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04.04.19

EPO Management is Knowingly and Consciously Granting Invalid European Patents, Including Patents on Life and Nature

Posted in Europe, Patents at 7:23 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Anything to fake so-called ‘production’

3 pears

Summary: A “patents on everything, just apply today at the EPO!” attitude has tarnished the reputation of the EPO; it’s abundantly clear that the EPC is being routinely violated because all that matters to the EPO is money from applications and renewals (milking cows)

IT IS everything but amusing to see the attitude of Iancu at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and António Campinos at the European Patent Office (EPO). They disregard the law, they mock judges. They grant software patents which they know would not be upheld in courts. As a patent maximalist put it yesterday in relation to the USPTO: “the agency was refusing to issue patents that it saw as crossing-the-eligibility-line. However, the new statements by Dir. Iancu go the other-way, with the USPTO creating a policy of issuing patents that the courts would find invalid (if given the opportunity). The statement from the court here is important although buried in a non-precedential opinion. One reason for its importance is its clear tension with the Federal Circuit’s recent decision in Natural Alternatives that called for Skidmore deference to be given to the PTO statement on eligibility.”

The subject is important enough that, even though we refuse to cover pertinent US patent cases, we wrote about it yesterday. The same thing is going to happen in Europe. To a certain degree, it is already happening. We wrote about it last week and the week before that after the UK Supreme Court had dealt with such a matter (after they had thrown out yet another European Patent). At Lexology, Gowling WLG’s Gordon Harris and Paul Inman wrote about the UK Supreme Court in relation to the EPO as recently as yesterday (“The UK Supreme Court review of the law of obviousness”), so people aren’t forgetting just yet. There’s a growing sense of tension between courts/judges and the EPO — similar to what we see in the Federal Circuit and SCOTUS (US).

“There’s a growing sense of tension between courts/judges and the EPO — similar to what we see in the Federal Circuit and SCOTUS (US).”We keep exploring various new decisions and grants, only to find a rather consistent pattern. Those who are inside the EPO are inclined to do what Campinos wants (maybe fearing for their livelihood), whereas outside the EPO we keep seeing European Patents invalided aplenty. Is the Opposition Division free to rule as it sees fit? Without fear from management, which is a pack of patent maximalists? Is the Opposition Division any more independent than the Boards of Appeal? No, neither is independent. So here’s one newly-announced outcome which pertains to mass litigation in Düsseldorf:

Visual technology market leader RealD Inc. announced today that the European Patent Office’s (EPO) Opposition Division has upheld the validity of another one of the Company’s key patents for light-doubling 3D cinema projection systems. As a result, RealD’s European patent that covers triple-beam 3D cinema projection systems (EP2846180) remains in full force.

RealD announced on December 18, 2017 the filing of a complaint with the District Court in Düsseldorf, Germany, alleging that Volfoni SAS, Volfoni GmbH and CinemaNext Deutschland Gmbh have infringed three of RealD’s European patents by the importation, sale, or offer for sale of the Volfoni SmartCrystal Diamond cinema systems in Germany. In the complaint, RealD requested an injunction banning the sale of the infringing devices and sought financial damages.

By the sound of it, the patents might still not be valid, but it remains to be decided by someone outside the EPO, which is managed by patent maximalists. Watch what they wrote yesterday about “medtech” (their new buzzword and hashtag for algorithms that are used in a medical context). They also used the hashtag “biotech” and the term "life sciences" (bogus nonsense, used more often than not to describe life and nature as patent-worthy man-made 'inventions'). To quote yesterday’s tweet: “Do you work in life sciences? Eight of the EPO’s top ten applicants for #biotech #patents came from Europe.”

Like what, patents on genetics? Vegetables? Seeds? Pigs?

The EPO is granting patents on life. Patents on nature, too. When do we get to see patents on religions and superstition too? Is “God” patented yet? All the “Gods”?

Global Banking And Finance Review has this new press release about genetics being patented in spite of the CRISPR controversy (Opposition Division). In their own words:

ERS Genomics Limited announced today that the European Patent Office (EPO) has issued a new patent to Dr. Emmanuelle Charpentier, The Regents of the University of California and University of Vienna. EPO Patent No. 3,401,400 claims methods and compositions of using CRISPR/Cas9 to modify DNA and regulate gene activity in eukaryotic cells, including kits to carry out such work. ERS Genomics provides broad access to these and other foundational CRISPR/Cas9 patents co-owned by Dr. Emmanuelle Charpentier.

Great! European Patents on genetics! Yet again.

EPO management keeps pretending that it’ll tackle the legality of it with respect to the EPC, but watch what Jim Robertson has just said:

The only legally “clean” way for this to be resolved is for the Biotech Directive 98/44/EC to be amended – at that point the AC could use Art 33(1)(b) EPC to amend Art 53(b) EPC to bring it into line with the amended Biotech Directive. That does, however, requires unanimity of all EPC contracting states.

This is a political issue, and the big question is: why it is happening this way? If *all* EPC contracting states (therefore also implying all EU member states) wanted the EPC to be amended then it would be relatively simple and easy to make the necessary changes to the Biotech Directive and the EPC.

Do the events at the EPO imply some kind of political problem? A lack of unanimity? As ever, it would be fascinating to find out exactly what is actually going on behind the scenes…

“Do the events at the EPO imply some kind of political problem? A lack of unanimity? As ever, it would be fascinating to find out exactly what is actually going on behind the scenes…”
      –Jim Robertson
Robertson was responding to Mike Snodin, who on Tuesday quoted from CIPA’s position paper (we had made a local copy [PDF] and remarked on it earlier this week). His quote from CIPA’s publication : “Our position is that there are presently are no valid grounds upon which the EBA could accept a referral the President under Article 112(1)(b) EPC with respect to the interpretation of Article 53(b) EPC. The EBA has already provided a binding interpretation of Article 53(b) EPC, meaning that there are no “different” (i.e. conflicting) decisions of Boards of Appeal that might form the basis of a referral under Article 112(1)(b) EPC”; and

“in our view, there are no valid grounds for disputing the Board of Appeal’s conclusion that the above-mentioned EC Notice (i.e. the Notice upon which Rule 28(2) EPC was based) has no legal authority under the EPC”.

The EPO is clearly and unreluctantly still granting patents in defiance of the EPC. SUEPO estimated, as per its two-days-old publication, that 30,000 such invalid European Patents were granted last year alone. It is extremely expensive (legal fees) to clean up such a mess. It’s almost impractical.

The Staff Union of the European Patent Office (SUEPO) Warns About the Granting of Tens of Thousands of Invalid European Patents Every Year

Posted in Europe, Patents at 6:34 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Even the examiners admit this

EPO delivery
Campinos Presidency, 9 months and no delivery. Published Tuesday by SUEPO, the staff union of the European Patent Office (EPO).

Summary: Patent maximalists who measure “success” in terms of the number of granted patents while diminishing patent scope/restrictions have turned what once was a source of pride for examiners into a rubber-stamping operation

WE HAVE SEEN the effect of it at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO); decades of bad patent grants (e.g. software patents that had been granted) were dropping like flies at the Federal Circuit and Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) (through inter partes reviews (IPRs), i.e. without even a lawsuit necessarily being filed). It’s not just 35 U.S.C. § 101 but also § 102 and § 103 that came into play (we have seen some new examples this morning, but we don’t wish to delve into finer details this year).

“We wish to gently remind all kind examiners around the world that buzzwords do not magically render algorithms patent-eligible.”The same thing is nowadays happening at the EPO, as António Campinos keeps promoting software patents in Europe (under the guise of “AI” and similar buzzwords). What gives? Where does it end?

Having posted it in Watchtroll first (we mentioned it in passing earlier this week), this law firm from the US is now promoting software patents disguised as “AI”, alluding to “EPO And USPTO Guidance” (loopholes):

“The extra attention that the EPO and USPTO are paying toward AI and ML will likely help swing the pendulum of patentable subject matter toward a place that is in harmony with the current state of technology.”

It is safe to say that Artificial intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) are hot topics and, as with any rapidly growing technological area on the industry side, there is also a rapidly growing number of patent applications being filed.

In view of this, the European Patent Office (EPO) issued new guidance for examination for AI and ML patent applications in November 2018. Meanwhile, in January 2019, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) also issued revised guidance directed to what constitutes patent eligible subject matter under 35 U.S.C. §101. Although the USPTO’s revised guidance is more generally directed to software applications, at least one of the accompanying hypothetical examples (Example 39) is directed to the AI and ML space.

Those are, admittedly (even the patent maximalists admit this), software patents. It’s all about algorithms. Those are the patents which trolls love the most, for various tactical reasons. Most lawsuits in the US still come from patent trolls that develop nothing at all and never did anything at all (maybe bought a bunch of patents in an auction). Some days 90% and above (or 100%) of US patent lawsuits come from these trolls and earlier this week it was ‘merely’ a majority.

We wish to gently remind all kind examiners around the world that buzzwords do not magically render algorithms patent-eligible. Nowadays everything is “AI”, “cloud”, and “smart” if there’s some code, a server, and an Internet connection (respectively). Recently, WIPO has been repeatedly misusing the “AI” hype to promote illegal software patents. It even issued a report to that effect. Another thing that the EPO and WIPO have in common is this bunch of self-serving ‘studies’ (WIPO does a lot of what the EPO does to staff). This morning we saw WIPO misusing the “AI” buzzword (or phrase or acronym) to describe algorithms for imprints or signatures of images (these would not work for large, vast datasets, but it’s buzzwords that count). A new article by J A Kemp also speaks of new collaboration between the EPO and WIPO. Both are promoting the lie that success can be measured by the overall number of patents (an infamous fallacy) and to quote:

As reported previously here, the EPO has been participating in WIPO’s Digital Access Service (DAS) for the exchange of certified copies of priority documents since 1 November 2018. DAS allows for certified copies of priority documents to be exchanged electronically between the various participating patent offices, a complete list of which can be found here.

The EPO’s initial implementation of DAS did not extend to international (PCT) applications filed at the EPO as receiving office. However, the EPO recently announced here that from 1 April 2019 it would be extending its participation in DAS to such international (PCT) applications.

This development means that when an international (PCT) application is filed by online filing with the EPO as receiving office, the EPO (as “office of first filing”) will automatically generate a DAS access code in the online filing receipt. Subsequently, the DAS access code can be used when filing a priority-claiming patent application at a DAS-participating patent office (i.e. an “office of second filing”), to allow the patent office in question to obtain a copy of the international (PCT) application from the EPO. Thus, in the rare case where a patent application is filed at an “office of second filing” claiming priority from an international (PCT) application filed at the EPO as “office of first filing”, the “office of second filing” can use the DAS code generated by the EPO to access a copy of the priority application from the EPO.

At Vantage Asia, Swati Gupta, who an associate at LexOrbis (big boosters of software patents in India for a number of years), spoke of WIPO in relation to CASE, noting that “[t]he US patent laws require the applicant to furnish known prior art documents during the pendency of a patent application by submitting the information disclosure statement (IDS). However, the European patent Office (EPO) obligates an applicant to disclose the results of official searches and examination reports carried out on priority applications.”

If they have time to. Corners have been cut and examiners complain about the system that was abandoned a month ago. It is saddening if not maddening to see what the EPO turned into. The SUEPO document at the top says it all really (many aspects covered).

Links 4/4/2019: Sparky 5.7.1 and AV Linux 2019.4.10 Released

Posted in News Roundup at 4:55 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • What Linux Journal’s Resurrection Taught Me about the FOSS Community

    I’d like to point out a few things in this image. First, check out that leet green-on-black theme! Second, notice the GNOME foot in the top-left corner. This was early GNOME 1, back when it used Enlightenment as its window manager. Next, notice the top Netscape Navigator window open to Slashdot. If you are new to the FOSS community, Slashdot was the Hacker News of its time (or Reddit, or Digg, or Fark—depending on when you started arguing about technology news on the internet). Check out the specs on the server for sale in the banner ad: 266MHz processor, 32MB RAM, 2GB storage and 2GB of bandwidth.

    The window below the top Netscape window is another Netscape window with a full chat application implemented inside the browser with Java. I know what you are thinking: that server in the ad only had 32MB of RAM, and you need two or three gigabytes of RAM to run a JavaScript chat application inside a browser, but I assure you, it was possible with Java.

    Back in the 1990s, you would install Linux from a set of three or four floppy disks (unless you used SUSE, which required about a dozen). The user interface for the install was a curses terminal console that you would navigate with a keyboard. This install assumed that you were well familiar with disk partitioning, OS internals, networking and Linux overall. When you completed the install, you normally would reboot into a console. If you wanted to get a GUI, you then needed to configure obscure X11 configuration files by hand—that is, if your graphics hardware worked under Linux at all.

    Because of how much deep Linux knowledge you needed to install and use Linux back then, a number of Linux Users’ Groups (LUGs) sprung up around the country. These groups would meet and share tips and overall knowledge about Linux, and they started a new phenomenon: Installfests. During an Installfest, new Linux users would bring their computer to the LUG, and the experts would try to get Linux installed and working on it. Often experienced users also would bring their own computers to get help with that one piece of stubborn hardware they couldn’t get working.

  • The end of the desktop?

    I’ve been predicting for a while that Microsoft is moving us away from its PC-centric Windows operating system to a cloud-based rental version of Windows.
    Now, with the Windows Virtual Desktop beta finally showing up, we’re a step closer to the death of the PC.
    I’m old enough to remember how the PC changed everything. Before it, computer users depended on time-sharing systems and dumb terminals, and the companies or schools that owned the centralized computing power called all the shots. After it, we all had our own computing power right on our desks, to do with as we pleased.
    The arrival of the beta Windows Virtual Desktop is a harbinger of the end of the PC era. We’re about to take a big step back to the centralised/controlled past.
    And maybe that’s OK for most people. I’ve noticed that, even as our lives become ever more centred around technology, fewer people actually are interested in the technology itself. Oh, they love using it, but understanding it at a deep level? Not so much.
    Of course, at one time, to get any work done with a computer, you first had to learn a lot, about computers, operating systems, commands and more. Eventually, “friendly” became the most important adverb in computing circles, and we’ve reached the point in user-friendliness that people don’t even talk about it anymore.
    Today, Google has shown with its Chrome OS that most of us can pretty much do anything we need to do on a computer with just a web browser.

  • Unix vs Linux: 7 Key Differences You Should Know About

    Basically, GNU Project wanted to make an operating system similar to Unix, but at the same time separate from it. Like it shouldn’t contain any code from Unix so that it could be further modified and distributed without limitations as free software. Since their own kernel was incomplete, the GNU Project accepted the Linux kernel, and they generated operating system GNU/Linux.

  • Desktop

    • MX Linux MX-18 & 10-year-old EeePC netbook – Fantastic

      I am more than happy with the outcome of this experiment. I really didn’t know what to expect, and I thought the MX Linux would give pretty much the same results as the rest. But no. This is a true old-device Linux, and this is where it shines when the rest don’t even dare step out into the sunlight. And there are no compromises. The frugality does not impact usability in any way. You still get great looks, excellent modern software, and solid hardware compatibility. Plus, of course, blazing nimble for a 10-year relic.

      MX Linux MX-18.1 Continuum has restored life to my netbook. It runs beautifully fast, it’s elegant, loaded with real, practical goodies. The tremendous part is really the speed. This mini-laptop was weak even when I bought it, but to be able to keep using it in a nice fashion a decade later is truly an achievement. I want to thank all of you for your suggestions, and the MX Linux team for their excellent little product. Powerrr!

    • Linux For A Slow Laptop

      There are old laptops in each house that can no longer function fully. Using standard operating systems, for example, Windows or Linux becomes almost impossible. However, you can still use the old laptop effectively.

      Now many distribution packages will make Linux for a slow laptop the best option in comparison with other operating systems.

      Several Linux distribution packages will work effectively on slow laptops. We will consider the most successful ones.

