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03.06.19

Fraud at the European Patent Office, But All Those Arrested Are Perpetrators Without Misused Immunity

Posted in Europe, Fraud, Patents at 6:52 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Theranos and EPO
The EPO has since then removed this page

Summary: Battistelli’s corruption continues to go largely unnoticed (by the media) and without punishment; in fact, not only did he enable corruption but he also benefited from it, even directly

THE management of the European Patent Office (EPO) continues to get away with very serious abuses and even reap bonuses for this abuse. Battistelli has truly looted the EPO and CEIPI gave this thug a job — yes, its highest-paying job, the top position. CEIPI is run by crooks now. Do CEIPI students seriously pay admission/tuition fees to be taught law in an institution run by Battistelli?

Earlier today the EPO began advertising the notorious “Inventor Award”. “Before “Inventor Award” corrupt Battistelli and his colleagues were millions of euros poorer,” I responded to the EPO. “When will they be arrested for this theft of EPO funds under the guise of “awards”?”

“Why is Battistelli in CEIPI and not in prison with Benalla?”Incidentally, earlier today SUEPO promoted this new piece published on Monday by “Daniel Nazer [who is] a senior staff attorney and Mark Cuban Chair to Eliminate Stupid Patents at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.”

The fraud enabled by the EPO's "Inventor Award" is mentioned in relation to the role of the USPTO as well: (also recall this first part, second part, and last (third) part from last year about the “inventor” from Morocco, a former French colony):

A company “built around [fake] patents”

In 2002, an eager Stanford undergraduate named Elizabeth Holmes told a professor about an idea. (New ABC podcast “The Dropout” covers the story in its opening episode.) Holmes approached Professor Phyllis Gardner of Stanford Medical School with a radical suggestion. She wanted to make a microfluidic patch that could test blood for infectious organisms and could deliver antibiotics through the same microfluidic channels. The professor replied that this idea was not remotely viable.

But Holmes found a more receptive audience at the USPTO. She says she spent five straight days at her computer drafting a patent application. The provisional application, filed in September 2003 when Holmes was just 19 years old, describes “medical devices and methods capable of real-time detection of biological activity and the controlled and localized release of appropriate therapeutic agents.” This provisional application would mature into many issued patents. In fact, there are patent applications still being prosecuted that claim priority back to Holmes’ 2003 submission.

But Holmes’ 2003 application was not a “real” invention in any meaningful sense. We know that Theranos spent years and hundreds of millions of dollars trying to develop working diagnostic devices. The tabletop machines Theranos focused on were much less ambitious than Holmes’ original vision of a patch. Indeed, it’s fair to say that Holmes’ first patent application was little more than aspirational science fiction written by an eager undergraduate.

So how did Holmes’ unrealistic application lead to real patents, like US Patent No. 7,291,497? If you look through that patent’s application history, you can see that the examiner did review it closely. The examiner made two non-final rejections and two final rejections before eventually allowing the claims. (At the USPTO, a “final” rejection is not really final). The rejections were based on prior art and other technical grounds. What the examiner did not do, however, was ask whether Holmes’ “invention” actually worked.

Two legal doctrines are relevant here. The “utility” requirement of patent law requires that the invention work. And the “enablement” requirement means that the application has to describe the invention with enough detail to allow a person in the relevant field to build and use it. If the applicant herself can’t build the invention with nearly unlimited time and money, it does not seem like the enablement requirement could possibly be satisfied.

The USPTO generally does a terrible job of ensuring that applications meet the utility and enablement standards. In practice, unless an application claims an obviously impossible device (like a perpetual motion machine), the examiner will not question whether it works. To some extent, this is understandable. Examiners only have a few hours to review each application, and they can hardly be expected to run complex experiments to check the applicants’ claims. But this practice can lead to serious errors.

As we recently explained in relation to Benallagate, there may be another case for arresting Battistelli. And as noted a day ago by an EPO insider, corrupt Battistelli gave nearly 2 million euros of EPO money to French criminals (now officially arrested).

This was posted in the comments:

The document CA/F 6/17 contains another juicy morsel on page 15: “Agreement No. 2106/3270 on expert security services” signed off by the EPO on 14 Nov 2016.

This contract was a direct placement, i.e. no tendering. The amount involved was EUR 1 344 000.
CA/F 6/17 does not reveal who the lucky recipient was: “Name of supplier not disclosed for security reasons. Information available on request.”

If we assume that the same “security services” were involved (and Märpel never saw any other ones when chasing mice at night…), the total over the two years amounts to 1.8 million Euros, all spent without any oversight as to which purpose they were really spent.

The original comment can be found here.

Why is Battistelli in CEIPI and not in prison with Benalla? This is a totally reasonable question.

Power and Corruption: How European Patent Office Nepotism and Despotism Open Doors

Posted in America, Europe, Patents at 6:19 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Despotism: “the exercise of absolute power, especially in a cruel and oppressive way.”

The turnstiles

Summary: A culture of secrecy, favouritism and revolving doors serves to tarnish the reputation of the European Patent Office (EPO) — an institution that relies primarily on its reputation

EVERY NOW and then we see things that are so obviously and blatantly corrupt. We’ve often wondered what it would take to finally see existing and former EPO managers in prison.

“We’ve often wondered what it would take to finally see existing and former EPO managers in prison.”Several hours ago Robert Stoll showed us an example of American “revolving doors” and its notorious effect in Watchtroll, where he’s ranting over SCOTUS in “What Happens to Diagnostic Method Patents After Athena?” (link omitted on purpose)

So basically, he’s doing abstract patents promotion after his U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) career — a long career that culminated when he was a high-level official. He now works in the private sector, just like David Kappos the lobbyist (and former USPTO Director).

We don’t wish to dwell yet again on American patent news (we try hard to abstain from it this year), but it seems clear that 35 U.S.C. § 101/Alice is here to stay for a very long time. Janal Kalis is, as usual, looking for unusual cases where the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) gets rebuffed, but all he could find was nothing because the Federal Circuit continues to affirm PTAB decisions. Instead Kalis has just mentioned (again, as usual) a mere application: “The PTAB Reversed an Examiner’s 101 Rejection of Claims in a Thompson Reuters Patent Application: https://e-foia.uspto.gov/Foia/RetrievePdf?system=BPAI&flNm=fd2017006765-02-13-2019-1 …”

This is the kind of thing Robert Stoll hopes for and lobbies on. Never mind if he’s misusing his former connections in a capacity at the private sector. These people are ‘selling’ ‘access’. It is a form of corruption that sadly gets tolerated, especially under the Trump administration.

This now brings us to the EPO. Remember the notorious EPO Attaché Albert Keyack? Battistelli’s “boyz” do exactly what he claimed to be trying to prevent by sanctioning ‘low-level’ staff such as examiners. Apparently the rules do not apply to Team Battistelli, whose members are free to break whatever rules and laws they want. Earlier today we read that “Kilburn & Strode hires former EPO US attaché” — a classic example of revolving doors.

Kilburn & Strode LLP is a large law firm that’s wooing the EPO and it’s going to get easier with this new hire:

Kilburn & Strode has expanded its presence in the US after hiring former European Patent Office (EPO) attaché to the US, Albert Keyack, as vice president.

Keyack, who practised law solo for over a decade is also a former intellectual property rights attaché for South America for the US Patent and Trademark Office.

In his role at the EPO, Keyack acted in a liaison role with US-based applicants to the EPO.

This is not appropriate a hiring. Will the EPO do anything to prevent it? Of course not. People get promoted by President António Campinos for participation in abuse; they’re being rewarded for it. Campinos even brought old colleagues of his from the EUIPO and retweeted by EPO’s Twitter account several hours ago was this EUIPO tweet that says: “160 experts from EU IP offices, user associations and the @EPOorg meet at the EUIPO to this week to review progress on 10 🇪🇺European Cooperation Projects…”

Well, the EUIPO also shares its corruption with the EPO. It has been troubling to see how EPO corruption keeps spreading to numerous other institutions.

“In a rare referral to the Enlarged Board of Appeal, the EPO’s highest Appeal Board that decides on points of fundamental importance,” Kilburn & Strode LLP’s Gareth Fennell (Keyack’s new colleague) wrote at the start of the month (days ago). They’re trying or hoping to influence judges at the EPO — more so in an important decision that we wrote about it thrice before [1, 2, 3]. All this coverage has been dominated by law firms that profit from software patents in Europe (EU even, in defiance of Parliament).

Speaking of referrals to the Boards, there’s also this new article by Andrew Clark, Chris Milton and Mark Roberts (J A Kemp). In the name of faking ‘production’, anything goes at the EPO, including this:

The issue of “double patenting” arises in the EPO when one applicant files two European patent applications with closely related claims and the same effective filing date. A situation where double patenting commonly needs to be considered is when the claims of a divisional application overlap with the claims of its parent application. Under such circumstances it is necessary to determine how much overlap between the claims of the two applications should be permitted. The case law has developed such that the EPO will generally allow substantial overlap between the claims.

Double patenting considerations may also arise when a first European patent application claims priority from a second European patent application. Questions concerning double patenting in this situation were referred to the Enlarged Board of Appeal in February 2019. This referral should result in further clarification of EPO practice in relation to double patenting.

The judges aren’t independent enough (if at all) to courageously end such abuse of granting authority. The EPO is such a mothball of corruption and injustice.

Quality Issues at the European Patent Office Can Lead It Down the Same Downward Path as the Unified Patent Court (UPC)

Posted in Europe, Patents at 5:31 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Deadly trajectories

António Campinos for UPC

Summary: Granting lots and lots of low-quality European Patents isn’t a strategy for sustaining the legitimacy of the Office but rather an assured path towards demise and possible destruction

THINGS are not rosy for António Campinos. His credibility and reputation are fast-declining among staff. The European Patent Office’s (EPO) return or retreat to greenwashing and crowdwashing is rather revealing. They pretend that there’s participation. Earlier today the EPO wrote: “What action could the EPO take to contribute to a more sustainable environment?”

“When it comes to actual quality of work, the EPO is a mess.”Suicides and depressions at the EPO are still a major problem — so much so that, as Benjamin Henrion noted a few hours apart: “SUEPO linking to an article “This Is What Happens to Your Body When You Hate Your Job”…”

We already took note of that yesterday. The EPO is also inviting — yet again — people to the new and dangerous building. It has not made workers happy. They mostly ridicule this building, which is bad for all sorts of reasons (not just for workers but also for residents who live nearby and for wildlife).

When it comes to actual quality of work, the EPO is a mess. A sordid mess. Many European Patents are nowadays being discredited in public and sometimes invalidated by European courts. The UPC is not happening either. Nevertheless, Bristows likely pays for this copy of its blog post (updated again today, for the fourth time, now titled “UK IPO publishes patent case data required for the UPC”; it was mentioned earlier this week). Robert S. Rigg, John K. Burke and Sudip K. Mitra have also just published this new piece that says:

While exit term negotiations continue, EU IP laws continue to apply in the UK. There are certain types of IP rights that will not change even with Brexit, including:

1. UK IP Rights: UK registered and unregistered patents, trademarks, designs and copyrights will remain intact.

2. European Patents: With Brexit, there will be no impact on the current European patent system. Issued European patents obtained from the European Patent Office will remain in effect as they are not tied to EU membership. The Brexit vote does not mean the UK ceases to be a member state of the European Patent Convention that established the European patent system. Pending and future European patent system applications will also not be impacted by Brexit.

a. In addition to remaining in the European Patent system, the UK government plans to continue participating in the unitary patent system and the Unified Patent Court that underpins it.

