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03.05.19

Truly and Completely Out of Control, the Unhinged European Patent Office Calls Applicants “Customers” While Offering Patents on Nature, Life, Maths

Posted in Europe, Patents at 7:25 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

2015: Battistelli’s EPO Loses ‘Customers’ Because It Plays ‘Favourites’ With Large Corporations

Everything must go
Everything Must Go (film)

Summary: The European Patent Office (EPO) lost sight of what patent offices exist for; it’s now doing totally insane things while treating the law like a nuisance rather than something to be served

WHAT do patent offices exist for?

It’s a fair question, right? Not rhetorical.

They tell us it’s about innovation. Sometimes words like “protection” get used (but not “protectionism”). Or do patent offices now exist to maximise their own bottom line? Are they a public service? What are they? The EPO has taken these questions to new extremes, stretching the rule of law to levels that discredit the very system it derives its powers from (how can an institution claim to uphold and enforce law when it breaks its own laws?). Earlier today we wrote about the real costs associated with the EPO and it’s not a pretty picture. The extrernalities show that the EPO has become a net loss to the European economy.

“The extrernalities show that the EPO has become a net loss to the European economy.”Earlier today we also published two articles about software patents in Europe. Nothing has yet changed for the better and in fact just hours later the EPO resumed promoting software patents that are not allowed. Well, the EPO does not allow obeying the law, either. “Four days to go until we close the registration for this event where we will discuss computer-implemented inventions,” it wrote, adding the usual “SME” and “medical” buzz (to make it seem like it’s helping the small people and saves lives). Hours earlier the EPO published this “[r]eport on the results of the user consultation on increased flexibility in the timing of examination process” (warning: epo.org link) and notice that it has nothing to do with patent quality, only speed. They measure performance in terms of speed and almost nothing else. As it turns out, based on another new tweet, words like “customers” and “IP” are still being misused in conjunction with “SMEs” (that the EPO systematically discriminates against).

Then there’s the question of patents on life. When did nature become “IP portfolio” and life “innovation”? It’s saddening if not maddening to see Intellectual Property ‘Watch’ still carrying this propaganda for crazy people who lie in order to rob us. Here is what it published this afternoon: “Chris Holly is a practicing intellectual property lawyer with extensive experience helping clients leverage IP portfolios in the agriculture, food, microbiology and biotechnology industries. Intellectual Property Watch’s David Branigan interviewed Holly to gain his perspective on the technological, regulatory and intellectual property considerations of next generation plant breeding techniques, in particular those that involve gene editing using CRISPR technology.”

“Innovation” as in the headline just means “patenting”; these lawyers want patents on life and nature, so they just call it all “invention” etc. Remember 'Teffgate'?

Peri Hankey remarked on this ‘ownership’ by telling me: “This kind of property is theft of our natural commons, enclosure of life. The underlying theory is that what is not yet anyone’s property must be taken before it it taken by others. It’s the socio-political creed of scavenging brigands. It’s the theory that drives us — to ruin.”

Information Age meanwhile promotes ‘owning’ mathematics and mere ideas (processes of the mind). Earlier today it wrote that the “European Patent Office (EPO) recently issued fresh guidelines last year examining the patentability of AI and machine learning based on the principle that all patentable innovations must not be obvious.”

Here’s corporate media once again spreading the lie and the nonsense which is “AI” (nowadays it is typically just a meaningless synonym for “computer” or “computer program”). Do we want more surveillance startups? Or is that just software patents promotion?

Notice how many times they misuse the term “AI” in these three passages alone:

“The European Patent Office (EPO) recently issued fresh guidelines last year examining the patentability of AI and machine learning based on the principle that all patentable innovations must not be obvious.

“By default, the application of AI in almost every function and across every sector it touches – from AI-powered toothbrushes to AI weather forecasting tools, from medtech to fintech to e-commerce – renders such inventions obvious, unpatentable and, ultimately, far from innovative in and of themselves. What’s more, the vast majority of AI algorithms are open source, making the implementation of the technology even less innovative or intrinsically valuable. Even the EPO are looking into implementing AI in order to streamline processes. Yet this clearly does not make them an AI or a tech organisation.

“AI is simply a tool and should be viewed as such by the wider market. The AI conversation should be focussed more on how businesses use this tool to create truly groundbreaking and critical inventions that are of real, tangible benefit to the wider innovation market.”

In all the above, “AI” just means algorithms, nothing else. Courts would reject patents on those.

“Even the EPO now understands that UPC has died, based on this tweet from a few hours ago (about the third of this kind in the past fortnight).”In an effort to override national courts and somehow allow such ridiculous patents to endure, Team UPC worked hard for years, pushing for a hideous replacement (under the guise of “community”, “harmony” and “unity”), thankfully in vain. UKIPO “commissioned Powell Gilbert to collect data on patent and non-patent cases,” it said yesterday. “This has allowed us to evaluate the performance of the UPC once it is in operation. This data is published as part of the reports.”

“Counting patent and non-patent cases at the High Court 2015/2016″ is the title. Remember that this court rarely tolerates some of the more controversial European Patents. “The IPO requires detailed information on UK patent and non-patent cases. This will fulfill the UK’s obligations under the Unified Patent Court Agreement (UPCA),” it said. But there’s no UPC. It’s dead. Nevertheless, Bristows is already leaping at it and this new post from Alan Johnson said (hours ago):

The UK IPO published yesterday (here) information on the number of IP cases commenced in the High Court in 2015 and 2016.

If one considers pertinent cases and their outcomes, it then becomes clear that British patent law isn’t quite compatible with what the EPO has been doing in recent years. The above is merely a formality that accompanies what Gyimah had done before he resigned. Even the EPO now understands that UPC has died, based on this tweet from a few hours ago (about the third of this kind in the past fortnight). The EPO’s worst enemy is itself or its own misbehaviour.

Links 5/3/2019: EasyOS Reviewed, Debian ‘Cloud’ Team

Posted in News Roundup at 6:31 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Server

    • Red Hat Satellite 5 customers: Important updates on RHN and ISOs

      As Red Hat phases out its Red Hat Network (RHN), customers on Red Hat Satellite 5.6 and 5.7 will need to upgrade now to continue receiving content and updates. Read on for details and steps to move to the Red Hat Content Delivery Network (CDN).

      Red Hat has been notifying customers since early 2017 that Red Hat Satellite 5.7 and Satellite 5.6 would be at end of life on January 31, 2019. We encourage customers on those releases to move to Satellite 5.8 as soon as possible, then start planning your migration to Satellite 6. As a reminder, Satellite 5.8 is planned to be at end of life May 31, 2020.

      The end of life of earlier Satellite versions was just one of the reasons to move to Satellite 5.8. Another reason is that Satellite 5.8 is the only Satellite 5 version that uses Red Hat CDN instead of RHN.

    • Open Outlook: Management + Automation

      As organizations accelerate their digital transformation efforts they are embracing new hybrid IT models that include a mix of traditional, private and public cloud technologies. Workload strategies in these new models must consider cost, availability, security and reliability, as well as compliance and regulatory requirements. Many enterprises have evolved from use of on-premises virtualization and private clouds to hybrid and, frequently, multicloud environments.

      While management and automation technologies have always been instrumental to enterprise IT governance, their importance grows as organizations grapple with the resulting increased speed, scale and complexity. Traditional solutions have been unable to adapt to the needs of these rapidly changing hybrid cloud environments and many organizations plan to acquire new tools to address these challenges.

    • How and Why We’re Changing Deployment Topology in OpenShift 4.0

      Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform is changing the way that clusters are installed, and the way those resulting clusters are structured. When the Kubernetes project began, there were no extension mechanisms. Over the last four-plus years, we have devoted significant effort to producing extension mechanisms, and they are now mature enough for us build systems upon. This post is about what that new deployment topology looks like, how it is different from what came before, and why we’re making such a significant change.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • Rusty Rubies | Coder Radio 347

      Mike breaks down what it takes to build a proper iOS build server, and leaves the familiar shallows of Debian for the open waters of openSUSE.

      Plus Wes’ reluctant ruby adventures and our pick to ease your javascript packaging woes.

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux 5 is now out

      Nothing special Torvalds just ran out of fingers and toes

      Linux 5.0, the first major milestone release of the open-source Linux kernel in 2019, has been launched.

      Linux 5.0 is the first version of the kernel since April 2015, when Linux 4.0 was released, with a significant latest version number.

      Linux creator Linus Torvalds doesn’t appear to be particularly excited and does not see a specific significance in reaching the big 5.0.

      IT’s “Mr Sweary” said the numbering change was not indicative of anything special.

    • Linux 5.0 Is Here

      Linus Torvalds, the creator of Linux kernel has announced the release of Linux 5.0. Despite any excitement around the major release number, the fact is these numbers really don’t mean much. Torvalds has often said that he chooses a new number when the version number becomes too long. He simply doesn’t want “the numbers are big enough that you can’t really distinguish them.”

      Announcing 5.0, Torvalds wrote, “I’d like to point out (yet again) that we don’t do feature-based releases, and that “5.0″ doesn’t mean anything more than that the 4.x numbers started getting big enough that I ran out of fingers and toes.”

      That said there are many new features in this release, including support for GPUs. Linux 5.0 comes with improvement for AMD FreeSync, NVIDIA RTX Turing, and Raspberry Pi Touch Display support. It also comes with Google’s Adiantum storage encryption system.

    • Linux 5.0: A major milestone with minor improvements

      In an earlier Linux Kernel Mailing List (LKML) message, Torvalds had written “About 50 percent [of Linux 5.0] is drivers, 20 percent is architecture updates, 10 percent is tooling, and the remaining 20 percent is all over (documentation, networking, filesystems, header file updates, core kernel code..). Nothing particular stands out, although I do like seeing how some ancient drivers are getting put out to pasture (*cough*isdn*cough*).”

      That said, it does contain some worthwhile improvements.

      The new Linux comes with Google’s Adiantum storage encryption system. Adiantum works on low-powered devices such as Android smartphones. It’s a big step forward in securing these devices. It’s faster than previous encryption systems. Paul Crowley and Eric Biggers, of Google’s Android Security & Privacy Team, blogged, “Storage encryption protects your data if your phone falls into someone else’s hands Adiantum is an innovation in cryptography designed to make storage encryption more efficient for devices without cryptographic acceleration, to ensure that all devices can be encrypted.”

    • Linux 5.0-ad1 Patch Lets You Build The Kernel With “-march=native”

      While the upstream Linux kernel developers may not be interested in adding all of the CPU compiler tuning optimizations carried by Gentoo for their kernel builds, if you are after just “-march=native” compiler tuning to optimize your kernel build for the CPU being used, an updated patch is now available.

      Developer Alexey Dobriyan has published his “Linux 5.0-ad1″ patch where the focus of his patch is on carrying Gentoo’s “-march=native” kernel option for this newest Linux kernel release.

    • Linux 5.0 “Shy Crocodile” Arrives With Google’s Adiantum Encryption

      Linus Torvalds just released version 5.0 of the Linux kernel, codenamed “Shy Crocodile”. Linux 5.0 includes Google’s new encryption tech as well as support for AMD FreeSync, Raspberry Pi touch screens, and more goodies.

      Linux 5.0 arrived on March 3, 2019. As Linus explained back in January on the Linux Kernel Mailing List (LKML,) this isn’t really a huge release:

    • Linux Lite Users Are the First to Try Linux Kernel 5.0, Here’s How to Install It

      Released last weekend, Linux kernel 5.0 is a major milestone with minor improvements. Linux Lite developer and founder Jerry Bezencon is usually among the first to offer a new major kernel series to his users, and you can now install the Linux 5.0 kernel series on Linux Lite 4.x and 3.x series.

      Highlights of Linux kernel 5.0 include FreeSync support in for AMD GPUs for a stutter-free viewing experience on LCDs with dynamic refresh rates, a new energy-aware scheduling feature for ARM big.LITTLE CPUs, support for swap files in the Btrfs file system, and support for the Adiantum file system encryption for low power devices.

    • Linux 5.0 is out except it’s really 4.21 because Linus ‘ran out of fingers and toes’ to count on

      Linus Torvalds has squeezed out version 5.0 of the Linux kernel and flung open the merge window for its follow-up, 5.1.

      In the post announcing the arrival, Torvalds was at pains to point out that feature-based releases really aren’t a thing and the 5.0 “doesn’t mean anything more than that the 4.x numbers started getting big enough that I ran out of fingers and toes”.

      However, there is actually much to delight Linux lovers in the release, which had been known as “4.21″ before Torvalds’ fingers and toes moment.

    • Linux 5.1 Continues The Years-Long Effort Preparing For Year 2038

      Linux 5.1 continues the massive undertaking in preparing the kernel for the Year 2038 problem.

      The Linux kernel has been seeing “Y2038″ work for years and the effort is far from over. Thomas Gleixner sent in the latest Y2038 work for the Linux 5.1 kernel, which after a lot of ground work in previous kernels has introduced the first set of syscalls that are Year 2038 safe.

    • Linux Foundation

      • LF Edge Welcomes Aricent as Premier Member to Help Unify Open Edge Computing

        LF Edge, an umbrella organization within the Linux Foundation that aims to establish an open, interoperable framework for edge computing independent of hardware, silicon, cloud, or operating system, today announced Aricent, a global design and engineering company, has joined LF Edge as a Premier member.

        “We are pleased to welcome Aricent as the newest Premier member of LF Edge,” said Arpit Joshipura, general manager, the Linux Foundation. “Their expertise in delivering robust edge frameworks for leading mobile operators, combined with their commitment to collaborative development of open, innovative networks, will help the community establish a common platform for edge computing.”

    • Graphics Stack

      • Intel ANV Vulkan Driver Adds VK_EXT_inline_uniform_block, VK_EXT_ycbcr_image_arrays

        The open-source Intel “ANV” Vulkan Linux driver has picked up support for some of the newer extensions.

        First up, the ANV driver now implements support for VK_EXT_inline_uniform_block, the extension that has been around since September’s Vulkan 1.1.84 release. VK_EXT_inline_uniform_block allows for uniform blocks to be backed directly with descriptor sets by storing the inline uniform data within descriptor pool storage.

      • Intel’s i965 Mesa Driver Now Supports Threaded OpenGL

        While Intel may be developing the Iris Gallium3D driver as their future OpenGL driver, they haven’t given up all work on their existing “i965″ classic Mesa driver. Hitting Mesa 19.1′s development code this morning is support for threaded OpenGL with this existing and widely-used driver on Linux systems.

        For ages now the Mesa Gallium3D drivers have supported “mesa_glthread=true” mode for turning on threaded OpenGL where more work can be punted off to separate CPU threads. This same treatment is now available to Intel’s current (non-Gallium) OpenGL driver. We’ve done many tests on this mesa_glthread functionality since it came about two to three years back.

      • AMD Posts Patches Implementing RAS Support For AMDGPU Linux Driver

        AMD developers today posted a set of twenty patches implementing RAS support for the AMDGPU Linux kernel diver.

        The AMDGPU driver is seeing support for RAS — Reliability, Availability, Serviceability — for supported hardware that at least for now appears to be focused on Vega 20 — likely just the Radeon Instinct products and not Radeon VII. The AMDGPU RAS support includes SRAM/VRAM ECC, bad page tracking, and error containment.

    • Benchmarks

      • Intel Iris Pro 6200 Graphics – i965 vs. Iris Gallium3D OpenGL Performance

        With the initial Iris Gallium3D driver that was merged into Mesa at the end of February from our tests on UHD Graphics the performance is quite promising considering the early stage of this new open-source OpenGL driver and it not yet being fully tuned/optimized. The Iris Gallium3D driver support goes back to Broadwell CPUs so I decided to run some benchmarks with the legendary Core i7 5775C that features the Iris Pro Graphics 6200 with 128MB of eDRAM.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • Screenshot Galore!

      The QNX desktop has seen some significant improvements over the last few months. While it is still mostly a one-person spare-time project, it is becoming more and more usable.

      First, I owe a debt from my original post. I was reprimanded by commentators for the window decoration’s lack of visual appeal. To address this I added a simple theme plug-in API to the window manager, which facilitates the creation of new themes. These are built into shared objects that are loaded when the window manager starts. With the help of the Cairo library I was able to write two new themes: one original, the other less so (see if you can spot it…).

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • KDE Plasma 5.12.8 LTS Desktop Environment Released with over 70 Improvements

        KDE Plasma 5.12.8 LTS is now available as a point release to the KDE Plasma 5.12 LTS desktop environment, bringing more than 70 chnages that include breeze_cursors as default cursor theme, improved weather notifications, better contrast of crosshair cursors, keyboard navigation support for the KonsoleProfiles applet, as well as Qt 5.12 compatibility for the PulseAudio sound server.

        Other notable changes include a fix for the autologin session loading in SDDM KCM, a fix for the group popup dialog, improved selection of default web browser in Componentchooser KCM, focus handling fixes, improved drop between shared views, and numerous improvements to the weather data engine. A detailed changelog is available here.

      • KaOS Linux Gets First ISO Snapshot in 2019 with KDE Plasma 5.15, LibreOffice 6.2

        The KaOS project released the first ISO snapshot for 2019 as KaOS 2019.02, an up-to-date live and installation media that contains all the latest software updates, bug fixes, and security issues.
        KaOS 2019.02 is a major release that will replace about 70 to 80 percent of your install base with updated packages. It ships with the latest KDE Plasma 5.15 desktop environment accompanied by the KDE Frameworks 5.55.0 and KDE Applications 18.12.2 software suites, and the Qt 5.12.1 application framework.

        Under the hood, the KaOS 2019.02 snapshot is powered by the Linux 4.20.13 kernel and Mesa 18.3.4 graphics stack, and ships with updated components that include LibreOffice 6.2.0, NetworkManager 1.14.6, GNU Nano 3.2, Rust 1.32.0, ICU 62.1, Bison 3.2.4, Python 3.7.2, PHP 7.2, Glib2 2.58.3, and Libvpx 1.8.0.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • User account fallback images in GNOME 3.32

        Your face might resemble this one in the left (avatar-default) as much as it could be pretty much everyone else using the same computer as you. With this in mind, we introduced a small feature in GNOME 3.32 that intends to make it easier for users to identify themselves in a list of system users, such as in the login screen or in Settings.

        From now on, GNOME won’t set the “avatar-default” icon for users created in the Initial Setup or in Setting. It will create a colourful image with the user’s initials on it.

      • GNOME Shell + Mutter 3.31.92 Bring Fractional Scaling, Updated Screen-Casting API

        One week ahead of the official debut of GNOME 3.32, the release candidate will be out this week and GNOME Shell along with the Mutter compositor have outed their 3.31.92 release.

        The GNOME Shell / Mutter 3.31.92 releases are very exciting in that it delivers the long-awaited fractional scaling support! No more is the HiDPI/retina display scaling limited to integer values for scaling the UI elements but now supports fractional values.

        This update is also exciting for last minute performance improvements. There already was a lot of GNOME performance work during the 3.31 cycle while in time for the release candidate are the final bits.

      • Outreachy GNOME usability testing wrap-up

        The December-March cycle of Outreachy has finished, and I wanted to do a quick recap of the work from our intern, Clarissa.

        As I mentioned when we started week 1 GNOME usability testing, most of our work in the internship was testing designs that haven’t gone “live” yet (this is called “prototype usability testing”). Allan and Jakub created mock-ups of new designs, and Clarissa did usability testing on them.

        That means a lot of the applications were still being worked on, and were often delivered in Flatpak format since these “in development” versions were not part of a systemwide release (which would have likely been included natively in a Linux distribution somewhere).

        As a result, we ran this cycle of usability testing in a more “loose” fashion that we have in previous cycles. We didn’t have a long run-up to usability testing, where we could take our time learning about usability testing and carefully constructing new scenario tasks. Rather, Allan provided an overview of what he was hoping to get out of each usability test (how do users respond to this new feature, do they interact with the user interface differently, etc?) and Clarissa had to quickly assemble scenario tasks based on that. I helped with focus and wording on the scenario tasks.

  • Distributions

    • Reviews

      • EasyOS Teaches an Old Dog New Tricks

        Do not let the fact that EasyOS is an experimental Linux distro deter you from trying it out. It is far from being dumbed down. The developer provides numerous help files and simple directions linked to the EasyOS website on how to download, create the installation media, and use the distro.

        Whether you are familiar with Puppy Linux variants or other Linux distros, EasyOS has much to offer. If you are new to Linux, be assured that the detailed instructions and ample illustrations will make trying out EasyOS a less-frustrating experience.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • SUSECON 2019: Family and innovative partnerships to support customer needs

        SUSECON provides a forum for building a passionate community of technically knowledgeable participants who use open source technology from SUSE in their enterprise IT environments and share their passion for this open source technology with their peers. At our annual conference, we announce and demonstrate SUSE’s vision and latest technical advances to customers, partners, press and analysts. We also share insights and share best practices on the practical usage of these technologies.

    • Debian Family

      • TC decision on “Merged /usr” – #914897

        The Debian Technical Committee was asked in #914897 to overrule the debootstrap maintainers regarding the “merged `/usr`” default.

      • Debian Sticking With Merged /usr Plan

        For years Debian developers have been planning for a merged /usr concept where the /{bin,sbin,lib}/ directories becoming symbolic links to /usr/{bin,sbin,lib}/. With the upcoming Debian 10 Buster is the initial step of their plan after it was postponed from Debian Stretch.

      • News from Debian Cloud Team

        The Debian project has started the freezing process to prepare to release Debian 10 (codename Buster) in the coming months. During the development-cycle time of this release the Debian Cloud team has made progress in many fronts: formalizing the team inside the project, improving our tooling, investing in QA, optimizing the generated images and increasing the number of supported architectures.

        Last October, the Debian Project Leader (DPL) officially announced the creation of the Debian Cloud Team and appointed some Debian Developers as Delegates: Lucas Filipozzi (lfilipoz), Steve McIntyre (93sam) and Tomasz Rybak (serpent). The delegates are responsible for the policies, procedures, and services that are necessary for the production and maintenance of the official Debian images for use on cloud providers. The team chose those developers as Delegates because they have no direct involvement with cloud providers (many people in the team provide consultancy or work for cloud providers), avoiding any bias in the decisions made by the team. Moreover, the delegates with the support of Software in the Public Interest (SPI) have been working with some cloud providers (Microsoft Azure, Amazon AWS and Google Cloud) to create official Debian accounts in each of them, which will allow us to perform tests and publish Debian community images to their users.

      • Derivatives

        • SolydXK 201902 overview | Stable and Secure

          In this video, I am going to show an overview of SolydXK 201902 and some of the applications pre-installed. #

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu 14.04.6 LTS (Trusty Tahr) Emergency Point Release Arriving March 7th

            Following on last week’s Ubuntu 16.04.6 LTS (Xenial Xerus) emergency point release to patch a critical security vulnerability affecting the APT package manager, which could allow attackers to execute code as root and possibly crash the system by installing malicious apps, Canonical is now working on Ubuntu 14.04.6 LTS.

            The Ubuntu 14.04.6 LTS point release will be similar to the Ubuntu 16.04.6 LTS point release, but for those who want to deploy the Ubuntu 14.04 LTS (Trusty Tahr) operating system series on new computers without taking any security risks caused by the said APT vulnerability.

          • Meet the Official Ubuntu 19.04 ‘Disco Dingo’ Mascot

            Sat above this line is the official mascot design for the upcoming release of Ubuntu 19.04 (due mid April).

            With Ubuntu 19.04 named Disco Dingo the companion artwork is (naturally) designed accordingly.

            The line-art logo depicts a dingo (a wild Australian dog) staring upwards while wearing over-ear headphones (because, presumably, he’s a DJ?).

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • 9 Open Source/Commercial Software for Data Center Infrastructure Management

    When a company grows its demand in computing resources grows as well. It works as for regular companies as for providers, including those renting out dedicated servers. When the total number of racks exceed 10 you’ll start facing issues.

    How to inventory servers and spares? How to maintain a data center in a good health, locating and fixing potential threats on time. How to find the rack with broken equipment? How to prepare physical machines to work? Carrying out these tasks manually will take too much time otherwise will require having a huge team of administrators in your IT-department.

  • Web Browsers

    • Why I chose Brave as my Chrome browser replacement

      This year, I’m pretty sure I’ve found the ideal Chrome alternative in the Brave browser. If your reasons for sticking with Chrome have been (a) extensions, (b) compatibility, (c) syncing across devices, or (d, unlikely) speed, Brave checks all of those boxes. What’s more, it’s just one of a growing number of really good options that aren’t made by Google.

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox Nightly: These Weeks in Firefox: Issue 54

        Firefox Account is experimenting with putting an avatar next to the hamburger menu. It will give users visibility on their account, sync status as well as links to manage the account. Targeting landing & beta uplift this week!

      • QMO: DevEdition 66 Beta 14 Friday, March 8th

        We are happy to let you know that Friday, March 8th, we are organizing DevEdition 66 Beta 14 Testday. We’ll be focusing our testing on: Firefox Screenshots, Search, Build installation & uninstallation.

        Check out the detailed instructions via this etherpad.

      • Mozilla Open Policy & Advocacy Blog: Indian government allows expanded private sector use of Aadhaar through ordinance (but still no movement on data protection law)

        The Court had placed fundamental limits to the otherwise ubiquitous use of Aadhaar, India’s biometric ID system, including the requirement of an authorizing law for any private sector use. While the ordinance purports to provide this legal backing, its broad scope could dilute both the letter and intent of the judgment. As per the ordinance, companies will now be able to authenticate using Aadhaar as long as the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) is satisfied that “certain standards of privacy and security” are met. These standards remain undefined, and especially in the absence of a data protection law, this raises serious concerns.

        The swift movement to foster expanded use of Aadhaar is in stark contrast to the lack of progress on advancing a data protection bill that would safeguard the rights of Indians whose data is implicated in this system. Aadhaar continues to be effectively mandatory for a vast majority of Indian residents, given its requirement for the payment of income tax and various government welfare schemes. Mozilla has repeatedly warned of the dangers of a centralized database of biometric information and authentication logs.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • State of the copyleft union

      The license-importance divide seems almost generational: the older generation cares about licenses, and the younger generation does not. Yet, the historical focus on licensing in FLOSS, while occasionally prone to pedantry to a degree only developers can love, stemmed from serious governance considerations regarding how community members interact.

      Copyleft was invented to solve the many problems of project governance, assuring the rights of users and creating equal footing for all contributors. The licensing infrastructure today also has increased in complexity, with proprietary relicensing business models, excessive use of CLAs, and tricky clauses on top of existing licenses.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • RISC-V opens up processor design

        Today, if you want to build a high-performance computing device, you can almost certainly find all the software you need in a free and open form. The same is not true for the processor chips that run that free software — whatever you choose, a chunk of what you pay will go on proprietary hardware licences to Intel, ARM, or their friends.

        RISC-V, pronounced ‘Risk-Five’, is a new architecture that’s available under open, free and non-restrictive licences. It has widespread industry support from chip and device makers, and is designed to be freely extensible and customisable to fit any market niche. To be a success, however, it has to perform technically as well as be economic to design for, verify and program. It has enthusiastic supporters, but it also has enormous competition that has been dug into the very heartland of IT for decades.

  • Programming/Development

    • Testing Discourse for GTK

      For the past 20 years or so, GTK used IRC and mailing lists for discussions related to the project. Over the years, use of email for communication has declined, and the overhead of maintaining the infrastructure has increased; sending email to hundreds or thousands of people has become increasingly indistinguishable from spam, in the eyes of service providers, and GNOME had to try and ask for exceptions—which are not easy to get, and are quite easy to be revoked. On top of that, the infrastructure in use for managing mailing lists is quite old and crumbly, and it’s unnecessarily split into various sub-categories that make following discussions harder than necessary.

      After discussions among the GTK team, with the GNOME infrastructure maintainers, and with the GTK community at large, we decided to start a trial run of Discourse as a replacement for mailing lists, first and foremost, and as a way to provide an official location for the GTK community to discuss the development of, and with, GTK—as well as the rest of the core GNOME platform: GLib, Pango, GdkPixbuf, etc.

