the color screens or the games you want to play. Hackernews enjoys bad video games and kitschy electronics, so plenty of both are recited from memory, linked to, and discussed. Since the product in the article is currently vaporware, Hackernews decides to argue about whether the crank on the device is a gimmick or a useful input device.

GitHub Sponsors
May 23, 2019 (comments)
Microsoft regards Patreon as a threat to GitHub's lock-in business model, and does something about it. Hackernews is doubtful of the concept of accepting money for work performed, and suggests instead selling ad space in README files. Despite the fact that people have been able to distribute money in myriad ways for centuries, Hackernews believes that GitHub getting involved is a fundamental revolution. A fight breaks out regarding whether seeding the virtual hat proffered to the software buskers' audience will encourage donations or convince the marks to find needier performers. Later, some Hackernews notice that this is more lock-in fodder, and some Microsofts arrive to defend their realm.

Apple removes game after Chinese company cloned, trademarked, requested takedown
May 23, 2019 (comments)
A Reddit finds out nobody cares. Hackernews suspects that the Reddits are misrepresenting Papa Apple's extremely infallible process, and start digging around for games they don't play in languages they don't speak in order to defend Apple's virtue. Some Hackernews want to spend time competing to see who knows the most about registering trademarks in a nation known for ignoring any and all intellectual property laws. Other Hackernews just apparently really hate China. Later, some Chinese patriots arrive in the comments to explain to everyone that anything uploaded by Chinese firms must take priority over people who are trying to get money in exchange for goods and services.

First American Financial Corp. Leaked Hundreds of Millions of Insurance Records
May 24, 2019 (comments)
An insurance firm spills their actuarial tables. Hackernews lists all the ways that they are smarter than every large organization that exists. A debate is held regarding whether regular counting is okay or long strings of text should be used to index data instead. Many Hackernews feel that these organizations should be held responsible for careless handling of other people's information, as long as the people in those organizations who are actually held responsible will be at a comfortable distance from the programmers tasked with implementing the data management.

Self-distancing can help you make better decisions
May 25, 2019 (comments)
A charlatan recommends dealing with problems by pretending they are happening to someone else. Hackernews nods, purses lips, cradles chins between thumbs and index fingers, and regurgitates airport pop-science books which pretend to understand how the human brain processes emotions. After explaining to one another the definition of 'self' for six or seven hours, everyone gets back to the standard Bay Area conversation-ender: "you should just meditate more."

AMD Ryzen 3000 announced
May 26, 2019 (comments)
AMD would like to sell some computer processors. Hackernews bikesheds the computer processors, and is angry that they are not also video cards. The rest of the comments are people demanding higher core counts, interposed with people demanding to know who could possibly need higher core counts.

Why I'm still using jQuery
May 27, 2019 (comments)
A webshit is uninterested in learning. Hackernews is full of strong opinions regarding how much javascript there should be in the service of a web page, but the opinions seem to range from "there should not be javascript at all anywhere" to "I am angry that my operating system still contains non-javascript software." Because the article has no actual argument to make or information to express, Hackernews has carte blanche to incorrect one another about everything from whether and how web browsers interpret abstraction libraries to whether people who do not use specific javascript toolkits should be allowed to breathe.

Zdog – Pseudo-3D JavaScript engine for Canvas and SVG
May 28, 2019 (comments)
A webshit reimplements SDL in javascript. Reimplementing ancient shit in javascript is Hackernews' entire reason for being, so this story is highly ranked, but the article is about software that is not useful, interesting, or unique, so the comment threads just fight about how to render vector graphics.

Google to restrict modern ad blocking Chrome extensions to enterprise users
May 29, 2019 (comments)
Google continues the war against its own users. Hackernews is mildly concerned that there is literally only one web browser on earth and it is actively hostile to performing the functions the user would like it to perform. Some radicals mention Firefox, but are quickly reminded that Mozilla exists at Google's convenience and thus Mozilla is just an unacknowledged parasite waiting for the host to brush it off and leave it for dead. No solution is reached.

Switch from Chrome to Firefox
May 30, 2019 (comments)
Mozilla, upholding its reputation, belatedly responds to yesterday's top story. A website claims that it takes mere minutes to ditch Chrome and start using Firefox, but Hackernews is keenly aware that both programs are essentially just wildly inefficient operating systems and moving from one to the other is an extremely time-consuming and difficult process. A thousand comments appear, wondering why Mozilla exists, when Google will explain the current salvo in its current Ruin Everything We Touch sprint, and which extremely complicated technical solutions may exist to counteract Google's extreme contempt for the entire planet.

"DigitalOcean Killed Our Company"
May 31, 2019 (comments)
Some webshits put all their eggs in the worst low-rent basket they could find, then have a tantrum when the bottom falls out. Hackernews doesn't really give a shit about the problem, but are ready and willing to link to 4,654,032 similarly low-rent competitors a fresh young company might use to flush its entire business down the toilet. A DigitalOcean appears in the comments to damage control. The attempt is successful.

by http://n-gate.com/hackernews/2019/05/31/0/

May 30, 2019

Tomb, the Crypto Undertaker 2.6

… – Changes: This release adds new features and provides an important fix for usage of Tomb with cryptsetup 2.1 and future versions; it also fixes a whitespace bug in KDF passwords, all fixes are documented in KNOWN_BUGS. A notable new feature is the libsphinx integration for password-authenticated key agreement

by Jaromil

Data Knightmare (Italian podcast)

DK 3x34 - Una sola fede

Il Sole 24 ore si chiede: "Borse, chi paga se è l'algoritmo a perdere soldi?". Il fatto che sia considerata una domanda lecita dimostra quanto la religione della tecnologia sia ormai un dato di fatto.

by Walter Vannini

May 29, 2019

Data Knightmare (Italian podcast)

DK 3x33 - L'Impero colpisce ancora

La Cina fa prodotti migliori. Assange si permette di fare giornalismo senza autorizzazione. L'Iran pretende addirittura di disporre del proprio petrolio. L'Impero scricchiola. E Trump prova con la forza...

by Walter Vannini

May 25, 2019

Zero Days

L'emergenza mondiale dei data breach (e come fare per difendersi)

I casi di data breach sono, ormai, quotidiani. La violazione dei dati custoditi da grandi e piccole società è diventato un fenomeno che ha colpito, o colpirà, tutti gli utenti, e avrà, nel prossimo futuro, conseguenze importanti sull'economia della società digitale.

In questo podcast affrontiamo due aspetti.

Il primo è quello tecnico: i data breach dovuti a comportamenti sbagliati, a configurazioni errate delle applicazioni, a siti web con gravi vulnerabilità (e i necessari investimenti in sicurezza).

Il secondo è quello programmatico: cosa fare per difendersi? O, meglio, cosa fare per sensibilizzare le società che custodiscono i nostri dati?

by Giovanni Ziccardi

May 24, 2019

Andy Wingo

lightening run-time code generation

The upcoming Guile 3 release will have just-in-time native code generation. Finally, amirite? There's lots that I'd like to share about that and I need to start somewhere, so this article is about one piece of it: Lightening, a library to generate machine code.

on lightning

Lightening is a fork of GNU Lightning, adapted to suit the needs of Guile. In fact at first we chose to use GNU Lightning directly, "vendored" into the Guile source respository via the git subtree mechanism. (I see that in the meantime, git gained a kind of a subtree command; one day I will have to figure out what it's for.)

GNU Lightning has lots of things going for it. It has support for many architectures, even things like Itanium that I don't really care about but which a couple Guile users use. It abstracts the differences between e.g. x86 and ARMv7 behind a common API, so that in Guile I don't need to duplicate the JIT for each back-end. Such an abstraction can have a slight performance penalty, because maybe it missed the opportunity to generate optimal code, but this is acceptable to me: I was more concerned about the maintenance burden, and GNU Lightning seemed to solve that nicely.

GNU Lightning also has fantastic documentation. It's written in C and not C++, which is the right thing for Guile at this time, and it's also released under the LGPL, which is Guile's license. As it's a GNU project there's a good chance that GNU Guile's needs might be taken into account if any changes need be made.