  • Server

    • The Differences Between Linux and Windows Containers

      Docker’s popularity has been driven in large part by its promise of letting admins build an application once and then deploy it anywhere. But this promise can be misleading when you are trying to use Docker on Linux and Windows hosts at the same time.

      That’s because there are important differences between Docker on Linux and Docker on Windows. Although Docker runs natively on both operating systems, the approach you to take to using Docker in both platforms isn’t the same. What’s more, the rationales for using containers don’t apply equally to both Linux and Windows.

      Let’s take a look at the key differences between Linux and Windows when it comes to containers.

      [...]

      Docker on Linux is ‘Pure-Play’

      In the Linux world, Docker is a (mostly) open source platform that works with any Linux distribution from any vendor. Docker didn’t work closely with any particular company in the Linux space to develop containers or make them work with Linux.

      The same is not true of Windows. Docker and Microsoft worked closely to bring containers to Windows.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • The Linux Link Tech Show Episode 803

      With Dann Washko, Linc Fessenden, Pat Davila, Allan Metzler

    • FLOSS Weekly 524: EteSync

      EteSync offers secure, end-to-end encrypted, and privacy respecting sync for your contacts, calendars and tasks.

      Easy to use and open source – it seamlessly integrates with your existing apps so you won’t even notice you are using it.

  • Kernel Space

    • Linus Torvalds on Social Media: ‘It’s a Disease. It Seems To Encourage Bad Behavior.’
    • ‘Anonymity is overrated’ according to Linux’s founder

      Linux kernel creator Linus Torvalds thinks ‘anonymity is overrated’ and only important for true whistle-blowers.

      The always opinionated and notoriously blunt creator of the Linux kernel made the claim during an interview with the Linux Journal when asked if there was “one thing he’d fix” in the world of networking published on Tuesday.

      “I’m actually one of those people who thinks that anonymity is overrated. Some people confuse privacy and anonymity and think they go hand in hand, and that protecting privacy means that you need to protect anonymity,” he said.

      “I think that’s wrong. Anonymity is important if you’re a whistle-blower, but if you cannot prove your identity, your crazy rant on some social-media platform shouldn’t be visible, and you shouldn’t be able to share it or like it.”

    • One of the world’s most important programmers, Linus Torvalds, says Twitter, Facebook, Instagram are ‘a disease’

      Linus Torvalds, the creator of the Linux operating system that secretly runs the internet and is the basis for Android, was recently asked what he would change about the tech world that his technology helped create, if he could.

      His answer: social media.

      “I absolutely detest modern ‘social media’ — Twitter, Facebook, Instagram. It’s a disease. It seems to encourage bad behavior,” Torvalds told the Linux Journal’s Robert Young.

      This is interesting criticism from a man who has often been accused of being uncivil to other programmers on Linux email lists. Torvalds is known as a brilliant, funny, and speaks-his-mind kind of guy who is generally fair-minded but doesn’t tolerate fools.

    • NVIDIA Fixes Flaws in Linux4Tegra Driver for Jetson AI Supercomputers

      NVIDIA released a security update for the Jetson TX1 and TX2 to patch vulnerabilities discovered in the Linux for Tegra (L4T or Linux4Tegra) driver package that could enable local attackers with basic user privileges to elevate privileges and to perform privilege escalation, denial-of-service (DoS) or information disclosure attacks.

      As described by NVIDIA, Jetson TX1 and TX2 are high-performance and low-power embedded AI supercomputers on a module designed to be used for compute-intensive deep learning and computer vision projects.

    • RFC: Wayland high-resolution wheel scrolling
      I've been trying to sort out the new hi-res wheel scrolling that was added to
      linux 5.0 but it's been a bit of a struggle to say the least. For the
      impatient, skip forward to the protocol diff but the background info is
      important.
      
      Everything below applies equally to horizontal and vertical scrolling, both
      directions and wheels and wheel tilts.
      
      The APIs that are involved for low-resolution wheel scrolling:
      
      kernel:
      - REL_WHEEL for every wheel click
      
      libinput uses pointer axis events for wheels:
      - pointer axis value: the movement of the wheel in degrees
      - pointer axis discrete value: the number of wheel clicks
      - pointer axis source: set to 'wheel'
      
      Usally this means you get discrete 1, value 15 for the standard 15-degree mouse
      wheel, discrete 2 value 30 is two wheel clicks within one hw frame.
      
      There is one implicit assumption here: the discrete value must
      be 1 or more for every event. Otherwise it's impossible to use the value and
      calculate the angle. More on that later.
      
      This API is effectively the same in the wayland protocol except for the unit of
      the 'value' which is is in screen coordinates, not degrees.
      
      wayland protocol:
      - pointer axis value: the movement in screen coordinates
      - pointer axis discrete: the number of wheel clicks
      - pointer axis source: set to 'wheel'
      
      The big difference here though: libinput's API is per-device, wayland's API is
      per wl-seat pointer. There's no way to tell in the protocol that you're
      scrolling simultaneously with wheels on two different mice.
      
      Let's see how the common compositors implement this:
      
      weston:
      - for source wheel, only the discrete value is handled and:
      - pointer axis discrete is sent as-is from libinput
      - pointer axis source is sent as-is from libinput
      - pointer axis value is always (discrete * 10)
      - otherwise the libinput pointer value (degrees) from a source wheel is ignored
      
      The magic multiplier 10 is afaik for historical reasons, weston used to do 10
      so early libinput took that. When libinput switched to use physical dimensions
      instead of 10, that value was kept for backwards compatibility with existing
      wayland clients.
      
      mutter:
      - for source wheel, only the discrete value is handled and:
      - clutter-internal event for the discrete **direction** from libinput
        - i.e. discrete > 1 will still only generate one event,some events
          drop to the floor here for fast wheel movements
      - clutter-internal event with (value * 10) marked as 'emulated' but
        that event is ignored later when we're writing to the protocol
      - the discrete event is written as wl_pointer.axis_discrete and
        wl_pointer.axis with a value of 10
      
      So, the same multiplier of 10 but fast scroll events with more than one click
      per frame appear to get dropped.
      
      kwin (through qtwayland):
      - doesn't handle discrete at all afaict
      - pointer axis events are passed through but I got a bit confused over the
        actual value written on the wire here.
      
      wlroots:
      - pointer axis discrete is sent as-is from libinput
      - pointer axis source is sent as-is from libinput
      - pointer axis value is sent as-is from libinput
      
      Because the physical angle is passed on from libinput as screen coordinates,
      this means wlroots has different scroll behaviour to GNOME/sway and it does
      scroll a larger distance for wheels with higher click angles. This is the
      opposite of the intended behaviour, manufacturers advertise these wheels
      as slow-scrolling wheels. Realistically though the physical movements is the
      same-ish and if a client uses discrete it doesn't matter anyway.
      
      xf86-input-libinput:
      - X devices need to set up a scroll distance for scroll motion, the driver
        uses 120 (since Feb, before it was 15). This means any multiple of 120.0
        triggers legacy button emulation in the server, otherwise the number has no
        meaning.
      - for source wheel it uses the discrete value only, so effectively 120 *
        discrete.
      
      This driver had a division by 0 for discrete values of 0, fixed in the
      current release. More on this later.
      
      
      
      Let's look at how wheel events are processed in some of the clients:
      
      GTK:
      - for a discrete event, GDK_SCROLL_UP is passed on flagged as 'emulated'
      - the axis value is passed on as GDK_SCROLL_SMOOTH
      
      Qt:
      - doesn't handle discrete
      - multiplies the value by -12. This gives it a 120-based value which
        matches the Windows API provided the axis value is 10 of course.
        Qt on wlroots is probably off here.
      
      Xwayland:
      - X devices need to set up a scroll distance for scroll motion, Xwayland
        currently uses 1.0 for that. This means any multiple of 1.0 triggers legacy
        button emulation in the server.
      - wl_pointer.axis_discrete are used where available
      - wl_pointer.axis uses the value * 0.1. This effectively means Xwayland
        relies on the deltas to be 10 like in mutter/weston, X clients under
        wlroots will have off wheel click emulation.
      
      With me so far? Hooray, now let's introduce hi-res scrolling.
      
      All the examples below are for a quarter scroll wheel movement, i.e. you get
      4 hi-res events for every 1 lo-res event. The kernel uses a fraction/multiple
      of 120 for logical clicks, same as the Windows API. So one wheel click is 120,
      half a click is 60, etc. I'm calling this 120-based value the v120 because I'm
      very creative.
      
      kernel:
      - REL_WHEEL for every wheel click
      - REL_WHEEL_HI_RES for every fraction of a wheel click (as portion of 120),
        so a quarter-wheel stop gives you a value of 30.
        - there is no guarantee that REL_WHEEL is sent every full 120 because e.g.
          Logitech mice may reset halfway through a wheel motion. So the two axes
          must be considered completely independent.
      
      libinput:
      
      Basically: the current API is fairly useless in handling fractional scroll
      because libinput uses physical distances. libinput could send four events:
      - value 3.75, discrete 0
      - value 3.75, discrete 0
      - value 3.75, discrete 0
      - value 3.75, discrete 1
      
      Which is technically correct. But callers have no reliable way how much of a
      fraction of a wheel the 3.75 represents until the first discrete event comes
      in. Guessing is unreliable, if you scroll faster you may get 2+ fractional
      units in one event. And mice may reset halfway through a scroll motion so you
      don't always get the same number of events per discrete. So libinput needs some
      extra API that gives us some baseline to compare values against, i.e. same as
      the kernel's 120-based API does.
      
      There are other problems, specifically related to sending discrete 0 events:
      
      weston:
      - Current weston: a discrete value of 0 ends up as value of 0 which weston
        treats as axis_stop event. So our event sequence is axis_source,
        axis_stop, pointer_frame. this breaks scrolling.
      
      mutter:
      - Current mutter: a discrete value of 0 ends up in noops.
        mutter still generates internal clutter events but they are never pushed
        onto the wire. The normal values are ignored, so we basically
        get low-res scrolling just as before.
        Note: this is based on reading the code, not test runs
      
      wlroots:
      - will forward value/discrete as it comes in from libinput
      
      kwin:
      - doesn't use discrete so won't be affected by changes
      
      xf86-input-libinput:
      - anything pre 0.28.2 will get a division by 0
      - current state: discrete values of 0 end up as noops and we we get lo-res
        scrolling only
      
      So basically: if we change libinput to send discrete 0 events, we'll break
      weston and all but the most recent xf86-input-libinput. Code changes are needed
      just to cope with the different event sequence, let alone the actual hi-res bits.
      
      
      
      The solution to this is to add a new event, LIBINPUT_EVENT_POINTER_AXIS_WHEEL.
      That event provides libinput_event_pointer_axis_value_v120() which is basically
      a mirror of the kernel API. This event obsoletes POINTER_AXIS events for
      sources WHEEL and WHEEL_TILT, so callers should just ignore those if they
      support the new event. A branch for this is available here:
      
      https://gitlab.freedesktop.org/whot/libinput/commits/wip/hi-res-scrolling
      
      The event sequence would now be:
      
      - WHEEL: value 3.75, v120 30
      - WHEEL: value 3.75, v120 30
      - WHEEL: value 3.75, v120 30
      - WHEEL: value 3.75, v120 30
      - AXIS: value 3.75, discrete 1, v120 120
      
      Implementation-wise: AXIS and WHEEL are independent, so there's no guarantee
      that they add up to the same 120 values. This new event is easy to add to
      compositors.
      
      
      
      
      Let's look at the Wayland protocol with the current API given hi-res scroll
      events:
      - value 3.75, no discrete event
      - value 3.75, no discrete event
      - value 3.75, no discrete event
      - value 3.75, discrete 1
      
      This is assuming 15 degrees/4 == 3.75 but if the compositor force wheels
      to a scale of 10, the value would be 2.5.
      
      Qt:
      - doesn't use discrete so won't be affected by changes
      
      GTK:
      - generates 4 GDK_SCROLL_SMOOTH events, 
      - generates 1 GDK_SCROLL_DOWN event ('emulated')
      - GTK doesn't really care as such about whether the distance-to-wheel is 10 or
        something else, it'll just have different scroll distances (e.g. under
        wlroots).
      
      Afaict this works correctly (tested with stock F29 nautilus)
      
      Xwayland:
      - current Xwayland: values are handled as fraction as before, so we get 3
        smooth-scroll events at 25%. Event 4 has a discrete event which is handled
        as full event, so we scroll by a logical click. Total distance is 175%.
      
      This means: Xwayland cannot work at all without any extra wayland protocol
      unless it assumes factor 10 is the base unit.
      
      
      So we have at least one ubiquitous Wayland client that cannot handle it.
      And the issues are very similar to the ones libinput's API has, added to that
      is that you cannot guarantee that two events come from the same device.
      What we need is a new event, but I'm struggling to add this to the wayland
      protocol in a good way, mostly for backwards-compatibility reasons. 
      
      
      Much of the below would be easier to solve if we can say "if you claim to
      support wl_pointer version 8, you get different behaviour for axis events". I
      don't think we can trust clients to handle this correctly, I got burned by
      those assumptions before (in XI2). So I'm ruling out changing any of the
      existing protocol behaviour.
      
      
      My current idea is to add a wl_pointer.axis_v120 event:
      
         wl_pointer.axis_source    wheel
         wl_pointer.axis_v120      30
         wl_pointer.frame
         wl_pointer.axis_source    wheel
         wl_pointer.axis_v120      30
         wl_pointer.frame
         wl_pointer.axis_source    wheel
         wl_pointer.axis_v120      30
         wl_pointer.frame
         wl_pointer.axis_source    wheel
         wl_pointer.axis           10
         wl_pointer.axis_discrete  1
         wl_pointer.axis_v120      30
         wl_pointer.frame
      
      Main problems here: this puts a fair bit of implementation requirements on the
      compositor - skip source/v120/frame for clients < supported version.
      wl_pointer.source cannot currently occur on its own, it requires a
      wl_pointer.axis event in the current protocol. Same with axis_discrete. Empty
      frames are allowed, I think, but pointless.
      
      It also puts a bit of extra logic in the client, you need to remember if you've
      seen a v120 in this frame and discard the axis/axis_discrete events. If not,
      then axis events must be processed as normal.
      
      A possible workaround would be to add v120 to all axis frames (including
      touchpad scrolling) but that would then put the compositor in charge of
      deciding what distance is a wheel click and encodes that information in the
      protocol.
      
      The v120 event must also carry the equivalent to the wl_pointer.axis value so
      that can be passed on into existing code. So the above would have a v120 event
      with v120 value of 30 and an axis value of 2.5 (if enforcing 10 units per
      wheel click).
      
      Because the hi-res and lo-res sources are independent, we need to allow for a
      0-value v120 event, which basically just tags that frame as 
      
      The compositor also need to *always* send v120 events for wheel/tilt sources
      because otherwise the client code becomes even more of a nightmare.
      Where not backed by libinput the compositor needs to handle that itself.
      
      Anyway, the below is the best I've come up with so far though I haven't
      implemented it client-side yet. I'd really appreciate any feedback and/or
      epiphanies.
      
      Cheers,
        Peter
    • High Resolution Scroll Wheel Support Being Worked On For Wayland

      The high resolution scrolling support in Linux 5.0 has been a headache to say the least. After being ejected from Linux 4.20 following early fall-out, the support was merged for Linux 5.0 but the user-space support has yet to stabilize.

      Red Hat input expert Peter Hutterer who has been involved in this high-resolution scroll wheel support for the likes of Logitech and Microsoft mouse referred to the situation as “a bit of a struggle to say the least.”

    • Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX200 Launches With Linux Support In Tow

      The product page does list Linux support that comes as little surprise these days. In fact, back in January we wrote about Linux support for these new Intel adapters within the “IWLWIFI” driver and that enablement is now present in the Linux 5.1 kernel.