    • Programming Text Windows with ncurses

      In my article series about programming for the text console using the ncurses library, I showed you how to draw text on the screen and use basic text attributes. My examples of Sierpinski’s Triangle (see “Getting Started with ncurses”) and a simple Quest adventure game (see “Creating an Adventure Game in the Terminal with ncurses”) used the entire screen at once.

    • Introduction to Python Decorators

      In Python, a decorator is a design pattern that we can use to add new functionality to an already existing object without the need to modify its structure. A decorator should be called directly before the function that is to be extended. With decorators, you can modify the functionality of a method, a function, or a class dynamically without directly using subclasses. This is a good idea when you want to extend the functionality of a function that you don’t want to directly modify. Decorator patterns can be implemented everywhere, but Python provides more expressive syntax and features for that.

    • Avoid Django’s GenericForeignKey
    • PyBites Twitter Digest – Issue 03, 2019
    • Building a Python Tips API with Django REST Framework and Deploying it to Digital Ocean
    • Parallel Programming: March 2018 deferred-processing query

      Do you know of additional publicly visible production uses of sequnce locking, hazard pointers, or RCU not already called out in the remainder of this blog post?

      I am updating the deferred-processing chapter of “Is Parallel Programming Hard, And, If So, What Can You Do About It?” and would like to include a list of publicly visible production uses of sequence locking, hazard pointers, and RCU. I suppose I could also include reference counting, but given that it was well known before I was born, I expect that its list would be way too long to be useful!

    • PyCon 2019 Talks, Charlas, Posters, and Education Summit Schedules
    • Python hacks: opening a compressed mailbox
    • Python Bytes: #120 AWS, MongoDB, and the Economic Realities of Open Source and more
    • PyCoder’s Weekly: Issue #358 (March 5, 2019)

Leftovers

  • Science

    • The periodic table is 150 years old this week

      Lavoisier’s list of elements, published in 1789, five years before his execution, had 33 entries. Of those, 23—a fifth of the total now recognised—have stood the test of time. Some, like gold, iron and sulphur, had been known since ancient days. Others, like manganese, molybdenum and tungsten, were recent discoveries. What the list did not have was a structure. It was, avant la lettre, a stamp collection. But the album was missing.

    • Turning 30: World Wide Web, SC and security grow up together

      Time flies when you’re making history. Hard to believe so much time has passed, but 30 years ago in 1989, at the same time SC made its debut, Sir Tim Berners-Lee was inventing the World Wide Web while at CERN, the European Particle Physics Laboratory. Berners-Lee wrote the first web client and server a year later in 1990, and the URI and HTTP specifications he developed at CERN along with HTML coding were refined as web technology was more ubiquitously deployed.

      For those in the industry and the press that covered it, the late 1980s into the 1990s were some heady, exciting times. SC Magazine launched at the tail end of the ‘80s and throughout the internet boom of the 1990s, it was common for multiple print technology magazines to publish well more than 200 pages a week, although security looked much different than it does today.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • New Study Ties Spike in Hospitalizations for Genital, Skin, and Urinary Ailments to Fracking in Pennsylvania

      New research has tied high rates of hospitalizations for genital, skin, and urinary conditions to fracking in Pennsylvania, underscoring mounting concerns about the public health implications of the controversial process of extracting natural gas.

      Alina Denham, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Rochester, led a research team that analyzed county-level hospital data for the state from 2003 to 2014. Their findings indicated that “long-term exposure to unconventional drilling may be harmful to population health.”

      The conclusion bolstered previous findings about the dangers of fracking—a process also called hydraulic fracturing that involves injecting a mix of water and chemicals into the ground to access gas.

    • Enjoy Your High, But Not at the Expense of Palestinian Human Rights

      The Israeli medical cannabis industry, as it is currently set up, whitewashes Israeli war crimes, provides legitimacy and profits for people responsible for past massacres in Gaza, and supports Israel’s illegal settlement, a direct cause of Palestinian suffering.

      On December 28, the Israeli Knesset approved legislation for the legal export of medical cannabis. While the law still needs to be finalized — it needs the prime minister’s signature — exports are expected to begin by the end of 2019, and the Israeli cannabis industry is celebrating. Saul Kaye, CEO of iCAN, an Israeli venture fund and medical cannabis technology incubator, boasted, “Israel, already the most advanced nation in cannabis R&D, will now be able to produce and market cannabis and cannabis-based products that will help millions of people.”

      The global medical cannabis market is expected to reach $28 billion by 2024 and Israel is already a big part of it. Thanks to a merger with Canada’s Aurora, the Israeli medical cannabis company Tikun Olam holds a value of $400 million. Another company called Together Pharma, which has products for sale in Delaware and Washington State, and will soon sell medical marijuana in California and Florida, was valued at 300 million shekels (around $83 million) as of October 2018. InterCure, an Israeli holding company for small medical cannabis firms, is valued at around $180 million. InterCure aims to produce 100 tons of medical cannabis by 2020.

    • Will US Drug Pricing Politics Change Intimidation Practices Globally?

      The global health world, particularly as concerns skyrocketing drug prices and patent abuse, is in a unique space in time. Recently, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) has been carrying on as per usual. It has threatened the Malaysian and Colombian governments at numerous junctures to prevent them from issuing compulsory licences – a completely legal mechanism which the US uses regularly – to access generic hepatitis C drugs. The Trump Administration has sent delegations to global health agencies in Geneva to intimidate them into reducing, or hiding, work on TRIPS flexibilities and fairer drug pricing.

      [...]

      A number of 2020 Democratic Presidential Candidates including Sanders, Warren, Klobuchar, and Harris have made statements on the exorbitant prices set by the pharmaceutical industry. Trump HHS Secretary Alex Azar acknowledged drug pricing issues and in May 2018 released a blueprint to address high prices, but was criticised as ‘foregoing the most effective and obvious reforms that are needed to make a real difference’. Regardless of this, it is clear that drug pricing is high on the US political agenda.

      For decades, translating domestic US intellectual property into global norms has been high on the political agenda. Access to US markets was made contingent upon countries adopting US standards on intellectual property. Countries around the world are sorted into the USTR’s Special 301 ‘naughty list’ for countries that contravene its own standards on intellectual property, and this includes if they don’t provide the monopolies that the United States does for its own pharmaceuticals. US intellectual property standards have proliferated through numerous bilateral trade agreements around the globe. The proliferation of US standards worldwide is not restricted to intellectual property – the Obama presidency, for example, saw US diplomatic missions increase efforts to tackle regressive LGBT policies in the developing world.

    • This Political Family Has Been Fighting for Social Security and Medicare for All Since the 1930s

      Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) is a leader in the fight to improve Medicare and expand it to cover everyone in America. With Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), she is one of the two lead sponsors of the Medicare for All Act of 2019, which was just introduced with more than 100 cosponsors. Dingell and Jayapal co-chair the Medicare for All caucus. She is also leading the fight to increase Social Security benefits, as co-chair of the Expand Social Security Caucus and as an original cosponsor of the Social Security 2100 Act.

      At the introduction of the Medicare for All Act, Dingell gave an impassioned speech about why we need to make health care a right for everyone in America. She spoke about how when Social Security was first proposed, right-wingers attacked it with the same cynical arguments they’re now using against Medicare for All. But now, we can’t imagine a world without Social Security. Rep. Dingell is particularly familiar with this history because her family has been fighting for Social Security and universal guaranteed health insurance since the New Deal.

      Representative Dingell’s father-in-law, John Dingell Sr., was first elected to Congress in 1932. He was part of the Democratic wave that swept into Congress alongside President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his promise of a New Deal for the American people. Dingell fought tirelessly for FDR’s agenda. He was so instrumental in the enactment of the Social Security Act of 1935 that he was invited to attend the signing ceremony and watch FDR sign the legislation into law.

  • Security

    • Linux 5.1 Landing Feature For Reducing Scope Of Spectre V4 Speculation Protection

      The x86/pti updates for Linux 5.1 is bringing a new PR_SPEC_DISABLE_NOEXEC option where speculation protection for SSBD doesn’t end up being passed to new processes started by exec in such use-cases where it’s safe to do so. Utilizing this option will thus eliminate the overhead associated with this Spectre Variant 4 “Speculative Store Bypass” behavior.

      Back in January when the work around PR_SPEC_DISABLE_NOEXEC was initially queued up in the x86/pti working tree, I wrote about it in more detail. See Linux Kernel Getting New Option So SSBD Isn’t Over-Protective – Helping Performance. Now that the Linux 5.1 merge window is open, this pull request has been submitted for landing in the mainline kernel.

    • LibreSignage Looking for Beta Testers, OpenNebula v. 5.8 “Edge” Now Available, New SPOILER Attack Affecting Intel CPUs Discovered, Bug Found in Android TV OS and GNU Linux-libre 5.0-gnu Released

      New “SPOILER” attack discovered affecting Intel’s CPUs. Phoronix reports that researchers from Worcester Polytechnic Institute and University of Lubeck discovered the speculative attack and that “Intel was notified of this issue a few months ago but no software/hardware fix appears ready yet, while the researchers claim there might not be an effective software solution available at least anytime soon—and any mitigation would likely come at a performance cost, as we’ve seen with Spectre and Meltdown over the past year. AMD and ARM CPUs aren’t believed to be impacted by SPOILER.” See also “SPOILER: Speculative Load Hazards Boost Rowhammer and Cache Attacks”.

    • Intel CPUs Reportedly Vulnerable To New “SPOILER” Speculative Attack

      SPOILER is the newest speculative attack affecting Intel’s micro-architecture.

      Researchers out of the Worcester Polytechnic Institute and University of Lubeck discovered this new speculative attack dubbed SPOILER, Speculative Load Hazards Boost Rowhammer and Cache Attacks.

    • All Intel chips open to new Spoiler non-Spectre attack: Don’t expect a quick fix [Ed: All Intel chips have intentional back doors anyway. Stop buying Intel (or things with Intel)]
    • Is Open Source Becoming More Insecure?

      The survey quoted Jonas Manalansan, a cybersecurity engineer of Northrup Grumman, “Successful DevSecOps projects are able to bring security into the DevOps processes without slowing them down. All in all, DevSecOps delivers reduced cost, reduced development churn, and reduced application attack surface, which delivers higher ‘security and higher confidence to the organization’.”

      So, in a nutshell, there is no increase in breaches related to open source, there is an increase in the adoption of open source and these users must embrace best practices.

    • Reproducible Builds: Weekly report #201
    • Security updates for Tuesday
  • Defence/Aggression

    • Russian poet is off the hook for saying Hitler would have won over more in the USSR if he’d dropped the Antisemitism

      Anti-extremism police have determined that poet and writer Dmitry Bykov was within his civic rights last December, when he gave a lecture in St. Petersburg claiming that Adolf Hitler would have won over more Soviet anti-Communists, if the Nazi leader hadn’t sought the extermination of Jews and Roma.

      Experts hired by the Interior Ministry say Bykov’s remarks do not constitute “obvious disrespect for society” or “profanity against Russia’s military glory.” Bykov is also off the hook for “rehabilitating Nazism,” disappointing critics who were convinced that the public intellectual had finally crossed a line.

    • In bizarre twist, Huawei’s CFO is suing the Canadian Mounties

      The daughter of Huawei Founder Ren Wanzhou (yes, we can hear you, Ren Fandango) is undergoing extradition to the US to face charges of breaching sanctions against Iran in order to strike a trade deal.

      At the same time, Ms Meng launched a civil suit against their friends in the North, for breach of her civil rights.

    • Why Has Haiti Risen Up Once Again?

      The Haitian masses have mobilized a new wave of protest against the corrupt government of President Jovenel Moïse.

      It began with demonstrations last summer in July and August, re-emerged in November and December, and exploded again in the first two weeks of February when hundreds of thousands marched in all the major cities of the country, from the capital of Port-au-Prince to the northern city of Cap-Haïtien.

      The demonstrators demanded an investigation into what happened to billions of dollars of funds from Venezuela, an end to austerity measures and price increases for basic goods, and the resignation of Moïse and his prime minister, Jean-Henry Céant.

      The government predictably responded with a combination of concessions and repression. It rescinded the price increases and promised investigations into corruption, but neither Moïse nor Céant agreed to step down.

    • Venezuela-Baiting: How Media Keep Anti-Imperialist Dissent in Check

      Corporate media have always attacked leftists for their positions on Venezuela, a country consistently demonized and misrepresented in the US press (FAIR.org, 6/1/02, 11/1/05, 4/1/13, 2/22/19). But with President Donald Trump’s latest tightening of sanctions, and signs of a build-up to a long-rumored invasion (Fox News, 2/27/19), the media’s Venezuela-baiting has been turned up to 11.

      The political right is uniting with establishment Democrats in denouncing presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders for his supposedly pro-dictatorship stance on Venezuela. And the media are piling on.

    • Inside the Secretive U.S. Air War in Somalia: How Many Civilians Have Died as Strikes Escalate?

      The Trump administration is rapidly escalating a secretive air war in Somalia. According to the think tank New America, at least 252 people have been killed in around two dozen U.S. airstrikes in Somalia so far this year. The U.S. has already carried out more strikes in Somalia in 2019 than in any single year under President Obama. In addition to the air war, the Pentagon reportedly has about 500 U.S. troops on the ground in Somalia, including many special operations forces. For years, the U.S. has attempted to aid the Somali government by targeting members of al-Shabab, but the effort has increased dramatically under Trump, and it has come with little congressional oversight or media attention. We speak with Amanda Sperber, a freelance journalist who reports from Nairobi, Kenya, and Mogadishu, Somalia. Her new article for The Nation is titled “Inside the Secretive US Air Campaign in Somalia.”

    • “How to Hide an Empire”: Daniel Immerwahr on the History of the Greater United States

      “How to Hide an Empire: A History of the Greater United States.” That’s the title of a new book examining a part of the U.S. that is often overlooked: the nation’s overseas territories from Puerto Rico to Guam, former territories like the Philippines, and its hundreds of military bases scattered across the globe. We speak with the book’s author, Daniel Immerwahr, who writes, “At various times, the inhabitants of the U.S. Empire have been shot, shelled, starved, interned, dispossessed, tortured and experimented on. What they haven’t been, by and large, is seen.” Immerwahr is an associate professor of history at Northwestern University.

    • An Open Letter to the Washington Office on Latin America About Its Stance on US Effort to Overthrow Venezuelan Government

      We write out of concern for the direction that WOLA has taken with regard to a matter of life and death, and possibly war and peace, in Latin America. This letter is an attempt to engage with WOLA about your support for various components of the Trump administration’s efforts to topple the government of Venezuela.

      We believe that the Trump administration’s regime change effort in Venezuela is wrong in every way: morally, legally, and politically. Since war has been openly threatened repeatedly by Trump himself and his top officials, this effort also runs a high risk in terms of the loss of human life and limb, and other unforeseen consequences of war and political violence.

      For these reasons and more, WOLA should oppose this regime change effort unequivocally, just as progressives throughout the world opposed the Iraq War of 2003. But it has not done so. Rather, it has endorsed much of it. People may have differing personal opinions regarding the internal politics of Venezuela or how Venezuelans might best resolve their differences. But there is no doubt that the Trump administration’s illegal regime change operation is greatly worsening the situation and should be opposed by all who care about human life and international law.

    • Will the U.S. End Up Putting Sanctions on Every Country That Doesn’t Bend to Its Will?

      The phrase is used over and over again by the government of the United States. “Strongest sanctions in history”—now against Iran, then against Venezuela. U.S. government officials revel in the timbre of exaggeration, their phrases shaking countries and overturning civilizations. It is hard to keep track of how many countries the United States currently sanctions. There are the obvious ones: China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Russia and Venezuela.

      But, in fact, the U.S. Treasury Department sanctions list begins with “Balkans-Related Sanctions” and ends with “Zimbabwe Sanctions.” This is not the total list. There are sanctions for counterterrorism and for counternarcotics, for the rough diamond trade and for non-proliferation. These are not always the “strongest sanctions.” Those are reserved for a handful of countries, the ones that are at the center of the international news cycle.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Fed Prosecutors Who Screwed Up Big Time over Possible Assange Case Get Judge’s OK on Chelsea Manning Subpoena

      Remember when the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia (EDVA) had to respond to his office mistakenly naming WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange as a target of yet-to-be unsealed criminal charges? That same U.S. Attorney’s Office (USAO) has subpoenaed Chelsea Manning, the former U.S. Army intelligence analyst who was infamously convicted of violating the Espionage Act by disclosing thousands of “classified (and unclassified but ‘sensitive’) documents” to WikiLeaks.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Marine Heatwaves Destroy Ocean Ecosystems Like Wildfires Destroy Forests, Study Finds

      The paper, published in Nature Climate Change Monday, found that the number of heat wave days per year had increased by more than 50 percent during the last 29 years (1987 to 2016) when compared to the years between 1925 and 1954. This is bad news for important ocean ecosystems from kelp forests to coral reefs.

    • Thousands Flee as 19 Wildfires Burn in Southeast Australia

      One of the residents to suffer the impact of the fire was Andrew Clarke, owner of the Jinks Creek Winery, who lost the vineyard he had first started planting in 1979, Network 10 reported.

      “My vineyard is basically melted. I was meant to be picking my grapes yesterday, the first lot. That’s about it, we’ve just lost everything,” Clarke said, according to CNN.

      Firefighters are working to control the blazes before “gusty and erratic” winds are predicted to reach the area Wednesday. Cooler temperatures are also expected. However, accompanying thunderstorms could actually spark more fires, and the rain and snow predicted will not be enough to douse the fires, Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) senior forecaster Michael Efron told The Guardian.

      “Really these fires will be burning for some time until we get significant rainfall,” he said.

    • The big problem with climate ‘realism’

      Climate change has vaulted to the top of the political discourse, with the rollout of the Green New Deal policy framework and the subsequent discussion of what policies it should contain. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D), for instance, recently announced he is running for president with a platform laser-focused on climate change.

      All this has political moderates rolling their eyes. “The green dream or whatever they call it, nobody knows what it is, but they’re for it right?” scoffed Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) scolded a bunch of children who came to her office begging her to support the Green New Deal, saying “I know what I’m doing … it’s not a good resolution.” New York Times columnist Bret Stephens concludes that if famed lefty Pelosi doesn’t support it, the GND must be basically silly: “[I]t’s time to move climate policy beyond impractical radicalism and feckless virtue-signaling to something that can achieve a plausible, positive, and bipartisan result.”

      All this reveals the bankruptcy of so-called “realism” on climate change.

      The remarkable thing about Stephens’ column is that he perceives the problem with the Democratic moderate climate stance with perfect accuracy. Unlike Stephens in his Wall Street Journal incarnation, Feinstein and Pelosi do not deny the science of climate change. But if the scientists are right, “isn’t Pelosi’s incrementalist approach to climate absurdly inadequate?” he writes. “Isn’t it, in fact, like trying to put out a forest fire with a plant mister?”

    • Who Is Gov. Tim Walz and Why Is He So Important for the Climate?

      We’ve only got 10 years to work on the climate. But, thankfully the Green New Deal is pushing and shoving its way through Congress — putting elected leaders and presidential candidates to the test to show us whether they’re actually serious about climate action.

      And while climate champions like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are advocating for widespread and far-reaching federal climate policy, we need to do everything in our power (which is pretty mighty) to make sure state officials like Minnesota Governor Tim Walz and Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan keep fossil fuels in the ground right now by stopping projects like Enbridge’s dangerous Line 3 tar sands pipeline.

    • Trashing the Planet: 15 New Books About Garbage, Climate Change and Endangered Species

      There’s nothing disposable about the ideas presented in this month’s new environmental books.

    • New Warnings on Plastic’s Health Risks as Fracking Industry Promotes New ‘Plastics Belt’ Build-Out

      A new report traces the life cycle of plastic from the moment an oil and gas well is drilled to the time plastic trash breaks down in the environment, finding “distinct risks to human health” at every stage.

      Virtually all plastic — 99 percent of it, according to the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) report — comes from fossil fuels. And a growing slice comes from fracked oil and gas wells and the natural gas liquids (NGLs) they produce.

    • Could Mardi Gras’ Most Iconic Accessory Get a Sustainable Makeover?

      Today is the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, which means it marks the culmination of Mardi Gras festivities in New Orleans. But once the party is over, someone will have to clean up the mess.

      Last year, nearly 1,200 tons of trash were collected after the parade, most of which ended up in landfills. But one Louisiana State University (LSU) biologist is working to make sure the holiday’s iconic beads won’t be part of future collections, The Huffington Post reported.

      LSU Biological Sciences Professor Naohiro Kato has developed a process for making biodegradable beads and doubloons from algae. Kato harvests a kind of microscopic algae called diatoms and turns it into a powder used to cast beads that will break down in soil after one to two years, LSU explained.

    • Acme Equities Hedge Fund Wants to Add Expensive Carbon Capture to Distressed New Mexico Coal Plant

      The hedge fund trying to buy a New Mexico coal plant slated for closure has pitched legislators on its plan: it wants to install expensive technology to capture the plant’s carbon pollution, despite the fact that the plant is closing because it cannot compete economically with renewable energy.

      The City of Farmington, which is in talks to sell the plant to Acme, asked New Mexico legislators on Saturday to amend a bill currently under debate, the Energy Transition Act, to allow Acme the time it says it needs to install the carbon capture technology. Legislators planned to consider the amendment on Monday. The bill aims to transition the state’s economy to 50 percent renewable energy by 2030, and 80 percent by 2050.

      “Carbon capture and sequestration” technology, or CCS, has failed to reach commercial adoption in the United States, despite decades of support from many utilities, the coal industry, and some environmental groups. That’s because so far, no one has been able to implement CCS without making power plants much more expensive to build and operate.

    • Report Exposes ‘Devastating’ Economic, Public Health, and Environmental Impacts of Trump’s Industry Giveaways

      Climate & Health Showdown in the Courts: State Attorneys General Prepare to Fight (pdf) was published by the State Energy & Environmental Impact Center at the NYU School of Law, which provides support to state attorneys general working to defend and promote clean energy, climate, and environmental policies.

      “This special report unmasks the Trump administration’s plan to give a climate pollution pass to industries that represent almost half of all greenhouse gas emissions in the United States,” David J. Hayes, the center’s executive director, said in a statement.

      “State attorneys general will not let the administration get away with its brazen attempt to turn major industries’ legal obligations to reduce damaging pollution into an invitation to continue to pollute—climate effects and adverse health impacts be damned,” he added.

  • Finance

    • Google claims it has no market power in online search or advertising

      Google has rejected the preliminary findings of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s digital platforms inquiry, saying there is no need for any regulatory body to oversee its functioning and claiming that it does not have any market power in search and advertising online.

    • What’s Worse Than Ticket Scalpers? Stock Scalpers.

      Internet bots immediately snapped up Beyonce’s presale tickets last year. And when the resale price rose above $1,000, the Beyhive was mighty peeved.

      Ticket scalpers are indeed frustrating. But their Wall Street cousins — what UMass-Amherst professor Douglas Cliggott calls the “stock scalpers” — are far more dangerous.

      Like online ticket scalpers, these financial predators use advanced technology to cheat the rest of us. For huge sums, they buy the privilege of locating their computer servers as close as possible to market exchanges. This allows them to get trading information a split-second faster than traditional investors.

      So when a mutual or pension fund makes a trade, the stock scalpers see that trade on its way to the market. “They hop in front of it, buy it, and bid up what we want to buy and sell it back to us at a higher price,” explains Cliggott, a former JPMorgan Chase managing director.

      The scalpers do this thousands of times a day, using computers programmed with algorithms that have no connection to the real economy. This “high frequency” trading makes up the majority of today’s market activity.

    • Why Did Jeremy Corbyn Support a Second Brexit Referendum?

      Prof. Leo Panitch says Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn held out as long as he could and made a tactical decision to support a second referendum on Brexit.

    • Progressive Tax Takes Aim at Wall Street Transactions, Financial Crashes

      Democrats on Tuesday proposed a tax on Wall Street transactions which could stop another financial crash and bring in $777 billion over the next decade.

      “The Wall Street Tax Act would tax the sale of stocks, bonds, and derivatives at 0.1 percent,” said Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hi.), who introduced the bill (pdf) with U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) as lead co-sponsor.

      “A stock trade of $1,000 would incur a tax of just one dollar,” Schatz added.

      The bill was also cosponsored in the Senate by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), who is seeking the Democratic nomination for president, and Sen. Jeff Merkeley (D-Ore.), who is not.

      The House version of the bill was introduced by U.S. Representative Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) with the support of Representatives Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), Grace Napolitano (D-Calif.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Chellie Pingree (D-Maine), Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), and Peter Welch (D-Vt.).

    • What John Oliver Gets Wrong About Robots and Jobs

      In the most recent episode of “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver,” the eponymous host ventured into the complex, dizzying, and occasionally dystopian realm of how technological change will affect jobs and work. While it’s welcome that a well-nuanced discussion of automation is reaching Oliver’s mainstream millions, the limited narratives are obsolete and in need of a major reboot.

      Oliver begins the segment with children answering the familiar question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” This idea evolves over the next 20 minutes to “What five things do you want to be when you grow up?” because careers will increasingly lack permanence and long-term reliability. Finally, Oliver amusingly cajoles children into reciting the bleak vision frequently laid out by mainstream economic futurists: “I want to do a series of non-routine tasks that require social intelligence, complex critical thinking, and creative problem-solving.”

      It may be darkly entertaining to see the wild-eyed ambition drained out of children as they recite neoliberal jargon, but that doesn’t actually get at the sources of the problem: workers will have little if any say in how their lives will be forced to change by automation and that automation in the service of unchecked demand and growth will have severe environmental consequences.

      Fundamentally, the claim that a jobless future is looming over workers relies on an often implicit passive voice, in the vein of “robots will take our jobs.” However, machines–for the time being, anyway–have no agency. Robots aren’t filling out applications for your job. They’re not going to escort you out of the building and take your place.

    • On Monday, OCCRP published its latest investigation into Russia’s offshore money schemes. Here’s what happened next.

      On March 4, Meduza published an investigative report by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) about an offshore empire that belongs to Ruben Vardianian, the former director of the investment bank Troika Dialog. Based on the same research, other major news outlets including The Guardian and Suddeutsche Zeitung published similar reports on Monday. The next day, across Europe, figures and institutions named in OCCRP’s materials found themselves under scrutiny. Meduza summarizes the immediate fallout from the “Troika Laundromat” investigation.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Trump to staff on AT&T/Time Warner merger: “I want that deal blocked!”
    • The Making of the Fox News White House

      Nothing has formalized the partnership between Fox and Trump more than the appointment, in July, 2018, of Bill Shine, the former co-president of Fox News, as director of communications and deputy chief of staff at the White House. Kristol says of Shine, “When I first met him, he was producing Hannity’s show at Fox, and the two were incredibly close.” Both come from white working-class families on Long Island, and they are godfathers to each other’s children, who refer to them as “Uncle Bill” and “Uncle Sean.” Another former colleague says, “They spend their vacations together.” A third recalls, “I was rarely in Shine’s office when Sean didn’t call. And I was in Shine’s office a lot. They talked all the time—many times a day.”

    • Trump’s Unhinged CPAC Speech Should Concern Us All

      The president of the United States gave a rambling and incoherent two-hour speech in which he raved like a lunatic and told crazy, self-serving lies from start to finish. If that no longer qualifies as alarming, we’re in serious trouble.

      I realize the speed-of-light news cycle has moved on. I realize anything that happened last week has all but faded into the mists of time. But President Trump’s unhinged performance Saturday at the Conservative Political Action Conference is surely worth more than a passing shrug. If you had an uncle or a grandpa who sounded so divorced from reality, you’d be urgently concerned.

      “You know I’m totally off script right now,” he said. “And this is how I got elected, by being off-script. True. And if we don’t go off-script, our country is in big trouble, folks. Because we have to get it back.”

      There was nothing, anything, like a script.