But there’s nothing to participate in because it does not actually exist and there are non-negotiable compatibility issues (no workarounds seem possible). This merely parrots those two famous lies about UPC and Brexit. The UK cannot participate in something that does not exist anyway.

But never say never. As Henrion put it some hours ago: “Is it possible for German law to tolerate a conflict with the EPC until it is resolved (using the excellent fix suggested by Cees Mulder) or does Germany fall out of the EPC system? [] The judges might be frightened to blow up the EPO as well as the UPC…”

“The UK cannot participate in something that does not exist anyway.”He cited a new article about the judges’ lack of independence at the EPO. As we recently noted, the German Constitutional Court may have also added a 'mole' recently. “We’re in an age of lawlessness,” I told Henrion, and the EPO “shows one gets away with anything in Germany…” (even bringing weapons, conducting illegal surveillance, bribing and so on).

The way we see it, European courts will continue to invalidate a lot of European Patents. As Dominik Scheible put it earlier today:

The Federal Court of Justice confirmed that German Courts should take into consideration decisions rendered by the EPO deciding bodies and Courts of other EPO member states. If the decisions differ, the German Courts should deal with the earlier reasons in detail.

Reported by Ben Wodecki earlier today was also this new motion by “No Patents on Seeds” — resembling what happened in 'Teffgate' only months after last year’s outrages. Are patents on nature/life on their way out? To quote Wodecki:

Pressure group No Patents on Seeds has filed an opposition against a European patent on lettuce claiming it is derived from convention breeding.
The disputed patent (2,966,992) was granted to Dutch food suppliers Rijk Zwaan Zaadteelt.

The patent covers lettuce seeds, plants and the harvest of lettuces that grow in a hotter climate. No Patents on Seeds claims this is a trait found naturally.

According to No Patents on Seeds, these lettuce seeds are derived from conventional breeding without any involvement of genetic engineering.

Patents that cover the process of conventional breeding, as well as on plants an animals derived are prohibited by rule 28(2) for the interpretation of the European Patent Convention (EPC).

Christoph Then of No Patents on Seeds commented: “Patents on seeds can endanger food security. Such patents can block access to biological diversity that is needed by all breeders to develop new and even better varieties. This is especially problematic in times of ongoing climate change.”

“These patents are prohibited in Europe for very good reasons. The European Patent Office should no longer simply ignore these prohibitions.”

UPC has been very much favoured among large and usually foreign (non-European) companies with patents on nature/life. They don’t seem to be getting their way these days. The EPO bet the farm on pleasing these madmen. At what cost?

Links 6/3/2019: Sparky 5.7, GNU Unifont 12.0.01, PureOS is Convergent

Posted in News Roundup at 3:39 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • System76 Oryx Pro Linux laptop gets powerful NVIDIA GeForce RTX 20-Series GPU upgrade

      System76 computers are notable for coming with a Linux-based operating system, but that isn’t the only reason you should buy one. Software aside, the company’s offerings are often very powerful, and best of all, upgradeable. Unlike Apple, for instance, you can actually service the RAM, SSD, and more — they aren’t soldered in. Not to mention, System76′s customer service and support is very well respected.

      If you want a laptop that is powerful without being overly thick, the Oryx Pro (available with either a 16.1-inch or 17.3-inch display) is a great balance. Now, System76 is making that computer even better thanks to a NVIDIA GeForce RTX 20-Series GPU upgrade. When you pair those powerful graphics with a hexa-core 8th Gen Intel Core i7-8750H processor, you will have an absolute beast. Plus, if you need a lot of memory, you can configure it with up to 32GB of RAM. System76 has also upgraded the speakers for a better multimedia experience.

  • Server

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux 4.20.14

      I’m announcing the release of the 4.20.14 kernel.

      All users of the 4.20 kernel series must upgrade.

      The updated 4.20.y git tree can be found at:
      git://git.kernel.org/pub/scm/linux/kernel/git/stable/linux-stable.git linux-4.20.y
      and can be browsed at the normal kernel.org git web browser:

      http://git.kernel.org/?p=linux/kernel/git/stable/linux-st…

    • Linux 4.19.27
    • Linux 4.14.105
    • Linux 4.9.162
    • Linux 5.0 is not a big deal, claims Kernel Kitten

      As you may be aware, I, Colonel Kitten took a leave of absence last year, in order to learn how to be more empathetic and calm. Unfortunately, due to an admin error, I was accidentally enrolled in a macrame class. I am still fuming, but I make a really nice wicker basket.

      SO STOP WHAT YOU ARE DOING AND LISTEN!

      Commander Torvalds has sent a memo. I have memorised the contents. Private Jones…. eat the memo.

      Linux 5.0 has been released for manoeuvres. I realise that this is normally rewarded with a day of mess leave, but the Commander has said clearly that it’s not significant:

      “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.”

    • I10nm Is Intel’s New EDAC Linux Driver For Icelake Server CPUs

      Intel has been developing “i10nm_edac” as the new Error Detection And Correction (EDAC) driver for supporting their next-generation 10nm-based server CPUs.

      Coming with the Linux 5.1 kernel is this new i10nm_edac driver for supporting Icelake server CPUs, which will come out following Cascade Lake and Cooper Lake. Intel is being punctual as always in ensuring their open-source hardware support is in order ahead of the product launch.

    • Linux 5.1 Staging Gets Lots Of Tiny Patches From Outreachy, XGI Display Driver Nuked

      Greg Kroah-Hartman sent out the staging subsystem updates for the in-development Linux 5.1.

      With the Linux 5.1 kernel, the XGI display driver has been removed. The “xgifb” driver hasn’t been well maintained in years not to mention XGI hardware being extremely hard to find in use these days. As a result, the XGI frame-buffer driver is being removed… Frame-buffer drivers also are becoming less common too these days in favor of KMS/DRM.

    • Linux Kernel Finally Deprecating A.out Support

      Linux has supported ELF binaries since the 1.x kernel days and now 25 years later, its support for the a.out file format is finally on the way out the door.

      The Linux 5.1 kernel is moving ahead and deprecating a.out support with ELF binaries being ubiquitous and the old a.out support code suffering from bit rot.

    • Linux Foundation

      • Project Elisa Launched For Linux in Safety-Critical Systems

        Last week, Linux Foundation announced a new project called ‘Elisa‘ to assure the usability, reliability, and performance of Linux based systems and applications when running in safety-critical systems. They basically want to make sure that Linux is ready to be used in safety-critical systems whose failure could result in environmental damage, property damage, physical injury or loss of life.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Wacom’s Pro Pen Slim, More Drawing Tablets Supported By Linux 5.1

        The HID subsystem updates for Linux 5.1 is another busy cycle with new hardware support.

        First up, the Wacom Pro Pen Slim tablet pen for use with various Wacom tablets and offers more than eight thousand levels of pressure sensitivity and other features can now work with Linux. Support for this $80 USD new tablet pen was contributed by a Wacom developer and just needed a new ID added to the existing Wacom HID driver.

      • xf86-video-amdgpu 19.0 Brings FreeSync VRR Bit, TearFree Fixes

        AMD released their newest xf86-video-amdgpu DDX driver today with various additions for enabling new functionality where needed by this X.Org display driver.

        Arguably most important to the new xf86-video-amdgpu 19.0.0 release is the necessary code added for supporting FreeSync variable rate refresh from the X.Org display driver side. See how to enable FreeSync for the other necessary bits including Mesa 19.0+ and Linux 5.0+ plus this new DDX driver and then enabling the necessary options.

      • Mesa 19.1 Lands Gallium Nine Support For NIR, Opens Up Intel Iris Support

        The Gallium Nine TTN support for “TGSI to NIR” to allow this Direct3D 9 state tracker to use the NIR intermediate representation as an alternative to Gallium’s default TGSI representation has been merged to Git for Mesa 19.1.

        Gallium Nine as a reminder allows Direct3D 9 support for Gallium3D drivers to allow for faster performance with Wine-based Windows applications/games running on Linux via Wine, compared to the more traditional Direct3D-to-OpenGL translation approaches for D3D9 support. Gallium Nine has long been tooled for TGSI, which RadeonSI and others started off with, but more/newer drivers are focusing on the NIR representation. NIR is also experimentally supported at this time by RadeonSI and notably is the default IR used by Intel’s new Iris Gallium3D driver.

    • Benchmarks

      • Linux 5.0 HDD I/O Scheduler Benchmarks – BFQ Takes The Cake

        Recently I published a number of Linux 5.0 I/O scheduler benchmarks on laptop and desktop hardware with solid-state storage. A number of Phoronix readers were interested in seeing similar tests done but with traditional hard drives, so here are those results using two different drives and the different blk-mq I/O scheduler options with the new Linux 5.0 kernel.

        Tested off an Ubuntu 18.10 installation after upgrading to the Linux 5.0 kernel were a Western Digital Green WD5000AZRX 500GB hard drive as a conventional SATA 3.0 HDD drive with 64MB cache as well as a Western Digital VelociRaptor WD1500HLHX 150GB drive. The VelociRaptor at 10k RPM has more performance potential out of these SATA 3.0 hard drives albeit with only a 32MB cache compared to 64MB on the WD Green drive being used. With both drives, the following multi-queue I/O schedulers were tested…

      • 117 Gaming Benchmarks With NVIDIA GTX 1660 Ti / RTX 2060 vs. AMD RX 590 / RX Vega 56

        While there were many Linux gaming benchmarks within our recent GeForce GTX 1660 Ti Linux review, there were requests for 1080p tests and some other benchmarks… For honoring those requests, with some of them being made by our premium supporters, here are 117 graphics benchmarks tested not only on the GTX 1660 Ti but also the RTX 2060 and on the AMD side was the Radeon RX 590 and RX Vega 56 for an interesting mid-range graphics card comparison.

        This four-way graphics card comparison with more than 100 benchmarks was done on an Ubuntu 18.10 system. The GeForce GTX 1660 Ti and RTX 2060 were running with the latest 418.43 driver as of testing time. On the AMD side was their newest code as of testing in the form of the Linux 5.0 kernel and Mesa 19.1-devel from the Padoka PPA built against LLVM9 SVN.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • KSmoothDock – excellent KDE Plasma 5 desktop panel with parabolic zooming

        If you missed my review of Latte Dock, you might still be unaware what a dock is.

        A dock is a graphical user interface element that allows the user to have one-click access to frequently used software. This type of utility also enables users to switch quickly between applications, as well as to monitor programs. This type of application is an excellent way of extending the functionality and usefulness of the desktop

        KSmoothDock is a cool desktop panel with parabolic zooming effect for KDE Plasma 5. While visually it is inspired by Mac OS X’s Dock, it aims to follow the traditional Linux model of desktop panel with the application menu, launchers, the pager, the task manager, the system tray and the clock. Currently KSmoothDock supports all these components except the system tray.

        KSmoothDock is written in C++ and depends on Qt 5 and KDE Frameworks 5.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • GNOME 3 + McMojave Theme Pack

        Last time I applied Mojave theme on KDE Plasma and this time I want to apply similar thing onto GNOME 3. I use Fedora 29 as the basis, however, you can do it on any other GNU/Linux distro. As the composition, I use here McMojave as both Shell and GTK3 themes, and then Mojave-CT icon theme, plus two additional GSEs namely Desktop Icons and Dash to Dock. Don’t worry even if you have no experience in desktop tweaking, as I have published GNOME customization preparations article before this tutorial.