I mentally associated Paolo Bonzini with the project, who I knew was a good no-nonsense hacker, as he used Lightning for a smalltalk implementation; and I knew also that Matthew Flatt used Lightning in Racket. Then I looked in the source code to see architecture support and was pleasantly surprised to see MIPS, POWER, and so on, so I went with GNU Lightning for Guile in our 2.9.1 release last October.

on lightening the lightning

When I chose GNU Lightning, I had in mind that it was a very simple library to cheaply write machine code into buffers. (Incidentally, if you have never worked with this stuff, I remember a time when I was pleasantly surprised to realize that an assembler could be a library and not just a program that processes text. A CPU interprets machine code. Machine code is just bytes, and you can just write C (or Scheme, or whatever) functions that write bytes into buffers, and pass those buffers off to the CPU. Now you know!)

Anyway indeed GNU Lightning 1.4 or so was that very simple library that I had in my head. I needed simple because I would need to debug any problems that came up, and I didn't want to add more complexity to the C side of Guile -- eventually I should be migrating this code over to Scheme anyway. And, of course, simple can mean fast, and I needed fast code generation.

However, GNU Lightning has a new release series, the 2.x series. This series is a rewrite in a way of the old version. On the plus side, this new series adds all of the weird architectures that I was pleasantly surprised to see. The old 1.4 didn't even have much x86-64 support, much less AArch64.

This new GNU Lightning 2.x series fundamentally changes the way the library works: instead of having a jit_ldr_f function that directly emits code to load a float from memory into a floating-point register, the jit_ldr_f function now creates a node in a graph. Before code is emitted, that graph is optimized, some register allocation happens around call sites and for temporary values, dead code is elided, and so on, then the graph is traversed and code emitted.

Unfortunately this wasn't really what I was looking for. The optimizations were a bit opaque to me and I just wanted something simple. Building the graph took more time than just emitting bytes into a buffer, and it takes more memory as well. When I found bugs, I couldn't tell whether they were related to my usage or in the library itself.

In the end, the node structure wasn't paying its way for me. But I couldn't just go back to the 1.4 series that I remembered -- it didn't have the architecture support that I needed. Faced with the choice between changing GNU Lightning 2.x in ways that went counter to its upstream direction, switching libraries, or refactoring GNU Lightning to be something that I needed, I chose the latter.

in which our protagonist cannot help himself

Friends, I regret to admit: I named the new thing "Lightening". True, it is a lightened Lightning, yes, but I am aware that it's horribly confusing. Pronounced like almost the same, visually almost identical -- I am a bad person. Oh well!!

I ported some of the existing GNU Lightning backends over to Lightening: ia32, x86-64, ARMv7, and AArch64. I deleted the backends for Itanium, HPPA, Alpha, and SPARC; they have no Debian ports and there is no situation in which I can afford to do QA on them. I would gladly accept contributions for PPC64, MIPS, RISC-V, and maybe S/390. At this point I reckon it takes around 20 hours to port an additional backend from GNU Lightning to Lightening.

Incidentally, if you need a code generation library, consider your choices wisely. It is likely that Lightening is not right for you. If you can afford platform-specific code and you need C, Lua's DynASM is probably the right thing for you. If you are in C++, copy the assemblers from a JavaScript engine -- C++ offers much more type safety, capabilities for optimization, and ergonomics.

But if you can only afford one emitter of JIT code for all architectures, you need simple C, you don't need register allocation, you want a simple library to just include in your source code, and you are good with the LGPL, then Lightening could be a thing for you. Check the gitlab page for info on how to test Lightening and how to include it into your project.

giving it a spin

Yesterday's Guile 2.9.2 release includes Lightening, so you can give it a spin. The switch to Lightening allowed us to lower our JIT optimization threshold by a factor of 50, letting us generate fast code sooner. If you try it out, let #guile on freenode know how it went. In any case, happy hacking!

by Andy Wingo

May 23, 2019

Classic Programmer Paintings

Team lead learns that the project will be shut down Vasily...



Team lead learns that the project will be shut down

Vasily Vereshchagin, 1895

Andy Wingo

bigint shipping in firefox!

I am delighted to share with folks the results of a project I have been helping out on for the last few months: implementation of "BigInt" in Firefox, which is finally shipping in Firefox 68 (beta).

what's a bigint?

BigInts are a new kind of JavaScript primitive value, like numbers or strings. A BigInt is a true integer: it can take on the value of any finite integer (subject to some arbitrarily large implementation-defined limits, such as the amount of memory in your machine). This contrasts with JavaScript number values, which have the well-known property of only being able to precisely represent integers between -253 and 253.

BigInts are written like "normal" integers, but with an n suffix:

var a = 1n;
var b = a + 42n;
b << 64n
// result: 793209995169510719488n

With the bigint proposal, the usual mathematical operations (+, -, *, /, %, <<, >>, **, and the comparison operators) are extended to operate on bigint values. As a new kind of primitive value, bigint values have their own typeof:

typeof 1n
// result: 'bigint'

Besides allowing for more kinds of math to be easily and efficiently expressed, BigInt also allows for better interoperability with systems that use 64-bit numbers, such as "inodes" in file systems, WebAssembly i64 values, high-precision timers, and so on.

You can read more about the BigInt feature over on MDN, as usual. You might also like this short article on BigInt basics that V8 engineer Mathias Bynens wrote when Chrome shipped support for BigInt last year. There is an accompanying language implementation article as well, for those of y'all that enjoy the nitties and the gritties.

can i ship it?

To try out BigInt in Firefox, simply download a copy of Firefox Beta. This version of Firefox will be fully released to the public in a few weeks, on July 9th. If you're reading this in the future, I'm talking about Firefox 68.

BigInt is also shipping already in V8 and Chrome, and my colleague Caio Lima has an project in progress to implement it in JavaScriptCore / WebKit / Safari. Depending on your target audience, BigInt might be deployable already!

thanks

I must mention that my role in the BigInt work was relatively small; my Igalia colleague Robin Templeton did the bulk of the BigInt implementation work in Firefox, so large ups to them. Hearty thanks also to Mozilla's Jan de Mooij and Jeff Walden for their patient and detailed code reviews.

Thanks as well to the V8 engineers for their open source implementation of BigInt fundamental algorithms, as we used many of them in Firefox.

Finally, I need to make one big thank-you, and I hope that you will join me in expressing it. The road to ship anything in a web browser is long; besides the "simple matter of programming" that it is to implement a feature, you need a specification with buy-in from implementors and web standards people, you need a good working relationship with a browser vendor, you need willing technical reviewers, you need to follow up on the inevitable security bugs that any browser change causes, and all of this takes time. It's all predicated on having the backing of an organization that's foresighted enough to invest in this kind of long-term, high-reward platform engineering.

In that regard I think all people that work on the web platform should send a big shout-out to Tech at Bloomberg for making BigInt possible by underwriting all of Igalia's work in this area. Thank you, Bloomberg, and happy hacking!

by Andy Wingo

May 22, 2019

n-gate.com. we can't both be right.

webshit weekly

An annotated digest of the top "Hacker" "News" posts for the third week of May, 2019.

I Charged $18k for a Static HTML Page
May 15, 2019 (comments)
A webshit is overpaid and underworked by morons. Hackernews considers this the best-case scenario for their industry, and comments that it's much easier to land such gigs if you stay quiet and let the morons forget about you. After some discussion, they decide that not working while getting paid is perilously close to boredom. Several Hackernews report that some companies actually keep track of what they spend money on, but all of these are determined to be safely disconnected from Silicon Valley.

Can we all stop using Medium now?
May 16, 2019 (comments)
A webshit is mad about medium dot com. Hackernews laments that there is no possible model for content distribution other than digital sharecropping, both because of the Hypothetical Idiot User and because everyone with the necessary training to implement an alternative (i.e. Hackernews) still believes ridiculous SEO urban legends circa the Bush administration. The idea that someone could just rent space in a colocation facility, install a web server, and start posting information onto the internet is, sadly, one hundred percent impossible, and can never happen.

Aldi, a brutally efficient grocery chain, is upending America's supermarkets
May 17, 2019 (comments)
CNN notices a seventy-three-year-old grocery chain. The article is too long, so Hackernews independently reports every single fact contained therein as a timesaving measure. The European division of Hackernews wanders into a corner to argue about which grocery store is best. American Hackernews note that they save money when they shop at stores that have lower prices.

Virtual DOM is pure overhead (2018)
May 18, 2019 (comments)
Some webshits have opinions about javascript. Specifically, the opinions are about which overengineered abstraction javascript victims should swear fealty to. Since the meat of the article is pointless microbenchmarks being used to justify sweeping generalizations regarding implementation details, Hackernews goes absolutely nuts. Three hundred comments appear, each one a graduate-level thesis explaining precisely the best way to reimplement basic web browser functionality using nothing but a programming language, several hundred megabytes of libraries, a virtual machine, a transpiler, and a web browser. Along the way, the Semantic Web people start throwing bombs, and a million unread thinkpieces die in the blast.