      He tried to talk about the Democratic Party’s proposed Green New Deal: “When the wind stops blowing, that’s the end of your electric. Let’s hurry up. ‘Darling — Darling, is the wind blowing today? I’d like to watch television, darling.’ No, but it’s true.”

      Not even remotely true, but he was just getting started.

      He raged about the special counsel’s investigation: “Now, Robert Mueller never received a vote, and neither did the person that appointed him. And as you know, the attorney general says, ‘I’m going to recuse myself. I’m going to recuse.’ And I said, why the hell didn’t he tell me that before I put him in? How do you recuse yourself?”

      Um, by following the rules. Then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself because he was a potential witness in the investigation, or even a potential subject. He had no choice.

    • Green member of House of Lords seeks to ‘abolish’ herself

      Jenny Jones, Green member of the House of Lords, will today (March 5) continue her fight to transform the unelected chamber, as she resubmits her House of Lords Reform Bill.

      This comes after the government has rejected the incremental reforms put forward by the Burns committee, who recommended that the government slowly reduce the number of peers and only appoint new peers in a way that is proportional with the vote in the last general election and the number of MPs each party has.

      Baroness Jones hopes to gather support from within the Lords for her plans to replace the House of Lords with a democratic and effective second chamber. This would use proportional representation to elect a new house, but keep many existing peers as non-voting experts.

    • Universities on the Foreign Payroll

      After the Central Intelligence Agency found that the crown prince of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia likely ordered the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) announced it would be reviewing its “Institute-level engagements” with the Kingdom. The fallout from the murder of Khashoggi has put a spotlight on Saudi Arabia’s extensive financial connections to universities across the United States.

    • Donald Trump, Pornographer-in-Chief

      He descended that Trump Tower escalator on June 16, 2015, to announce his presidential candidacy already bragging about the “great, great wall” he was going to build on the U.S.-Mexico border (“and nobody builds walls better than me… And I will have Mexico pay for that wall”). “When Mexico sends its people,” he insisted that day, “they’re not sending their best… They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

      And his tune has never really changed. Almost three years later, in April 2018, he was still focused on those Mexican rapists, still insisting “they’re not sending their best.” In his final presidential debate with Hillary Clinton in October 2016, he denounced all the “bad hombres” who have made it to this country and how “we’re going to get them out.” A week into his presidency, he was already threatening to send the U.S. military into Mexico to get rid of the “tough hombres” from the Mexican drug cartels preparing to invade this country. And just a week ago at a breakfast with U.S. governors, he was at it again, this time denouncing “rough hombres”: “And I told Guatemala and I told Honduras, and I told El Salvador — three places where they send us tremendous numbers of people… They’re not sending us their finest… They’re sending us some very — as I would sometimes say — rough hombres. These are rough, rough, tough people.”

      In fact, many of those “hombres” — and they are always hombres — turned out to be rough, tough, bad children (even breast-feeding babies of the roughest, toughest sort) and rough, tough, desperate mothers, a crew so malign that they had to be eternally separated and incarcerated, which meant creating a children’s Gitmo on the southern border.

      In his new book, The End of the Myth, From the Frontier to the Border Wall in the Mind of America, TomDispatch regular Greg Grandin focuses on what it means for our country to live beyond the end of its own mythology. He sees that great wall, the one long ago constructed in the president’s mind (if nowhere else), as a forerunner of a grim new American mythology, “a monument to the final closing of the frontier.” Whether it’s ever built, that wall is already a symbol of a country whose inhabitants once believed they could escape history and now are in the process of walling themselves in, psychologically speaking, and becoming what Grandin calls “prisoners of the past.” Oh, and speaking of prisoners, today he points out the one circumstance in which the president tosses those hombres out the window and focuses instead on mujeres. And it’s undoubtedly no mistake that, when he brings them up, they always have duct tape across their mouths.

    • ‘North Star for Democracy Reform’: 70+ Public Advocacy Groups Demand Passage of HR 1

      More than 70 pro-democracy groups are backing a sweeping anti-corruption, pro-voting rights bill as the legislation receives its first committee hearing in the Democratic-controlled House on Tuesday.

      The House Rules Committee was scheduled to meet Tuesday afternoon to discuss the For the People Act (H.R. 1), the Democratic Party’s first legislative proposal in the new Congress, which is aimed at expanding voting rights and limiting the influence lobbyists and corporations have over lawmakers.

      H.R. 1 “represents a transformative vision for American democracy,” said the Leadership Conference on Civil & Human Rights in a letter it sent to representatives. “It would create a democracy that welcomes every eligible voter’s chance to participate in civic life, and a democracy that demands integrity, fairness, and transparency in our nation’s elections.”

      The For the People Act “provides a North Star for the democracy reform agenda,” the group added. “It is a bold, comprehensive reform package that offers solutions to a broken democracy.”

      The Brennan Center for Justice, National Black Justice Coalition, and the NAACP were among the dozens of advocacy groups that joined the Leadership Conference in pledging support for the bill. Progressive organization Indivisible urged Americans to call their representatives in Congress to demand passage of H.R. 1.

    • “Moderate” Democrats Are Really Conservatives — and They Are Dangerous

      If I hear the word “moderate” used one more time to describe Blue Dog House Democrats who keep voting with Republicans, or any other non-Republican who actively supports today’s Republican Party, it is entirely possible I will eat my teeth. The term “Blue Dog” is a metaphor for a dog straining so hard on its leash that it has turned blue from lack of oxygen; the dog is a right-leaning Democrat, and the leash represents its tenuous party affiliation. These people are conservatives — period, end of file — who hide behind the “moderate” label even as they undermine policies Democrats have hewed to for half a century.

      They are able to do this, thanks in no small part to the committed care and feeding of big-paper/big-network reporters, editorialists and producers, many of whom haven’t entertained a new idea since Windows 3.1 was the hot new thing. A recent spirited meeting of House Democrats gave these media types yet another chance to strut their fogbound stuff even as they gave cover to their “moderate” friends who, if you believe the mainstream stenographers out there, have it all figured out.

      Their fallback tactic is ease: Inaccurate labeling stands in substitution for analysis because it is easier, tropes outmatch facts because they are easier, and lies from “important people” are not simply allowed to stand, but to flourish. Why? Because it is easier.

      “House Democrats exploded in recriminations Thursday over moderates bucking the party, with liberal Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez threatening to put those voting with Republicans ‘on a list’ for a primary challenge,” reads the opening line of last week’s febrific Washington Post article on the Democrats’ meeting, only the most recent example of the practice.

      There are 137 words in the first four paragraphs of that thoroughly frantic report, a bunch of which clearly strive to become lit sticks of dynamite in the next life. Exploded! Moderates bucking the party! Threatening! On a list! Primary challenge! Frustrated! Lashed out! Pressured! Unquestioned media superstar! Upped the ante! Admonishing! Liberal activists! Unseat! On a list, again! Would that I had pearls to clutch.

    • Selma, the birthplace of modern democracy in America

      This past weekend, political leaders from across the country gathered in Selma, Alabama, to commemorate “Bloody Sunday,” the 1965 march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge where peaceful demonstrators, attempting to cross the bridge, were violently driven back by Alabama State Troopers, Dallas County Sheriff’s deputies and a horse-mounted posse wielding billy clubs and water hoses to savage the crowd.

      The horrors played on TV sets across the country generated a national outrage that provided the final impetus for passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

    • Former Trump White House lawyer Ty Cobb calls Mueller ‘American hero’

      Cobb told ABC News that he does not believe the Mueller investigation to be a witch hunt but said he doubts anything else to come from it will damage Trump.

    • Attorney General William Barr won’t recuse himself from overseeing Robert Mueller’s Russia probe

      Attorney General William Barr will not recuse himself from overseeing special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into allegations of collusion between President Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and the Russian government, a Justice Department spokeswoman said Monday.

      Barr’s confirmation for a second stint as the nation’s top law enforcement officer came under scrutiny given his previous statements about the special counsel’s investigation. Barr reportedly sent an “unsolicited memo” to the Justice Department last year, in which he expressed skepticism about parts of Mueller’s investigation. He said that Mueller’s inquiry into potential obstruction of justice by Trump was based on a “fatally misconceived” theory that would threaten the presidency and the executive branch.

      During his Senate confirmation hearings last month, Barr refused to say whether he would recuse himself from any role in Mueller’s probe but noted he would allow Mueller to complete his investigation and make as many of its findings public as possible. Barr was confirmed by a vote of 54 to 45 in the Senate. Mueller is widely expected to wrap up his investigation in the comings weeks.

    • ‘Call It the Oppression of the Supermajority’: Americans Eager for Bold Change, So Why Can’t They Get It?

      Most Americans support Medicare for All, higher taxes on the rich, a Green New Deal, and other major items on the progressive agenda—so why has Congress failed to enact them?

      The reason, Columbia University Law School professor Tim Wu argued in an op-ed for the New York Times on Tuesday, is that the influence of corporations and the donor class on the American political system has drowned out the policy desires of the public.

    • Bernie In Chicago: From Civil Rights Era Activism To Present-Day Struggles Against Racism

      Appearing on “The Breakfast Club” radio show in New York, Senator Bernie Sanders said his 2016 presidential campaign was “criticized for being too male. That was a correct criticism. Too white. That was a correct criticism.”

      He promised his 2020 campaign will be different. “We’ll have a much more diverse campaign.”

      It was a direct response to how poorly his previous campaign performed with African Americans, particularly those older than 35 years-old.

      On March 3, the Sanders campaign came to Navy Pier in Chicago to hold one of two kickoff rallies organized during the weekend. The other was held in Brooklyn.

      Sanders delivered a speech confronting systemic racism, as well as racial aspects of economic inequality. He explicitly pledged to fight mass incarceration, the war on drugs, and gentrification, and advocated for criminal justice reform, affordable housing, and an end to cash bail.

    • In the Age of Trump, Bipartisanship Is Losing Its Allure

      President Obama first gained national acclaim with a 2004 speech that encouraged Americans to focus on what united them. In an often-repeated quote, he said we must remember that “There’s not a liberal America and a conservative America. There’s the United States of America.” Obama may have won two elections with a message of unity and bipartisanship, but as Gideon Resnick and Sam Stein report in The Daily Beast, some of Obama’s most devoted advisers, as well as the Democratic party’s base, have a message for candidates hoping to do the same: “Don’t.”

      “There’s this sort of older way of thinking about politics where it’s all about personal relationships. … That’s not how politics works,” Dan Pfeiffer, a former senior adviser to Obama told Resnick and Stein. He added, “Barack Obama and Mitch McConnell had shared a bottle of whiskey once and McConnell went out and stole a Supreme Court seat from him.”

      Ben LaBolt, a former national press secretary for Obama’s re-election campaign, concurred regarding the prospects for a harmonious relationship between the two parties. He told The Daily Beast that “I think all of the pixie dust in the world couldn’t make that happen. Believe me, we tried it. We said it. We prayed for it. It wasn’t going to happen. It’s not going happen now and it’s not going to happen ever.”

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Woman Locked Out of YouTube, Gmail, and Twitter for Having Same Name as Pop Star

      Meghan Trainor, 45, has been an exhibiting artist and performer for more than 15 years. She’s worked in 3D printing, brain-computer interface, robotics, and medieval technology. Drone metal outfit Earth is her favorite band and, this week, she was locked out of her social media accounts for “impersonating” Meghan Trainor—that is, herself.

    • Google and Twitter lock accounts of artist for having same name as Meghan Trainor

      Trainor the artist has been practicing her craft for 15 years, creating her YouTube Channel in December 2013 and her Twitter account in September 2012. Trainor the pop star shot to fame with the release of her hit single “All About That Bass” in June of 2014. Today, Trainor the artist has a much smaller online following than Trainor the pop star, with roughly one thousand Twitter followers compared to the 2.1 million of her namesake. Trainor told Gizmodo that the singer originally tried to buy the artist’s domain, meghantrainor.com, when she was first starting out.

    • Twitter Will Let Users Hide Replies to Fight Toxic Comments

      A year later, little has changed. Twitter is still a largely toxic place riddled with extremists, sock-puppet armies, and fake accounts; and the company’s top brass is still talking about conversational health. Its most recent attempt to improve discourse on the platform was confirmed last week: a feature that would allow users to selectively hide replies to their tweets from public view, so that other users can’t see the offending reply when interacting with the initial tweet.

    • Informal Internet Censorship: The Counter Terrorism Internet Referral Unit (CTIRU)

      The CTIRU consider its scheme to be voluntary, but detailed notification under the e-Commerce Directive has legal effect, as it may strip the platform of liability protection. Platforms may have “actual knowledge” of potentially criminal material, if they receive a well-formed notification, with the result that they would be regarded in law as the publisher from this point on.[1]

      At volume, any agency will make mistakes. The CTIRU is said to be reasonably accurate: platforms say they decline only 20 or 30% of material. That shows considerable scope for errors. Errors could unduly restrict the speech of individuals, meaning journalists, academics, commentators and others who hold normal, legitimate opinions.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • VPNs Are No Privacy Panacea, And Finding An Ethical Operator Is A Comical Shitshow

      The terribleness of the VPN sector is decidedly ironic, given that giant broadband providers, who routinely hoover up your data in an ocean of creative and non-transparent ways, have long tried to claim that the United States doesn’t need meaningful privacy guidelines because users can always use a VPN. That was one of the cornerstones of the telecom lobby logic as the successfully convinced Congress to eliminate modest FCC privacy rules in 2017 that could have prevented many of the location data scandals currently plaguing the sector.

      But if it’s not clear yet, a VPN is not a magic bullet to the problems that are plaguing the modern internet. Users are running from one platform to the next, dribbling their private data in a long trail behind them thanks to shoddy and nonexistent standards. Meanwhile a lack of competition leaves them stuck on the network of giant ISPs that not only refuse to respect their privacy, but routinely lobby against any and every legislative solution, no matter how well crafted. Several ISPs have then tried to charge users a surcharge to opt out of data collection and monetization, effectively making privacy a luxury option.

    • NSA Has Halted Mass Domestic Spying Program First Exposed by Snowden in 2013: GOP Aide

      The U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) has reportedly halted a widely criticized domestic mass surveillance program involving Americans’ phone records first exposed by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

      The revelation came from Luke Murry, the national security adviser to the House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), on The Lawfare Podcast. His remarks were picked up the the New York Times and quickly spark national attention.

      The now-shuttered program that analyzed metadata from phone records—which shows who called or texted whom, and when, but not what is said—replaced a once-secret operation established under Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which Snowden, an ex-intelligence contractor, exposed in 2013.

      Murry said that under the Trump administration, the agency “actually hasn’t been using it for the past six months because of problems with way in which that information was collected.” He added, “I’m not actually certain that the administration will want to start that back up given where they’ve been six months.”

      Technical problems with data collection, acknowledged by NSA last summer, forced the agency to purge hundreds of millions of phone and text metadata records collected from American telecommunications companies over three years after realizing that its database included files the NSA was not authorized to receive.

    • Big Brother Steps Closer as Parents Shackle Teens to Ankle Monitors

      A perfect example of George Orwell’s terrifying view of a society under government surveillance has arrived in the form of ankle monitors for your teens.

      For parents who “need to keep track of [their] teenager at all times,” Tampa Bay Monitoring in Clearwater, Florida, is selling GPS tracking — similar to the shackles used to track those on parole — billed as a way for parents to have “peace of mind” and for so-called troubled teens to have “protection.” Never mind that these monitors function as a form of private surveillance, enabling parents and anyone else with access to shadow a teen’s every move. Besides, these devices can be uncomfortable and can cause problems at airports, hospitals and schools, and many people have concerns about where all the tracking information goes and who has access to it.

      Who has access is crucial in an age where, per TechCrunch, an online zine, Facebook has been paying teenage users $20 a month since 2016 to install an app which monitors their phone and web activity. This is precisely so Facebook can gain usage information. Meanwhile, police in the U.K. have been secretly downloading data from smartphones, which Harmit Kambo, Campaigns Director for the London-based charity, Privacy International, calls a “digital stop and search.” In a paper entitled “’Better than Human’? Smartphones, Artificial Intelligence and Ultra-Punitive Electronic Monitoring,” Mike Nellis, a global export in electronic monitoring, wrote that the prime beneficiaries are always “the data-hungry tech industry.”

    • Over 300 million Chinese private messages were left exposed online

      Each record, drawn from apps like WeChat and QQ, also contained personally identifying Chinese citizen ID numbers, photos, addresses, GPS location data, and info on the type of device being used. Worse, the main database also sent the data back to 17 other remote servers, according to Gevers.

    • Juniper inks agreement to acquire Mist Systems

      Network vendor Juniper Networks has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Mist Systems, a cloud-managed wireless networks provider, in a deal valued at US$405 million.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Moscow police detain man who interrupts Stalin memorial by shouting ‘Burn in hell!’ at his monument outside the Kremlin

      Police in Moscow detained a man at a memorial event honoring Joseph Stalin on March 5, when as many as 500 Communist Party activists came to lay flowers at the late Soviet dictator’s monument outside the Kremlin’s walls. Today marks the 66th anniversary of Stalin’s death.

      One of the men in the crowd on Tuesday didn’t come to pay his respects, however, flinging his carnations at the monument and shouting, “Burn in hell, Executioner of the People and Murderer of Women and Children!”

    • State pollster asks Russians about new opposition labor union, but keeps the results a secret

      Last month, government pollsters surveyed Russians about a labor union project recently announced by opposition politician Alexey Navalny, but the data was never published, two sources told Vedomosti. According to the newspaper, the state-owned Russian Public Opinion Research Center (VTsIOM) conducted a poll based on three question groups: public sector wages and President Putin’s promises to raise them, labor unions generally, and Navalny’s activism and new labor union project. VTsIOM published its results on March 1, withholding all data about Navalny.

    • Trump’s Wall Is a Symbol With a Long and Toxic History

      Although we appear to have been spared another Trump shutdown, we have now been handed an executive power grab in the guise of a “national emergency.” This entire Trump-instigated crisis will remain directly connected in our memories to Trump’s obsession with the “Wall,” i.e., the toy that he has insisted he must have in order to allegedly guarantee the safety of the people of the United States.

      Walls have a long history of symbolic importance, signifying not only lines of demarcation but frequently the distinction between zones of alleged civilization vs. zones of alleged barbarism. The phrase “beyond the Pale” — which has come to mean beyond a boundary, over the top, unacceptable or outside of reasonable standards — is just one example. The term originates in Ireland and refers to a piece of the island captured by England, within which the current city of Dublin emerged. The English did what they could to enclose this area, essentially setting up a set of fortifications and a ditch. For the English colonizers, “the Pale” was the center of civilization on an island that was viewed as nothing short of barbaric.

      What is important here is that the ditch or Pale was not simply demarcating territory or even a hostile border. With the Pale, much like the Great Wall of China, there was an ideological notion that beyond that barrier lay a barbarian mystery. In the 1790s, Catherine the Great instituted a Russian “Pale,” which was an area for Jews, outside of which they would be subject to overt acts of repression.

      The European invasion of the Western Hemisphere, and subsequent colonization, brought with it many walls. The Dutch colonization of New York, for instance, brought with it “Wall Street,” i.e., the fortified point of demarcation between the Dutch colonists and the First Nations. Throughout the U.S., cities after cities were formed on the basis of walled fortifications.

      Thus, deep in the subconscious of much of the world exists the notion of the ‘Wall’ as the means to preserve civilization. Yet what always remains of interest is that walls are not created in each case between different populations. Take the border between the U.S. and Canada. Both countries like to pride themselves on having the longest non-militarized border on Earth. What is at stake is not only who is perceived as a threat, but also what populations are perceived as representing an existential challenge to the state in question.

    • ‘They used the kids to get to parents like me’: How ICE’s human smuggling initiative targeted parents and children

      A review of the operation by Reveal casts doubt on the official narrative.

    • When children become caregivers

      When a parent contracts a serious physical or mental illness, the responsibility of caring for that parent can fall to a teenager or even a young child. Such cases are especially common when children are raised by one parent or another older relative. In the United States, there are more than one million child caregivers. In Russia, their number is unknown: no organization or government agency collects statistics on the issue, and families with child caregivers receive aid from just a few charities and nonprofits. The government tends to approach these cases by pulling families apart: adults are institutionalized or hospitalized while children are sent to an orphanage. But that isn’t always the case. Meduza special correspondent Irina Kravtsova reached out to children in Russia and Kazakhstan who were forced to grow up before their time when their relatives needed them.

    • ‘People Power Beats Corporate Greed’: After Years of Pressure, JPMorgan Agrees to Divest from Private Prisons

      Civil and immigrant rights groups celebrated a victory Tuesday after JPMorgan Chase announced it was finally heeding their calls to end its financing of private for-profit prisons.

      Make the Road NY, the Center for Popular Democracy, and New York Communities for Change were among the organizations credited with pressuring the bank to stop bankrolling CoreCivic and GEO Group, the nation’s largest private prison operators.

      “Once again, people power beats corporate greed,” Make the Road tweeted.

      [...]

      Under pressure, Wells Fargo announced it was “reducing its relationship” with the companies earlier this year.

      Activists challenged JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon at the bank’s last two annual meetings, and have demonstrated outside his home in New York—holding signs reading, “Jamie Dimon: Stop Bankrolling Oppression!” and denouncing the bank as a “backer of hate” in the rain last summer, and demanding that Dimon “break up with prisons” this past Valentine’s Day.

      Former New York gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon praised Make the Road NY and others for their campaigning, saying Dimon’s decision offered “more evidence that organizing works” and calling on all banks to follow in JPMorgan’s footsteps.

    • ‘A Very Scary Case’: Placing Rights of Woman Last, Alabama Judge Allows Boyfriend to Sue Abortion Clinic With Fetus as Co-Plaintiff

      An Alabama county court recognized an aborted fetus as a plaintiff in a lawsuit Tuesday, opening a new chapter in the fight for reproductive rights in the United States.

      Madison County probate court Judge Frank Barger allowed Ryan Magers to name the fetus his girlfriend had aborted as a co-plaintiff in his case against Alabama Women’s Center.

      The judge’s decision to establish an estate for the fetus, allowing the suit to move forward, came four months after the passage of Amendment 2 by voters in a state referendum last November. The law, which passed by 18 percentage points, gives fetuses the same legal rights held by a person under the state constitution.

      Women’s rights advocates on social media slammed the decision, noting that it was perhaps the first time in U.S. history a fetus was named as a co-plaintiff in a case.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • ‘We Need to Push Lawmakers Extra Hard’: Campaign Aims to Flood Congress With Calls to Support Net Neutrality Bill

      Members of Congress will soon have another opportunity to restore net neutrality, and advocates for the open internet are holding their feet to the fire.

      With House Democrats expected to introduce the “Save the Internet Act” on Wednesday in an effort to restore net neutrality protections, a coalition of grassroots advocacy groups is urging Americans to flood their representatives with calls and emails in support of the legislation.

      “This is huge,” Josh Tabish of Fight for the Future, one of the organizations leading the pressure campaign, said in an email. “But with the news in the headlines, the telecom lobbyists are gearing up to swarm Capitol Hill. Now we need to push lawmakers extra hard to support the new legislation before the lobbyists get to them.”

    • ‘Keep Making Noise’: Grassroots Pressure Working as Democrats Announce Bill to Restore Net Neutrality

      While the text of the bill—formally titled the “Save the Internet Act”—has not yet been released, net neutrality campaigners and policy experts expressed hope that the bill will aim to fully restore the strong open internet protections killed by the FCC, which is currently chaired by former Verizon lawyer Ajit Pai.

      “The bill isn’t out yet, but we hope it will give a congressional stamp of approval to the FCC’s 2015 net neutrality rules and the whole Open Internet Order,” Tim Karr, senior director of strategy and communications at Free Press, told Common Dreams. “That’s crucial, because the legal framework already in Title II is the baseline for guaranteeing the full range protections demanded by internet users, including overwhelming majorities of Democratic and Republican voters.”

      The renewed congressional effort to restore net neutrality comes after the House failed to pass a resolution to overturn the FCC’s repeal before the deadline last December. The Senate passed the resolution last May by a 52-47 vote.

    • #NetNeutrality: Pelosi teases ‘Save The Internet Act,’ and Senate Democrats will introduce bill to restore Net Neutrality

      House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) today said that on Wednesday, House Democrats will announce Net Neutrality legislation on Capitol Hill.

    • Democrats to push to reinstate repealed ‘net neutrality’ rules

      Pelosi told lawmakers in a letter that House Democrats, who won control of the chamber in the November 2018 elections, would work with their colleagues in the U.S. Senate to pass the “Save The Internet Act.”

      The text of the proposed legislation has not been released.

    • AT&T Begins Trying To Screw Up HBO In Earnest

      If you haven’t noticed by now, big telecom companies aren’t particularly good at wandering outside of their core competencies. They’ve been government-pampered monopolies so long, innovation, creativity, and competition are concepts that are utterly foreign to their underlying genetics.

      Nowhere has that been more apparent than big telecom’s attempt to pivot to streaming and online advertising. Verizon’s first foray into media, you’ll recall, was a short-lived “tech news” website called Sugarstring, which was quickly shuttered after the telco banned its reporters from discussing subjects like net neutrality or government surveillance. That was followed by a botched joint venture with RedBox. And Verizon’s failed Go90 and Oath efforts, which involved mashing together two failed nineties brands (AOL & Yahoo), then pretending that would be enough to do serious battle in the space.

      [...]

      I’ve studied AT&T for twenty years of my adult life. This is a company whose leadership is really very good at a long list of things. They’re good at running networks (usually), lobbying the government to hamstring competition, and finding creative ways to rip off its own customers, taxpayers, and even the disabled. What they’re not so good at is creativity, innovation, and actual competition, since their near-total domination over state and federal regulators–and the lack of competition in their broadband businesses–means those particular attributes have rarely been exercised.

  • DRM

    • USB4 Specification Announced: Adopting Thunderbolt 3 Protocol for 40 Gbps USB

      The USB4 specification will be based on the Thunderbolt protocol that Intel has contributed to the USB Promoter Group. The new interface will use USB Type-C connectors and will maintain backwards compatibility with USB 2.0, USB 3.2, and Thunderbolt 3 interfaces. The maximum data transfer rate supported by the new USB4 interface is 40 Gbps over 40 Gbps-certified cables. Also, USB4 will support various display protocols, and power delivery.

      The USB4 standard will be officially ratified in the middle of 2019. At present over 50 companies are actively participating in the final stages of development of the draft USB4 specification.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Cory Doctorow: Terra Nullius

      The labor theory of property always begins with an act of erasure: “All the people who created, used, and improved this thing before me were doing something banal and unimportant – but my contribution is the step that moved this thing from a useless, unregarded commons to a special, proprietary, finished good.”

    • Terra Nullius: Grifters, settler colonialism and “intellectual property”

      I gave a keynote based on this essay in January at the “Grand Re-Opening of the Public Domain” event at the Internet Archive in San Francisco.

    • Supreme Court Grants Certiorari in Iancu v. NantKwest, Inc.

      On the same day that the Supreme Court decided what the term “full costs” means under the Copyright Act,[1] it granted certiorari to consider what “all the expenses of [a district court review] proceeding” means under the Patent Act in Iancu v. NantKwest, Inc. Specifically, according to the question presented by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the Supreme Court agreed to resolve “[w]hether the phrase ‘[a]ll the expenses of the proceedings’ in 35 U.S.C. 145 encompasses the personnel expenses the USPTO incurs when its employees, including attorneys, defend the agency in Section 145 litigation.”

      [...]

      In addition to these substantive arguments for review, the USPTO raised three other points as to why the Court should review this case. First, the decision below was decided by the Federal Circuit en banc. As a result, it would be binding on any subsequent trial court or Federal Circuit panel without further close consideration of the issue. Thus, this case presented a unique final opportunity to consider a carefully reasoned decision on the particular point at issue. Second, the NantKwest decision created a circuit split over two nearly identical statutory provisions in light of the Fourth Circuit’s Shammas decision. Third, the decision would have “significant practical consequences” for the USPTO in § 145 proceedings. The greatest expense for the Office in such proceedings is often the salaries of the personnel (especially attorneys) working on the matter. While the cost of those salaries may not be overwhelming in the face of the entire budget of the USPTO, they are significant — in this case, over $78,000 — and it would arguably be more consistent with the statutory intent to have the § 145 appellant bear them than pass them on to other patent applicants.