      • Get cooking with GNOME Recipes on Fedora

        Do you love to cook? Looking for a better way to manage your recipes using Fedora? GNOME Recipes is an awesome application available to install in Fedora to store and organize your recipe collection.

        GNOME Recipes is an recipe management tool from the GNOME project. It has the visual style of a modern GNOME style application, and feels similar to GNOME Software, but for food.

  • Distributions

    • Sparky 5.7

      There are new live/install iso images of SparkyLinux 5.7 “Nibiru” available to download. This is the 1st this year iso image releasing of the rolling line, which is based on Debian testing “Buster”.

    • Reviews

      • Zorin OS 12.4 Core review – Surprisingly good

        Zorin 12.4 is a very reasonable, capable distribution. It starts super-strong, and this is a great selling point. The live session is truly impressive, and you get a wealth of goodies out of the box. Even the high-contrast theme is good. Then, as I continued using the machine, things did fray at the seams a little, but there was nothing cardinal to deter me from having fun.

        That does not mean Zorin is perfect. The fonts and all-too-pale default theme are the biggest blocker to enjoyment. The installation can be faster, and so can be the system – performance is average, with a mediocre battery life as a consequence. There were also some niggles here and there, including visual inconsistency and legacy bits ported without any great oversight. But then, Zorin does compensate with a unique spin and an attempt to shatter the amateur allure that most distros have. All in all, one of the more refreshing offerings in a while, with a bunch of custom extras that do please the soul. 8/10. Well worth checking out.

    • New Releases

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • Bali, Indonesia, Selected for openSUSE.Asia Summit 2019

        For the second time, Indonesia was chosen to host the openSUSE.Asia Summit 2019 event. A similar event was held in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, in 2016 and was attended by hundreds of local openSUSE lover as well as from other Asian countries. This year we are challenged to repeat the successful story of the openSUSE.Asia Summit on one of the most exotic islands in Indonesia, Bali.

        openSUSE.Asia Summit is an event awaited by fans of openSUSE in Indonesia in particular, and activists of Free/Libre Open Source Software (FLOSS) in general. In this activity, experts, contributors, end users, and technology enthusiasts gather to share experiences about the development of openSUSE and other things related to FLOSS and have a lot of fun.

        The island of Bali was chosen as the venue for the openSUSE.Asia Summit after being proposed by the Indonesian community during openSUSE.Asia Summit 2018 in Taipei, Tawian. After going through a long discussion, the Asian committee chose Bali as the host of openSUSE.Asia Summit 2019. openSUSE.Asia Summit 2019 will be from October 5 to October 6, 2019, at Udayana University, Bali.

      • Get Ready to Get Your SUSECON On!
      • ASUG Study Insights on SAP HANA Adoption – Without the Headaches

        This was an online survey of 122 ASUG members across a variety of industries and company sizes. The majority were in the IT department but some were in business lines like Sales, Finance, and HR. With SAP’s “Cloud First” strategy, it’s not surprising that many organizations who have deployed SAP HANA have either already built it in a cloud infrastructure, or plan to in the future. What is surprising is the disparity between the perspectives of executives and those at the manager level when it comes to confidence in understanding the risks of cloud adoption.

    • Fedora

      • Nvidia drivers in Fedora Silverblue

        I really like how Fedora Silverblue combines the best of atomic, image-based updates and local tweaking with its package layering idea.

        However, one major issue many people has had with it is support for the NVIDIA drivers. Given they ares not free software they can’t be shipped with the image, so one imagines using package layering to would be a good way to install it. In theory this works, but unfortunately it often runs into issues, because frequent kernel updates cause there to be no pre-built nvidia module for your particular kernel/driver version.

        In a normal Fedora installation this is handled by something called akmods. This is a system where the kernel modules ship as sources which get automatically rebuilt on the target system itself when a new kernel is installed.

      • New Fedora Linux User? Run This Amazing Post-Install Script First
    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Canonical Releases New Linux Kernel Security Update for Ubuntu 18.04 LTS

            The Linux kernel security update addresses three vulnerabilities, including a race condition (CVE-2019-6133) in Linux kernel’s fork() system call, which could allow a local attacker to gain access to services were authorizations are cached, and a flaw (CVE-2018-18397) in the userfaultd implementation, which could allow a local attacker to modify files. Both issues were discovered by Jann Horn.

            Furthermore, the kernel security patch addresses a vulnerability (CVE-2018-19854) in Linux kernel’s crypto subsystem, which leads to leaked uninitialized memory to user space under certain situations. This would allow a local attacker to expose sensitive information (kernel memory). These security vulnerabilities affect Ubuntu 18.04 LTS and all of its official or unofficial derivatives.

          • Ubuntu 19.04 (Disco Dingo) Will Be Powered by Linux Kernel 5.0

            Dubbed “Disco Dingo,” Ubuntu 19.04 is the next major release of the popular Linux-based operating system developed by Canonical, which promises to introduce several enhancements and new features, including a brand-new kernel, Linux 5.0. That’s right, the final Ubuntu 19.04 release will be powered by Linux kernel 5.0.

            Released over the weekend, the Linux 5.0 kernel series adds FreeSync support in the AMDGPU open-source graphics driver for stutter-free viewing on machines using AMD Radeon GPUs, swap files support in the Btrfs file system, as well as Adiantum file system encryption support in fscrypt for low power devices.

          • Infographic: Ubuntu’s Snaps Work Anywhere Linux Runs, Support 42 Linux Distros

            Dubbed “Snapcraft for developers,” the infographic aims to show application developers how simple is to build Snaps, Canonical’s universal binary format for distributing Linux apps on Ubuntu and across a multitude of GNU/Linux distributions. The infographic also reveals that Snaps see more than 3 million installs per month from over 2,000 developers who use Snapcraft to publish their Snaps in the Snap Store.

            “At the end of last year, we shared an infographic highlighting the adoption of snaps by users for their desktop, server or IoT devices. Those snaps wouldn’t be available without the growing number of developers building them behind the scenes. But why have developers, including those from some of the world’s largest software companies, decided to package their applications as a snap?,” said Canonical.

          • Snap Apps Are More Popular Than You Think [Infographic]

            Linux users install more than 3 million Snap apps each and every month, a new infographic from Canonical reveals.

            The figure represents the number of Snap apps that are installed across the full range of device categories the tech targets. This means it includes cloud, IoT and gateways in addition to desktop Linux distros used by the likes of you and I.

            Even so, this is a crazy high number, isn’t it? Certainly higher than the figure I would’ve guessed had you asked me to before lunchtime today!

            But what is it that makes Snap apps so popular?

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla Thunderbird 60.5.3 Released for Linux, Windows, and Mac

        Mozilla Thunderbird has just received another update, the second in just a few days, as the parent company is working on refining the experience with the app.

        Now at version 60.5.3, Mozilla Thunderbird comes with a fix for Windows clients, though it’s worth knowing that this update is available not only on Microsoft’s operating system, but also on Linux and macOS.

        According to the official changelog, this update resolves one of the known issues in the previous version and affecting Windows. Mozilla says it managed to fix the bug experienced when using Send to > Mail recipient in Thunderbird on Windows.

        This problem was originally introduced in version 60.5.2, the previous release, and it was included in the known issues section of the changelog.

      • Anarcat: February 2019 report: LTS, HTML mail, new phone and new job

        Finally, Enigmail was finally taken off the official support list in jessie when the debian-security-support proposed update was approved.

  • LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice 6.2 Office Suite Gets First Point Release with More Than 150 Fixes

      The LibreOffice 6.2 office suite was released in early February with a lot of new features and improvements, including an optional NotebookBar UI and many enhancements for the Writer, Calc, Draw, Impress, Base, Math, and LibreOffice Online. Today, the first point release, LibreOffice 6.2.1, is here to address no less than 150 bugs and issues reported since the LibreOffice 6.2 release.

      “LibreOffice 6.2.1 represents the bleeding edge in term of features for open source office suites, and as such is not optimized for enterprise class deployments, where features are less important than robustness. Users wanting a more mature version can download LibreOffice 6.1.5, which includes some months of back-ported fixes,” said Italo Vignoli, Co Founder, Marketing & PR, The Document Foundation.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • Molly de Blanc: Cyberbullying

      For about a year now I’ve had the occasional run-ins with “light” internet abuse and cyberbullying. There are a lot of resources around youth (and sometimes even college students) who are being cyberbullied, but not a lot for adults.

      I wanted to write a bit about my experiences. As I write this, I have had eight instances of being the recipient of abuse from threads on popular forum sites, emails, and blog posts. I’ve tried to be blithe by calling it cute things like “people being mean to me on the Internet,” but it’s cyberbullying. I’ve never been threatened, per se, but I do find the experiences traumatic and stressful.

      Here’s my advice on how to deal with being the recipient (I hesitate to use the word “victim”) of cyberbullying. I spoke with a few people — people I know who have dealt with internet abuse and some professionals — and this is what I came up with.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • VMware Linux lawsuit moves closer to a resolution

      VMware has rather mysteriously announced: “VMware is pleased with the Feb. 28, 2019 decision of the German appellate court in Hamburg to dismiss Mr. Hellwig’s appeal and let stand the regional court’s decision to dismiss Mr. Hellwig’s lawsuit.”

      The story began in August 2006, when prominent Linux developer Christopher Helwig replied to a VMware engineer’s request for help on the Linux Kernel Mailing List (LKML). “Until you stop violating our copyrights with the VMWare ESX support nothing is going to be supported. So could you please stop abusing the Linux code illegally in your project so I don’t have to sue you, or at least piss off and don’t expect us to support you in violating our copyrights,” he said.

  • Programming/Development

    • Google Launches Linux-Powered Coral Dev Board For Machine Learning

      Last summer, at Google Next conference, Google announced two new hardware products built around its Edge TPU chip to accelerate machine learning workloads on embedded AI devices and existing systems.

      Now, without much fanfare, the company has released these products officially — a new Coral development board and a USB accelerator. Both products will also make an appearance at the TensorFlow Dev Summit, which is scheduled later this week.

      [...]

      The base board also hosts USB 2.0/3.0 ports, 3.5mm audio jack, DSI display interface, MIPI-CSI camera interface, HDMI 2.0a connector, and two Digital PDM microphones.

    • GNU Unifont 12.0.01 Released

      GNU Unifont 12.0.01 is now available. This is a major release incorporating glyphs added in Unicode 12.0.0, which also was just released today.

      Significant changes in this version include contributions from David Corbett and Johnnie Weaver. Notably, the Unifont Upper font has now reached 11,000 Unicode Plane 1 glyphs. New Unicode script ranges introduced in Unicode Standard version 12.0.0 that are included in this release are (in order of appearance in Unifont Upper): Elymaic, Tamil Supplement, Nandinagari, Egyptian Hieroglyph Format Controls, Small Kana Extension, Nyiakeng Puachue Hmong, Wancho, Ottoman Siyaq Numbers, Chess Symbols, and Symbols and Pictographs Extended-A. Full details are in the ChangeLog file.

      This release also includes two new programs: unibmpbump and unihexrotate. unibmpbump, by Paul Hardy, adjusts images created by unihex2png but saved as Bitmap (“.bmp”) format files, for processing with unibmp2hex. unihexrotate, by David Corbett, rotates a set of glyphs in Unifont “.hex” format clockwise or counterclockwise by a specified number of quarter turns.

    • Serving debian-distributed javascript libraries in Tornado

      Debian conveniently distribute JavaScript libraries, and expects packaged software to use them rather than embedding their own copy.

      [...]