    • Linux Foundation

      • LF Networking Passes One-Year Mark with Expanded Cross-Community Momentum

        LF Networking (LFN), which facilitates collaboration and operational excellence across networking projects, today announced continued community momentum, including further collaboration with Standards bodies, evolution of compliance programs, new project milestones, and increased integration with adjacent communities. Formed in January 2018, LFN is focused on nurturing integration, efficiencies and member engagement across FD.io, OpenDaylight, ONAP, OPNFV, PNDA, Tungsten Fabric, and SNAS as well as the broader open source networking ecosystem. As the projects are hosted under the same umbrella, LFN builds upon synergies to enable rapid innovation and adoption.
        “We are thrilled to have recently celebrated our first year as an umbrella organization, bringing continued growth across the ecosystem supporting the end-to-end open source networking stack,” said Arpit Joshipura, general manager, Networking, Automation, Edge & IoT, the Linux Foundation. “The LFN community — along with other ecosystem partners, including standards bodies — has truly come together to evolve the future of open source networking.”

      • LF Networking Expands OVP Program for Compliance and Verification, Eases Telco Interoperability & Deployment

        Open Networking Summit North America — April 3, 2019 — LF Networking (LFN), which facilitates collaboration and operational excellence across networking projects, today announced expansion of its OPNFV Verification Program (OVP) to include Virtual Network Function (VNF) compliance testing. The expanded OVP, created in conjunction with the ONAP testing community, now includes publicly-available VNF compliance test tooling based on requirements developed within ONAP, as well as a Verified Labs Program and the induction of the University of New Hampshire-Interoperability Lab (UNH-IOL) as the first OPNFV Verified Lab.

        Initially developed to simplify validation testing of commercial NFVI/VIM products based on OPNFV, the expanded program now covers interoperability with ONAP-compliant on-boarding requirements using both Heat and TOSCA package validation. The first of its kind, OVP combines open source-based automated compliance and verification testing for multiple parts of the NFV stack specifications established by ONAP, multiple SDOs such as ETSI and GSMA, and the LF Networking End User Advisory Group (EUAG). Demonstrating the readiness and availability of commercial products based on these requirements improves time-to-market, reduces costs, and improves the overall quality of NFVI and VNF deployments.

      • O-RAN Alliance starts software group at Linux Foundation

        The O-RAN Alliance and the Linux Foundation announced the creation of the O-RAN Software Community (O-RAN SC), to help develop open source software for the O-RAN Alliance’s open network architecture. The initial set of software projects may include near-real-time RAN intelligent controller, non-real-time RAN intelligent controller, cloudification and virtualization platforms, open central unit, open distributed unit, and a test and integration effort to provide a working reference implementation.

        Working with other adjacent open source networking communities, the O-RAN SC will enable collaborative development across the full operator network stack, the groups said. It will be sponsored at the Linux Foundation by the O-RAN Alliance.

    • Graphics Stack

  • Applications

    • 10 Best File and Disk Encryption Tools for Linux

      It wasn’t too long ago that we published a list of 10 cool command line tools for your Linux terminal. Today, we turn our focus to encryption methods as we bring you a list of the best file and disk encryption software for your Linux machine.

    • Proprietary

      • File Sharing Software For Linux: Best 15 Reviewed From The Experts

        File sharing software is one of the important elements for the modern online world. This sort of programs is required to share necessary files and documents among the team members, similar organizations or individuals. So despite being various user groups, documents or file transfer software is quite necessary nowadays. There are lots of offline and cloud-based file sharing platform available for all the major platforms including Linux, Windows OS, Mac OS, etc. But today here we will focus on only Linux system. Here you will get a resourceful list of top-notch file sharing software for Linux.

      • WPS Office 2019 For Linux Released with Improved HiDPI Support

        WPS office for Linux 2019 was released with numerous new features and performance improvements. Here’s how to install it in Ubuntu 18.04.

      • WPS Office 11 (2019) For Linux Released

        WPS Office for Linux version 11 (or 2019) was released the other day with new features and improvements, including support for high resolution screens, skin support, and interface updates.

        WPS Office, formerly known as Kingsoft Office, is an office suite for Windows, Linux, Android and iOS, that includes three components: WPS Writer, WPS Presentation and WPS Spreadsheet. The suite is compatible with Microsoft Office formats PPT, PPTX, DOC, DOCX, XLS and XLSX, for both reading and writing.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Games

      • Linux Gaming Won’t Find A Mainstream Audience Until 3 Things Happen

        I’ve been Windows-free for about 8 months, and I recently published a rather controversial article outlining my experience. Those impressions, however, were largely based on using Ubuntu as my daily driver. I received constructive feedback from the community and challenged myself to start exploring and contrasting the user experience on several other popular Linux distributions like Fedora, Manjaro and Linux Mint.

        Currently I’m 4 distributions deep in a study that spans a total of 9 and I can already report a sobering reality: it’s remarkably elegant on some (at times easier than Windows), but it’s also notably inconsistent.

      • How to download and Play Sid Meier’s Civilization VI on Linux

        Civilization 6 is a modern take on the classic concept introduced in the series of the Age of Empires games. The idea was fairly simple; you would start off in the very basic era where farming and agriculture were the biggest keys to survival and your army was not well equipped to handle situations as well. Then as your base focused on research, your knowledge advanced and with enough research, you could transition into a different era of civilization which would bring numerous wonders for your base and your people.

        Civilization VI takes that concept but with many twists to it. Where Age of Empires was a real-time strategy game, Civilization is a turn-based game. Both games have single player and multiplayer modes as well to offer a lot more incentive to the player to keep coming back to them. Civilization also makes use of various leaders in the game. Leaders are specific to different computer-controlled civilizations and each has different personalities. You have the freedom to decide whether you would like team up with different leaders, fight against them or remain neutral with them and keep a distance from their conflicts and battles.

        The goal of the game is to become the most powerful and influential civilization on the game map that you can be and the path you choose to make that happen is up to you. You can either be diplomatic in your approach or be ready for conflict every single time. Each path you choose will have its consequences and advantages and that is what makes the game so fun and interesting to play over. You are put in different situations each time you play and having the same situation replay has a very low chance of happening. The game offers various expansion packs that bring a lot more elements into the mix. Each expansion costs a decent price and is hence optional. Even without them, you can fully enjoy the game.

      • Quaver, an open-source competitive rhythm game is coming to Steam

        For those who think they have some fast finger-work, Quaver is an open-source competitive rhythm game and it’s coming to Steam. Linux support is confirmed by the developer on the official website, a demo available on GitHub and Linux/SteamOS system requirements being up on Steam.

      • Renaine, a gorgeous pixel-art platformer about overcoming failure is coming to Linux

        Renaine is one I don’t remember hearing about before, originally funded on Kickstarter this absolutely gorgeous pixel-art platformer is coming out this year and you need to take a look.

      • How to Install and Play Doom on Linux

        The Doom Series originated in the 90s after the release of the original Doom. It was an instant hit and from that time onwards the game series has received numerous awards and the original Doom has been a staple game in every gamer’s collection who grew up in the ‘90s era. The subsequent releases of the series were no strangers to tremendous acclaim and the games just got better as technology improved with every release. When Doom 3 came out, it was an instant success just like its predecessors but this game had certainly tested the technologies of the time as it was revered as one of the best games of its time in terms of technology, gameplay, and the story.

        The series then remained pretty dormant for about the next 10 years with only an expansion pack released for Doom 3 and its HD re-master in 2012. In 2016, the series attacked the gaming industry with a shooter game that did not forget its roots from the era of ‘shoot first, ask later’ kind of games. The 2016 edition of Doom was a welcome addition to the series and the modern game market because it brought back something that had been missing from games for a long time and that was some good old fashioned shooting enemies with lots of gore and no element of realism that would otherwise make games boring. Now that we have discussed Doom and its history, let us move on to actually getting the game to run on your Linux system.

      • Risk of Rain 2 works very nicely on Linux thanks to Steam Play, it’s also pretty crazy

        Risk of Rain 2 from Hopoo Games and Gearbox Publishing recently entered Early Access, it’s already become massively popular and thanks to Steam Play we’re not missing out.

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

      • AV Linux 2019.4.10 Released!

        This release is basically an update of the ISO that fixes a couple of annoying bugs from the 2018.6.25 release with some notable updates and additions. It will mark the last release based on Debian Stretch and sadly it will also be the last release of the 32bit version. Future AVL development will focus on Debian ‘Buster’ and 64bit only. In the meantime I think this 2019.4.10 version will provide a fast, stable well prepared platform for AV Content creation for quite some time.

    • Screenshots/Screencasts

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • SUSE Linux and enterprise Raspberry Pi

        Raspberry Pi single-board computers are wildly popular with makers, kids, and anyone who likes hands-on computing. But, in enterprise business? Industrial sites? Not so much. Or, are they? At SUSECon in Nashville, Tenn., SUSE executives revealed that three customers are already deploying SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) on Raspberry Pi computers.

        To be precise, these companies are all using Raspberry Pi Compute Modules. This is a Raspberry Pi 3 in a form factor that’s designed for industrial applications,

        The first customer, Knorr-Bremse, is a German manufacturing company. This business has old equipment with no built-in monitoring. It’s using a SLES-powered Raspberry Pi device to track what its gear is doing. Not bad for a 1.2GHz ARM BCM2837 processor with a 1GB RAM and 4GB eMMC Flash device instead of an SD card.

    • Fedora

      • Preparing for Fedora Workstation 30

        just installed the Fedora Workstation 30 Beta yesterday and so far things are looking great. As many others have reported to, with the GNOME 3.32 update things definitely feels faster and smoother. So I thought it was a good time to talk about what is coming in Fedora Workstation 30 and what we are currently working on.

      • Fedora 30 Beta was released yesterday. Highlights include new desktop environment choices, DNF performance improvements, GNOME 3.32 and updated versions of many packages, such as Golang, Bash, Python and more. For more details, see the Fedora 30 Change set.

        Fedora 30 Beta Released, Chef Releasing All of Its Software as Open Source, elementary Adopting Flatpak for AppCenter, Unreal Engine 4.22 Now Available and VMware Lawsuit Dropped

      • Lennart Poettering: Walkthrough for Portable Services in Go

        A few months ago I posted a blog story with a walkthrough of systemd Portable Services. The example service given was written in C, and the image was built with mkosi. In this blog story I’d like to revisit the exercise, but this time focus on a different aspect: modern programming languages like Go and Rust push users a lot more towards static linking of libraries than the usual dynamic linking preferred by C (at least in the way C is used by traditional Linux distributions).

        Static linking means we can greatly simplify image building: if we don’t have to link against shared libraries during runtime we don’t have to include them in the portable service image. And that means pretty much all need for building an image from a Linux distribution of some kind goes away as we’ll have next to no dependencies that would require us to rely on a distribution package manager or distribution packages. In fact, as it turns out, we only need as few as three files in the portable service image to be fully functional.

        So, let’s have a closer look how such an image can be put together. All of the following is available in this git repository.

      • Matthias Clasen: Silverblue at 1

        The recent F30 beta release is an good opportunity to look back. What have we achieved?

        When we set out to turn Atomic Workstation into an every-day-usable desktop, we had a list of items that we knew needed to be addressed. As it turns out, we have solved most of them, or are very close to that.

        Here is an unsorted list.

      • Fedora Toolbox is now just Toolbox

        Fedora Toolbox has been renamed to just Toolbox. Even though the project is obviously driven by the needs of Fedora Silverblue and uses technologies like Buildah and Podman that are driven by members of the wider Fedora project, it was felt that a toolbox container is a generic concept that appeals to a lot many more communities than just Fedora. You can also think of it as a nod to coreos/toolbox which served as the original inspiration for the project, and there are plans to use it in Fedora CoreOS too.

    • Debian Family

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

        In March 2019, I have worked on the Debian LTS project for 14 hours (of 10 hours planned plus 4 hours pulled over from February) and on the Debian ELTS project for another 2 hours (of originally planned 6 hours) as a paid contributor.

      • Sylvain Beucler: Debian LTS – March 2019

        In February I had requested to join the Debian LTS project, which extends the security support for past Debian releases, as a paid contributor.

      • Derivatives

        • Sparky 5.7.1

          New live/install iso images of SparkyLinux 5.7.1 “Nibiru” are available to download.

          This is a minor update of live images of Sparky 5 based on Debian testing “Buster”.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Snapcraft 3.3

            snapcraft 3.1 is now available on the stable channel of the Snap Store. This is a new minor release building on top of the foundations laid out from the snapcraft 3.3 release.

            If you are already on the stable channel for snapcraft then all you need to do is wait for the snap to be refreshed.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Best Open Source Tools for Staying on Top of Projects

    Project management applications for Linux offer an overlapping range of features and user interfaces. I deliberately avoided ranking these Linux products. I also suspended the usual star rating for each one in this roundup.

    Project Management software for Linux, much like Time-tracking, Task Management and To-Do List software for Linux, is increasingly overshadowed by cloud services. That is one reason open source applications available for the Linux platform lack many new non-cloud contenders.

  • Chef Goes All Open Source

    The Chef automation tool, a popular solution for DevOps IT management scenarios, has announced that it will be become a 100% open source platform. In the past, the basic Chef application was available in open source form, but the company also provided several enhancements and add-on tools with proprietary licenses. Rather than building proprietary tools around an open source core, Chef will now open source all of its software under an Apache 2.0 license.

    According to Chef CEO Barry Crist, “Over the years we have experimented with and learned from a variety of different open source, community, and commercial models, in search of the right balance. We believe that this change, and the way we have made it, best aligns the objectives of our communities with our own business objectives. Now we can focus all of our investment and energy on building the best possible products in the best possible way for our community without having to choose between what is “proprietary” and what is “in the commons.”

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • QMO: Firefox 67 Beta 6 Testday Results

        As you may already know, last Friday March 29th – we held a new Testday event, for Firefox 67 Beta 6.

        Thank you all for helping us make Mozilla a better place: amirtha V, Shanthi Priya G, Rok Žerdin, Aishwarya Narasimhan, Mohamed Bawas.

        From Mozilla Bangladesh Community: Maruf Rahman, Sayed Ibn Masud, Reazul Islam.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • GNUnet 0.11.1 released

      We are pleased to announce the release of GNUnet 0.11.1.

      This is a bugfix release for 0.11.0, mostly fixing minor bugs, improving documentation and fixing various build issues. In terms of usability, users should be aware that there are still a large number of known open issues in particular with respect to ease of use, but also some critical privacy issues especially for mobile users. Also, the nascent network is tiny (about 200 peers) and thus unlikely to provide good anonymity or extensive amounts of interesting information. As a result, the 0.11.1 release is still only suitable for early adopters with some reasonable pain tolerance.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • Software Freedom Conservancy Announces End to VMware Lawsuit

      Linux developer Christoph Hellwig has announced that he is discontinuing his lawsuit against VMware for non-compliance with the terms of the GPL. Hellwig and the Software Freedom Conservancy accused VMware of including GPLed code associated with vmklinux into VMware’s proprietary vSphere product. A German appeals court dismissed the case on February 28. Hellwig and the Software Freedom Conservancy have decided they will not appeal the case further in German courts.

      The judge appears to have decided the case on procedural grounds without taking on the larger questions related to the GPL and the power of the copyleft protection. The questions hinged around whether the plaintiffs had successfully proven that the code was present in VMware’s code base and that the use of the code was non-compliant. VMware maintains that the vmklinux code is a separate component that does not force release of vSphere under the copyleft requirement.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

  • Programming/Development

    • PyCharm 2019.1.1

      PyCharm is the first JetBrains IDE to ship with the new JDK 11. This brings us improved performance and better rendering for our Jupyter Notebooks. Unfortunately, it also means that we ran into a couple of teething issues with the new JDK.