      NantKwest responded to the petition and argued that the case below, rather than the Shammas case, was correctly decided.[6] The strong presumption in U.S. courts, unlike for example British courts, is that every party will bear its own attorney’s fees regardless of the outcome of the case — a presumption known as the American Rule. The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that a statute must specifically and explicitly provide for the allowance of attorneys’ fees if it is intended to deviate from the American Rule. NantKwest argued that the Federal Circuit was correct in finding that § 145 did not reflect a specific and explicit exception to the Rule, and therefore did not intend to hold an applicant liable for the USPTO’s attorneys’ fees.

      NantKwest relied on a case decided between Shammas and the decision below, Baker Botts L.L.P. v. ASARCO LLC, 135 S. Ct. 2158 (2015). According to NantKwest, not only did Baker Botts reflect the Supreme Court’s rejection of the Shammas case’s decision to ignore the American Rule in considering the Lanham Act analogue to § 145′s expenses provision, it alleviated any risk of a circuit split — because Shammas was pre-Baker Botts and allegedly wrongly decided under the Supreme Court case, it should simply be ignored as having been incorrectly decided. NantKwest also argued that cases involving statutes that allow non-prevailing parties to recover attorneys’ fees start with the presumption of the American Rule and work from there; only by ignoring rather than expressly overcoming the American Rule, however, had Shammas and the panel below reached the decision that “expenses” should include attorneys’ fees.

    • Synchview Lobs DVR Patent Suits at Cox, Charter, Altice USA, Hulu

      As if the pay-TV market isn’t challenging enough, here’s another nuisance for service providers to wrestle with — Synchview has lobbed lawsuits at a handful of US cable operators and a top OTT-TV provider over allegations that they are infringing on an old DVR-related patent.

    • H-E-B sued over patent infringement

      H-E-B is facing legal trouble after a Canadian technology startup claims the grocer is infringing on its patents related to the mobile checkout application that it debuted last year.
      According to the San Antonio Business Journal, Toronto-based Digital Retail Apps Inc., founded in 2012, sells software and hardware used for self-checkout in retail stores under the brand SelfPay. It also had Silicon Valley offices at one time.

    • Medicare For All will drastically lower prescription drug prices by taking on Pharma’s greed

      Rep. Pramila Jayapal’s (D-WA) recently introduced Medicare for All Act of 2019 is a powerful and comprehensive plan to make health care a right for every American. Drastically lowering the prices of prescription drugs, while ensuring that patients are always able to get the medications they need, is an essential part of that plan.

      The Medicare for All Act includes a key provision, modeled after the Medicare Negotiation and Competitive Licensing Act, which would lower drug prices for all Americans by allowing the government to negotiate lower drug prices with corporations.

      And if a corporation refused to lower the price and threatened patients’ access to the medication, generic competition would be allowed using a competitive license.

    • Sleepy decision by the PTAB [Ed: see comment: "Mental process plain and simple. The steps that are recited as being performed by the computer, are not steps different from steps already being performed by doctors via mental processes. Automating a human mental process. IF the claim recited steps that are different than what a human would have naturally done then maybe there is a more grey distinction."]

      In Ex parte Adler (Appeal No. 2017-4809) (PTAB 2019), the PTAB recently found the claimed “snoring detection device” ineligble as directed to the abstract idea of “detecting snoring.”

      [...]

      Rather, the decision follows the usual approach of drawing analogy to the various appellate and Supreme Court cases to find the closest thread.

    • Measuring law firm success at PTAB

      The Institutional Success Index, or “ISIX,” rating was developed by Unified to measure law firms’ success in inter partes reviews. The index permits anyone to easily measure how successful a law firm has historically been at being instituted and successfully invalidating at least 1 claim of a challenged patent. The tutorial demonstrates how users can access the ISIX score for any law firm using the Portal.

    • Coca-Cola faces NPE patent suit

      Coca-Cola is at the centre of a patent infringement suit filed by Texas-based company Virtual Immersion Technologies (VIT).

      The complaint, filed Friday, March 1 at the US District Court for the District of Delaware, alleged that Coca-Cola’s virtual reality systems infringe a patent owned by VIT (US number 6,409,599).

      The ‘599 patent relates to a system in which participants interact with a computerised environment in addition to live and/or pre-recorded performers using a variety of immersion and input devices.

    • Defining Patent Holdup

      There are few patent law topics that are so heatedly debated as patent holdup. Those who believe in it, really believe in it. Those who don’t, well, don’t. I was at a conference once where a professor on one side of this divide just..couldn’t…even, and walked out of a presentation taking the opposite viewpoint.

      The debate is simply the following. The patent holdup story is that patent holders can extract more than they otherwise would by asserting patents after the targeted infringer has invested in development and manufacturing. The “classic” holdup story in the economics literature relates to incomplete contracts or other partial relationships that allow one party to take advantage of an investment by the other to extract rents.

      You can see the overlap, but the “classic” folks think that patent holdup story doesn’t count, because there’s no prior negotiation – the party investing has the opportunity to research patents, negotiate beforehand, plan their affairs, etc.

    • Demystifying Patent Holdup

      Patent holdup can arise when circumstances enable a patent owner to extract a larger royalty ex post than it could have obtained in an arm’s length transaction ex ante. While the concept of patent holdup is familiar to scholars and practitioners—particularly in the context of standard-essential patent (SEP) disputes—the economic details are frequently misunderstood. For example, the popular assumption that switching costs (those required to switch from the infringing technology to an alternative) necessarily contribute to holdup is false in general, and will tend to overstate the potential for extracting excessive royalties. On the other hand, some commentaries mistakenly presume that large fixed costs are an essential ingredient of patent holdup, which understates the scope of the problem.

      In this article, we clarify and distinguish the most basic economic factors that contribute to patent holdup. This casts light on various points of confusion arising in many commentaries on the subject. Path dependence—which can act to inflate the value of a technology simply because it was adopted first—is a useful concept for understanding the problem. In particular, patent holdup can be viewed as opportunistic exploitation of path dependence effects serving to inflate the value of a patented technology (relative to the alternatives) after it is adopted. This clarifies that factors contributing to holdup are not static, but rather consist in changes in economic circumstances over time. By breaking down the problem into its most basic parts, our analysis provides a useful blueprint for applying patent holdup theory in complex cases.

    • Trademarks

      • Facebook sues Chinese companies for selling fake accounts

        The lawsuit names three people and four companies based in the cities of Longyan and Shenzhen: 9 Xiu Network (Shenzhen) Science and Technology Company, 9 Xiu Feishu Science and Technology Company, 9 Xiufei Book Technology Co., and Home Network (Fujian) Technology Co.

    • Copyrights

      • A Big Copyright Mess: Miel Bredouw, Barstool Sports, Slob On My Carol Of The Bells And The DMCA

        Fast forward to the end of last year, when Barstool Sports enters the picture. We’ve written about Barstool Sports twice — and both times involve them being (1) total assholes and (2) totally ignorant or abusive about intellectual property law. If you’re not familiar with Barstool Sports, let’s just say that it’s the kind of work environment where it wouldn’t just be okay to watch a video like the one above while at work, but it would likely be encouraged.

        Anyway, in December, Barstool Sports took Bredouw’s now two-year-old video and reposted it to their own Twitter account, without any credit (and certainly suggesting it was a Barstool Sports production). Bredouw tweeted at them that this was uncool. Yesterday, Bredouw then tweeted out a thread about what happened in the intervening two months, and it is quite a story.

        After Barstool ignored Bredouw’s request for credit, she filed a DMCA notice with Twitter, who took the video down.

      • Russian YouTube channel creates homemade copies of iconic Hollywood and TV trailers

        For the past six months, a little-known YouTube channel called Studio 188 has been publishing homemade, low-budget versions of major Hollywood trailers and television intros. Relying on household items like socks, sausages, and cellophane, and sometimes an application of face paint that would get them fired from American network TV, the small team of Russian creators has reimagined some of the most famous teasers to grace the Internet. Despite Studio 188’s makeshift production and costume design, its source material is always crystal clear.

      • Why Does MEP Axel Voss Keep Lying About Article 13?

        It’s been really quite incredible to see MEP Axel Voss — the main EU Parliament cheerleader for Articles 11 and 13 — making the rounds over the past few weeks to insist that all the complaints about the EU Copyright Directive are wrong. Just last week we saw him make incredibly misleading statements about which platforms were impacted by the law, leaving out that the minor exemption only applied to companies less than three years old. And now, his political group in the Parliament, EPP, has put out an astoundingly misleading interview with Voss, which makes claims that make me wonder if he even knows what’s in Article 13.

      • Article 13 Supporters Find Smoking Gun That Isn’t: Majority Of Tweets Criticizing Copyright Directive Are Not Coming From DC

        Volker Rieck runs a German anti-piracy operation, and over the last year or so has been an increasingly vocal — if somewhat unhinged — supporter of Article 13 and the EU Copyright Directive. I won’t link, but a few quick Google searches will find some examples of Rieck trying to build out conspiracy theories of big giant American internet companies secretly running the entirety of the anti-Article 13 push in Europe. You could say that some of them dip into red yarn on a corkboard territory. Of course, as we’ve discussed before, the idea that any attacks on Article 13 are all really because of Google has been a key part of the pro-Article 13 lobbying strategy from the beginning. Of course, as we’ve highlighted, if you look at the actual lobbying, it’s been almost entirely from legacy copyright organizations, with very little coming from the internet industry. This has created all sorts of conspiracy theories, including the crazy claim by a German MEP that he knew the emails he was getting against Article 13 were really astroturf from Google… because many of the senders had Gmail accounts.

        Rieck’s latest move, however, goes into really nutty territory. In a now deleted story, Rieck claimed to have found something of a smoking gun, proving that Article 13 criticism was really being driven by US corporate interests: in a “study” that he helped “conduct,” and resulted in him sending an explosive “warning” letter to Members of the EU Parliament, he claimed to have uncovered that “more tweets (88,000) came from Washington (DC) alone than from the entire EU (71,000).” That would certainly be interesting if it were true.

      • Copyright directive a data protection hazard: data commissioner

        A German federal commissioner has warned that Article 13 of the recently agreed European copyright directive could create an “oligopoly consisting of a few vendors”.

      • Supporters Of Article 13 Briefly Tried To Move Parliament Vote Up Before Scheduled Protests; Now Deny Plan That They Clearly Had

        Despite following this stuff for decades, sometimes even I’m surprised at the levels of intellectual dishonesty coming from those supporting bad copyright policy. The latest is that, despite widespread controversy and criticism over Article 13, some in the EU Parliament thought the appropriate strategy was to speed up the timeline to the vote on the Directive — specifically holding the vote before a massive EU-wide protest that is planned for March 23. Rather than recognize that millions of people across the EU are so up in arms over the problems in Articles 11 and 13, German Member of the EU Parliament, Manfred Weber, the leader of the powerful European People’s Party (EPP) simply proposed voting before the protests could even happen.

      • Court Sanctions Anti-Piracy Lawyer for “Willful Disobedience”

        A California federal court has sanctioned attorney Lincoln Bandlow for willful disobedience. Bandlow, who’s a partner at Fox Rothschild where he handles hundreds of piracy cases for Strike 3 Holdings, failed to meet the court’s deadlines on many occasions. The attorney’s explanations of insufficient staff and an overactive spam filter, were unacceptable, according to the court.

      • Notorious ‘Copyright Troll’ Outfit Hands Over its US Operations to New ‘Joint Venture’

        GuardaLey, the world’s most infamous ‘copyright-trolling’ operation in the BitTorrent space, says it has entered into a joint venture with a US company called American Films Inc. The latter will become the 100% owner of GuardaLey’s US operations. According to Bloomberg data, American Films Inc. currently has no “significant operations”.

The EPO Technical/Enlarged Board of Appeal Would, Potentially (If It Enjoyed Actual Independence), Serve a ‘European Alice’ and Eliminate All/Most Software Patents in Europe

Posted in Courtroom, Europe, Law, Patents at 10:46 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Original/full (see the part about AMBA below): English [PDF] | German [PDF]

Boards of Appeal concern

Summary: For over half a decade the judges at the EPO have lacked the independence they need to appropriately govern patent scope; this is a very serious issue because it means that EPO corruption might in fact be the principal barrier in the face of software patents’ abolition

SEEING that the United States now deals (at the highest level) with copyright cases and no patent scope cases (fee shifting does not interest us much, but that can definitely imperil patent trolls), we will press on with our ever-increasing focus on the European Patent Office (EPO). It seems safe to say that nothing is going to change the status quo when it comes to software patents in the US, at least for the time being. Rather than delve into inter partes reviews (IPRs) and Federal Circuit cases (a few mentioned in our daily links this morning; US patent news has been relegated to this), patent maximalists obsess over Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) interactions with examiners regarding mere applications. Focus on what they distract from, not what they distract with. As always. Lies by omission are in law firms’ toolbox of the ‘trade’.

In Europe, unlike the US, software patents are still a major issue. The EPO advertises these every day, at the very least in Twitter (sometimes elsewhere, too). Florian Müller, who had campaigned against such patents a decade and a half ago in Europe, recently told me that he found these EPO tweets disturbing.

“In Europe, unlike the US, software patents are still a major issue. The EPO advertises these every day, at the very least in Twitter (sometimes elsewhere, too).”Team UPC and boosters of software patents in Europe (like Janal Kalis in another continent) took note of what could, in theory, become somewhat of a European Alice (35 U.S.C. § 101/SCOTUS), at least at the EPO level (not European courts, which António Campinos lacks control over). It would be very tricky for Campinos to simply ignore BoA, let alone smack some more judges in acts of overt retribution.

This is what “Patently German” (calling himself after patents) wrote a few days ago about the ‘simulation’ patent (actually a computer program):

The outcome of the referral has in my view implications far beyond simulation programs, for example also to inventions based on machine learning (ML). If you replace in the referral questions “simulation” by “machine learning process”, the same issues arise.

There can be no doubt: If the first two questions of the referral are not answered in the affirmative by the EBA, applicants of various types of computer-implemented inventions in Europe will be in trouble.

So even the software patents zealots acknowledge the importance of this referral, warning that a particular outcome could and would sweep away “various types of computer-implemented inventions [i.e. software patents] in Europe…”

“So even the software patents zealots acknowledge the importance of this referral…”I’ve come across only a few more posts/articles like the above. Certainly there are more on the way because of the possible ramifications. Coverage will, without a shadow of a doubt, be dominated by the patent microcosm. We wrote about it twice before [1, 2] (citing only the patent microcosm), noting in particular the judges’ lack of independence since the start of the term of Campinos. Even the judges admit this and bemoan this. Can they rule in defiance of patent maximalists without putting at jeopardy their job (or extension of tenure)? No, not as things stand. As “EPO Observer” put it a short while ago in this comment: “Haar has been chosen on purpose to remind the board members that they would pay the consequences of unwelcome decisions. So I expect the reminder to work and the members of the Enlarged Board to take the right (for the management decision) , confirming the lawfulness of the relocation to Haar.” Remember what happened to Judge Corcoran (hospitalisation). There are some more new comments of interest there. It’s all about the lack of the Boards’ independence and SUEPO linked to this earlier this week. The EPO has long been a dictaorship and one that violates its own rules.

The above speaks of the Enlarged Board of Appeal, but the same applies to the Technical Board of Appeal.

“If only European people were as active in their opposition to abstract patents as they are in opposition to the copyright ‘reform’ in the EU…”European software patents need to be buried once and for all, not just in the US but in Europe, too. If legal certainty associated with such patents gets obliterated (like in the post-Alice US), there will be no more lawsuits — or far fewer lawsuits — not to mention fewer such applications. Nobody really wants or needs patents that are duds. Even as ‘trophies’, these can be very expensive to earn and maintain. They’re hard to sell, too.

We certainly hope that the situation w.r.t. software patents in Europe might change some time soon. The sad thing is, programming gurus and habitual programmers don’t seem bothered enough to protest, let alone speak out. If only European people were as active in their opposition to abstract patents as they are in opposition to the copyright ‘reform’ in the EU — a subject Florian Müller has been covering a lot lately (with much impact)…

Links 5/3/2019: GNU Linux-Libre 5.0, Alpine 3.9.2

Posted in News Roundup at 6:41 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • System76 To Explore Offering High-End ARM Linux Laptops / Desktops

      In System76′s road to manufacturing their own laptops and desktops, the Linux-focused Denver-based company has their eyes on offering ARM-based products.

      System76 continues with their own US manufacturing ambitions following the successful launch of their Thelio desktop with their open-source case and related components being fabricated themselves but relying upon off-the-shelf motherboards, etc. System76 hopes for a future where they could be spinning their own ARM-based designs offering high-end laptops and desktops.

    • The Best Linux Distros for Laptops in 2019

      We have several top-10 lists of Linux distros geared towards uses including 10 Best Linux Distros to Install on Your MacBook, The Top 10 GNU/Linux Distros for Privacy & Security, and The Top 10 Open Source Distros You Haven’t Heard About.

      Today, we bring you a list of the best general-purpose Linux distributions to run on your PCs and they are arranged in order of the most hits from users in the last 3 months on Distro Watch.

    • Chromebooks may get the ability to run custom, concurrent VMs

      So let me preface this post to say that I’m not 100% sure what this will mean, but there’s direct evidence that Chromebooks will be able to run multiple virtual machines (VM), possibly at the same time. Don’t confuse VMs with Linux containers in this case: Crostini already supports multiple containers within a single VM, which is the preferred method.

  • Red Hat

    • Fwupd+LVFS Begins Eyeing The Enterprise For Easier Linux Firmware Updates

      Now that the Linux Vendor Firmware Service (LVFS) and Fwupd updating mechanism for firmware/BIOS updates is supported by all major vendors and has already served up more than five million firmware files, their newest focus is on easing the roll-out of firmware updates in enterprise settings.

      Richard Hughes of Red Hat who continues spearheading work on LVFS/Fwupd is now brainstorming ways to make it easier to deploy firmware updates in enterprise/corporate settings, monitoring installed firmware versions on clients, and related parameters. Hughes has begun working on ways to allow reporting of firmware information to an internal web service, the necessary control knobs for managing firmware roll-outs across hundreds or thousands of systems, and related needs.

    • Making the LVFS and fwupd work in the enterprise

      We’ve started working on some functionality in fwupd to install an optional “agent” that reports the versions of firmware installed to a central internal web service daily, so that the site admin can see what computers are not up-to-date with the latest firmware updates. I’d expect there the admin could also approve updates after in-house QA testing, and also rate-limit the flow of updates to hardware of the same type. The reference web app would visually look like some kind of dashboard, although I’d be happy to also plug this information into existing system management systems like Lenovo XClarity or even Red Hat Satellite. The deliverable here would be to provide the information and the mechanism that can be used to implement whatever policy the management console defines.

    • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 Beta cheat sheet for developers
    • Greater control of Red Hat OpenStack Platform deployment with Ansible integration

      The release of Red Hat OpenStack Platform director in version 14 brings some changes to how the overcloud nodes are configured during the deployment. The biggest feature is called “config-download” and it enables using Ansible to apply the overcloud software configuration.

      This post is going to take a look at some of the OpenStack operator and deployer facing changes that can be expected with config-download, and show some tips and tricks on how to more easily interact and control the OpenStack deployment with director.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • Linux Action News 95

      We sift Mobile World Congress to find just the best and most relevant stories, and discuss the Thunderclap vulnerability.

      Plus we say goodbye to Koroa, find a reason to checkout GRUB nightlies, and how Android aims to kill passwords for good.

  • Kernel Space

    • GNU Linux-libre 5.0-gnu

      GNU Linux-libre 5.0-gnu sources and tarballs are now available at

      http://www.fsfla.org/selibre/linux-libre/download/releases/5.0-gnu/.

      It didn’t require any deblobbing changes since -rc6-gnu. Binaries are
      on the way.

      Besides the usual assortment of firmware name updates, a new driver
      (ipu3-imgu) required disabling of blob requests, and a driver that we
      used to deblob (Eicon DIVA ISDN) was removed, so its cleaning up code is
      now gone.

    • GNU Linux-libre 5.0-gnu Released As A Kernel Without Any Binary Blobs/Firmware

      As usual, following yesterday’s release of Linux 5.0 the GNU/FSF folks have put out their re-base of their version of the Linux kernel that strips out support for drivers depending upon binary-only firmware, the ability to load non-free (closed-source) kernel modules, and other functionality removed that isn’t in strict compliance with open-source standards.

    • GNU Linux-Libre 5.0 Kernel Officially Released for Those Who Seek 100% Freedom

      Based on the recently released Linux 5.0 kernel series, the GNU Linux-Libre 5.0 kernel is here to offer you a Linux kernel that doesn’t contain any proprietary code as it deblobbs the new ipu3-imgu driver, removes the Eicon DIVA ISDN driver, and updates the names of several firmware included in the upstream Linux 5.0 kernel.

      “Besides the usual assortment of firmware name updates, a new driver (ipu3-imgu) required disabling of blob requests, and a driver that we used to deblob (Eicon DIVA ISDN) was removed, so its cleaning up code is now gone,” said developer Alexandre Oliva in a mailing list announcement.

    • Linux 5.0 debuts – which means absolutely nothing

      Linux overlord Linus Torvalds has released version 5.0 of the Linux kernel.

      In his announcement of the release, Torvalds wrote “I’d like to point out (yet again) that we don’t do feature-based releases, and that ‘5.0’ doesn’t mean anything more than that the 4.x numbers started getting big enough that I ran out of fingers and toes.” And once Torvalds gets post-digital, in terms of being able to keep track of release numbers, he rolls over from version .20 to .0.

    • Linux kernel 5.0 released and here is how to install it

      Linus Torvalds the creator and the principal developer of the Linux kernel announced the release of Linux kernel version 5.0. This release increases the major kernel version number to 5. from 4.x. The new change does not mean anything and does not affect programs in any way.

    • Linux kernel 5.0

      The first release of Linux kernel of the new 5.0 line just landed in Sparky “unstable” repository.

    • Linux Kernel 5.0 Released, This is What’s New

      Previously earmarked to be version 4.21, the new release comes with a bucket full of improvements (as you’d expect).

      But don’t expect grand changes just because there’s a natty new version number.

      Linus Torvalds explains that: “The numbering change is not indicative of anything special. If you want to have an official reason, it’s that I ran out of fingers and toes to count on, so 4.21 became 5.0”.

      Hey Linus: if you ever need more fingers to count on, there are plenty of people willing to lend a hand …oh my god what a terrible joke why am I still typing it.

    • Linux Kernel 5.0 Released, How to Install it in Ubuntu

      The mainline kernels do not include any Ubuntu-provided drivers or patches. They are not supported and are not appropriate for production use

    • The 5.0 kernel has been released.

      Headline features from this release include the energy-aware scheduling patch set, a bunch of year-2038 work that comes close to completing the core-kernel transition, zero-copy networking for UDP traffic, the Adiantum encryption algorithm, the seccomp trap to user space mechanism, and, of course, lots of new drivers and fixes. See the KernelNewbies 5.0 page for lots of details.

    • Linux Kernel 5.0 Is Officially Out, ReactOS 0.4.11 Released, Python 2.7.16 Now Available, Some Linux Mint Updates and Rancher Labs Launches K3s

      Linux kernel 5.0 is out. Linus writes, “We have more than a handful of real fixes in the last week, but not enough to make me go “Hmm, things are really unstable”. In fact, at least two thirds of the patches are marked as being fixes for previous releases, so it’s not like 5.0 itself looks bad.” The merge window for 5.1 is now open.

    • Linux 5.0 Released

      Linus Torvalds has released Linux 5.0 in kicking off the kernel’s 28th year of development. Linux 5.0 features include AMD FreeSync support, open-source NVIDIA Turing GPU support, Intel Icelake graphics, Intel VT-d scalable mode, NXP PowerPC processors are now mitigated for Spectre Variant Two, and countless other additions.

    • SD Times news digest: Linux 5.0; Automation Anywhere’s free community edition, and Google’s .dev TLD now available

      Linux 5.0 has been released. According to an email sent by Linus Torvalds, there were a few issues at launch, but bug fixes are being worked on. “Regardless – all is well that ends well. We have more than a handful of real fixes in the last week, but not enough to make me go “Hmm, things are really unstable”. In fact, at least two thirds of the patches are marked as being fixes for previous releases, so it’s not like 5.0 itself looks bad,” he wrote.

      According to Torvalds, the 5.0 release isn’t that much bigger than previous releases, but that the 4.x releases were getting big enough in number that it was time for 5.x releases to start. He also noted that the merge window for 5.1 is already open and he has already received several pull requests.

    • Linux 5.0 released (it’s not as big a deal as it sounds)

      Billions of devices run software that relies on the Linux kernel, including Android smartphones and tablets, Internet of Things devices, and servers and even some desktop and laptop computers (the things you probably think of first when you think of Linux).

      Linux founder Linus Torvalds released the first version of the Linux Kernel in 1991. Since then it’s grown into a massive free and open source project that powers much of the world’s technology.

      Today Torvalds announced the release of Linux 5.0 — and to be honest, it’s nothing special… or at least no more special than any other kernel update. While there are a number of bug fixes and new features, Torvalds notes that “we don’t do feature-based releases, and that “5.0” doesn’t mean anything more than that the 4.x numbers started getting big enough that I ran out of fingers and toes.”

    • Linux 5.0 Introduces New Security Capabilities

      Linux 5.0, the first major milestone release of the open-source Linux kernel in 2019, launched on March 3.

      Linux 5.0 is the first version of the kernel since April 2015, when Linux 4.0 was released, with a major new version number. That said, Linux creator Linus Torvalds really doesn’t assign a specific significance to new major version numbers, but rather the incremental number adjustment is somewhat arbitrary.

      “The numbering change is not indicative of anything special,” Torvalds wrote in Linux Kernel Mailing List (LKML) message. “If you want to have an official reason, it’s that I ran out of fingers and toes to count on, so 4.21 became 5.0.”

    • Btrfs For Linux 5.1 Brings Configurable Zstd Compression Level, A Number Of Fixes

      The initial feature updates were sent in a short time ago for the Btrfs file-system changes targeting the Linux 5.1 kernel cycle.

      One of the main changes to the Btrfs file-system support is now offering configurable Zstd file compression support. Btrfs has offered Zstd as part of its native and transparent compression support going back to Linux 4.14, but now with Linux 5.1 is the ability to adjust the Zstandard compression level for either greater compression or faster compression speeds. The Zstd compression level also impacts how much system memory is needed besides the higher levels being more taxing on the CPU.

    • Power Management Updates Submitted For Linux 5.1, Including ACPI 6.3 Support

      Linux power management expert Rafael Wysocki of Intel is off to the races early with his PM/ACPI updates submitted for the newly-opened Linux 5.1 merge window.

      New power management work for Linux 5.1 includes the new “TEO” CPU idle governor for tickless systems, updates to the ARM Energy Aware Scheduling (EAS) added to Linux 5.0, optimizations to the auto-suspend code within the power management run-time framework, there is a new CPUFreq driver for Armada 8K devices, Intel P-State clean-ups, and various optimizations and code improvements.

    • ZFS On Linux 0.7.13 Released With Fixes For Linux 5.0 Kernel Compatibility

      While we are very much looking forward to the huge ZFS On Linux 0.8 release, as a new stable release for offering up compatibility with the newly minted Linux 5.0 is now the ZoL 0.7.13 milestone.

      ZFS On Linux (ZoL) 0.7.13 was released today where the principal changes come down to Linux 5.0 kernel compatibility. ZFS On Linux support required some fresh workarounds for compatibility with this new kernel version with upstream kernel developers still being resistant to this out-of-tree file-system due to Oracle/Sun’s licensing.