      I only need to start worrying about it if I need to deploy outside of Debian, or to old stable versions of Debian that don’t contain the required JavaScript dependencies.

    • Changes made to the Libabigail ABI change analysis framework in 2018

      This article is for people interested in the long-term maintenance of software systems that expose application binary interfaces (a.k.a. ABIs) to other systems. That long-term maintenance involves detecting and analyzing inevitable changes in the ABIs and assessing whether these changes allow the maintained systems to stay compatible with the components with which they interact.

    • Why Children Should Learn to Code

      Learning to code, regardless of the path a child chooses to take, is crucial today. Research shows us that this knowledge will be important in any career. As both a female leader in technology and a mother of a 10-year old boy, I am acutely aware of its critical importance in both my professional and personal life. Coding is a necessary literacy in this technological age.

      Computer coding is a part of everything and is everywhere in the world around us. Scientific and technological innovation are cornerstones of our global economic system. Our economy, our well-being… everything depends on it.

      It is not just important in technology-related fields. Coding is vital in manufacturing, healthcare, farming… virtually any industry has a coding component. The question that remains should not be “why?” but “how?” How can I inspire my child to learn to code, when should I start, and what are the many benefits?

    • AWS, Google, Microsoft, Red Hat’s New Registry to Act as Clearing House for Kubernetes Operators

      Operators make life easier for Kubernetes users, but they’re so popular that finding good ones is not easy. Operatorhub.io is an attempt to fix that.

    • Sourcehut’s spartan approach to web design

      The most important principle is that sr.ht is an engineering tool first and foremost, and when you’re there it’s probably because you’re in engineering mode. Therefore, it’s important to bring the information you’re there for to the forefront, and minimize distractions. In practice, this means that the first thing on any page to grab your attention should be the thing that brought you there. Consider the source file view on git.sr.ht. For reference, here are similar pages on GitHub and Gitlab.

    • This Week in Rust 276

      Rust is a systems language pursuing the trifecta: safety, concurrency, and speed. This is a weekly summary of its progress and community

    • Coding in Python 11 – Functions (Re-upload)
    • Coding in Python 13 – User Input
    • Coding in Python 14 – If Statements
    • Coding in Python 15 – While Loops
    • Using PyInstaller to Easily Distribute Python Applications
    • Introduction to Python OS Module

      Python is one of the most frequently used languages in recent times for various tasks such as data processing, data analysis, and website building. In this process, there are various tasks that are operating system dependent. Python allows the developer to use several OS-dependent functionalities with the Python module os. This package abstracts the functionalities of the platform and provides the python functions to navigate, create, delete and modify files and folders. In this tutorial one can expect to learn how to import this package, its basic functionalities and a sample project in python which uses this library for a data merging task.

    • Edit the level 2 game map
    • The final part of the Forex application project

Leftovers

  • Science

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Lawsuit: Trump Family-Planning Rule ‘Politicizes’ Medicine

      A new Trump administration rule for family-planning grants could trigger a national public health crisis, the American Medical Association and Planned Parenthood said in a lawsuit Tuesday challenging the rule.

      The new rule, announced last week by the Department of Health and Human Services, would prohibit family planning clinics funded by the federal Title X program from making abortion referrals — a provision that critics denounce as a “gag rule.”

      Clinics that receive Title X grants also would be barred from sharing office space with abortion providers — a requirement that would in many cases boost costs for providers like Planned Parenthood that offer abortions and other services, including family planning.

      The result of the rule, if implemented, “will be a national public health crisis in short order,” the lawsuit said.

      “Pregnancies that are unintended, and thus riskier, will increase. The number of abortions will also increase. And there will be fewer tests for sexually transmitted infections and cancer screens — putting patients and their partners at great health risk,” the lawsuit said.

      Planned Parenthood, which operates a nationwide network of health centers, says it will leave the Title X program if the rule is implemented, forgoing an estimated $60 million in annual funding rather than abide by the new restrictions.

    • Mind-Altering, Ketamine-like Drug OK’d for Severe Depression

      A mind-altering medication related to the club drug Special K won U.S. approval Tuesday for patients with hard-to-treat depression, the first in a series of long-overlooked substances being reconsidered for severe forms of mental illness.

      The nasal spray from Johnson & Johnson is a chemical cousin of ketamine, which has been used for decades as a powerful anesthetic to prepare patients for surgery. In the 1990s, the medication was adopted as a party drug by the underground rave culture due to its ability to produce psychedelic, out-of-body experiences. More recently, some doctors have given ketamine to people with depression without formal FDA approval.

      The Food and Drug Administration approved Spravato as a fast-acting treatment for patients who have failed to find relief with at least two antidepressants. Up to 7.4 million American adults suffer from so-called treatment-resistant depression, which heightens the risk of suicide, hospitalization and other serious harm, according to the FDA.

    • Rep. Pramila Jayapal: Medicare for All Will Lower Costs & Expand Healthcare Coverage to Everyone

      More than 100 Democratic lawmakers are co-sponsoring a new House bill to dramatically revamp healthcare in the United States by creating a Medicare-for-all system funded by the federal government. This comes at a time when as many as 30 million Americans have no health insurance and tens of millions more are either underinsured or struggling to pay their health insurance premiums. We speak with Democratic Congressmember Pramila Jayapal of Washington, who announced the bill last week.

    • DCCC Chair Accused of Echoing Right-Wing Talking Points After Calling Medicare for All Costs ‘Scary’

      “I think the $33 trillion price tag for Medicare for All is a little scary,” Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.), the chairwoman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), said in an interview with The Hill on Tuesday.

      Bustos was apparently referring to a study published last year by the Koch-funded Mercatus Center, which found that Medicare for All could cost $32.6 trillion over a ten-year period.

      But the study also found that Medicare for All could save the U.S. $2 trillion compared to the status quo—while insuring every American.

      In a column earlier this year, the Washington Post’s Paul Waldman argued that any concerns about the potential costs of a single-payer system must be weighed against current U.S. healthcare spending, which is the highest in the industrialized world.

      “You have to compare what a universal system would cost to what we’re paying now,” Waldman wrote.

  • Security

    • Struck by a Thunderbolt

      Such ports offer very privileged, low-level, direct memory access (DMA), which gives peripherals much more privilege than regular USB devices. If no defences are used on the host, an attacker has unrestricted memory access, and can completely take control of a target computer: they can steal passwords, banking logins, encryption keys, browser sessions and private files, and they can also inject malicious software that can run anywhere in the system.

    • Linux 5.1 Livepatching Lands Atomic Replace / Cumulative Patches Support

      With the in-development Linux 5.1 is a big step forward to the kernel’s live-patching infrastructure for this functionality that allows primarily applying security updates against the running kernel without the need for reboots.

      The big step forward with Linux 5.1 live-patching is now the ability to properly handle “cumulative patches” or a series of patches that depend upon the prior patches, which can now be properly handled with the infrastructure’s new atomic-replace functionality. This eases the roll-out of live patches implemented over the course of multiple patches with ordering/stacking and also recovering performance for functions no longer being patched.

    • Protection Poker: An agile game for mitigating risk

      Unfortunately for the security of our applications, we usually don’t “build security in” with development; instead we wait until the last possible moment and slap in security measures, typically forming a police-type security department and creating adversarial feelings between the security folks and the developers.

      There are lots of great security resources, ranging from tools for DevOps teams to thoughtful analysis of how DevSecOps is changing security. It all boils down to where in your development cycle you do security. If your team is implementing a shift-left approach, you already know security needs to be top of mind before any code is written.

    • NSA Open Sources Ghidra For Linux, Windows, Mac — A Powerful Reverse Engineering Tool

      It’s not a hidden fact that the National Security Agency (NSA) develops and uses many powerful and in-house security tools for carrying out different “important” tasks. Ghidra is one such well-known software reverse engineering toolkit that the agency has been using for a long time.

      At 2019’s RSA security conference, the NSA open sourced the tool with Apache 2.0 license, calling it a “contribution to the nation’s cybersecurity community.”

    • 13-Yr-Old Girl Arrested In Japan For Posting Infinite Loop Code

      Japanese police have apparently arrested a 13-year-old girl for “copy-pasting” a link to an infinite loop code.

      The teenager who studies in a junior high school in Kariya-shi, Aichi Prefecture, was arrested by the Hyogo Prefectural Police Department — because they found the girl guilty of posting an “unlawful program” on the internet.

    • Security updates for Wednesday
    • 13 Best Hacking Tools Of 2019 For Windows, Linux, macOS

      e have compiled a list of top hacking software and tools of 2019 with their best features and download links. This list is based on industry reviews, your feedback, and our own experience. This list will tell you about the best software used for hacking purposes featuring port scanners, web vulnerability scanner, password crackers, forensics tools, traffic analysis, and social engineering tools.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Defense Contractors Cited for Endangering Workers Continue to Win Big Business

      In a new report inspired by a Reveal investigation, the Government Accountability Office said 52 of 192 defense contractors it reviewed were cited for serious health or safety violations from the 2013 through 2017 fiscal years. Workers in these accidents suffered chemical burns, amputations and even death.

      In one case, a hydrogen blast left one worker pinned under a 20,000-pound lid, gave another second-degree burns and killed a third. In another case, a worker who fell 98 feet from an elevator was killed. In a third accident, a vessel became unmoored in high winds and struck a pier, pulling two workers underwater and killing one of them.

    • After Terrorism

      President Trump bashing the free press, F.B.I., allies, human rights, and immigrants illustrates how the national preoccupation with terrorism and the politics of fear has taken a toll on our discourse, civility and a wide range of domestic policies and international relations. Many actions since 9/11 are consistent with a Terrorism Narrative, which justifies extraordinary measures at home and abroad against terrorists and related threats, including torture, kidnapping, civilian casualties, threats to children, as well as expansive domestic surveillance and control. This narrative treats terrorism as an ongoing condition rather than as a tactic used by a definable enemy in a specific country. I suggest that the terrorism narrative will endure after the objective threat of terrorists has subsided.

      Since the 9/11 attacks, the terrorism narrative spanned at least three Presidents. In 2004, President George W. Bush used the words terrorism/terrorist 16 times (but did not mention immigration) in his acceptance speech for a second term of office. Under his guidance, the United States authorized use of military force, started two wars, engaged in torture in secret places, killed more civilians, passed the Patriot Act—(H.R.3162) – Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism–and initiated massive warrantless electronic surveillance of U. S. citizens.

      A new administration did not fundamentally alter this approach. President Obama sought to delegitimize torture and dialed back civilian surveillance, while expanding military missions against terrorists. More than 500 drone strikes have been carried out in at least 6 countries against avowed enemy agents as well as numerous civilians. Notwithstanding efforts to promote hope and tolerance rather than fear, and reduce gun violence, the Obama administration set records for immigrant detention and deportation, while still supporting those seeking amnesty.

    • Google Maps ‘corrects’ bug that marked Crimea as Ukrainian for Russian users

      Google Maps says it’s “corrected an error that caused a small number of Russian iOS users to see incorrect information.” The announcement follows complaints from federal lawmakers that Google Maps recently started marking the Crimean peninsula as Ukrainian territory for some users in Russia. In a press statement, Google explained that it complies with local laws regarding the depiction of international borders, while making “every effort to show disputed regions objectively.”

      This January, State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin said the depiction of Crimea as Ukrainian soil is unconstitutional, and demanded a meeting with representatives from Google. The company later acknowledged the error. In February, lawmakers threatened a more forceful response, if Google failed to correct the mistake before April.