    • How We Did the New Jupyter Support: Interview with Anton Bragin
    • What Is Pip? A Guide for New Pythonistas
    • About Ninja IDE for python programming.
    • Linux C Programming Tutorial Part 19: Pointers and Arrays
    • Debug Raspberry Pi software, and more, with this hardware

      Not available quite yet, it is being designed in the UK by eCosCentric – the source of the eCosPro RTOS.
      Physically, it mates with the Raspberry Pi IO header, but extends away from the Pi (unlike a typical HAT which site over the Pi) to allow probing access to Pi components. Its stacking header allows further HATs to be connected over the Pi in the normal orientation.
      To use Tap-Hat, certain Pi IO pins have to be re-allocated for JTAG use – the firm’s own Redboot SD Card boot-loader supports this configuration of Pi JTAG pin map, and configures the CPU’s alternate pin mappings to match the Tap-Hat board’s jumper settings.
      Supported external JTAG debuggers include Lauterbach TRACE32, Ronetix PEEDI and Segger J-Link.

    • IBM Clarifies Java Options Following Oracle License Crackdown

      IBM i shops that are wondering how to maintain their Java environments following Oracle’s recent decision to restrict access to Java runtimes and development tools should pay close attention to some recommendations that IBM is making concerning Java, particularly how it impacts Access Client Solutions (ACS).

      Oracle is slated to ship a critical security update for Java Standard Edition (SE) 8 in a week and a half. But unless you have bought a commercial license for Java SE 8, your business won’t be getting that update, which could leave your systems vulnerable. That’s because in late 2018, Oracle made some rather large changes to the way customers will receive patches and updates for the aging Java environment.

    • Plot the balance of power graph with python

      We are supposed to finish the previous Forex and Stock application project already but because it has been a while I am not writing anything on this website, therefore I would like to include another feature into the previous project just to let you know that this site is still active.

      The feature I am going to include in the ongoing project is the balance of power graph. The Balance of Power indicator measures the market strength of buyers against sellers by assessing the ability of each side to drive prices to an extreme level. The calculation is: Balance of Power = (Close price – Open price) / (High price – Low price) The resulting value can be smoothed by a moving average.

    • This Week in Rust 280
    • Python for NLP: Sentiment Analysis with Scikit-Learn

      This is the fifth article in the series of articles on NLP for Python. In my previous article, I explained how Python’s spaCy library can be used to perform parts of speech tagging and named entity recognition. In this article, I will demonstrate how to do sentiment analysis using Twitter data using the Scikit-Learn library.

Leftovers

  • New Z Degrees make textbook costs obsolete

    Orange Coast College has developed a program allowing students to attain a certificate in architectural design without spending any money on textbooks.

  • Chechen government issues 35 million-ruble contract for weeding and mowing Kadyrov’s lawn

    The government of Chechnya has posted a landscaping contract for the residence of its leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, on its official purchases website. MBK Media first reported on the deal.

  • Science

    • Joint Russia-U.S. project plans to land a spacecraft on Venus for the first time since 1985

      Russia and the United States have set out scientific objectives for their joint mission “Venera-D,” which is scheduled to begin at the end of the 2020s.

      Ludmila Zasova, the manager of the project’s bilateral work group and a lead contributor at the Russian Space Research Institute, explained that Russia will produce an orbiter and a lander, while NASA will contribute a long-lived surface station. The Russian spacecraft will enable offloading, after which it will continue to work for two to three hours, and the American station will be fully functional on the surface of the planet for up to 60 Earth days.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • ‘A Lot of That Science They Point to Is Science They Paid For’ – CounterSpin interview with Carey Gillam on Monsanto lawsuit

      The case is called Edwin Hardeman v. Monsanto, which sounds something like David v. Goliath. Hardeman is a 70-year-old man who says using Roundup, Monsanto’s weed killer, for nearly 30 years caused his non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

      And Monsanto is, well, Monsanto. Recently acquired by German drug and crop chemicals company Bayer for some $66 billion, the corporate behemoth commands more than a quarter of the combined world market for seeds and pesticides, with a famously active PR machine.

      And yet Goliath lost. The jury in US District Court in San Francisco returned the necessary unanimous decision, finding that Roundup caused, or was a substantial factor in causing, Hardeman’s cancer. And that Monsanto should be held liable, because the herbicide is not labeled to warn of that risk.

      The company, naturally, is appealing. But with more than 11,000 other cases in the wings, this story isn’t going away anytime soon.

    • Behind Bars, Co-Pays Are a Barrier to Basic Health Care

      When Taylor Lytle began fainting every morning when she stood up, she had to make a decision: Should she seek medical care or should she save her hard-earned wages to buy soap, shampoo, deodorant and feminine hygiene products?

      People across the United States struggle with similar concerns. But Lytle shouldn’t have had to make that decision. That’s because in a country without universal or even a nationalized health care system, one group of people has a constitutionally guaranteed right to medical care — people behind bars. In 1976, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled, in Estelle v. Gamble, that jails and prisons have a constitutional obligation to provide health care to those in custody. Failing to do so could be considered deliberate indifference, violating the Eighth Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. Incarcerated people do not have access to jobs that pay minimum wage, meaning that they are dependent upon jails and prisons to provide for their basic needs, including health care needs.

      That doesn’t mean that jails and prisons haven’t put up other barriers to essential care. In 41 states, if a person in prison wants medical care, they need to cough up a co-pay. These co-pays – which typically range from $3 to $5, but can be as high as $8 per visit typically range from $3 to $5, but can be as high as $7.50 per visit — may not seem like an exorbitant expense, especially when compared to co-pays in the outside world. However, for people behind bars, even those few dollars may put basic care out of reach. Prison jobs pay pennies per hour, meaning that even a $3 co-pay might mean working anywhere between 12 to 23 hours to be able to pay that amount. In California, where Lytle was incarcerated, she was paid 8 cents an hour to work in the prison kitchen. The prison’s medical co-pay was $5.

    • North Carolina Strikes Down 20-Week Abortion Ban

      The first bill that banned abortion at 20 weeks — that’s 20 weeks post-fertilization, or 22 weeks based on last menstrual period – was passed in Nebraska in 2011. Since then, dozens of states have introduced similar laws banning abortion just at the edge of fetal viability, and they all hope to nudge the Supreme Court into reconsidering Roe v. Wade. Yet in almost every state where these 20 week bans have been challenged, state or federal courts have ruled them unconstitutional.

      Now it has happened again, this time in North Carolina.

      The North Carolina 20-week ban was signed into law decades earlier just after Roe was decided, but it was amended in 2015 to be even more strict on the exceptions under which an abortion could still be allowed. By removing the ability to obtain a termination for any reason short of risk of death or “medical emergency,” the new restriction even more directly contradicted Roe, which states that later abortion must be available in cases where a person’s physical or mental health are in danger.

      The bill was allowed to go into effect despite that fact, but it was challenged in 2016 in the light of successes in the Supreme Court after Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt.

    • Jayapal Confronts Top Pelosi Aide for ‘Inappropriate’ Effort to Undermine Medicare for All

      Rep. Pramila Jayapal on Tuesday directly confronted an influential health policy aide for attempting to undercut the Democratic caucus’s push for Medicare for All.

      Jayapal, author of the Medicare for All bill H.R. 1384, demanded to know at a meeting of the Congressional Progressive Caucus why Wendell Primus, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s top health policy adviser, derided her proposal in discussions with insurance executives.

      “I think it’s really inappropriate for staff representing the Speaker’s office to be undercutting members of our caucus,” Jayapal told Politico after the meeting.

      As multiple outlets including Common Dreams reported, Primus spoke with executives and health policy experts on November 30 at a meeting where he called proposals like Jayapal’s and the broader push toward Medicare for All an “unhelpful distraction.”

      While last year’s meeting was private, attendees told Politico in reporting published Tuesday that Primus had given the impression that those present should work to steer public sentiment away from a single-payer system and toward propping up the for-profit health insurance sector.

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • According to magazine operated by Russia’s Defense Ministry, Moscow trains paranormal soldiers

      The February edition of Armeisky Sbornik (Army Collection), the Russian Defense Ministry’s official magazine, features a strange article titled “Super Soldier for the Wars of the Future” that describes the military’s work with “combat psychics.” The magazine RBC noticed the text, which says the Russian military supposedly uses paranormal tactics to help soldiers learn foreign languages, treat wounded troops in battle, detect ambushes, hideouts, and weapons caches, crash computer programs, burn crystals, eavesdrop on conversations, and disrupt telecommunications, including television and radio waves. Russia also apparently has specialists who use telepathy to question prisoners and give orders to dolphins.

    • Humanitarian Groups Promote Solutions to Extreme Violence in West Africa

      In February 2019, the New Humanitarian published an overview of the “causes and humanitarian consequences of the violent extremism in West Africa.” The group’s report on extreme violence in northeast Nigeria, northern Cameroon, north and central Mali, and southern Niger is the result of a year of fieldwork in those areas, surveying not only the violence, but also sustainable peace efforts based on the interconnected roles of economics, politics, and faith in sparking militancy and, potentially, creating peace. The detailed report covers root causes, recruitment, motivations, security forces, reducing the ranks of fighters, reintegration of former fighters, and humanitarians.

      Peer pressure, community identity, and the impact of trauma and humiliation from security forces play a huge role in recruitment. A United Nations Development Program study found that the arrest or killing of family members was “the tipping point” in decisions to join for seventy percent of jihadists. The power of faith provides a significant motivation for these groups as well, helping, for example to frame conflict in ways that create a narrative and meaning for militants.

    • Pope Francis: Govts. That Sell Arms to Saudi Arabia ‘Have No Right to Talk About Peace’

      The statement by the Pontiff came in an interview that aired Sunday on the weekly Spanish news show “Salvados.”

      When presenter Jordi Évole asked him about Spain’s selling of weapons to the kingdom—which is leading the coalition waging catastrophic war on Yemen—Pope Francis expressed sorrow but promptly added that “it’s not the only government” doing that.

      Spain is just one among the numerous nations that supply arms to Saudi Arabia, and continues to do so despite accusations of the coalition committing war crimes and increased attention on the kingdom’s vast human rights abuses following the killing of journalist Jamal Khahoggi.

      The amount of arms Spain sells to the kingdom, howerver, is dwarfed by the amount of weapons sold to Saudi Arabia by the United States and the United Kingdom, with the U.S. being the biggest supplier of arms to the Saudis.

    • Spain Not Satisfied With CIA Answers on Embassy Attack

      The story of the February 22 break-in at the North Korean embassy in Madrid gets more intriguing by the day.

      The brazen daytime attack, involving 10 men (some of whom escaped via Uber), is rather more shocking (and entertaining) than parsing the Talmudic texts of Barr and Mueller. (Plus, Rachel Maddow doesn’t have a theory, Glenn Greenwald doesn’t have an opinion, John Brennan is mum. And Anderson Cooper isn’t on the scene, at least not yet.)

      The North Korean embassy attack is not another elite journo-spat but a real-life Hollywood thriller screenplay that is being written in media clichés in real time. As a historian of the CIA I’m all too familiar with the agency’s many cock-ups and crimes, and I have to ask myself, is this one of them?

      El Pais, the most reliable newspaper in Spain, can bring you up to speed on the incident, which North Korea is now suddenly calling a “terror attack.”

    • Kabul Protestors Attacked Amid Government Insecurity Issues

      At least six people were killed after a suicide bomber attacked a protest site in Afghanistan’s capital of Kabul, according to a November 2018 report by Al Jazeera. Twenty more were wounded in the blast that happened in downtown Kabul in front of a high school. Attempting to reach the protestors on foot, the suicide attacker was stopped at a checkpoint about 200 meters from the site. This particular explosion came as additional security had been called out across Kabul for the protests. The blast took place close to the city’s Pashtunistan Square, where hundreds of people had been protesting over ongoing and mounting insecurity in the country, especially since the US invasion of 2001.

      The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/ISIS) claimed responsibility, as they have for many of the suicide attacks in Kabul during the past year. Many of the casualties have been security forces. Hundreds of community members gathered to demand action against the ongoing Taliban assaults in three districts of central Afghanistan. It is said that the rally had ended before the explosion. Many believe the Afghani government has been failing to deliver on its promises of safety for its people. The Afghani government has been struggling to regain control of districts lost to the Taliban while casualties among security forces reached record levels. The government has influence over 65 percent of the population, but only 55 percent of Afghanistan’s 407 districts. They are greatly falling behind in their long struggle against attacks.

    • ‘Not Just Inappropriate. It’s Fascistic’: Outrage Over UK Soldiers Using Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn for Target Practice

      British soldiers in Kabul, Afghanistan, used an image of Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn as target practice, drawing criticism from United Kingdom progressives and triggering an internal investigation.

      Video of the soldiers firing weapons at a large picture of Corbyn went viral early Wednesday morning.

    • Was Ending the Draft a Grave Mistake?

      I spent last week at Angelo State University in remote central Texas as a panelist for the annual All-Volunteer Force (AVF) Forum. It was a strange forum in many ways, but nonetheless instructive. I was the youngest (and most progressive) member, as well as the lowest-ranking veteran among a group of leaders and speakers that included two retired generals, the chief of staff to former Secretary of State Colin Powell, a few former colonels and several academics. Despite having remarkably diverse life experiences and political opinions, all concluded that America’s all-volunteer military is not equitable, efficient or sustainable. The inconvenient truth each of the panel participants had the courage to identify is that the end of the draft in the U.S. had many unintended—and ultimately tragic—consequences for the republic.

      The oft-praised U.S. military is, disturbingly, the most trusted public institution in the country. These days, active service members and veterans are regularly paraded before an otherwise apathetic citizenry at nearly every sporting event. Public figures and private citizens alike fawn over and obsessively thank the troops at every possible opportunity. It seems strange, however, that Americans are so hyperproud of their military, seeing as it neither reflects society nor achieves national objectives overseas. After all, the military only accounts for about 0.5 % of Americans and, as recent statistics indicate, the Army is falling well short of its recruiting goals. Not to mention that for all the vacuous pageantry and celebrations of a military that is increasingly divergent from civil society, few seem to ask an important question: When was the last time the AVF won a war?

      The AVF is ultimately an unfair, ineffective and unsustainable organization charged with impossible, ill-advised missions by policymakers and a populace that actually care rather little for the nation’s soldiers. As the AVF nears its 50th anniversary, there’s no better time than now to assess the model’s flaws and its effect on American democracy.

      Way back when the U.S. military was bogged down in an unwinnable, immoral and ill-advised war in Vietnam, newly elected President Nixon faced a serious problem. Tricky Dick, as he is sometimes known, wanted to prolong and escalate the war into Cambodia and Laos in order to achieve “peace with honor”—in other words, seem tough and save some American face. Only the growing domestic anti-war movement that was gaining influence in Congress stood in his way. No doubt cynically, but also astutely, Nixon surmised that fear of individual conscription largely motivated youthful anti-war activists. Thus, in a Faustian devil’s bargain, he helped end the draft and usher in a brand-new all-volunteer force. Surprisingly, his gambit worked, and the steam blew out of the anti-war movement over time. Today, it is with the same all-volunteer force Nixon left us with that the U.S. wages war across the breadth of the planet.

    • Rep. Ro Khanna on WH Security Clearances, Ending Support for the Saudi War in Yemen, and Venezuela

      The House Oversight Committee has subpoenaed the director of White House personnel security after a whistleblower revealed senior Trump officials overturned 25 security clearance denials, despite “serious disqualifying issues.” We speak with California Democratic Congressmember Ro Khanna, who says, “Congressional oversight is not a choice—it’s the law.” We also speak to him about the latest congressional actions around Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.

    • Hundreds of anarchist activists reportedly searched in connection with October explosion

      On October 31, 2018, a 17-year-old technical student triggered an explosive device in the local Federal Security Service (FSB) building in Arkhangelsk, Russia. According to Znak.com, more than two hundred official searches targeting anarchist circles have recently taken place around the country in connection with the case, which is being investigated as a terrorist attack.