    • Additional MIPS Release 6 Changes Heading Into Linux 5.1

      The upstream Linux kernel support for the MIPS architecture continues to be improved upon, which is great news especially with this processor ISA going open-source. With the Linux 5.1 kernel are more MIPS improvements.

      While the MIPS32/MIPS64 Release 6 architecture has been out there since 2014 with many design improvements, with Linux 5.1 we are seeing more bits supported. The latest MIPS Release 6 being implemented for the mainline Linux kernel are support for the MemoryMapID register and Global Invalidate TLB instructions, enabling huge-page support for MIPS64r6, and other changes.

    • Linux 5.1 Networking Changes See Intel 22260 WiFi Support

      The networking subsystem is busy as always and not any different pace with the in-development Linux 5.1 kernel.

      Exciting us about the networking additions for Linux 5.1 are a number of new Intel wireless devices being supported plus there is the ongoing advancements to the eBPF code, continued strides on offloading operations to the network adapters, and more.

    • Linux Foundation

      • Automotive Linux in Tokyo

        This week, three Collaborans will be in Tokyo, Japan to take part in the AGL All Member Meeting. Daniel Stone, George Kiagiadakis, and Guy Lunardi will be in attendance, to discuss Wayland and the future of IVI Window Management, as well as look at the latest upstream work around the PipeWire framework and how it can benefit the automotive industry. You can find the details below for both their presentations.

        The Automotive Grade Linux (AGL) All Member Meeting takes place bi-annually and brings the AGL community together to learn about the latest developments, share best practices and collaborate to drive rapid innovation across the industry.

        If you plan on attending, please come say hello!

      • BlackRidge Technology Joins The Linux Foundation’s Automotive Grade Linux Project

        BlackRidge Technology International Inc. (OTCQB: BRTI), a leading provider of next-generation cyber defense solutions, has joined Automotive Grade Linux (AGL), a collaborative open-source project at The Linux Foundation. The project brings together automakers, suppliers and technology companies to accelerate the development and adoption of a fully open software stack for the connected car.

    • Graphics Stack

      • DAV1D v0.2 AV1 Video Decoder Released With SSSE3 & NEON Optimizations

        The DAV1D open-source AV1 video decoder is now much more capable on older PCs and ARM mobile devices with its second release.

        DAV1D 0.2.0 was released today, three months after the original dav1d 0.1 release. While the initial release offered up hand-written AVX2 code for running faster than the reference decoder on modern Intel/AMD CPUs, this release has focused on helping out older desktop CPUs as well as mobile devices.

        DAV1D 0.2.0 features SSSE3 support for processors not supporting AVX2. Additionally, there is NEON SIMD support now for ARM hardware.

      • Panfrost update: A new kernel driver

        Following two months of work to develop a driver for Midgard and Bitfrost GPUs, Panfrost is now using a new kernel driver that is in a form close to be acceptable in the mainline Linux kernel.

      • Collabora Posts New DRM Kernel Driver For Open-Source Arm Mali Graphics

        Collabora’s Tomeu Vizoso has posted an initial set of patches he’s been working on along with Rob Herring on developing a new open-source kernel DRM driver for Arm’s Bifrost and Midgard graphics hardware.

        This Panfrost DRM driver goes in-step with the Panfrost Gallium3D driver that was recently merged to mainline Mesa and continues quickly advancing for providing open-source OpenGL support for these two recent generations of Arm Mali GPUs while being developed through reverse-engineering without the official blessing of Arm.

      • Enabling AMD Radeon FreeSync On Linux 5.0

        One of the most asked questions in recent weeks has been how to enable the newly added support for FreeSync on Linux. Now with Linux 5.0 out there, here is a quick guide.

        Of course, you first need a supported display and graphics card that are capable of supporting FreeSync/Adaptive-Sync… Fortunately, there are a lot of FreeSync displays out there these days, including many at affordable prices. As for GPUs, any recent AMD Radeon graphics card on the AMDGPU kernel driver should end up working out.

      • AMDVLK 2019.Q1.7 Offers Up Fixes To AMD’s Official Open-Source Vulkan Driver

        AMD is back on course for their weekly code drops of the AMDVLK sources that make up their official open-source Vulkan Linux driver.

        AMDVLK 2019.Q1.7 is out to succeed last Tuesday’s 2019.Q1.6 release. There aren’t any notable features introduced in this fresh code drop but a number of fixes. There are a few notable fixes including for transform feedback, support for min/max stencil resolve using the compute pipeline, memory leak fix, corruption with Fiji GPUs running under Wayland, and other corruption issues.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Creating a Python Plugin for Krita: Guest Article by Zlatko Mašek

        Ever since Krita allowed scripting in Python, I was eyeing what I could do with it. Since it’s using QT and I had no previous experience with it, I wanted to learn a bit about it because I’m programming with Python as my day job. Doing image manipulation to transform images for different usages between different systems is always a fun challenge. I wanted to switch from direct image scripting to a plug-in based workflow so I didn’t have to do too much context switching between work-time and hobby-time. Krita being cross-platform also helped because I didn’t have to deal with installing Python on operating systems that don’t have it pre-installed. The plug-in I made is simple enough. It slices the image and prepares tiles for the usage in a tiling library like Leaflet. You need to make sure that you have a flattened image saved beforehand and it’s the last thing you do when preparing for an export. Also make sure that the image is rectangular if you don’t want the plug-in to crop it by itself. The plug-in is fired up by going to the Tools -> Scripts -> Krita – Leaflet in the menu bar.

      • KDE Plasma 5.14.90 (the beta for Plasma 5.15) is available for testing

        Are you using Kubuntu 18.10, our current Stable release? Or are you already running our daily development builds?

        We currently have Plasma 5.14.90 (Plasma 5.15 Beta) available in our Beta PPA for Kubuntu 18.10 and in our daily Disco ISO images.

      • Plasma desktop kstart: cannot connect to X server – What now?

        Here’s an interesting little problem. I was merrily using my Plasma desktop when suddenly it went kaput. But kaput in a bad way, not a good way. This translates into windows decorations being all gone and nothing really responding to mouse clicks. And here comes the conundrum train, nonstop to Foobar. I wanted to restart the Plasma shell and just get back to working – after all, I mentioned this workaround a couple of times in the past, like my Slimbook & Kubuntu combat reports. Indeed. Except …

        This didn’t work. In the virtual console (the only thing that actually was working), I had the kstart: cannot connect to X server error. At this point, a reboot or magic were needed, and I really wanted to have to avoid rebooting. In general, rebooting is a lazy way of fixing issues, and it should be done sparingly. So let’s talk about a better, less destructive way.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Resource Scale for Fractional Scaling support in GNOME Shell 3.32

        The news spread out quite quickly, once last Friday Jonas pressed the button and that triggered the last-second merge for the relevant proposals we prepared for Mutter and GNOME Shell in order to get this available for GNOME 3.32.

        As someone might recall, we started this work some years ago (ouch!) and lead to an Hackfest in Taipei, but in between other work to do and priorities which caused this to be delayed a bit. While the first iteration was ready for some time now. But at every review we improved things fixing bugs (like missing scaled widgets) and optimizing some code paths, so hopefully this time helped in serving better quality :).

        We’ve still quite a lot of work to do (see these issues for mutter and shell) and some fixes that we have in queue already, but the main task is there. So starting from now the shell will paint all its elements properly and in good visual quality at any fractional scaled value, and independently for every monitor.

      • Preparations for GNOME 3 Customization

        Before writing a GNOME 3 theming tutorial, I feel like to write a preparation tutorial as the basics for beginners. In this simple tutorial you will learn about what folders need to be created, what are their purposes, three different themes of GNOME, their directory structures, and of course what tool needed to setup themes. I hope this helps everybody who wants to customize their GNOME themes and to be ready for the next tutorial. Enjoy!

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

      • Alpine 3.9.2 released

        The Alpine Linux project is pleased to announce the immediate availability of version 3.9.2 of its Alpine Linux operating system.

        This is a bugfix release of the v3.9 stable branch, which fixes a regression introduced in 3.9.1 that caused setup-alpine to break.

      • Pardus 17.5 Sürümü Yayınlandı
    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • We’re Rolling Out The Green Carpet – Only 4 Weeks To Go!!
      • First Public SUSE Doc Day Ever – Join us at SUSECON!

        Can’t wait to attend SUSECON ? Have you recently had a look at the Web site? Did you realize there is something new on the agenda ?

        Yes, we are super excited ! Much in the spirit of the SUSECON theme “My Kind of Open”, we will host the very first public SUSE Doc Day as an in-person event on Friday April 5, from 9 am to 6 pm. It will take place in combination with SUSECON 2019 and the openSUSE Summit, to give interested attendees of both conferences the chance to join. And of course, the location for Doc Day is also the beautiful Renaissance Nashville Hotel :-).

    • On Federation and Fedora

      • Join The Fedora 29 Linux Community Challenge

        The basic premise of the Fedora challenge is simple: ditch Windows, macOS or your current Linux OS of choice and use Fedora for about a month. It’s just enough time to start learning its nuances, its unique package manager, and get into a groove where it starts to feel familiar instead of foreign.

        The purpose is exposing yourself to something new, and perhaps gaining an appreciation for an OS you may not have chosen otherwise. Along the way people may find their “forever distro” or be inspired to make the switch to Linux full time.

        With elementary OS we challenged each other to refrain from customizing or tweaking; to not install any external repositories. Even to avoid the command line if possible. With openSUSE Tumbleweed we threw out the rule book, chose any of the available desktop environments and went way off the leash.

        We’re going back to basics with Fedora but leaving plenty of wiggle room. As a group we’ll be using Fedora Workstation which includes the Gnome Desktop Environment (and apparently a very pure iteration of it). Beyond that, feel free to install extensions, customize your workspace and your desktop, dig into the CLI, find out what FlatPak is all about and make yourself at home.

      • Rosenzweig: The federation fallacy

        Here’s a lengthy piece from Alyssa Rosenzweig on preserving freedom despite the inevitable centralization of successful information services

      • The Federation Fallacy

        Throughout the free software community, an unbridled aura of justified mistrust fills the air: mistrust of large corporations, mistrust of governments, and of course, mistrust of proprietary software. Each mistrust is connected by a critical thread: centralisation.

        Thus, permeating the community are calls for decentralisation. To attack the information silos, corporate conglomerates, and governmental surveillance, decentralisation calls for individuals to host servers for their own computing, rather than defaulting on the servers of those rich in data.

        In the decentralised dream, every user hosts their own server. Every toddler and grandmother is required to become their own system administrator. This dream is an accessibility nightmare, for if advanced technical skills are the price to privacy, all but the technocratic elite are walled off from freedom.

        Federation is a compromise. Rather than everyone hosting their own systems, ideally every technically able person would host a system for themselves and for their friends, and everyone’s systems could connect. If I’m technically able, I can host an “instance” not only for myself but also my loved ones around me. In theory, through federation my friends and family could take back their computing from the conglomerates, by trusting me and ceding power to me to cover the burden of their system administration.

        What a dream.

        Federated systems are all around us. The classic example is e-mail. I host my own email server, so I have the privilege of managing my own email address. According to the ideas of decentralisation, for an e-mail user to be fully free, they should host their own e-mail server.

      • Carl Chenet: You Should Not Ignore the Mastodon Social Network Any More

        The Mastodon social network reached 2 million users some days ago, almost doubling its number of users in one year.

      • Fedora in Fediverse

        I really like how Fediverse is shaping up and its federation is starting to make sense to me. It’s not federation for the sake of federation and running different instances of the same service, but about variety of different services that focus on different things, cater different users and yet being to able to talk to each other.

        There is Mastodon for microblogging, Friendica for a Facebook-style social network, PeerTube for videos, PixelFed for pictures, Nextcloud Social for making a social network out of your private cloud etc.

        The number of users is also growing, it’s already in millions, so it’s becoming an interesting platform for promotion. There are quite a few open source projects already present: GNOME, KDE, openSUSE, Ubuntu, Nextcloud, Debian, F-Droid… And I’ve seen quite a few Fedora contributors scattered across different instances.

    • Debian Family

      • Celebrating Science Day at GMRT and WSF

        At the end, there was lot of information about Debian which was exchanged with the group. I shared about the Internships article which I had written sometime back and then shared another list of projects yesterday by one of my friends whom I had encouraged to do the same when I was writing the article from bangalore . I do like the one where he talks of the WordPress-libre movement, it does have lot of value but would need quite a bit of time and knowledge, which will come with time.

        One of the most often questions asked is how does Debian make money. While Debian is a non-profit it does make money in terms of sponsorships as it is helpful to all the companies who make money of it. The simplest way is to have a look at present and past sponsors of Debconf. Just to share of a few on top of my head. Google sponsors as they use a customized use of Debian as their main OS within the organization. They sponsor quite a bit of Debian Development and probably have a few DD’s (Debian Developer) on their rolls. Hewlett Packard sells and sold quite a bit of Mid-and high-end range of servers to CDN’s, hosting and off the shelf customers who prefer to run Debian on those servers. Lot of HPC machines run Debian. Infomaniak is into hosting and from the looks of it they have prospered with the partnership as now they are Platinum sponsors.

        I could go on and on, but is enough to share that there are lot of business and research issues which are solved. Even NCRA and GMRT are big users of Debian as is Pune University, hence they support us the way they can. They are highly dependant on Government Funding.

        I also shared some of the Debian Politics but didn’t much as Mayur, Mehul and Aniket were absent, they are from Mozilla and we usually trade happenings and stories :). In many ways, Debian is also going through some changes , in some ways similar to what Mozilla has been going through but that’s a topic for another day. I do hope lot of people do get a chance to go and attend Debtusav Delhi which is also happening soon. This year we are hoping to have lots of Debutsavs if we hope to have a Debconf in India anytime soon. Till later.

      • Derivatives

        • SolydK 201902 Run Through

          In this video, we look at SolydXK 201902, the KDE edition.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter Issue 568
          • Flavours and Variants

            • Switching Software Once Again

              After my Pelican-based blog didn’t survive a last upgrade, I had to switch programs. For now I have migrated to Chronicle. This should hopefully proceed well. Things are being kept on Launchpad in a personal git code repository for safekeeping.

            • Stephen Michael Kellat: Back on Track

              Whenever time finally permits, I will need to catch up with Martin Wimpress about testing the images being worked on for Raspberry Pi units relative to Ubuntu MATE 18.04.2. Somehow there was coverage of this on Forbes.com but they take user submissions. They’ve become a big planet-like site almost. Work demands during this peak period are going to restrict my ability to act, alas. A good block of time might work on Saturday, March 9th.

              I haven’t done any testing of Disco Dingo. In the end, coping with drama from the capital while trying to keep a roof over my head makes that happen when you’re a civil servant. Things like Liberapay or even Paypal.me are in place to help me transition out of that bit of craziness to something more reasonable. Expanding the website of Erie Looking Productions through the use of MkDocs perhaps is likely to be in the works.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • ReactOS 0.4.11 Released with Kernel Improvements, Support for More Windows Apps

    ReactOS 0.4.11 is now available for download, coming four mounts after the 0.4.10 version to bring you even more new features, improvements, and better support for your favorite Windows apps. Talking about that, this release adds better support for .NET 2.0 applications and enables support for Blender 2.57b, QuickTime Player 7.7.9, Evernote 5.8.3, Bumptop, and many other apps.

    Running more Windows apps is important for the ReactOS team since they try to win ex-Windows users who want to use an open-source operating system on their computers with the same capabilities of Microsoft’s OS. Therefore, one of the most significant changes in ReactOS 0.4.11 is the work done to improve the Win32 subsystem to enable support for IceChat 7.63 and Civilization II Multiplayer Gold Edition 1.3 (32-bit).

  • [OSI] February 2019 License-Review Summary
  • [OSI] February 2019 License-Discuss Summary

    In February, the License-Discuss mailing list discussed how to keep the mailing lists civil and to what degree the business model of a license submitter should be relevant.

    The corresponding License-Review summary is online at https://opensource.org/LicenseReview022019 and covers reviews of the C-FSL, SSPL, the Twente License, plus some discussion about the review process, governance, and the OSD.

  • Haiku monthly activity report – 02/2019

    Welcome to the activity report for February 2019. This month has been quite busy for me with the annual visit to FOSDEM (read the report), and managing the application process for both GSoC and Outreachy (Haiku has been accepted to both programs this year).

    We are already seeing candidates applying to both GSoC and Outreachy, so expect to read about new names in the reports in the coming months and during the summer!

  • Haiku OS Seeing USB3 Improvements, BFS Resizing Code Revisited

    Developers persisting on Haiku as the BeOS-inspired open-source operating system made more headway in February to advance their OS past the recent (and successful) beta milestone.

  • How the next generation is shaping the future with open source

    “How do you level the playing field and create a more diverse workforce in the field of technology? The answer is simple, you create the change yourself.”

    Michael Bratsch, a teacher at Franklin Middle School, knows that the work needed to get the results won’t be easy, but it’s necessary. He’s committed to making sure that all his students have access and opportunity to explore any career they choose, including those in technology. With that goal in mind, he started the Futureboys & Girls after-school club that teaches students leadership values using an open framework.

    Students learn to develop creative projects by contributing individual concepts and collaborating to bring them to life. This process shows the students that good ideas can come from anywhere—and that sharing those ideas improves them exponentially. The same principles that are the foundation of the open source community.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • The Firefox Experiments I Would Have Liked To Try

        I have been part of the Firefox Test Pilot team for several years. I had a long list of things I wanted to build. Some I didn’t personally want to build, but I thought they were interesting ideas. I didn’t get very far through this list at all, and now that Test Pilot is being retired I am unlikely to get to them in the future.

        Given this I feel I have to move this work out of my head, and publishing a list of ideas seems like an okay way to do that. Many of these ideas were inspired by something I saw in the wild, sometimes a complete product (envy on my part!), or the seed of an idea embedded in some other product.

        The experiments are a spread: some are little features that seem potentially useful. Others are features seen elsewhere that show promise from user research, but we could only ship them with confidence if we did our own analysis. Some of these are just ideas for how to explore an area more deeply, without a clear product in mind.

  • LibreOffice

    • Community Member Monday: Dieudonne Dukuzumuremy and Tomas Kapiye

      I live in Japan (Kobe City). In fact, I have graduated in Japan as a Master’s holder in Information Systems. Currently, I’m doing a post-graduation internship. When I’m not working on LibreOffice, I work as software developer.

      Besides that, I will stay in Japan until December – then after I will go back to my home country Rwanda, where I work as a lecture in at the Integrated Polytechnics University. There I provide the fundamentals of programming such as PHP, HTML, CSS, MySQL, SQL Server, VB.net, WordPress etc..

      I’m interested in learning new global technologies and bringing more ICT innovations to developing countries, sharing knowledge as well as being result-oriented.

      My hobbies are playing football and futsal, along with meeting and making friends.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

  • Public Services/Government

    • World’s Largest ‘Free and Open Source’ Facility Launched in Kerala

      Yesterday, Kerala’s chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan launched ‘Swatantra‘, which is considered as the world’s largest integrated Free and Open Source IT facility in the government sector. It’s actually an initiative of the International Centre for Free and Open Source Software (ICFOSS) and aimed to provide restriction-free access to information for sustainable economic development.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Access/Content

      • Big Win For Open Access, As University Of California Cancels All Elsevier Subscriptions, Worth $11 Million Dollars A Year

        The problems faced by the University of California (UC) are the usual ones. The publishing giant Elsevier was willing to move to an open access model — but only if the University of California paid even more on top of what were already “rapidly escalating costs”. To its credit, the institution instead decided to walk, depriving Elsevier of around $11 million a year (pdf).

        But that’s not the most important aspect of this move. After all, $11 million is small change for a company whose operating profit is over a billion dollars per year. What will worry Elsevier more is that the University of California is effectively saying that the company’s journals are not so indispensable that it will sign up to a bad deal. It’s the academic publishing equivalent of pointing out that the emperor has no clothes.

        The University of California is not the first academic institution to come to this realization. National library consortiums in Germany, Hungary and Sweden have all made the same decision to cancel their subscriptions with Elsevier. Those were all important moves. But the University of California’s high-profile refusal to capitulate to Elsevier is likely to be noted and emulated by other US universities now that the approach has been validated by such a large and influential institution.

        As to where researchers at the University of California (and in Germany, Hungary and Sweden) will obtain copies of articles published in Elsevier titles that are no longer available to them through subscriptions — UC retains access to older ones — there are many other options. For example, preprints are increasingly popular, and circulate freely. Contacting the authors directly usually results in copies being made available, since academics naturally want their papers read as widely as possible.

  • Programming/Development

    • Connecting Raspberry Pi to the Alibaba Cloud IoT Platform Using Python

      Join us at the Alibaba Cloud ACtivate Online Conference on March 5-6 to challenge assumptions, exchange ideas, and explore what is possible through digital transformation.

    • “Everything is Awesome”: Python Meets Plastic Bricks

      If you stay in the field of software development long enough, you might be lucky enough to work a project like we are working on. It is the type of project that makes you think, “I can’t believe they pay me to do this.” Two years ago, our company hired us to develop an Industrial Control System/Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (ICS/SCADA) program for cyber teams. Cody was hired as a Constructive Modeler, making a variety of real and synthetic models for various projects. Scott was hired as an ICS/SCADA Engineer, designing and building the control systems that power the models.

    • Python + Memcached: Efficient Caching in Distributed Applications

      When writing Python applications, caching is important. Using a cache to avoid recomputing data or accessing a slow database can provide you with a great performance boost.

      Python offers built-in possibilities for caching, from a simple dictionary to a more complete data structure such as functools.lru_cache. The latter can cache any item using a Least-Recently Used algorithm to limit the cache size.

      Those data structures are, however, by definition local to your Python process. When several copies of your application run across a large platform, using a in-memory data structure disallows sharing the cached content. This can be a problem for large-scale and distributed applications.

    • Contributing to classiness (in Django)

      A couple weeks ago I ran a poll on Twitter asking people whether they’d ever used, or considered using, the contribute_to_class() method to write something that attaches to or hooks into a Django ORM model class, and if so what their thoughts were. There was also a “don’t know what that is” option, which won by a large margin, and I promised I’d provide an explanation.

      Unfortunately, that was around the time I suffered a kitchen accident which left me without full use of my left hand for a bit. Full healing will take a little while longer, but it’s at the point where I can mostly type normally again, so it’s time to provide the explanation.

    • Ansible Cranked to 11

      On the Building SaaS with Python and Django Twitch stream, I tried out a new tool to see if it would improve my deploy time. We configured Ansible to use Mitogen and it was an incredible success.

    • Wing Python IDE 6.1.5

      Wing Python IDE version 6.1.5 is now available for download.

    • PyDev of the Week: Mariusz Felisiak

      This week we welcome Mariusz Felisiak (@MariuszFelisiak) as our PyDev of the Week! Mariusz is a core developer of the Django web framework and a maintainer of the django-request package. You can follow Mariusz over on Github to see what he’s been up to. Let’s spend some time getting to know Mariusz!

    • Python 3.5.7rc1 and Python 3.4.10rc1 are now available
    • Affine Image Transformations in Python with Numpy, Pillow and OpenCV

      In this article I will be describing what it means to apply an affine transformation to an image and how to do it in Python. First I will demonstrate the low level operations in Numpy to give a detailed geometric implementation. Then I will segue those into a more practical usage of the Python Pillow and OpenCV libraries.

      This article was written using a Jupyter notebook and the source can be found at my GitHub repo so, please feel free to clone / fork it and experiment with the code.

    • How To Include Redis In Your Application Architecture
    • Refactoring Python Applications for Simplicity
    • Understanding Python slices
    • Linux C Programming Tutorial Part 9 : Strings
    • BuildStream news and 2.0 planning

      It has been a very long time since my last BuildStream related post, and there has been a huge amount of movement since then, including the initial inception of our website, the 1.2 release, the beginnings of BuildGrid, and several hackfests including one in manchester hosted by Codethink, and another one in London followed by the Build Meetup which were hosted by Bloomberg at their London office.

    • The trendy five: Fighting off winter’s frost with the top GitHub repos of February 2019 [Ed: Perpetuating the illusion that only Microsoft can offer Free/libre code.]
    • Top 5 Best Bug Fixing Tools For Python Developers

      Python is one of the most popular high-level languages that lets you work quickly and integrate the required features more efficiently. However, coding is a time-consuming thing and one can never assure that he/she can write error-free code. It’s not like as Python allows you to express logic in fewer lines of code, there would be fewer chances of error. Even experienced developers spend a good amount of time in bug-fixing.

      Today, I will share some best bug fixing tools for python developers. These tools will help you fix bugs while writing code and also show you an insight of work and status of development.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • Vulkan 1.1.102 Released With Apple Metal Surface Extension

      The Khronos Group has announced the release of Vulkan 1.1.102, coming just a few weeks ahead of the Game Developers’ Conference (GDC) later this month in San Francisco.

    • LunarG Collaboration with Khronos

      Today, LunarG strengthens its collaboration with Khronos by opening its desktop SDK build and packaging scripts to the Vulkan Working Group. This step enables all working group members to collaborate in supporting and evolving a unified Vulkan SDK that can serve the needs of the industry, while avoiding fragmentation in the Vulkan ecosystem.

      LunarG plays a central role in developing and supporting the desktop Vulkan SDK, and will continue to host and maintain the Vulkan SDK download site, now with the additional support and resources of Vulkan Working Group members.

    • LunarG Contributes Their Vulkan SDK To The Khronos Group

      It’s always been a bit odd how the de facto Vulkan SDK is through LunarG rather than The Khronos Group, which could lead to confusion for those not familiar with the great folks at LunarG. But now it will be more clear with LunarG officially donating their Vulkan software development kit to Khronos.

      LunarG has donated their desktop SDK and packaging scripts to Khronos’ Vulkan Working Group. This will allow for better collaboration and a unified SDK for the Vulkan graphics/compute API with less fragmentation otherwise.

Leftovers

  • ‘Meduza’ fact check: Is Ukraine still the top source of migration into Russia, or has Tajikistan overtaken it?

    These quotations all appeared in Russian media reports on a set of preliminary data released by the Russian Federal State Statistics Service (Rosstat). The dataset described various aspects of Russia’s demographics in 2018. News reports pointed to the fact that the highest net influx of new residents — that is, the difference between the number of people from a given country entering and leaving Russia — now belongs to Tajikistan rather than Ukraine for the first time in several years. Olga Chudinovskikh, who leads a population economics laboratory at Moscow State University, told RBC that the recent decrease in the flow of migrants to Russia from Ukraine has stemmed from “the exhaustion of the flow of refugees” from the country’s southeast as well as a new preference among Ukrainians to migrate to Europe.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Why Wait for 2021? End the Federal War on Marijuana Now!

      The Boston Globe’s Naomi Martin and James Pindell report that all of 2020’s formally declared “major party” presidential candidates say they support legalizing marijuana at the federal level. Yes, that includes President Trump.

      Great idea! But why should the nearly 2/3 of Americans who want marijuana legalized spend the next 20 months listening to these candidates promise to make it happen? At least eight of them are in a position to get the job done now.

      Cory Booker (D-NJ), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) are US Senators. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) is a US Representative. Any or all of them could introduce and sponsor/co-sponsor bills to legalize marijuana.

      Donald Trump is the president of the United States. Any time he cares to pick up the phone and summon the Republican Party’s congressional leaders, or maybe just US Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) and US Representative Justin Amash (R-MI) over to the White House, he can lean on them to get a bill moving for the same purpose, then sign it when it passes.

      There are opportunities here for all of these politicians. The first one to make a big move would get the most credit for ending the federal war on marijuana. The others could earn some brownie points (yes, I went there) for joining in. We could enjoy a rare “bi-partisan” love-fest where political opponents come together for the good of the country.

    • In ‘Wake-Up Call’ for Nation, Study Using Industry’s Own Data Finds 9 in 10 Coal Plants Are Causing Toxic Pollution

      A new study on the dangerous levels of toxic chemicals that nearly all U.S. coal plants are leaving in nearby groundwater should serve as “a wake-up call for the nation.”