    • Another War for Oil on the Agenda? Thank Ted Cruz

      Very important identical bills were introduced in the U.S. Senate and House in late February, but you’ve likely not heard of them – even though they could literally blow up the Middle East and take the world much closer to World War III.

      On February 26, Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Tom Cotton (R-AK) introduced a bill asserting U.S. recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights in Syria – thereby attempting to change long-standing U.S. policy and to defy international law, which considers the Golan as “occupied territory” that Israel must surrender. The bill was co-sponsored by Senators Marco Rubio (R-Fl), Kevin Cramer (R-ND) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC). An identical bill was filed in the House by Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI).

      In one of the very few articles written about these bills to date, MintPress News (Feb. 27) noted that U.S. recognition of Israel’s claim to the Golan Heights “could result in an all-out war between Israel and Syria as well as with Syrian allies such as Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah. Given that Israel has been preparing for such a war for well over a year and that Israel has been given the authority to bring U.S. troops into that conflict if and when it occurs, the likely consequences of the passage of this bill should be treated with the gravity they deserve.” [1]

      So why has there been so little press coverage of these companion bills? Presstv.com (Feb. 28) suggested two reasons: 1) the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) has “kept mum” about the bills; and 2) “Concerned about a possible international backlash, Trump administration officials have privately asked Israel to quiet the lobbying campaign” for this legislation. [2] Without AIPAC lobbying about the issue, the mainstream media apparently acquiesce in the silence.

    • ‘The Violence Elliott Abrams Supported Is Unspeakable’

      Abrams’ public record in Latin America and elsewhere, as an official under Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, ought to be central in any reporting on his current Venezuelan adventure. But it only really got on media’s front burner when Abrams’ was confronted with it by Rep. Ilhan Omar in a House Foreign Affairs Committee meeting, an exchange then subsumed in media’s “Hot Controversy of the Day” framework.

      Joining us now today to talk about some of Elliott Abrams’ keenly relevant and not-that-old history, is Jon Schwarz. Contributor to many outlets, he now writes for the Intercept.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Russiagate Grand Wizard Deceives Audience About Assange

      When it was first revealed in November that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is under secret charges by the Trump administration, I spent the next few days being told by Russiagaters that this was proof that I have been wrong about their demented cold war cult all along, because #MuellerTime is fast approaching. At long last, they vehemently assured me, Assange was going to prison for working with Russia to deprive Queen Hillary of her rightful throne.
      None of those people have come back to apologize or admit that they were wrong when subsequent evidence disproved their claims. None of them ever do.
      As it turns out, whistleblower Chelsea Manning has been subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury in a secret case investigating Assange for his 2010 role in the WikiLeaks publication of military war logs and diplomatic cables. Manning served seven years in prison for leaking those documents to the transparency advocacy outlet before her sentence was commuted by President Obama, meaning, obviously, that this sealed case has nothing to do with the 2016 leaks Russiagaters have been fiendishly obsessing over. Indeed, the Washington Post reported yesterday that “U.S. officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of grand jury secrecy, say the case is based on [Assange’s] pre-2016 conduct, not the election hacks that drew the attention of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.”

    • Coinbase Cuts Ties With Hacking Team Following Spyware Backlash

      Coinbase Inc., one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges, is letting go of staff after the backlash it faced for purchasing a company allegedly linked to the sale of spyware to oppressive regimes.

      Citing a gap in the diligence process, co-founder Brian Armstrong wrote in a blog post late Monday that “we did not properly evaluate everything from the perspective of our mission and values as a crypto company,” referring to their purchase of Neutrino, an Italian blockchain analytics firm.

      Coinbase announced the purchase of Neutrino on Feb. 19 and soon faced push-back from users. Neutrino’s chief executive officer Giancarlo Russo, chief research officer Marco Valleri, and chief technical officer Alberto Ornaghi were former members of Hacking Team, according to a BreakerMag article.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Pacific climate wobble speeds Arctic ice melt

      Sunlit skies and bright blue water could come earlier to the Arctic – much earlier, thanks to a distant Pacific climate wobble.

      Scientists now think that the Arctic Ocean could be effectively ice-free within the next 20 years, opening it to sea lanes across the polar waters between Europe, the US and east Asia.

      Climate researchers have repeatedly warned, in the last two decades, that because of global warming the ice sheet that masks the Arctic Ocean has been thinning and could in effect vanish altogether in summertime by 2050.

      New research has brought forward the prediction date. And this time the effective agency is not just global warming driven by profligate combustion of fossil fuels worldwide, but a natural cyclic phenomenon known to oceanographers as the interdecadal Pacific oscillation, or IPO.

    • The World’s 20 Most Polluted Cities in 2018

      While India dominates the list numerically, Bangladesh is actually the world’s most polluted country on average when weighted by population, followed by India and Pakistan, The New York Times reported.

      The report looked at 2018 air quality data assessing levels of particulate matter PM2.5, a particularly dangerous form of air pollution that has been linked to a growing number of health problems from pneumonia and heart disease to dementia and diabetes.

      The report assessed 3,000 cities and found that 64 percent of them had PM2.5 levels higher than World Health Organization (WHO) safety guidelines, according to The Guardian. Every city in Africa and the Middle East exceeded the guidelines, as well as 99 percent of South Asian cities and 89 percent of East Asian cities. The study estimates that air pollution will cause seven million early deaths next year, CNN reported.

      “Air pollution steals our livelihoods and our futures, but we can change that,” Executive Director of Greenpeace Southeast Asia Yeb Saño told The Guardian. “We want this report to make people think about the air we breathe, because when we understand the impacts of air quality on our lives, we will act to protect what’s most important.”

      The report indicated that China was having some success in its war on pollution. PM2.5 levels fell around 12 percent for the Chinese cities listed in the report between 2017 and 2018, The New York Times reported. India, however, has had less success. Its cities’ pollution levels saw relatively no change between the two years.

    • Spring 2019 High Tide Bulletin

      The rising and falling of the sea is a phenomenon upon which we can always depend. Tides are the regular rise and fall of the sea surface caused by the gravitational pull of the moon and sun and their position relative to the earth. There are some factors that cause the tides to be higher than what is “normally” seen from day to day. Our bulletin tells you when you may experience higher than normal high tides between March and May, 2019.

    • 58 Former Military and Intelligence Officials Warn Trump That Neglecting Climate Change ‘Will Erode National Security’

      The letter’s signers, who include former Obama administration secretary of defense Chuck Hagel and former secretary of state John Kerry, are responding to recent reports that the administration is planning to form a denier-stocked panel under the National Security Council to question federal climate science. “Imposing a political test on reports issued by the science agencies, and forcing a blind spot onto the national security assessments that depend on them, will erode our national security,” the letter states. “It is dangerous to have national security analysis conform to politics.”

    • Room to Roam: How Animals Benefit From Wildlife Corridors

      Animals today live in a shrinking world. Development, resource extraction and roadbuilding have fragmented landscapes and reduced wild spaces making it harder for animals to find food, search for a mate and adapt to a changing climate. To help address these problems, ecologists and conservationists have been working for decades to create wildlife corridors — areas of natural habitat that can reconnect fragmented habitats. These projects have ranged from small-scale efforts to build safe passage over highways to major conservation efforts protecting millions of acres.

      For more than 20 years, ecologist Jodi Hilty has been one of the people at the heart of this work. As president and chief scientist of the Canada-U.S. nonprofit Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative (Y2Y), Hilty has helped lead the organization’s work to connect and prot

    • Trader Joe’s Phasing Out Single-Use Plastics Nationwide Following Customer Petition

      As the world suffocates from its plastic addiction, a growing number of businesses are stepping up to the plate to reduce their plastic waste. Most recently, Trader Joe’s announced that it will be taking steps to cut back on plastic and other packaging waste after a petition launched by Greenpeace harnessed nearly 100,000 signatures.

      At the end of last year, the company announced several improvements geared towards making packaging more sustainable in an effort to eliminate more than 1 million pounds of plastic from stores. Already, the retailer has stopped offering single-use plastic carryout bags nationwide and is replacing plastic produce bags and Styrofoam meat trays with biodegradable and compostable options.

    • Residents Say Natural Gas Production Is Marring West Virginia. And the Legislature Isn’t Doing Anything About It.

      West Virginia Delegate Terri Sypolt says she understands how natural gas drilling has changed the look and feel of communities in the state, bringing an influx of noisy truck traffic and construction.

      “I’m thinking about a neighbor’s dog howling for two years right at your doorstep,” said Sypolt, a Republican from Preston County, in the northern region of the state.

      So when she returned to Charleston for this year’s legislative session, she introduced a bill for the third consecutive year to monitor the air and noise around drilling operations, hoping her colleagues would take action to help residents.

      The bill didn’t make it onto a committee agenda, let alone to the floor of the House of Delegates.

      As natural gas booms around the Marcellus Shale, nearby residents continue to bear the burden of the industry’s growth. Many live with constant light, truck traffic, dust and noise from gas production fueled by horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, as the Gazette-Mail and ProPublica chronicled last year. Business groups and the state coal association have argued in court filings that the inconveniences are unavoidable.

    • A Guide to Every Permitted Natural Gas Well in West Virginia

      Since the rise of hydraulic fracturing made it possible to get to the rich layer of natural gas in the Marcellus Shale, the number of horizontal well permits — which allow producers to drill for miles underground in all directions from a single point — has increased dramatically in West Virginia.

      The state issued only a dozen horizontal well permits in 2006. That jumped to over 5,000 last year, according to data from the state’s Department of Environmental Protection.

    • Which Airlines Are the Best and Worst for Climate Change?

      As of 2018, the commercial aviation industry accounted for 2.5 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions. If it were its own country, it would be the 7th highest emitter on the planet.

      Because of this, some climate activists have begun calling on people to reduce the amount of time they spend in the air, or to stop flying all together. Two Swedish moms, for example, got at least 10,000 people to pledge not to fly at all in 2019 as part of their No-fly 2019 (Flygfritt 2019) campaign, as BBC News reported.

  • Finance

    • Rural America Is Reeling. What’s the Remedy?

      While the U.S. government has prioritized the bailout of Wall Street with public monies, it has marginalized distressed rural communities and failed to provide the necessary funds, expertise and assistance to help revitalize them

      [...]

      What I learned on this epic journey is that all rural communities are reeling. It doesn’t matter if they are surrounded by water or cornfields. Financial uncertainty, disappearance of their social systems, lack of access to basic services, isolation, and emigration – especially the younger generation – are among their top concerns.

      It’s one thing to hear this from a couple of communities on an occasional farm or boat tour; another to hear it day after day, mile after mile, from communities that, though miles away from each other, share and live each other’s pain.

    • Debating a Maximum Wage

      While there is debate about where to set it, the concept of a minimum wage is firmly established in our political debates about the economy. Recently, there have been murmurs, including by some mainstream politicians, to look at the scourge of inequality from the other end. Perhaps there should be a parallel maximum wage.

      In the wake of the lively debate following Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez’s proposal for a top marginal tax rate of 70% on annual income over $10 million, it is clear the mood is ripe for a national discussion of ambitious proposals to tackle inequality.

      And in a modern media environment that rewards simple, bold, and slogan-ready proposals, the maximum wage is an intriguing idea with clear rhetorical punch.

      Moreover, the moral arguments in favor of it are substantial. So much so, that it is revealing to look at what someone, from the right or left, who would resist an upper limit on annual income has to be committed to in rejecting it.

      There are many forms a “maximum wage” could take. One option would merely set an upper limit on the ratio between the highest and lowest earners (e.g., capping the CEO-worker pay ratio).