    • Over Half a Million Killed By US War On Terror

      According to the latest estimate from the Costs of War Project at Brown University’s Watson Institute, the US “War on Terror” has killed at least half a million people in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan since 2001. However, the report does not include the half million that have also been killed in Syria since 2011, which the United States joined in 2014, as well as indirect deaths. More specifically, deaths are also caused by the war’s impact on public health, especially regarding food and water shortages as well as limited electricity and access to hospitals. According to the report, the need to keep the public fully informed on issues in the Middle East could help empower demands to shift US foreign policy, stating that, “Too often, legislators, NGOs, and the news media that try to track the consequences of the wars are inhibited by governments determined to paint a rosy picture of perfect execution and progress.”

      The direct deaths accounted for in the most recent estimate include “United States military soldiers, contractors, and Defense Department employees as well as the National military and police, and other allied troops, civilians, journalists, opposition fighters, and aid workers.” A majority of those killed were civilians, “between 244,000 and 266,000 across Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. Up to 204,000 of them were Iraqis.”

    • US Drone Strikes in Yemen Horrifically Ineffective; Kill Mostly Innocent Civilians

      Since 2009, the United States has been conducting drone strikes in Yemen to target Al Qaeda. Problematically, these strikes have proven to repeatedly be off-target. Writing for the Associated Press, Maggie Michael and Maad Al-Zirky write that civilian deaths account for “around a third of all those killed in drone strikes so far in 2018.” While the data is sparse, the Bureau for Investigative Journalism, one of the few organizations that covers these issues extensively, estimates that there were “up to 1,020 killed by strikes from 2009 to 2016, under President Barack Obama … Another database, by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project, counted 331 killed [in] the past two years.”

      Both Democrats and Republicans favor drone strikes to target potential terrorists in the Middle East, but the reality is that these strikes are doing more harm than good in the affected region. The strikes have killed hundreds of innocent people – including children – as a result of overworked drone pilots in confined spaces, bad intelligence which comes from widespread torture tactics, and simply misjudging benign behavior as evidence of terrorism. Yemeni locals say they constantly “live in fear” because “drones don’t leave the sky.” For years, US drone strikes have turned Yemen into a catastrophic war zone.

    • Ukrainian Fascists Trained US White Supremacists with Tax Dollars

      While the Trump Administration has fought to keep nationals of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen from traveling to the US for fear they are terrorists, white supremacists who vow violence in this country go and come freely to Ukraine, where they train with the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion militia.

      The US government has directly funded the Azov Battalion, which began as a volunteer militia but has now been officially assimilated into Ukraine’s national guard as a “contract” unit.

      A federal, criminal conspiracy and rioting complaint filed in Los Angeles in 2018 includes an affidavit stating four American white supremacists from the Rise Above Movement (RAM) trained with Ukraine’s Azov Battalion. The training took place after the white supremacist gang participated in violent riots in Huntington Beach and Berkeley, CA, and Charlottesville, VA in 2017.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Ecuador twists embarrassing INA Papers into pretext to oust Assange

      The following day, Foreign Minister Jose Valencia said that the WikiLeaks tweet was “an absurd lie to harm the dignity of our country… we will not tolerate… inventions and insults… I cannot anticipate when and when we will take action in relation to this, but we will take action for certain.”

      On 28 March, Communications Minister Andrés Michelena told CNN Español that the INApapers were part of a plot of Julian Assange, Venezuelan President Maduro and former Ecuadorian President Correa to bring down Moreno’s government. He added, “You have to understand how these people are connected, Mr. Assange is the Troll Center, the hacker for former President Correa, [Assange] handles the technological and social media side.”

      That same day, the national assembly, in which Moreno’s party and other right parties command a majority, passed a resolution inviting the Foreign Ministry to take action against Assange’s asylum on the basis of the INApapers leak “in the national interest” if it considers it pertinent to do so.

      In March 2019, Moreno’s approval ratings dropped to 17%. Statements by the government of Ecuador deliberately implicate WikiLeaks in the INApapers leak. For example, Ecuador’s Vice President Otto Sonnenholzner said in a local radio interview, “What Wikileaks and other political actors have done, to publish private photos of the President of the Republic, of his family, is a despicable, repugnant, and odious act.”

    • Let Chelsea Go

      On June 1, 2013, I joined a thousand people on a march through Fort Meade, Maryland calling for Chelsea Manning’s release. Manning, a former soldier in the US army, was scheduled to be court martialed for passing US war logs and diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks. The collection of documents painted a shocking portrait of US empire and the brutal realities of its wars.

      At the end of the march, we hung “Nobel Prizes” for Manning on the gates of the military base where she would soon go on trial. The symbolic gesture stemmed from tongue-in-cheek calls for Barack Obama to “give” his Nobel Peace Prize to Chelsea Manning. It nonetheless seemed like a fitting gesture. Manning’s intent was to spark a debate on US foreign policy by exposing its dark truths. Instead she was swept up in a larger Obama-era crackdown on whistleblowers. While the powerful that committed heinous crimes went largely unpunished, those who dared expose them, like Manning, were thrown in jail.

      Manning had already pled guilty to charges carrying twenty years in prison. It wasn’t enough for prosecutors. The military went ahead with a court martial that alleged she had violated the Espionage Act and aided the enemy. They sought a life sentence. A military judge acquitted Manning of aiding the enemy, but found her guilty under the Espionage Act. She received an unprecedented thirty-five-year prison sentence.

      Throughout her incarceration, Manning was subjected to harsh conditions, including a pretrial detention that most likely constituted torture and denials of gender-affirming medical treatment. Manning pursued both litigation and a hunger strike to fight for her health rights as a trans woman. While relenting on medical treatment, the military continued to hold Manning in a men’s prison.

    • Chelsea Manning pushes for release from jail, with support of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

      Chelsea Manning is urging an appeals court to let her out of jail while she fights a contempt ruling, a challenge that won support Tuesday from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.).

      Manning was jailed three weeks ago by an Alexandria federal judge for refusing to participate in a grand jury investigation of WikiLeaks, the anti-secrecy website with which she shared classified information in 2010. Like other high-profile inmates, including Paul Manafort, she has been separated from the rest of the jail population and is confined to her cell for all but a couple hours a day.

      She is now seeking to be released both from jail and from the requirement to testify.

      “Solitary confinement is torture,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted. “Chelsea is being tortured for whistleblowing, she should be released on bail.”

    • Chelsea Manning files motion for immediate release pending appeal

      Chelsea Manning’s legal team submitted a motion on Monday to the US Eastern District Court of Virginia for her immediate release pending her appeal of the decision that sent her to jail indefinitely on March 8.
      Manning was imprisoned by District Judge Claude Hilton on civil contempt charges for courageously refusing to testify before a secret grand jury preparing a frame-up case against WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange.
      The latest motion argues that the judge’s decision to remand Manning to the Alexandria Detention Center was in violation of her constitutional rights and should be reversed. It says, “Ms. Manning timely filed her notice of appeal, and now requests that this court grant bail pending the resolution of the appeal.”
      On Friday, March 29, Manning’s legal team filed an appeal of her imprisonment for contempt with the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. US law provides that release must be granted as long as the appeal is neither frivolous nor a delay tactic.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • How Agroforestry beats Climate Change, Drought and Poverty, reviving Kenyan Farming Economy

      As climate change worsens and Kenyan farmers struggle to make a reliable income from food crops alone, agroforestry—the practice of growing trees in fields to protect the crops and soil from harsh weather – is bringing life back to the Kibwezi village, thanks to the Melia Volkensii tree. Called mukau by the locals, this thrives in drylands while its leaves and branches also protect the fields from scorching sun and winds, and provide crops with moisture from nightly dew.

    • Trump and Putin Fight to Appease Oil Giants

      US president Donald Trump relaxed restrictions for oil development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in April 2018, in an effort to appease fossil fuel interests. This act of corporate favoritism was deceptively hidden under the “National Tax Cuts and Jobs Act,” giving citizens of surrounding areas no opportunity to voice opposition until after the change in policy regarding leasing for drilling in ANWR.

      The move came after Russia’s Vladimir Putin announced plans to start drilling in the Arctic. After sanctions on Russian oil oligarchs in 2016, US oil companies have been wary to invest in Russian mining, and now put more of their resources into developing new oil mining in places like Alaska. Competition among oil companies may prompt both countries to further open up protected areas for mining, but so far, the move, along with sanctions against Russia, has caused companies like ExxonMobil to pull out of major Russian oil initiatives to explore new possibilities in the Arctic.

    • Bold New Campaign Highlights How ‘Nature Can Save Us’ From Climate and Ecological Breakdown

      A group of activists, experts, and writers on Wednesday launched a bold new campaign calling for the “thrilling but neglected approach” of embracing nature’s awesome restorative powers to battle the existential crises of climate and ecological breakdown.

      Averting catastrophic global warming and devastating declines in biodiversity, scientists warn, requires not only overhauling human activities that generate planet-heating emissions—like phasing out fossil fuels—but also cutting down on the carbon that is already in the atmosphere.

      In a letter to governments, NGOs, the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity, and the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Natural Climate Solutions campaign calls for tackling these crises by not only rapidly decarbonizing economies, but also by “drawing carbon dioxide out of the air by protecting and restoring ecosystems.”

    • Poor Environmental Conditions Impact Children’s Health around the World

      Environmental pollution around the world is negatively affecting children’s health. According to Cesar Chelala at CounterPunch, children comprise almost half of the population of developing countries and most of the deaths reported among youth involve children under five, mostly due to intestinal and respiratory infections. Chelala wrote, “It has been widely demonstrated that children are more susceptible than adults to environmental factors because, among other reasons, they are still growing and their immune systems and detoxification mechanisms are not yet fully developed.” Many contributing factors are at play, including “pollution, ultraviolet radiation, occupational factors, as well as climate and ecosystem changes.”

      Millions of children die each year as a result of environmentally-related diseases that could be prevented. Chelala writes, “Their deaths could be prevented by using low-cost and sustainable tools and strategies for improving the environment. In some countries, more than one-third of the disease burden could be prevented by environmental changes.” A World Health Organization study carried out in 23 countries stated that more than ten percent of deaths are due to contaminated water, indoor air pollution, cooking fuel, and other unsafe environmental conditions. Around the world, from local communities to national governments, some are beginning to take the matter seriously, even taking initiatives worldwide with the aim of improving the environment and children’s health.

    • How State Power Regulators Are Making Utilities Account for the Costs of Climate Change

      The electricity powering your computer or smartphone that makes it possible for you to read this article could come from one of several sources. It’s probably generated by burning natural gas or coal or from operating a nuclear reactor, unless it’s derived from hydropower or wind or solar energy. Who gets to choose?

    • Third Houston Area Chemical Fire in Under Three Weeks Prompts Calls for Action From Progressives, Environmental Groups

      A third chemical fire in the Houston area in less than three weeks has Texans and environmentalists questioning the safety of energy corporations and calling for strict reforms.

      On Tuesday morning, an explosion at the KMCO chemical plant in Crosby, roughly 25 miles northeast of Houston, killed one worker and began a fire at the plant. Two other workers were injured in the blast.

    • Lebanese Factories Shut Down for Polluting Litani River

      Due to severe pollution of the Litani River, on November 8, 2018, Lebanon’s Minister of Industry officially shut down 75 factories “operating without a valid license” that were contributing to the river’s pollution. The Litani River is Lebanon’s longest river, and the country’s main water source. Over the years it has been filled with so much waste that it has become a serious health hazard.

    • Trump Falsely Claims Noise From Wind Turbines Causes Cancer

      At a National Republican Congressional Committee event Tuesday night, President Donald Trump took his war on wind power to the next level.

      “If you have a windmill anywhere near your house, congratulations, your house just went down 75 per cent in value,” Trump said, as The Independent reported. “And they say the noise causes cancer. You tell me that one, okay? Rerrrr rerrrr!”

    • And So Ends 30 Years of Climate Science Denial — Christopher Booker Has Written His Last Telegraph Column

      30 years after he first graced the Sunday Telegraph’s comment pages, Christopher Booker has at last put down his pen. With the death of his column goes one of the last remaining regular outlets for outright climate science denial in the UK’s mainstream press.

      Of course, he wasn’t going to go quietly. In his final column, he runs down what he sees as his greatest achievements, which of course he says includes challenging mainstream climate science and the UK’s decarbonisation project.

    • USDA to Stop Killing Kittens for Research

      The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will no longer conduct a controversial experiment that led to the deaths of thousands of cats beginning in 1982, NBC News reported.

      The USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) announced Tuesday that it was stopping an experiment that used cats to study the parasite Toxoplasma gondii. Its announcement comes weeks after a report from the White Coat Waste Project detailed experiments in which the USDA had bought unwanted cats and dogs from Asia, Africa and Latin America, killed them, and fed them to laboratory cats and other animals.

      “We are elated that after a year of campaigning we have relegated the slaughter of kittens to the litter box of history,” White Coat Waste Project Vice President Justin Goodman told NPR.

    • Business leaders, investors, and experts to IEA: Align with Paris and help us plan for success

      In order to succeed, we need the best tools at our disposal. We need to understand whether decisions will lead to success or failure, and we need policymakers and investors to have access to that information. Remarkably, almost all energy decision-making is based on assumptions that we will fail in meeting the Paris climate goals. This includes the go-to source for descriptions of our energy future: the International Energy Agency (IEA).
      Today, over 40 business leaders, investors, and energy experts found remarkable alignment around demanding more from the IEA. In a letter covered by the Financial Times, a broad collection of signatories called on the IEA to develop a truly Paris-aligned scenario (including a reasonable chance at staying within 1.5 degrees Celsius with a precautionary approach to Negative Emissions Technologies), and make this the central scenario in the World Energy Outlook (WEO), replacing the current dominant business-as-usual scenario.

    • Green MEP says ditch nuclear jobs in favour of green jobs as costs and dangers of storing defunct nuclear submarines soar

      The South West’s Green MEP, Molly Scott Cato, has said it is time for Devonport to ‘move beyond the nuclear age’ and transfer hundreds of nuclear submarine and weapons related jobs into jobs supporting the green economy, particularly renewable energy technologies.

      The call comes following revelations that Devonport in Plymouth and Rosyth in Fife are storing decommissioned nuclear submarines at a cost to the tax payer of £500m [1]. The Ministry of Defence has been storing the submarines for dismantling, but the disposal has been beset by lengthy delays and spiralling costs.

      Two and a half years ago, Dr Scott Cato produced a report which outlining how Devonport could sever its links with nuclear defence but maintain employment by transferring investment into sustainable jobs, making use of the skills and resources available at the base [2].

    • Bleaching Has Struck the Southernmost Coral Reef in the World

      This month corals in Lord Howe Island Marine Park began showing signs of bleaching. The 145,000 hectare marine park contains the most southerly coral reef in the world, in one of the most isolated ecosystems on the planet.

      Following early reports of bleaching in the area, researchers from three Australian universities and two government agencies have worked together throughout March to investigate and document the bleaching.

  • Finance

    • Child Protective Services’ Safety Plans Punish Parents for Poverty

      Every day, county and state child services agencies remove children from their parents’ care. Responding to maltreatment complaints for more than seven million children, in 2016 child services agencies across the US found that four million children met initial criteria for abuse, abandonment, or neglect. At least one-fifth were removed from their parents’ care. As Elizabeth Brico reported for Talk Poverty, child protective service agencies’ use of “safety plans”—informal agreements between parents and protective agencies—often punish parents for poverty with unintended consequences.

      As Brico reported, safety plans are “widely used” in child protective services investigations to attempt to resolve “perceived threats to a child’s health and safety without judicial involvement.” Though informal, such plans are “considered binding” and it is left to the department to determine “what happens if a family violates an agreement.” In extreme cases, as Brico described in her article, a police officer shows up with a court order to remove the child.