How to do hard things
May 19, 2019 (comments)
An Internet introduces the concept of 'practice' to a grateful world. Hackernews argues about whether a specific pottery class was offered. Other Hackernews report that some things are harder than other things.

DeleteFB: Selenium script to delete all of your Facebook wall posts
May 20, 2019 (comments)
A webshit ports rm(1) to Facebook. Hackernews wonders whether we can trust Facebook to delete something when we click on the delete button. All of the rest of the comments are people linking to their implementations of the same idea.

I don't know how CPUs work so I simulated one in code
May 21, 2019 (comments)
A webshit wins the prize for The Hackernewsest Article Title of 2019. By just switching one word, you can derive entire corporate histories of Silicon Valley:

  • AirBNB: I don't know how hotels work so I simulated one in code
  • Uber: I don't know how taxi services work so I simulated one in code
  • Tesla: I don't know how cars work so I simulated one in code
  • Palantir: I don't know how amoral secret police agencies work so I simulated one in code
  • Code43: I don't know how unreliable backup services work so I simulated one in code

Less entertainingly, the article itself is a mundane recounting of someone following textbook exercises to design a simple processor. Hackernews recounts the classes they took on the topic, and recommends several series of video lectures to play at work while you wait for your CircleCI pipelines to fail since you were too lazy to run them locally before you pushed.

by http://n-gate.com/hackernews/2019/05/21/0/

Data Knightmare (Italian podcast)

DK 3x32 - I dati non si vendono

Ma non sarebbe una buona idea farsi pagare per l'uso dei nostri dati, visto le montagne di soldi che ci fanno Facebook e compagnia? In una parola: no.

by Walter Vannini

May 20, 2019

Bordermonitoring.EU

Zwei neue Berichte Zu Lesbos und Calais

Wir freuen uns sehr, heute zwei neue Berichte vorstellen zu können, die über die letzten Monate entstanden sind. Querung des Kanals Thomas Müller, Uwe Schlüper und Sascha Zinflou haben einen zweiten Bericht zur Situation in Calais, unter besonderer Berücksichtigung des Brexit verfasst. Zum Bericht Gefangene des Deals Valeria Hänsel hat in ihrem Bericht zur Situation … Zwei neue Berichte Zu Lesbos und Calais weiterlesen

by bk

May 18, 2019

Radio #Cybernet

Bionde Elettromagnetiche LIVE al CSA Next Emerson, Firenze

This is Bionde Elettromagnetiche’s live!

Recorded Live at CSA Next Emerson, May 10, 2019. It wasn’t a Warmup for Hackmeeting 2019 but I like to think different 😉 #lol

https://archive.org/download/radiocybernet_archive/2019/190510-221855-bionde-elettromagnetiche-fi-nextemerson-live.MP3

Recorded with ZOOM H2N, from the main mixer output 😉

Also check Museo dell’Informatica Funzionante exhibition there!

 

by admin

May 16, 2019

Trasformatorio

A Treehouse

The novelty is real. 

The foundation “the Treehouse” and dyne.org agreed to join in a communal experiment around the NDSM treehouse, a new temporary studio space in noord amsterdam. It will be part of a wider research and experimental setup that involve this space and aims to create and enforce communal creation and social art projects.

Very down to earth: income generated by the shows, the bar, the parties and overall the artistic program will go in a separate pot from the rent of the space. This pot that will be completely controlled by an autonomous assembly of the artists that will co design the space rules. And it will be allowed by dyne.org.

Every profit from coffee or beer drinked in the space will go back into sustaining the production of the emergent artistic scene  guested by the house. This experiment will rely on an internal digital currency co-designed with the first renters of the spaces within a small pilot for EU CAPPSI project “Commonfare”.

So far for the laylines of the event. But were does this come from and how we managed to be part of it?

In the early 2k’s NDSM used to be a home for Amsterdam’s alternative scene. A former shipyard in a remote part of town. You had to cross the harbour to get there, and bike a good 30 minutes from Central Station. In the area a commistion of freaks, squatters, artists and teathermakers were building stages, machines, scrapyard sculptures. Ravers were populating that space as a TAZ (Temporary Autonomous Zone) and amid scrap you could find interesting artists, stoned faces of students and party people and antisocial cyberpunks in improvised saunas.

All this before this space, as any space in the city, followed the path of the methodic gentrification. Amsterdam is now populated by copies of the original scene, sanitized and rendered less obtrusive, fruible to the mass of the coffee standbyer turism. And moreover “pictoresque” enough to attract urban development.

NDSM zone is now one big reconfigurable space for the Creative Industries, temathic festivals and roadshows were forever young people are lured have a “nice time” in the sun.

Criticism for the capitalistic drive of modern life set aside and in all this landscape a foundation imagined and operated by two members of the long lost “alternative scene”, decided to set foot for a unusual operation: re-install a space for art production that could welcome artists to a decent fee and attempt to rise a community.

https://www.ndsmtreehouse.nl

The Builders: Marc and Adriaan from the Treehouse foundation

The Treehouse construction is rising as we speack, out of recycled shipping containers and scrapped wooden barraks. Will become in the plans of the builders to be a structure that resembles a crossover between a cyberpunk garbage park and a Cashbah. But has aspirations we want to help out: to be a place for meeting up, for transformation, to catch up and work hard with fellow dreamers. It is maybe a complicated and overarchieving plan we fell into, and this makes it exactly the type of plan that deserves our attention.

The Treehouse will be populated by artists looking for cheap temporary space to develop a project: musicians, visual artists, actors, dancers and open to their collectivizing economy through an experiment in use of digital coin… 

This novelty, that should be a tool to identify and protect values shared by the artistic commoners, has been designed by dyne.org in the context of the over mentioned commonfare EU project. Already tested in Santarcangelo Festival last year and up and running in the famigerate art-squat MACAO in Milan.

As well there will be a small teather, a space for showcasing ideas and jamming, a cafe build around a common kitchen/small restaurant and some other fancy addiction to the community activities (and cashflow) still hard to forecast. 

Dyne will have its small space, a coin-lab-observatory, hosting various activities in the treehouse village and as well will set up as a space to share ideas through both the co-design activities tied to the last moments of the commonfare project and of future research we will be surely involved, set around the use of complementary currency for value mapping and horizontal organisation.

We will continue to report on it.

As far as dyne-Trasformatorio goes, we plan to help building the community, to prolong the influence of the commonfare project and various activities we already started planning. Something for sure will happen around the next equinox, in collaboration between trasformatorio and this flamboyant artistic co-community of and the artists in our extensive network.

Stay tuned!

by trasformatorio

Data Knightmare (Italian podcast)

DK 3x31 - Padroni a casa nostra

Secondo la leggenda, Internet era Libera e Gratuita (con le maiuscole) e poi i Russi, i Cinesi e la UE han fatto di tutto per imbrigliarla. La leggenda è una stronzata.

by Walter Vannini

May 15, 2019

n-gate.com. we can't both be right.

webshit weekly

An annotated digest of the top "Hacker" "News" posts for the second week of May, 2019.

Amazon S3 Path Deprecation Plan – The Rest of the Story
May 08, 2019 (comments)
A tech company would like to stop doing a couple things the hard way. Hackernews considers the ramifications of minor changes in a service atop which they've spent over a decade building sandcastles. In the process, they reinvent the Internet from first principles. Many Hackernews are flummoxed that they cannot forever trust promises like "your data will last ten thousand years." Other Hackernews smugly point out that the data will be intact, merely inaccessible -- because the precise wording of an idiotic assurance is much more important than the idiocy of the assurance.

We got banned from PayPal after 12 years of business
May 09, 2019 (comments)
Some spammers are so vile that not even PayPal wants to do business with them. Hackernews is mostly okay with this, except for the ones who expect full accountability from a company whose business model is "we're a bank, but without all that pesky consumer protection" (2019 edition: "Uber for banking"). The rest of Hackernews drags out horror stories about all the times PayPal was mean to them, too, and hypothesizes the right set of money-transfer rituals to undertake so that they may continue to enrich companies who are actively hostile to them.