      But for the purposes of argument, consider a simpler version which simply selects an income point past which all earnings are taxed at 100%.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • FBI chief: Foreign influence campaigns continually targeting US

      Wray noted that the FBI has been aligning with social media companies to prevent influence campaigns from spreading online, saying the cooperation has been a “great example of how the government and private sector can work together in a common defense.”

    • FBI Director Wray says foreign influence campaigns targeting US have continued ‘virtually unabated’

      Wray, speaking at the RSA cybersecurity conference in San Francisco, said the FBI has been working closely with the social media companies to counter the threat, and that the cooperation had been a “great example of how the government and private sector can work together in a common defense.”

    • Former NYC Mayor Bloomberg Won’t Run for President in 2020

      Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire former New York City mayor, announced Tuesday that he will not join the crowded field of Democrats running for president in 2020.

      Instead, Bloomberg said he planned to focus his energy and considerable resources on outside efforts aimed at defeating President Donald Trump, as well as on combating climate change and addressing gun violence.

      Bloomberg spent months weighing a White House run, traveling to early voting states and building a team of experienced political advisers. But aides said internal polling suggested Bloomberg’s path to the Democratic nomination was narrow, particularly if Vice President Joe Biden — who shares some of Bloomberg’s moderate positions — decides to run.

      In an editorial for Bloomberg News — the media company Bloomberg owns — he said he was “clear-eyed about the difficulty of winning the Democratic nomination in such a crowded field.”

    • What’s the Real American Story? Donald Trump has perfected…

      Donald Trump has perfected the art of telling a fake story about America. The only way to counter that is to tell the real story of America.

      Trump’s story is by now familiar: he alone will rescue average Americans from powerful alien forces – immigrants, foreign traders, foreign politicians and their international agreements – that have undermined the wellbeing of Americans.

      These forces have been successful largely because Democrats, liberals, “socialists,” cultural elites, the Washington establishment, the media and “deep state” bureaucrats have helped them, in order to enrich themselves and boost their power. Not surprisingly, according to Trump, these forces seek to remove him from office.

      What makes Trump’s story powerful to some Americans despite its utter phoniness is that it echoes the four tales Americans have been telling ourselves since before the founding of the Republic.

      To combat Trump’s fake story, we need a true story based on facts, logic and history. But in order for that true story to resonate with Americans, it must also echo the same four tales.

    • The Sacredness of Donald Trump

      Narcissism and Nostalgia are the twin sacred pillars of our Pontifex Maximus (a term used by Roman Emperors) Donald J Trump. He is a virtuoso in their use and misuse.

    • Congress, Let’s Fix the Problems in H.R. 1 So We Can Enact the Bill’s Much-Needed Reforms

      As currently drafted, the For the People Act of 2019 violates the First Amendment rights of American citizens and public-interest organizations.
      Members of Congress are expected to vote this week on H.R. 1, the For the People Act of 2019. There is a lot to like about the bill.

      To begin, its aim is to strengthen and expand participation in our democracy. We are at a crucial moment where our democratic institutions are not adequately protecting the will of the people, and we strongly support the goals of H.R. 1 to correct these infirmities.

      But, as we detail in a recent letter to Congress, there are provisions within the bill that, while well-intended, are overly broad and vague. If enacted, they would violate the First Amendment rights of American citizens and public interest organizations.

      Unless those provisions are fixed, we will oppose H.R. 1 and recommend that members of Congress vote against it.

    • Let’s Change Europe From the Ground Up

      The 2008 global financial crisis — the modern 1929 crash — set off a vicious chain reaction across Europe. By 2010 it had irreparably damaged the foundations of the eurozone, causing the establishment to bend its own rules and commit crimes against logic in order to bail out its banker friends. By 2013 the neoliberal ideology that had legitimised the EU’s oligarchic technocracy had plunged millions into misery, even through the enactment of official policies: socialism for the financiers and harsh austerity for the many. These policies were practised as much by conservatives as by social democrats. By 2015 the surrender of the Syriza government in Greece had divided and disheartened the left, robbing Europe of the short-lived hope that progressives rising up in the streets would alter the balance of power.

      Since then, anger has combined with hopelessness to create a vacuum, soon filled by the organised misanthropy of a Nationalist International triumphing across Europe, and making Donald Trump a very happy man. Against the background of an establishment that increasingly resembles the unhappy Weimar Republic, and of the recalcitrant racists produced by the crisis’s deflationary forces, the European Union is fragmenting. With Angela Merkel on the way out and Emmanuel Macron’s European agenda dead on arrival, the European election in May could prove the last chance progressives have to make a difference at a pan-European level.

    • Dereliction of Congressional Duty

      Last week’s congressional testimony by Michael Cohen riveted the nation as President Trump’s long-time lawyer, fixer and co-conspirator spilled the beans on his former boss. But Montana’s Republican congressional members, Sen. Steve Daines and Rep. Greg Gianforte, told reporters they were too busy “meeting with Montanans all day” to watch or listen to the hearings. That’s a clear dereliction of duty since one of the primary functions of Congress is to oversee, hold accountable, and provide checks and balances on the executive branch of government.

      Calling Trump a racist, cheat, liar and fraud, Cohen, who has already been sentenced to prison for his part in the Trump crime syndicate, opened the door to an ever-increasing list of congressional investigations into almost every aspect of Trump’s — and his family’s — incredible record of corruption.

      While it’s easy to dismiss Cohen’s testimony as coming from someone who has admitted to lying to Congress — and is going to prison for it — far too much of what he had to say fits perfectly with the disgusting record of Trump’s actions.

      Take Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns because he claims they’re being audited. Yet when Cohen, acting in his capacity as Trump’s legal counsel, asked to see the audit request, Trump refused to give him anything. That led Cohen to say he doubts Trump’s tax returns are actually being audited and the real reason Trump refuses to release them is because they would be pored over by tax experts and then get audited.

    • Mitch ‘Nuclear Option’ McConnell Poised to Turn Steady Stream of Trump’s Right-Wing Judges Into a Flood

      Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is reportedly pursuing a “nuclear option” rule change to make it easier to push through a flood of President Donald Trump’s right-wing judges.

      Under the new rules, nominees for lifetime appointments on lower courts would only require a simple majority of votes rather than the current 67. Critics condemned the move as “hijacking” the federal judiciary and pointed out that even if Democrats regain control of the Senate and White House in the next election, they may not have any more spots to fill post-2020.

      As noted by Politico, which first reported on McConnell’s plan Wednesday, the “stream of [Trump] judges is about to become a torrent.”

    • Mitch McConnell Could Be Out in 2020. Good Riddance.

      Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has himself a problem. Several of them, actually, all stemming from the same source. Somewhere along the line, and for reasons known only to himself, he grabbed a roll of industrial strength duct tape and strapped himself to the keel of the USS Donald Trump. That boat is now charging hard for stormy seas, and Mitch may soon find himself sinking fast once the green water starts shipping over the bow.

      Rand Paul, the other Republican senator from Kentucky, announced on Sunday that he would vote in favor of a bill to quash Trump’s contra-constitutional emergency declaration. The bill has already been passed by the House with 13 Republicans joining every Democrat, and Paul’s “Yes” marks the fourth and most vital Senate Republican vote on the measure. Now that he has joined with Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Thom Tillis (R-North Carolina), the bill is sure to pass that chamber unless one of them changes their mind or a Democrat goes rogue.

      Even that possibility may not kill the bill, according to Paul. “By my count,” he told reporters on Monday, “I’ve had at least 10 people coming up to me saying they will vote to disapprove on this.” One assumes he means “Republicans” when he says “people,” but you can never be sure. That’s a pretty cozy margin right there, if it’s true, which it very well may be. We have seen numerous instances of senators suddenly locating their integrity when a bill’s outcome is already determined, for good or ill. The most famous recent example of this “Be right there!” phenomenon came after deceased Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) killed Trump’s anti-Obamacare bill with a dramatic thumbs-down. Immediately afterward, McCain had himself some company.

    • Report: ICE Spied on Anti-Trump Activists in NYC

      Tobias points to three actions in particular that were singled out by HSI: a February 14, 2018, Ash Wednesday protest by immigrant rights group the New Sanctuary Coalition; a protest outside ICE’s Manhattan offices dubbed the Deportee Suitcase Solidarity March on July 26, 2018; and a July 31, 2018, protest against white supremacist group Identity Evropa organized by Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-N.Y.).

      The latter was included in a list of events sent to agents entitled “Anti-Trump Protest Spreadsheet.”

      “Please remain vigilant and aware of your surroundings,” the email said.

      In a statement, a spokesperson for ICE told The Nation that while the agency would not comment specifically on the spreadsheet’s methodology, it did feel that agents needed to know about the protests for operations.

      “The referenced email was provided to HSI agents for situational awareness should any HSI employees be traveling through those areas,” the spokesperson said, “whether on work or personal time.”

      Progressives targeted by the list were skeptical of ICE’s explanations and concerned about the implications of spying on activists.

    • ‘Enough is Enough’: Arrests Outside Pelosi’s Office as Tlaib Backs Call for Immediate Trump Impeachment

      Several demonstrators were arrested on Capitol Hill Wednesday as progressives rallied to demand that Democrats in the House initiate, without delay, impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump.

      The action involved a sit-in at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) office. Grassroots groups CREDO Action and By the People, the organizers, were joined in the morning by Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.).

      Tlaib last month signed a pledge calling on lawmakers to “defend us from a president who believes he can get away with anything.”

      The congresswoman and other demonstrators argued that the president must be held accountable for his alleged obstruction of justice, violation of the Constitution’s emoluments clause, and abuses of power, and that Democrats should use their control of the House to ensure that he is.

    • Jayapal: Democrats Are Ready to Issue Subpoenas If White House Blocks New Requests for Documents

      The House Judiciary Committee launched a wide-ranging investigation Monday into President Trump, his businesses and his allies, as lawmakers probe possible obstruction of justice, corruption and other crimes and abuses of power. The committee requested documents from at least 81 people or groups, who now have a March 18 deadline to respond. The list includes his sons Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, his son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, WikiLeaks, AMI chief David Pecker, the Department of Justice, the FBI, Trump’s charities and the founder of private security firm Blackwater, Erik Prince—who is also the brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. We speak with Rep. Pramila Jayapal, who serves on the House Judiciary Committee.

    • Momo Hoax Shows America’s Susceptibility To Bullshit Goes Well Beyond Social Media

      Social media outlets like Twitter have been rightly criticized for being comically inept when it comes to handling hate, hoaxes, and propaganda. But when conversations bubble up on how best to actually solve these issues, social media tends to get the lion’s share of the blame for Americans’ aggressive susceptibility to bullshit. In many of these conversations, Americans’ susceptibility to bullshit is somehow seen as a new phenomenon, and Twitter and Facebook are exclusively to blame for American heads getting filled with gravel and disinformation.

      In reality, America’s gullibility problem goes much deeper, and it’s going to take a lot more than some Facebook wrist slaps to actually address it. Case in point: you’ve probably seen something about the “Momo challenge” hoax that’s everywhere. The short version: the hoax claims there’s a viral game making the rounds on services like WhatsApp that involves a demonic-looking chicken lady goading young children into acts of violence or even suicide. In the game, images of said bird lady supposedly press kids harder and harder until they engage in violence like some Japanese horror flick.

    • We need ranked-choice voting in the presidential primaries

      If the New Hampshire Democratic presidential primary were held today, the results would be disastrous. That is, at least as far as representative democracy is concerned.