    • Reducing Inequalities, Reducing Suicides in the US

      Since 2000, US suicide rates have shockingly increased by 25%, calling for an urgent national discussion on depression, suicide prevention and more importantly, the factors underlying mental-emotional illness. Some call for developing new antidepressants, noting the inefficacy of current medical therapies. But developing better drugs buys into the mainstream notion that the collection of human experiences called “mental illness” is primarily physiological in nature.

      However, research has shown that, to the contrary, economic inequality could be a significant contributor to mental illness. Disparities in wealth and income are associated with increased anxiety and stress, with poverty having a negative impact on children’s development—including social, emotional, and cognitive impairment. A society designed to meet everyone’s needs could help prevent many of these problems before they start.

    • Why Congress Must Lift the Spending Caps to Help Low-Income Families

      Every year, the Coalition on Human needs compares funding for well over 150 human needs programs starting in fiscal year 2010 and continuing to the current fiscal year (this year, 2019).

      CHN uses 2010 as a benchmark because that is the year before the Budget Control Act passed Congress and was signed into law by President Obama. That law called for automatic cuts in spending if Congress could not curtail spending on its own.

      This year, CHN tracked spending for 184 human needs programs. CHN found that 131 of the programs, or 71 percent, lost ground since 2010. And 54 programs were cut by 25 percent or more.

      Further cuts could happen, and soon. Unless Congress acts this year, harsh spending caps will go into effect for fiscal years 2020 and 2021, reducing all domestic/international appropriations by $55 billion in 2020 (or $70 billion, adjusting for inflation) below 2019 levels.

      Looking back to 2010, and in more recent years, we can ask, what are the human impacts of reduced spending for human needs programs? Let’s examine just three areas of support that are crucial to helping low-income families improve their economic situation—child care, affordable housing, and job training.

    • A Cure for Excessive Wealth Disorder

      The U.S. is suffering from excessive wealth disorder.

      This isn’t your parents’ inequality influenza, but a more virulent strain of extreme disparities of income, wealth, and opportunity.

      Just 400 billionaires have as much wealth as nearly two-thirds of American households combined. And just three individuals — Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffett, and Bill Gates — have as much wealth as half of all U.S. households put together.

      Since the economic meltdown of 2008, the lion’s share of income and wealth growth hasn’t gone just to the top 1 percent — it’s gone to the richest one-tenth of 1 percent. This 0.1 percent includes households with annual incomes starting at $2.2 million and wealth over $20 million.

      This group has been the big winner of the last few decades. Its share of national income rose from 6 percent in 1995 to 11 percent in 2015. But their biggest gains are in wealth, increasing their share from 7 percent in 1978 to over 21 percent today.

      That’s 210 times their share of the population.

      When you have over $20 million, you’ve easily taken care of all your needs and those of the next generation of your family. You’re living in comfort, probably with multiple homes, and don’t want for anything.

    • New report asserts that a Russian businessman mentioned in the Panama Papers is helping Putin associates get around U.S. sanctions

      The scientist and businessman Alexander Plekhov was mentioned in the Panama Papers in connection with offshore accounts belonging to Sergey Roldugin, a friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Now, the investigative outlet Proekt has learned that Plekhov’s companies are also closely tied with a business owned by another friend of Putin’s, Yury Kovalchuk. Proekt found that Plekhov may be helping Kovalchuk avoid the effects of international sanctions.
      Alexander Plekhov appeared in the Panama Papers as Sergey Roldugin’s legal representative in an offshore company called Sonnette Overseas. He also owned another offshore called Sunbarn Ltd. Journalists from the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) and the independent Russian outlet Novaya Gazeta reported that both companies were involved in suspicious business operations.

    • Is Global Recession Looming?

      According to Heiner Flassbeck, former head of UNCTAD, there are many factors pointing to a convergence in a normal cyclical downturn, deepening recession in Europe, complicated by potential hard Brexit–With host Paul Jay

    • Global Civil Society Urges WTO Members to Abandon Digital Trade Talks

      On Monday of this week, 315 civil society organizations (CSOs)—including global union federations, development advocates, consumer organizations, and environmental groups—from more than 90 countries delivered a letter (available in English, Spanish, and French in PDF) to members of the World Trade Organization (WTO). In it, they express their “profound and urgent opposition to these proposed negotiations which, if concluded, could result in the full liberalization of the entire (digital) economy, and thus represent back door attempt to achieve a ‘WTO 2.0’.”

      The WTO membership rejected displacing the “development agenda” in the WTO for a new agenda on digital trade at the last Ministerial meeting in December 2017 in Argentina. In spite of this, a number of countries decided to launch negotiations in March 2019.

    • ‘Tax the Rich. It’s Just That Simple’: US Campaign Aims to Make Wealthy Pay Their Fair Share

      The new project, led by progressive advocacy group Tax March, will consist of on-the-ground organizing in crucial battleground states like Wisconsin and Iowa.

      Tax March also plans to spend seven figures on digital, print, television, and radio ads “to educate the public about taxing the rich.”

      “Taxing the rich isn’t just good policy, it’s good politics—and this campaign will prove that,” Maura Quint, executive director of progressive advocacy group Tax March, said in a statement. “Raising taxes on corporations and the wealthy is wildly popular with a majority of both Democratic and Republican voters.”

      To underscore this point, Tax March released new polling data (pdf) Wednesday showing that 75 percent of likely 2020 voters—including 60 percent of Republicans—support raising taxes on the wealthy.

      “This important poll provides a detailed look at how voters feel about taxes and the overwhelming message is that they want the wealthy and corporations to pay their fair share,” Frank Clemente, executive director of Americans for Tax Fairness, said in a statement.

    • Elizabeth Warren Unveils Sweeping Bill to Punish Criminal CEOs

      Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren introduced legislation Wednesday that would make it easier to imprison corporate executives whose companies commit crimes or “harm large numbers of Americans through civil violations.”

      “Corporations don’t make decisions, people do, but for far too long, CEOs of giant corporations that break the law have been able to walk away, while consumers who are harmed are left picking up the pieces,” the 2020 Democratic presidential contender said in a statement.

    • Stephen Moore’s Economic Illiteracy Puts Us All at Risk

      The one silver lining in the nomination of political hack Stephen Moore to the Federal Reserve is that it might spur a productive discussion on the benefits (or lack of them) of monetary policy as an instrument of economic growth. This is principally because it’s just one ingredient for what is necessary to instill economic growth, and not a particularly good one at that. A more direct approach is via appropriately targeted and sufficiently large fiscal actions.

      In regard to monetary policy, low interest rates kept in place for a long time can actually constrain economic growth unless they are coupled with sensible compensating fiscal policy, due to the adverse income impact to savers emanating from a resultant lower income stream. There is also a problem of political legitimacy when so little of the funding is explicitly approved by Congress, and is left instead to the discretion/creation of the Federal Reserve (which has historically tended to prioritize the narrow interests of finance over the rest of the economy). And Stephen Moore, a leading advocate of cutting rates to promote additional economic growth (even as he has historically championed spending cuts), will simply perpetuate the (unfortunately) widely held notion of monetary policy as an effective cure-all, if his ideas gain policy traction within the Powell-led Federal Reserve.

      In fact, what is truly required is well-formulated fiscal policy and less monetary policy activism, precisely the opposite of today’s prevailing trends. Solvency per se is not the issue. The key here is how the money is spent, lest fiscal policy become as diffuse in its effects as monetary policy has become, as well as discredited politically because of perceived ineffectiveness when long-standing structural issues (such as inequality) remain unaddressed.

    • As We Gape at Trump’s Sideshow, Corporations Are Picking Our Pockets

      As America rapidly urbanized in the 1920s and ’30s, nearly every burgeoning city gave rise to a jumbled, boisterous side of town that lay somewhere between exciting and dangerous. One such place in my state, known as “Deep Ellum,” was a stretch of Elm Street in East Dallas. A predominantly African American community, it also hosted a freewheeling mix of immigrant laborers, rural migrants, musicians, saloonkeepers, preachers, fortune-tellers and assorted hustlers. It was both bedazzling and dicey — the sort of place where the blues lay in wait for innocents. As a popular song of the day warned:

      “If you go down in Deep Ellum,

      “Keep your money in your shoes

      “Or you’ll go home

      “With the Deep Ellum blues.

      “Oh, sweet mama,

      “Your daddy’s got them Deep Ellum blues.”

      A 1937 article in a black weekly described it as a rollicking scene “where business, religion, hoodooism, gambling, and stealing goes on at the same time without friction.” The writer told about seeing a Bible-thumping street preacher mesmerize a crowd by prophesizing that “Jesus Christ would come to Dallas in person in 1939.” As the evangelizer grew louder, “a pickpocket was lifting a week’s wages from another guy’s pocket, who stood with open mouth to hear the prophecy.”

    • US Capitalism Was Born in the Destruction of the Commons

      “Community has to be intended, not as a gated reality, a grouping of people joined by exclusive interests, and separating them from others, but rather as a quality of relations, a principle of cooperation and of responsibility, to each other and the health of the forests, the seas, the animals.”

      So writes [feminist] Silvia Federici. But how can we get there from here? The practice of commoning, and the idea that we might hold and manage land and assets together in common, holds a lot of appeal these days. To help us think forward as we do on this show, we have two world-renowned experts on commoning in the house. Federici’s latest book is Re-enchanting the World: Feminism and the Politics of the Commons. Its foreword is written by historian and “Laura Flanders Show” regular, Peter Linebaugh, who is the author of, among other classics, The Magna Carta Manifesto. In this interview, Federici and Linebaugh discuss the history of the commons and how we might apply some of the ideas central to commoning to rebuilding our communities.

    • Teachers’ Movements Gain Community Support by Centering Social Justice

      The teachers’ strike wave began in West Virginia and spread across several red states, and then into blue states with work stoppages in Los Angeles, Denver and Oakland.

      Leading teacher militant Gillian Russom has been a high school history teacher in Los Angeles for 18 years. She’s been an activist-member of the United Teachers Los Angeles for most of that time and currently serves on the union’s board of directors. She is a contributor to the book Education and Capitalism, published by Haymarket Books.

      She spoke to Truthout about the causes of the new teachers’ movement and how labor activists must move toward social justice unionism. The following transcript has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Pierre Omidyar’s Not So Brave New World

      In recent years, the media giant Pierre Omidyar has been strengthening his network and influence by funding multiple media companies to manipulate public opinion in service of his own businesses, Alexander Rubinstein and Max Blumenthal report for Mint Press News. Omidyar’s numerous conflicts of interest—from funding for pro-war media, to organizations purportedly committed to fact-checking, and more—reflect the powerful tools available to him for pushing his own agenda. His end goal is to establish a vast, integrated information network “to give technocrats, business executives, and government officials a God’s-eye view of the world- to manage society more efficiently.”

      The Omidyar network includes networked media companies from around the world that work in the interests of western corporations and spread fear of Russian and Chinese meddling. Additionally, Omidyar works to purchase leaked information, such as the Panama Papers, to disseminate and spin it strategically.

    • J Is For Jenius, But What About The Windmills and Oringes?

      We can’t even. If you’ve wisely stayed in your cave the last couple of days, the stable genius has threatened to get rid of judges, said his New-York-born-and-bred father was “born in a very wonderful place in Germany,” claimed the noise of windmills causes cancer, urged House Republicans to be more paranoid because he didn’t like how votes were tallied, promised a phenomenal health care plan that doesn’t exist, explained why he cut off aid to several of the Mexicos, ranted he’ll close the border ’cause brown people keep traveling into his fever dreams – “They arrange these caravans. And they don’t put their best people in those caravans. And they put people you don’t want to have in the United States” – and told NATO’s secretary general it’s great Mueller found no collusion or obstruction, nope none nada, but he sure wishes the report would look into the oranges of the investigation, which in a baffling twist became, in the White House transcript, “oringes.”

    • Chicago Makes Herstory: First African-American Woman and Gay Chicago Mayor Wins in Landslide

      Chicago voters made history Tuesday when Lori Lightfoot won a landslide victory as both the city’s first African-American woman mayor and openly gay mayor. This comes after a February runoff election that pitted her against Toni Preckwinkle, a former alderperson who is president of the Cook County Board. While Preckwinkle had been viewed as a highly formidable candidate, Lightfoot is a political outsider who has never held elected office. We are joined by Barbara Ransby, professor of African American studies, gender and women’s studies and history at the University of Illinois, Chicago. Her article for The Nation is headlined “The Rising Black Left Movement Behind Chicago’s Historic Elections.”

    • Lori Lightfoot Says Chicago Mayoral Victory Means ‘a City Reborn’

      Chicago Mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot’s resounding victory was a clear call for change at City Hall and a historic repudiation of the old-style, insider politics that have long defined the nation’s third-largest city.

      Lightfoot, a former federal prosecutor who’d never been elected to public office, defeated Cook County Board President and longtime City Council member Toni Preckwinkle on Tuesday with backing from voters across the city. Late results showed Lightfoot, 56, winning every one of the city’s 50 wards.

    • With Lori Lightfoot’s ‘Historic, Hopeful Victory’ in Chicago Mayoral Race, Progressives Vow to Hold Her Accountable

      After securing more than 73 percent of the vote—per the latest tally reported by the Chicago Tribune—Lightfoot will be the second city’s first black female and openly gay mayor.

      The faceoff between Lightfoot and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, both black women and self-styled progressives, garnered national attention for its historic nature.

      NAACP president and CEO Derrick Johnson, and many others across the country, took to Twitter to congratulate Lightfoot for her “groundbreaking win.”

    • Socialist Surge: DSA-Backed Candidates Nab Wins in Chicago Election

      The election of Chicago’s first black female and openly gay mayor—Lori Lightfoot—grabbed national headlines, but it was not the only noteworthy outcome of the city’s runoff election Tuesday.

      Voters chose three—possibly four —democratic socialists to be part of the Chicago City Council, potentially raising the number of ideologically aligned left-wingers on the council to six.

      Their victories, coupled with those of two other democratic socialists in the first round earlier this year, mark “the largest socialist electoral victory in modern American history,” wrote author and Jacobin managing editor Micah Uetricht.

    • News Industry Fights Back on Claims by Trump

      News industry leaders are fighting back against the charge by President Donald Trump and his supporters that the administration’s summation of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report proved that journalists were “so wrong for so long” in their coverage of the Russia investigation.

      The latest to weigh in was Steve Coll, dean of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, who wrote in a New Yorker magazine essay this week that it’s wrong to conclude journalism failed because Mueller did not charge Trump with conspiring with Russians to influence the 2016 election. The New York Times and The Washington Post shared a Pulitzer Prize, awarded by Columbia in 2018, for their reporting on the issue, a prize Trump says should be taken away.

      Complicating the issue is the broad definition of the news media circa 2019, encompassing everything from painstakingly sourced investigative stories to overheated tweets to opinionated pundits.

    • Democrats: Stop being babies and get Trump’s tax returns

      Donald Trump is the first president since Jimmy Carter not to release his tax returns to the public. He and his surrogates have deployed a battery of ever-shifting excuses for this, most commonly that he is under some audit. An audit, of course, doesn’t prevent anyone from releasing their return, and audits hardly ever take three years. There may never have been an audit in the first place.

      It’s obvious Trump will not release his tax returns, ever. The only way the American public will get them is if someone forces them out. House Democrats have the clear legal authority to get those returns. So far they have inexplicably failed to even try. They — in particular House Ways and Means Chair Richard Neal (D-Mass.) — need to stop being such babies and get it done.