GitHub Package Registry
May 10, 2019 (comments)
Microsoft would like webshits to entrust even more of their shit unto GitHub. This news is hailed as a definitive win by the people who have encrusted their working lives with sufficient bureaucracy that they spend at least half their time untangling themselves from it. Some debate occurs over whether the incumbent services can withstand a frontal assault from Microsoft, but most of the discussion focuses on which webshit Microsoft will absorb next. The remaining comments consist of whining that someone else's favorite programming language got picked first.

Adults learn language to fluency nearly as well as children: study
May 11, 2019 (comments)
The owner of some language-teaching webshit would like people to learn languages, even if they are old. Hackernews suspects this might be a trick, but gets distracted by spouting wild-ass guesses about the nature of learning, cognition, linguistics, and human society. No technology is discussed.

How I Run a Company with ADHD
May 12, 2019 (comments)
An Internet has advice on how to overcome a tendency to get distracted: have someone give you thousands of dollars to focus, or else pay someone to tell you to focus. The result is a terrifying glimpse into the psyche of Hackernews; they catalog all of their personality traits they've determined to be abnormal, the methods through which they discovered the apparent abnormality, and the rituals they undertake to ensure they can still click emoji reaction buttons on GitHub issues for a living. Nothing, however, is quite as disturbing as the Hackernews who reports having played "handball at an elite level," which caused me to search the Internet for "semi-professional macaroni necklaciers." It turns out there is only one: Gavin Hazelwood, of Australia.

WhatsApp voice calls were used to inject spyware on phones
May 13, 2019 (comments)
In a bid to evade European anti-trust investigations, Facebook now bundles third-party spyware with some products. Hackernews argues over who the good guys are, then spends six hours refreshing their phones' app store to try to get the version without the malware conduit.

ZombieLoad: Cross Privilege-Boundary Data Leakage on Intel CPUs
May 14, 2019 (comments)
Intel continues the war against its own users. The news of an Intel hardware security flaw is by now so unsurprising that Hackernews spends most of its time complaining that the academics who identified the latest batch of failures did not get a sufficiently artistic shout-out in the GReeTZ section of Intel's mitigation .nfo. If Intel spent as much money on hardware engineering as they do on convincing shareholders their core product is not a Matroyshka doll of bad decisions, at the very least they wouldn't be a full generation behind on PCIe. The rest of the field day sees Hackernews select among several now-traditional Intel Flaw Thread Activities: reminiscing about architectures gone by, incorrecting one another about how computers work, fretting about Intel stock prices, and pretending they're going to buy anything else ever.

by http://n-gate.com/hackernews/2019/05/14/0/

/tmp/lab

/tmp/lab au THSF 10e edition

Le programme de cette nouvelle édition du festival toulousain THSF s’inspire du manga AKIRA. Bienvenue en dystopie post-apo !

Lien vers le plan et le programme complet du Festival

C’est quoi le THSF ?

Franchement, ils le disent mieux que nous. Copier, coller.

Depuis 2010, la THSF est un rendez-vous autour des différentes facettes de la culture hacker. Logiciels et matériels libres, DIY, réappropriation et détournement des technologies, art et science, défense des droits et libertés sur Internet, sécurité informatique, médias et investigation citoyenne, politique et société… sont parmi les sujets que nous vous invitons à venir découvrir, questionner, partager et construire ensemble.

On y retrouvera le public toulousain mais aussi de nombreux hackerspaces dont la fréquentation est bonne pour la santé : les toulousains du Tetalab bien sûr, mais aussi le Fuz (Paris) ou le Labomedia (Orléans), parmi ceux qu’on connaît le mieux.

Au programme cette année

Comme vous pourrez le constater en lisant le programme, le choix ne manque pas entre installations, résidences, conférences, conférences….

Le /tmp/lab en fait partie avec du classique et de belles surprises !

Usinettes dans le bendo

Le Monde Parallèle : création d’un fanzine 

Tous les jours, 2h pour écrire et imprimer un fanzine et le distribuer le lendemain matin!
Textes, photos, dessins, à propos du festival, à propos du quotidien…
Pas raciste, pas LGBTQ-phobe.

Le dôme géodésique : Carnet d’une auto-construction collective en cours

Présentation du dôme par les membres d’Usinette avec des vidéos, des slides, ça va envoyer du bois – de construction bien sûr.

/team/laser en action

Atelier lasers / Lasers et livecoding / Lasers et musique

Tous les jours vers 17h / 17h / 21h le /tmp/lab invite des artistes à hacker du laser pour la plus grande joie des grands qui sont restés petits.

Shader Laser Showdown

Tous les jours à partir de 23h, le Collectif Cookie & /tmp/lab enflamme le plafond du THSF avec ses projections laser.

Passage en douane

On a tou·tes quelque chose à cacher changer dans notre identité. 

Du bullshit, encore du bullshit

Une fois de plus, les bullshiters ont frappé à notre porte ! Les éternels rouleaux de PQ dorés seront de nouveau décernés après un vote du public pour les manieur·ses les plus habiles de la novlangue qui fait de la deep-ruption.

 

by alban

Data Knightmare (Italian podcast)

DK 3x30 - La punta dell'iceberg

SECONDA REGISTRAZIONE RIVEDUTA E CORRETTA. Sottrarre e diffondere dati personali è un reato, e non ci piove. Ma è un reato anche trattare dati personali con misure di sicurezza insufficienti, che rendono facile la loro sottrazione. Se, come pare, Visura.it (cui i dati sono stati sottratti) opera "sotto la direzione e il coordinamento" della casa madre (Tinexta, che controlla anche InfoCert), allora un grosso pezzo dell'infrastruttura italiana è insicura.

by Walter Vannini

May 12, 2019

Dyne.org video channel

May 11, 2019

Museo dell Informatica funzionante

Evgeny Morozov

It's not enough to break up Big Tech. We need to imagine a better alternative | Evgeny Morozov

Presenting tech companies as America’s greatest menace may appeal to voters, but it does little to chart an alternative future

As Facebook all but pleads guilty to a severe form of data addiction, confessing its digital sins and promising to reinvent itself as a privacy-worshiping denizen of the global village, the foundations of Big Tech’s cultural hegemony appear to be crumbling. Most surprisingly, it’s in the United States, Silicon Valley’s home territory, where they seem to be the weakest.

Even in these times of extreme polarization, Trump, who has habitual outbursts against censorship by social media platforms, eagerly joins left-wing politicians like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders in presenting Big Tech as America’s greatest menace The recent call by Chris Hughes, Facebook’s co-founder, to break up the firm hints at things to come.

Related: Who stands between you and AI dystopia? These Google activists | Veena Dubal

The rise of big tech is a consequence of our underlying political and economic crises

Related: If Silicon Valley were a country, it would be among the richest on Earth

Evgeny Morozov is a Guardian US columnist

Continue reading...

by Evgeny Morozov

May 09, 2019

Data Knightmare (Italian podcast)

DK 3x30 - Il caso LulzSec-Visura.it

Sottrarre e diffondere dati personali è un reato, e non ci piove. Ma è un reato anche trattare dati personali con misure di sicurezza insufficienti, che rendono facile la loro sottrazione. Se, come pare, Visura.it (cui i dati sono stati sottratti) opera "sotto la direzione e il coordinamento" della casa madre (Tinexta, che controlla anche InfoCert), allora un grosso pezzo dell'infrastruttura italiana è insicura.

by Walter Vannini

May 08, 2019

Bordermonitoring.EU

NEWSLETTER #1.2019

Hier unser erster Newsletter in diesem Jahr. Um den Newsletter zu abonnieren, bitte eine formlose Mail an: office[at]bordermonitoring.eu

by ms

n-gate.com. we can't both be right.

webshit weekly

An annotated digest of the top "Hacker" "News" posts for the first week of May, 2019.

A Conspiracy to Kill IE6
May 01, 2019 (comments)
The last remaining Svbtle user recounts the time Google started the war against its own users. Hackernews discusses when is the correct time to sidestep your entire business model in order to force your meaningless software preferences upon strangers. (The answer, apparently, is "always.") The rest of the comments are people reminiscing about how hard it used to be to execute bad ideas in HTML.

Self Studying the MIT Applied Math Curriculum
May 02, 2019 (comments)
Some rando intends to read some books. Hackernews has also read books. The upvotes come in an avalanche, since talking about learning things is something Hackernews strongly approves of, even if actually learning things isn't something they tend to get around to. All of the comments are Hackernews competing for first prize in the Talking About Learning Math contest.