      A new YouGov poll released by the University of Massachusetts Amherst shows that New Hampshire primary voters are split between the deluge of candidates seeking the Democratic nomination for president. Joe Biden ranks first at 28 percent, Bernie Sanders follows at 20 percent, and the rest of the field garners anywhere from 1 to 14 percent.

      The problem does not concern the frontrunners. Rather, it is the fact that 43 percent of voters favor a candidate polling below 15 percent of the vote. (9 percent of voters remain completely undecided).

      Treating 15 percent as a magic metric, at first glance, appears bizarre. But in the Democratic presidential primary, reaching 15 percent is critical.

      The Democratic presidential primaries award delegates proportionally. If a candidate wins 40 percent of the vote, he or she is entitled to at least 40 percent of the delegates. Compared to a strict winner-take-all system—one that would award all the delegates to the candidate with the most votes—this method is quite representative.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Guess what? Facebook still tracks you on Android apps (even if you don’t have a Facebook account)

      In December 2018, we revealed how some of the most widely used apps in the Google Play Store automatically send personal data to Facebook the moment they are launched. That happens even if you don’t have a Facebook account or are logged out of the Facebook platform (watch our talk at the Chaos Communication Congress (CCC) in Leipzig or read our full legal analysis here).

      Today, we have some good news for you: we retested all the apps from our report and it seems as if we have made some impact. Two thirds of all apps we retested, including Spotify, Skyscanner and KAYAK, have updated their apps so that they no longer contact Facebook when you open the app.

      Here’s the bad news: seven apps, including Yelp, the language-learning app Duolingo and the job search app Indeed, as well as the King James Bible app and two Muslim prayer apps, Qibla Connect and Muslim Pro, still send your personal data to Facebook before you can decide whether you want to consent or not. Keep in mind: these are apps with millions of installs.

      Since we published our report, mobilsicher.de could also confirm that apps on iOS exhibit similar behaviour.

    • Some Android Apps Still Sharing Your Data With Facebook

      Previously, a survey by Privacy International discovered the exchange of users’ data between various Android apps and Facebook, following which many apps stopped the practices. However, a recent survey suggests that the data collection continues to take place for some other apps.

      It is suggested that apps such as Yelp, Duolingo, job-hunting app Indeed, a Bible app, as well as two Muslim prayer apps (Qibla Connect and Muslim Pro) are still sharing users’ data with Facebook without users’ consent.

    • Clash Of EU’s Poorly Thought Out Laws: German Data Protection Commissioner Warns That Article 13 Might Violate GDPR

      As we’ve been noting recently, the EU really seems to be bending over backwards to pass poorly thought out laws about the internet (sometimes, though not always, with the best of intentions). For example, the GDPR certainly seems to have good intentions behind it, but in practice it has been a disaster in many specific cases, where it seems obvious that those who crafted the law simply ignored warnings about how it would intersect with real world situations — especially those regarding free speech. Then, of course, there’s the EU Copyright Directive and Article 13, where as far as I can tell, the EU is rushing forward with this effort, knowing that it’s awful, because the entire point of the law is to be so awful that internet companies are pressured into grovelling before Hollywood not to sue them for violating a law with which it is literally impossible to be in compliance with.

      Of course, in a bit of irony, at least one German official is recognizing that the intersection of these two laws may, in fact, cause some significant concerns. Despite what supporters have said about Article 13, it will require that most online platforms use upload filters. While supporters insist the law does not say that, when pressed on this issue, they only note that filters are one way to try to comply, and basically say that tech companies might need to “nerd harder” to come up with alternatives. However, in all practicality, this law is a giant government handout to filter companies. Indeed, as we noted, some of the strongest lobbying in favor of Article 13 came from Audible Magic, which is the recognized leading independent upload filtering company (many, many other companies use its technology, with the one major exception being Google, which built its own filtering tech).

      TorrentFreak points us to a letter to the EU Parliament from Germany’s Data Protection Commissioner (basically, the person in charge of enforcing the GDPR), warning that since there are so few filter companies, and Article 13 will more or less mandate their usage, it will raise significant concerns about all the data those companies (really: Audible Magic) will collect on people and their internet habits. The letter was first translated into English by Florian Mueller, who received an official “approval” from the German Federal Commissioner that his translation was accurate.

    • Ending the NSA’s Massive Phone Spying Program Would Be a Good Start — But There’s a Lot More to Do

      The successor to the NSA’s bulk surveillance program revealed by Snowden is reportedly being abandoned. Congress needs to make sure it stays dead.
      We may be one step closer to putting the final nail in the coffin of the National Security Agency’s massive phone records surveillance program, if a New York Times report bears out. Ending this program is a good first step, but as Congress debates expiring Patriot Act provisions this year, it needs to do much more to protect individual rights, including eliminating the phone record authority altogether.

      In 2013, Edward Snowden revealed that the NSA had been collecting the phone records of virtually every single American, relying on a twisted interpretation of Section 215 of the Patriot Act. The information collected by the government included who called whom, when, and for how long.

      Amid outrage from the public, members of Congress, and a federal appeals court decision finding that the program was unlawful, Congress voted in 2015 to end the nationwide collection of all Americans’ call records and to institute other needed reforms.

      But under the newly constituted program, the NSA collected over 600 million records in 2017 alone. Further, the new program has been beset by years-long compliance violations that resulted in the unlawful collection of countless records.

      Now, news reports suggest that the NSA may have voluntarily halted the program. The NSA has yet to confirm why, and it may have simply replicated this collection under a different authority.

      Even if these reports are true, however, Congress must still act to prevent this program from ever being resurrected. In the past, the NSA has argued that it retains the authority to restart surveillance programs it voluntarily ends. The agency will likely take the same position here. That’s why Congress must completely eliminate this power to prevent this program from ever being resurrected under Section 215 or any other authority.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Bread, Circuses, and Duct Tape: How to Make Border Porn

      On February 15th, Donald Trump declared a state of national emergency in order to fund his “great, great” border wall without having to go through Congress. There is, of course, no emergency, despite the rape fantasy that the president has regularly tried to pass off as public policy. In speech after speech, including his declaration of that emergency, he has told the same story: the United States needs a border wall to prevent sex traffickers from driving women into the country, bound with duct tape.

      “Women are tied up,” he typically says. “They’re bound. Duct tape put around their faces, around their mouths. In many cases they can’t even breathe.”

      It’s a scenario he’s only continued to elaborate over time. “They have tape over their mouths, electrical tape, usually blue tape, as they call it. It’s powerful stuff. Not good. And they have three, four, five of them in vans, or three of them in back seats of cars.” As they approach ports of entry, he swears, the vehicles carrying them “get off the road, and they drive out into the desert and they come in, they make a left turn — usually it’s a left, not a right.”

      Fact-checkers and experts in border sex trafficking have been quick to insist that they know of no such incidents, however elaborately imagined — not one. Instead, most women and children forced into prostitution, they report, enter the country through legal ports of entry.

      Border Patrol headquarters even sent out a request asking agents to provide any evidence whatsoever that might help support the president’s tall tales. None apparently did. It’s worth noting that Trump first added stories of duct-taped women to his border repertoire in early January, not too long after the heartbreaking news broke of the discovery of two Saudi sisters, 16 and 22, found dead in New York City’s Hudson River, duct-taped together. Their deaths were ruled suicides, committed after the United States denied them asylum and ordered them deported to Saudi Arabia, a close American ally. Their bodies even washed up on West 68th Street and Riverside Drive, close to Trump Place Condominiums. (He seems inescapable.)

    • Missouri Law Enforcement Is Dodging State Forfeiture Laws To Screw Schools And Keep Drugs Flowing Into The State

      Repeating the same fallacy doesn’t make it true. Law enforcement agencies like cash and the federal loophole that allows them to keep 80% of what they seize. What they don’t like is the work that comes with actually dismantling drug cartels which, at some point, has to involve drug seizures and arrests, rather than pocketing cash and sending drivers on their way.

      The state’s law enforcement agencies have a chance to do some truly great things with forfeiture money. As was noted earlier, adding arrests to seizures routes funds to the state’s public school system. Rather than be an active contributor to their communities — both by funding schools and actually taking drug runners off the street — cops are seizing cash and asking the feds to launder the proceeds so they can bypass local schools and any pretense of stopping the flow of drugs into the state.

    • Sacramento Police Who Killed Stephon Clark Won’t Be Charged

      California’s attorney general announced Tuesday that he won’t charge two Sacramento police officers who fatally shot an unarmed black man last year, joining a local prosecutor in finding that the officers reasonably believed Stephon Clark had a gun as he moved toward them.

      Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced the results of a nearly yearlong investigation after telling Clark’s mother privately. He acknowledged that it was not what Clark’s family wanted but said the evidence showed the officers had reason to believe their lives were in danger, though investigators found only a cellphone. SeQuette Clark did not comment Tuesday on Becerra’s findings.

      “There is a lot of hurt in this community today and certainly in the home of the Clark family,” Becerra said. “Our investigation can’t change what has happened, but we can make every effort to deliver a fair, thorough and impartial review, which we promised this community.”

    • The UK Labour Party’s “Antisemitism Crisis” and the Likud Supporters in Its Leadership

      The Labour party’s “antisemitism crisis” keeps dragging on.

      What can the Labour leadership do about it?

      The Labour’s leadership has tried appeasing its critics, but this has not worked. Appeasement has only emboldened these critics.

      Jeremy Corbyn’s detractors, both inside and outside the party, are adept at moving the goalposts, and will never be satisfied until he is gone as leader, and Labour once again becomes a “natural” home for opportunists like Tony Blair and his followers, and their friends in the Zionist lobby.

      Best just to have a proper process of scrutiny in place, with a complementary disciplinary framework, and place the onus on these to deal with the charges of “antisemitism”, most of which have no merit.

      As far as I can tell, and speaking as a party member, this is what Labour is doing.

      As is the case with Islamophobia, there is antisemitism everywhere, and the Labour party is no exception.

    • Anti-Semitism Versus Anti-Zionism in Today’s France

      We are at a new stage of the fight to realize Palestinian rights and free both Palestinians and Jews from the consequences of Zionist racism. There was a time when very few in the West understood the racist nature of the Israeli state. For a long time the Zionists controlled the public relations message and most people took as fact the fictional account of Israel’s founding—such as the one given in Leon Uris’s book Exodus. After the 1967 war, and Israel’s decision to keep even more conquered Palestinian territory, things began to change. Of course, Israel had always been a racist place designed for one group alone. But now the contradictions created by post-war occupation made, and continue to make, that fact harder to hide, and the mythical picture of Israel as a grand democratic experiment has eroded. Increasingly the real, illiberal Israel has become apparent to Western audiences, and particularly to an increasing number of Jews. As a result, Israel has largely lost the public relations battle at the popular level of Western society.

    • What Anti-Semitism Actually Looks Like

      Weeks ago, when the first accusations of anti-semitism were being leveled against Representative Ilhan Omar, I was deeply agitated.

      Not long ago I saw her address these accusations at a local town hall. She reminded the world that, as a Black Muslim woman in America, she knows what hate looks like — and spends her life laboring against it. Her words were clear, bold, and unflinching.

      When members of Congress not only continued to gang up and falsely smear Omar as anti-semitic, but even created a House Resolution painting her words as hateful, I wasn’t just agitated. I was absolutely disgusted.

      Omar has criticized the U.S. government’s support for Israeli actions that break international law. And she’s spoken out against the role money in politics plays in shoring up that support.