      That’s according to the environmental law non-profit Earthjustice, which worked with the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP) to analyze the coal industry’s own data on the toxins its companies are polluting groundwater with, finding that out of 265 coal plants that monitor their surrounding areas, 242 reported unsafe levels of chemicals including arsenic, lithium, and cadmium.

      The results of the study reveal that about nine out of 10 coal plants in the U.S. are endangering Americans by dumping coal ash into unlined pits, allowing chemicals to seep into groundwater.

    • Top 10 Most Contaminated Groundwater Sites Revealed in First Major Coal Ash Pollution Study

      The report found that found that the groundwater near 242 of the 265 power plants with monitoring data contained unsafe levels of one or more of the pollutants in coal ash, including arsenic, a known carcinogen, and lithium, which is associated with neurological damage, among other pollutants.

      “At a time when the Trump EPA — now being run by a former coal lobbyist — is trying to roll back federal regulations on coal ash, these new data provide convincing evidence that we should be moving in the opposite direction: toward stronger protections for human health and the environment,” said Abel Russ, the lead author of the report and attorney with the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP).

      “This is a wake-up call for the nation,” said Lisa Evans, senior counsel with Earthjustice. “Using industry’s own data, our report proves that coal plants are poisoning groundwater nearly everywhere they operate. The Trump Administration insists on hurting communities across the U.S. by gutting federal protections. They are making a dire situation much worse.”

      The data came from more than 4,600 groundwater monitoring wells located around the ash dumps of 265 coal-fired power plants, which is roughly three quarters of the coal power plants across the U.S. The rest of the plants did not have to comply with the federal Coal Ash Rule’s groundwater monitoring requirements last year, either because they closed their ash dumps before the rule went into effect in 2015, or because they were eligible for an extension.

    • The Medicare for All Bill Is a Winner

      Rep. Pramila Jayapal introduced a sweeping Medicare for All (MFA) bill on Wednesday (H.R. 1384), and the national debate on healthcare is bound to intensify through the 2020 election. Voters rank healthcare costs as their second most important priority, just after the economy. The political fate of MFA will likely depend on one key question: Will it reduce healthcare costs while preserving the freedom to choose health providers?

      If properly structured, MFA can do that: cut costs while improving choice.

      Medicare for All has come a long way since Sen. Bernie Sanders launched his 2016 presidential campaign on that theme, while fellow Democrats ran from the label. Sanders also faced the wrath of mainstream pundits like Paul Krugman, who described Sanders’ healthcare plan as “smoke and mirrors.” Now, every major Democratic Party candidate endorses the label, (though they will certainly differ on the details) and Sanders could well become president in 2021 on the basis of his clear and persistent MFA advocacy.

      No doubt the debate will become heated, even shrill. We are talking about serious money, and the largest single sector of the American economy. Healthcare outlays in the United States account for nearly 18% of the country’s gross domestic product. Profits are soaring in the private healthcare and pharmaceutical industries, both of which will fight fiercely against MFA. President Donald Trump has weighed in, declaring that Democrats are “radical socialists who want to model America’s economy after Venezuela.”

      While former President Barack Obama spoke out in favor of a single-payer plan, he avoided the battle back in 2009 with the Affordable Care Act. And by making health insurance available to millions more Americans, the Affordable Care Act allowed private industry to raise prices given the increase in demand. The result is that Obamacare expanded overall coverage, and provided hugely popular guaranteed coverage for pre-existing conditions, while avoiding any decisive steps on cost containment.

      [...]

      US private health insurance costs are out of sight. A typical US family of four covered by employer-based health insurance pays, in total, around $28,000 per year, taking into account the insurance premium paid for by the employer out of the worker’s total compensation, the premium paid directly by the household, and all of the extra costs, including deductibles, co-payments, and out-of-network payments. The cost of healthcare is crippling working-class families, which may explain why it is at the top of the political agenda.

    • The City of Miami Just Banned Glyphosate

      Those concerns are part of the reason that the city of Miami passed a unanimous resolution last Thursday banning the spraying of glyphosate by city departments or contractors, environmental group Miami Waterkeeper reported.

      “Banning the use of glyphosate is a great first step to take in improving water quality,” the group said, according to The Miami New Times. “It is also beneficial to public health, as citizens of the city of Miami won’t be exposed to harmful chemicals.”

    • “When We Say ‘Pharma Greed Kills,’ This Is What We Mean”: Critics Respond to Possible Purdue Bankruptcy

      After spending hundreds of millions of dollars convincing the American public that opioid painkillers are safe to use for chronic pain—and fueling a deadly, decades-long addiction epidemic as a result—the drug maker Purdue Pharma could file for bankruptcy to avoid being held accountable for its actions.

      According to Reuters, Purdue is considering bankruptcy to halt thousands of lawsuits and allow the company to settle with the plaintiffs out of court.

      Critics on social media slammed the manufacturer for apparently seeking a way out of its legal troubles without allowing its accusers to bring their cases to trial.

  • Security

    • Wireshark 3.0.0 Release Notes

      Wireshark is the world’s most popular network protocol analyzer. It is used for troubleshooting, analysis, development and education.

    • Wireshark 3.0.0 Open-source Network Analyzer Released: Download It Here

      If analyzing data traffic and network protocols are something you are interested in, Wireshark is the go-to tool. It’s the world’s leading cross-platform network analyzer tool that’s loved by ethical hackers and security researchers.

      Last week, the Wireshark team quietly released the all-updated Wireshark 3.0.0 with numerous user interface improvements. Additionally, to make the software lightweight, tons of legacy features and libraries have been removed.

    • Wireshark 3.0 Released With New Protocol Support, User Interface Improvements

      Quietly released last week was Wireshark 3.0, the open-source packet analyzer software formerly known as Ethereal and previously as a GTK user-interface but now exclusively Qt.

      Wireshark 3.0 features various improvements to its Qt5 user-interface while the GTK support has been removed completely, new translations/language support, a plethora of updated protocols, many new protocols supported, and various usability improvements.

    • Wireshark 3.0 Released as World’s Most Popular Network Protocol Analyzer

      The Wireshark Foundation released a new major version of their widely-used network protocol analyzer software, Wireshark 3.0, for GNU/Linux, macOS, and Windows platforms.
      As its version number suggests, Wireshark 3.0 is a massive update to the world’s most popular network protocol analyzer designed for network troubleshooting and analysis, software and communications protocol development, as well as education purposes, which introduces numerous new features and improvements.

      Highlights of Wireshark 3.0 include re-enablement and modernization of the IP map feature, support for the long-term supported Qt 5.12 application framework for macOS and Windows systems, initial support for using PKCS #11 tokens for RSA decryption in TLS, support for reproducible builds, and support for Swedish, Ukrainian, and Russian languages.

    • Using a Yubikey as smartcard for SSH public key authentication

      I did not like that very much. GnuPG’s user interface is a disaster, and reading its documentation is a pain. Working with OpenBSD has taught me that good documentation is a must, because without that, how can you use the software safely? The documentation also shows how much the developers care. So gpg is out, at least for SSH authentication.

      However, ssh(1) has another method to talk to smartcards. It can load a PKCS#11 library that contains the functions to access the SmartCard. On OpenBSD, this library is provided by the opensc package. In turn, it needs the pcsc-lite package, that actually talks to a smartcard reader.

    • Android TV Bug Exposes Private Google Photos Of Users

      One of the perks of having an Android TV is that users can display their Google Photos albums as a screensaver when the TV is idle.

      However, a Twitter user found himself in a predicament when his Android TV started showing private photo libraries of many other users.

    • Android TV Bug May Expose Your Personal Google Photos to Other Users

      A Twitter user from India has discovered a new bug in the Android TV OS that could potentially expose personal photos of users to others that own the same Android TV device. When @wothadei tried to access his Vu Android TV through the Google Home app, he could see the linked accounts of several other individuals who owned the same television. Unfortunately, however, this is not the only bug that he has discovered.

      The Twitter user found that he could view personal photos linked to the accounts of other owners of the Android TV device on Google Photos through the Ambient Mode screensaver settings. Another Twitter user has pointed out that the problem may be solved by performing a reset and linking your Google account to the Android TV device. Quite clearly, the bug puts the privacy of several Android TV users at risk.

    • Mike Gabriel: My Work on Debian LTS/ELTS (February 2019)

      In February 2019, I have worked on the Debian LTS project for 6 hours (of originally planned 10 hours) and on the Debian ELTS project for another 6 hours as a paid contributor. The non-worked 4 LTS hours I will carry over into March 2019

    • Open Source Security Podcast: Episode 136 – How people feel is more important than being right

      Josh and Kurt talk about github blocking the Deepfakes repository. There’s a far bigger discussion about how people feel, and sometimes security fails to understand that making people feel happy or safer is more important than being right.

    • March Intro | Roadmap to Securing Your Infrastructure

      March is upon us as we continue with our roadmap to securing your infrastructure. Hopefully, February’s posts reignited your passion for security. This month, we’ll discuss some topics that are typically overlooked or taken for granted. We often wear many hats in our jobs and tend to get busy, but we must stay vigilant in our efforts.

      In the information security industry, one thing we cannot do is become stagnant. The minute we let our guard down or say, “Someone else will take care of that” is the moment we relinquish control to those we have so diligently defended against.

    • Security updates for Monday
  • Defence/Aggression

    • An Admiral Told a Senator Most Navy Reforms Were “Complete.” Navy’s No. 2 Says Otherwise.

      Sen. Angus King wanted some straight answers. At a Feb. 12 hearing of a panel of the Senate Armed Services Committee, he expressed alarm over recent revelations concerning two deadly collisions of Navy ships in the Pacific in 2017. King, a Maine independent, declared the accidents avoidable and questioned the Navy’s commitment to fixing the problems that had helped cause them. Frustrated, King challenged a top Navy leader to come clean.

      “I want real numbers. I don’t want general ‘We’re working on staffing’ or ‘We’re working on more training,’ because these were avoidable tragedies,” King told Adm. Philip Davidson, the top military commander in the Pacific. “I would like to see specific responses from the Navy. Not promises and not good feelings.”

      Nine days later, Davidson sought to reassure King, who while an independent caucuses with Democrats, that his worry and frustration were unwarranted. In a letter dated Feb. 21, Davidson told King the Navy counted as “complete” 91 of the more than 100 reforms it had promised to make in the months after 17 sailors died in back-to-back crashes with civilian ships in the summer of 2017.

    • Is Your Ship Safe? Help Us Find Out Whether Navy Reforms Are Actually Making a Difference.

      This month we published an investigation into how top Navy brass ignored years of warnings from within its own ranks before two historically deadly accidents in 2017 killed 17 sailors on the USS Fitzgerald and USS John S. McCain.

      In the weeks since the investigation, scores of current and former Navy officers and sailors wrote and called us to say that not enough has changed: The Navy is continuing to neglect its ships and its crews.

      We are taking this outreach seriously.

      The Navy has promised reforms, but detailed information about the progress of those fixes is hard to come by. This is where you come in: We need as many active duty or recently retired Navy service members as possible to fill out the following questionnaire. Help us figure out whether substantive changes have actually been made. Are those changes addressing the problems uncovered by the crashes? How much of a difference are they making?

    • As Guaidó Returns to Venezuela, Pence Threatens ‘Swift Response’ If Opposition Leader Arrested

      If Venezuelan authorities detain opposition leader Juan Guaidó there will be a “swift response” from the Trump administration, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence threatened Monday.

      Guaidó—who re-entered the country on Monday after leaving in violation of a travel ban imposed by the Supreme Court—arrived at Venezuela’s Simón Bolívar International Airport in Caracas and successfully cleared immigration checks, the Associated Press reported. The opposition leader was greeted at the airport by senior diplomats from Latin America, Europe, and the United States.

      “We are here to receive President Juan Guaidó,” James Story, the top U.S. diplomat in Venezuela, told reporters.

      [...]

      “This would be a coup d’état,” Guaidó declared. “And it would be harshly and strongly rejected by both the Venezuelan people and the international community.”

      A coup is precisely what international observers and progressive critics have accused Guaidó of attempting with the support of many European countries and the Trump administration, which immediately recognized the opposition leader after he proclaimed himself the interim president in January.

    • U.N. Finds Israel Intentionally Shot Children, Journalists & the Disabled During Gaza Protests

      A United Nations inquiry has found Israeli forces may have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity by targeting unarmed children, journalists and the disabled in Gaza. The report, released by the U.N. Human Rights Council on Thursday, looked at Israel’s bloody response to weekly Great March of Return demonstrations, launched by Palestinians in Gaza nearly a year ago, targeting Israel’s heavily militarized separation barrier. The report found Israeli forces have killed 183 Palestinians—almost all of them with live ammunition. The dead included 35 children. Twenty-three thousand people were injured, including over 6,000 shot by live ammunition. We speak with Sara Hossain, a member of the U.N. independent commission that led the Gaza investigation.

    • Sanders on Venezuela – Does His Critique of US Policy Go Far Enough?

      At the CNN town hall, Sanders opposed U.S. intervention in Venezuela, refused to call Maduro a dictator, or recognize Guaido, but he didn’t call for an end to sanctions – with Jacqueline Luqman, Eugene Puryear, Norman Solomon and host Paul Jay

    • The US Quietly Negotiates ‘Peace with Honor’ in Afghanistan

      A friend of mine, a veteran of America’s 21st-century wars in the Greater Middle East, recently sent along his most recent commentary on Afghanistan. It would be his last, he said. “I’m done writing on how we got here — at this point I’ve said my piece, and I’m tired of being angry.” He’s moving on.

      I can’t say that I blame him. A legion of critics, including many who, like my friend, base their testimony on first-hand experience, have described in compelling detail the havoc caused by post-9/11 US military misadventures in Afghanistan and elsewhere. Their efforts have yielded a vast and ever-expanding trove of memoirs, novels, histories, essays, movies, and documentaries that record their disappointment, dismay, and, in more than a few cases, sense of betrayal or despair.

      Someday, perhaps in the not-too-distant future, some aspiring scholar will set out to assess this voluminous archive of antiwar literature. Yet however diligent or creative, that scholar will necessarily reach one irrefutable conclusion: The practical impact of this accumulated criticism, no matter how thoroughly documented or artfully presented, has been negligible.

    • Tale of Jamal Kashoggi Killing Only Getting More Gruesome

      The blame for Khashoggi’s murder has been laid at the feet of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, though the prince and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia deny any involvement by the prince, claiming instead that the murder was undertaken by rogue elements in the state.

      [...]

      As for the prince, he’s recently returned home after an international trip which saw him visit India, Pakistan, and China. Once home, the prince met with President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, who serves as a senior advisor to the president.

    • Putin Suspends Russian Obligations Under Key Nuclear Pact

      resident Vladimir Putin on Monday suspended Russia’s participation in a key nuclear arms treaty, in response to Washington’s decision to withdraw.

      In a decree, Putin suspended Russia’s obligations under the terms of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty and said it will continue to do so “until the U.S. ends its violations of the treaty or until it terminates.”

      Putin’s order came as Gen. Valery Gerasimov, the head of the Russian military’s General Staff, met in Vienna with U.S. Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for talks on strategic stability. The INF treaty was one of the issues discussed in what the Russia’s Defense Ministry described as “constructive” talks.

      The U.S. gave notice of its intention to withdraw from the INF a month ago, setting the stage for it to terminate in six months unless Moscow returns to compliance. Russia has denied any breaches, and accused the U.S. of violating the pact.

      The U.S. has accused Russia of developing and deploying a cruise missile that violates provisions of the pact that ban production, testing and deployment of land-based cruise and ballistic missiles with a range of 500 to 5,500 kilometers (310 to 3,410 miles).

    • ‘The American People Do Not Want Endless War’: Sanders, Warren, and Ocasio-Cortez Back Pledge to Bring Post-9/11 Conflicts to a Close

      “The United States has been in a state of continuous, global, open-ended military conflict since 2001,” reads the pledge, which the veterans group Common Defense launched on Monday. “Over 2.5 million troops have fought in this ‘Forever War’ in over a dozen countries—including Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Jordan, Niger, Somalia, and Thailand.”

      The five other lawmakers who joined Ocasio-Cortez, Sanders, and Warren as the first supporters of the “End the Forever War” pledge were: Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Rep. Ilhan Omar (Minn.), Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), and Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.).

      “I pledge to the people of the United States of America, and to our military community in particular, that I will (1) fight to reclaim Congress’s constitutional authority to conduct oversight of U.S. foreign policy and independently debate whether to authorize each new use of military force, and (2) act to bring the Forever War to a responsible and expedient conclusion,” the document states.

    • China Accuses Detained Canadians of Stealing State Secrets

      China accused two detained Canadians on Monday of acting together to steal state secrets, just days after Canada announced it will proceed with a U.S. extradition request for a senior Chinese tech executive.

      China arrested the two Canadians on Dec. 10 in what was widely seen as an attempt to pressure Canada to release Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Chinese tech giant Huawei Technologies, who was arrested in Vancouver on Dec. 1 at the request of U.S. authorities.

      Meng’s arrest set off a diplomatic furor and has severely strained Canadian relations with China.

    • Financial Imperialism: the Case of Venezuela

      Invasion of Venezuela by US and its proxies is just around the corner! This past week vice-president Pence flew to Colombia once again—for the fifth time in recent weeks—to provide final instructions to US local forces and proxy allies there for the next step in the US regime change plan.

      Evidence that the ‘green light’ for regime change and invasion is now flashing are supportive public statement by former president, Barack Obama, and several high level US Democratic party politicians and candidates, directly attacking the Maduro regime. They are signaling Democrat Party support for invasion and regime change. Events will now accelerate—just in time perhaps to coincide with the release of Mueller Report on Trump.

      Behind the scenes it is clear, as it has been for months, that US Neocons are once again back in charge of US foreign policy, driving the US toward yet another war and attempt at regime change of a foreign government.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • DOJ Moving Ahead With Its Attempt To Prosecute Julian Assange; Subpoenas Chelsea Manning

      The DOJ is still moving ahead with its plan to attack free speech protections. More than eight years in the making, the attempted prosecution of Julian Assange for publishing leaked documents forges ahead slowly, threatening every journalist in its path.

      Wikileaks isn’t the only entity to publish leaked documents or shield their source. Multiple US press entities have done the same thing over the years. It seems the DOJ feels it’s ok to go after Assange and Wikileaks because it’s not a US newspaper. But once you set foot on a slope this slippery, it’s pretty tough to regain your footing — especially when the Executive Branch has housed people hellbent on eliminating leakers and whistleblowers for most of the last 20 years.

      It appears the government wants Chelsea Manning to testify about her relationship with Wikileaks and Julian Assange. The demand Manning received may be deliberately vague, but it’s pretty easy to connect the dots, as Charlie Savage does for the New York Times.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • What Laws Work Best to Cut Plastic Pollution?

      Every minute an estimated 2 million single-use plastic bags are handed out at checkout counters across the world. They contribute to the 300 million tons of plastic waste generated each year, much of which ends up in the environment where it threatens wildlife, endangers public health and costs billions to clean up.

      How do you solve a problem this big?

      According to legal analysts who advised Congress at a briefing in January, the United States could reduce its contribution to the global plastic pollution crisis by implementing sweeping federal policies that restrict plastic use and hold manufacturers accountable for responsibly handling waste.

      The expert group, composed of members from Frank G. Wells Environmental Law Clinic at UCLA and ocean conservation organization Surfrider Foundation, specifically recommended that Congress craft federal legislation banning single-use plastic products such as bags, straws and expanded polystyrene foam food containers. They also called for establishing “extended producer responsibility” schemes, which hold plastic manufacturers responsible for the waste they create.

      Their recommendations, along with a new report, drew on research into existing legislation targeting plastic pollution in the United States and across the world. The experts found that the key to reducing plastic pollution is curbing consumption. The report and its presentation resulted from a semester-long project by UCLA students Charoula Melliou and Divya Rao, in collaboration UCLA attorney Julia E. Stein, Surfrider’s legal expert Angela Howe and plastic bag legal expert Jennie Romer.

    • 23 Dead as Tornado Pummels Lee County, AL in Further Sign ‘Tornado Alley’ Is Moving East

      There are children among the dead, Jones further told The Associated Press. He said the death toll could rise, but that search and rescue efforts had to pause Sunday night because the amount of debris made the work unsafe in the dark.

      The National Weather Service (NWS) in Birmingham, Alabama issued a tornado emergency at 2:09 p.m. Sunday for Lee County, AccuWeather reported. The tornado was part of an extreme weather event Sunday that saw several tornadoes touch down across the Southeast as part of a series of storms, The Associated Press reported.

      The incident comes a little less than six months after a Northern Illinois University study found that tornado frequency was trending away from the traditional “tornado alley” of the Great Plains towards the more densely populated Midwest and Southeast. This is bad news for the South, where tornadoes are more deadly because of higher population density, a high number of vulnerable mobile homes and a greater chance of tornadoes occurring at night.

    • Invasive Species Have Led to a Third of Animal Extinctions Since 1500

      The introduction of invasive species has been the primary cause of plant and animal extinctions over the past 500 years, a new study from University College London’s (UCL) Center for Biodiversity and Environment Research found.

      The study, published Monday in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, looked at 953 extinctions since 1500 and found that 126 of them, or 13 percent, had been caused entirely by alien species, while 300 were caused partly by the arrival of new species, according to a UCL press release published by EurekAlert!

    • Rethink Activism in the Face of Catastrophic Biological Collapse

      This is a hard piece to write, partly because we, too, are baffled. Environmental collapse, coupled with living in the sixth mass extinction, are new territory. We are still in the process of confronting the reality of living with the prospect of an unlivable planet. These thoughts emerge out of our sober forays into an uncertain future, searching for the right ways to live and serve in the present. The second reason for our reluctance to share this contemplation is anticipation of the grief, anger and fear it may trigger. We visit these chambers of the heart frequently, and know the challenges of deep feeling, particularly in a culture that denies feelings and pathologizes death.

      As the unthinkable settles in our skin, the question of what to do follows closely. What is activism in the context of collapse? Professor of sustainability leadership and founder of the Institute for Leadership and Sustainability (IFLAS) at the University of Cumbria (UK) Jem Bendell’s definition of collapse is useful: “the uneven ending of our current means of sustenance, shelter, security … and identity.” Bendell isn’t the first to warn of collapse — NASA warned of it five years ago. Anyone who takes in the realities of our times will need to find their own relationship to the hard truths about converging environmental, financial, political and social unraveling. There are billions on the planet who are already experiencing the full direct effects of this right now. Forty percent of the human population of the planet is already affected by water scarcity. Humans have annihilated 60 percent of all animal life on the planet since 1970.

    • Washington Governor Jay Inslee Launches Climate-Focused Presidential Bid

      Inslee is the first governor and 13th candidate to enter a crowded primary field, BBC News reported. Of the 13 candidates, five others have embraced a Green New Deal—a plan to transition to 100 percent renewable energy while promoting green jobs and greater equality, The Washington Post’s Energy 202 pointed out. But Inslee has a unique focus on climate: it was the only thing he mentioned in the video announcing his run, and he launched his campaign at a solar panel factor, BBC News reported.

      “Nobody until Inslee has flatly said, this is my issue,” Yale Program on Climate Change Communication Director Anthony Leiserowitz told The Energy 202.

      In an interview with Vox, Inslee said it was time for a candidate to do just that.

      “The Center for American Progress [Action Fund] did a poll in the first four primary states among likely Democratic voters, and for the first time, they ranked climate change as the number one priority, in a dead tie with health care. This is a pretty significant dynamic. And obviously, it bodes well for my candidacy!” he said.

    • Fracking the World: Despite Climate Risks, Fracking Is Going Global

      The U.S. exported a record 3.6 million barrels per day of oil in February. This oil is the result of the American fracking boom — and as a report from Oil Change International recently noted — its continued growth is undermining global efforts to limit climate change. The Energy Information Administration predicts U.S. oil production will increase again in 2019 to record levels, largely driven by fracking in the Permian shale in Texas and New Mexico.

      And the U.S. is not alone in trying to maximize oil and gas production. Despite the financial failures of the U.S. fracking industry, international efforts to duplicate the American fracking story are ramping up across the globe.

      The CEO of Saudi Arabian state oil company Aramco recently dismissed the idea that global demand for oil will decrease anytime soon and urged the oil industry to “push back on exaggerated theories like peak oil demand.”

      But Saudi Aramco also is gearing up for a shopping spree of natural gas assets, including big investments in the U.S., and increasing gas production via fracking in its own shale fields. Aramco is deeply invested in keeping the world hungry for more oil and gas.

    • Off-the-shelf nuclear reactors seek buyers

      As costs escalate, several countries with nuclear ambitions have abandoned plans for large reactors. But the industry is adapting, seeking to reinvent itself by mass-producing small off-the-shelf nuclear reactors instead.

      If nuclear enthusiasts are to be believed, the world is on the edge of a building boom for a range of new reactors designed to produce electricity, district heating and desalination.

      The idea of small modular reactors (SMRs), as they are known, has been around for years. But an in-depth analysis, a so-called White Paper produced by a UK newsletter, the Nuclear Energy Insider, says the technology is reaching take-off point in Argentina, Canada, China, Russia, the US and the UK.

      Unlike their big cousins, which are falling out of favour because they take more than a decade to build and often have massive cost overruns, the concept behind small modular reactors is that the parts can be factory-made in large numbers to be cheaply and rapidly assembled on site. So far this is only theory; currently the industry is at the prototype stage.

  • Finance

    • To Reduce Inequality, Let’s Downsize the Financial Sector

      The goal of these policies is to have a smaller and more efficient financial sector. They are also likely to reduce the opportunity for earning huge fortunes in the sector. People looking to get fabulously rich will instead have to do something productive.

      A modest tax on trades in stock, bonds and derivatives (like options, futures and credit default swaps) can raise a large amount of money while making the financial sector more efficient. According to the Congressional Budget Office, a tax of 0.1 percent on trades, as proposed in a new bill by Sen. Brian Schatz, would raise close to $100 billion a year or 0.5 percent of GDP.

      While this is a good chunk of change (it’s almost 50 percent more than we spend on food stamps each year), the really fun part of it is that it comes almost entirely out of the pocket of the financial industry rather than investors. The reason is that most research finds that the volume of trading is highly elastic, meaning that the volume of trade is likely to fall by a larger percentage than the increase in trading costs as a result of the tax.

      Suppose that Senator Schatz’s tax increases the cost of trading for a typical investor by 30 percent. The research implies that most investors (or their fund managers) are likely to reduce their trading volume by at least 30 percent. This means that they will pay 30 percent more for each trade, but they will be doing 30 percent less trading. As a result, their total trading costs are likely to remain unchanged or even decline.

      A modest tax on trades in stock, bonds and derivatives can raise a large amount of money while making the financial sector more efficient.

    • Teachers in Oakland Approve Contract Ending Strike

      Oakland teachers will be back in their classrooms Monday after union members voted to approve a contract deal with district officials.

      The Oakland Education Association voted in favor of the deal on Sunday after postponing the vote for a day. The agreement must also be ratified by the Oakland Unified School District.

    • ‘Only the Beginning’: Oakland Teachers Return to Classroom After Week-Long Strike, But Vow to Build on Victory

      Oakland, California teachers were back in their classrooms Monday following a week-long strike, after ratifying a contract agreement with the city’s school district.

      The agreement was finalized late Sunday and solidified a number of victories for Oakland’s teachers. The educators decided to strike last month due to unlivable wages and Oakland Unified School District’s decision to close many public schools in favor of pouring funds into charter schools.

      The teachers’ new contract includes an 11 percent raise over three years as well as a one-time three percent bonus, reduced class sizes, and a suspension of all school closings for five months.

      The Oakland Education Association (OEA) said that teachers will continue to fight on behalf of their schools and students even after returning to their classrooms, but called the agreement a victory for the teachers and the Oakland community.