All extensions disabled due to expiration of intermediate signing cert
May 03, 2019 (comments)
Mozilla opens a new front in the war against its own users. Instead of wasting money on useless side projects nobody wants, they decide to torpedo their own primary product. The only mechanism Mozilla has to restore functionality is to repurpose user-spying malware-distribution pipelines. In the process of trying to unfuck the only program any of them run on their computers, Hackernews is startled to discover that the configuration window in Firefox does not have any predictable correlation to the configuration of Firefox. Many of them declare they are giving up and switching to alternative software from Google, a company widely regarded for respecting the privacy of anyone at all.

Negotiations Failed: How Oracle Killed Java EE
May 04, 2019 (comments)
An Internet learns a hard lesson about nailing someone else's colors to your mast. Hackernews thinks the answer, as in all things, is to switch to javascript. The tattered remnants of the Knights of Enterprise Java Middleware arrive to namedrop some development projects that nobody has cared or thought about since 2003. Every other language partisan with a "Hacker" "News" account gathers in the town square to throw fruit at the die-hards.

Canada Border Services seizes lawyer's phone, laptop for not sharing passwords
May 05, 2019 (comments)
Some Canadian cops emulate their better-armed and less-accountable neighbors to the south. Hackernews unleashes days' worth of pent-up armchair legal theory, eager to explore edge cases in a topic whose common cases they don't understand. Multiple technical solutions are offered (offloading private data, regularly wiping devices, etc) to a problem which is not technical in nature (police can just take your shit). Several Hackernews appear convinced that the cops will leave them alone if they can recite relevant statutes, like magical wizards casting warding spells. I look forward to their outraged thinkpieces after they test their theories.

.NET 5
May 06, 2019 (comments)
Microsoft shovels some more platform garbage out the door. In the process, they've managed to make a pointlessly-confusing marketing scheme even less understandable, with the result that Hackernews gets to drag out the easels and bikeshed Microsoft project management practices ad infinitum. Those Hackernews not in on the project management hijinks choose instead to whine about Linux. Microsoft claims the new platform garbage will work across several operating systems, but does not disclose how they intend to pop up a dialog box demanding yet another redistributable runtime installation for each program the user attempts to launch.

Css-only-chat: A truly monstrous async web chat using no JS on the front end
May 07, 2019 (comments)
A webshit demonstrates the hubris and folly of cascading style sheets. Hackernews is only interested in how to make their spam campaigns report more information about their victims.

by http://n-gate.com/hackernews/2019/05/07/0/

May 07, 2019

Zero Days

Data breach, password esposte e Consigli dell'Ordine: una conversazione con Fabrizio Sigillò su avvocatura e sicurezza

I recenti accadimenti di violazione di servizi online, piattaforme e siti web contenenti dati di avvocati e di Consigli dell'Ordine hanno riportato di attualità le questioni relative alla sicurezza informatica nell'attività professionale quotidiana e, in generale, nell'avvocatura tutta.

L'occasione è ghiotta per un dialogo con l'Avv. Fabrizio Sigillò, nome storico dell'Informatica Giuridica in Italia e sempre attento, sia nella sua attività didattica e di formazione, sia nella sua professione, agli aspetti della sicurezza informatica.

by Giovanni Ziccardi

May 06, 2019

Dyne.org video channel

May 05, 2019

Il Pianista

External encrypted disk on LibreELEC

Last year I replaced, on the Raspberry Pi, the ArchLinux ARM with just Kodi installed with LibreELEC.

Today I plugged an external disk encrypted with dm-crypt, but to my full surprise this isn’t supported.

Luckily the project is open source and sky42 already provides a LibreELEC version with dm-crypt built-in support.

Once I flashed sky42’s version, I setup automated mount at startup via the autostart.sh script and the corresponding umount via shutdown.sh this way:

// copy your keyfile into /storage via SSH
$ cat /storage/.config/autostart.sh
cryptsetup luksOpen /dev/sda1 disk1 --key-file /storage/keyfile
mount /dev/mapper/disk1 /media

$ cat /storage/.config/shutdown.sh
umount /media
cryptsetup luksClose disk1

Reboot it and voilà!

Automount

If you want to automatically mount the disk whenever you plug it, then create the following udev rule:

// Find out ID_VENDOR_ID and ID_MODEL_ID for your drive by using `udevadm info`
$ cat /storage/.config/udev.rules.d/99-automount.rules
ACTION=="add", SUBSYSTEM=="usb", SUBSYSTEM=="block", ENV{ID_VENDOR_ID}=="0000", ENV{ID_MODEL_ID}=="9999", RUN+="cryptsetup luksOpen $env{DEVNAME} disk1 --key-file /storage/keyfile", RUN+="mount /dev/mapper/disk1 /media"

May 04, 2019

Il Pianista

Automated phone backup with Syncthing

How do you backup your phones? Do you?

I use to perform a copy of all the photos and videos from my and my wife’s phone to my PC monthly and then I copy them to an external HDD attached to a Raspberry Pi.

However, it’s a tedious job mainly because: - I cannot really use the phones during this process; - MTP works one in 3 times - often I have to fallback to ADB; - I have to unmount the SD cards to speed up the copy; - after I copy the files, I have to rsync everything to the external HDD.

The Syncthing way

Syncthing describes itself as:

Syncthing replaces proprietary sync and cloud services with something open, trustworthy and decentralized.

I installed it to our Android phones and on the Raspberry Pi. On the Raspberry Pi I also enabled remote access.

I started the Syncthing application on the Android phones and I’ve chosen the folders (you can also select the whole Internal memory) to backup. Then, I shared them with the Raspberry Pi only and I set the folder type to “Send Only” because I don’t want the Android phone to retrieve any file from the Raspberry Pi.

On the Raspberry Pi, I accepted the sharing request from the Android phones, but I also changed the folder type to “Receive Only” because I don’t want the Raspberry Pi to send any file to the Android phones.

All done? Not yet.

Syncthing main purpose is to sync, not to backup. This means that, by default, if I delete a photo from my phone, that photo is gone from the Raspberry Pi too and this isn’t what I do need nor what I do want.

However, Syncthing supports File Versioning and best yet it does support a “trash can”-like file versioning which moves your deleted files into a .stversions subfolder, but if this isn’t enough yet you can also write your own file versioning script.

All done? Yes! Whenever I do connect to my own WiFi my photos are backed up!

May 03, 2019

Data Knightmare (Italian podcast)

DK 3x29 - Morire di software

Una lunga, sofferta tirata sulla professione dell'informatico --e sul suo fallimento.

by Walter Vannini

May 01, 2019

n-gate.com. we can't both be right.

webshit weekly

An annotated digest of the top "Hacker" "News" posts for the last week of April, 2019.

Otonomo, with nearly $55M in funding, is cloning our product
April 22, 2019 (comments)
Some assholes made a REST API for CAN bus and are about to find out just how little anyone cares. As professional, well adjusted adults who discovered some strangers are making a compatible product, their natural and totally normal response is to throw a giant piss-baby tantrum on a blog, whining about how much more money the other people have. Hackernews is outraged and unsurprised at both halves of this conflict, and thinks that GitHub should do something to prevent idea piracy, even though Tantrum Incorporated explicitly licensed their shit such that anyone can have a copy. A sizable number of Hackernews are left trying to figure out what "our product" is from the article title, since nobody on Earth thinks a REST API is a "product."

I Sell Onions on the Internet
April 23, 2019 (comments)
A domain squatter accidentally gets a real job, leading to the only onion routing that's actually lived up to its promises. Hackernews describes aiming over two thousand dollars at a domain name purchase as a "moment of whimsy." Other Hackernews already had this idea but didn't try it. The squatter shows up in the comments and is overrun with confounded Hackernews trying to understand how it is possible to exchange goods for money without involving Redis. Seventeen venture capital firms receive pitch decks centered around building a REST API for onion farms.

Inflammation might be the root of preventable disease
April 24, 2019 (comments)
Some rando spits out five thousand words of performance art, in which the performer imagines terrible pop-sci reporting but with a thesaurus. Hackernews work hard to integrate new out-of-context medical-sounding concepts into their bizarre DIY medical worldviews. Along the way, Hackernews cures diabetes, gets mad at each other for assuming that their correspondents are making assumptions, blames Big Pharma for ... apparently everything?, and demands citations from people who expressed opinions. No technology is discussed.