      Neither is anti-semitic.

    • The Politics of the Independent Group

      They could not hold on. A small – and in the scheme of things negligible group – split from the British Labour mothership last month in an effort to salvage some self-described form of credibility. In truth, they were the original sceptics of Jeremy Corbyn, the pro-New Labour grouping indifferent, even disbelieving, about the predations made by Tony Blair during his reign. Thinking that he would remain on both backbench and in museum, a historical relic of Labour values supposedly done away with under Blair’s rule of spinning and cunning, some even put Corbyn up for the Labour leadership. As things transpired, the tired technocrats, focus groupies, and a range of other associates of Tone’s worldview were given a rude shock with the ascendancy of Corbyn and Momentum.

      The split, comprising Chris Leslie, Luciana Berger, Ann Coffey, Chuka Umunna, Mike Gapes, Angela Smith and Gavin Shuker, should have happened sooner. But times are good to make shallow decisions short on policy but noisy with neglected values. Britain remains chaotically disposed and unruly; its Prime Minister remains desperate and hoping for an extension on negotiations regarding an exit from the European Union. Papers associated with the left of British politics were chewing over the decision to form a new grouping. The resignations, claimed the Guardian, “are a mistake, but they are also a warning. Like it or not, and a few on all wings have always disliked it, the Labour party is not a centralist party.”

      Chris Leslie used the familiar themes of hostage taking that have come to symbolise the divide in Britain’s left. “The Labour Party we joined, what we campaigned for and believed in is no longer today’s Labour Party… it has now been hijacked by the machine politics of the hard left.” Labour had betrayed Europe and enabled, according to Leslie, the conditions for May’s Brexit to take place. The “public” had been denied “a final say”. (Matters of the public are relative: the public did have a say in 2016, but a narrative that is digging its way into the books is that it was illegitimate, stolen, an act of grand and cruel deception, ergo invalid.)

    • The Intersection Many Missed in Smollett’s Case

      In this age of intersectionality in social justice movements, it’s clear that Jussie Smollet’s case has lacked true intersectional understanding in the period since the Chicago Police Department made their accusations against him.

      It has been telling to witness how many people, activists and media alike, took the CPD’s statements as truth and turned on Smollett.

      Smollett grew up in a family that has close ties to Angela Davis and the Black Panther Party and has been an activist and artist since his childhood. He has been outspoken about many of President’s Trump’s policies, and taught songwriting in Illinois prisons. He is a Black Gay artist who speaks out.

    • Time for a Democratic New Good Neighbor Policy

      As we begin to contemplate life after Trump, the Democratic Party candidates for the White House are scrambling to distinguish themselves. But beyond shared opposition to building a southern border wall, the candidates have so far said little about the future shape of U.S. policy for Latin America. It is time to set a forward-looking Democratic vision for our hemisphere. Those candidates who can first articulate a thoughtful and progressive agenda on this will be at a competitive advantage with the increasing number of voters who are concerned about both Americas, North and South.

      The U.S. has at present two misplaced fixations regarding Latin America: unauthorized immigration and illegal drugs. Neither should be U.S. policy priorities. Certainly Latin Americans do not see these issues as their foremost concerns.

      Latin Americans naturally have great empathy for the plight of immigrants seeking to come to the United States. They are horrified by the loss of life–at least 400 die crossing each year. They rightly feel deeply offended by President Trump’s obsession for building a wall to stand against them.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Putin Could Launch His Own Russia-controlled Internet

      A new bill has been proposed in the Russian legislature that could grant the permission to isolate Russia’s internet from the rest of the world.

      There is a “Sovereign Internet” bill which seeks to tighten its grip on how information flows in and out of the country. Under this bill, new centralized hubs will be set up to manage (read manipulate) the flow of information or even halt it.

    • Putin Wants His Own Internet

      When anti-government protests erupted on Russia’s side of the Caucasus Mountains in October, authorities did something they’d never done before: cut mobile internet service to an entire geographical area.

      For almost two weeks, tens of thousands of mainly Muslim Russians were prevented from accessing social media sites and sharing videos through their smartphones. Unlike China, where control of the internet is uniquely centralized, Russia doesn’t yet have an easy way to quarantine negative news, so it had to force commercial carriers to curtail local services one by one.

      Russia’s censorship deficit relative to China is about to narrow. Backed by President Vladimir Putin, lawmakers in Moscow are pushing a bill through parliament dubbed “Sovereign Internet” that’s designed to create a single command post from which authorities can manage and, if needed, halt information flows across Russian cyberspace.

      Putin is touting the initiative as a defensive response to the Trump Administration’s new cyber strategy, which permits offensive measures against Russia and other designated adversaries. But industry insiders, security experts and even senior officials say political upheaval is the bigger concern.

    • Tell Congress to Stand Up for Real Net Neutrality Protections

      When the FCC announced its intention to repeal the 2015 Open Internet Order, Americans spoke up. When the FCC ignored the fact that most Americans support net neutrality, Americans spoke up again, asking Congress to reverse the FCC’s decision. And the Senate listened. This fight continues in the courts, in the states, and, yes, in Congress.

      The just-introduced Save the Internet Act would restore the 2015 Open Internet Order and prevent the FCC from pulling the same stunt it did in 2017 by ignoring facts and the clear desire of the people. Internet service providers (ISPs) like Verizon, AT&T, and Comcast would once again be banned from engaging in discriminatory data practices like blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization. ISPs would once again be accountable for actions that threaten the free and open Internet, public safety, and competition. Privacy protections from your ISP would once again be restored. There would again be protections for real net neutrality.

      The Save the Internet Act returns us to the hard-fought-for protections of the 2015 Open Internet Order and we should not settle for anything less. Bills, like H.R. 1101 (Walden), H.R. 1006 (Latta), and H.R. 1096 (McMorris Rodgers), that focus only on blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization miss the vital point that net neutrality is a principle of fairness. We cannot let ISPs try to redefine net neutrality as simply bans on three specific actions. It’s the idea that the provider that you pay to get you online doesn’t get to determine your experience once you’re on the Internet. You decide what you want to see and use, without ISPs stacking the deck in a way that benefits them.

    • The Digital Unconformity by Doc Searls

      In the library of Earth’s history, there are missing books. All were written in rock that is now gone. The greatest example of “gone” rock first was observed by John Wesley Powell in 1869, on his expedition by boat through the Grand Canyon. Floating down the Colorado river, he saw the canyon’s mile-thick layers of reddish sedimentary rock resting on a basement of gray non-sedimentary rock, and he correctly assumed that the upper layers did not continue from the bottom one. He knew time had passed between the basement rock and the floors of rock above it, but he didn’t know how much. The answer turned out to be more than a billion years. The walls of the Grand Canyon say nothing about what happened during that time. Geology calls that nothing an unconformity.

      In fact, Powell’s unconformity prevails worldwide. The name for this worldwide missing rock is the Great Unconformity. Because of that unconformity, geology knows comparatively little about what happened in the world through stretches of time ranging regionally up to 1.6 billion years. All of those stretches end abruptly with the Cambrian Explosion, which began about 541 million years ago. Many theories attempt to explain what erased all that geological history, but the prevailing paradigm is perhaps best expressed in “Neoproterozoic glacial origin of the Great Unconformity”, published on the last day of 2018 by nine geologists writing for the National Academy of Sciences.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Presumption of Nexus or “Presumptions All the Way Down”

      Both of these companies use drones to measure houses — their reports are then used for roofing, solar, and insurance estimates. In 2015, Eagle View sued Xactware for patent infringement — that case is ongoing. Meanwhile, Xactware filed a series of inter partes review petitions – the subject of the appeal here.

      For its part, the PTAB agreed to hear the IPRs — finding initially that the petitions had merit. Ultimately, however, the PTAB sided with the patentee and found in its final decision that the challenged claims were not proven invalid. On appeal, the Federal Circuit has also affirmed.

    • Patent case: Analyse des Fahrverhaltens eines Kraftfahrzeuges, Germany

      The Federal Court of Justice confirmed that German Courts should take into consideration decisions rendered by the EPO deciding bodies and Courts of other EPO member states. If the decisions differ, the German Courts should deal with the earlier reasons in detail.

    • Chinese IP Officials Complete Study Of UK, European IP Law

      It focuses on “key aspects of UK and European law and practice in patents, trademarks, designs and copyright,” and aims to “contribute to a greater understanding of UK and European intellectual property law and practice so that the CNIPA officials can work more efficiently in their respective fields,” the release says.

      The training programme included visits to the UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) and the offices of “two leading firms specialising in patents and trademarks,” as well as specific projects tailored to the work specialities of CNIPA officials, it says.

      “This is a win-win situation,” Duncan Matthews, director of Queen Mary’s Intellectual Property Research Institute, said in the release.

      “It is the fourth year of the Queen Mary training programme and our continuing relationship with the CNIPA will lead to benefits for the Chinese IP system as well as giving reassurance to UK and European IP rights holders operating there,” it said. This was the second contingent of CNIPA officials to cycle through the programme.

    • Trademarks

      • Apple’s trade mark opposition goes pear shaped…

        Furthermore, the Court pointed out that in several European Union languages, apples and pears are used in proverbs to illustrate that two things are different and not comparable. In addition, it cannot be assumed that the relevant public has knowledge about the fact that pears and apples belong to the same plant family (Rosaceae) and the same sub-family (pomoideae), or that it knows about their growing and harvesting conditions. Whilst it is true that pears and apples can have similar sizes, colours and textures, they are not the only fruits which may be coloured red, yellow or green. The same applies to the comparable size and texture of apples and pears, elements which are, however, counterbalanced by the fact that the shape of apples is different from that of pears. In any event, the Court found that those elements do not suffice to counterbalance the clear differences existing between the conflicting marks on a conceptual level.

      • Judge Refuses To Hand The Government Biker Gang’s Trademark

        If we were ever to hand out some kind of award for a trademark dispute due to both its insanity and longevity, surely that award would go the US Government’s attempt to strip the Mongols, a motorcycle gang, of its trademark. This whole thing actually started way back in 2008, with the government arresting several Mongols members for all manner of crimes ranging from extortion to murder. On top of prosecuting these cases and the gang, it requested it be allowed to seize the Mongols trademark on its logo, reasoning that this would allow them to simply strip any members of any biker gear that displayed the logo, even though that isn’t what trademark allows one to do. This somehow continued several years later, when the remaining members of the gang claimed the group collectively owned the trademark in question, meaning that the government couldn’t simply take control of it.

        And, amazingly, this whole thing continues to today. It looked for all the world that this case was finally going to wrap up with the trademark being handed over to the US Government. In a jury verdict, the jury had ordered exactly that to happen. To the suprise of many, however, the judge overseeing the case stepped in and disregarded that part of the judgement, arguing that it would violate the First Amendment.

    • Copyrights

      • SCOTUS: lawyers clash over impact of copyright case on settlements

        The US Supreme Court’s interpretation of the term “full costs” in the copyright statute strictly limits courts’ discretion, but lawyers disagree over the impact on settlements

      • 8 Best Kodi Movie Addons For Watching Movies In 2019

        If you are scouring the internet for free movie websites and unraveling articles on how to watch free movies, here’s an easier means to watch movies online in 2019. Kodi, the popular XBMC owned media player, allows users to stream live TV, movies and TV shows with the help of addons.

        To help you avoid the painstaking task of searching addons and looking for best Kodi repositories, we have compiled a list of best Kodi addons for movies in 2019. All the movie addons listed here can be downloaded from the official Kodi repository.

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