      Here’s the legal background. As Steven Rosenthal of the Tax Policy Center writes, a section of 26 U.S. Code § 6103 states that if the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee submits a written request for any tax return, the treasury secretary “shall furnish such committee with any return or return information specified in such request.” Documents that identify an individual taxpayer just have to be seen in closed executive session. From there, the committee can decide to send them on to the full House: “Any return or return information obtained by or on behalf of such committee pursuant to the provisions of this subsection may be submitted by the committee to the Senate or the House of Representatives, or to both.” The House can then vote to release them publicly, if they wish.

      Moreover, oversight of conflicts of interest is literally the entire reason this law came about in the first place. It was passed in 1924, in response to the Teapot Dome scandal and then-Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon’s refusal to reveal his possible conflicts of interest.

    • House Chairman Asks IRS for 6 Years of Trump’s Tax Returns

      A House committee chairman on Wednesday formally asked the IRS to provide six years of President Donald Trump’s personal tax returns and the returns for some of his businesses as Democrats try to shed light on his complex financial dealings and potential conflicts of interest.

      The request by Massachusetts Rep. Richard Neal, who heads the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, is the first such demand for a sitting president’s tax information in 45 years. The move is likely to set off a huge legal battle between Democrats controlling the House and the Trump administration.

      Neal made the request in a letter to IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig, asking for Trump’s personal and business returns for 2013 through 2018. He asked for the documents in seven days, setting an April 10 deadline.

      Trump told reporters Wednesday he “would not be inclined” to provide his tax returns to the committee.

    • Democrats promised to go after Donald Trump’s taxes. So why are they dragging their feet?

      There were plenty of scandals among the presidencies before Richard Nixon and Watergate, but probably the most serious was the Teapot Dome scandal in 1924. It was a bribery scheme involving government officials taking payoffs to lease oil on public land. One of the ancillary scandals that emerged from that investigation was the suspicion that Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon, who did not divest himself of his vast private holdings, was benefiting from his position. Congress was rightly concerned that the tax legislation Mellon was proposing was designed to benefit his personal interests So it demanded to see Mellon’s tax returns and also determine if the IRS had given him special treatment.

    • Trump Is Destroying the Farmers Who Voted for Him

      Have you noticed how often Donald Trump prefaces his comments and tweets with phrases like “frankly,” “to tell the truth,” and “believe me”?

      More than a verbal tic, these qualifiers subliminally admit that being frank, truthful, and believable are not normal for him. So, like a carnival flimflammer selling snake oil, he strains to convince us rubes that he’s not flimflamming.

      Among those who’re learning about the “truthy-ness” of The Donald are farmers who voted for him, having bought his campaign promise to restore farm prosperity.

      Once in office, though, he quickly sold them out, throwing a hissy-fit of a trade war with China that ended up slapping U.S. farmers by lowering the already low prices they get for their crops. Instead of prosperity, the average farm profit last year was minus $1,500!

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Federal Court Says Teen’s ‘Fuck Cheer’ Is Protected Speech

      In the end, the court finds the school’s punishment of B.L. was unconstitutional. While it recognizes students engaging in extracurricular activities may be subject to more rules governing their behavior, the rules cannot infringe on their protected rights. Speech that occurs outside of the school walls is not completely out of reach of the school’s disciplinary policies, but the school needs to show the severely disruptive effect this extracurricular speech caused. In this case, all the district could point to were claims by cheer coaches the f-bombs had the potential to be disruptive.

      If teens dropping F-bombs on or off school property were enough to disrupt schools, approximately 0% of the nation’s high schools would be operational for more than a few hours at a time, much less the entire school year. “Fuck cheer” is protected expression. The fact that the school doesn’t like hearing its activities criticized doesn’t budge the free speech needle.

    • EU’s Never Ending Quest To Rip The Internet And Free Expression To Shreds Continues With The Terrorist Content Regulation

      Many of us are still getting over the insanity of the EU’s Copyright Directive decision, and already we need to worry about the next awful EU regulation on the horizon: the EU’s Terrorist Content Regulation which is significantly worse than even Article 13/17 of the Copyright Directive, and will create a massive stifling effect on free speech on the internet.

      Over at Stanford, Daphne Keller has put together a depressing, but thorough, look at how the Terrorist Content Regulation will allow the most censorial government officials to silence speech across the EU, and possibly around the world.

      We’ve discussed some of the details in the past (and on a podcast), but one of the key parts of the law is that it will require any website to take down content deemed to be terrorist content within one hour, based on demands from “competent authorities” within countries (don’t even bother trying to figure out who is a “competent authority,” it’ll drive you crazy.)

      Another, perhaps equally (or more) concerning, is that the regulation seeks to promote platform terms of service over the rule of law. As I’m sure you know already, platform terms of service do not need to match up with local laws, and platforms can be much more free to block or ban any kind of content as a violation of a particular term. The EU’s plan here elevates the power of the terms of service, by allowing “competent authorities” (those guys again!) to tell platforms that certain content is in violation of their terms, requiring companies to review the content and potentially remove it or face liability. And you know what that will lead to: widespread censorship.

    • Anti-terrorist Regulation: only a few days left to oppose Internet censorship

      On Monday 8 April, the draft regulation on anti-terrorist censorship will be voted in the LIBE Committee in the European Parliament. While the vote has already been postponed several times, MEPs, still under pressure from the European Commission and some Member States, are expected this time to adopt the text. There are only a few days left to call and ask them to reject it.

      Introduced in September by the European Commission, and supported intensively by the French and German governments, this text has gone through the stages of the European legislative procedure at an extremely fast, if not an expeditious, pace: introduced last September by the EU Commission, adopted by the EU Council at the beginning of December, it is now in the hands of the LIBE Committee (for Civil Liberties) at the EU Parliament, after the publication of the (disappointing) opinions of the CULT (Culture) and IMCO (Internal Market) committees.

    • Complete Overreaction: Professor Calls For Shutting Down Facebook Live, Post-Christchurch

      But, wait, you say: how does this work? Apparently the idea is that adults are allowed but kids are magically put on time delay. Well, now we’ve massively scaled back the proposal such that a very small percentage of the userbase is effected (which, is certainly better, but…). Of course, there’s no indication that the problem of streaming these videos live was that any kids watched them. Indeed, I’ve heard no such reports.

      So this “time delay” plan wouldn’t have stopped nearly all of the people who did see the video.

      Second, this whole plan assumes that (a) the only reason these attacks occurred was because of the ability to live-stream, and (b) that there aren’t other live-streaming options out there (there are many). It also ignores that even if “adults” were able to view the content first, there’s no indication that they would report it. Indeed, Facebook noted that less than 200 people viewed the initial live-stream, and no one reported it. So, that would mean that this video still would have gone out to anyone after the “time delay” even if Grygiel’s plan was in place.

    • Russia Expands Site Blocking To VPNs

      Over the last few years, Russia has been one of the most aggressive countries in using claims of copyright infringement to push for full site blocking at the ISP level. Of course, that has resulted in tens of thousands of innocent sites getting blocked (collateral damage!), not to mention a corruption scandal and… no meaningful decrease in piracy. Apparently, the answer for the Russians: head deeper into the infrastructure to push site blocking even further.

      Now, apparently, beyond just demanding ISPs engage in massive site blocking, various VPNs have been ordered to start blocking full sites as well.

    • Mock Putin grave installed near St. Isaac’s Cathedral in St. Petersburg

      A gravestone inscribed with Vladimir Putin’s name and portrait above the words “He betrayed the Russian people” has appeared on a lawn near St. Petersburg’s historic St. Isaac’s Cathedral. Similar graves had previously appeared in Naberezhnye Chelny as an act of protest against the Russian government’s attempts to isolate Russian Internet traffic.

    • ‘Cartoonishly Evil’: After Kids and Parents Injured, Trump Commissioners Stepped in to Thwart Stroller Recall

      In a “cartoonishly evil” move that critics warned could set a worrying precedent for corporate regulation, the Washington Post reported Tuesday that Trump appointees at the Consumer Product Safety Commission blocked a recall of jogging strollers that agency staff believed had injured both adults and children.

      “Beyond the TV headlines, this is the damage that the Trump administration is doing,” tweeted Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) “It’s simply heartless.”

    • Right-Wing Groups Encourage College Students to Incite Hate-Charged Campaigns against Liberal Educators

      In late 2017, Dr. Albert Ponce, a political science professor at Diablo Valley College (DVC) in Northern California, received violent threats via email, phone calls, and social media following a public lecture on history and white supremacy, which was allegedly recorded and edited by a student and posted on the internet without Ponce’s knowledge or consent. Ponce is one of many educators and colleges and universities that are being targeted by organized right-wing groups for their liberal or leftist views on political, sociological, and historical topics. These groups are using students to film and expose teachers lecturing in class or giving pubic talks that challenge conservative orthodoxy, often encouraging some type of action against them, which causes concerns for the safety of the faculty members, their families, and their jobs. The right to academic freedom and freedom of speech is now an instrument of battle between the left and the right at US college campuses, which has led some educators to fear teaching about important but controversial topics, especially in the social sciences.

      The Red-Elephants, a far-right group, started a Facebook page called “FILM Your Marxist Professors,” and persuaded students to post videos of their professors. Ponce’s video is the first posted on the site, and is still viewable as of March 28, 2019. The video is made of edited and mashed up clips from the public lecture, which takes many statements out of context and leaves the viewer to make their own inferences. Over 4.5 thousand comments of hate and threats are posted to the video, including, “Hang the prick” and “… (He’s at) Diablo Valley College…Go get him killer!” These comments remain posted, despite Facebooks policy against hate speech and violence. The “Film Your Marxist Professors” Facebook page continues to recruit students to film and post their teachers, offering anonymity to those who submits footage.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • The march to mandatory, nationwide DNA databases picks up pace around the world

      DNA is without doubt one of the new frontiers for privacy – and for the loss of it. As we wrote last year, genetic privacy is becoming a thing of the past thanks to relatives using DNA testing services. Drawing on this new pool of genetic data, police forces are starting to apply big data techniques to DNA sequences in order to resolve cases – sometimes long-standing ones. Given this power of DNA to pinpoint criminals, it’s no surprise that there have been calls for everyone’s DNA to be collected and stored permanently in order to facilitate the fight against crime. That’s been feasible for a while, but so far no government has gone ahead and created a mandatory nationawide DNA database. In 2016, Kuwait announced plans to require DNA from every citizen and visitor, but later backtracked on the idea.

    • Researchers Find More Cases of Facebook App Data Exposure

      Security researchers have uncovered more instances of Facebook user data being publicly exposed on the internet, further underscoring its struggles as it deals with a slew of privacy and other problems.

      The researchers from the firm UpGuard said in a blog post Wednesday that the data, which included user names and passwords, came from two different Facebook apps that stored their data publicly on Amazon’s cloud services. Facebook said the databases have been taken down.

      But the episode illustrates Facebook’s issues with controlling its users’ data, especially once it is in the hands of third-party developers.

      The databases were from a Mexico-based media company called Cultura Colectiva, which included more than 540 million records — like user comments and likes — and from an app called At the Pool. The researchers said passwords stored for At the Pool were “presumably” for the app and not for Facebook. Still, storing them publicly could put people at risk if they used the same passwords across different accounts.

    • EFF Fights For Redditor Targeted By Religious Organization For Forum Posts About Its Data Collection Policies

      There goes the DMCA, being wielded as a tool of censorship again. The EFF is currently battling for a Redditor’s anonymity — something threatened by a bogus DMCA takedown and a subpoena seeking to unmask this supposed infringer.

      It’s about much more than simply disappearing content from the internet one party didn’t want exposed. It’s about targeting an individual to deter them from ever posting content like this again. Behind the subpoena is a powerful religious entity — one that’s seeking to shut down criticism of its means and methods.

    • FIXED: WhatsApp Rolls Out Group Privacy Settings [Ed: No, EFF, this is not fixed. It has back doors and surveillance. People should be told never to use it, let alone install it.]

      Today, we’re happy to see WhatsApp fixing the long-standing group messaging problem that we called on them to address: allowing users to decide who can add them to groups without their express consent. This puts users in a better position to control their WhatsApp chats and personal phone number privacy, and we’d like to see other messengers that offer groups follow suit.

      Last month, we launched Fix It Already, a new way to show companies we’re serious about the attainable, high-impact privacy and security issues they need to fix. On social media, users are joining in to share why these issues are important to them with the hashtag “#FixItAlready”. WhatsApp is the first company to roll out a fix in response to our (and your!) demands.

    • Victory for Users: WhatsApp Fixes Privacy Problem in Group Messaging

      In a victory for users, WhatsApp has fixed a long-standing privacy problem in group messaging, where users could be added to a group without their permission. The issue was one of the targets of “Fix It Already!,” a campaign from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) demanding repair of privacy and security holes that disrespect user control and put us all at risk.

      “Without this kind of control, an unwanted group invite would expose your phone number to all the members of a group and even have the potential to make you part of someone else’s disinformation campaign,” said EFF Associate Director of Research Gennie Gebhart.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • The Death Penalty Is Getting Crueler

      For years, most of the U.S. has been changing death penalty laws in the direction of phasing it out, or at least applying it in a more humane way.
      In 2002, the Supreme Court ruled that people with intellectual disabilities cannot be executed. In 2005, another ruling held that the U.S. cannot execute anyone for committing a crime as a minor. Twenty states have banned capital punishment.
      The most recent to ban it are Washington in 2018, Delaware in 2016, Maryland in 2013, Connecticut in 2012, and Illinois in 2011.
      Unfortunately, our newly right wing-dominated Supreme Court recently made a move in the opposite direction.
      The Eighth Amendment bans cruel and unusual punishment. Capital punishment has been becoming more unusual over the past decade or so. Now, with the court’s help, it’s becoming more cruel.
      The state of Missouri is set to execute Russell Becklew, a man who suffers from a rare condition that will make death by lethal injection unbearably painful. He’s requested to be executed by a different method that will be quicker.
      Established precedent was that inmates contesting their method of execution must provide an alternative that would cause less pain. Becklew has.
      In the two previous cases that established this precedent, the court ruled that states should try to minimize pain when carrying out executions. In a new decision, Trump-appointed Justice Neil Gorsuch has just accepted an interpretation of this — promoted earlier by Justice Clarence Thomas — that it only means that states should not “intentionally” make executions more painful than necessary.

    • As GOP Deploys ‘Nuclear Option’, New Reports Detail Damage Done By Trump’s Far-Right Takeover of Judiciary

      As Senate Republicans rammed through a rules change enabling faster approval of President Donald Trump’s judicial nominees, two advocacy groups released reports on Wednesday showing the far-reaching and long-lasting damage his confirmed federal judges have already inflicted on the nation.

      People for the American Way (PFAW) and Alliance for Justice (AFJ) both published studies Wednesday about Trump’s success in appointing 92 judges to district courts, federal appeals courts, and the U.S. Supreme Court—with PFAW writing that the president’s effort to remake the judicial branch in his own image could be disastrous for a number of marginalized groups.

    • Brunei Laws Allow Stoning for Gay Sex, Adultery

      New Islamic criminal laws that took effect in Brunei on Wednesday, punishing gay sex and adultery by stoning offenders to death, have triggered an outcry from countries, rights groups and celebrities far beyond the tiny Southeast Asian nation’s shores.

      The penalties were provided for under new sections of Brunei’s Shariah Penal Code. Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah instituted the code in 2014 to bolster the influence of Islam in the oil-rich monarchy of around 430,000 people, two-thirds of whom are Muslim.

      Even before 2014, homosexuality was already punishable in Brunei by a jail term of up to 10 years. The first stage of the Shariah Penal Code included fines or jail for offenses such as pregnancy out of wedlock or failing to pray on Fridays.

      But under the new laws — which also apply to children and foreigners, even if they are not Muslim — those found guilty of gay sex can be stoned to death or whipped. Adulterers risk death by stoning too, while thieves face amputation of a right hand on their first offense and a left foot on their second.