MuseNet
April 25, 2019 (comments)
Some amateur statisticians make a racket playing with their video cards again. Because Hackernews' rich uncle Sam is royalty among this particular bad-computer-music crew, Hackernews upvotes the shit out of the completely uninteresting results, and ritually sacrifices would-be detractors to the CUDA gods.

Google Is Eating Our Mail
April 26, 2019 (comments)
An Internet notices that Google cares as little about non-customers as they do about customers. Hackernews wish the webshit nobility were kinder to the lower classes, but have resigned themselves to the divine nature of the ruling classes. All of the comments are arguing about the only remaining safe Google-related topic: whether or not the GMail spam filter is perfect or just incredibly unsurpassably wonderful.

The inception bar: a new phishing method
April 27, 2019 (comments)
Webshit number 56,302 notices that when you turn your hypertext document browser into a Turing-equivalent virtual machine with full access to the underlying hardware, bad people can do mean things with it. Hackernews scoffs at this revelation, correctly regarding it as ancient, and incorrectly suggesting Hackernews has simple solutions for it. The rest of the comments are Hackernews smugly declaring they were too clever to fall for the forgery, because they use some specific piece of software.

How I Almost Destroyed a £50M War Plane and the Normalisation of Deviance (2016)
April 28, 2019 (comments)
An unemployed pilot describes the terrifying consequences of not being a pansy: you might break something. Hackernews reads and/or listens to this harrowing tale of almost-fatal aircraft mismanagement and, as the author intended, immediately sees the connection to the database programming they do for a living. This, however, proves to be a less alluring topic than incorrecting each other about avionics.

Topics in Advanced Data Structures [pdf]
April 29, 2019 (comments)
Some academics offer their students the opportunity to know things. Hackernews thinks other people should learn things, so they upvote the link, but the content is entirely technical, so nobody has anything to say. All of the comments are discussions about whether anyone ever uses anything they've ever learned. A brief survey brings out the pattern: the only people who use anything they learned in school are academics.

WeWork Files for IPO
April 29, 2019 (comments)
"Hacker" "News," which contains 'please use the original title' in its submission guidelines, elides the second half of the title of this article, which in full is "WeWork Files for I.P.O., Joining Wave of Cash-Burning Start-Ups in Going Public." Meanwhile, Hackernews recounts all the times they've tried to patronize WeWork (business model: "Uber for Cubicles") only to discover it's no fun to rent office space that is full of strangers. Most of the article deals with the fact that while the IPO was once a sign that your business had Made It and needed capital to get to the Next Level, now it's just the venture capitalists cashing out their investment before the rubes notice there's no money being made. None of the comment threads are about that. A few Hackernews try to bring it up, but they're ushered out of the party.

I made a smart watch from scratch
April 30, 2019 (comments)
An internet has a fun hobby. Hackernews is mad that the hobby did not end poverty or war, then mad about THAT. Other Hackernews list every other smartwatch they've ever worn or heard of. One Hackernews is mad that people use an image hosting service that the commenter did not create.

by http://n-gate.com/hackernews/2019/04/30/0/

April 29, 2019

Vlax

#EterTICs v10.0 #Kuntur con kernel #linux-libre 5.0.10-gnu GRACIAS ...

#EterTICs v10.0 #Kuntur con kernel #linux-libre 5.0.10-gnu GRACIAS lxoliva@pod.libreplanetbr.org por el trabajo enorme en mantener linux-libre

by Javier Obregón

April 28, 2019

Dyne.org video channel

April 26, 2019

Dyne.org video channel

April 22, 2019

n-gate.com. we can't both be right.

webshit weekly

An annotated digest of the top "Hacker" "News" posts for the third week of April, 2019.

Notre-Dame cathedral: Firefighters tackle blaze in Paris
April 15, 2019 (comments)
The French memorial of the death of Saint Fructuosus gets a little out of hand. Hackernews can't make up their minds whether they are architects, historians, or theoretical firefighters, so the resulting thread contains the absolute finest collection of wild-ass guesses on this range of topics. Because of the sudden nature of the disaster, facts are scarce, and that's where Hackernews feels the most qualified to opine. No technology is discussed.

Animating URLs with JavaScript and Emojis
April 16, 2019 (comments)
A webshit demonstrates the depth of javascript depravity. The demonstration is pointless, wasteful, and obnoxious, so Hackernews is on board for votes, but it is not interesting, so the webshit shows up in the comment thread to talk about how to make bad videos instead.

Post-surgical deaths in Scotland drop by a third, attributed to a checklist
April 17, 2019 (comments)
The World Health Organization demands credit for getting Scottish doctors to kill moderately fewer people. The solution appears to be a checklist, presumably strategically placed between the whisky bottle and the benefits application. Hackernews creates an agile development model for producing checklists, then lists every computer program anyone has ever written to implement them.

Mozilla WebThings
April 18, 2019 (comments)
Mozilla introduces another product that has nothing to do with their only valuable asset. Hackernews is extremely excited, because they regard Mozilla as the only possible resistance against the dominance of Google. Since the primary difference is that when Google arbitrarily terminates a product there are users affected, we can conclude the foremost concern among Hackernews is harm reduction for abandonware.

Austrian government seeks to eliminate internet anonymity, with severe penalties
April 19, 2019 (comments)
Some idiots in Europe want to get into a fistfight with the weather. Hackernews gets into an argument about which countries are going to try to deanonymize the internet next, which countries have laws that would prevent idiocy on this scale, and which countries don't have such laws but are populated with such superior people that nobody would even consider it. Other Hackernews, who have read too many Robert Ludlum novels, tell each other campfire stories about hiding from the government.

Joe Armstrong has died
April 20, 2019 (comments)
A programmer passes away. Hackernews relates stories of the programmer's kindness, and struggles not to notice that they've collectively ignored basically every idea the programmer has expressed for the past thirty years.

SuperTuxKart 1.0 Release
April 21, 2019 (comments)
Some programmers release a new version of their cloned video game. Hackernews can't understand why nobody is charging money for it.

by http://n-gate.com/hackernews/2019/04/21/0/

April 18, 2019

Bretton Woods Project

Sexual orientation & gender identity – considering risk mitigation within World Bank programming

This Civil Society Policy Forum Session was co-sponsored by the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce, Council for Global Equality, Gender Action, BIC Europe, HRC.

Panellists:

 

Session summary

Phil Creehan (moderator): LGBTI is powerful acronym, and it has allowed for significant resources to the community. But we can sometimes forget about the people involved. It’s a diverse community, with people of colour, young, old, disabilities, rich, poor and middle-class people.

This brings us to think of human rights. We might say LGBTI rights but this is not right, these are rights everyone should enjoy, regardless of our gender identity. Rights that all people have. The human rights of LGBTI people are the human rights of women, indigenous people.

Looking at international economic development, our international human rights well-articulated. We need more space to work on rights of LGBTI people through UN and others. Also there’s the question of economic development. Traditionally International Financial Institutions (IFIs) like the World Bank do not address LGBTI people outside of HIV/AIDS work. But has changed in the last year. We can look at the appointment of the SOGI advisor at the World Bank. This is something we can celebrate while prodding the World Bank to do more on these issues. The World Bank has looked at the socio-economic impact of LGBTI issues. LGBTI people experience lower economic development outcomes which has both a harsh impact on the community and loss in GDP per capita. It is incredible that the World Bank is showing the economic dimension to LGBTI issues.

SOGI is complex and is a human rights and economic development issue.

How do we mitigate risk when comes to World Bank and its portfolio? What are risks, challenges, vulnerabilities?

Irena Cvetkovijk: The Margins Coalition works on the human rights of marginalised communities, particularly on sexual health rights.

Amarildo Fecanji: We work on advancing LGBTI rights and equality in Western Balkans and Turkey, a network of 59 countries. We do capacity building on international and regional advocacy, on research and public campaigning.

Mwamba Nyanda: A lot of our work is sensitising people because transgender issues in Tanzania are newer issues. Looking at safe spaces for minorities. It’s important to look at income generating activity as most transgender people do not finish education and many end up living on streets.

Elaine Zuckerman: I worked inside World Bank as economist in 1980. My final job was working in gender unit in the late 90s. For me, a light went off that World Bank’s rhetoric and research on gender was good, but its investments were reinforcing the patriarchy. I set up Gender Action to hold IFIs to account on gender issues.

Together 4/5 organisations pushed World Bank to establish taskforce on SOGI and hire Clif in the World Bank. Gender Action has been doing research on the economic impacts of excluding LGBTI folks from projects.