      “We return to our classrooms tomorrow with our heads held high knowing we are united for the schools Oakland students deserve! This is only the beginning,” OEA wrote on Twitter.

    • Google Moves to Address Wage Equity, and Finds It’s Underpaying Many Men
    • Google Found It Underpaid More Men Than Women For The Same Job

      We all have heard of wage gap stories where women get paid less than men but things are different with Google.

      The search giant found in an internal pay audit that males in Level 4 Software Engineer profile received less money than females in the same role.

    • New Group Looks to Unite North America in a Cooperative Economy

      Across North America, movements of people have come together to build economic, social and political systems that are oriented toward healthy communities. Often, that means systems that function outside of the parameters of capitalism.

      The James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership is one such organization, inspiring thoughtful change and supporting cooperative businesses and education in Detroit, Michigan. Its mission is “to nurture the transformational leadership capacities of individuals and organizations committed to creating productive, sustainable, ecologically responsible, and just communities” and this mission manifests in the center’s workshops, events, classes and community network.

      Another organization is the Jackson, Mississippi-based Cooperation Jackson, whose mission is “to build worker organized and owned cooperatives [that] will be a catalyst for the democratization of our economy and society overall.” The organization has been successful to the point of municipal-wide grassroots organizing that has given them political power in the form of the mayor’s office. Many consider the Jackson community’s nonviolent action and strategic organizing to be revolutionary.

      Naturally, groups and individuals involved in strategic organizing for economic and political change often reach out to one another for support and to learn from each other. As local movements grow and develop, that support becomes even more important.

      In North America, the newly launched Symbiosis network includes 15 groups — including the Boggs Center and Cooperation Jackson — and 300 individuals from across the continent united as a confederation of concerned citizens and activists with goals rooted in solidarity, sharing and direct democracy. The work is culminating in a congress of municipal movements this September in Detroit.

      The idea is to cultivate “long-term dual power,” according to Katie Horvath, a coordinator with Symbiosis. “We know we aren’t going to change systemic effects of capitalism … unless we go beyond municipal organizing. We wanted to lay the infrastructure for making decisions at a confederated level,” Horvath says.

    • FEC Called On to Close Dark Money Loophole Poisoning Democracy

      An advocacy group called on the Federal Election Commission (FEC) on Monday to fix its interpretation of a rule that has helped dark money flourish.

      At issue, says Washington, D.C.-based Public Citizen, is the federal agency wrongful reading of donor disclosure requirements for independent expenditures, or spending for or against a particular candidate. The agency also erred in its interpretation of the donor disclosure regulation for electioneering communications—ads for or against a political candidate that appear just ahead of an election.

      By asserting that only “earmarked contributions” for those expenditures require disclosure, the agency created a loophole that effectively gutted full transparency of the sources of donations.

      “No one earmarks their campaign contributions for a specific purpose,” said Craig Holman, government affairs lobbyist for the organization’s Congress Watch division. “Donors give money to campaigns and expect it to be used for campaign purposes.”

    • Stupid, Stupid, Stupid English

      I was sitting in a cafe on the Falls Road in heavily nationalist West Belfast when a local radio reporter came in looking for residents to interview about the effect of Brexit on Northern Ireland. She said that the impact was already massive, adding: “Stupid, stupid English for getting us into this pickle. We were doing nicely and then they surpassed themselves [in stupidity].”

      It does not take long talking to people in Northern Ireland to understand that almost everything said by politicians and commentators in London about the “backstop” is based on a dangerous degree of ignorance and wishful thinking about the real political situation on the ground here. Given how central this issue is to the future of the UK, it is extraordinary how it is debated with only minimal knowledge of the real forces involved.

      The most important of these risks can be swiftly spelled out. Focus is often placed on the sheer difficulty of policing the 310-mile border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland because there are at least 300 major and minor crossing points. But the real problem is not geographic or military but political and demographic because almost all the border runs through country where Catholics greatly outnumber Protestants. The Catholics will not accept, and are in a position to prevent, a hard border unless it is defended permanently by several thousand British troops in fortified positions.

      The threat to peace is often seen as coming from dissident Republicans, a small and fragmented band with little support, who might shoot a policeman or a customs’ official. But this is not the greatest danger, or at least not yet, because it is much more likely that spontaneous but sustained protests would prevent any attempt to recreate an international frontier between Northern Ireland and the Republic that wasn’t backed by overwhelming armed force.

      It is unrealistic to the point of absurdity to imagine that technical means on the border could substitute for customs personnel because cameras and other devices would be immediately destroyed by local people. A new border would have to be manned by customs officials, but these would not go there unless they were protected by police and the police could not operate without British Army protection. Protesters would be killed or injured and we would spiral back into violence.

      We are not looking at a worst-case scenario but an inevitability if a hard border returns as it will, if there is a full Brexit. The EU could never agree to a deal – and would be signing its own death warrant if it did – in which the customs union and the single market have a large unguarded hole in their tariff and regulatory walls.

    • Bill Niskanen and a Collectible Corporate Income Tax

      Bill Niskanen was the rarest of all creatures, an honest libertarian. He actually believed in libertarian ideas, rather than just using them as an excuse for policies to redistribute income upward.

      He headed the Cato Institute for more than two decades, from 1985 until 2008. While CATO generally took conservative views, it also followed Niskanen’s principled libertarianism. This meant the institute was anti-imperialist. Niskanen argued that we needed a defense budget to protect the United States, not to police the world. Cato regularly called for sharper declines in military spending than almost all the liberal think tanks in DC.

      He also was a strong opponent of the Iraq War. I remember in the months leading up to the war, bumping into him at various events. Bill would point to the various Republican foreign policy experts (not those in the Bush administration) who had publicly warned of the dangers of the war.

      He would ask me “where are the Democrats?” While I could point to then fringe figures, like Bernie Sanders, the fact was that most of the Democratic leadership had fallen in line in support of the war. (Nancy Pelosi was a notable exception.) Bill’s opposition to the war angered many prominent Republicans, including Cato donors.

      Anyhow, when I was on a panel with him, it was usually to discuss economic issues. I always appreciated his honesty. I remember, back in the 1990s, debating replacing the progressive income tax with a flat tax, which was a popular idea among Republicans at the time. Most of the flat tax proponents would come up with absurd stories about everyone would pay less, and we would end up with just as much revenue.

      Once with Bill, I got to go first, and said something to the effect of “a flat tax is about having the middle class pay more so that the rich can pay less.” Bill responded by saying that this is essentially right, but went on to explain how this would be a good thing, because it would lead to a more efficient tax system, and therefore more growth, and make everyone better off. Bill believed this, so he didn’t have to lie.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Cohen Hearing May Have Hurt North Korea Talks, Trump Says

      President Donald Trump has raised the possibility that a congressional hearing Democrats arranged with his former personal attorney may have contributed to the lack of results of his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

      Trump left the summit in Vietnam with the North Korean leader without reaching an agreement last week.

      After sending out his National Security Adviser John Bolton to the Sunday talk shows to describe the summit as a success, Trump showed his frustration about the results by lashing out at Democrats.

      In a tweet Sunday night, Trump criticized Democrats for holding the congressional hearing with his former lawyer Michael Cohen while he was in sensitive negotiations overseas.

      “For the Democrats to interview in open hearings a convicted liar & fraudster, at the same time as the very important Nuclear Summit with North Korea, is perhaps a new low in American politics and may have contributed to the “walk.” Never done when a president is overseas. Shame!” Trump tweeted.

    • The Biggest Obstacle for Bernie Isn’t the DNC

      Some people are attached to the idea that the Democratic National Committee will “rig” the presidential nomination against Bernie Sanders. The meme encourages the belief that the Bernie 2020 campaign is futile because of powerful corporate Democrats. But such fatalism should be discarded.

      As Frederick Douglass said, “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” Of course top Democratic Party officials don’t intend to give up control. It has to be taken from them. And the conditions for doing that are now more favorable than ever.

      The effects of mobilized demands for change in the Democratic presidential nominating process have been major—not out of the goodness of any power broker’s heart, but because progressives have organized effectively during the last two years.

      “I think I will not shock anybody to suggest that the DNC was not quite evenhanded” during the 2016 race, Bernie said last week on CNN. “I think we have come a long way since then, and I fully expect to be treated quite as well as anybody else.”

      One big factor: This time, no candidate can gain frontrunner leverage with superdelegates the way Hillary Clinton did early in the race. Last August, under grassroots pressure, the DNC voted to abolish superdelegates’ votes at the Democratic National Convention for the first ballot of the nominating process. There hasn’t been a second ballot since 1952.

    • Democrats Need to Think Big for 2020

      There is a dizzying array of potential presidential nominees for Democratic primary voters to choose from—so many that they won’t even fit on one debate stage. But there is one basic choice the party will have to make: Will it nominate someone based on perceived electability, which is usually code for incremental policy ideas and a long political career, or a fresh-faced progressive reformer with big ideas?

      “What we need is a moderate, straight white male from the Midwest,” one feminist, progressive activist and former Obama campaign worker told me. Indeed, some Democrats intent on beating Trump are embracing this type of tactical voting: suppressing their own preferences for someone they think most likely to beat Trump.

    • WaPo Warns Dems That Progressive Policies Could Bring Them Many Victories

      A standard bias in news coverage in elite outlets (Washington Post, New York Times, NPR, etc.) is centrism—using an allegedly objective voice to warn against or critique “extremism” of left and right. Centrist bias sometimes takes the form of inaccurate critiques of broadly popular progressive policies that are quite defensible—such as Medicare for All or raising the minimum wage. Or it manifests itself in inaccurate claims about the impact of right-wing or progressive “extremism” on US elections.

      [...]

      The Tea Party upsurge might have “cost” the Republicans in morality and compassion, but not in seats or political power. Activists are hopeful that a solidly progressive platform can bring the Democratic Party a similar advantage. And while Post reporters casually dismiss them as “shoot-the-moon policy ideas,” progressives believe that a country as wealthy as ours can achieve such measures as Medicare for All, constraints on Wall Street and a Green New Deal.

    • Democrats’ Subpoena List for Trump World Reads ‘Like an Article, Actually Many Articles, of Impeachment’

      Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee are coming for President Donald Trump.

      That was the message from Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), who issued subpoenas Monday to over 80 individuals and organizations as part of a wide ranging effort to, as Nadler explained on Sunday in an interview with ABC’s “This Week” host George Stephanopoulos, investigate the president on a number of potential crimes.

      “It’s our job to protect the rule of law,” said Nadler. “That’s our core function.”

      In an official statement Monday, the committee announced the investigation would look at “the alleged obstruction of justice, public corruption, and other abuses of power by President Trump, his associates, and members of his Administration.”

      “As a first step, the Committee has served document requests to 81 agencies, entities, and individuals believed to have information relevant to the investigation,” said the statement.

      The subpoenas and investigations come in part from last week’s testimony from former Trump lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen who, Nadler said, “directly implicated the president in various crimes—both while seeking the office of president and while in the White House.”

    • Spiked Daniels Story Is Just One Juicy Detail in Bombshell Fox News-Trump Report

      During the 2016 election, Fox News’ then-CEO Roger Ailes warned owner Rupert Murdoch about the soon-to-be-president. “Trump gets great ratings,” Ailes said, “but if you’re not careful, he is going to end up totally controlling Fox News,” Vanity Fair’s Gabriel Sherman reported in 2018.

      Ailes’ warning is borne out by a new article from The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer, which reveals, among other details, that Fox News knew about President Donald Trump’s relationship with pornographic film star Stormy Daniels in 2016 but the story didn’t run. Former Fox executive Ken LaCorte allegedly told reporter Diana Falzone: “Good reporting, kiddo. But Rupert wants Donald Trump to win. So just let it go.”

      Mayer lays out the long-term relationship between Donald Trump and Rupert Murdoch, pointing out that Murdoch “regarded Trump with disdain, seeing him as a real-estate huckster and a shady casino operator,” but that private opinion didn’t get in the way of a professional relationship.

    • House Democrats Launch Aggressive New Trump Inquiry

      Democrats launched a sweeping new probe of President Donald Trump on Monday, an aggressive investigation that threatens to shadow the president through the 2020 election season with potentially damaging inquiries into his White House, campaign and family businesses.

      House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler said his panel was beginning the probe into possible obstruction of justice, corruption and abuse of power and is sending document requests to 81 people linked to the president and his associates.

      The broad investigation could be setting the stage for an impeachment effort, although Democratic leaders have pledged to investigate all avenues and review special counsel Robert Mueller’s upcoming report before trying any drastic action. Nadler said the document requests, with responses to most due by March 18, are a way to “begin building the public record.”

      “Over the last several years, President Trump has evaded accountability for his near-daily attacks on our basic legal, ethical, and constitutional rules and norms,” Nadler said. “Investigating these threats to the rule of law is an obligation of Congress and a core function of the House Judiciary Committee.”

    • Make America Normal Again?

      “We’re better than this,” Congressman Elijah Cummings sternly told his colleagues at the conclusion of Michael Cohen’s public congressional hearing, exhorting them and all Americans “to get back to normal,” to, as it were, Make America Normal Again. And yet, within that plea from “the grandson of sharecroppers,” there lurks the erroneous presumption that this nation at one time was, well, normal. If we have learned anything in the age of Trump, it is that America is not nor has it ever been remotely “normal.” It is precisely its lack of normalcy and failure to recognize it that today has led it to the edge of the abyss. A nation built by slaves on stolen land obtained though genocide is not normal. A nation that despises those whose sacrifices were instrumental to its rise to world domination is anything but.

      The problem is that so much of what is presented as a departure from “normal” has been a perennial fixture of American life. Indeed, social movements such as Black Lives Matter, #MeToo, and Time’s Up – have arisen to challenge this normalcy. This is the ugly nature of “American exceptionalism” that the nation itself fails to acknowledge, one that has taken a daily barrage of reality-checking cell phone, Internet and social media imagery, and the election of a petulant, narcissistic charlatan to finally begin to dispel.

      Nowadays we speak of the “new normalcy” under Trump and his ilk, when in fact it is a continuation of the old with only a few superficial tweaks. The old and new normal are substantially the same: both fail to recognize and reconcile fundamental contradictions between America’s lofty ideals and the sordid reality of their betrayal. The difference is the latter throws its transgressions in our faces, smugly confident in our inability to challenge them to realize fundamental change. The brief interval of subtle, “polite” racism of the old normal has given way to the rude, open disdain and hatred of the new.

    • Burst water line destroys suspect ballots outside Moscow, just days after ‘Meduza’ reports evidence of mass voter fraud

      Central Election Commission inspectors have determined that a burst water line on February 18 destroyed nearly all the ballot documentation in the city of Roshal, outside Moscow. According to the news agency Zakon, law enforcement officials seized the remaining voter records for just two polling stations: 2677 and 2678 — the same two polling stations where election monitors observed mass ballot stuffing when votes were counted during last September’s gubernatorial election.

    • Six Tips for Preparing for the Mueller Report, Which May or May Not Be Coming

      Being investigative journalists means we’re constantly asking questions. But these days, it also means people are asking us questions. One we hear a lot nowadays: “When is the Mueller report coming — and what will it say?”

      Our answer: We don’t know. But we’ve realized that perhaps we can be more helpful than that. We don’t have insider information on special counsel Robert Mueller’s office. (Sorry!) But we have spent lots of time investigating the president and his businesses. And we thought we’d share some of the perspectives we’ve gained.

      Here are six things to keep in mind.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • ABVP forces K’taka professor to kneel down, apologise for Facebook post criticising BJP

      Taking the law into own hands, Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) members on Saturday forced an assistant professor of a private engineering college in Karnataka’s Vijayapura to kneel down for a Facebook post that they claimed was “anti-India” post. The professor was forced to kneel down in the presence of the police. The activists also demanded that he should be suspended for his alleged “anti-national” posts.

      Sandeep Varthar, the assistant professor of civil engineering at Dr PG Halakatti College of Engineering and Technology, wrote on Facebook, criticising the BJP-led centre for creating a war-like situation amidst the high tension that ensued between India and Pakistan since the Indian Air Force’s pre-emptive strike in Balkot on February 27. He also said that BJP is a party with absolutely no shame.

    • Scott Rudin Tries To Turn Mess Of Shutting Down Community Theater Shows… Into Publicity Stunt For His Own Show

      On Friday, we wrote about the cartoonishly evil decision by producer Scott Rudin, who is producing a big Broadway reboot of To Kill A Mockingbird, written by Aaron Sorkin, to shut down local community theater versions of the earlier play version of the story, written by Christopher Sergel. Apparently, the contract with the Harper Lee estate for a stage adaptation of her book involved some odd clause that said if there was a showing on Broadway of Mockingbird, there couldn’t be any stagings near a city. And Rudin then had his lawyers threaten a whole bunch of small community theaters with cease-and-desist notices, claiming they may be on the hook for $150,000 in damages. All for small community theater operations which had paid their $100 license for the rights to perform the old Sergel version of the play.

    • Censorship Regulation: First Setback at the European Parliament

      Yesterday, Members of the European Parliament published a first of two opinions on the “anti-terrorism” censorship Regulation. It is bad. Despite the best intentions of rapporteur Julia Reda, the IMCO Committee (“Internal Market and Consumers protection”) decided not to improve the worst part of the disastrous proposition issued by the European Commission last September.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Facebook Doubles Down On Misusing Your Phone Number

      When we publicly demanded that Facebook stop messing with users’ phone numbers last week, we weren’t expecting the social network to double down quite like this: By default, anyone can use the phone number that a user provides for two-factor authentication (2FA) to find that user’s profile. For people who need 2FA to protect their account and stay safe, Facebook is forcing them into unnecessarily choosing between security and privacy.

      While settings are available to choose whether “everyone,” “friends of friends,” or “friends” can use your phone number this way, there is no way to opt out completely.

    • Congress Invites Industry Advocates to Hearings. Industry Talking Points Ensue.

      In back-to-back hearings last week, the House and the Senate discussed what, if anything, Congress should do about online privacy.

      Sounds fine—until you see who they invited. Congress should be seeking out multiple, diverse perspectives. But last week, both chambers largely invited industry advocates, eager to do the bidding of large tech companies, to the table. The testimony and responses from the industry representatives were predictable: lip service to the idea of strong federal consumer privacy legislation, but few specifics on what those protections should actually look like. These witnesses also continue to advocate for unwritten, vague federal preemption of existing state laws like California’s Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) or Illinois’s Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA).

      However, there were a few bright spots.

    • Student Surveillance Versus Gun Control: The School Safety Discussion We Aren’t Having

      Identifying the best way to combat school shootings cannot occur unless Congress repeals amendments blocking gun research and data collation.
      On April 20, 1999, two male students walked into Columbine High School and started shooting. By the time it was over, 15 students were dead and 24 more had been injured. America had changed forever. But in some ways, it hasn’t changed at all.

      Nineteen years later, 17 students were murdered on Valentine’s Day at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. That event marked the 208th American school shooting post-Columbine. Since Columbine, a total of 143 people have been killed in American school shootings, and 290 more have been hurt. Over these past two decades, more than 221,000 students have experienced gun violence at their schools.

      But the physical and psychological harm to students goes far beyond that number.

      Today, practically every pre-K through 12th-grade student is required, multiple times a year, to endure the trauma of “soft lockdown” drills, where they huddle silently in a corner and practice not attracting the attention of someone intent on doing them harm. In an increasing number of schools, schools are actively and aggressively spying on their own student bodies. The harmful message these students are receiving is loud and clear and echoes like an ageless Police song: “every move you make…, every word you say, every game you play…, I’ll be watching you.”

    • Small Technology

      Big Tech, with its billion-dollar unicorns, has robbed us of the potential of the Internet. Fueled by the extreme shortsightedness and greed of venture capital and startups, the utopic vision of a decentralised and democratic commons has morphed into the dystopic autocracy of Silicon Valley panopticons that we call surveillance capitalism. This status quo threatens not just our democracies but the very integrity of our personhood in the digital and networked age1.

      While ethical design unambiguously describes the criteria and characteristics of ethical alternatives to surveillance capitalism, “ethics” itself is being co-opted by Big Tech in public relations initiatives that misdirect from the core systemic issues2 to highlight superficial symptoms3.

      We need an antidote to surveillance capitalism that is so anathema to the interests of Big Tech that it cannot possibly be co-opted by them. It must have clear and simple characteristics and goals that are impossible to misinterpret. And it must provide a viable, practical alternative to Silicon Valley’s strangehold on mainstream technology and society.

    • Facebook asked George Osborne to influence EU data protection law

      Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook, asked then chancellor of the exchequer George Osborne to be “even more active and vocal” in his concerns about European data protection legislation, and to “really help shape the proposals”, during a lobbying campaign to influence EU policy.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Google won’t pull controversial Saudi Arabian app from Play store

      The app allows Saudi users to access government services, letting them apply for jobs or permits, pay fines, renew licenses, or to report crimes. However, it also allows Saudi men to track female dependents and control their movement.

    • Google, siding with Saudi Arabia, refuses to remove widely-criticized government app which lets men track women and control their travel

      Google has declined to remove from its app store a Saudi government app which lets men track women and control where they travel, on the grounds that it meets all their terms and conditions.

    • Google Ruling in Favor of Saudi Oppressive ‘Controlling’ App

      A device, designed by the Saudi government to allow men to keep tabs on women, and prevent them from leaving the country, has been controversially backed by media ad giants, Google.

    • A history of anti-queer persecution in the USSR

      The “pariahs” he mentions were those who belonged to the lowest ranks in the prison hierarchy. At the age of 54, Klein was convicted under Article 121 of the Criminal Codex of the Russian SFSR. Article 121 was established in 1960 to criminalize “sodomy,” and that conviction led straight to a place among the “pariahs.” It was only thanks to Klein’s perseverance and good luck that he was able to avoid the fate of a total outcast. He served his sentence in the early 1980s, at first in Leningrad’s Kresty Prison and then on the outskirts of the city. The criminal case against him was arranged with help from Soviet security agencies: Klein had published too often in the West and proffered ideas that were too bold. A veteran of the Second World War and a world-class scholar, Klein was deprived not only of his freedom but also of his advanced degree and his academic rank. After his release, he defended a new doctoral dissertation, became one of the founders of the European University in St. Petersburg, and wrote several books. Now, at 91 years old, Klein continues to conduct research. However, many of those who were convicted under Article 121 or its predecessor, Article 154-a, met their deaths in prison camps under extreme, torturous conditions. These individuals went unmentioned in the laws that rehabilitated the victims of political repressions in the Soviet Union, and they are officially considered convicted criminals to this day.

    • Tomgram: Engelhardt, The Greatest Wall of All

      Call me crazy, if you want, but I think I see how to do it!

      We have two intractable issues, one intractable president, and an intractable world, but what if it weren’t so? What if those two intractable problems could be swept off the table by a single gesture from that same intractable man?

      As a start, consider the problem of President Trump’s embattled “great, great wall,” the one to be built across 1,000 (or is it 2,000?) miles of our southern border, the one that so obsesses him, filling every other hour of his tweet-storming day, the one that a recalcitrant Mexican government refused to pay for, that Congress wouldn’t pony up the money for, and that striking percentages of Americans don’t want to fund either. As for turning it into a national emergency, that’s only going to line the pockets of law firms, not build the “big, fat, beautiful wall” of his dreams. But what if there were a simple solution, an easy-to-make deal that could solve his wall problem, while wiping the other intractable problem that goes by the name of China off the map of American troubles?

      Wouldn’t that be a geopolitical magic trick of the first order, the art of the deal on a previously unimaginable scale? If your answer is yes, as it would almost have to be, then here’s the amazing thing: just a little fresh thinking in Donald Trump’s Washington could make it so.

    • Still ‘Long Way to Go’ to End Systemic Racism, Sanders Tells Crowd of 12,500 in Chicago

      The Chicago rally came just 24 hours after Sanders drew around 13,000 to an event in his hometown of Brooklyn, New York on Saturday, during which the senator detailed his childhood experiences in a lower-middle-class family.

      Both rallies marked the first campaign events of Sanders’ bid for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, which got off to a fast start last week with $10 million in donations averaging around $27 each and over a million people signing up as volunteers.

      While still centered on the policy platform that drove his 2016 presidential run—including big-ticket agenda items like Medicare for All, free public college, a $15 federal minimum wage, and more—the opening rallies of Sanders’ 2020 bid prominently featured elements of the senator’s biography that supporters believe can provide a powerful contrast with President Donald Trump’s lavish upbringing and bolster the campaign’s populist message.

      “Chicago provided me, for the first time in my life, the opportunity to put two and two together in understanding how the real world worked,” Sanders said. “To understand what power was about in this country and who the people were who had that power. Those years enabled me to understand a little bit about how wars get started.”

      Moving from personal history to the systemic racial and economic injustices that persist in the present, Sanders vowed to pursue a bold agenda to close the racial wealth gap, reform the criminal justice system, confront racial inequities in the healthcare system and “end voter suppression in this country.”

    • The Infiltrators: How Undocumented Activists Snuck Into Immigration Jail to Fight Deportations

      An immigrant rights activist has been detained in Florida just weeks after he appeared in an acclaimed film at the Sundance Film Festival about activists infiltrating and exposing for-profit immigrant detention jails. Claudio Rojas was apprehended on Wednesday by Immigration and Customs Enforcement after an annual check-in and is now being held at Krome Detention Center, where he faces immediate deportation. His lawyer says his arrest is linked to the film featuring his activism. It’s called “The Infiltrators.” The gripping hybrid documentary/dramatic feature was a smash success at Sundance and will play at the Miami Film Festival Tuesday. But Claudio Rojas will not be there to see it. “The Infiltrators” is based on the incredible true story of undocumented immigrants who purposely got themselves arrested by federal authorities in order to infiltrate the Broward Transitional Center in Florida and organize the detainees within its walls. Democracy Now! spoke with the film’s co-director, Alex Rivera, and two activists featured in the film, Viridiana Martinez and Mohammad Abdollahi, at the Sundance Film Festival.

    • Abolish the Prison System

      America is the authoritarian carceral state par excellence, ignominious the world over for the zeal with which she imprisons her citizens, for the absurdity of her criminal charges and sentences, for the stark racial disparities that characterize her cynical applications of “justice.” It is ironic that the United States should bear the honorific title “land of the free” even as it has the world’s highest per capita incarceration rate . America is a place where one’s life can be utterly ruined, cast into the black hole of arrests, prisons, and parole, for the most trifling offences, particularly if one happens to have the wrong color skin. America’s shameful history of racism —legally enforced and systematic—endures today in the humanitarian crisis that is its criminal justice and prison system. The stakes could hardly be higher: 2.3 million of our fellow human beings are currently caged in U.S. correctional facilities, many for crimes without victims, that is, crimes that should not be crimes at all.

      While reform at the margins is welcome and necessary, it is not sufficient, our present crisis crying out for a wholesale reimagining of criminal justice, all the way down to the most basic fundamentals. Though it is not taken seriously in American political discourse, there are serious arguments in favor of the abolition of the prison system as we know it, as well as for leaving behind the failed and fundamentally flawed punitive model of criminal justice. Legal philosopher Vincent Luizzi explains the theory underpinning punishment of criminals: “Usually we think about offsetting the wrong, harm, or evil of the offender with penalties that, in effect, deliver something bad or unpleasant to the offender.” Punishment does not—indeed, cannot —help a victim, whose best hope to be made whole almost always requires that the perpetrator is able to obtain gainful employment. What, then, is this addition of a new wrong, this delivery of unpleasantness, accomplishing if it is not the redress of a wrong? The hope of deterring would-be criminals is offered as one reason for this baffling compounding of wrongs, the idea being that harsh punishments will trumpet a warning to others. Proponents of punishment further argue that it gives the criminal what he deserves, taking an eye for an eye, accomplishing a restoration of balance and, therefore, justice. To take an eye for an eye is no more than thoughtless animal revenge, a reflexive stooping to the criminal’s low instead of a reflective and human pursuit of true balance, which demands compensation, a good. Luizzi’s work suggests that we pursue a “New Balance” to replace the old, that we rethink the scales of justice by offsetting a harm with good, rather than abortively attempting to offset harm with still further harm.