    • ‘If You Haven’t Called Your Senators Yet… Do It Now!’ McConnell Nears Nuclear Option to Pack Courts With Extremists

      With Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell expected as early as Wednesday to use the so-called “nuclear option” to speed up the confirmation process for President Donald Trump’s right wing judicial nominees, progressives raised alarm and urged Americans to pressure their senators to stop the “reckless court packing” by the Republican Party.

      “McConnell has signaled he is ready to use the so-called ‘nuclear option’ to further pack the courts with Trump’s lifetime judicial appointments,” tweeted the progressive advocacy group 5 Calls. “Tell the Senate to block McConnell and stop further erosion of our democratic norms!”

    • Legislation Would End Debt-Based Driver’s License Suspensions in Minnesota

      Courts are supposed to deliver justice, not act as debt collectors.
      Minnesota is one of more than 40 states across the country that suspends people’s driver’s licenses for outstanding tickets and fees, a practice that disproportionately harms low-income people. But the Minnesota Legislature may act to end this wealth-based penalty through legislation introduced in both chambers. If it becomes law, more than 50,000 Minnesotans will have their licenses restored.

      The bill would repeal the provision of Minnesota law that allows for a person’s driver’s license to be suspended if they fail to pay a fine for a traffic violation or fail to appear in court in response to a ticket. These types of suspensions create a two-tiered system of justice where rich and poor people with otherwise identical records receive different punishments solely because of their ability to pay.

      And that’s punitive public policy that can have long-term consequences for those who can’t afford to pay, while wasting taxpayer dollars.

    • Ingush opposition leaders searched and jailed after popular protests

      On April 3, Ruslan Mutsolgov told Znak.com that law enforcement agencies in Ingushetia had begun searching the homes of the republic’s opposition leaders. Mutsolgov leads the local branch of the opposition Yabloko party. Later in the day, Kavkazsky Uzel reported that Malsag Uzhakhov, the chair of the republic’s Council of Teips, had been given 10 days of jail time along with Musa Malsagov and Akhmed Barakhoyev, two members of the Ingush Committee for National Unity. Barakh Chemurziev, the leader of the Opora Ingushetii movement, received 10 days of administrative arrest, according to Mediazona.

    • The Measure of Our Happiness

      For the past seven years ago, the United Nations has issued a report titled the World Happiness Report. While this report may sound somewhat lightweight, it actually ranks countries by serious measures including income, freedom, trust in government, social support, life expectancy and how happy citizens perceive themselves to be. The highest-ranking countries are those, we learn, that have “strong social welfare systems and an emphasis on equality.”

      I was not surprised to learn that in 2019 our country fell in rank from 18th to 19th in the report. Despite our high employment, millions of working people hold 2 jobs to pay bills and are an illness away from bankruptcy. Moreover, we have seen a steady increase in the number of hate groups, the majority being white male supremacist groups, over the past 3 years coinciding with President Trump’s campaign and presidency. In his recent manifesto, the Australian-born murderer of 50 New Zealand Muslims at worship in mosques attributed Trump as the “symbol of renewed white identity.”

      While some may protest that the United States is a more complex society with a higher rate of immigrants, Canada, which has a higher percent of foreign-born residents than the US, ranks higher in the recent UN report. So also do Britain and Germany with comparable percentages of foreign-born residents as the US.

    • Ruby Mountains: A Push to Drill, a Failure to Consult Native Peoples

      It’s a frigid December morning when I meet Chairman Joseph Holley at the Te-Moak tribal headquarters in Elko, Nevada, seven hours north of Las Vegas. Holley, tall and round-faced, offers me a cup of coffee. He has the burly build of a man who worked 37 years in the area’s gold mines, drilling aboveground and digging below the surface.

      Holley’s a relatively new tribal chairman, having served since November 2018. “I’m still catching up with a lot of things,” he tells me. He’s following in the footsteps of father, activist Glenn Holley, Sr., who fought for aboriginal title to restore Te-Moak lands starting in the 1970s.

      That heritage of activism may need to be invoked for the struggle that Chairman Holley and the Te-Moak now face. A major plan to lease drilling rights near the Ruby Mountains, including land bordering the Ruby Lake Wildlife Refuge, threatens not just the local ecosystem but the tribe’s very existence.

    • Beyond Prisons: Rachel Herzing On Political Education

      Rachel Herzing joins Beyond Prisons for a conversation on political education, transformation, and more.

      Rachel is the co-director of Center for Political Education, a resource for political organizations on the left, progressive social movements, the working class and people of color. She has been an organizer, activist, and advocate fighting the violence of policing and imprisonment for over 20 years.

    • Supreme Court Deems Torture Of Prisoners During Executions Permissible

      The United States Supreme Court issued a decision that expressly undermines the Constitution’s protections against “cruel and unusual punishment” in the Eighth Amendment.

      Russell Bucklew was convicted of murder and other crimes in Missouri about twenty years ago. He received a death sentence, and in 2014, Bucklew alleged his Eighth Amendment rights would be violated if the state executed him because he suffers from a congenital condition called cavernous hemangioma.

      Bucklew’s condition is rare, but regardless, it causes “tumors filled with blood vessels to grow throughout his body, including in his head, face, neck, and oral cavity,” according to the Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, who dissented.

      He raised evidence that “executing him by lethal injection will cause the tumors that grow in his throat to rupture during his execution, causing him to sputter, choke, and suffocate on his own blood for up to several minutes before he dies. That evidence establishes at this stage of the proceedings that executing Bucklew by lethal injection risks subjecting him to constitutionally impermissible suffering.”

      Yet, the majority, led by Justice Neil Gorsuch, held that the state of Missouri may execute him anyway. “In my view, that holding violates the clear command of the Eighth Amendment,” Breyer declared.

      Gorsuch reasoned, “The Eighth Amendment forbids ‘cruel and unusual’ methods of capital punishment but does not guarantee a prisoner a painless death.”

    • ‘Very Dark Day’: Democrats Lash Out After McConnell Rams Through ‘Nuclear Option’ for Trump Judges

      Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s latest maneuver to push federal judges onto the bench will facilitate their quick approval in the Senate, a move that has his critics in the chamber concerned for the institution and the courts.

      The latest in McConnell’s scheme to pack the courts come hell or high water would limit debate on district court appointees from 30 hours to two.

    • Russia’s Internal Affairs Ministry proposes refusing reentry to migrants who don’t pay for their own deportation

      Russia’s Internal Affairs Ministry has prepared a bill that, if passed, would introduce stricter requirements for migrants who are deported from Russia to reimburse the costs of their own deportation.

    • Judge Rips Drug Task Force For Going On Asset Forfeiture ‘Shopping Sprees’

      A Pennsylvania judge has delivered an earful to the York County Drug Task Force and its handling of property forfeitures. Christopher Hawkins, represented by Korey Leslie (who was kind enough to email me the ruling the York Dispatch couldn’t be bothered to post with its article), challenged the seizure of two vehicles and a bunch of electronics from his house. Hawkins was arrested after a controlled heroin purchase. There appears to be no question Hawkins participated in drug dealing. But that doesn’t excuse the government’s decision to take two cars and some TVs from him as “evidence.”

      Judge Craig T. Trebilcock doesn’t like anything about the Task Force’s seizures, since it appears to be more concerned with taking things with resale value, rather than property with an actual nexus to drug distribution. The opinion [PDF] repeatedly calls Task Force detectives out for their lack of credibility and the dollar signs continually dancing in their eyes. The Task Force originally seized four vehicles from Hawkins before returning two of them for a lack of drug nexus. But it still couldn’t connect the two it kept.

    • Prison Lockdown in Pennsylvania Leads to New Crackdowns, Censorship

      On August 29, 2018, Pennsylvania’s 25 prisons instituted a lockdown that lasted twelve days. Pennsylvania Department of Corrections Secretary John Wetzel, backed by Governor Tom Wolf, claimed the lockdown was an emergency measure in response to widespread infection of prison staff from physical contact with synthetic drugs, in particular K2, a synthetic cannabinoid which can be dried onto paper. The lockdown put into effect conditions similar to solitary confinement, with inmates locked inside their cells up to 24 hours a day with no access to the world outside. However, some are claiming that the pretense for this shutdown is something other than a health scare.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Wall Street Thinks The Cable TV Sector Could Easily ‘Unravel.’ That’s Probably A Good Thing.

      For the better part of the last decade, some Wall Street analysts have quietly been pointing out that the current pay TV business model is unsustainable. As it stands, broadcasters increasingly impose giant price hikes for the same programming to cable companies, who in turn pass those higher costs on to consumers. Those consumers are, in turn, increasingly “cutting the cord” by moving to cheaper streaming alternatives. And when those streaming alternatives don’t provide what they want or raise rates (as AT&T recently did with its DirecTV Now service), subscribers then shift toward free options like over the air antennas or piracy.

      Smaller cable providers have been warning for years that unless you enjoy the size and leverage of being a giant ISP and broadcaster combined (AT&T/Time Warner, Comcast/NBC Universal), you’re not going to be able to survive this new tight-margin market. Some, like CableONE, have opted to get out of TV entirely and focus on broadband. It’s a trend that’s only likely to accelerate.

    • Net Neutrality Bill Passes Crucial Committee Vote

      The Save the Internet Act would lock into law the protections for net neutrality that came in the 2015 Open Internet Order and require the FCC to take action when ISPs give unfair preferential treatment to certain types of content or content sources.

      In 2017, despite a clear mandate from the people to protect net neutrality, the FCC abandoned its responsibility to enforce net neutrality principles. The move was highly unpopular among Americans of all political stripes as well as experts in how the Internet works. In fact, the only people it was really popular with were the big vertically integrated ISPs who seek to leverage their dominance to raise their profits at the expense of the free and open Internet.

      H.R. 1644 restores the FCC’s ability to police unjust and unreasonable conduct by ISPs. Unfair ISP practices recently took center stage nationally when Verizon was found throttling the wireless service of the Santa Clara Fire Department while the department was fighting a massive fire. The bill also reinstates the competition policies of the Telecommunications Act for the broadband access market, a measure that’s widely supported by the small competitors to incumbents like Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon.

    • Daniel Stenberg: More Amsterdamned Workshop

      Yesterday we plowed through a large and varied selection of HTTP topics in the Workshop. Today we continued. At 9:30 we were all in that room again. Day two.

      Martin Thomson talked about his “hx” proposal and how to refer to future responses in HTTP APIs. He ended up basically concluding that “This is too complicated, I think I’m going to abandon this” and instead threw in a follow-up proposal he called “Reverse Javascript” that would be a way for a client to pass on a script for the server to execute! The room exploded in questions, objections and “improvements” to this idea. There are also apparently a pile of prior art in similar vein to draw inspiration from.

      With the audience warmed up like this, Anne van Kasteren took us back to reality with an old favorite topic in the HTTP Workshop: websockets. Not a lot of love for websockets in the room… but this was the first of several discussions during the day where a desire or quest for bidirectional HTTP streams was made obvious.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • The Patent Troll’s Last Sigh?

      We are somewhere around the 20th anniversary (give or take) of invention of the term “patent troll.” A term that even has its own Wikipedia page. Which means, for me at least, that the term has been around for the duration of my career to date as a patent litigator. Technology has changed a lot in that time, of course. Yet the use of “patent troll” endures. In fact, the term has been part of the popular conception of patent litigation across at least three generations of current practitioners.

      First, the generation that preceded mine, where partners struggled with the big question in the mid-2000s within Biglaw IP groups — should we represent “patent trolls”? My firm at the time said no, as did many of our competitors. Not a surprising decision when the targets of the patent trolls in those days were the very potential clients my firm was constantly trying to get defense work from. Even then, however, getting a precise definition of what was an acceptable patent plaintiff versus what type of entity was a pariah “patent troll” was a difficult task.

      More than a decade later, my generation of patent litigators continues to deal with the “patent troll” question in some capacity — including the question of what a patent troll is in the first place. As with anything subjective, one’s perspective on the question is likely shaped by their practice and professional motivations. Those who get paid by defending companies against patent assertions are more likely to espouse an expansive definition of “patent troll.” While those who represent patentees, whether they be universities, inventors, or patent assertion entities, are likely to deny that their clients are trolls under any rational definition of the term. The sad thing is we are still discussing the definition, even if only in the context of whether the term should continue to have any weight.

    • Eligibility Train Wreck Continues its Skid: Skidmore Deference for the PTO on Eligibility

      A key point of argument and policy over the past decades has been the level of authority given to the USPTO as the government’s expert patent law agency. When the USPTO makes a decision — is that decision respected by other tribunals? At times the agency is given substantial deference (factual conclusions made by the PTAB), but other agency decisions are also regularly reviewed de novo without deference. With regard to interpretation of substantive patent law, PTO determinations are often simply ignored.

      [...]

      Over the years, the PTO has shifted policy. In the old eligibility cases like Diehr and Chakrabarty, the agency was refusing to issue patents that it saw as crossing-the-eligibility-line. However, the new statements by Dir. Iancu go the other-way, with the USPTO creating a policy of issuing patents that the courts would find invalid (if given the opportunity).

      The statement from the court here is important although buried in a non-precedential opinion. One reason for its importance is its clear tension with the Federal Circuit’s recent decision in Natural Alternatives that called for Skidmore deference to be given to the PTO statement on eligibility.

    • Beauchamp on Founding-Era Patent Revocation

      An article from Prof. Chris Beauchamp, newly published in the Vanderbilt Law Review and titled “Repealing Patents”, examines the history of Founding-era patent revocation. It’s a complex story, influenced by the changing character of the pre-1836 patent system, and reveals that there did seem to be a belief in a public interest in the invalidation of patents that shouldn’t have issued.

      In fact, the first patent lawsuit in the United States was a suit for the revocation of a patent on processing whale oil. The surviving records are unclear as to the rationale, the process, and the outcome of both this case and later revocation actions. But however the case proceeded, the earliest known U.S. litigation over a patent was over whether the patent should have been issued at all.

      Beauchamp also identifies a portion of the history that bears on a modern debate—that of whether petitioners for post-grant review should have constitutional standing or whether post-grant review should be available more broadly to the public. Examining the function of courts in the early Republic, Beauchamp ties early patent revocation suits into the more general class of “popular actions”, where an informer with “knowledge of a wrong but no interest in the controversy other than that given by statute” could bring a revocation case without any constitutional concern over standing. This should lay to rest any constitutional concerns about universal standing for petitioners for post-grant review.

    • Trademarks

      • Gleissner trade mark application is Trumped

        Many seasoned trade mark practitioners will have come across Mr Michael Gleissner at some point during their careers. Mr Gleissner is well known for his companies’ enthusiastic [some might say overenthusiastic] filing of trade mark applications, oppositions and cancellation actions, particularly in relation to well-known trade marks and high-profile companies. Popular consensus suggests that Mr Gleissner does this with commercial gain in mind [and not for the sheer, heady love of trade mark procedure].

    • Copyrights

      • Free Democratic Party’s motion on EU Copyright Directive in German parliament: ‘Rethink copyright — without upload filters’

        Yesterday the Free Democratic Party (FDP) group in the German Bundestag (federal parliament) made the decision to bring a motion calling on the German government to prevent the adoption of the EU copyright reform bill in its current form by the EU Council. The government coalition parties (CDU/CSU and SPD) have already decided to refer a similar motion by the Left Party to the committees in an apparent attempt to stall the process in the federal parliament while the government would allow the bill to be adopted by the Council in the meantime. That shows just how uncomfortable they are. They don’t want to come clean and take a position. With respect to the FDP motion, however, the decision on whether or not to hold an immediate vote will be made tomorrow, Thursday (April 4), right after the debate.

      • Internet freedom bodies to fight EU Copyright Directive

        In-house counsel within the digital sector have told Managing IP that they intend to defeat or alter the EU Copyright Directive, which was passed last week

        Meanwhile copyright and royalty collection bodies have hailed the decision as a victory for creatives and an opportunity to close the so-called value gap between user-upload and other online streaming platforms.

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