Clif Cortez: My role is operations facing. There are others in the Bank who focus on LGBTI Bank staff and internal equality and fairness issues, but my focus is on SOGI inclusion in Bank operations and how we can support clients in incorporating this in their development agenda.

Irena Cvetkovijk: We’ve seen lots of change in society recently. The state was hostile to LGBTI community, then became an ally. But things are never stable. Now it’s a more friendly environment to take opportunities. When I started 10 years ago, it was more difficult, Macedonia was in a dispute with Greece. The Government was hostile towards LGBTI people and civil society in general. We were excluded from institutions and could not advocate for any kinds of reforms or changes. Many times we heard of people being physically attacked and living everyday with threats to safety.

We criticised a textbook for negative portrayal of homosexuals and we were sued and faced prison or 30,000 euros. I was expelled from the community and lost my job. Then we realised that couldn’t work with that Government. We saw civil society in other countries working with the opposition, and so we focused on that. We were advocating a lot behind closed doors. Recently, the laws have been getting better. SOGI was not mentioned in any law before. Two years ago, we passed gender identity discrimination law. Now we are working on gender recognition law.

Phil Creehan (moderator): What are some of the challenges LGBTI people face on health?

Irena Cvetkovijk: We have focused on sex workers with low access to medical services, but we have noticed that the transgender community face the worst access. There is lots of discrimination within these facilities, such as facing intrusive questions. The transgender community is excluded from health system when it comes to the very first entry point. I remember once we were celebrating Pride, we all got attacked and one transman was saying whatever happens, do not take me to the doctor.

For our first step, we created a group of specialists. We trained doctors and psychiatrists. We created core group of doctors now training general practitioners. We also focused on education as it is the best way to change narratives. For example, working on textbooks and we tried to talk with schools and universities. The new Minister of Education started a process of revising the textbook. However, it is not only about textbooks, but the overall environment. There’s a longitudinal study in Europe every four years on indicators of health on youth. We advocated for a sexuality package of questions in this research. It is the first time in north Macedonia that this has been done for 15-year-old students. Got good numbers of participation. This was only about LGB youth. It found they were struggling in terms of emotional/sexual health compared to peers. 30% of LGB youth have once in their life seriously taken into consideration suicide. Now we are trying to help schools create internal mechanisms through gender-based violence (GBV) work, including the SOGI element and ensuring there are professional services in every school.

Phil Creehan (moderator): What is the situation like in Tanzania?

Mwamba Nyanda: We still struggle. People think only about being gay and don’t want to learn about trans people. We need greater sensitisation for our country. We do not have freedom of association. The police can take you to custody for two weeks on the charge of the promotion of sexuality. We do not know about the psychological and social help. Most trans people have been taken to custody, forced to strip, and end up being traumatised and without right treatment in health systems. There’s an increase in HIV/AIDs infections because trans people don’t feel they can disclose and because of the closure of centres for LGBTI people. This makes it difficult for people to get the right treatment. People don’t know the issues LGBTI people are facing on ground, like harassment and physical attacks in the community. That’s why we create our own safe spaces. Lots of trans people are not educated, on the street, facing a lot of risks, trauma and sometimes end up committing suicide. There’s also the deregistration of organisations. Once you are registered, the Government come deregister you or make sure the funds coming from international entities do not support the LGBTI community.

Phil Creehan (moderator): I have a question for Clif. You’re hearing serious concerns about what LGBTI people face. Can you tell us about the World Bank’s approach to addressing SOGI issues?

Clif Cortez: The World Bank, as an institution, has come to understand the importance of SOGI inclusion over time, and formally took this on from 2015. Elaine mentioned the role of civil society organizations in putting pressure on the Bank, but there were also clients asking for support to address exclusion based on SOGI, and so as far back as a decade ago SOGI inclusion activities and pilots were organically bubbling up from some clients. As well, there were Bank shareholders who were advocating for this. By 2015 all of these influencing factors had come together. I was not in the Bank at the time but I can imagine that the discussions that led to the Environmental and Social Framework (ESF), and the importance of social inclusion within that discussion, played a role, too.

The World Bank is now moving forward on applying a SOGI-lens to development, just as we apply other inclusion lenses to our work. Some of the first things we are focusing on are the Bank’s Systematic Country Diagnostics (SCDs), Country Partnership Frameworks (CPFs), and the stakeholder engagement required as part of the ESF (ESS10), as these are good entry points for effectively supporting clients. But it’s early days and we are learning as we go – the way we are addressing SOGI inclusion and the approaches we are using now might not be exactly the same in five or ten years. In terms of Bank engagement on SOGI under the ESF, it’s really grounded in ESS1 and non-discrimination, and ESS10/stakeholder engagement. And supporting Bank Task Teams in their support of our clients is an important reason for why the Bank created my position. But it’s not just my role as the SOGI Global Advisor that will help ensure we move this agenda – the World Bank has a SOGI Task Force made up of representatives of Bank Global Practices and other Bank units, including the Operations Policy and Country Services (OPCS), and Chaired by the Director for Social Development. The SOGI Task Force supports operationalization of the SOGI inclusion agenda and also provides internal advice and practical recommendations to Bank leadership, as requested. Plus there’s GLOBE (the Bank’s official employee resource group for LGBTIQ staff). GLOBE works closely with the Human Resources Vice Presidency and HRVP’s Diversity and Inclusion team to work on policies that promote equality, fairness and safety for LGBTIQ staff. All of these parts of the Bank influence how we engage on SOGI inclusion, including in some of the most challenging contexts. And that brings us back to the ESF and non-discrimination, and noting the Bank Directive on vulnerable and marginalized groups – the Directive is meant to help Bank staff understand what is required when it comes to non-discrimination, including as relates to non-discrimination on the basis of SOGI. And we tie this closely to ESS10 and stakeholder engagement – because the best perspectives on the challenges faced due to exclusion based on SOGI come from the affected persons, themselves. Speaking as someone who was an external partner to the Bank before 2016, I can say that it is clear that the Bank has gotten better at stakeholder engagement. The key now is translating the information gained through stakeholder engagement into what is needed for project design so as to minimize the possibility of discrimination in project design or implementation. Will we eliminate discrimination based on SOGI 100% – no, that’s a high bar and we have to be realistic – we’re all imperfect people in an imperfect world – but the Bank is committed to do the best that we can.

By the way, it is not just about addressing the most challenging contexts as relates to SOGI. We also have clients who address or want to address SOGI inclusion as part of their sustainable development agenda. Some of these have already been asking the Bank for support on this. And that’s where building the evidence base, including data generation, comes in, as well as capacity building of clients. We’re also beginning to see clients who ask for a project to include a SOGI component – in projects related to social protection and education in South America, for instance. So yes there are challenges but there are also opportunities.

Phil Creehan (moderator): Let’s focus on data question, we need knowledge. The role of World Bank is to facilitate data questions. LGBTI people face hypervisibility in the community but also invisibility in terms of data. The Bank is doing a lot, but we are expecting it to be doing more. Can you speak to data collection in Western Balkans?

Clif Cortez: Recently, the World Bank has engaged on SOGI-specific data generation in the Western Balkans and in Thailand. In the Western Balkans this included a regional survey. In the regional case, we took an existing EU survey on LGBTI discrimination, tweaked it a bit, and replicated it in Western Balkans countries. At the same time, in Serbia, we went for a closer look at economic outcomes for LGBTI people, by taking the Survey on Income and Living Conditions (SILC), tweaking it a bit and targeting survey respondents who were self-identified sexual and gender minorities. So now we have a SOGI dataset to compare to Serbia’s general population SILC dataset. That analysis is being finalized now, with the report to go public in the next couple of months. But data, as important as it is, was not the end goal. We followed up the data generation and analysis with meetings with CSO stakeholders, and then discussions with the clients. All of this is helping us understand better how we can do data generation that’s SOGI-specific, and understand better the role the Bank should play in this.

Phil Creehan (moderator): How did you take part and how did that inform dialogue with the Government?

Amarildo Fecanji: LGBTI activists are still faced with a lot of hard questions. However, sometimes information goes in front of walls, prejudice still exists. It is hard to convince people of how hard the lives of LGBTI people are, and that this discrimination leads to violence, hate speech but also poverty in terms of access to employment, opportunities in workplace. E.g for a trans person, exclusion has huge economic cost, such as being able to access employment freely without discrimination. When you don’t have right to family or legal recognitions, it can be difficult to access loans and other things. When the World Bank came with research in region, we were excited. We think this is a must, to continue to produce more evidence, analysis on the price tag of discrimination. Shows LGBTI people feel threatened by institutions, out of all the people who have suffered discrimination/violence, only 17% have taken case to police. People don’t have support for most basic thing like seeking help when being attacked.