      It is well known that punishment does not deter criminal activity. Prisons are training grounds for criminals, and one who spends time in a prison is likely to return to criminal activity. A report last May from the Bureau of Justice Statistics found that “[f]ive out of six state prisoners were arrested at least once during the nine years after their release.” And this is to say nothing about the reasons prisoners in the United States are locked up, that is, about the crimes of which they’ve been convicted. The war on drugs has aggravated the crisis of mass incarceration and its baleful inequalities. The unfair, unequal treatment of black people under failed war on drugs policies is well-documented, black people accounting for almost 40 percent of those incarcerated in the U.S. for drug law violations, despite the fact that black people make up a mere 13 percent of the country’s population. The war on drugs is also increasingly a war on women, with the number of women in state and federal prisons increasing by almost 800 percent in the years between 1978 and 2014 . Further, most Americans trapped in this broken prison system are battling a substance abuse problem or a mental health issue—or both—in need not of punishment, which won’t work in any case, but of treatment.

    • Beyond Prisons: Pennsylvania Prison Policy Targets Educators & Volunteers (feat. Connie Grier)

      Connie Grier joins Beyond Prisons to discuss a new policy in Pennsylvania prisons targeting materials brought in by educators, religious practitioners, recreational and therapeutic facilitators, and others.

      Connie is a mother of twin sons, a career educator, a mentor, and a social justice advocate. She is also the founder of The RESPECT Alliance, an organization which has, as one of its core tenets, the addressing of justice issues that impact marginalized populations both pre and post-incarceration. As an educator with 28 years of experience within the K-16 realm, Connie has an intimate relationship with the lack of advocacy and harsh discipline policies that lead to the school-to-prison pipeline and is determined to mitigate and ultimately, dismantle said pipeline, one student at a time.

    • OpenAI’s Recent Announcement: What Went Wrong, and How It Could Be Better

      Earlier this month, OpenAI revealed an impressive language model that can generate paragraphs of believable text. It declined to fully release their research “due to concerns about malicious applications of the technology.” OpenAI released a much smaller model and technical paper, but not the fully-trained model, training code, or full dataset, citing concerns that bad actors could use the model to fuel turbocharged disinformation campaigns.

      Whether or not OpenAI’s decision to withhold most of their model was correct, their “release strategy” could have been much better.

      The risks and dangers of models that can automate the production of convincing, low-cost, realistic text is an important debate to bring forward. But the risks attached to hinting about dangers without backing them up with detailed analysis and while refusing public or academic access, need to be considered also. OpenAI has appeared to consider one set of risks, without fully considering or justifying the risks they have taken in the opposite direction. Here are the concerns we have, and how OpenAI and other institutions should handle similar situations in the future.

    • Chicago Tried To Justify Not Informing ACLU Of Social Media Monitoring Partner By Saying ACLU Is Really Mean

      My home city of Chicago has built quite a reputation for itself to date. It wouldn’t be entirely unfair to suggest that the city’s government is run by very silly people who think its citizens are quite stupid, while also managing to build something of a kleptocracy centered around professional corruption. With any such hilariously corrupt institutions, the corruption itself is only half the frustration. The other half is the way the Chicago government thumbs its nose at virtually everyone, so secure is it in its knowledge that its corruption will never result in any serious penalty.

      An example of this can be found in the way the city government responded to an ACLU FOIA request to disclose the vendor Chicago is using to monitor the social media accounts of its own citizens. If you’re thinking that such a program sounds dystopian, welcome to Chicago. If you’re thinking there’s no way that the city should be able to hide that information from its citizens and that it was obviously disclosed publicly somewhere, welcome to Chicago. And if you thought that a FOIA request must surely be all that it would take to get this information to the public, well, you know the rest.

    • Badge of Impunity: the Killing of Stephon Clark

      On Saturday, Sacramento DA Anne Marie Schubert announced that her office would not bring charges against the two police officers, Terrence Mercadal and Jared Robinet, who shot and killed an unarmed Stephon Clark in his grandmother’s backyard last March. Clark was shot 20 times. He was holding a cellphone. The decision is appalling, but scarcely surprising. Between, 2005 and 2017, there were more than 13,000 fatal shootings by police, but only 80 cops were ever charged with manslaughter or murder. Of those 80 charged, only 28 were convicted of a crime. I wrote about the Clark case in CounterPunch magazine last year. – JSC

      What does it take to awaken a somnambulant media these days? Getting shot in the back 8 times by trigger-happy cops while standing in your grandmother’s backyard while holding a cell phone? That was the fate of young Stephon Clark on the night of March 18, 2018 in the Meadowview neighborhood of Sacramento, whose ghastly murder by police briefly diverted the attention of the national press from its Trump fixation. But after a couple of days, MSDNC and the New York Times, were, like the White House, content to let Clark’s killing recede from the headlines and become just another “local issue.”

      Why did the cops fire 20 shots at Stephon Clark? The official story was that Clark had been seen breaking car windows in his neighborhood, a destitute area of Sacramento that is under police occupation. According to police, Clark had been tracked by a police helicopter for this alleged act of vandalism. The helicopter police warned the cops on the ground that Clark was holding a toolbar. When police confronted Clark, he was standing near his grandmother’s house and then ran into the backyard. The cops followed, guns drawn, body cameras rolling. One officer yells, “Show me your hands! Gun!” Three seconds pass, before the cop again yells: “Show me your hands! Gun! Gun! Gun!” Then Clark is shot multiple times in the back. He falls to the ground and is shot once more in the chest. The entire encounter, from the time the helicopter spotted Clark to the fatal shooting, lasted less than two minutes.

    • Trump’s Plot Against America: It Can Happen Here

      Now with Michael Cohen’s (Trump’s former lawyer) testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives, in which he concluded that Trump and his backers may not allow a peaceful transition of power should Trump lose the 2020 election, the handwriting has been more clearly written on the wall than ever (“Michael Cohen Worries There Won’t Be a ‘Peaceful Transition Of Power’ If Trump Loses in 2020,” Huffington Post, February 27, 2019).

      Trump and his followers, both rich and terminally ignorant, despite their Make America Great Again red hats of disdain for institutions and the little left of democratic traditions in the U.S., are the real “America” haters in the “room.” Trump and his father had a long history of racism in the way they managed their rental empire in New York City. Trump’s treatment of workers in his many projects was abysmal. His history of cheating contractors is legendary. The recent history of the Republican Party is one of total disdain for the few remnants of democratic institutions that remain. The nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court (Washington Post, April 5, 2018) comes to mind, as does the recent shutdown of the federal government.

      As a Jew, I am very, very concerned that a loss in 2020 for Trump and his backers could mean that a U.S. version of the Einsatzgruppen could happen here. There is easily enough hate and an ample supply of guns to loosen a segment of this society that would carry out and enjoy random and targeted murder in the streets of the U.S. Look to those with grudges and those who came out on the streets in Charlottesville, Virginia at the Unite the Right rally in August 2017, which resulted in the death of one protester. They shouted for blood and soil while chanting “Jews will not replace us.” Trump said there were some “fine people” among the white supremacists and neo-Nazis. Jews would not be the only targets of such murderous mayhem if Trump, et al. turned to violence to hold power. People of color and people with sexual orientations objectionable to religious fundamentalists, along with immigrants, would be “fair game.” As reported in the Guardian above (March 3, 2019), the Southern Poverty Law Center has documented the escalating level of anti-Semitism and racism in the U.S. The 11 people killed at the Tree of Life synagogue in 2018 are testament to the violent expression of hate here!

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • US Telcos Teeter Toward Bankruptcy As Comcast’s Broadband Monopoly Grows

      We’ve noted time and time again how the US broadband industry’s biggest problem is a lack of healthy competition. In countless markets consumers either have the choice of a terrible phone company or a cable giant. The nation’s phone companies have spent the last decade refusing to upgrade (or in some cases even repair) their aging DSL lines, because they don’t see residential broadband as worth their while. That in turn is giving giants like Comcast and Spectrum an ever greater monopoly in many markets, reducing the already muted incentive to compete on price or shore up historically terrible customer service.

      It’s a weird problem that’s widely ignored by both parties, and it just keeps getting worse. This week, US telco Windstream filed for bankruptcy protection, partially thanks to a dispute with one of the company’s creditors, netting a $310 million settlement Windstream couldn’t swallow. More specifically, hedge fund Aurelius Capital Management had argued that a two-year-old spinoff of the company’s fiber-optic cable network violated the covenants on one of its bonds, prohibiting “sale-leaseback transactions.” The court agreed.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • District Courts Avoid Determining Patent Eligibility

      How much evidence and claim construction does a court need to make a determination on eligibility under 35 U.S.C. § 101? According to district courts in California, it depends? In SkyHawke Techs. v. DECA Int’l, CV 18-1234-GW(PLAx) (C.D. Cal. Feb. 4, 2019), the Central District of California granted a motion for partial judgment on the pleadings under FRCP 12(c), admonishing Plaintiff to amend its complaint. In contrast, in Express Mobile v. Core and Theory, 18-cv-04679-RS (N.D. Cal. Jan. 29, 2019), the Northern District of California denied Defendants’ motions to dismiss, holding claims of U.S. Patent Nos. 6,546,397 and 7,594,168, could not be invalidated even after claim construction had occurred.

    • Recent Advances in Biologics Manufacturing Diminish the Importance of Trade Secrets: A Response to Price and Rai

      In their 2016 paper, Manufacturing Barriers to Biologics Competition and Innovation, Price and Rai argue the use of trade secrets to protect biologics manufacturing processes is a social detriment. They go on to argue policymakers should demand more enabling disclosure of biologics manufacturing processes, either in patents or biologics license applications (BLAs). The authors premise their arguments on an assessment that (1) variations in the synthesis process can unpredictably affect the structure of a biological product; (2) variations in the structure of a biological product can unpredictably affect the physiological effects of the product, including immunogenicity; and (3) analytical techniques are inadequate to characterize the structure of a biological product. I am more optimistic than Price and Rai that researchers will soon overcome all three challenges. Where private-sector funding may fall short, grant-funded research has already led to tremendous advances in biologics development technology. Rather than requiring more specific disclosure of synthesis processes, as Price and Rai recommend, FDA could and should require more specific disclosure of structure, harmonizing biologics regulation with small molecule regulation. FDA should also incentivize development of industrial scale cell-free protein synthesis processes.

      In the past few years, researchers have made rapid progress developing techniques for synthesizing, assessing the physiological effects of, and characterizing the structure of biologics. Researchers have been developing cell-free protein synthesis systems to make biologics synthesis more predictable and less path-dependent. Historically, cell-free synthesis systems have been application-specific and difficult to scale. Cell-based systems have dominated because cells maintain their own internal environments, including necessary components for protein synthesis. But cell-based systems are not perfect. For example, as Price and Rai explain at p. 1035, the pattern of carbohydrates attached to a protein is particularly challenging to replicate across different cell lines and is important for efficacy and immune response. Recently, researchers have created more flexible, generalizable platforms for cell-free synthesis. Some are developing industrial-scale cell-free synthesis processes. Others have demonstrated cell-free production of increasingly complex, proteins with attached carbohydrates. These cell-free synthesis techniques are more predictable than current cell-based synthesis, eliminating variations that arise from differences between cell lines.

    • Unified files IPR against US 9,838,720 owned by KAIST and KBS

      On February 28, 2019, Unified filed a petition (with Akin Gump serving as lead counsel) for inter partes review (IPR) against U.S. Patent 9,838,720 as part of Unified’s ongoing efforts in its SEP Video Codec Zone. The ‘720 patent is owned by the Korean Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) and the Korean Broadcasting System (KBS) which are participating in both the MPEG-LA and HEVC Advance patent pools.

      The ’720 patent and its corresponding extended patent family is the largest families known to be owned by KAIST and represents approximately 42.8% of KAIST’s known U.S. assets. MPEG-LA and HEVC Advance claim that certain claims of the ’720 patent are essential to the HEVC standard. After conducting an independent analysis, Unified has determined that the ‘720 patent is likely unpatentable.

    • Unified files IPR against US 9,538,205 owned by Velos Media, LLC

      On March 1, 2019, Unified filed a petition (with Finnegan serving as lead counsel) for inter partes review (IPR) against U.S. Patent No. 9,538,205, owned by Velos Media, LLC (Velos), as part of Unified’s ongoing efforts in its SEP Video Codec Zone.

      The ‘205 patent and its corresponding extended patent family is one of the largest families known to be owned by Velos. Including this petition, Unified has now challenged patents representing 23.7% of Velos’ total known U.S. assets.

    • Supreme Court will hear Section 145 Attorney Fees Case

      The original NantKwest panel sided with the USPTO — holding that “expenses” include USPTO attorney fees. However, a 7-4 split of the en banc court changed direction and held that “expenses” does not include attorney fees. In its decision, the Federal Circuit focused on the traditional presumptive “American rule” on attorney fees (each party pays for its own attorney fees) and found that the “all the expenses” language was not sufficiently “specific and explicit” to overcome the presumptive rule.

      [...]

      In a separate fees case, the Court today issued an opinion in Rimini Street Inc. v. Oracle USA Inc., holding that that the copyright act’s allowance of “full costs” only extends to traditional “taxable costs” and does not include, for instance, expert witness, e-discovery, or jury consultant fees.

    • Patently Inconsistent: State & Tribal Sovereign Immunity in Inter Partes Review

      In 2011, the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act was signed into law with the goal of bringing America’s patent system up to date in the 21st century. As part of that effort, the Act introduced a new post-grant proceeding known as inter partes review (“IPR”) to better ensure that issued patents were not granted erroneously. A number of patent owning state entities have since evaded IPRs by invoking the doctrine of state sovereign immunity, which allows states to avoid unwanted adjudication. Emboldened by the success of states on this front, at least one pharmaceutical company has transferred ownership rights in its patents to a Native American tribe. The tribe, in turn, has attempted to avail itself of the doctrine of tribal sovereign immunity in order to avoid post-grant review of the patents. Recently, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has held that, unlike states, tribes cannot avoid IPRs through sovereign immunity claims. This Note argues that the Federal Circuit reached the correct result on tribal sovereign immunity claims and that, due to the similarities between the two doctrines, state sovereign immunity claims should likewise fail as a defense in IPRs.

    • Getting Patent Preemption Right

      This symposium Essay tackles a single doctrinal conundrum at the Intellectual Property and Federalism interface: what standard should courts use to assess whether a state law that weakens federal patent rights is preempted by federal patent law? The Federal Circuit has held that the proper standard is statutory preemption, and specifically “implied conflict” preemption. This analysis requires assessing whether a particular state law interferes with the “purposes and objectives” of the Patent Act. If a court decides the state law interferes with patent law’s goals, it is preempted; otherwise, it is not preempted.

      My view is that the Federal Circuit has it wrong. The source of preemption when a state passes a law that weakens a federal patent right is the Intellectual Property Clause itself. This analysis does not look to Congressional intent to preempt state law. Rather, it asks whether the state has excessively burdened the exclusive right “secured” by Congress pursuant to Article I, Section 8, Clause 8, by imposing a compliance cost on patentees that is unreasonably high in comparison to the gravity and scope of the problem the state seeks to address. If, after hearing the evidence, a court finds the state law imposes unreasonably high compliance costs on patentees, the law is preempted by the Intellectual Property Clause; otherwise, the law is not preempted by the Intellectual Property Clause.

      In this Essay, I explain the issue of patent preemption and how it arises in patent law and practice. I define “state anti-patent laws” and distinguish them from state patent laws or state “patent-like” rights such as trade secrets. I describe how courts should determine preemption in this context, drawing both on logic and on how courts did so historically. I then lay out the Federal Circuit’s current approach to preemption of state anti-patent laws and show how it is flawed. I hypothesize that the Federal Circuit’s erroneous conception of the preemptive effect of federal patent law on state anti-patent laws helps explain why the Federal Circuit has turned to “Petitioning Immunity” under the First Amendment in order to protect patentees from state law liability. I end by concluding that when addressing state anti-patent laws, as opposed to state patent-like rights, courts should return to the correct preemption standard based on the Intellectual Property Clause.

    • Apple confirms its plans to close retail stores in the patent troll-favored Eastern District of Texas

      Apple has confirmed its plans to close retail stores in the Eastern District of Texas — a move that will allow the company to better protect itself from patent infringement lawsuits, according to Apple news sites 9to5Mac and MacRumors, which broke the news of the stores’ closures. Apple says that the impacted retail employees will be offered new jobs with the company as a result of these changes.

      The company will shut down its Apple Willow Bend store in Plano, Texas as well as its Apple Stonebriar store in Frisco, Texas, MacRumors reported, and Apple confirmed. These stores will permanently close up shop on Friday, April 12. Customers in the region will instead be served by a new Apple store located at the Galleria Dallas Shopping Mall, which is expected to open April 13.

    • Meet The Fearless Lawyer Saving The CBD Industry [Ed: Forbes is glamourising a parasite from Texas who makes a living by threatening to sue companies over bogus patents that were granted due to a recent legalisation]

      A partner of the Texas based law firm Ritter Spencer, Chelsie handles transactional and litigation work for clients ranging from startups to large corporations. Her continued work with medical marijuana and hemp makes her one of the few experts in an industry that’s constantly in flux. Chelsie manages everything from helping clients secure their trademark registrations to drafting copyright licensing agreements to ensure that no brand has a monopoly on CBD products. She’s a rare friendly face in the midst of a cutthroat CBD hurricane, the person you want on speed dial when things turn sour.

    • After the Trolls: Patent Litigation As Ex-Post Market Making
    • Ortiz & Associates patent challenged as likely invalid

      On March 4, 2019, Unified, represented by Haynes and Boone, filed a petition for inter partes review (IPR) against U.S. Patent 8,971,914, owned and asserted by Ortiz & Associates Consulting, LLC, an NPE. The ‘914 patent, directed to controlling a multimedia video device to play video data through the operation of a wireless device, has been asserted against Google and Roku.

    • The Qualcomm v. Apple patent jury (selected yesterday in San Diego) won’t get these simple, brutally honest instructions

      Yesterday (Monday, March 4, 2019) a Qualcomm v. Apple patent infringement trial kicked off in San Diego (Southern District of California). This article by Reuters’ Stephen Nellis summarizes what became known on the first trial day.

    • New Referral To The Enlarged Board Of Appeal Regarding Double-Patenting

      “Double-patenting” arises at the European Patent Office (EPO) when one applicant files two European patent applications with closely related or identical claims, and the same effective filing date. The issue often arises when the claims of a divisional application overlap with the claims of its parent application. There is no explicit legal basis in the European Patent Convention (EPC) for the prohibition against double-patenting. However, the Guidelines for Examination at the EPO state: it is an accepted principle in most patent systems that two patents cannot be granted to the same applicant for one invention (G, IV, 5.4).

    • Copyrights

      • 6 Best 1337x Alternatives To Use When Torrent Site Is Down [Working In 2019]

        The popularity of torrent sites is decreasing each year but they still remain one of the most visited websites on the web. However, at times, accessing a torrenting source like The Pirate Bay or 1337x can be difficult due to bans imposed by schools, offices, authorities, and governments.

        Talking specifically about 1337x, it’s one of the best torrent trackers around. To help you out in case the website is down, I’ve prepared a list of the popular 1337x alternatives that people tend to visit if the website faces a downtime.

      • The Tyranny Of Copyright: How A Once-Humble Legal Issue Has Tormented A Generation Of Speech
      • CC + Google Summer of Code 2019

        We are proud to announce that Creative Commons has been accepted as a mentor organization for the 2019 Google Summer of Code program.

        Google Summer of Code (GSoC) is a annual global program through which Google awards stipends to university students who write code for free and open-source software projects during their school break. CC has been a mentor organization for GSoC on seven previous occasions, but our last participation was in 2013, so we are glad to be reviving the tradition and hosting students again.

        We’ve compiled a list of project ideas for students to choose from when submitting their work proposal. There’s a lot of variety to choose from – adding features to CC Search, reviving older CC products, creating entirely new tools that increase the reach of CC licenses, figuring out ways to better present our legal and technical work, and more. There is definitely room for creativity – the project ideas are defined in broad terms, and students may also choose to submit a proposal for an original idea.

      • Steven Spielberg Demands Netflix Get Off His Damn Lawn

        Does Netflix produce a lot of crap? Yes. Does the company use cash to throw its weight around? Sure. So do traditional Hollywood studios (don’t tell anybody). But the laundry-list of awards that Netflix has already won make it clear Netflix isn’t just some parasite. It’s just a disruptive presence to yet another legacy industry that’s nervous about change. If Netflix is legitimately doing stupid things then focus on those. But this idea that it shouldn’t qualify for awards because it doesn’t adhere to dated technological norms is just more grumbly ranting from grandpa’s front porch.

      • Anti-Piracy Company Offers Advertising Deal to ‘Pirate’ Sites

        Cutting off the money supply to copyright-infringing sites is commonly seen as a prime tactic to deal with the piracy problem. Anti-piracy company DMCAForce has a different strategy though. On behalf of a client, it’s reaching out to file-sharing sites with an advertising deal, in exchange for a cut of the money.

      • Why vinyl records survive in the digital age

        I think the real reason for vinyl’s return goes much deeper than questions of sound quality. As media analyst Marshall McLuhan famously wrote, “The medium is the message.” In other words, “the form of a medium embeds itself in any message it would transmit or convey, creating a symbiotic relationship by which the medium influences how the message is perceived.” Nowhere does this hold truer than in the world of recorded sound.

Battistelli’s Presidency Was a Write-off Presidency (of Potentially Billions of Euros in Losses)

Posted in Europe, Finance, Patents at 3:59 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

eDossier just the edge of the iceberg

Gravestone for eDossier

Summary: Battistelli made himself and his friends/colleagues (even outside the EPO) exceptionally rich; what he has left at the EPO, however, is a sordid mess and the real costs are gradually found out now that the helm is held by his minion, António Campinos

The costly death of eDossier last Friday [1, 2] adds up to various other Battistelli-related write-offs and losses at the European Patent Office (EPO). The waste on his luxurious new office at the top floor, the lavish bonuses, the corrupt ‘bodyguards’ (outlaws and thugs), the millions he sent to his other employer, the defective new building and the money he sent to toxic loans are only few among dozens of examples. He even spent millions of euros buying himself favourable press coverage, in effect bribing and corrupting the media too. The biggest heist likely remains what we previously covered in:

As Märpel put it in that last one (above), “the EPO is going to set aside “around 250 millions Euros” every year in the next 20 years” and by “aside” Märpel meant away. Will Battistelli now do at CEIPI what he did at the EPO and his mentor had done in Saint-Germain? Watch out, CEIPI. This is a chain of destruction. Today’s EPO is like a “candy shop” of questionable patents and the modus operandi is selling as many ‘candies’ (monopolies) as fast as possible no matter what courts (or the EPC or stakeholders) are saying.

“Surely examiners at the EPO are well aware of these fine interactions. Patents don’t “create value” out of a void/vacuum.”In the broader scheme of things, the costs (or losses) to the EPO may be negligible if not irrelevant compared to the full commercial and societal costs (sometimes known as externalities, e.g. what pollution is to a factory). On the former, what would be the cost (write-off) of a hundred thousand wrongly-granted European Patents (application, renewal, legal fees)? This money needs to have come from somewhere (time and labour). On the latter, how much would wrongly-accused parties need to shell out on law firms, putting aside emotional distress and lack of productivity? A calculated guess would be somewhere north of a billion euros per year. Surely examiners at the EPO are well aware of these fine interactions. Patents don’t “create value” out of a void/vacuum.

The Technical Board of Appeal Will Need True Independence to Squash Software Patents at the EPO (T 0489/14)

Posted in Europe, Patents at 2:55 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

It totally and patently lacks that at the moment, by its very own admission

Judicial independence
Reference: Judicial independence

Summary: The EPO has been going dark and shady when it comes to abstract patents in Europe (courts reject these, but the Office still grants these); will that change in T 0489/14?

THE prestige associated with the European Patent Office (EPO) is long gone. The conditions for workers aren’t attractive, the quality of the work is not high, and the experienced/talented examiners are leaving/retiring (or have already left/retired). Some people and some companies aren’t aware of it yet; they’re stuck in the past — way back when the EPO was best bar none. Talicia’s pursuit of a European Patent has just been noted in this new press release, but have they paid attention to the high rate of rejection in European courts (judges in effect overturning examiners’ decisions)?

“The Federated European Patent Register provides information regarding the legal status of EU patents,” Oya Yalvaç (Deriş Patents and Trademarks Agency) wrote yesterday, perhaps conflating the EPO with the EU (a big no-no, especially as there’s no UPC). Pertinent patents are being assessed in NPOs or at the EPO, then (sometimes, in case of lawsuits) to be judged by national courts, which have repeatedly rejected European software patents, at times blasting the EPO for intentionally misinterpreting the EPC and grossly bypassing policy of European authorities. Seeing how António Campinos is flagrantly and shamelessly violating the rules, however (disclosure about this from last Friday), should we be surprised? They’re so nonchalant about it. They fear nothing. They’re immune.

Sadly, EPO judges still lack independence. They casually complain about this. As we noted last week, they will soon issue a judgment on software patents. Here is what World Intellectual Property Review wrote about it yesterday:

The European Patent Office’s (EPO) Technical Board of Appeal has referred questions relating to computer-implemented inventions to the Enlarged Board of Appeal (EBA).

This is the second time that questions relating to the patentability of software have been considered by the EBA, according to law firm Venner Shipley.

“Indeed, it could be the first case that the EBA actively decides on a point of fundamental importance: although the EBA considered a referral in G 3/08 (Programs for computers), it declined to hand down a decision, ruling that the referral was inadmissible,” said a release from Venner Shipley.

The law firm drafted and prosecuted the patent application, which covers an invention for modelling pedestrian movement which can be used to help design or modify venues such as a railway station or stadium.

Outside the circles of law firms’ media we also see some writings from law firms directly. John Leeming (J A Kemp), for example, has just said:

EPO Technical Board of Appeal 3.5.07 has, in case T 0489/14 (Pedestrian simulation/CONNOR), referred questions to the Enlarged Board of appeal concerning what is to be considered technical in the fields of design and simulation. The cases of Designing optical systems/Philips and Circuit Simulation I/Infineon have long been cited as precedent that the design or simulation of a technical system is itself technical and eligible for patent protection. However, some more recent cases have put limits on that proposition, suggesting that the technical system must be defined with sufficient specificity and that the purpose of the simulation might also be relevant.

[...]

The Board accepted that the simulation in Connor was analogous to that in Infineon and so ought to be patentable under the reasoning of Infineon. However, the Board “is not fully convinced” by the reasoning of Infineon and the questions referred could overturn or reduce the precedent effect of Infineon.

The first question referred to the Enlarged Board seeks to test Board 3.5.07′s view that “a technical effect requires a direct link with physical reality” and that it is not enough for technical character that a technical (i.e. physical) system is simulated. However, a negative answer to this question would imply that no modelling or simulation inventions were patentable.

The second question, to be addressed if the Enlarged Board considers that something more than merely simulating a technical system is required, asks what more is required. The question implies that it is at least necessary that the simulation be based on technical principles underlying the systems. This would perhaps exclude some recent cases relating economic modelling of wind farms and mobile phone networks.

The final question addresses the common fall-back position in simulation and design cases: to include a step of manufacturing or controlling something physical. This has long been thought to be a safe port of last resort, especially since the UK case of Halliburton v Comptroller-General of Patents [2011] EWHC 2508 (Pat). If the Enlarged Board were to decide that inclusion of such features is not sufficient to save a claim to a design or simulation method, a great many cases would be affected.

The problem is, Campinos has already made himself a bad reputation for tantrums, irrational firings, and probably a better masked Battistelli-like temper. Remember Judge Corcoran? He was attacked by Battistelli just before he could finalise his decision to reject a software patent of an EPO partner. How can his colleagues rule peacefully against patent maximalism? It’s not the “safe” option when governed by brutes like Battistelli and his French friends.

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