Also LGBTI people suffer from attacks in the workplace. The World Bank does help to strengthen ability to speak to stakeholders. When you have research – and this research is strong backup. Data important for sensitisation and helping Government to make right choices.

We are happy with the meeting taking place in Western Balkans, happy with ESF and processes at country level such as SCD and CPF important tools to influence work of country offices. The message I have here is that the World Bank is operating in a tough space, it is hard to open minds. Some countries are progressive on LGBTI rights and others horrifying like in Brunei. So the World Bank has an important task in working with all these countries, especially those countries in the middle that are open to LGBTI rights but don’t know how to work on it.

Phil Creehan (moderator): Elaine, can you tell us about how the World Bank left has out LGBTI people?

Elaine Zuckerman: For two decades Gender Action has been doing gender analysis of World Bank portfolio. For first time, instead of doing for binary women and men, we decided to do for LGBTI folk. Looked at Haiti, took the World Bank (and Inter-American Development Bank) portfolio sample, which covered 6 out of 19 projects 47% of World Bank grants in the country over 5 years. In Haiti, there is severe discrimination against LGBTI people. It is illegal to be an LGBTI person in Haiti.

I’ll walk through the six projects quickly. Firstly, we looked at two water and sanitation projects that World Bank financed in Haiti. The first one after the 2010 earthquake, and additional financing from hurricane Matthew in 2016. Both projects had big focus on eradicating cholera and building water and sanitation infrastructure. We found no acknowledgment of sexual minorities who would have been affected by calamities and suffered from issues arising from loss of livelihood. I visited the area of hurricane Matthew in 2017 and everything was destroyed. The Bank’s projects were to help people affected by these disasters but LGBTI people not listed as a vulnerable group.

LGBTI people must be included in resettlement many do not get compensation when forced to leave.

On projects where there’s an influx of construction workers, LGBTI people would have been affected by gender-based violence (GBV) or sexual based violence (SBV), not just the women who were listed. Transportation project in the middle of Haiti, also involuntary resettlement. This was strongly sensitive from women’s rights perspective but negligent of LGBTI folk. There were incentives to hire women construction workers but not LGBTI folk. We talk of subsidies for the poorest, but LGBTI people were not included. The Bank did not require contractors to hire LGBTI workers or even protect from harassment which it did for women. Also, there’s a big industry of tourism in Haiti, particularly sexual tourism. This affects not just women but also LGTBI people, who are strongly vulnerable to sexual tourism. The Bank should have taken steps to address LGBTI people’s needs. They were not even targeted for consultation.

Another World Bank health project for Haiti was a maternal and child health project, but it was broader than that. Also lesbian women get pregnant and should get help through project. Only talked about barriers that women faced, not LGBTI people, even through talked about people with disabilities or from indigenous groups. The World Bank’s CPF for Haiti was also negligent. The health project discussed influxes of labourers, but not LGBTI people.

I’ll end by talking about an energy project that the World Bank did. No project documents talked about LGBTI people. I assume they were excluded from jobs from projects. Our report recommended that they be offered benefits for projects.

Haiti is a typical World Bank country example. We are happy that the World Bank is positively engaging in the Balkans. But these are the exceptions. The vast majority of projects do not have anything in portfolio for LGBTI people. This discrimination is reinforced when you exclude them from projects. I’ll conclude by saying that World Bank needs to expand budget for SOGI. We are glad Clif was hired, but he can’t cover entire World Bank portfolio of projects. We’d like every region, even country to have SOGI experts. We’d like to see project analyses with a SOGI lens.

Phil Creehan (moderator): the bulk of financing from Nordic trust fund. We are expecting this public institution to be giving more resources programmatically and projects. The World Bank has massive sectoral loans. The opportunity for LGBTI people to partake in that is tremendous.

We have been talking about ESF which replaces the World Bank safeguards. When huge loans go from World Bank to clients, loans can exclude or hurt environment. Clif, what is your strategy to engage country offices so they are doing due diligence on SOGI issues. What are the implications in countries where there is a surge in discrimination on ESF?

Clif Cortez: I have a small team supporting me on the SOGI inclusion support to Bank teams and our clients. We’ve begun trainings on SOGI and the ESF for our Bank Social Development Specialists, and it is they who have eyes on projects in preparation and know what is in the pipeline. This is especially important in terms of how the Bank engages with our clients in discussions that may lead or are leading to new projects. So it’s at that level that is critical that the Bank is able to apply a SOGI lens. This is all still new so we aren’t going to be doing this perfectly at first, we likely still have big gaps. But the ESF will help us reduce these gaps. We recently conducted a training for all Africa-based Social Development Specialists, focused on the ESF, SOGI and also disabilities. So now when Bank Task Teams are engaged in supporting discussions with clients on new operations, the ESF has been the trigger for those teams to reach out for support on SOGI. As opportunities come, we can respond and support teams, and we were able to do this recently for new project designs for Tanzania, for instance.

The new ESF allows us to move from just mitigating risk in design of projects to supporting clients on a robust social inclusion development agenda. That is reflected in projects on social protection in the employment sector in Argentina, higher education sector in Chile, and others. By the way, the Argentina and Chile projects have as their major focus addressing gender inequality but they also include a focus on SOGI inclusion.

Phil Creehan (moderator): I have a question for Mwamba. In Tanzania, what was it like to engage with World Bank when law on the books? What can be done?

Mwamba Nyanda: In Tanzania, when the crackdown was happening, the World Bank issued a statement, which helped us but also the Government of Tanzania and they talked to President. The World Bank should continue to advocate for inclusivity and non-discrimination for sexual minorities in its programming. In its support for financial inclusion, the World Bank could have inclusive policy in programming. When we talk about economic empowerment and LGBTI, there’s a big gap. But also issues in terms of freedom of assembly, association and speech. It should promote the economic development of LGBTI groups through funds to support livelihoods. Many are not considered when it comes to the economic sector, education sector and heath sector.

Audience questions

-I’d like to push back on the data point about a dearth of quantitative data. It’s very important for making cases for funding,  but it is not true that there is a desert of data. There’s a tonne of data but it is qualitative. How do we include qualitative data? The ESF and gender analysis is important for clients, other donors and helps us consulting in other places.

-I’m happy to hear a human rights framework mentioned here. It’s usually not mentioned in development environments, poverty is human rights issue, especially violations. We need to think beyond just no harm, but to next steps.

-In Haiti illegal to be LGBTI, how does it work in terms of World Bank engagement?

-You mentioned that the World Bank is not necessarily where it could be in five or ten years time on this issue, so where do you think the World Bank could get to in five or ten years time?

Mwamba Nyanda: We have a new country framework. It’s about health, education, empowering women. How will the World Bank address LGBTI in the economic development framework coming up? In terms of qualitative indicators, we do not have census, so now are the first steps.

Clif Cortez: In terms of working in situations in which aspects of SOGI are criminalised, it’s important to remember that this is not only specific to SOGI and is not new for the Bank or other multilaterals. We’ve often worked in such situations and still found ways to advocate for and move the agenda of inclusion. Good examples are addressing gender inequality in contexts in which the law placed or still places great restrictions on women and girls, as well the great HIV work that has been supported and has led to such great successes, often in spite of bad laws related to HIV and/or to HIV key populations.

On the SOGI inclusion work, where we are now is not where we’ll be in 5 years. And at every IMF-World Bank Annual and Spring Meetings, we should keep meeting and discussing this and this also helps progress the work. We want to effectively move the ESF implementation related to non-discrimination, such that more and more clients will have SOGI inclusion on their own radars and will consider it as one of the important approaches for economic and social inclusion. For instance, perhaps at the moment in Haiti we are limited to ensuring good stakeholder engagement that informs project design, and ensuring we’re minimizing the possibility of discrimination in project design and implementation. As long as this is the most that the client wants or will allow, then that’s what we will focus on there. But if things on the ground change, and the client asks for more, the Bank will be there to respond.

Phil Creehan (moderator): Time will tell if the ESF provides more robust safeguards. Our message to OPCS is that this is something civil society is monitoring. We expect a document on the SOGI good practice note.

 

by Ella Hopkins